Georgia football team honored at annual Gala

ATHENS, Ga. — A pair of seniors, a junior and a sophomore were named team captains and brought home a total of five individual awards at the recent University of Georgia football team’s annual gala.

Center Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C.) and defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter (Tucker, Ga.), both seniors, joined junior tailback Elijah Holyfield (College Park, Ga.) and sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm (Warner Robins, Ga.) as the team’s captains.

Fromm and sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., were the Vince Dooley Offensive Most Valuable Players.  Ledbetter and senior defensive back Deandre Baker, a native of Miami, Fla., who won the Jim Thorpe Award last week, garnered Vince Dooley Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Ledbetter also shared the Defensive Up-Front Award with senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker of Fairburn, Ga., while Gaillard earned the Offensive Up-Front Award with sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas of Lithonia, Ga.  In addition, Holyfield won the Leon Farmer Strength & Conditioning Award.

The Community Service Award went to junior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship of Marietta, Ga., and the Senior Scholar Award went to senior tight end Jackson Harris of Columbia, Tenn., who has a 3.74 in Mechanical Engineering.

Blankenship and junior receiver/returner Mecole Hardman received the Kevin Butler Special Teams Most Valuable Player awards and senior receiver Jayson Stanley (Fairburn, Ga.), sophomore outside linebacker Walter Grant (Cairo, Ga.) and junior receiver Tyler Simmons (Powder Springs, Ga.) were included as Charley Trippi Award winners as the team’s most versatile players.

The Frank Sinkwich Award winners for being the team’s toughest players were senior inside linebacker Juwan Taylor (Hollywood, Fla.), redshirt sophomore tailback Prather Hudson (Columbus, Ga.) and sophomore receiver Jeremiah Holloman (Covington, Ga.).

Junior defensive back Tyrique McGhee of Byron, Ga., senior receiver Terry Godwin of Hogansville, Ga., and junior defensive back J.R. Reed of Frisco, Texas, received the David Jacobs Award, which is given to a player who portrays courage, spirit, character and determination.

Headlined by junior receiver Riley Ridley of Coconut Creek, Fla., on offense and junior inside linebacker Tae Crowder of Hamilton, Ga., on defense, eight Bulldogs were named the team’s Most Improved Players: Offense – redshirt freshman offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson (Brooklyn, N.Y.), redshirt sophomore offensive guard Solomon Kindley (Jacksonville, Fla.), Ridley; Defense – Crowder, redshirt freshman defensive back Eric Stokes (Covington, Ga.); Special Teams – senior outside linebacker Keyon Richardson, senior snapper Nick Moore (Snellville, Ga.), junior tight end Charlie Woerner (Tiger, Ga.).

There were nine Newcomer of the Year awards given out to various Bulldog true freshmen.  Offensive lineman Cade Mays (Knoxville, Tenn.), tailback James Cook (Miami, Fla.), quarterback Justin Fields (Kennesaw, Ga.) and offensive lineman Trey Hill (Warner Robins, Ga.) were the winners on offense.  On defense, Tyson Campbell, a defensive back from Plantation, Fla., and Jordan Davis, a defensive lineman from Charlotte, N.C., earned the honor while punter Jake Camarda of Norcross, Ga., inside linebacker Channing Tindall of Columbia, S.C., and inside linebacker Quay Walker of Cordele, Ga., were the special teams’ recipients.

Twelve Bulldogs garnered Scout Team Player of the Year honors: Offense – redshirt sophomore receiver Willie Erdman (Merritt Island, Fla.), freshman tight end John Fitzpatrick (Atlanta, Ga.), senior receiver Steven Van Tiflin (Saginaw, Mich.), freshman receiver Tommy Bush (Schertz, Texas); Defense – redshirt sophomore defensive back Jordon McKinney (Dalton, Ga.), redshirt freshman defensive back Jake Skole (Roswell, Ga.), freshman defensive back Hugh Nelson (Powder Springs, Ga.), redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kolby Wyatt (Snellville, Ga.); Special Teams – redshirt freshman defensive back Latavious Brini (Miami Gardens, Fla.), Van Tiflin, Erdman, freshman tight end Peyton Mercer (Twin City, Ga.).

Senior Scholar Award
Jackson Harris

Community Service Award
Rodrigo Blankenship

Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year
Willie Erdman, John Fitzpatrick, Steven Van Tiflin, Tommy Bush

Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year
Jordon McKinney, Jake Skole, Hugh Nelson, Kolby Wyatt

Special Teams Scout Team Player of the Year
Latavious Brini, Steven Van Tiflin, Willie Erdman, Peyton Mercer

Offensive Most Improved Player
Isaiah Wilson, Solomon Kindley, Riley Ridley

Defensive Most Improved Player
Tae Crowder, Eric Stokes

Special Teams Most Improved Player
Keyon Richardson, Nick Moore, Charlie Woerner

Offensive Newcomer of the Year
Cade Mays, James Cook, Justin Fields, Trey Hill

Defensive Newcomer of the Year
Tyson Campbell, Jordan Davis

Special Teams Newcomer of the Year
Jake Camarda, Channing Tindall, Quay Walker

Offensive Up-Front Award
Lamont Gaillard, Andrew Thomas

Defensive Up-Front Award
Jonathan Ledbetter, D’Andre Walker

Leon Farmer Strength & Conditioning Award
Elijah Holyfield

David Jacobs Award
Tyrique McGhee, Terry Godwin, JR Reed

Frank Sinkwich Award (toughest player on the team)
Juwan Taylor, Prather Hudson, Jeremiah Holloman

Charley Trippi Award (most versatile player)
Jayson Stanley, Walter Grant, Tyler Simmons

Kevin Butler Special Teams Most Valuable Player
Rodrigo Blankenship, Mecole Hardman

Vince Dooley Offensive Most Valuable Player
D’Andre Swift, Jake Fromm

Vince Dooley Defensive Most Valuable Player
Jonathan Ledbetter, Deandre Baker

Jake Fromm, Lamont Gaillard, Elijah Holyfield, Jonathan Ledbetter

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Georgia’s Baker named to Sporting News All-America Team

ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia senior defensive back Deandre Baker has been named to the 2018 Sporting News All-America First Team.

Baker, a Miami, Fla., native, became the first Bulldog to win the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award last week for being nation’s best defensive back in college football. He has also garnered Walter Camp, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and First Team All-America honors and was named to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Second Team.

Baker becomes the first Georgia All-American from the defensive backfield named to the Sporting News’ First Team since safety Greg Blue in 2005.

A Miami, Fla., native, Baker has started all 13 games for Georgia and has 40 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also has a team-best 10 pass break-ups. In addition, Baker has a forced fumble and has collected a fumble recovery for a defense that ranks 15th nationally allowing just 18.5 points per game.

The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America teams are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

The No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) will take on No. 15 Texas (9-4) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La., on Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the fifth all-time matchup between the programs and the first matchup between the teams since 1984.

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Georgia’s Baker, Thomas named To AP All-America teams

ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia senior defensive back Deandre Baker has been named to the 2018 Associated Press All-America First Team while sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas has been included on the AP All-America’s Second Team.

Baker, a Miami, Fla., native, became the first Bulldog to win the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award last week for being nation’s best defensive back in college football. He was also a Walter Camp First Team All-American. Thomas, a native of Lilburn, Ga., was named to the Walter Camp All-America Second Team as well.

Baker becomes the first Georgia All-American from the defensive backfield named to the AP’s First Team since Bacarri Rambo in 2011.

A Miami, Fla., native, Baker has started all 13 games for Georgia and has 40 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also has a team-best 10 pass break-ups. In addition, Baker has a forced fumble and has collected a fumble recovery for a defense that ranks 15th nationally allowing just 18.5 points per game.

Thomas, a native of Lithonia, Ga., has gotten the starting nod at left tackle for 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games, only missing the Middle Tennessee State game with an ankle injury. He has anchored an offensive line that leads the SEC in Rushing Offense at 251.6 yards per game and that currently features one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen as starters.

The Bulldogs are averaged 39.2 points per game during their second straight run to the SEC Championship Game and a their first invitation to the Sugar Bowl since 2008. Thomas and his offensive line unit were named a Joe Moore Award finalist for being one of the top offensive lines in the nation.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America teams are expected to be released later on Monday. The Sporting News All-America teams are scheduled to be released on Tuesday and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) teams on Wednesday.

The No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) will take on No. 15 Texas (9-4) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La., on Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the fifth all-time matchup between the programs and the first matchup between the teams since 1984.

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Clay Webb commits to the Georgia Bulldogs for 2019

Clay Webb, a five-star offensive lineman from Oxford, Alabama, has committed to the Georgia Bulldogs for the class of 2019.

Webb announced his commitment to the Bulldogs on Monday at a ceremony at his high school (Oxford).

Webb (6-3, 295) committed to the Georgia Bulldogs over Alabama, Auburn, and Clemson. He also had offers from most of the top schools, including Florida, Michigan, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. rates Webb as a five-star recruit, the No. 1 offensive center, and the No. 23 overall recruit for the 2019 class.

In the 247Sports Composite, Clay Webb is listed as a five-star recruit, the No. 1 offensive center, and the No. 22 recruit in the country for 2019.

Webb is the 19th verbal commitment for the Georgia Bulldogs for the class of 2019. Georgia’s class is now ranked 2nd by 247Sports after Webb’s commitment.

The Bulldogs have five less commitments than the top-ranked team, Alabama.

UGA Football Commitments

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Georgia’s Baker wins Thorpe Award, named Walter Camp All-American with Thomas

ATLANTA, Ga. — Georgia senior Deandre Baker became the first Bulldog to win the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back at the ESPN College Football Awards show at the College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday.

The Thorpe Award has been presented for the past 33 seasons. Baker, a native of Miami, Fla., was joined by LSU’s Greedy Williams and Notre Dame’s Julian Love as finalists for the award. The only other finalist in Georgia history was Champ Bailey in 1998.

In addition, Baker was included on the 2018 Walter Camp All-America Team, giving the Bulldogs two players on the First Team in as many years (Roquan Smith, 2017). Baker becomes the first Georgia All-American from the defensive backfield since Bacarri Rambo in 2011 and the first Georgia defensive back to receive the Walter Camp designation since Greg Blue and Thomas Davis garnered the honor back to back in 2004-05.

