Georgia Bulldogs, 8-5 (4-4)
Can the Georgia offense take the next step?
Despite unknowns surrounding Nick Chubb’s health, there was plenty of reason to be optimistic about Georgia’s offense heading into the 2016 season. Chubb erased all doubts in an impressive Week 1 win over North Carolina, running for 222 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. He never surpassed any of those numbers in a game the rest of the season, but played in every game and finished with 1,130 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
The Bulldogs also had their best offensive game of the season in the opener, having posted a season-high 474 total yards in the 33-24 victory. Overall, Georgia ranked 11th in the SEC in total offense (384.7 total yards per game) and in yards per play (5.44), which ranked No. 87 and No. 86 in the country, respectively. The Bulldogs were particularly bad finishing drives and averaged just 3.75 points per trip inside their opponents’ 40-yard line, which ranked 120th nationally.
Despite starting a true freshman at quarterback the majority of the season, such a poor showing was unexpected. Especially given the strength Chubb showed in his first game back following a catastrophic knee injury.
However, it’s not as if Georgia completely tanked offensively, other than the 164 total yards the Dawgs gained against Florida. The 24-10 loss to the Gators was the only time all season Georgia gained fewer than 343 yards. The unit rarely showed any explosiveness (and ranked 96th in the country in IsoPPP), and never gained more than 460 total yards in a game the rest of the season.
Chubb is unexpectedly back for his senior season, as is top backup Sony Michel, who is a talented receiver as well as a runner. Young receivers Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley and tight end Isaac Nauta, all of whom were highly recruited and saw significant playing time last season, plus sophomore QB Jacob Eason, who showed flashes of the talent that made him a five-star prospect, return also.
Together the group is as talented as any pack of skill position players in the SEC. The only question is whether second-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney can help them reach that potential.