You had to bring up the 2013 Auburn game

Almost four years later and it still hurts. Bill Connelly is looking back at the games of the year for his 50 best college football teams (“best” usually meaning “most interesting” – buy the book.) 2013 Auburn is one of those teams, and you can guess what this featured game was. I agree with him – the Kick Six was a remarkable and unforgettable moment, but this Georgia-Auburn contest was a better game. For whatever reason I’m not the type to try to forget games like this…it’s the opposite, really. There’s so much to unpack from this game, and because I’m a masochist we’ll do some unpacking.

I like to start with the comeback. Georgia trailed by 20 twice. They were down 27-7 in the first half, trailed by 17 at halftime, pulled to within 10, and then Auburn responded with 10 points of their own to take another 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Instead of folding Georgia responded with three straight scoring drives and forced their only three-and-outs of the game to salvage enough time to take an improbable 38-37 lead inside of two minutes left. That’s how it ended, right? Go Dawgs.

I still marvel at the gift that was Auburn’s playcalling. Protecting a 37-31 lead inside of six minutes remaining and reeling after two Georgia scores, Auburn went away from the running game that had baffled Georgia’s defense. Nick Marshall threw incomplete passes on first and second down, presenting Georgia’s defense with a rare opportunity to get after the quarterback. Ramik Wilson chased down Marshall from behind, Auburn shanked the punt, and Georgia was set up in Auburn territory with plenty of time for the go-ahead drive. Too much time as it turned out.

Todd Gurley made his biggest mark on this game catching passes. A big part of Auburn’s early success came from bottling up Gurley in the running game. He finished with 79 yards on 15 carries – not awful, but not enough to make much of a difference in the game. Auburn’s large lead meant that Georgia was going to have to throw anyway, and Murray ended up attempting 49 passes. The wrinkle was that Gurley caught 10 of those passes. Those receptions only accounted for 77 yards, so they weren’t big gainers, but they were effective in sustaining the drives that enabled Georgia’s comeback and kept Georgia’s defense off the field. Murray came to rely on Gurley as a reliable check-down to counter the Auburn pressure that often left the tailback open. Gurley’s role catching the ball wasn’t new – we had seen him devastate Florida with a long catch and run just a few weeks earlier. He had 37 receptions in 2013 (third-most on the team!), but more than 25% of them came in this game.

Auburn didn’t punt until well into the third quarter. They got into scoring range on every first half drive. It was bad enough to be down 27-10 at halftime, but the only thing that kept Georgia in the game was that four Auburn scoring chances ended with FG attempts rather than touchdowns. The Bulldog defense was hanging on by its fingernails, but the game could have easily been over by halftime had Auburn turned half of those opportunities into touchdowns. The Tigers converted three of those four FG attempts, but another was blocked in the second quarter and kept Auburn from delivering the knockout blow. Limiting Auburn to a FG attempt early in the fourth quarter was key to Georgia’s comeback – it extended Auburn’s lead to 37-17 but still kept Georgia within three scores.

I’m glad Bill mentioned this – Georgia nearly had a response for the ages. Facing 75 yards to go with 25 seconds left, two long completions and an offsides penalty gave Georgia one shot from 20 yards out. That was about the situation for Michael Johnson’s catch in 2002, but it was Auburn’s year for miracles. I was still impressed that Georgia could do anything resembling football after what had just happened.

Aaron Murray came so close to several career-defining moments. The final drive of the 2012 SECCG is at the top of the list. But like Mason-to-Mitchell against Tech in 2014 or Eason-to-Ridley against Tennessee in 2016, Murray’s tough run to get every inch of five yards for the go-ahead score at Auburn was eclipsed seconds later and ultimately became a cruel glimmer of hope in a heartbreaking loss. Murray’s Georgia career ended a week later with a non-contact knee injury on a run against Kentucky with the game well in hand. That go-ahead score at Auburn was Murray’s last great moment in a Georgia uniform, and hopefully it won’t be forgotten as we try to put the end of the game out of memory. (Bat it down!)

The loss saved Georgia fans from a lesser disappointment: Georgia went into Auburn with faint hopes of an SEC East title, but they’d need to win out and have Missouri lose at least one more. That Missouri loss never came, and we were spared the gut-punch of being denied an SEC East title by Vanderbilt.

UPDATE: For a happier ending, Bill also features the 1980 South Carolina game in which Herschel Walker has no time for geometry.

“We wanted to see if we could throw the ball some.”: G-Day 2017

[G-Day Stats]

When a team with a healthy Nick Chubb and Sony Michel trots out Brian Herrien as its featured tailback, you knew right away that the running game wouldn’t feature much in Saturday’s scrimmage. We saw enough of #1 and #27 to reassure us that, yes, they really did come back for another season, and that was plenty.

Herrien didn’t get a chance to break many runs against the first team defense. Blocking wasn’t great, but the first team offense also faced some of the crowded fronts we saw last year. Establishing some credible downfield threats as the offenses did in the scrimmage will help loosen things up for Chubb and Michel. Holyfield had a little more success against the second team, and he demonstrated why there’s some chatter about his value in the red zone. We saw no runs for the receivers or much beyond the basic sets and plays in the ground game.

