The definition of an “X-factor,” says Merriam-Webster (you know, the dictionary people), is “a circumstance, quality or person that has a strong but unpredictable influence.” When it comes to football, then, think of an “X-factor” as a player who could make – or break – an offense or a defense.
Here are Georgia’s X-factors this season.
QB Jacob Eason: With each – ahem – passing day, it looks more and more as if Eason will be the Bulldogs' starting quarterback in the opener against North Carolina. He has been getting the first-team reps during practice of late, and even if he doesn't start the opener, it's apparent he is the answer at quarterback. Eason arrived in Athens with a ton of hype and is going to get his opportunity to live up to it. A positive is that junior running back Nick Chubb seems healthy. A strong running game would take pressure off the young quarterback.
ILB Roquan Smith: Georgia needs to replace both starting inside linebackers, and Smith, a sophomore, seems poised to take over one of those spots. Smith has drawn praise from coach Kirby Smart for his intensity, and his efforts on the practice field looks to have vaulted Smith into a starting role alongside fellow sophomore Natrez Patrick. Smith was recruited for his ability to go sideline-to-sideline making plays. He also has shown the ability in fall camp to make plays in the backfield. Smith was considered a little undersized as a true freshman; he arrived at Georgia last season weighing 207 pounds but has since added almost 20 pounds. An inside linebacker has led Georgia in tackles in each of the past four seasons. Smith looks to be a strong candidate to make it five seasons in a row.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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