In addition, sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas earned Walter Camp Second-Team All-America honors after being named a Freshman All-American by several outlets in 2017.

Baker will be honored at a Thorpe Award banquet in Oklahoma City on Feb. 5, 2019.

A Miami, Fla., native, Baker has started all 13 games for Georgia. He has 40 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also has a team-best 10 pass break-ups. In addition, Baker has a forced fumble and has collected a fumble recovery for a defense that ranks 15th nationally allowing just 18.5 points per game.

Thomas, a native of Lithonia, Ga., has gotten the starting nod at left tackle for 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games, missing only the Middle Tennessee State game due to an ankle injury. He has anchored an offensive line that leads the SEC in Rushing Offense at 251.6 yards per game and that currently features one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen as starters.

The Bulldogs averaged 39.2 points per game during their second straight run to the SEC Championship Game and their first invitation to the Sugar Bowl since 2008. Thomas and his teammates in the trenches were named a Joe Moore Award finalist earlier this week for being one of the top offensive lines in the nation.

Baker and Thomas are 15 of the SEC players included on the 50-man Walter Camp All-America teams. Players were selected by the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) head coaches and sports information directors. This marks the 129th edition of the Walter Camp All-America teams.

The Bulldogs have earned 37 Walter Camp All-America First Team honors dating back to 1922. The 2018 Walter Camp All-America teams will be honored at the organization’s 52nd annual national awards banquet on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) will take on No. 15 Texas (9-4) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La., on Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the fifth all-time matchup between the programs and the first game between the teams since 1984.

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Five Bulldogs named to 2018 SEC All-Freshman Team

The 2018 SEC All-Freshman Football Team was announced on Thursday, and five Georgia Bulldogs were selected.

Georgia offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson and Cade Mays were both named on offense, as was quarterback Justin Fields.

Backing up Jake Fromm this season, Justin Fields completed 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. Fields also rushed 42 times for 266 yards and four more TD’s.

UGA defensive lineman Jordan Davis and punter Jake Camarda were also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Georgia led the way with five players named to the 2018 SEC All-Freshman Team. Alabama and Texas A&M followed the Bulldogs with four players each.

Below is the full 2018 SEC All Freshman Football Team.



Daniel Parker, Missouri

Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
Cade Mays, Georgia
Dylan Wonnum, South Carolina
Ben Brown, Ole Miss

Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Seth Williams, Auburn

Justin Fields, Georgia

JaTarvious Whitlow, Auburn
*Tyler Badie, Missouri
*JaShaun Corbin, Texas A&M

JaShaun Corbin, Texas A&M


Jordan Davis, Georgia
Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
Bobby Brown, Texas A&M
Tyree Johnson, Texas A&M

Dimitri Moore, Vanderbilt
*Jacquez Jones, Ole Miss
*Eyabi Anoma, Alabama
*DeAndre Square, Kentucky

Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Bryce Thompson, Tennessee
Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Trey Dean III, Florida


Seth Small, Texas A&M

Jake Camarda, Georgia

JaShaun Corbin, Texas A&M

(* – Ties )

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Kirby Smart named 2018 Dodd Trophy finalist

UGA football head coach Kirby Smart has been named a 2018 Dodd Trophy finalist, according to an announcement by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Finalists for the Dodd Trophy “…include seven of the nation’s top coaches in college football who embody the award’s three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity, both on and off the field.”

In this third season in Athens, Kirby Smart guided the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record, SEC Championship berth, and an appearance in the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl against the No. 15 Texas Longhorns.

Overall, Kirby Smart is now 32-9 and 18-6 in conference play as the head coach of the Bulldogs. He also led UGA to the 2017 SEC Championship, Rose Bowl win, and National Championship Game appearance.

“All of these finalists truly exemplify the type of leadership that Bobby Dodd valued and are noteworthy candidates to join the esteemed group of former Dodd Trophy recipients,” said Jim Terry, chairman of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation. “We’re honored to have such a renowned list of finalists who truly embody Coach Dodd’s spirit, both on and off the field.”

“This college football season was highlighted by outstanding coaching performances that greatly impacted the course of the season,” said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl, Inc. CEO & president. “These seven coaches have distinguished themselves as finalists for this prestigious award, not only for having successful football seasons, but also for their efforts within their communities and commitment to empower their student athletes to succeed in the classroom as well.”

Coach School CFP Ranking APR Score
Dino Babers Syracuse No. 20 967
Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern No. 22 997
Brian Kelly Notre Dame No. 3 966
Lincoln Riley Oklahoma No. 4 956
Nick Saban Alabama No. 1 984
Kirby Smart Georgia No. 5 963
Dabo Swinney Clemson No. 2 987

Finalists were selected by a panel consisting of all previous winners, national media, a member of the Dodd family and a College Football Hall of Fame member.

The winner of the 2018 Dodd Trophy will be selected from the list of finalists by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation, and will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Week.

2018 UGA Football Schedule

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Seven Georgia Bulldogs named to 2018 All-SEC Team

The 2018 All-SEC Coaches’ Football Team was announced on Tuesday, and seven Georgia Bulldogs were selected to the First or Second Team.

Alabama led the way with 12 players on the 2018 All-SEC Coaches’ Team. Missouri and South Carolina had five selections each.

Arkansas and Tennessee are the only two schools that don’t have a player represented. Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own player.

Andrew Thomas (OL), Lamont Gaillard (C), and Deandre Baker (DB) were named to the First Team. Bulldogs named to the Second Team include D’Andre Swift (RB), Jonathan Ledbetter (DL), Rodrigo Blankenship (K), and Mecole Hardman (RS).

Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama (First Team) and Drew Lock of Alabama (Second Team) were the quarterbacks that placed ahead of Georgia’s Jake Fromm.

Below is the full 2018 All-SEC Football Coaches Team. Individual award winners will be announced on Wednesday followed by the All-Freshman Team on Thursday.

2018 All-SEC Football Team



Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M

Jonah Williams, Alabama
Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Greg Little, Ole Miss
Bunchy Stallings, Kentucky

Lamont Gaillard, Georgia

A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Benny Snell, Kentucky
Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina


Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
Jachai Polite, Florida
Montez Sweat, Mississippi State

Josh Allen, Kentucky
Devin White, LSU
Deshaun Davis, Auburn

Deandre Baker, Georgia
Grant Delpit, LSU
Greedy Williams, LSU
Deionte Thompson, Alabama


Cole Tracy, LSU

Braden Mann, Texas A&M

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina



Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

Martez Ivey, Florida
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Deion Calhoun, Mississippi State
Zack Bailey, South Carolina

Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Emanuel Hall, Missouri

Drew Lock, Missouri

D’Andre Swift, Georgia
Damien Harris, Alabama

Lynn Bowden, Kentucky


Isaiah Buggs, Alabama
Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia
Terry Beckner, Missouri
Derrick Brown, Auburn

Dylan Moses, Alabama
Cale Garrett, Missouri
Mack Wilson, Alabama

CJ Henderson, Florida
Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt
DeMarkus Acy, Missouri


Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

Joseph Charlton, South Carolina

Mecole Hardman, Georgia

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Double-digit Bulldogs lift Georgia over Texas Southern 92-47

ATHENS, Ga. – With five different Bulldogs reaching double-digits in point production, the Georgia men’s basketball team defeated the Texas Southern Tigers 92-47 in Stegeman Coliseum on Monday night.

“I thought [Tyree] Crump did a good job,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “I thought he played through fatigue and did some good things. He got open shots, we moved the ball well. We had 18 assists, 32 made field goals, 11 threes, that’s good. There were some really good things.”

Junior guard Tyree Crump totaled two career-highs with 25 points and five 3-pointers, guiding the Bulldogs to 11 overall from behind the arc, which matched the most by the team this season. Senior Derek Ogbeide had his second double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. With 10 boards, he matched Marcus Thornton at No. 14 (664) on Georgia’s all-time rebound list.

Sophomores Nicolas Claxton (15), Rayshaun Hammonds (14), and Teshaun Hightower (10) also posted impressive point totals.

The two teams traded buckets back-and-forth, until five different Bulldogs (5-3) fueled two separate seven-point runs. A three from Hightower gave Georgia its largest double-digit lead of the half, 17, over the Tigers (3-6). With 7:10 remaining in the half, a 3-pointer from Claxton started a 9-0 streak for the Bulldogs. Crump tipped in the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining to notch the 52-35 total going into the half.

For the second time this season, Georgia eclipsed the 50-point mark in the first half.

Within the first 15 seconds of the second half, Hammonds’ layup established a 54-35 lead. Crump’s fourth 3-pointer of the night at 10:55 gave Georgia its first 20-plus point lead, 21, of the game. A tip-in from freshman Jojo Toppin marked the largest advantage, 25, of the game at the 8:13 mark.

Texas Southern attempted to chip away at the Bulldog lead but was unable to push the margin below 12. A pair of free throws from Hammonds in the last minute solidified the Georgia 92-74 victory, keeping the Bulldogs’ home slate clean.

Georgia notched a season-high mark from behind the arc at 50 percent. The Bulldogs also registered 36 points in the paint. This marks the third time this season that Georgia has checked in with at least 50 rebounds as a team.

The Bulldogs return to Stegeman on Dec. 15 against the Arizona State Sun Devils at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.


• Georgia is now 10-0 against current teams in Southwestern Athletic Conference and 1-0 all-time vs. TSU.

• Georgia is now 3-1 with the starting line up of William Jackson II, Teshaun Hightower, Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, and Derek Ogbeide. Bulldogs with consecutive starts are Hammonds (12), Claxton (8), Ogbeide (14), Hightower (2), and Jackson (5). Jackson has 56 career starts.

• Georgia remains undefeated at home in 2018 with a 4-0 record. Two of those games are 90+ points.

• Texas Southern is the fifth school Georgia has played this season that reached a 2018 postseason. The Bulldogs are currently 2-3 in those games.

• For the second time this season, Georgia eclipsed the 50-point mark in the first half (59 vs. SSU). Three Bulldogs already had double digit scoring marks (Claxton-11, Ogbeide-10, Crump-10).

