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The 2017 Georgia Bulldog football season was one of the best seasons for the program in years. Led by seniors Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter and Davim Bellamy along with Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith, the Dawgs experienced many successes including taking over South Bend, defeating the Florida Gator, capturing the SEC Championship and finally getting to smell the roses in Pasadena. Ultimately, a season filled with ups and downs ended at the lowest of lows: watching DeVonta Smith haul in a forty-one-yard pass from Tua Tagovailoa to defeat Georgia in the National Championship. Although the 2017 season ended in such horrible fashion, hope is high in Athens, and there are plenty of reasons for Dawg fans to be optimistic for the 2018 season. Here are six reasons the Georgia Bulldogs will bounce back and finish the job in his first National Championship since 1980.

1. Recruitment Class
Kirby Smart was a man on a mission on the recruiting path for the class of 2018. His class of seven five stars was the top in the country and he helped Georgia sign the top class in the country. He featured eleven players who were in the top three of his respected positions coming out of high school and that includes four who were ranked number one at his position. The class of 2018 consisted of the number one guard in the country, Jamaree Salyer, the number one outside linebacker, Adam Anderson, and the number one dual threat quarterback who many believe should have been the best overall player in Justin Fields. . Zamir White, the nation’s top running back, was also signed but will miss the 2018 season after tearing his ACL in spring training. Other big names, like No. 2 defensive back Tyson Campbell and also No. 2 outside linebacker Brenton Cox, should play early and often. The best class in Georgia history is fully capable of not only plugging the holes left by the graduating class of 2018, but so much more.

2. Offensive Line
The offensive line was a big part of Georgia’s run in 2017, so it’s hard to imagine it getting any better. It will and it’s better. the Dawgs lose first-round Isaiah Wynn to the Patriots, but sophomore Andrew Thomas is more than ready to slide into left tackle. As a true freshman, he started all fifteen games for the Dawgs at right tackle and was able to hold his own. All other positions are up for grabs, though it appears there are some definite candidates for each position. Ben Cleveland will be the starting right guard unless something unexpected happens. He earned that spot in Auburn’s regular-season game last year and has never looked back. At 6’7,340 pounds, it’s hard to get bigger than Big Ben, right? Wrong. At 6’8 350 Isaiah Wilson is an absolute mountain of a man and appears to be the favorite for the right tackle job. Wilson entered as the No. 5 offensive tackle in the class of 2017, but struggled in the Georgia heat last year. He has adjusted and is looking to get his name out there. Right now in the center is Lamont Gaillard. Gaillard is a very solid blocker and passes the ball to the quarterback consistently with no problem. If the center of him doesn’t get his name much from him, then he’s doing something right and that’s the case with Lamont Gaillard. Perhaps the most open spot in the line is left guard. However, he should be Kendall Baker’s place to lose. Baker is a 6’5, 310-pound senior. His experience will be beneficial to a young but talented and powerful offensive line. If one of these five starters doesn’t perform or goes down, there are plenty of young guys like former five-star Cade Mays and Trey Hill who are ready to play. The projected average starter is 325 pounds, so there’s plenty of meat to run behind for that stable of backs in Athens.

