ESPN writer expects Georgian football to ‘underperform’ in 2022 season

Of course, it will be difficult for Georgia to replicate the success they had last season. You don’t lose Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker and others all at once and improve the following season.

The Bulldogs have a lot of work to do if they want to be national champions again, something no team in the sport has done since Alabama won in 2011 and 2012.

Yet a writer for ESPN, Ryan McGee, think the Bulldogs will do more than not repeat. During a recent roundtable with his college football writers, McGee singled out the Bulldogs as the team that will underperform in the sport next season.

“Big pieces are missing from this great historic defense and Stetson Bennett’s time as a folk hero among the fan base appears to have lasted about a week,” McGee wrote. “Will the Bulldogs win the SEC East? Probably. Will they win double-digit games and play in Atlanta in December? More than likely. Will that be enough? No chance.”

Georgia sent 14 players to the NFL last month, tying the record for any program. And if you’ve heard what Kirby Smart had to say this spring, you can see why there’s a bit of pessimism. Smart mentioned how thin the Bulldogs are at wide receiver and defensive back this spring.

He also shared a pretty big concern about the leadership, or lack thereof, in the team right now. Smart has even mentioned publicly that he would like to see Bennett become a better leader.

“There’s a level of comfort and a level of respect on both sides that I can go up and say ‘hey, we’re not going to do this, we’re going to do this,'” Bennett said. “I don’t want to be the parent, we are all brothers in the same football team.

“If you see me doing anything wrong, a drop, whatever, come let me know. But it’s more about comfort and being more vocal.

Still, as ESPN’s Mark Schlabach points out in the same roundtable, Georgia has plenty of talent. There’s Jalen Carter on the defensive line, Brock Bowers on tight end and a number of talented but unproven options at seemingly every position. Georgia has signed a top-5 recruiting class in each of the previous five recruiting rounds, a feat matched only by Alabama.

Related: Georgia football needs Jalen Carter to take on Kirby Smart’s challenge from spring training

The Bulldogs don’t have a busy schedule either. Based on the opponent standings, Oregon might be the toughest foe on the schedule. This game will be played in Atlanta and Oregon head coach Dan Lanning will be playing his first career game as head coach. November could get tricky for Georgia as they host Tennessee before heading to Mississippi State and Kentucky in back-to-back weeks to close out SEC play.

Georgia started last season as the No. 5 team in the nation and finished as the No. 1 ranked team. The Bulldogs are once again expected to start the season in the top 5. They are also favored to return to Atlanta as representatives of the SEC East.