Georgia Football is Becoming an Anomaly in College Football
Prior to this season, many expected there to be a bit of a drop off in regards to Georgia’s abilities defensively. Losing 15 total players to the NFL draft and 10 of those not just being defensive players but starters. That’s a lot of turnover for a roster to experience and bounce back from but somehow Kirby Smart and his staff have pulled it off.
Right now, Georgia is currently No. 11 in the nation for points per game averaging 40.1, No. 3 in total offense, and No. 2 for points allowed this season. Now after knocking off Tennessee, the Bulldogs are just one win away from clinching their fifth divisional title in seven seasons under Smart while also nearing the program’s third appearance in the college football playoff.
Eleven weeks into the season Georgia remains undefeated, possesses the No. 1 ranking and arguably has two of the most impressive wins in all of college football. It has been an impressive season for Smart and his team and something that the college football world has never seen before.
Taking a look back at other teams that witnessed a mass exodus on their rosters due to players leaving for the NFL, no one was able to accomplish what Georgia is currently doing.
Following the 2018 season, Alabama had just appeared in the national championship game and then had 12 players taken in the draft. The next season, they finished second in their division and lost two games during the regular season.
After the 2019 season, LSU had 14 players drafted after winning a national championship. The very next season the Tigers went 5-5 and didn’t even make a bowl game.
Back in 2014, Florida State made the college football playoff and then had 11 players drafted into the NFL. In their next season, they went 10-3 and finished second in their division after going 13-1 in their previous season.
Even in 2003 Ohio State went 11-2, finished No. 4 in the AP poll, and then had 14 players drafted. In their next season, the Buckeyes went 8-4, finished fifth in their conference, and made the Alamo bowl.
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So four different examples within the last 20 years where teams had more than ten players taken in the draft and experienced a drop off in their next season. Georgia lost more players than any of those teams listed above and still remain as a favorite to win both the SEC and the national championship.
What Smart and his staff have done this season is not normal. History says for a team to lose that many starters in one offseason to then not miss a beat the very next season is something that should not be possible. But somehow, Smart and his team have found a way to do the impossible. Especially not after the team’s defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach and offensive line coach all leave in the same offseason as well.
Part of it has to do with how well Georgia recruits every single year but it also has to do with how efficiently Smart and his staff have developed players. It’s how a true freshman like Malaki Starks becomes a starter and looks like one of the best players on the football field every single week.
This Georgia team, who was supposed to be inexperienced, has looked far from it, and instead they are accomplishing things that no other program that has been in their shoes was able to accomplish in prior years.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.