This G-Day was all about the passing game. I’ll say only this about the quarterback depth chart: we should feel fairly at ease if the backup has to come in the game, and Fromm appears as if he’ll be ready to play if needed. That in itself is a relief. Fromm’s was as talented as advertised, but he also made some of the decisions that terrify you about putting a freshman quarterback on the field. It’s a growing process you’d rather not see play out in live action, but Fromm was worth getting excited over. He showed good composure, ran the offense well, didn’t make many glaring mistakes within the context of what he was asked to do, and only took a couple of risks you’d expect a freshman to take. Georgia has a good situation at quarterback, and it’s a much better idea to enjoy the bounty of talent at the position rather than make the competition a negative story. The only ominous sign was obvious during warmups – it’s not a crowded QB meeting room.

Eason did struggle out of the gate. Protection was some of the problem, but there were a handful of “sacks” on which Eason held the ball a little long. Things settled down for him in the second half, and the arm is just fine. Eason’s weaker throws came when he was on the move. He was especially shaky with timing and accuracy of some of the check-downs. Some good gains were there to be had with better throws, and he and the backs will have to continue to work on those short passes.

What was as disappointing at times as the line play was protection by non-linemen. Holyfield didn’t square up well to take on pass rushers. Payne had a poor block that aided a Natrez Patrick sack. Yes, linemen have primary responsibilities in pass protection, but most protection schemes feature roles for some combination of tight ends, tailbacks, and fullbacks. When these players miss an assignment, it often gets lumped in with “line play” because the results are the same – a sack, a hurry, or a quarterback running for his life.

I don’t see much use spending a lot of time on the offensive line. I don’t believe the August depth chart will look much like what we saw Saturday, so there’s not much use dwelling on the combinations. That position more than any other could see quite a bit of movement between now and the start of the season. About the only thing to take away is that the door is open for the heralded incoming class to compete for playing time and even starting jobs.

The same can be said for kicking – Blankenship started well and showed he had the leg to kick from 50 yards out, but focus and consistency left him in the second half. The door is open for competition there too. Punting is also up for grabs. Marshall Long was unavailable as he recovers from surgery, but grad transfer Cameron Nizialek was good enough to be considered for the role during the season.

I’m liking the skill set Georgia is developing at receiver. Wims had the usual JUCO adjustment year but is settling in as a favorite target of Eason’s. It took Godwin a little while to make an impact on Saturday, but I saw flashes of the improvement he’s said to have made in the offseason. Godwin’s ability to stretch short completions into longer gains is becoming an advantage. I didn’t see anything to make me think anyone other than Wims and Godwin will be the top two receivers. Chigbu and Stanley are in that limbo as upperclassmen where they must become more consistent or risk being passed over by the younger players that were on display. All that’s without Riley Ridley or Mark Webb, another promising incoming receiver.

There’s no denying the talent that Holloman and Hardman showed, though Holloman’s size advantage was exaggerated against a smaller walk-on defensive back most of the game. The hands and the routes will work against any most coverage, but we’ll see if he can be as physical against bigger and better coverage. Hardman didn’t get much of a chance to get the ball in space, but he made a nice move for extra yards on one such catch late in the game. We didn’t see any of the runs or gadget plays that could feature someone like Hardman – or, for that matter, Simmons. Simmons had a rough start with a fumble and a couple of early drops, but he rebounded well to make some tough catches and show off his speed on a long touchdown reception. I’m high on Simmons if only because there has to be a role for that kind of speed, and he was also able to take his lumps as a straight-up receiver in this game.

Yes, Hardman looked the part at receiver. Yes, he spent a lot of time there this spring. We don’t know what percentage of time, but it was enough to play him there exclusively at G-Day. At the same time, the Holloman-Hill matchup told you plenty about Georgia’s cornerback depth. I can’t picture a permanent move to receiver until we get a better idea in August about needs in the defensive backfield.

If you were expecting this to be the game in which Georgia showed an expanded role for tight ends, this wasn’t it. Blazevich was held out with a knee sprain. Jackson Harris caught a pass. Nauta’s only reception was a dump-off by Eason that resulted in a loss. Eason’s connection with Woerner in the fourth quarter was the only significant play to a tight end. Woerner split outside in the slot and found a hole about ten yards downfield. He shed a few tacklers (something which won’t sit well with Smart) and got a chance to show off some speed by outrunning the defense to the endzone. Tight ends were targeted a handful of other times, but for better or worse it was more of the same for the position.

The defensive front looked capable even without Thompson. Atkins’ pursuit and tackle for loss was one of the highlights of the day. Ledbetter, Walker, Bellamy, and Carter provided constant pressure. The defense had a bit of an advantage knowing that there wouldn’t be much of a running threat, but generally they did well to limit big plays on the ground and focused on getting to the quarterback. Eason in particular faced stacked fronts similar to what he saw last season and what he’ll likely see again in 2017 until the offense can loosen things up with explosive plays downfield. Juwan Taylor seemed to have a good game at ILB for the second team defense and was among the overall leaders in tackles.

Deandre Baker had a challenging afternoon – he was beaten deep a couple of times, shaken up on a minor injury, but he also had his share of wins. Malkom Parrish made some plays on the other side, and Tyrique McGhee had good coverage on one pass in particular to the endzone. Richard LeCounte was active and led his team in tackles, though, as Smart noted, it’s not a great sign for a safety to be making so many tackles. That was a result of Fromm’s success and Holyfield occasionally getting upfield. It is a positive sign, though, for an early enrollee to display such a nose for the ball. He and Gibbs should become quite a tandem in the secondary. If the first team defense needs to be humbled, Eason’s Black team ended up with a handful of explosive plays through the air.

