NCAA Football

3 Georgia football offseason priorities to extend SEC dominance

ATHENS – Georgia has taken over the top of the SEC football standings, with Kirby Smart creating his own dynasty.

The Bulldogs have won the last two national championships and there are more than just whispers of the “three-peat” with about half the starters returning from last season’s 15-0 team.

The offseason has clearly gotten off to a rocky start for Georgia with the tragic deaths on Jan. 15 of offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruit Chandler LeCroy.

Coach Kirby Smart and the team have rallied amid the grief and sadness and pushed through what is expected to be a challenging offseason.

From a footballing perspective, focus has not been a problem for Smart’s latest team, with a high standard firmly in place.

Still, there are off-season issues and here are the top 3 priorities to note:

Priority No. 1 — biggie, keep Monken

Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has done more to elevate a program to a championship level than any other assistant coach in the country over the past two seasons.

Monken’s brilliant schemes and play calling have given the Bulldogs a leg up at every turn, and his ability to design plays around his personnel and quarterbacks is unparalleled.

WATCH: Todd Monken stays humble but keeps it real with Georgia presentation

Making the most of a former walk-on, Monken has developed a deep and talented QB room filled with players ready and able to set their own future records.

However, the NFL could come calling to bring Monken back with 10 openings for offensive coordinators.

Monken is well-paid at Georgia and has stated he’s comfortable working with Kirby Smart and Mike Bobo, but with two CFP title rings on his fingers, the 56-year-old Monken still harbors NFL dreams.

UGA fans will and should hold their collective breath.

Priority #2 — replace unique talent

Kenny McIntosh quietly became one of the most versatile threats in recent SEC history, on par with the running and pass-catching versatility Percy Harvin once brought to championship Florida offenses (two of only 3 SEC players with 800+ plus rushing, 500+ receiving and 10 TDs).

McIntosh will be hard to replace, but he’s not the only unique talent Monken was able to scheme with this season.

RELATED: Kenny McIntosh commits offense with passing game for second straight game

Darnell Washington, UGA’s 6-foot-7, 285-pound tight end was a physical mismatch who could block as an offensive tackle but also catch passes even when covered. Washington’s departure is one less headache for the defense.

Georgia thought it found its “X” replacement for AD Mitchell, but Mississippi State transfer Rodarius “Rara” Thomas was arrested Monday on a felony charge of false imprisonment, throwing his future with the program into question.

Priority #3 — managing success

Georgia’s victory parade certainly had its detractors, with a few instances of less-than-ideal interaction and somewhat controversial edgy keynotes that caught dignitaries off guard.

Smart will also need to find a new narrative to motivate his team after last season’s performance that “no one believed” in the team. The Bulldogs were a preseason No. 3 pick and were favored in every game, yet UGA players in the locker room after the title game said some had picked them to go 7-6, according to the staff.

Now, there is no doubt that Georgia has changed the program narrative and carries the weight of a rare and historic two-time defending national championship program.

Everyone believes and expectations are high.

Can the Bulldogs handle the fruits and benefits of success? Several players will be on preseason All-American and Award Watch lists, and Georgia players will hear about their greatness during the offseason.

Smart said the day after beating TCU 65-7 that “I’m worried about our season next year,” and that he would think about it on the plane home.

“What’s important now,” Smart said. “WIN – that’s our motto.”

There are several other priorities for Smart and his staff, who have been working as hard as ever on the recruiting trail, and it’s safe to say that work is already underway to address them all.

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