• Nicolas Claxton had three of the team’s six blocks. In half the games this season, he has at least three blocks. Last season, he finished with that same number (4) of three-block games.

• UGA grabbed 50 rebounds for its third 50+ board game of the season – a feat done just once last season. Entering the contest, UGA’s rebound margin was +7.6. Tonight it was a +15 differential at 50-35. Claxton, who leads the SEC in rebounds with 9.0 a game, grabbed exactly nine.

• Georgia outpaced its opponent in points in the paint (36-28) for the sixth time this season.


Georgia Head Basketball Coach Tom Crean

On the win…

“I have a lot of respect for [Texas Southern head coach] Johnny [Jones]. I have a lot of respect for the players on the other team with how many of them are from Georgia like number 5 and number 3. They came in with that attitude that they want to prove a point. They play at the highest level, a lot of respect like I said, and you have to respect them when they beat Baylor at Baylor and beat Oregon at Oregon. Those aren’t easy places to go. It was a good win. It was a learning win. There were some really good performances. There were some really poor performances. It’s a win that we’ll take, but it’s a win we have to build on in a short period of time before Arizona State comes in here next Saturday.”

On the team…

There were some really good things. I thought Nic Claxton did some really good things. Certainly Derek, and Rayshaun came back after the fouls. Teshaun did some good things. We’re looking for more. I coach these guys where I think they could be, not necessarily where they’re at. That’s the only way we’re going to get it. The Caymans taught us a lot. The Caymans taught us that we can’t be this patient. We have to have more urgency all the time, and I think Tyree Crump has tried to respond to that.”

Junior Guard Tyree Crump

On his shooting tonight

“I kind of know what kind of game I am having during shooting around. I felt good today when I was taking shots. I knew it would carry over to the game.”

On confidence this year now playing in Coach Crean’s system…

“He tells me, if you are open, you shoot the ball. So, if I hit one then, then you know I am going to hit two. If I hit two I feel like I am going to hit three. So then that just carry on.”

On road to beating his three’s made record from last season…

“Yes. I was in the gym a lot this summer, just working on shooting, working on my game. I feel like that kind of carried over to the season. Also, Coach Crean getting my form right.”

Senior Derek Ogbeide

On first half…

“Yeah, we played well, we played silent the first half. We were composed, aggressive, smart with it too and were open and made plays. We played a really good half, as the way the game went.”

On how Coach’s energy gets them going…

“It’s the kind of energy that’s directed in a way that leads to improvement.  When he says what he’s saying, you know with his tone, with his actions, you still gotta remember to take the information out of what he’s saying in his enthusiastic way– it’s so enthusiastic— you have to pay attention to it.  Once you pay attention to it, you do the necessary things. About 9 times out of 10, he’s not wrong. I’ll give him 10.”

On Crean wanting them to play scrappy…

“Oh no, he wants us to play hard.  We’re trying to really to establish an identify of how hard we play, how hard we wanna play.  As the name says, we are dawgs. We are bulldogs. WE want that to carry over, to paint over, and to be us and to play with an intelligent aggression and just real scrappy.  It’s a certain kind of mindset that really has to be developed, trained, worked on, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”

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Georgia to face Texas in Allstate Sugar Bowl

The Georgia Bulldogs will face the Texas Longhorns in the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl, it was officially announced on Sunday.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl will be played on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. ESPN will televise the game at 8:45pm ET/7:45pm CT.

Tickets for the Sugar Bowl are available through our partner TicketMonster.

“This will be an outstanding experience for our coaches, players, and fans,” said UGA head coach Kirby Smart. “Most of our coaches and none of our players have had the opportunity of a Sugar Bowl trip and I’m especially proud for our seniors who have worked so hard over the last 12 months. It also presents a great opportunity for our fans who have been so supportive of our team throughout the season. I had the opportunity to coach in a couple of Sugar Bowl games and experienced outstanding hospitality, a dynamic city and first class competition. It also represents a great challenge playing a team like Texas who has been one of the country’s most accomplished programs in college football history.”

The Sugar Bowl is the last of five college football bowl games set for New Year’s Day. The action prior to the Sugar Bowl includes the Outback Bowl (Noon ET, ESPN2), VRBO Citrus Bowl (1:00pm ET, ABC), PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (1:00pm ET, ESPN), and the Rose Bowl (5:00pm ET, ESPN).

Georgia, which fell to No. 1 Alabama 35-28 in the SEC Championship Game, came in at No. 5 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. Texas is ranked 15th.

Georgia and Texas last met in the 1984 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The Bulldogs emerged victorious in that contest, 10-9. Overall, the two schools have met four times on the gridiron and Texas holds a 3-1 advantage in the series.

Texas comes into the Sugar Bowl with a 9-4 overall record. The Longhorns fell to then No. 5 Oklahoma 39-27 in the Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Last month, it was announced that Georgia and Texas will play a home-and-home football series. The Bulldogs will travel to take on the Longhorns in Austin in 2028 and then Georgia will host Texas the following season in Athens in 2029.

UGA Football Schedule

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Late rally sinks Georgia in SEC Championship

ATLANTA – Three unanswered touchdowns from No. 1 Alabama lifted the Crimson Tide past No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs in a 35-28 finish Saturday in the 2018 SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The SEC East Champion Bulldogs (11-2, 7-2) scored the first points in the second half with a touchdown to go up 28-14, but the SEC West Champion Crimson Tide (13-0, 9-0) strung together the rest of the scoring to win their 27th SEC Title in school history. For the second straight season, the result came down to the last play, but this time Georgia’s pass went incomplete out of the end zone.

“It was a tremendous atmosphere, the SEC Championship Game once again is one of the best games of the year,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “A lot of credit goes to Alabama, they outperformed us in the second half. The game had a lot of momentum swings – up and down, back and forth, which we knew it would. We have a lot of champions on this team and a lot of kids that have a heart of a lion like these two [Jonathan Ledbetter and Jake Fromm at the podium] right here, especially. They lead this team and care about this university and play really hard.”

Statistically, the numbers matched up across the board with Georgia compiling 454 total yards and Alabama right there with 403 total yards. Through the air, sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm went 25-of-39 for 301 yards and three touchdowns. The running back tandem of D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield teamed up for 75 and 60 yards, respectively, on the ground. Swift had two total touchdowns, one running and one receiving.

On the receiving end, Swift had a team-high six catches for 63 yards, however junior tight end Isaac Nauta led in yards with 81 on four catches including a career-long 55-yard catch. Nauta notched the game’s first score, while Riley Ridley was the other Bulldog to find the end zone in the game. Ridley finished with four catches for 48 yards and the lone second half score on a 23-yard catch.

Defensively, Georgia forced four three-and-outs on the day, which was led by juniors, safety J.R. Reed and inside linebacker Tae Crowder, with eight tackles apiece. Senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker played disruptively with five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a batted ball and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Georgia’s two takeaways came from interceptions from Reed and fellow safety Richard LeCounte.

“These kids battled tooth-and-nail with what is one of the best teams in the country,” Smart added. “We didn’t do enough to win the game, we didn’t finish it, but give Alabama the credit. They made the plays when they had to, but this is a special group.”

At the half, Georgia led 21-14, scoring on three of its six possessions, while also outpacing Alabama in total yards (227-146) and time of possession (20:52-9:08). Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm went 14-of-18 including 10 straight completions that tied a SECCG record for 139 passing yards for two touchdowns. Meanwhile sophomore D’Andre Swift directed the ground attack, totaling 66 yards on 13 attempts with a touchdown. Six Bulldogs recorded two catches in the first half.

The Crimson Tide threatened in their first drive of the game, reaching the Georgia six-yard line, but an 11-yard sack by Walker followed by LeCounte’s first-career interception kept the scoreboard clean.

Three possessions later, Fromm connected with Nauta in-between the seams for a 20-yard score. On the seven-play, 60-yard drive, Fromm went 4-for-5 to all different receivers.

After Alabama knotted the score at 7-all, Georgia orchestrated a 13-play, 74-yard scoring drive that elapsed 7:19 off the clock. This time Fromm went a perfect 6-for-6 including two third-down completions. Swift capped the drive with a 9-yard run off the right guard to make it a 14-7 Georgia lead.

Next, Georgia’s defense forced a three-and-out, giving the ball back to the offense and to Swift who proceeded to rack up 44 yards in a 51-yards touchdown drive. The Philadelphia native ended the drive with an 11-yard touchdown catch. On the drive, Swift became the 14th Bulldog all-time to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark.

Coming out of the break, the Bulldogs’ defense forced Alabama’s third three-and-out and Fromm made it count by dropping a 23-yard touchdown pass into Riley Ridley’s hands for the 28-14 lead.

Later in the third quarter, Crimson Tide narrowed the gap to 28-21 on a 51-yard touchdown catch from receiver Jaylen Waddle. And then with 5:19 left in regulation, Alabama constructed a 16-play game-tying drive with a 10-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jerry Jeudy as the equalizer.

The last and game-winning scoring drive occurred in the waning minutes when Hurts scrambled for 15-yards to give the Crimson Tide the 35-28 edge. Hurts went 7-of-9 passing for 82 yards after Tua Tagovailova left the game due to an injury. The SECCG MVP went to Crimson Tide running back Josh Jacobs who had 83 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The College Football Playoff Selection Show Presented by AT&T airs Sunday at noon ET and will reveal the College Football Playoff selection committee’s four playoff teams at 12:30 p.m. The four-hour special will then reveal the CFP selection committee’s complete top 25 at 2 p.m., followed by the remaining New Year’s Six matchups at 3 p.m.


*SEC Championship Game History: With today’s 35-28 loss to top-ranked UA, Georgia falls to 3-4 in SEC Championship Games. UA had beaten its previous 12 opponents by at least 20 or more points this year.  The Bulldogs are now 5-3 against top 10 teams under Kirby Smart. Coach Smart is 32-9 overall in this his third season with back-to-back SEC Championship Game appearances. Today marked Georgia’s first game against a top-ranked team since the 2011 SEC Championship Game when it fell to LSU 42-10. The Bulldogs are 1-5 all-time against a top-ranked team with all six games at neutral sites.

