Is this the year? What you can expect from the Georgia Bulldogs this season

ATHENS, Ga. — The question is one that Georgia Bulldogs fans have asked for the past few years while the team has recruited an endless parade of top level athletes. When will UGA win the national championship?

They came close in 2018, losing to Alabama at Mercedes-Benz stadium by a field goal in overtime, but they have not made it back to the College Football Playoff since.

2021 kicks off with a big test vs. Clemson in Charlotte, North Carolina. It will be a big test and a good indicator of what Georgia fans can expect this season.

Watch Georgia play Clemson LIVE Saturday night starting at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 2.

This years Bulldog squad will be only slightly different from the 2020 version. Kirby Smart’s staff largely stays intact. Special teams coordinator Scott Cochran is on leave from the program, his replacement is former South Carolina head coach and one of Smart’s closest friends, Will Muschamp.

The biggest on the field changes will be with the defense. Four of the team’s top defensive backs from the past season were picked in the NFL draft and two of the Bulldogs top linebackers, Azeez Ojulari and Monty Rice were also taken in the draft.

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Meanwhile, Smart dipped into the transfer portal to help fortify the defensive backfield. Tykee Smith came to Athens from West Virginia. Derion Kendrick was an All-ACC performer at Clemson, he too will be joining the Bulldogs defensive backfield this season.

Expectations are high that Adam Anderson will pick up for the loss of Ojulari and be a standout this season. Nakobe Dean will anchor the middle and nose tackle Jordan Davis may very well be an All-American this season.

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Offense is where Georgia is expected to shine. Unlike 2020, the quarterback situation is set.

J.T. Daniels returns after finishing last season strong, the expectation is he will take things to the next level in 2021 with a full offseason to digest offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s system.

There are a few questions at wide receiver with George Pickens out for at least part of the season while recovering from a knee injury.

Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton were a big part of last years offense and are expected to take on a bigger role in 2021. There are several up and coming freshman who are expected to contribute as well.

Sophomore tight end Darnell Washington is nursing an foot injury to start this season. Washington was one of Daniels’ favorite receivers last year. He’s expected to be back on the field soon and be a big contributor along with teammate John Fitzpatrick.

The place where the ‘Dawgs are loaded is running back. Last years starter, Zamir White returns as does James Cook. Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh also got significant playing time last season as freshmen and expectations for both entering the season are through the roof.

If there’s one spot where questions exist, it’s the offensive line. Projected to be the starting center, Warren Ericson enters the season hurt meaning someone else will have to step up and anchor a young line looking to replace a couple of starters. But like every other recent season, there is a plethora of four and five star recruits available to fill in.

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The schedule is very favorable, and after the Clemson game, the ‘Dawgs should be favored in every other game on the schedule.

Here is the rest of the schedule after the Clemson game:

  • Sat. Sept. 11 vs. UAB in Athens
  • Sat. Sept. 18 vs. South Carolina in Athens
  • Sat. Sept. 25 at Vanderbilt
  • Sat. Oct. 2 vs. Arkansas
  • Sat. Oct. 9 at Auburn
  • Sat. Oct. 16 vs. Kentucky
  • Sat. Oct. 23 BYE WEEK
  • Sat. Oct. 30 vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
  • Sat. Nov. 6 vs. Missouri
  • Sat. Nov. 13 at Tennessee
  • Sat. Nov.20 vs. Charleston Southern
  • Sat. Nov. 27 at Georgia Tech