Greg McGarity is the Michael Scott of athletic directing

The Office

D’Antne Demery released from NLI following simple battery arrest

Offensive tackle D’Antne Demery has been released from his National Letter of Intent following his arrest for simple battery and criminal trespass in Athens on Saturday.

Demery (6-foot-6, 319), signed with UGA in February out of Brunswick High School in Brunswick, Georgia. He is rated as the nation’s 16th overall offensive lineman according to 247Sports.

According to the Athens-Clarke County booking log, Demery was booked into the jail at 10:52pm ET on Saturday evening. He was released from the jail on Sunday afternoon at 1:03pm ET after posting a $500 bond for the criminal trespass charge and $1,350 bond for the simple battery charge.

Below is a description of Demery’s incident from the Macon Telegraph:

Late Saturday night, Athens-Clarke County police officers were called to the area near the Waffle House location for what amounted to a domestic violence incident involving Demery allegedly “choking (strangling) a female.” Police were able to reach the victim by Boar’s Head Lounge.

“Upon arrival, both individuals had left the area,” the police account reads. “Moments later, the victim called 911; advising that she wished to press charges against D’Antne Demery for hitting her. Contact was made with the victim in front of Boars Head (sic). She stated that she and Demery got into an argument; he began to get loud, she started to walk off, he told her ‘walk off again, and Imma show you’. She began to walk away again, at which point, Demery came from behind her; grabbing her on the back of her neck; pushing her against the wall, and also grabbing her by the hair.”

According to police, Demery admitted to placing his hands on the mother of his child. She told police Demery “has been physically violent with her in the past.”

The post D’Antne Demery released from NLI following simple battery arrest appeared first on SicEmDawgs.com.

Nation’s No. 1 kicker Jake Camarda commits to UGA for 2018

On G-Day, the Georgia Bulldogs picked up a commitment from Jake Camarda, the nation’s number one ranked kicker.

Camarda (6-2, 175) currently plays for Norcross High School in Norcross, Georgia. He committed to the Bulldogs over offers from Kentucky and Rutgers and interest from Alabama and Tennessee.

In the 247Sports Composite, Jake Camarda is listed as a two-star recruit, the No. 1 kicker, the No. 4 punter, and the No. 1,396 overall recruit for the 2018 class.

Camarda is the second verbal commitment for the Georgia Bulldogs for 2018. He joins four-star offensive lineman Max Wray of Franklin, Tennessee.

Earlier on Saturday, Georgia lost a 2018 commitment when four-star outside linebacker Adam Anderson flipped to LSU.

UGA Football Commitments

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Red bests Black for G-Day win, 25-22

ATHENS, Ga. – Team Red defeated Team Black by a 25-22 score in front of 66,133 fans at Sanford Stadium in the University of Georgia’s annual G-Day football game to close out spring practice on Saturday afternoon.

A late nine-play drive for the Red team, led by quarterback Jake Fromm, was capped by the decisive 28-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship with just 1:03 remaining in the game to seal the victory for the Red squad.

Fromm finished the game 14-for-23 through the air for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Eason, the signal-caller for Team Black, went 16-for-36 for 311 yards and two scores. Prather Hudson recorded a game-high 45 yards on the ground, followed closely by Elijah Holyfield and his 41 yards plus a score. Terry Godwin was the game’s leading receiver with 130 yards through the air while Tyler Simmons led the Red squad with 114 receiving yards and a touchdown.

“I’m really excited about our fan base, to have 66,000 people (at G-Day) makes me proud to be a Bulldog.” said Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart. “I know our kids certainly appreciated it and I wanted to thank our fans for that… Overall I was pleased with today. I’m excited about the growth of our team. We saw some players get better throughout the entire spring, so I’m certainly excited for that.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Black squad opened the second frame with fireworks as Eason connected with Javon Wims for a 47-yard pass to reach the Red seven-yard line. Three plays later, Blankenship split the uprights from 19 yards out to give Black a 3-0 lead and finish off a 15-play, 91-yard drive.

The Red offense countered with touchdowns on its next two drives, cashing in on a 42-yard pass from Fromm to Jeremiah Holloman then a three-yard scamper by Holyfield for its second score to take a 14-3 lead with four minutes remaining in the first half, a lead that was cut to 14-6 on a Blankenship 33-yard field goal at the end of the half.

After a quiet start to the third quarter, Eason once again flashed his arm late in the frame, connecting with Jayson Stanley for a 33-yard strike to reduce the Black’s deficit to 14-13 with 1:30 remaining.

Black claimed the lead with 5:28 remaining in the contest as Blankenship nailed his third field goal of the day from 34 yards out to take a 16-14 lead. After the ensuing kickoff, Fromm connected with Tyler Simmons for a 76-yard quick strike, followed by a two-point conversion on a pass to Holloman, to regain a 22-16 edge in just nine seconds.

