Georgia football returning to SEC title is anything but ‘miraculous’

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 31: Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs talks with head coach Kirby Smart prior to the game against the Michigan Wolverines in the Capital One Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 31: Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs talks with head coach Kirby Smart prior to the game against the Michigan Wolverines in the Capital One Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Georgia football may be the defending national champions and had 15 drafted, but that doesn’t mean it will need miracles or shift its expectations in this upcoming season. The Dawgs expect to win the SEC East, play in the SEC Championship Game, and make the playoffs.

Those things don’t change, especially when head coach Kirby Smart is in charge.

This 2022 Georgia team isn’t the 2020 LSU squad in Red and Black. Smart has key leaders returning on defense, has their two-time offensive MVP quarterback leading the offense, and he is reloading on the recruiting front— what part of that screams they will need miracles in 2022 to make it back to Atlanta?

Georgia football doesn’t need miracles to know the expectations never change.

While it’s ok to think there will be a drop-off from 2021 to 2022 because anyone in their right mind would know that — the Dawgs aren’t relaxing because they finally won.

Dawg Nation is one of the most active on Twitter, and when SEC Network Paul Finebaum dropped this tweet, it quickly hit many people’s nerves. Everyone can have their opinion, but it’s safe to say not many agree with this statement.

Georgia has done a lot to avoid the drop-off that many programs see when they finally win it all. This team won’t be the same because replacing those defensive starters, a guy like George Pickens, two running backs, and a couple of offensive linemen isn’t the easiest thing to do.

The Dawgs have prepared for this by using many of the guys returning in different ways, so they have 70-plus snaps. There are over 10 players who PFF graded 70 or better that return in 2022 with over 70 snaps and a few more who don’t quite have that many snaps but are still incredibly talented.

That tweet caused quite the commotion, and while we can all put our opinions out there, suggesting Georgia will fall off that much is almost an insult.

Stewart Mandel has an excellent point. Who among the other SEC East schools would be able to take down Georgia in 2022? Better yet, who will be able to take down Georgia and not get beat again themselves?

Let’s look at the rest of the SEC East and see if there could be one as we look from the bottom to the top of the standings. Vanderbilt went 2-10 overall and 0-8 in SEC play. Nope, it won’t be them.

Florida went 6-7 overall and 2-6 in the conference. They hired Billy Napier to get the Gators back on track, but there sure are a lot of participation trophies getting handed out in Gainsville — it may be a few years for them. Plus, the talent difference grows by the recruiting cycle, which puts them at least three years behind the Dawgs in depth.

Sure they beat Georgia in 2020, but do we need to go there again? No. It was the only time Georgia didn’t make it to Atlanta in the last five years, and Smart won’t allow that to be the deciding game again.

South Carolina has a great head coach in Shane Beamer who will make the Gamecocks competitive, but will it be enough to beat Georgia when they went 3-5 in SEC play and 7-6 overall? No — the answer is no. They are still rebuilding.

Missouri went 6-7, 3-5 — these Tigers aren’t going to beat Georgia.

Tennessee went 4-4 and 7-6 overall — they are probably the most improved among the other SEC East schools, but the speedy offense only works so long against a talented defense. They will challenge Georgia in 2022, but the game is in Athens, giving the Dawgs an advantage. However, they will make it competitive, and the Dawgs need that.

Lastly, Kentucky is the only legitimate SEC East opponent who can compete with the Dawgs, but again, depth is an issue here, and the Dawgs are winning that battle. The one advantage is it’s in Lexington, but Georgia should have no problem wearing down the Wildcats to win the SEC East.

That program has improved in the last five years, but they don’t quite have what it takes to dethrone the SEC East kings.

Georgia has run the East and has made the SEC Championship four of the last five years. The Dawgs are who these teams mimic their programs after and desperately want to be like Georgia. Florida is implementing black jerseys, Vanderbilt is trying a new logo, and stadium renovations are going on for the Gators.

However, none of these schools have what Georgia does. Smart’s culture that he has implemented is the difference-maker. Not to mention the ability to recruit and the other things, but none of these other schools have that discipline that Georgia does.

The Dawgs have such a wide gap over the rest of the SEC East that if they lost before getting to Atlanta, it would be because a miracle happened for the other team. If we look at the SEC West schools, the Dawgs will play in 2022—  Auburn hasn’t won in Athens since 2005.

Those Tigers are rebuilding as well, and while the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry always seems to be a good one, the Dawgs should handle it with ease.

Mississippi State is the other SEC West school that Georgia plays in 2022. The other Bulldogs haven’t beaten Georgia in Starkville since 2010. However, these two don’t play that much, but it’s hard to predict they will defeat Georgia is a hard thing to do.

We have to agree with Tim Brando on this one. Alabama reloads every year. Why is it hard to believe that Georgia cannot do the same? It’s the offseason, and everyone will have something to say about the Dawgs and how 2021 was so special, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be hard to accept that Georgia is genuinely building something great that will last for many years to come.

To answer Finebaum’s question of whether we agree or disagree — it’s a hard no for us. Georgia has talent, a schedule that suits another impressive year, a conference full of programs rebuilding, and they have Smart.

There is a massive cultural difference in Athens, and Smart isn’t going to lose the hard work they put in through the first six years just because they won a national championship. The Dawgs want more than one title, so the expectations are probably more demanding than in 2021, but they at least remain the same, which is why he is in charge.

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Georgia football should make it back to Atlanta, but past that weekend is where it gets harder to predict. The Dawgs are kings of the SEC East, and it isn’t changing any time soon.