‘The program will need to continue making strides on offense’

‘The program will need to continue making strides on offense’

Georgia football was the best team in the sport last year, taking home its first national championship since 1980. The program has recruited, and developed, talent as well as anyone. Kirby Smart isn’t going anywhere, as he’s poised to sign a big new contract at some point this offseason.

The future is very bright for the Georgia football program. So much so that ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg placed Georgia No. 2 overall in his future power rankings for the sport. Just behind Alabama, which Georgia took down in the recent National Championship game.

The Bulldogs have been successful under Smart in large part because of it defense. And yet, it is the offense that Rittenberg believes will shape the future of the Georgia program.

“Georgia could soon occupy the top spot in these rankings, but the program will need to continue making strides on offense,” Rittenberg wrote. “Smart should always produce top-3 defenses, but units like last year’s, which went on to produce a record five NFL first-round draft picks, don’t come around every season.

“The Bulldogs ultimately will need to win more because of their offense and passing game.”

Georgia’s defense was dominant a season ago, leading the nation in scoring defense while also ranking in the top-5 in rush defense, total defense, sacks and yards per allowed play. But the offense wasn’t some middling unit last season.

Related: What Kirby Smart, Todd Monken contracts say about the direction of Georgia football

Even with Georgia rotating between quarterbacks due to injuries to JT Daniels, the Bulldogs still averaged 38.6 points per game. That was ninth-best in the country. The offense ranked fourth in yards per play, at 6.98. That’s actually ahead of Oklahoma and Alabama. Georgia also ranked in the top 10 in touchdown passes and yards per attempt last season. The Bulldogs might not throw it as often as other programs, but Georgia proved to be effective when doing so.

The Bulldogs also bring back a lot of important offensive contributors on the side of the ball. Quarterback Stetson Bennett returns after tossing 29 touchdown passes last season, as does star tight end Brock Bowers.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken also signed a new contract this offseason that will make him the highest-paid offensive coordinator in the sport. He’s entering his third season at Georgia and the offense has improved in each year he’s been in the program. With playmakers like Kendall Milton, Kenny McIntosh, Kearis Jackson and Darnell Washington eager for bigger roles, the Georgia offense should have plenty of talent to help carry a new-look defense in 2022.

Related: Georgia football quarterback Stetson Bennett still not getting recognition from national media

Even with the losses Georgia suffered this offseason, the Bulldogs still have as much talent as anyone when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter, outside linebacker Nolan Smith and cornerback Kelee Ringo give Georgia difference makers at each level of the defense.

In Rittenberg’s rankings, Georgia is sandwiched between Alabama and Ohio State. Those two programs have become best known for their offenses and recent seasons. Texas A&M comes in at No. 4 in the rankings, buoyed by the No. 1 overall recruiting class signed by the Aggies in 2022. Alabama inked the No. 2 class and Georgia signed the No. 3 overall class in the 2022 recruiting cycle.

The rest of the SEC though doesn’t have the same rosy outlook as the teams at the top. LSU is the only other SEC team to appear in the top-20 as the Tigers slot in at No. 10. Florida and Kentucky both squeak into the rankings at No. 22 and No. 25 respectively. Rittenberg’s rankings take a look at the next three years, which would seem to indicate that Georgia likely isn’t to be challenged by any of its divisional foes.

Changes are coming to the SEC, but not until the 2025 season when Texas and Oklahoma join the league. Until then, it appears Georgia will be as well-positioned as anyone to battle for college football supremacy.

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