Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs will look to earn the East’s bid into the SEC Championship after falling short of the task in 2020.
Junior quarterback JT Daniels gets a full offseason to prepare as the incumbent starter after taking over the job late in 2020, and he will have a backfield that returns both Zamir White and James Cook. The stability in an offense that will operate without its best weapon from 2020 (temporarily, depending on his recovery from a torn ACL), George Pickens, is remarkable.
Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton provide explosiveness and size at the receiver position as returning starters, and the transfer portal addition of athletic freak Arik Gilbert should give Daniels more than enough of an arsenal to effectively lead the Georgia offense.
Georgia brings back three starters on the offensive line with Jamaree Salyer, Justin Shaffer and Warren McClendon, and offensive coordinator Todd Monken mentioned multiple names who will potentially fill in the gaps.
A week one matchup against Clemson is going to test the unit, considering its defense is one of the toughest units in the country. However, Georgia’s recruiting work over the last few years provides them with impressive talent to match up with pretty much any opponent they come across.
Defensively, the departures of Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson eliminate a large chunk of the Bulldogs’ pass rush production from 2020, but Adam Anderson, Jordan Davis and 2020’s leading tackler Nakobe Dean return to bolster a strong front seven. Junior safety Tykee Smith, a West Virginia transfer, and Clemson senior cornerback transfer Derion Kendrick will be key additions to a secondary that will not have its most productive guys from 2020 in Eric Stokes and Richard Lecounte III.
Mizzou faces Georgia in Athens on November 6, which might just be the toughest bout on the Tigers’ 2021 schedule. Georgia was ranked fifth in both the AFCA coaches poll and the AP preseason poll for a multitude of reasons, and those will be on display throughout their campaign as they try to make their fourth SEC Championship appearance in five years. 10 Bulldogs were named to the Preseason Media Days All-SEC teams, and 15 were named to the National College Football Awards Association’s various watchlists.