Georgia’s on everybody’s mind at SEC media days

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Georgia Bulldogs are up next at SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday morning, and they’re expected to draw a lot of attention.
That comes with the territory when you’re a back-to-back national champion. Even a day before their appearance, as the annual preseason talkfest opened Monday here at the Grand Hyatt Nashville, the Bulldogs were a topic of conversation. From “Radio Row” to the main stage inside the Grand Hall, “three-peat” was an oft-repeated term, and it will be even more Tuesday as coach Kirby Smart and star players Brock Bowers, Kamari Lassiter and Sedrick Van Pran maneuver their way through the organized chaos.
Georgia absolutely dominated its competition in 2022, winning its 12 regular-season games by an average score of 37.9 to 11.3 and throttling TCU 65-7 in the College Football Playoff Championship game. But there were a few close calls along the way, and that’s what many of the Bulldogs’ SEC brethren are choosing to remember as the 2023 season fast approaches.
Georgia fans may have forgotten about the narrow 26-22 victory over Missouri the Bulldogs forged on a frigid October night in Columbia, but the Tigers haven’t.
“We know we were one play from winning that game, and that could have changed our whole season,” junior cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine said. “They won the SEC, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
LSU actually outscored the Bulldogs 20-15 in the second half of an SEC Championship game that at halftime looked like another blowout in the making. Seven months later, that 30 minutes of football represents belief for the Tigers in Year 2 under coach Brian Kelly.
LSU tries to close gap with Georgia, be perennial title contender again
“Based upon how we’ve recruited and how we’ll continue to recruit, I know that we’ll have a football roster that will be able to compete against Georgia,” Kelly said Monday. “Is that right now? No, it’s not. But if we continue to do what we’re doing, we’re going to have a roster that can compete against Georgia.”
LSU was one of three teams that took the podium Monday after SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey made his opening remarks. The others were Missouri and Texas A&M. Georgia was never far from anybody’s mind.
The Aggies saw one of their players depart College Station to join the Bulldogs during the offseason. They’re going to miss defensive back Smoke Bouie, a rising sophomore who hails from Smart’s hometown of Bainbridge.
“Smoke was a dog,” A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith said. “He came with that enthusiasm each and every day. He was eager to compete. He was a tough competitor. He never backed down from a challenge. I remember the first day I saw him, we were playing 7-on-7, and he was going up against all the best. He didn’t want anybody less. Georgia is getting a tough competitor, a guy who’s willing to do what’s necessary to win. Shoot, he’s a great guy.”
Missouri saw its top receiver, Dominic Lovett, leave to join the Bulldogs’ championship pursuits in Athens.
“He’ll bring the right energy to that team, because he’s never had a bad moment,” Abrams-Draine said of Lovett. “Even when we came from losing that game, he came back smiling on Monday and happy with life. He’s happy all the time. … I like to see people like him do what they want to do.”
Georgia is scheduled to take the main stage in the Grand Hall at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Hometown-team Vanderbilt begins the day’s proceedings and the Bulldogs will be followed in the afternoon by Auburn and Mississippi State. Media Days continues Wednesday and Thursday and the preseason predictions poll and All-SEC teams will be released Friday.

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