3. “Easy Hours”
The reason I say “easy” is because in the SEC nothing is easy, but the Georgia schedule is very favorable. Week one they play Austin Peay before going to South Carolina week two. The Gamecocks will be prepared to play a top three team at home, but Georgia’s surplus of talent will prove more than enough to take care of the Gamecocks. Week three is another cupcake with Middle Tennessee before heading to Missouri to face the Tigers. Mizzou has arguably the best quarterback in the country in Drew Locke, however, with a lack of a team around him on both sides of the ball, Georgia will take over, especially in the trenches, and with ease. However, it will be a great test for high school youth and can be a great learning experience. Week five Tennessee comes to town. Tennessee’s problems run deeper than just their coaching staff, so expect another big Georgia win. Vandy is Vandy for the sixth week. In week seven, things start to get a little more complicated. The Dawgs travel to Death Valley to take on the LSU Tigers. Death Valley is always a tough place to play, but Georgia proved in 2017 that it can play anywhere and Dawgnation should be strong as that’s the hot game for 2018. Dawgs will win that one. So that has Georgia entering its eighth bye at a nice 7-0 going to Jacksonville. Florida will be better than it was in 2017, but their situation is much the same as Tennessee’s and they will fall again to the Dawgs. Kentucky just can’t match Georgia anywhere on the field. Auburn is the only team on the Georgia schedule that can match them across the board from a talent standpoint. With more depth and the home field advantage they will receive in Athens, the Dawgs will be favored. The last two weeks of the regular season are UMass and Georgia Tech, so there are two easy wins to end the regular season. If the Dawgs can stay healthy, it’s hard to see them lose one game and virtually impossible to see them lose two.

4. In general, more talented
Georgia lost great talent and valuable leaders to graduate and the draft, however strong recruiting in recent years has Georgia poised to recharge. He has a plethora of inside linebackers ready to replace Roquan Smith. Deandre Walker and Jonathon Ledbetter along with freshman Brenton Cox are ready to take over and possibly improve the holes left by Lorenzo Carter and Davim Bellamy. The secondary will replace Dominick Sanders, Malkom Parrish and Aaron Davis with younger but more talented players like Richard Lecounte, Tyson Campbell, Tyree Mcgee and Deangelo Gibbs. Future first-rounder Deandre Baker will fill a corner spot. On offense, true sophomore Jake Fromm will have a year under his belt and will have more weapons when Demetrius Robinson joins an already loaded receiving corps that includes Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman. The greatest running back duo in history is now in the NFL, but there will be no slump in the running game. Deandre Swift has already shown what he can do and Elijah Holyfield has been waiting for his chance to show what he can do. The aforementioned offensive line will give these backs huge holes to break through. This could possibly be the most on-paper talented team Georgia has ever fielded.

5. X-factors
Every team has their secret weapons and that includes Georgia. The Dawgs have three players who will be able to give them the edge in even games. James Cook is a fast and explosive runner. The 5’11, 190-pound running back came in as a four-star in the class of 2018 and will give Georgia’s offense a big boost with his sweeps and grabs from the backfield. He will be a great play threat who can help the offense in those close games. Georgia also repays much of its 2017 success with kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. Hot-Rod was virtually automatic on field goals last year, making twenty of the twenty-three he attempted, including a fifty-five-yarder in the Rose Bowl that apparently sparked a comeback for Georgia. The Dawgs will benefit from Blankenship’s field goals as well as his deep kickoffs. Georgia also brought in dual threat quarterback Justin Fields. Justin Fields isn’t your everyday dual-threat quarterback. At 6’3, 230 pounds, he runs a dash of less than 4.5 forty yards. What separates Fields from other dual threats is his arm. He won Elite 11 MVP without throwing an interception and scoring a touchdown on 70 percent of his team’s drives in an event he didn’t get to play. His special arm and special legs will create a spark for Georgia’s offense when he needs it.

6. Motivation
The 2017 season was nicknamed the “Revenge Tour” as the Dawgs dominated all the opponents that had beaten them the previous year. Georgia has now gotten her “pay” on every team. The only team they haven’t gotten revenge on is the Alabama Crimson Tide. A showdown in Atlanta for the SEC Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoffs is very likely and Kirby Smart’s team will be heavily amped up along with Dawgnation, who should pack Mercedes Benz Stadium again. It will feel like a home game for the Dawgs and they will be very hard to beat. It’s hard to say who Georgia’s playoff opponents would be, but they won’t be as tough as Alabama and the Dawgs should be the favorites in both games to win. Add that in with the motivation they’ll have to never fall behind in glory again and they’re very hard to beat.

Georgia Football’s 2017 season was one of the best in years, however the Dawgs are poised to make 2018 the Year of the Dawg and make this season even better.

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