*Swift Goes Over 1,000 Yards For The Year: In the first half, sophomore D’Andre Swift had 13 carries for 66 yards including a rushing TD and two catches for 17 yards and a receiving TD. He had a 9-yard TD run for a 14-7 lead with 7:31 in the second quarter. He went over a 1,000 yards for the season during a 20-yard run in the 2ndquarter and on that same drive he caught an 11-yard pass for a TD and a 21-7 lead. He finished with 75 yards on 16 carries and a TD plus a career-high six catches for 63 yards and a TD.

For the season, Swift has 1,037 rushing yards. Swift became the 14thBulldog to have a 1,000-yard season and the 20thoverall time it has been done in a season. Sophomore Elijah Holyfield finished with 60 yards on 14 carries to give him 954 overall.

*Scoring Defense: Coming in today, the Bulldogs ranked 10thnationally in scoring defense (17.2 ppg) while Alabama was third (13.8 ppg). Also, Georgia ranked 13thnationally in scoring at 40.1 ppg while Alabama was 2ndat 49.0 pgg. UA took its first lead with 1:04 left in the contest, going up 35-28. Georgia carried a 21-14 lead to halftime.

Georgia’s leading tacklers today were junior J.R. Reed and senior Tae Crowder with eight apiece. Also, senior D’Andre Walker ended up with five tackles, a sack and 2 TFL. Walker notched his team-leading 10th sack on UA’s first drive of the game.In the 2ndhalf, UA was forced to a three-and-out and punt with Georgia taking over at the UGA 49. It led to a 51-yard TD drive in 1:14 for a 28-14 lead. After another three-and-out, Georgia got it at the UGA 25. On UA’s third possession, junior J.R. Reed notched an INT at the UGA 3. UA scored a TD to cut it to 28-21 on the fourth possession, a 72-yard drive in 1:29 in four plays featuring a 51-yard TD pass with 3:02 in the 3rd. Going to the 4thquarter, Georgia led 28-21. UA tied the game at 28 with 5:19 left in the contest. UA took over at its 48 after a fake punt failed with 3:04 left and took its first lead 35-28 with 1:04 left in the contest.

*Fromm Directs Offense: Sophomore QB Jake Fromm finished 25-for-39 for 301 yards with 3 TDs. On 3rddowns, he was 5-for-12 for 54 yards and 1 TD and was sacked once. He was 2-for-2 for 14 yards on 4thdowns. Georgia’s final drive ended a the UA 39 as a pass fell incomplete in the endzone. In the second half, he led Georgia to 3-play, 51-yard TD drive capped by a 23-yard TD to junior Riley Ridley and a 28-14 edge. Fromm’s completions, TD passes and yards were the most by a Bulldog in an SEC Championship game. Since the loss at No. 13 LSU, he led Georgia to a 5-1 mark and was 87-for-124 for 1,128 yards, 14 TDs and only 1 INT. Fromm is now 23-4 as a starter including 8-4 versus Top 25 teams.

In the first half, he completed 14-for-18 for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns to help Georgia to a 21-14 lead. On 3rddowns, he was 5-for-6 for 54 yards, 1 TD and was sacked once. He tied an SEC Championship Game record with 10 straight completions at one point (Blake Sims, UA 2014). He tossed a 20-yard TD to junior tight end Issac Nauta for a 7-0 lead following the PAT. The drive covered 7 plays, 60 yards in 3:08. Coming in UA had held the lead or been tied for all but 70 seconds this year (Ole Miss led 7-0 in week three and lost 62-7). Today, UA tied the game after 3:12, going 8 plays in 75 yards to make it 7-7 with 14:45 left in the first half. Georgia answered with a 13-play, 74-yard TD drive capped by a 9-yard run by D’Andre Swift and a 14-7 lead. It was the 2ndlongest drive in plays and time of possession this year. After forcing UA to punt, Georgia went up 21-7 following a six play, 51-yard drive in 2:22 capped by a 11-yard TD catch from Fromm to Swift with 4:05 left in the half. Seven different Bulldogs had two catches apiece with sophomore Jeremiah Holloman tallying a team-high 37 yards. In the second half, Nauta had a career-long 55-yard catch and finished with four catches for 81 yards.

*Hardman On Special Teams: Junior wideout/returner Mecole Hardman came in today leading the SEC in punt return average at 21.8 yards plus he averages 26.2 yards in kickoff return yards. He had a 22-yard kickoff return in the first half plus a 16-yard punt return. Coming in, UA had allowed just three punt return yards on six returns. He finished with three kickoff returns for 63 yards and two punt returns for 16 yards. He had two catches for 21 yards.

*Points off Turnovers: Georgia scored no points off two Alabama turnovers while the Crimson Tide forced no turnovers. Sophomore Richard LeCounte notched his first career INT, coming at the goal line on a 3rddown play. It led to a punt. The 29-yard return was the longest by a Bulldog in an SEC Championship. Junior J.R. Reed picked up an INT on the UGA 3, his second of the year. It led to a punt.Georgia is now +5 in Turnover Margin, scoring 51 points off 15 turnovers on the year. Opponents have scored 30 points off 12 Bulldog turnovers this year.

*For Starters: Senior C Lamont Gaillard started his team-leading 41st straight game while on defense, the team leader in starts is senior DB Deandre Baker now with 34 including a streak of 15 with junior RS J.R. Reed the most consecutive on defense with 28.  

*Captains: Seniors Lamont Gaillard and Jonathan Ledbetter plus junior Elijah Holyfield were the captains.

Up Next: Georgia (11-2) will learn Sunday who and where it will play next. The CFP announces the pairings for the Playoff Semifinals at 12:30 p.m. ET Then, ESPN will announce the final Top 25 2 p.m. ET, followed at 3 p.m. with the pairings for all New Year’s Six bowls plus the start times for the Playoff Semifinal games.


KIRBY SMART: I’d like to open with the tremendous atmosphere. The SEC Championship Game, once again, is one of the best games of every year. A lot of credit goes to Alabama. They outperformed us in the second half. The game had a lot of momentum swings in it, up and down, up and down, back and forth, which we knew it would.

We’ve got a lot of champions on our teams. We’ve got a lot of kids that have the heart of a lion, these two here especially. They lead this team, they care about this university, and they play really hard.

We told our kids that for a week they would hear nothing but how good Alabama was, and that’s what they heard. Everybody said they were unbeatable, and everybody talked about it. We knew what we had, and we knew we’ve got a good football team. We’ve got a really physical football team. We’ve got a talented football team. And we most definitely have one of the best four teams in the country.

The system is what it is. What happens happens. These kids out here today, they battled tooth and nail with what is one of the best teams in the country. We did enough to win the game, and we didn’t finish it. Give Alabama credit. They made the plays when they had to. This is a special group.

Q. Kirby, can you explain your mindset on the fake punt.

KIRBY SMART: Yeah, we had been carrying that for — actually carried it last year. Thought it was there, and it was there today. We were going to snap the ball quick. We took too long to snap the ball. They didn’t have a guy covered. We had a guy wide open. We took so long to snap it, that they recognized it and got the guy covered late. It was probably 20, 30 yards’ field position that — we came to win the game. We wanted to win the game. I talked to the guys before the game about it. If we get an opportunity to run it, we’ll run it. It was there. We just didn’t get an opportunity to get it snapped before they covered the guy.

Q. Kirby, second half, Alabama defensively, why were they able to kind of continually stop you guys? You guys have been moving it pretty well for most of the game.

KIRBY SMART: We did some better things. We made some adjustments and made some plays on the ball. Got a little more pressure. They were able to affect us in the pocket. We had one third down where we didn’t pick up a guy. They had pressure inside, and Jake had to throw it away. They stopped — controlled the run game a little better, but we still dominated the line of scrimmage, but it didn’t come to fruition.

Q. Jonathan, you all really did a good job on Tua and really had pressure on him most of the game and really did a good job limiting him. When Hurts came in, you knew he was going to try to probably scramble and hurt you at the end getting outside. What would you say about that?

JONATHAN LEDBETTER: They both had mobile quarterbacks. They’re both mobile. We knew that going into the game. Our goal was to trap him and keep him in the pocket. We had a lot of guys rushing with a lot of passion and a lot of determination to get those guys on the ground. We did a good job with Tua. Jalen came in and surprised us a bit, a more mobile quarterback. Those are adjustments you’ve got to make in the game, and you’ve got be aware, have
awareness in those situations. For the most part, I think our team did a good job keeping the quarterbacks in the pocket knowing we had to make those plays in the small moments.

Q. Coach and players, with the committee watching all day and they’re together, what kind of statement do you think you guys made collectively moving forward before the vote, the final vote tomorrow?

KIRBY SMART: Well, it boils down to one thing. Do you want the four best teams in or not? It’s that simple. They sat at home last year and got to go in the game while everybody else is beating each other up, and they had a good football team. Give that coach across the sideline a vote who he doesn’t want to play. He’ll start with us. I promise you, you don’t want to play us. It’s not our decision. It’s their decision. But you’re going to put the four best football teams in.

THE MODERATOR: Jonathan, you want to answer that one?

JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I support my coach. We worked hard. We’re here. We showed up, and we played. They beat us in the end. You can’t say we didn’t go out there and fight. You can’t say we didn’t put it all on the line. You can’t say we’re not one of the best teams in college football. Just watch the tape. If they watch it, they should put it in.


JAKE FROMM: I mean, really what these two guys have said, you know, it’s really not for me to decide. That’s for them to decide. I thought we played our butts off today and we can only control what we can control.

Q. Jonathan, this is sort of the reverse of obviously last year with the quarterback change. You said Jalen surprised you a little bit. What was he able to do that Tua couldn’t do in the end?

JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I wasn’t necessarily surprised myself. I was aware that he was in the game and what he’s good at. I just think that the quick change-up kind of caught our defense off guard, and you know they’re two different style players that are both mobile, but they run differently. You’ve got Tua who’s going to try to hit our side and roll out on you, and Jalen will hit you as a vertical threat, and he did that. You’ve got to make sure you just prepare and just be ready for that and make those in game adjustments.  When we needed to, like I said, they didn’t happen fast enough.