The teams then traded scores, with Eason hitting fellow sophomore Charlie Woerner for the tying score on a 36-yard catch-and-run to knot the game at 22 before Fromm led Red to the decisive lead with a nine-play drive capped by a Blankenship 28-yard field goal to give Red a 25-22 win.

For all the latest on Georgia football, follow the team on Twitter (@FootballUGA), Instagram (georgiafootball) and Facebook (Georgia Football), and keep checking in to georgiadogs.com.​

POST-GAME QUOTES

Head coach Kirby Smart

‘’I’m really excited about our fan base. We had 66,000 people. It makes me proud to be a Bulldog. I’m glad they came out. A lot of recruits made comments about the attendance, and I think any chance you get to have 66,000 people for a practice, that’s an exciting thing. The kids certainly appreciated it. I want to thank the fans for that. I thought we had a great atmosphere.

‘’When it comes to the game, the battle in between, it started out kinda slow. When the clock goes as fast as it does, it seems like the first quarter is over and there’s no score. When the scoring started, it started fast and there were some explosive plays, which anytime you get a chance to do that, it’s good, especially for your offense. Obviously, we didn’t run the ball like you want to, but to be honest with you, it wasn’t part of the game plan. We wanted to see if we could throw the ball some, move the ball around. We would have like to run it
better with the One offense, which we didn’t do, which we have to improve on. But there were some challenges. We limited the coordinators, we limited the offense with those opportunities. But the best thing that happened was that you got an opportunity to see quarterbacks try to work the 2-minute drill. So many of our games come down to critical situations, where it’s using time outs, opportunities to win the game. That excited me, and I thought the defense really played hard. Didn’t always tackle well and got some balls thrown over our heads, but they really competed and challenged each other more than maybe we had done earlier in the spring. So overall, I was pleased with the day, excited about the growth of our team. I really saw some players
getting better throughout the entire spring.’’

Tailback Nick Chubb

I thought we played together as a team really well all spring. We communicated well. To the young guys, the message is to hang in there. It will be hard at first, but you should always play your hardest. You’re gonna mess up, but you’ll get your chance. (On the quarterback competition) I think they both came out today, played hard and competed and that’s all we ask. You never know what will happen. Jacob was the quarterback last year, but if Jake comes back in the fall and plays well I think it will be open for either one of them. (On younger Res). Those guys (Herrien and Holyfield) are extremely talented. They run the ball extremely hard every time.’’

Defensive End Lorenzo Carter

On the competitiveness of the scrimmage…
“I didn’t expect anything other than a very intense hard fought game between the two teams. Throughout the whole spring we’ve been competing with each other battling going hard at each other. We respect each other for it because we get each other better and that’s the whole goal of spring ball.”

Defensive End Jonathan Ledbetter

On spring practice…
“We had a pretty good spring. Everyone came out and did what they needed to do, we had a lot of guys working really hard, we really had some consistency this spring so that’s always good to see moving toward the season.”

On individual performance and working together as a unit…
“I feel like I played well and so did all of my teammates. We’re one unit and that’s what we stressed this spring is playing as a unit and clicking on all cylinders and I feel like we executed today and did a really good job of that.”

The post Red bests Black for G-Day win, 25-22 appeared first on SicEmDawgs.com.

Red bests Black for G-Day win, 25-22

ATHENS, Ga. – Team Red defeated Team Black by a 25-22 score in front of 66,133 fans at Sanford Stadium in the University of Georgia’s annual G-Day football game to close out spring practice on Saturday afternoon.

A late nine-play drive for the Red team, led by quarterback Jake Fromm, was capped by the decisive 28-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship with just 1:03 remaining in the game to seal the victory for the Red squad.

Fromm finished the game 14-for-23 through the air for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Eason, the signal-caller for Team Black, went 16-for-36 for 311 yards and two scores. Prather Hudson recorded a game-high 45 yards on the ground, followed closely by Elijah Holyfield and his 41 yards plus a score. Terry Godwin was the game’s leading receiver with 130 yards through the air while Tyler Simmons led the Red squad with 114 receiving yards and a touchdown.

“I’m really excited about our fan base, to have 66,000 people (at G-Day) makes me proud to be a Bulldog.” said Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart. “I know our kids certainly appreciated it and I wanted to thank our fans for that… Overall I was pleased with today. I’m excited about the growth of our team. We saw some players get better throughout the entire spring, so I’m certainly excited for that.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Black squad opened the second frame with fireworks as Eason connected with Javon Wims for a 47-yard pass to reach the Red seven-yard line. Three plays later, Blankenship split the uprights from 19 yards out to give Black a 3-0 lead and finish off a 15-play, 91-yard drive.

The Red offense countered with touchdowns on its next two drives, cashing in on a 42-yard pass from Fromm to Jeremiah Holloman then a three-yard scamper by Holyfield for its second score to take a 14-3 lead with four minutes remaining in the first half, a lead that was cut to 14-6 on a Blankenship 33-yard field goal at the end of the half.

After a quiet start to the third quarter, Eason once again flashed his arm late in the frame, connecting with Jayson Stanley for a 33-yard strike to reduce the Black’s deficit to 14-13 with 1:30 remaining.

Black claimed the lead with 5:28 remaining in the contest as Blankenship nailed his third field goal of the day from 34 yards out to take a 16-14 lead. After the ensuing kickoff, Fromm connected with Tyler Simmons for a 76-yard quick strike, followed by a two-point conversion on a pass to Holloman, to regain a 22-16 edge in just nine seconds.

