KIRBY SMART – Smart is headed into his second College Football Playoff appearance, and the first since 2017-18. He was also just named AP SEC Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 12-0 regular season record. The time for awards does not matter now though, Georgia was out-coached in the SEC Championship game against Alabama and will need to get back to its identity on defense against a talented Michigan squad.
STETSON BENNETT (QB #13) – Bennett struggled in the second half of the SEC Championship game, but Georgia losing to Alabama was not solely his fault. On the positive side, Bennett threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Early indications from Smart make it seem as if Bennett will remain the starter heading into the Orange Bowl. If that is the case, “the mailman” will need to be better at making plays with his feet and not turning the ball over. Both of his interceptions proved to be costly against the Crimson Tide.
BROCK BOWERS (TE #19) – Bowers very well might be the best tight end in the country as a true freshman. He was snubbed for the Mackey Award, an award that goes to the nation’s best tight end but he bounced back by being named SEC Newcomer of the Year. Against Alabama, he had 10 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. He is an exceptional athlete that is a matchup nightmare for defenses. The Wolverines will certainly be keying in to stop him, so maybe he will help open up the offense for Bennett and the rest of the receivers.
NOLAN SMITH (OLB #4) – Georgia’s front four really struggled to create pressure against Alabama’s offensive line when only rushing four. The Bulldogs will need more from Nolan Smith, who has had a good year this year to get to Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara. Offenses are going to focus more on Smith with the loss of Adam Anderson, who was the team’s best edge rusher.
GEORGE PICKENS (WR #1) – Georgia fans rejoiced to see George Pickens make his season debut against Georgia Tech after tearing his ACL in March. They were even happier to see him haul in a bomb from Stetson Bennett in the first quarter of the SEC Championship game that set up the Bulldogs’ first touchdown. Pickens is the most talented receiver on Georgia’s roster and will now have a few weeks to heal up before the Orange Bowl. If he can even be at 75% of his normal self, he becomes a huge weapon for UGA’s offense.
CHRISTOPHER SMITH (S #29) – Smith missed time against Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech with a knee injury. He did play against Alabama, but that was only after backup safety Dan Jackson started to struggle a bit. Smith will be important against Michigan because he might have to move into the STAR position, which was a big weakness for Georgia against Alabama.