KIRBY SMART: He broke contain. We wanted him to break contain, but we had a player assigned to run him down, to try to get him, and he got lost in the crowd. The idea was to go flush him and run him down. Give him a lot of credit, guys. This is a guy who’s been on the sideline and comes in and plays his guts out. It speaks volumes for college football there’s two young men that play that good especially in that stretch of the game. He made a great play when he broke contain and went out and made a great throw and catch. We lost contain on purpose, but the guy that’s supposed to chase him down didn’t get him down.

Q. Based on what you’ve seen of Tua on tape versus what you saw from him, especially after that first series, the first time he kind of got knocked around because you guys sacked him, did he seem like not fully himself compared to what you’d seen on tape?

KIRBY SMART: I don’t know about that. I think any quarterback that gets hit gets rattled. We knew we had to affect him. If we listened to you guys, we wouldn’t have even showed up. I gave all the love I could all week, and our team just worked. Our guys just grinded. We knew, if we could affect him, we could have some success. We had that early. We’ve got good cover guys out there too and got good disguise and good defenses. He’s a really good player. He’s really talented. They also dropped some balls they probably should have caught, and we forced them into some picks.
Q. Kirby, to have this happen two years in a row to come up short at the very end, what do you feel at home?

KIRBY SMART: Sick. We’ve got to play better in the fourth quarter. That’s a big thing for us. We talked about it at halftime. We wanted to come out and be the more physical dominant team and play the second half and win. We couldn’t close the deal. I don’t know what that is. We’re going to figure it out, though. I can promise you that. We’re a few plays away. There were a lot of plays in that game. Everybody is going to point to whether it’s a field goal, whether it’s a fake punt, or whether it’s a breakdown on third down contain or fourth down contain and they score; a fumble. It’s so many things. It’s inches, and we didn’t get the inches tonight. We’ve got a damn good football team.
Q. Kirby, I’m sorry if you said this earlier and I missed it, on the fake punt situation, was your mindset at the time you just didn’t want to give the ball back to them at the time because the way they were driving the ball?

KIRBY SMART: I don’t know about that, but we lost some momentum in the game. We certainly maybe we could have stopped them. I felt like that was a great call because it was there. We’ve seen their safe. We know exactly what their safe is. They line up, and they don’t cover a guy. We’ve got a guy wide open, and he’s not going to be covered. But in the last second they saw it. And we had a way to check out of it, but we took too long to get it snapped, and I felt like it was a really good play. It was there. It got taken away at the last second, and we didn’t make the play.
But I wanted to be aggressive. Look, I wasn’t coming here to play to tie, to play to keep it close. We came here to win the game. We wanted to win the game. These kids deserve to win the game, and we weren’t able to do it.

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2018 SEC Championship Game: Georgia-Alabama Trailer

The 2018 SEC Championship Game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 1 in Atlanta. The game is set for 4:00pm ET on CBS.

UGA football has released a trailer for the 2018 Georgia-Alabama game titled “Bring the Thunder.” The video features a poem written and performed by Mike Young.

Check out the video below. Go Dawgs!

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UGA releases The Reel: Georgia Tech video

The Georgia Bulldogs have released the video The Reel: Georgia Tech following their 45-21 victory over the Yellow Jackets last weekend.

The video features highlights from the UGA-Georgia Tech game with audio from the UGA radio broadcast (Scott Howard and Eric Zeier) and the pre-game speech from Kirby Smart, Jim Chaney, and Mel Tucker.

Check out the video below. Go Dawgs!

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Georgia’s Jake Fromm named Manning Award finalist

ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm has been named one of 11 finalists for the 2018 Manning Award, which is given to the nation’s top quarterback and the only award that takes candidates’ bowl performances into consideration.

Fromm, a native of Warner Robins, Ga., joins two other signal callers from the Southeastern Conference as finalists and is one of three sophomores on the list.  The winner will be announced after the bowls in January and will be honored at a ceremony in New Orleans.

Fromm was named one of the Manning Award’s Stars of the Week following the Bulldogs’ 36-17 rout of No. 9 Florida on Oct. 27 in Jacksonville, Fla.  He was 17-of-24 for 240 yards and three touchdowns as Georgia was on its way to sweeping the SEC East for the second year in a row.

Overall, Fromm has started all 12 games for the No. 4 Bulldogs and is 161-for-233 for 2,236 yards with 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions.  He is ranked third nationally on the active list for Passing Efficiency at 165.94 and is second in the SEC and eighth nationally in Completion Percentage at 69.1, which is on pace to pass Hutson Mason’s school record mark of 67.9 in 2014.

Fromm is coming off a career-high four touchdowns on 13-for-16 passing for 175 yards during Georgia’s 45-21 dismantling of Georgia Tech on Nov. 24.

The Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1 SEC) face No. 1 Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC) at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Saturday at 4 p.m.  CBS will televise the matchup between the defending league champions and the defending national champions.

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2018 SEC Championship Game: Georgia-Alabama

The 2018 SEC Championship Game is set with the Georgia Bulldogs taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Georgia and Alabama met just about 11 months ago in the College Football National Championship in Atlanta, which we all remember. Georgia lost 26-23 in overtime.

Two seasons prior, Alabama stormed into Athens in 2015 and steamrolled Georgia in a rain-soaked affair, 38-10. Kirby Smart coached in that game, but in crimson-colored attire.

And then there was the 2012 SEC Championship Game, the first time the two schools had met in a title game setting. That game was also a stomach-turner.

Quarterback Aaron Murray drove the Bulldogs the length of the Georgia Dome with a chance to win it in the final seconds. But a tipped pass found Chris Conley’s hands short of the goal-line. With no timeouts left, time expired on Georgia and the Crimson Tide slipped by, 32-28. Kirby Smart and Alabama celebrated.

The 2012 and 2015 Georgia-Alabama games are still often discussed, but the National Championship loss is still fresh on the mind.

Georgia has a chance to exact a little measure of revenge on Saturday and claim their first back-to-back SEC Championships since they won three in a row from 1980 to 1982.

A Georgia win could possibly propel them to the College Football Playoff for the second-consecutive season. A loss would most likely put them in the Sugar Bowl against a team from the Big 12, likely Texas.

The Georgia Bulldogs won the East Division title with a 7-1 record (11-1 overall), two games ahead of the rival Florida Gators in the standings. Georgia will be playing in its seventh title game and they’ve won three previously (2002, 2005, and 2017).

Alabama finished the regular-season 8-0 in the SEC and 12-0 overall. The Crimson Tide are making their 12th SEC Championship Game appearance, winning in 1992, 1999, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016.

OddsShark currently lists the Alabama Crimson Tide as a 13-point favorite in the game, and most pundits are picking the Tide to defeat the Bulldogs.

Georgia-Alabama tickets are readily available, and the get-in price is currently about $330 per ticket with no fees and free shipping.

Go Dawgs!

SEC Championship Game

  • Matchup: (1) Alabama vs. (4) Georgia
  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018
  • Time: 4:00pm ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Crew: Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, and Jamie Erdahl
  • Tickets: Buy Tickets

Football Schedules

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Rodrigo Blankenship named to 2018 SEC Football Community Service Team

UGA junior placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship has been named to the 2018 SEC Football Community Service Team, the conference announced on Wednesday.

Each year the SEC highlights one player from each school in all 21-league sponsored sports who shows exemplary community service.

From the UGA release:

Blankenship, a native of Marietta, Ga., was the only player from the conference named to this year’s Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his dedication to the community and performances on the field and in the classroom.  He is a member of the UGA Athletic Association’s Leadership Academy (L.E.A.D.) and has been a visitor at Camp Sunshine, which is a camp that provides support programs for children with cancer and their families.

Blankenship has also volunteered for the “Empty Bowl” luncheon, which is a luncheon sponsored by the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, and with the Extra Special People (ESP) group, which is an organization assisting individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.  In addition to a number of other community service projects, Blankenship has been a spokesperson for “No More,” which is a public service announcement by UGA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Below is the complete 2018 SEC Football Community Service Team:

Joshua Casher, Alabama

Three-time recipient of Alabama Football’s Derrick Thomas Community Service Award … Instrumental in Alabama Athletics choosing the Alberta Head Start program as the focus of its community Unity Project, which is a department-wide initiative involving student-athletes, coaches and staff … Has given more than 200 hours to community in addition to serving as a mentor and role model for his teammates and fellow student-athletes.

T.J. Smith, Arkansas

2017 Fall Academic Honor Roll … 2015-16 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll … Participated in Lift Up America … Visited with Boys & Girls Club children at post-practice event … Worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield at Bud Walton Arena to pack meals for families in need for the Fearless Food Fight … Visited Arkansas Children’s Northwest Hospital multiple times interacting with sick children.

Derrick Brown, Auburn

2018 Wuerffel Trophy Watch List and AFCA Allstate Good Works Team nominee … Two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient … Represented Auburn the past two years at the SEC Student-Athlete Leadership Council for football … vice president of the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council … Took part in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in May 2018.

Fred Johnson, Florida

Volunteered 30 hours to community service activities since February, including Boys & Girls Club, school visits, a bone marrow transplant reunion, and Stomp the Swamp for Autism.

Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

Only SEC player on 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team … Member of the UGA Athletic Association’s Leadership Academy (L.E.A.D.) … Visitor at Camp Sunshine, which is a camp that provides support programs for children with cancer and their families … Volunteer for the “Empty Bowl” luncheon, which is a luncheon sponsored by the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.

C.J. Conrad, Kentucky

Has contributed hundreds of hours of community service during his time at Kentucky … In 2018, created “Tuesdays With C.J.,” in which he visits the UK Children’s Hospital every Tuesday to spend time with patients and their families … Captain of UK’s chapter of “Team Impact,” in which he organized and hosted a “Signing Day” news conference for an 11-year-old with cystic fibrosis, a youngster who has been with the UK football team all season.

Blake Ferguson, LSU

Chair of SEC’s Football Leadership Council … Serves as an advocate for the American Diabetes Association … Has participated in numerous community events with the American Diabetes Association, including working youth camps for juveniles with diabetes … Invited to Washington D.C. over the summer to take part in the ADA’s Call to Congress, where the organization helped raise money for diabetes and diabetes awareness.

