What We Should Expect from UGA in 2019

January 2, 2019

NEW ORLEANS - In 376 days, the Big Easy will host the National Championship Game. 

It is completely reasonable for Georgia fans to expect to be there. They should certainly expect to be in the College Football Playoff next winter. 

Superman should fly. Georgia should be in the CFP. 

Its not as easy to say that after Texas’ win over the Dawgs on Tuesday night, but its still true. Nothing about this game effects the 2019 season… beyond a few younger players getting time in the spotlight, and a valuable lesson learned about chirping over social media. 

That 2018 was unlikely to be the year UGA was best positioned to win it all doesn’t take away from these two facts: It remains one of only three programs (Auburn and State in 2017) to go toe to toe with Alabama in the last 29 games the Tide have played; It lost to a team that it was better than in the Sugar Bowl. 

Its hard to reconcile both of those things being true at the same time. 

Georgia, the program, should be in at least the Sugar Bowl from here on out. This program is too good and has set itself up too well to not take advantage of its natural recourses in the world of college football. 

Georgia shouldn’t win the SEC or national title every year, but it should be expected that Georgia get into the CFP next season, and even win it all. 

“It’s not Superman’s fault if he can fly, and he doesn’t take advantage of it,” Kirby said going into the 2018. 

I’m not sure there’s anything he’s said in his time as a player or coach that better encapsulates Georgia’s football program over the last 20 years (Texas, by the way, is in the same exact boat). 

UGA should be here. It should fly. It should be the power and the bully. The effort in the Sugar Bowl not withstanding, that still hasn’t changed. Only mighty Alabama has recruited at the same level of Kirby in the three most-recent cycles. Ohio State was keeping pace, but that fell off this year. Clemson, Texas, Florida State, USC? They’ve not done what Alabama and UGA. 

The sum of the parts is going to add up even if UGA couldn’t overcome some of the parts not being available Tuesday night.

Playing for the national title is no longer a pipe dream. We just saw that, and we saw the Dawgs narrowly lose it to Alabama. Losses now are going to be more painful for the Georgia faithful because there is so much more on the line now than the 2013 Auburn miracle or the 2014 Georgia Tech debacle. 

Georgia is now at a point where playing in the Sugar Bowl is a disappointment, which is an amazing statement. But that sentiment is the only way to get where you need to go. The path in 2019 won’t be easy. Nothing in the SEC ever is. 

Notre Dame, the Gators, Texas A&M and probably Alabama will be a legit schedule to navigate. The SEC never sleeps. And in that run the only game Georgia won’t certainly be favored against is Alabama. And by the end of the season the Dawgs very well could be favored against the Tide. 

Not much significant changes going into 2019 for the Dawgs. They won’t be replacing Roquan, Nick and Sony. We heard about that non stop last spring. Losing Deandre Baker and senior leaders like Jonathon Ledbetter will hurt. If Justin Fields transfers that will hurt depth, but barring injury, his staying or leaving won’t determine the fate of this program in 2019. 

The large sum of the parts is coming back - including Jake Fromm, Deandre Swift and the massive offensive line that’s the best in the country... even if it didn’t show that against Texas. More than ever Georgia is about the sum of the parts… not any one player. Kirby Smart will get the defense ready to go. He’s certainly earned that sort of trust after 32 wins in three years. His defense has allowed more than 30 points only four times in the last 29 games. That’s pretty good.

So all of the parts are there for Georgia to play for it all in 2019, and I fully expect that to happen… as crazy as that might sound. Predicting that someone will play for a national title in a sport as wild as college football is pretty silly. But that’s how good this Georgia team is right now. 

The only thing in the way for the Dawgs is Alabama. The same goes for the Tide. The only thing in the way of the Tide is Georgia. Clemson should be in the playoff next winter as well, but they won’t get the gift of playing Notre Dame in the semifinal this time. If Bama and UGA are in, the Tigers will have to fight their way into the NCG by beating an SEC team.

Its hard to know who else to expect in the playoff along with those three, but you would think it would be either Ohio State or Oklahoma. Maybe the Pac 12 will start playing football again soon. Someone outside of Oklahoma in the Big 12 (Texas?) could play well enough to get in. Maybe something particularly wild like Clemson losing the… you know what - I can’t even finish the sentence its so stupid. 

Four years into this thing we know that Georgia is one of the best programs in the country. The only one that’s better is Alabama - how long that will be the case remains to be seen. We’ve seen how the Dawgs stack up to the Tide of late… its pretty close if you don’t remember Georgia losing on the final play of the game two years in a row.

2019 seems like the year we will see two SEC teams play twice - once in December (an exhibition game for seeding purposes), and once in January for it all. 

But Superman needs to not just to take off, but also to fly… and that’s up to him. 

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