The teams then traded scores, with Eason hitting fellow sophomore Charlie Woerner for the tying score on a 36-yard catch-and-run to knot the game at 22 before Fromm led Red to the decisive lead with a nine-play drive capped by a Blankenship 28-yard field goal to give Red a 25-22 win.

For all the latest on Georgia football, follow the team on Twitter (@FootballUGA), Instagram (georgiafootball) and Facebook (Georgia Football), and keep checking in to georgiadogs.com.​

POST-GAME QUOTES

Head coach Kirby Smart

‘’I’m really excited about our fan base. We had 66,000 people. It makes me proud to be a Bulldog. I’m glad they came out. A lot of recruits made comments about the attendance, and I think any chance you get to have 66,000 people for a practice, that’s an exciting thing. The kids certainly appreciated it. I want to thank the fans for that. I thought we had a great atmosphere.

‘’When it comes to the game, the battle in between, it started out kinda slow. When the clock goes as fast as it does, it seems like the first quarter is over and there’s no score. When the scoring started, it started fast and there were some explosive plays, which anytime you get a chance to do that, it’s good, especially for your offense. Obviously, we didn’t run the ball like you want to, but to be honest with you, it wasn’t part of the game plan. We wanted to see if we could throw the ball some, move the ball around. We would have like to run it
better with the One offense, which we didn’t do, which we have to improve on. But there were some challenges. We limited the coordinators, we limited the offense with those opportunities. But the best thing that happened was that you got an opportunity to see quarterbacks try to work the 2-minute drill. So many of our games come down to critical situations, where it’s using time outs, opportunities to win the game. That excited me, and I thought the defense really played hard. Didn’t always tackle well and got some balls thrown over our heads, but they really competed and challenged each other more than maybe we had done earlier in the spring. So overall, I was pleased with the day, excited about the growth of our team. I really saw some players
getting better throughout the entire spring.’’

Tailback Nick Chubb

I thought we played together as a team really well all spring. We communicated well. To the young guys, the message is to hang in there. It will be hard at first, but you should always play your hardest. You’re gonna mess up, but you’ll get your chance. (On the quarterback competition) I think they both came out today, played hard and competed and that’s all we ask. You never know what will happen. Jacob was the quarterback last year, but if Jake comes back in the fall and plays well I think it will be open for either one of them. (On younger Res). Those guys (Herrien and Holyfield) are extremely talented. They run the ball extremely hard every time.’’

Defensive End Lorenzo Carter

On the competitiveness of the scrimmage…
“I didn’t expect anything other than a very intense hard fought game between the two teams. Throughout the whole spring we’ve been competing with each other battling going hard at each other. We respect each other for it because we get each other better and that’s the whole goal of spring ball.”

Defensive End Jonathan Ledbetter

On spring practice…
“We had a pretty good spring. Everyone came out and did what they needed to do, we had a lot of guys working really hard, we really had some consistency this spring so that’s always good to see moving toward the season.”

On individual performance and working together as a unit…
“I feel like I played well and so did all of my teammates. We’re one unit and that’s what we stressed this spring is playing as a unit and clicking on all cylinders and I feel like we executed today and did a really good job of that.”

The post Red bests Black for G-Day win, 25-22 appeared first on SicEmDawgs.com.

G-Day Prep: Defense

Interior: With Trenton Thompson and Roquan Smith sidelined, we’ll see deeper down the depth chart at defensive line and inside linebacker. If the offensive line is performing well and Georgia’s tailbacks are, well, Georgia’s tailbacks, those defensive units will have a tough test in stopping the run. If the first team offense struggles to run the ball inside without Thompson and Smith on the field, that wouldn’t be encouraging.

Shining star: Georgia didn’t lose much on defense, but Mo Smith leaves a big void after a successful one year stint at star. The position can be anything from a nickelback (third cornerback) to a hybrid LB/DB used to counter modern wide spread offenses. Senior Dominick Sanders began his career in this role, but he’s since settled into the safety position. Georgia is currently looking at a trio of defensive backs for the star role: early enrollees Richard LeCounte and Deangelo Gibbs along with sophomore Tyrique McGhee. McGhee, at 5’10” and 180 lbs., might be the smallest of the three but has a little bit of an edge thanks to his experience. All three bring a little something different. Gibbs is the biggest of the three at 6’1″ and just over 200 lbs – that’s closest to Mo Smith’s 6’0″ / 195. That could get him on the field in certain situations. As Kirby Smart put it, “I mean, you’re out there playing on Charlie Woerner and he comes to block you, do you want a 160-pound guy or do you want a 205-pound guy? It’s pretty obvious that we’ve got to have a big guy.” LeCounte, at about 5’11” and 180 lbs. He’d be considered undersized at safety and even at star, but his athleticism and power could help him win his share of battles against larger targets.

Red zone: There’s been an emphasis on improvement in the final 20 yards of the field, and revisiting 2016 red zone film was like “a kick in the stomach” to Lorenzo Carter (tell me about it, Zo.) This is one of those classic spring game Rorschach tests: the offense had their own red zone issues in 2016 and have been working through their issues. Elijah Holyfield, a physical “bowling ball” type of runner, has emerged as a possible red zone weapon. So if you see some scoring in red zone situations on Saturday, are you happy for the offense’s progress or dismayed for the defense?

