Revisiting and grading six preseason predictions for this Georgia football season

Marc Weiszer
Athens Banner-Herald
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Oct 16, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers (19) runs for a touchdown after a catch past Kentucky Wildcats linebacker J.J. Weaver (13) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We made six Georgia football predictions back in August for Kirby Smart's sixth season as coach. So how is our forecast going?

Let's revisit that with this midseason-ish look at them.

Perfect regular season now in reach

The prediction: Georgia will return to the SEC championship game with an 11-1 record after missing out last year. Not sure if that one loss will be against Clemson or another team on its schedule.

What we think now: The Bulldogs will indeed be playing Dec. 4 in Atlanta, but the record will be 12-0 after getting through what looks like the biggest tests on the regular season schedule. Crazy things can happen in a rivalry game but Florida is backsliding while Georgia just keeps on a tear to the playoff.

Grade: B. I underestimated that this wasn’t just a very good Georgia team, but a great one.

More:Unbeaten, top-ranked Georgia football defense remains hungry no matter score or time left

Offensive line starters stay pretty consistent

The prediction: Expect more movement on the offensive line. That may just be because of the quality of the depth that Matt Luke has more than plugging a weak spot.

What we think now: There was movement on the line due to injury when right guard Tate Ratledge was lost for the season in the first quarter of the first game with a foot injury.

Sedrick Van Pran-Granger has held down the starting center spot all season after Warren Ericson sustained a hand injury in the preseason. Ericson then jumped in at right guard for Ratledge against Clemson and has started every game since. Broderick Jones has seen significant snaps at left tackle, but Jamaree Salyer has held down the starting spot there while seeing some time at guard. Left guard Justin Shaffer and right tackle Warren McClendon have also started every game.

Grade: C+. There’s still five regular season games to go, but if there hasn’t been a change in the starting lineup yet due to performance, it’s hard to see a switch now considering how the Bulldogs have it going.  

More:Former Georgia football coach Vince Dooley ready to rehab after recent surgery

Brock Bowers is blowing up

Prediction: Tight ends will be fed. Georgia’s leader in catches among tight ends last season was John Fitzpatrick. Expect freshman Brock Bowers to surpass his total from last season of 10 receptions.

What we think now: Bowers has been a revelation, leading the Bulldogs with 25 catches for 416 yards and 6 touchdown catches. That’s three times more TD catches than anyone else on the team.

Grade: A. Darnell Washington and Fitzpatrick have combined for 7 catches for 116 yards even with Washington missing the first four games with a foot injury. Bowers’ totals already are similar to where Leonard Pope was in 2004 as a sophomore when he finished the season with 25 catches for 482 yards and 6 touchdowns.

More:2021 Georgia Bulldogs football schedule, TV channels, times, final scores

Offense clicking despite missing key pieces

Prediction: The team scoring record will be set. Georgia averaged 37.5 points per game in Daniels' four starts last season. The team record is 41.3 points in 2014.

What we think now: The Bulldogs are scoring about a point per game more this season — 38.4 — than last when JT Daniels' started. That’s with Daniels playing in only three games and the wide receiver corps decimated by injuries. Georgia’s defense has been so good that the Bulldogs can let up on the gas late in games. Georgia averages just 5.7 points a game in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B-. Here are how defenses Georgia will still play rank in points allowed: 30th Florida (20.3), 127th Missouri (37.1), 53rd Tennessee (22.9), 58th in FCS Charleston Southern (25.8), 71st Georgia Tech (25.7).

More:What to know about Aliou Bah and the rest of the 2022 UGA football recruiting class

Bulldogs young guys more than doing their part

Prediction: Georgia’s freshmen presence will be felt.

What we think now: Bingo. Bowers is on track to be a freshman All-American. Van Pran-Granger has started every game at center and fared well. Georgia’s top three pass catchers are freshmen. Ladd McConkey, who redshirted last season, has 17 catches for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns and A.D. Mitchell is third with 14 catches for 210 and 2.

Grade: A. Did we mention redshirt freshman Kelee Ringo? Oh, he’s started four games at cornerback, is second on the team with four pass breakups and has an interception and a sack.

Hard to be Heisman finalist on sideline

Prediction: JT Daniels big prize at end of season is more likely to be ….Leading Georgia to a national title than being a Heisman Trophy finalist.

What we think now: Daniels and Georgia are the favorites to win the national title. The quarterback has gone from a preseason top 5 pick to win the Heisman to being a long shot now after missing four games due to injuries. It’s Jordan Davis, the impactful senior nose guard, who gets media mentions as a Heisman candidate.

Grade: A. Of course, it remains to be seen if Daniels or Stetson Bennett would be starting at quarterback if Georgia made the national title game.  

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