ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia offense took a giant step forward in 2017 and if how things have gone early in camp are any indication, the Bulldogs could do it again this season.

Simply put, the offensive side of the ball was a huge question mark for UGA in 2016, Kirby Smart's first season as the head coach. Just about every facet of the game gave the team trouble. At times the Bulldogs couldn't get anyone blocked. The receivers had trouble getting open and when they did, catching the football was no given and neither was an on-target pass.

That wasn't the issue in 2017. UGA had one of the nation's most potent rushing attacks and efficient passing games and averaged over 35 points per game en route to an SEC Championship and the College Football Playoff.

But even without veteran standouts Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Isaiah Wynn, the Bulldogs are off to an excellent start when it comes to preparations for a new campaign.

"I would definitely say we're ahead," junior tight end Charlie Woerner said. "We had a really good summer in learning the offense and our player-led practices. I think our summer was very productive. A bunch of those young guys learned the playbook already. Going into camp now, you kind of start over on camp day one, learning everything new. I think it's been going really well."

When Woerner talks about " young guys," he means plenty of them. Two four-star prospects joined the Bulldogs this summer at his position alone -- Luke Ford and John FitzPatrick. Both stand out amongst the tight ends because both are 6-foot-6 or taller. FitzPatrick had a standout showing in Georgia's open practice on Saturday with a few impressive catches and Ford already looks the part of an SEC veteran at the position.

The Bulldogs also welcomed a pair of offensive linemen over the summer (Owen Condon and Jamaree Salyer), a speedy wideout (Tommy Bush), and a running back who is already turning heads in James Cook. Because of the level of veteran leadership on that side of the ball, each of those players was able to get a significant jump on learning what to do and where to be.

That has resulted in better timing, communication, and smoother operation in general when it comes to moving the ball down the field. But the players aren't the only ones who deserve credit. Due to the fact that Smart doesn't want his team resting on its laurels and believe it's entitled to success because of last year's accomplishments, the UGA coaches and the current culture within the team have had quite the impact.

"They're pushing us much harder this year," senior slot receiver Ahkil Crumpton said. "We're really jumping into it. We started early in the summer. Right now, everybody is on the same plain and we're just trying to get better and better each day."