G-Day Prep: Replacing the Joystick

Isaiah McKenzie will be on campus Saturday, but he’ll be a spectator at G-Day like the rest of us. The unexpected unavailability of the Human Joystick – Georgia’s only underclassman to declare for the NFL Draft – leaves big shoes to fill across the team. He was Georgia’s leading receiver in 2016, but the returning roster plus some impressive newcomers should be able to absorb those receiving yards. He’ll also be missed in the return game. His biggest impact might’ve been as a gadget player (though maybe not on 4th-and-1…too soon?) His nine combined touchdowns (rushing plus receiving) tied him with Nick Chubb for team honors. Georgia is exploring options at receiver and returner, but it’s that utility role that most of us will associate with McKenzie. Who might we see running those sweeps?

Sony Michel: It’s tempting, isn’t it? It didn’t take two games into his freshman season to see Michel’s possibilities beyond tailback. He also had a kickoff return touchdown called back in the Belk Bowl as a freshman. His receiving touchdown in the Liberty Bowl was his first score in the passing game since the 2015 South Carolina game, but it’s no secret what Michel can do with the ball in space. At the same time, he’s still right up there with Chubb in the tailback rotation, and his readiness to step in as the feature back at a moment’s notice has to be considered.

Mecole Hardman: Getting Mecole involved was a priority entering spring practice. We didn’t see much of this heralded freshman beyond some reserve duty at cornerback, but there’s still enough hype for folks to wonder how much, if any, contribution he could make on offense. Kirby Smart cautioned that Georgia’s depth at defensive back might require Hardman to work primarily on defense, and Hardman’s role on offense could be determined by his ability to show the “sustainable focus” that’s necessary to handle the additional meeting time and work of two positions. Hardman saw work with the offense almost immediately in spring practice and will play on offense at G-Day, but his role beyond spring is still to be determined.

Tyler Simmons: Georgia flipped Simmons from Alabama on Signing Day 2016. He appeared in six games as a true freshman in a limited role. Simmons’s calling card is speed, and he was used in high school on the kind of sweeps McKenzie perfected. “Track speed” is always a plus. At under six feet tall, he’s going to have to rely on that speed to make an impact, and the McKenzie role could be a perfect fit.

Terry Godwin: Godwin might be too entrenched as one of the more experienced receivers to be considered for a utility role. Of course he’s always a threat to run (or throw) the ball, but I’d expect to see him continue in more of a traditional receiver role. Do we see the return of the Wild Dawg in 2017? If so, is Godwin still a top option to be behind center?

G-Day Prep: OL time crunch

The offensive line took its share of the blame for the offense’s struggles in 2016, and fans will be watching G-Day for any signs of improvement up front. Reports out of practice are encouraging, but everyone would prefer to see the results for themselves.

While the current unit is improving, the line was also a focal point of the outstanding 2017 signing class. The Dawgs signed six offensive linemen (five high school prospects and a JUCO), and there is national top 100 talent at both tackle and guard.

The incoming class makes this a big offseason for a number of returning Bulldog linemen. Some veterans like Isaiah Wynn are in good shape to start and see playing time, and a couple of younger players, Solomon Kindley in particular, are getting noticed. But with a number of positions unsettled, freshmen will be competing for those roles. You’d prefer to not play many freshmen, especially on the offensive line, but several in this class are talented enough to merit immediate consideration.

For the rest, it’s an opportunity to stand out or risk being passed over by the next wave of linemen. You want to see growth out of a group that includes Pat Allen, Chris Barnes, Sam Madden, and especially former five-star prospect Ben Cleveland. The good news is that some of that growth seems to be taking place. Unfortunately Cleveland might not be able to showcase his work at right tackle at G-Day due to an injury, but a lot of eyes will be on the others watching how they and the line overall perform.

Bulldogs put finishing touches on G-Day preparations

ATHENS, Ga. — Mostly sunny skies greeted the Georgia football team during its final practice before the annual G-Day game, which is set to take place this Saturday at 2 p.m. inside Sanford Stadium.

Thursday’s workout at the Woodruff Practice Fields was the culmination of a five-week spring practice period that started on March 21 and will finish with Saturday’s festivities. Gates open at 11 a.m., with the letterman’s flag football game scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

The 14 practices so far this spring have given head coach Kirby Smart an opportunity to see how his players look going into his second season as head coach. This coming Saturday, he is just hoping for a close game.

“We are excited about G-Day,” Smart said. “We have the teams divided up and the kids are motivated and excited. It should be a great game. I want it to be tight. I am hoping we can get these two quarterbacks into two-minute situations.”

One question before kickoff on Saturday will be how Smart plans on dividing his quarterback unit during the game. According to Smart, it will have a strong resemblance to last year’s G-Day contest.

“It will be very similar to last year as far as where they will go,” Smart added. “They will both go with their respective units and then Sam (Vaughn) may go both ways. A little bit of it is going to depend on the score when we get Sam in the game. He may go one series with each, he may go two series with one or the other depending on the score of the game.”

