The Preseason AP Top 25 poll won’t come out until next month, but here at BangTheBook.com, we’re giving you a Top 25 from a betting perspective. Using power ratings to determine the top 25 teams in college football, readers will have the opportunity to look at what the preseason Top 25 might look like if designed by a bettor. Each article will feature a preview of that team with a write-up for each position and an explanation of why the position group was rated that way and some further insight into the methodology of creating power ratings.
The Methodology: Each team is rated up to 100 with eight different position groups considered. Quarterbacks, offensive and defensive lines, and coaching are graded on a scale of 4 to 15, while running backs, wide receivers, linebackers, and defensive backs are graded on a scale of 4 to 10 in half-point increments.
Groups are rated on returning production, potential, previous performance, and a handful of other variables. Information was gathered from all corners of the college football world, including preseason magazines, websites dedicated to specific teams, national college football websites, and more.
The #6 team on the BangTheBook.com Preseason Top 25 is the Georgia Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will be Hutson Mason’s team with the departure of Aaron Murray to the NFL. Mason has paid his dues in the program and, more importantly, has gotten plenty of practice reps in Mike Bobo’s offense. Mason got valuable experience after Murray’s torn ACL last season and the Bulldogs will have talent, albeit inexperienced, behind Mason if he falters with two top-ten recruits. One huge benefit to Mason is that the Georgia offense is loaded with skill players.
Running Backs (10/10)
Health is the only question mark for this group as the Bulldogs may have the best 1-2 punch in the country with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Marshall was one of seemingly 27 Bulldogs to tear an ACL last season and he played just five games. Gurley also played through an ankle injury. Those injuries allowed true freshman JJ Green to rack up 5.6 yards per carry on his 68 rushes, though he moved to defensive back in the spring. This group is definitely elite, especially if they stay healthy.
Wide Receivers (9.5/10)
The only factor preventing a perfect score in this category is the uncertainty surrounding Hutson Mason. Other than that, this group has tremendous upside with three seniors, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley, and Michael Bennett, all slated to start. Mitchell played one game last season before he was done for the year and Bennett has had his share of dings and dents in his collegiate career. The tight ends are inexperienced, but highly-touted.
Offensive Line (13.5/15)
Three different three-year starters graduated, but there’s plenty of talent left from a group that allowed just 22 sacks. This group will open holes for the running backs and should give Mason enough time to get rid of the ball accurately. Their stats may look better because of the talent at the skill positions, but this is still a formidable group anchored by two-year full-time starter at center in David Andrews.
Defensive Line (13/15)
Admittedly, this may be a little bit of an underrated point of view on the Georgia defensive line, but their strength is almost always in the back seven. That may change with Jeremy Pruitt, the new defensive coordinator who left Florida State to take over for Todd Grantham, but the defense gave up over four yards per carry in conference play. Garrison Smith left and he’ll be replaced by a highly-touted recruit, but the only current star is Ray Drew.
What the Georgia linebackers provide in hitting the quarterback has been negated in the past by their struggles in coverage. The four projected starters hit the quarterback 61 times last season, but only broke up 11 passes. With that in mind, teams gameplanned better for Georgia and threw for 51 more yards per game than the previous season. This is a highly-talented group that produces a lot of negative plays and makes life difficult for opposing quarterbacks, but they do have that one flaw.
Defensive Backs (8.5/10)
Josh Harvey-Clemons moved on and the Bulldogs only recorded seven interceptions last season, even with all of the pressure that the front seven put on the quarterback. It seems like the Bulldogs could be in a bit of a lull in terms of churning out top defensive backs, even if it is just for one season. It’s worth taking a wait-and-see approach to the defense overall with Pruitt instead of Grantham running things, but this is a group that seems to be solid, but lack a star player.
Mark Richt’s team played some unnecessarily close games last season, though injuries certainly played a huge role. Mike Bobo’s offense had the best season (by yards per game) they’ve had under his watch by a large margin and it’s difficult to see that happening again, even with the skill players that return. The switch from Todd Grantham to Jeremy Pruitt may be an upgrade, but continuity may be a slight concern early on. But, this is a great group of recruiters and Pruitt’s familiarity with the SEC (former Alabama DB coach) can’t hurt.
The Bulldogs are shaded slightly in the power ratings because the SEC East really looks to be below SEC standards past Georgia and South Carolina. Health will be the issue because this is a team capable of beating anybody if the key skill position guys on offense and the front seven on defense can stay healthy. The Bulldogs may be underrated slightly by the transition from Aaron Murray to Hutson Mason, who is finally getting a chance and could very easily make the most of it.
We’re going to learn a lot about the Bulldogs right away with Clemson and South Carolina to open the season with a bye sandwiched in between. After that, they won’t be tested until October 11 at Missouri, a team that clearly exceeded expectations last season. From a preseason standpoint, the Bulldogs have to be the SEC East favorite because of the insane amount of talent that they have. It’s up to Richt and his coordinators to maximize that talent, a goal that has been met with a lot of inconsistency over the last five seasons.
From a pure talent perspective, the Bulldogs are easily a top ten team and even with a little bit of an inflation due to the SEC East, they’re deserving of a spot high on this list.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.
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