Javon Patterson, Ole Miss

Two-time Wuerffel Trophy nominee … Started Patterson’s Footlocker, which gathers and donates socks to homeless shelters … Volunteered time with the Special Olympics … Other volunteer pursuits include participating in Reading Across America Day, assisting with the Adopt-A-Basket initiative during Thanksgiving, visiting patients at Batson Children’s Hospital, and other community initiatives.

Gerri Green, Mississippi State

A 2018 nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy … Volunteered for projects routinely, including Read Across America … Has served as a mentor with Quad County Alternative School … Spent time at Ward Stewart Elementary garden, local hospitals, escorting local elementary students to school and volunteering at MSU’s youth football camps.

Corey Fatony, Missouri

2017 AFCA Good Works Team … Community service activities include: Playing for Hope – MU Children’s Hospital, Safe Kids Day event, Mizzou Moves (elementary school mentoring, positive role modeling), visiting/reading to local elementary classes, Children’s Hospital visits

Spencer Eason-Riddle, South Carolina

2018 Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete … 2017 USC Co-Community Service Award … 2017 SEC Community Service Team … 2017 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll … Has volunteered regularly at the VA Hospital, met with cancer patients, read to children multiple times.

Trey Smith, Tennessee

Selected to be a part of the VOLeaders Academy, a university and athletics program where student-athletes enact positive change through athletics … Participated in the adapted Sports Fest, worked with Club Vibes, which helps visually impaired young people, and assisted in the organization of Tennessee’s annual VOLoween event … Participated in Read Across America Day initiatives and made time to read to children at local schools throughout the year.

Riley Garner, Texas A&M

Member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee … Traveled to Haiti twice with Mission of Hope … Has spent many hours in local schools in the Bryan-College Station area helping with reading programs and encouraging students to perform their best in everything they pursue … Has also volunteered at The Big Event, a Texas A&M University wide outreach to the community … Has been a camp counselor at Camp Blessings, a special needs camp.

Khari Blasingame, Vanderbilt

Served with Project I Am, volunteering his time as a mentor to first-year minority students attending Vanderbilt … He has served as President of Sankofa, a student-led organization under the African American and Diaspora Studies umbrella … Helped conduct an HIV awareness drive on campus … Helped organize a field day for under-privileged elementary school students in Nashville … Assisted Nashville’s homeless community at the Nashville Rescue Mission

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Georgia powers past Kennesaw State 84-51

ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Georgia men’s basketball team routed the Kennesaw State Owls 84-51 in Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday night.

Sophomore Nicolas Claxton led in points with 16, in addition to snagging 15 rebounds, a career-high, contributing to his third double-double in this season alone. Claxton is the only other Bulldog to do so since Trey Thompkins in 2010.  Sophomore Rayshaun Hammonds (14) and junior Jordan Harris (10) also registered team-high point margins for the night.

“I’m really proud of how the guys played tonight,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “Especially because we have had long, hard days since we’ve been home getting ourselves better. There’s a lot of room to get better, and we do have much more room in that capacity right now in this short time. To come out here tonight and play like that and play with better efficiency was important.”

A Hammonds dunk and free throw established the Georgia (4-3) lead 5-4. The Owls (1-7) fought back to tie the game for a second time bringing the score to 11-10, but a three from junior Tyree Crump, his first of three on the night, brought the margin up to four. Georgia did not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game.

Freshman Ignas Sargiūnas grabbed his first career steal, breaking away down the court for a layup, igniting a 10-0 run for the Bulldogs. A sophomore Teshaun Hightower layup established Georgia’s first double-digit lead of the night (11) with 7:46 remaining in the first half.

Next, four Bulldogs contributed to a 15-0 point run, started by a 3-pointer from Crump. The run posted the first 20-plus point margin of the night at 22 with a Hammonds layup. Georgia finished the half leading 39-20.

Coming back to the court, Georgia maintained a 10-plus point lead for the entirety of the half. The Bulldogs went on a 14-0 run at the 12:26 mark, initiated by a Claxton dunk followed by points from Fagan, Harris, and Hammonds. The run supplied Georgia’s first 30-point lead of the game. A dunk from freshman Amanze Ngumezi with 30 seconds left notched the 35-point lead, the largest of the night, ensuring the 84-51 Georgia victory.

With four rebounds on the night, senior Derek Ogbeide entered the top-15 in boards in school history, tied with James Banks at 654.

Georgia posted a 52 percent clip from the field while holding the Owls to 28 percent on field goals and 7 percent on 3-pointers. The Bulldogs also won the rebound battle with 53 total to Kennesaw State’s 35. Georgia held Kennesaw State’s Tyler Hooker to his second-lowest output this season with 11 points. Hooker entered the game leading the Atlantic Sun in scoring with 19.6 points a game.

The Bulldogs come back to Stegeman on Dec. 3 against the Texas Southern Tigers at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network Plus.


• The win moves the series record vs. Kennesaw State University to 3-0 in Georgia’s favor.

• For the third time this season, the starting lineup featured William Jackson II, Teshaun Hightower, Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, and Derek Ogbeide. The Bulldogs are now 2-1 with that starting lineup (Savannah State and Temple). Hammonds, Claxton and Ogbeide have started every game this season. Hammonds and Ogbeide have started 11 and 13 straight games going back to last season, respectively. William Jackson started his 55th career game and sixth of the season.

• A 10-point first half run gave UGA a 24-11 lead that the Bulldogs didn’t relinquish the rest of the game. Later a 15-0 run strengthened the lead to 39-17 before the first half ended with a 39-20 score. At the half, eight Bulldogs had a least one field goal, while Kennesaw State had eight total field goals.

• Also defensively, Georgia held Kennesaw State’s Tyler Hooker to his second-lowest output this season with 11 points. Hooker entered the game leading the Atlantic Sun in scoring with 19.6 points a game.

• UGA grabbed 53 rebounds for its second 50+ board game of the season – a feat done just once last season. Entering the contest, UGA’s rebound margin was +5.3. Tonight it was a +18 differential at 53-35.

• Sharing the ball, Bulldogs finished with 20 assists for their second game with at least 20 assists this season. Last season, Georgia tallied just three such games.

• UGA bench had season-high 40 points (17-28 FGs), while KSU bench had seven points (1-13 FGs).

• Defensively, Georgia tallied eight steals after coming in averaging 5.5 per game.


Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean

On the game…

“I thought our games came out with an excellent mindset. For us, we have got to come out and create our own energy and the fans will feed off of that. Let’s not rely on anyone else, let’s rely on ourselves. We have gotten so much better. We went to the zone early, real early, earlier than I thought we would. I thought that stifled them a little bit. Changing that up a bit helped us and got ourselves going. I’m really proud of how the guys played tonight. Especially because we have had long, hard days since we’ve been home getting ourselves better. There’s a lot of room to get better, and we do have much more room in that capacity right now in this short time. To come out here tonight and play like that and play with better efficiency was important.”

On shooting the three…

“We’ll get to a point where we’re firing them off the break, but we’re not there right now. We practice it all the time but we’re not there. Your threes have got to come on inside-outs. They’ve got to come on drive and kicks through the paint and on reversals, making that quick next pass. Tonight, I thought we did a better job of drawing help. We’re probably going to have to run more ball screens with this team than maybe what we have wanted to, but I think we got to get a downhill game going better which creates some of that. We have got to get better with our rolling. We’re definitely better with our post-ups and posting deeper. Now we got to do a better job with our rolling. The harder you roll, the more it brings in the help, which will create even more looks on the perimeter.”

Sophomore Forward Nicolas Claxton

On tonight’s game…

“We came out strong, when we went to the Cayman Islands we had a little rough patch there. So we knew we needed to come back here and our fans were behind us 100%. We came back and got the job done.”

On energy on big runs during the game…

“I feel like a lot of times the fans, we might come down hit a three, get a dunk, and the fans they generate a lot of energy and we most definitely feed off of that. We look forward to having that down the road.”

On the transition offense…

“I feel like we still have a lot more to improve. That comes from forcing turnovers, defensive rebounds, and everybody just being ready to just get out and run and get the easy baskets in transition, which we did tonight.”

Junior Guard Jordan Harris

On the defense in tonight’s game…

“I mean we gave up a lot of baskets last game. So, the biggest thing for us today was just to come back and defend, and play well in front of the home crowd, and let everyone know we are still here, we’re still together. ”

On getting back on the court…

“For me, I was ready. I didn’t play much at the Caymans, so I was definitely ready. We did have a couple days off, but we were ready to get back to recover from the loss we took. I don’t think we had any problems getting ready for this game. To mentally prepare we had some great practices to lead over to this game. This was definitely a good win for us.”

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Georgia returns to SEC title game in Atlanta

ATHENS, Ga. – The William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility featured the two-hour practice of a University of Georgia football team bound for Saturday’s 2018 Southeastern Conference Championship.

The Bulldogs’ trip to Atlanta marks back-to-back years Georgia has reserved the date at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the SEC title. Last year, Georgia held Auburn to one touchdown in its 28-7 win.

The victorious Bulldog team followed its conference title with a Rose Bowl Game win in Pasadena, California on New Year’s Day, before facing Alabama on January 8 for the CFP National Championship in the same Atlanta stadium.

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart

On special teams as a potential weakness for Alabama…

“I’ve been around Nick (Saban) long enough to know he does a good job on special teams. I don’t look at it as a weakness because your kickoff returner and your punt returner are two of the best in the whole country. Have they struggled some with some kicks? Yeah, sure. But that hasn’t been something new for them; they’ve dealt with that before. They’ve overcome it with a really strong special teams. They have the best kickoff coverage I think I’ve ever seen. They’re flying down the field, knocking people’s heads off. The kickoff return and punt return are elite. Their starters are all good players on those. I don’t look at it as their special teams is down, I think people mention that because of their punter and possibly because of their kicker.”

On recruiting before the SEC Championship…

“You can go recruit, we may at night send somebody somewhere if it’s local or we’re able to go see somebody, but certainly our sweat’s being put in the bucket towards Alabama. It’s not that we don’t care about recruiting; we’re still communicating with our recruits, but we can’t really focus on that right now. I think those kids respect that. A lot of them are focused on their playoffs or their state championships. In regards to when that ends, it’s ready, set, go. We’re going out to pull for them. We’ll go out as soon as they can.”

