The Georgia Bulldogs will take the field for the first time this season on Saturday, when they take on the Oregon Ducks.
The game is one of the most interesting matchups of the first weekend. No. 3 Georgia enters after winning the national championship last season. No. 11 Oregon has a new head coach in Dan Lanning, who was the defensive coordinator on the Georgia team last season.
This will be a drastically different looking Georgia team, given that the Bulldogs lost 15 players in the NFL draft. Five of them were taken in the first round of the draft, all of them on the defensive side of the ball.
But there is still a lot of talent in Athens, even on that defensive side of the ball. Jalen Carter is seen as one of the best defenders in the country. Kelee Ringo is poised for a big season as is senior outside linebacker Nolan Smith.
There’s still enough talent coming back for Georgia to make life very difficult for Oregon and its likely starting quarterback, Bo Nix, according to CBSSports’ Tom Fornelli.
“I hope Georgia’s defense remains one of the best in the country, even with the players it lost,” Fornelli wrote. “Kirby Smart and his staff have done too good a job recruiting that side of the ball to expect a drop.”
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To Fornelli’s point, Georgia has been one of the top recruiting powerhouses in recent seasons. The Bulldogs signed the No. 3-ranked recruiting class for the 2022 recruiting cycle, with first-year players like wide receiver Dillon Bell, tight end Oscar Delp, defensive end Mykel Williams and safety Malaki Starks all set. to make an impact Saturday against the Ducks.
247Sports recently updated its composite team talent rankings for the 2022 season. Even with the show’s talent exodus this offseason, Georgia still has the No. 2 team in the country in said metric, ranked between Ohio State at No. 3 and Alabama at No. 1.
Georgia knows Sewell all too well, as the Bulldogs pushed hard for the linebacker in the 2020 recruiting cycle. The Bulldogs ultimately ended up missing out, as he signed with the Ducks.
The Bulldogs have a lot of respect for Sewell and for Justin Flowe. It will be imperative that Georgia locates them and lends them a hand.
“They have a tremendously talented inside linebacker room,” Smart said. “The two kids that we recruited here and tried to get here, and we had some pretty good inside linebackers when they decided to come. We felt strongly enough that they were good enough to come here and play, so they are talented.”
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Georgia is familiar with the environment, as the Bulldogs have played at least one game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium each season under Smart. The hope is that it will be the first of two games in Atlanta this year, as the Bulldogs also hope to represent the SEC East in the SEC championship game in December.
Before that, though, Georgia knows she has to take care of business on Saturday. The game is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET and ABC will broadcast the game.
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