The 2017 Georgia football season was one to remember…in fact, it reminded many of the 2012 season. Sadly, both years ended with excruciating losses to the exact same team, in the exact same city, in the exact same heartbreaking fashion. The Alabama Crimson Tide derailed what seemed to be two national championship-winning seasons.
Aside from losing to Alabama in painful ways, the rosters of the 2012 and 2017 teams were heavily stacked. Both featured a smothering defense – especially at the linebacker position – and a high powered offense led by a ferocious rushing game.
Now there’s no exact science when it comes to comparing the two teams. A lot more goes into it rather than debating position group by position group. We will also take into account intangibles such as a team morale, strength of schedules and storylines.
Quarterback: Aaron Murray vs. Jake Fromm
We give Aaron Murray the edge here. A record breaking season for both Georgia and the SEC, plus a lot of help from a talented group of receivers is hard to debate. However, Fromm still had a great season and maintains a lot of potential.
Running back: Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall vs. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and D’Andre Swift
This one was the toughest to pick because of the talent Georgia has had at running back. However, we give the 2012 team a super slim advantage and that is because of some freshman out of Tarboro, North Carolina named Todd Gurley. Don’t forget that 2012 was Keith Marshall’s best season too, where he showed off his lightning speed. Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and D’Andre Swift put up a great fight, but ultimately Gurley was too much.
Receivers: Tavarres King, Chris Conley, Malcom Mitchell and Arthur Lynch vs. Javon Wims, Terry Godwin III, Mecole Hardman and Isaac Nauta
While Georgia got some good use out of Javon Wims, Mecole Hardman and Terry Godwin III, this one seems a lot easier to pick. The 2012 team featured three receivers who currently play on NFL rosters.
The offensive line proved to be strong for Georgia in 2012 and 2017, where the Bulldogs could run the ball however they liked. We will give the edge to the 2017 team here though. Nobody expected the unit to be anything special, but it quickly turned into one of the nation’s best groups. In 2012, Georgia’s line had serious struggles against South Carolina and Alabama.
The defensive line had a successful season last year, but we like the 2012 team’s overall lineup better at the position. Sterling Bailey, Ray Drew, John Jenkins and company get the slight edge here over Jonathan Ledbetter, Trenton Thompson and the 2017 team’s.
Linebackers: Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree vs. Roquan Smith, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy
The linebacker position was strong for Georgia in both stellar seasons, but we give the edge to 2017 here. Jarvis Jones led a great 2012 defense, along with first round pick Alec Ogletree, but it would not be enough to beat out arguably the greatest linebacker in Georgia history Roquan Smith, Lorenzo Carter, and Davin Bellamy.
Defensive backs: Damian Swann, Sanders Commings, Branden Smith, Shawn Williams and Baccari Rambo vs. Deandre Baker, JR Reed and Dom Sanders
The defensive back position seemed like a difficult choice, but we ended up going with 2017 because of Deandre Baker. Rambo and Swann made some big plays for the Bulldogs, but we liked Sanders and Baker a little bit more.
Special teams: Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber vs. Rodrigo Blaneksnhip and Cameron Nizialek
The special teams position was a major strength for Georgia in 2012 and 2017. Marshall Morgan and Rodrigo Blankenship were both excellent field goal kickeds, but we give the slight edge to Blankenship. He came up clutch during the SEC Championship and the College Football Playoff, so we chose him over Morgan here. Cam Nizialek’s clutch punting put the icing on the cake for the 2017 team as well. Advantage- 2017
Mark Richt and Kirby Smart both had great coaching seasons. But in only his second season, Smart gets the nod for being able to “win the big ones.”
Strength of schedule:
The 2017 team definitely had a more difficult schedule, after having to travel to South Bend, Auburn, Pasadena and Atlanta twice. There is no doubt that the 2012 team had an easier path, even with a road contest at South Carolina and a date with highly ranked Florida.
Team morales was high on both teams, with Aaron Murray and David Andrews acting as leaders in 2012. In 2017 we saw leadership like never before with Chubb, Michel, Roquan, Lorenzo and Davin. Both teams had similar seasons, but there was something special about 2017, with it being only Kirby’s second season and with Georgia playing in an amazing Rose Bowl game. It’s intangible for a reason, but we give the nod to 2017.
While both teams had stellar seasons and finished with fairly similar records, we have to give the edge to the 2017 team. Unlike the 2012 season, the Bulldogs were able to win a playoff game and an SEC title in 2017’s campaign.