UGA will use G-Day to implement the SEC’s Clear Bag Policy, which will go into effect at all SEC venues beginning this fall.  The policy will also be in effect, beginning in the 2017-18 competition year, at all of UGA’s ticketed sports venues: Sanford Stadium, Stegeman Coliseum (men and women’s basketball, gymnastics) and Foley Field (baseball).  More information on the SEC Clear Bag Policy can be found at: http://georgiadogs.com/clear-bag-policy.

Saturday’s contest will be televised nationally on the SEC Network, with Dave Neal and UGA alumni Matt Stinchcomb (in the booth) and Maria Taylor (sideline) calling the action.  G-Day will also be carried on much of the Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network from IMG.  Scott Howard and Eric Zeier will call the action, with Chuck Dowdle providing commentary from the sideline.

The post Bulldogs put finishing touches on G-Day preparations appeared first on SicEmDawgs.com.

2017 G-Day Spring football game information

The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs G-Day Spring football game is set for Saturday, April 22 at 2pm ET and will be televised by the SEC Network. Gates open at 11am ET and admission is free.

UGA’s new clear bag policy will be in effect for the G-Day Game beginning this season and moving forward for all home games.

In lieu of bringing canned goods to the G-Day game, fans should consider donating to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia at the United Healthcare display from 9am until kickoff. The display will be located across from the Main Gate of Sanford Stadium. Fans can also donate directly by clicking here or by texting GDAY2017 to 41444.

Below is information on G-Day, including the schedule of events and links to parking information.

2017 G-DAY SCHEDULE

Friday, April 21
7:00pm – Baseball vs. Vanderbilt

Saturday, April 22
11:00am – Sanford Stadium Opens
11:30am – Alumni Flag Football Game
1:00pm – Dawg Walk
2:00pm – G-Day Spring Football Game
Halftime – Regions Bank Cash Catch
2:00pm – Baseball vs. Vanderbilt
6:00pm – Baseball vs. Vanderbilt

STADIUM INFO

All stadium gates will be open, beginning at 11:00am. Seating throughout the stadium is general admission, with the following exceptions:
Sections 126 & 127, Rows 1 – 12
Sections 208-216
Sections 221- 226 A capacity crowd is expected. Please move to the center of the row and do not reserve groups of seats. All levels of the stadium will be open, with available concessions and restrooms open in all locations. First Aid rooms will open and staffed throughout the game. Rooms can be found near Sections 119, 138, 203 and 229.

G-DAY PARKING

G-DAY PARKING MAP

2017 G-DAY AIRINGS

Sat., April 22 – 2pm, SECN (Live) Sun., April 23 – 1am, SECN (replay) Sun., April 23 – 4am, ESPNU (replay) Sun., April 23 – 6am, ESPNU (replay) Mon., April 24 – 12:30am, ESPNU (replay) Mon., April 24 – 1pm, SECN (replay) Wed., April 26 – Noon, ESPNU (replay) Fri., April 28 – 5am, SECN (replay)

2017 G-DAY LINKS

2017 Spring Football Media Guide 2017 UGA Football Tickets 2017 G-Day Rosters Official UGA G-Day Site

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Georgia announces 2018 non-conference football schedule

The Georgia Bulldogs have announced their 2018 non-conference football schedule, which includes four games in Athens.

Georgia will open the 2018 season at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 1 against the Austin Peay Governors. The game will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

UGA was previously scheduled to host Murray State in 2018, but that game has been moved to the 2019 season and will be played on either Aug. 31 or Sept. 7.

Two weeks later on Sept. 15, the Bulldogs will welcome the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders to Athens. Georgia defeated Middle Tennessee 29-10 in their first and only meeting back in 2003.

Georgia will host the UMass Minutemen in Athens on Nov. 17, another opponent that the Bulldogs have never faced on the gridiron.

The Bulldogs will wrap up the regular-season in 2018 at home against arch-rival Georgia Tech on Nov. 24. Georgia and Georgia Tech have met 109 times on the gridiron and the Bulldogs lead the series 65-39-5.

With four non-conference games and three SEC games, Georgia will have seven games at home for the first season since 2015.

“Having seven home games will be great for our team, community, and fans,” said UGA head coach Kirby Smart. “A mix of outstanding conference teams, a traditional rival, and out of conference teams we seldom play will make for an attractive season schedule.”

In SEC play in 2018, Georgia is scheduled to host Auburn, Florida (in Jacksonville), Tennessee, and Vanderbilt and travel to Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, and South Carolina.

Future UGA Football Schedules

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Spring practice No. 11 in the books for Bulldogs

ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs worked out for just over two hours on the Woodruff Practice Fields here Thursday afternoon.  It was the 11th of 15 practices during the spring period as they work towards the annual G-Day intrasquad game on Saturday, April 22.

Following are excerpts from head coach Kirby Smart’s post-practice press briefing:

‘’Today was a much better day defensively.  I thought the defense came back with their necks bowed up and spurs ready.  I think they were a little upset and they practiced a lot better today.  Hopefully, the offense will respond Saturday, but it’s the first life the defense has shown — probably the best practice we’ve had defensively — since we came out of shorts.  In shorts, everybody ties, but since we’ve put the pads on, the defense has struggled a little bit.  They made a lot more plays today.  I thought the energy was really good out there for the defense, a lot of enthusiasm.  Not so much for the offense, but that’s kinda how this spring has gone.  One side or the other has done a little bit better.

