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6 Georgia

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

Since [coach] Kirby Smart took over two years ago their scheme has looked a lot like Smart's former team's—but after a few strong recruiting classes, now their personnel is starting to look like Alabama's, too. When we studied all our opponents, they were, by far, the most physical team, on both offense and defense.... Facing their running game is like being in a boxing match with someone who has a big, strong right hand: You know it's coming and you've got to take it. Center Lamont Gaillard is probably the best in college football. They lost two good running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel so D'ANDRE SWIFT will have to shoulder the load, but he could be a star.... Quarterback Jake Fromm is smart, efficient and doesn't make mistakes. He'll be challenged more this season because the run game won't be quite as dominant, but he'll have a weapon in wide receiver Riley Ridley. He's going to get one-on-one coverage because teams will stack the box, so Fromm will have some big-play opportunities.... They're sound defensively—they don't blitz you and do all of that exotic stuff. They just line up and say, Let's play football. You've got to go mix it up to beat them.

BY THE NUMBERS

31

Number of rushing TDs scored in 2017 by running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, whose production will have to be replaced with both off to the NFL.

160.1

Passer rating of quarterback Jake Fromm in his first season at Georgia, ranking first among freshmen and eighth among all FBS quarterbacks.

5-YEAR TREND

WINS

The Bulldogs announced themselves as a national power last season—but can they bounce back from a devastating national title game loss to Alabama?

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

15

12

9

6

3

10--3

10--3

8--5

13--2 (SEC CHAMPS)

10--2

YEAR

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018*

*SI PROJECTION

X-FACTOR

While Kirby Smart has built stout defenses in Athens similar to the ones he coordinated at Bama, he'll have to be really creative to make up for the departure of six starters, including Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith. Inside linebacker Natrez Patrick, defensive back Richard LeCounte and end Jay Hayes, a Notre Dame transfer, will be the backbone of the unit, but no player will be more important—and has more upside—than JULIAN ROCHESTER, a defensive lineman who was a top recruit in the 2016 class but has yet to make a dramatic impact. At 6'5" and 300 pounds, Rochester has the ability to strengthen the unit—and Georgia will need him to do so.

2018 SCHEDULE

SEPT. 1

AUSTIN PEAY

SEPT. 8

@ SOUTH CAROLINA [KEY MATCHUP]

SEPT. 15

MIDDLE TENNESSEE

SEPT. 22

@ MISSOURI

SEPT. 29

TENNESSEE

OCT. 6

VANDERBILT

OCT. 13

@ LSU [BIGGEST GAME]

OCT. 27

FLORIDA*

NOV. 3

@ KENTUCKY

NOV. 10

AUBURN (8) [KEY MATCHUP][SI RANKINGS]

NOV. 17

UMASS

NOV. 24

GEORGIA TECH

KEY MATCHUP

BIGGEST GAME

SI RANKINGS