The Georgia Bulldogs start a new era this season as very successful coach Mark Richt was somewhat surprisingly let go after last season, and former Georgia player and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was hired to replace him in his first head coaching gig. Can UGA win the SEC East in Smart’s first season? The Dawgs have a wins total of 8.5 on college football odds.
Let’s Have a Closer Look at the 2016 Georgia Bulldogs Betting Predictions
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Dawgs Won’t Miss Beat With Smart
Richt landed on his feet at his alma mater, Miami, and the Canes will be better off with him. Just as I think Georgia will be with Smart — sometimes, you just need a change and that was the case in Athens. The fans already love Smart. He is one of the Bulldogs’ own. A native of Bainbridge, Ga., he played safety for the Bulldogs from 1995-98 and served as a team captain his senior season. He coached running backs for Richt in 2005 and also has worked at Valdosta State, LSU and for the Miami Dolphins. At Alabama, Smart was considered Nick Saban’s right-hand man, both as a defensive coach and as a recruiter.
The Tide won four national titles with Smart working Saban’s defense. Since 2008, Smart’s Alabama defense ranked first in the FBS in points per game, yards per game, yards per play and Total QBR. It’s not all numbers. Smart is a players’ coach who has brought new energy to Athens. He’s also a stellar recruiter. Smart, who worked the metro Atlanta area and the rest of the state for much of his tenure at Alabama, was a key component in the Tide’s three consecutive No. 1-ranked recruiting classes.
Jacob Eason Will Start Week 1
Smart’s first big recruiting job was to keep the nation’s No. 1 quarterback, Jacob Eason, committed to Georgia. Eason had second thoughts after Richt left but did choose to stay and now is in a fierce QB battle that I believe Eason wins — the fans certainly want him to. A decision should be made after Saturday’s scrimmage. He’s battling Greyson Lambert and to a lesser extent Brice Ramsey. Lambert went 10-2 as a starter a year ago (Faton Bauta started Georgia’s other loss against Florida). Ramsey has been through it all as he begins his fourth year at Georgia, as the offensive coordinators have been a revolving door in Athens. Eason, Lambert and Ramsey all possess different skill sets.
“They have to figure out what they do good and do it as best they can and work on their weaknesses. I feel comfortable in saying they’re all doing that right now,” offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said.
Nick Chubb Will Finish 2nd In SEC In Rushing
LSU running back Leonard Fournette is the Heisman Trophy betting favorite and should lead the SEC in rushing this year. But Georgia’s Nick Chubb will be No. 2. Chubb was off to a great start last year before suffering a season-ending injury against Tennessee. Chubb has proclaimed in no uncertain terms that he is just as fast as he was before the injury, which tore every ligament in his left knee but the ACL. He knows because he said he has outrun some of Georgia’s fastest defenders when they had an angle on him. Chubb claims his cutting ability is just as good as well.
“As you’ve seen, Nick hasn’t missed a beat,” senior tackle Greg Pyke said. “He’s pretty much better, faster, stronger. That kid is one of the hardest working people in this building. He’s a funny dude, too. And he’s working to be out there with us.”
One Receiver Must Step Up
I say Chubb will have a huge season because I’m not sold on UGA’s receivers. The No. 1 target from last season, New England Patriots rookie Malcolm Mitchell, accounted for nearly half of Georgia’s receptions by wide receivers 46.4 percent. The top returner at the position, sophomore Terry Godwin, drew criticism from Smart this week. Godwin had 35 receptions for 379 yards and 2 touchdowns, playing in all of the Bulldogs 13 games in 2015 and starting nine of them. The leading returning receiver after Godwin is Reggie Davis, who had 12 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown in 2015. The next most experienced receiver for Georgia is Isaiah McKenzie. However, McKenzie only has 16 catches in 22 games and has yet to score a touchdown reception. Behind Davis, Godwin, and McKenzie, there a slew of freshmen and sophomores.
Georgia Will Go Over 8.5-Win Total
I don’t believe Georgia wins the SEC East as I give that to Tennessee. But I’d go over the 8.5 wins on college football lines. I believe the Dawgs go 10-2 (maybe 9-3), losing at Ole Miss and home to Tennessee; the Vols will win the East Division that head-to- head tiebreaker.