On the relevance of the Georgia program…

“I’ll be honest with you, becoming relevant and significant is every game. When you play on national TV, you play in the SEC, you have a chance to be relevant and significant every week. Certainly this is a wall game. It’s for the number that goes up on these walls in here. Put numbers up in here, especially on that side of the room [for the national championships.] It’s special. That’s what you’re playing for; you’re playing for a championship.”

On Smart’s assessment of Alabama…

“They’re good. They’re really good. They’ve got a good team. They’re explosive. I don’t see the weaknesses. Everyone talks about the kicking game, but they’re explosive. They’re really talented. They’re doing a good job, and they’re playing at a  high level. You can say they’ve been tested, but the thing is when they get on top of you, they know how to finish. They attack; they are constantly attacking. The pressure’s never off. I had several coaches after the games they played us this year say ‘Man, y’all put pressure on people in every area. There’s no phase in offense, defense, kicking; it’s like there’s always pressure.’ That’s Alabama. Really, really good putting pressure whether it’s offense, defense or special teams.”

On Alabama sophomore QB Tua Tagovailoa…

“I don’t think it’s only athletic; he resorts to that if things don’t go right, but he can sit in the pocket and make every throw. He’s very confident, and he’s got a presence about him in the pocket. He doesn’t fear rush; if he’s got guys bearing down on him, he sidesteps and gets the ball out, and that’s what makes him very special. He’s a really good dude.

On Smart’s game day approach…

“I can’t remember much about being a player. I was excited, I guess nervous; I don’t know, I’m nervous about everything. I’m competitive, want to do well. Work hard at it. Certainly once you prepare, there’s only so much you can do. I get the most comfortable the closer the game gets, because I realize there’s not a lot you can do, but I’m more intense leading up to, because I want to get all the hay in the barn. When the hay’s in the barn, there’s not a lot I can do. Let the players go play. Show confidence in the players.”

On making adjustments throughout the game…

“The first series may be jitters and guys still trying to get over it. You’ve got to stick with your plan and feel comfortable with your plan. If your plan’s not working, you’ve got to go to Plan B or Plan C…I think you adjust throughout the game. I think you get different answers. We try to always have different looks. The defense, we’ll try to save something till the second half. As an offense, we always try to have a script coming out the second half. I think offensively more than anything we’ve had some really good opening second-half drives. I think a lot of that’s preparation and coaching. We try to do a really good job of that.”

On having two Georgia running backs on the brink of 1,000-yard years in back-to-back seasons…

“Oh yeah. I knew we had a good offensive line coming back. I didn’t know we would use so many of them in different games and shuffle them. I knew we were talented on offensive line and had good backs. So whether I thought we would have two 1,000-rushers, we’re not there yet. We’ll try to get there. We probably could have, but some of those games they were taken out…I don’t know if they see it as a competition, I really don’t. Those two guys are such team players; there’s no ego in either one of them. I think more worried about the team than see each one of them do well.”

Senior ILB #44 Juwan Taylor

On already facing Alabama sophomore QB Tua Tagovailoa in the CFP National Championship Game…

“Of course it does. We already know he’s a good athlete and can move in the pocket and can make plays. We just have to keep him contained.”

On the Alabama offense in January compared to this year’s team…

“There are similarities with the running game they’ve got. The different thing is they’ve got more explosive players in the backfield and at the receiving corps.”

Junior ILB #30 Tae Crowder

On Georgia’s consistent confidence level…

“It’s just all about how we prepare. We’re going into the game and going into the practices just like every other team.”

On what makes the Alabama offense so different…

“I don’t know. They’ve got a pretty good offense, but so do we.”

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Georgia moves up to No. 4 in latest College Football Playoff Rankings

The Georgia Bulldogs have moved up to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff Rankings following their 45-21 win at home over Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Alabama remains in first-place for the fifth consecutive week. Clemson (2), Notre Dame (3), Georgia (4), Oklahoma (5), and Ohio State (6) complete the top six of the College Football Playoff Rankings.

Other SEC teams ranked in the Top 25 include Florida (9), LSU (10), Kentucky (15), Mississippi State (18), Texas A&M (19), and Missouri (24).

Check out the full rankings below:

College Football Playoff Rankings (Nov. 27)

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Notre Dame
4. Georgia
5. Oklahoma
6. Ohio State
7. Michigan
8. UCF
9. Florida
10. LSU
11. Washington
12. Penn State
13. Washington State
14. Texas
15. Kentucky
16. West Virginia
17. Utah
18. Mississippi State
19. Texas A&M
20. Syracuse
21. Northwestern
22. Boise State
23. Iowa State
24. Missouri
25. Fresno State

On Sunday, Dec. 2, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will announce the Playoff Semifinal pairings and semifinal bowl assignments. Those will be followed by the pairings for the remainder of the New Year’s Six bowl games.

Football Schedules

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Kirby Smart, Bulldogs preview SEC Championship Game

ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against Alabama. They offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments … 

“As we open up, we’re excited for the opportunity to play in the SEC Championship game. I think it’s a credit to the seniors on this team to be able to go to this game two years back to back, which sometimes can be difficult to do. And it’s an honor to be in it, playing one of the hottest teams in the country, one of the best teams in the country. And we know a lot about them. They know a lot about us. We had a short week last year to prepare for them, so it was kind of a short window, especially when you compare it to what we had to prepare for the first game, the Oklahoma game.

But they’ve got a great team. I don’t think anybody would argue that. They’ve got very few deficiencies in any area, talented quarterback, explosive offense, and first thing you notice when they turn the tape on is how fast and how much they score. And they play some good teams in our conference and they still score a lot of points.

Defensively they’ve gotten better throughout the year, got a really good football team, and we’ll be focused on our team this week and we’ll be working really hard to be at our best, and our best will be needed. We’ll have to play well on special teams, defense and offense and that’ll be our goal.”

On Alabama’s yards per catch compared to some of the earlier Florida teams he faced when he was a player … 

“I think it’s hard to say. Those teams at Florida were a long time ago and they had really good wideouts, elite wideouts and they had good quarterbacks, but their quarterbacks were mostly stable, sitting-in-the-pocket guys. And if you remember, they were come after by a Florida State team that was really aggressive and came after them. The young man we’re playing now can run, can throw, can make the throws, can make the checks. They’ve got really good backs. You don’t think about backs that played at Florida back then. These guys have the complete package. When you look across the board on the offensive unit, there’s not like a glaring weakness there. People say they can’t run the ball. They can run the ball. They’ve got physical O linemen. They’ve got the ability to. They just choose to score faster other ways.”

On doing a better job of kickoff coverage … 

“We have to do a better job. At the end of the day we’ve got a coverage unit —  that it’s our responsibility as coaches —that’s probably falling asleep because of a guy that kicks at a high rate of touchbacks. I mean Rod’s in the 80s or something in touchbacks, or at least he was for a while. And we tried to even cover some against UMass intentionally to get some coverages, and we haven’t done with our coverages. Our hang times by Rod have been tremendous. He’s done a great job of placement of the ball. Just gotta do a better job covering it, and if we can kick it out, kick it out. That’s the key.”

On how much it helps QB Jake Fromm having played Alabama last year … 

“I don’t think it hurts anything. But this year is a different year. The fact that he’s played 11 games, 12 games; I don’t even know how many games he’s played. That has more to do than who we played. The fact he’s played and gotten experience. He’s gone against our defense all spring. He’s gone against our defense all fall, and he goes in all these games and plays. That’s more valuable than just playing Alabama. But the fact that he played against them last year, sometimes that helps. It also helps he had literally two first-round backs that were out there with him as well. And I know one was taken in the second, but he’s a first-round talent. So when you sit there and look at it, you go he had a lot of help. He’ll have a lot of help this year. We’ll have to play well offensively.”

On comparing last year’s National Championship prep to this year’s SEC Championship … 

“That post-season schedule is so different because there was a long layoff. There was a get all your team better, prepare your team. You’re really preparing for three teams, the ones you play and the two you might play. It’s a playoff scenario. So that preparation is very different than this. This would be more similar to just finished a game, we gotta go play an SEC Championship, which is more similar to when we played Auburn last year as far as the schedule goes. Team’s completely different. But we’ll do it like a normal game week. You can’t say this game is, oh, we gotta do something different this game. We gotta go out and be who we are. We gotta go play better and we’ve gotta go continue to improve. We got a bunch of young guys that gotta go compete and play in a big-stage environment.”

On if coaching alongside Coach Nick Saban has helped him understand what he is thinking more than other coaches … 

“You know, I don’t know. I mean I think that there’s going to be similar thinking, so I mean if you argue that there is a benefit from knowing what he’s thinking or what he’s thinking about in a certain situation, then he could say the same, because I certainly was with him long enough to know that in certain situations I have a lot of the same beliefs and thoughts. So I don’t think anybody strategically gained something because you work together for 10 years or you work together for 12 years at different places. I mean football is football. You have to make a decision, you know, what is your strategy on 3rd and 1, what is your strategy on 4th and 4. I don’t think anybody is so predictable that you know that 100 percent. So I don’t think you gain a whole lot from it.”

On if beating his mentor would be special … 

“I really don’t look at it that way at all. It’s not personal for me. I don’t look at it as that at all. It would be gratifying to our players. It would be the next step towards going to the playoffs. And those are the objectives that we want. It’s not — it’s not about me. It’s not about him. It’s not about the fact that we worked together. It’s never about that to me because I don’t see it that way. I see a really good football team on the other side that our guys have earned the right to go play against. And that’s really all it is for me.”

On lessons learned in pass coverage following last year’s National Championship … 

“That lesson was learned the day we installed that defense. I mean when you play cover two and you play halves, you got a guy over the top of another guy and you got a guy in the flat and the guy in the flat should jam and reroute and the guy in the half should be in the half. There’s nothing about that game that you learned because that game came down to more than just that. I mean that’s just what people remember the most. So when we teach that coverage, we teach it the same way we taught it before. We just hope that we do a better job of executing it.”