‘’Our plan is to hit people, strike people, tackle people, practice good football.  The plan is to go out there and have kids get better.  I’m not looking for one side or the other to win.  I’m looking for both sides to compete and do really good.  I like it when both sides compete.  We get into some really good competitions in special teams, but we’ve had days where we’ve been up and down.

On practicing situational football:  ‘’Basically, every day we start our team meeting with another situation.  We have the entire team in here.  We go through a situation.  One of them might be two minutes, and the offense has to get a first down to win the game.  We had that situation come up against Tennessee.  We weren’t able to do it.  Then we had to stop them because we had a sack/fumble.  So we did stop ‘em.  We got the ball back.  We did score.  So what we’ve tried to do is replay the situation.  I’ve spent a lot of time during this offseason talking to NFL teams, because these NFL teams deal with this every game.  Every game comes down to that.  College football, I think, 50 percent of our games come down to one score.  So if that’s the case, we’ve got to simulate those.  So every single day, except the first practice, we had end-of-game situation at practice.  I think it makes Jacob (Eason) a lot better.  It makes Jake Fromm a lot better.  And defensively, it’s been great.  We even had a situation the other day where we were gonna clock the ball with the clock running.  We had a first down and we went to spike the ball and the guy jumped offsides.  At the end of game, we had a 10-second runoff.  So we start the whole meeting with that, and I think that kids can learn a lot from these situations.  I mean, Jay Johnson’s a guy from Minnesota and he brought a list of situations they did there.  That’s so invaluable to me because you try to simulate those.  You talk to other coaches and try to simulate them, so we’ve done a lot of that this spring.’’

On progress of special teams this spring:  ‘’That’s the hardest part to judge because we do offense/defense live and we tackle and scrimmage.  You don’t really do special teams because the collisions are live.  We do as close to live as we can and we’ve focused of them a lot.  Rodrigo (Blankenship) has done a good job, a much better job, with kickoffs.  Cam (Nizialek) has punted some nice balls.  He’s been a little up and down, but he’s punted some nice balls.  So it’s hard to say where we are from that perspective. I am comfortable with the work we’ve gotten done.  Our kids really challenge each other in those drills, special teams-wise.  We had Sony Michel going against Lorenzo Carter in a punt/punt return drill and they’re life-or-death competing out there.  I love that.  I mean, I love that.  But it’s really hard to measure because we don’t have live situations.’’

How much will Cam Nizialek push Marshall Long at punter?  ‘’I expect a lot.  It’s hard to say because Marshall’s not kicking yet.  He’s coming back.  He’s slowly getting his motion back, but he’s not 100 percent comfortable yet.  And Cam’s punting all these balls right now. So I expect it to be a really good battle in the fall.  Cam’s had good averages in the spring, hang time and average, so that’s good.’’

How has the defense’s performance this spring been addressed?  ‘’We addressed it.  As leader of the organization, we addressed it.  We didn’t have a very good scrimmage.  We were very honest.  They did some good things in the scrimmage.  It wasn’t all bad.  We showed the good, we showed the bad, and then we go into a defensive meeting and we explained what we did statistically, which wasn’t very good.  And then Coach (Mel) Tucker talked to them about it and some of the players talked about it.  I can’t say that it was a lot better Tuesday, but it was a lot better today.’’

More “buy-in” from players in a coach’s second year?  ‘’It’s more common to have more buy in the second year because you’re a second year into a relationship with somebody.  So the longer you know people, obviously the better relationship with somebody is. So for every kid on this team, it’s at least the second year, some of them first, for the ones that got here mid-year.  But that’s the biggest reason.  You know ‘em better.  You know how to push their buttons better.’’

On value of the slot receiver in the Georgia offense:  ‘’I think first evidence is to look at last year.  Where was our leading receiver (McKenzie)?  There was a lot of production in that position.  So that’s a big challenge for us.  I tell you, man, when you look at practice, Terry Godwin is like night and day to me to watch that kid.  I was very honest last year about Terry playing tougher, playing bigger.  The guy has blocked hard, he’s competed, he’s taking more reps, he’s such a better leader.  I mean, to see him grown up means the world to me because I’ve seen that kid since his ninth grade year.  He’s a vital piece to that slot.  He and Jacob have great intuitive instincts.  They have a great intuition of where each other is going to be.’’

On proposed legislation against hiring coaches associated with prospects:  ‘’I have a hard time with that, as a son of a high school coach and a guy who has seen tons of high school coaches go on to greater success.  Kevin Sherrer, Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, Jeremy Pruitt.  The names go on and on.  A lot of the best coaches I’ve ever been around have been high school coaches.  We get ideas from them.  I know a lot of you guys think those guys don’t know what they’re talking about. They face more of the offenses that we face, so they have to find ways to stop them and create plays.  So, so many guys that I respect are now being cut out of it.  Now, they’ll argue that they’re not being cut out of it, only the ones that have prospects.  But is that fair to cut out a guy, because he has a prospect, from an opportunity to develop his career and move on.  I think it’s cutting the lifeline out of our program base.  I mean, where do we get our lifeline from?  Are we gonna have to go to the NFL now and get coaches?  Where do you develop coaches from?  They develop from high school up.  So that doesn’t fire me up.  I certainly don’t like hiring a guy to get player, either.  So it’s a fine line.’’

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