If you believe Jeff Dantzler, go ahead and book your hotel room in Miami, Fla., because Georgia will play the University of Southern California for the national championship in January.
Dantzler, who serves as the radio play-by-play announcer for the University of Georgia baseball and women’s basketball programs, made the prediction while speaking to the Lanier 400 Bulldog Club on Aug. 30 at the Forsyth Conference Center.
Dantzler was on hand with Bulldogs’ mascot "Hairy Dawg" to talk with fans ahead of the season opener.
"I think with the combination of what Georgia has returning and with the schedule set up, there is no question that we should have a special year," Dantzler said. "If Aaron Murray, who is extremely talented, can cut down on catastrophic mistakes and not throw pick-sixes, we will be hard to beat."
Dantzler’s biggest concern is with special teams, and with good reason.
The Bulldogs ranked 116th out of 120 FBS teams at covering punts last year.
Against Buffalo on Saturday, Georgia’s punt coverage was suspect, as the only Buffalo punt return was for 33 yards.
There was good news concerning special teams as freshman kicker Marshall Morgan missed his first collegiate kick, a 45-yard field goal, but rebounded with a 35-yard kick in the second quarter and made all six extra points.
"That’s an area last year where Georgia was OK, but at times it reminded me of a grade I got in botany class, an F-minus," Dantzler said. "Giving up fake punt touchdowns, kick return touchdowns, having punts blocked and missing field goals ... you can’t do that in any level of football, but especially in the SEC."
Dantzler exuded confidence in the Bulldog defense. The unit held five SEC teams to 15 points or less last season. Georgia finished the Buffalo game by holding the Bulls to only seven points in the second half.
"The defensive and linebacking corps should be terrific," Dantzler said. "The defense overall is the most talented we’ve had since the days of Thomas Davis and David Pollack."
If Georgia stumbles this year, Dantzler thinks it might happen when the team plays Missouri this Saturday. With possible suspensions to Bulldogs free safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, the Tigers may have a shot to win their first-ever SEC game.
"They’ve been talking about this game for a while up there," Dantzler said. "They know how big this game is for them."
But if Georgia can win the vast majority of its games this season, the Bulldogs have the ability to build a dynasty if the school can win most of the recruiting battles inside the state, Dantzler said.
"If we can ever get to year after year where we get the very best players in this state, and we’re not going to always get them all, there’s no reason the University of Georgia can’t be the premier football and athletic program in all of America.
"When we get the best of the best, we can be as good as or better than anybody. There is no reason Georgia can’t do with LSU has been doing."