On the carryover from facing Tua Tagovailoa in the second half of the National Championship last year and the differences in his play from then to now…
“He’s improved tremendously. I mean he was really good in that half, but you have to remember, they had two really young linemen in the game. They had a lot of receivers that were playing at that point that were really young that have grown up. Their receiving corps is extremely talented, and they all seemed young then. So now they’re all very experienced, very talented, and he has them at his disposal to make good decisions and put the ball in the right people’s hands, and his decision-making and touch and accuracy is really just off the charts.

And I mean it was in our game last year, too, but now it’s a more experienced version of it. I don’t know that playing against him last year helps any this year. I think it doesn’t have anything to do with it. I think it has to do with both teams this year, because our team is certainly extremely different, especially defensively.”

On Elijah Holyfield’s ability to get to the pylon and how he has exceeded expectations…
“I’ve been very pleased with Elijah (Holyfield). Number one, his leadership more so than his ability to get to the pylons has been tremendous. His work ethic day in and day out. His toughness and his attitude is tremendous. I think both those backs would tell you they benefit from a physical offensive line and a group of receivers that are a threat to catch the ball. So those things help open boxes. When people don’t want to play you one on one, which Alabama will, they open up things for the other guys. And that’s important. But Elijah has been tremendous, and he has a good knack for getting the ball in the end zone. He’s a slasher. He’s not afraid of contact.”

On the injury update of Ben Cleveland and Trey Hill…
“Trey (Hill) is good to go. He was out and about yesterday moving around, so I expect Trey to be fine. Really all those guys. Ben’s (Cleveland) in the same boat he’s been in. You ask about Ben every week. Ben’s fighting to get back. We think Ben’s not 100 percent, but he’s closer to 100 percent than he was yesterday. So we keep trying to get him back and doing all we can to get him back. And then really nothing changed on Cade (Mays) and Monty (Rice) from last night. I don’t know anything else. That’s been less than 24 hours ago.”

On how Georgia’s receivers stack up against Alabama’s…

“I think it’s a tough comparison. I don’t like doing comparisons. I have a lot of respect for Alabama’s wide-outs. I think they’re tremendous. I think they’re probably the best unit we’ve faced. They’re talented, man. They get vertical. They run routes. They stick their feet in the ground and they have a good guy throwing it to them. But so do we. We’ve got a good wide receiver corps; we got a deep wide receiver corps across the board. A lot of guys have stepped up, and Jake allows those guys to make plays. So comparing them, I think it’s hard to say because I’m certainly proud of the way our guys play on special teams and play physical. But their guys are very talented, too.

On what Smart likes about sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm and the receiving corps…

“Timing, balance. They’ve done a good job with the RPO game, done a good job with the vertical passing game. They’ve done a good job connecting, whether it’s press man routes, off man routes. They’re getting better. They throw and catch a lot together. I think Jake has a trust with that group, and they trust him that the ball is going to be there on time. And let’s give them some credit. They run good routes and get open and catch the ball. But none of this happens without protection. And that’s one of the keys to this game is, number one, keeping the quarterback upright because of the number of sacks and disruption they have, but our guys protecting the quarterback well and being able to have balance, because you don’t want to live in third -and–longs against this team.”

On if practice will be inside this week…

“We may be outside just to get out there. But it’s going to depend on the weather. It’s not like it is every other week, where you’d say ‘I want to go outside because we’re playing outside’. We’ll do it based on the weather and whether or not we want to get off the turf for a day. But most of the times we play in a game like this, we’re inside.”

On Alabama’s intimidation factor and Georgia’s awareness of taking Alabama to overtime in January…

“I don’t know that it helps at all. I think the biggest thing is preparing your teams the right way to play and not getting overwhelmed by the moment. If anything, I’ve probably seen more teams lose it in the warmups, just trying to get all amped up and all that. You have to go play your best game. You have to be yourself, and you have to be the best version of you, and you can’t worry about the rest. A lot of those teams that I witnessed that, they didn’t have near as good of players as us either.

So I think when you look at it, you say, ‘Okay, what is the talent level? What is the talent gap?’ They’ve got an extremely talented team. We respect that. But we also have a good football team, and our kids have a lot of pride in performance. They’re not basing that on last year’s, because there are a lot of those kids off that team. I know defensively for us there are very few guys that are back as returning starters. We have a few on offense. But teams are different. Their team’s different, too. It’s two different teams, and the good thing is we both get to go on the field and play.”

On if Smart is still close to anyone on the Alabama staff…

“I’ve still got a lot of good friends in their support staff and the rest of their staff. There’s still guys that I see in the off season and things like that. Probably not as many with the changes they’ve had. I mean that’ll always be the case. I think every team you play, there’s somebody on the coaching staff that I’ve worked with or at least am good friends with, and that’s no different at Alabama.”

On if there is fatigue in answering questions about the connection between Smart and Alabama…

“Not really. I’m more worried about how to stop these wideouts and how to stop the quarterback. I’m not fatigued by this. I’m a lot more concerned with how we’re going to play and where we’re going to play guys and how we’re going to go about doing things. That’s you guys. Those are all your questions. I get it. You all have a job to do, and my job is to answer them.”

On making Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa uncomfortable in the pocket…

“It would be great to do that. It would be awesome to do that. I think if you can disrupt the pocket and get him out – to do that you have to take a lot of chances, and there are some good players back there behind those chances you’re taking. They also have the ability to expose you when you’re not balanced up on the run. I mean, there are similarities between their offense and our offense. They do a really good job offensively of running the ball and putting together run packages. They just don’t have to use them all the time because they’re really explosive. So getting pressure, affecting the quarterback – absolutely that’s critical. But not giving up big plays is, too.”

On if the January meeting with Alabama motivates Georgia…

“I really think to each his own. I mean that’s not a motivating factor for me. That’s not what’s driving me. What’s driving me is the young men in this room that will be here in a couple of hours, trying to do my best job for them, and that’s what my coaching staff has to do. We have to put our guys in the best situation to be successful, and that’s all we’re concerned with, because when you let all the outside forces and the outside motivation control you, sometimes you get emotional and you don’t make the best decisions.

We have to put the best plan together we can to play our best game against Alabama. Not the Alabama last year, not the Georgia last year. So that’s motivation for a lot of people. And that’s the media talk. But for us it’s what do I have to do to play my best game. That’s what I want to work on.”

On leading the nation in allowing the fewest plays of 20 or more yards…

“I think that sometimes can be a misleading stat, but this year our guys have done a good job keeping people cut off and not giving up explosive plays. And you do that by leveraging the ball, and you do that by not busting coverages. You do that by not getting beat man to man, and those are things we have to do every game. It’s not like we have to do it this game. We have to do it every game. But along with that we have to do a good job of affecting the quarterback, and sometimes that exposes you to more risk and you have to go play better.”

On the matchup with Alabama junior tight end Irv Smith…

“He’s talented. He’s extremely fast. When you look across the personnel board, they have a plethora of guys that are talented skill players. I think their backs are underrated. They have unbelievable backs. They can catch the ball out of the back field. They can do all kinds of things, but Irv Smith is a matchup problem. He’s talented, a really talented guy. And he’s a good player and good blocker.”


#94 Michael Barnett | Jr. | DT

On how different is Tua Tagovailoa than some of the other quarterbacks you have faced … 

“He has really become a student of the game. After last year, he has really come in and knows his receivers and their tendencies. He really reads defenses well and is truly a student of the game. He really understands what they are trying to execute on offense.”

On how hard is it to keep this week just like any other week recognizing there is a lot at stake … 

“I feel like we just need to have a lot of tunnel vision this week and try not to buy into the media. We just need to focus on what we have, it is just another football game. There is a lot at stake but once we realize it is just another football game and execute what we are supposed to do I think we will be fine.”

#11 Jake Fromm | So. | QB 

On keeping emotions in check during such a big week … 

“It is a big week, but we have had twelve weeks like this before. It comes down to the process and preparing just like we have for every other game. It is what it is. We have our process, we have gotten it down so we just plan to continue to do that and see how it works out.”

On being more comfortable in these situations compared to last year as a freshman … 

“I know what is going on. I know the trip to Atlanta and what the environment is going to be like. Playing in big games is fun and what you dream of. I am ready to go out and go get it.”

On his relationship with Tagovailoa …

“Yeah. Tua and I are really good friends. He is an awesome competitor, a really great football player and a great follower of Jesus. We met during the Elite 11 process when we were seniors in high school and our relationship kind of took off from there.”

On the importance of what Georgia is able to do in the run game … 

“That is big. It is huge. A big, physical run game not only helps open up the pass game, it helps late in the game, it helps control the clock, it helps the defense. A good running game really just helps play football. That is what we want to come out and do on Saturday and really just control the momentum of the game.”

#13 Elijah Holyfield | Jr. | TB

On how the back field has grown in 2018…

“I feel like all of us have done a really good job this year and I feel like we’ve gotten better throughout the year. This is the time to really make yourself a name.”

On looking forward to another shot at Alabama…

“The whole year, we’re just trying to get back to the SEC Championship; it wasn’t really who we play, we just wanted to get back there. I think more than anything this year, we’re just trying to focus on this game. Last year has nothing to do with this next game coming up.”

#13 Jonathan Ledbetter | Sr. | DE

On the progression of the defense this season…

“From the top of the roster all the way down to the bottom, it doesn’t matter who you’re going to put out there, we wanted to have a physical defense, one that runs around … and that’s really starting to form. As you can see these last couple games, everyone is hungry to get on the field, it doesn’t matter who’s out there getting on the ball.”

On keeping this a normal week and tuning out the noise…

“I feel like you have to tune things out, but people don’t realize it’s just football. As you get later on down the road, you play the better teams, and this is what you’ve been waiting on, this is what you’ve been working for all year, so you don’t have to blow it out of proportion, just treat it regularly, keep your nerves where they are. I think once you can do that, it shows your maturity as a team and where you are and where you’re going to go.”

On lessons learned and motivation after the National Championship game…

“It helps you grow up. Like I said, those tight games come down to inches. At the least, very, very small inches at the end of the game or even throughout the game. You just have to seize those opportunities and make sure that they’re in your favor and not the other team. You really just have to do whatever you want and whatever you can to make sure they come your way.”

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