In the final analysis, Georgia's national championship runner-up of 2017 was the perfect storm of talent, experience, and confidence.
First, a bunch of big-time seniors, including Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Lorenzo Carter all decided to put their NFL dreams on hold because they thought their team might be special. Chubb and Michel became the No. 2 and No. 3 rushers in the history of the school behind some guy named Walker. Carter's draft stock improved and it didn't hurt that he was playing close to Roquan Smith, easily the best linebacker in college football.
When sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason tweaked his knee in the first game against Appalachian State, true freshman Jake Fromm was rushed into the game. A star was born and Eason could never get his job back. He is now at Washington.
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The confidence began with a 20-19 win at Notre Dame on Sept. 9. After that trip Georgia believed it could play with anybody--and the Bulldogs did. They avenged their only regular-season loss of the year by beating Auburn in the SEC championship game. They rallied from a 31-14 deficit to beat Oklahoma 54-48 (OT) in the CFP semifinals at the Rose Bowl. It was a game for the ages.
Then Georgia played Alabama for the national championship, losing 26-23 on the last play of the game.
So now what? Simple. Kirby Smart followed up a magical season by signing the No. 1 recruiting class in the country and now the expectation is that Georgia will win the SEC East again and probably play Alabama for a spot in the playoffs.
Yes, there are some questions. There is a lot of work to be done when it comes to the defense. But Smart is filling those holes with some very talented players.
Then there is the matter of rebuilding the running game but D'Andrew Swift, who had 641 yards as the No. 3 tailback, is going to be a superstar. Georgia did lose true freshman Zamir White to an torn ACL in practice. But this is the deepest position on the team.
Fromm was truly great as a true freshman, completing 62.2 percent of his passes. But then there is the matter of freshman Justin Fields, rated the No. 1 high school quarterback in the country, who enrolled at Georgia last January despite the presence of Fromm. This guy, I am told, is Deshaun Watson-level talent.
In short, get Georgia early. South Carolina hosts the Bulldogs on Sept. 8. If Georgia survives that one I expect the Bulldogs to go 12-0 and play Alabama for the SEC championship in the same building (Mercedes-Benz Stadium) where they stagged a classic last January.
If there is going to be consistent competitor from the SEC East to challenge Alabama's dominance, it's these guys.