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Latest from Sam Franco

    Sam gives his thoughts on UGA’s beat down of Georgia Tech. 
  • Humility is only a week away… It’s been Kirby Smart’s mantra all season long when talking about the success that Georgia Football has had in 2017. Week in and week out, Georgia has taken care of their opponents with relative ease. The game at Notre Dame was tough, and South Carolina provided a tougher test than most thought they would, but other than that, it’s been smooth sailing for the Dawgs. Well, smooth sailing hit the eye of the storm in Auburn, Alabama on Saturday. The Tigers dominated the Dawgs in every way possible and proved that they have come a long way since blowing a big lead against LSU. Here’s what I saw from an awful performance from Georgia: 1. Well, it was a good start: I wanted to start off on a good note, because the only thing Georgia did well in this game was putting points on the board on their first drive. If you had told me this game would go the way it did after watching the Dawgs’ first turn on offense, I would have said you were crazy. Jake Fromm was 3 for 3 on the drive for 56 yards, including a big third down pass to Javon Wims. The two of them have developed a very good understanding of each other, and Fromm has become comfortable throwing jump balls to Wims because of his ability to come down with a bunch of them. Unfortunately, Georgia never came close to replicating the success of the first drive at any point during the rest of the game.  2. Complete and utter domination: After that first drive, Auburn took control of this game and at no point looked like they would give it back. The Tigers more than doubled up Georgia in terms of total yards and outgained Georgia on the ground 237 to 46 (net rushing yards). Kerryon Johnson alone ran for 167 yards while the trio of Chubb, Michel, and Swift only combined for 66 yards for the Dawgs. In the passing game, Georgia couldn’t keep Jake Fromm upright as he was sacked four times and pressured a bunch more. At times, football is a very simple game. If you keep your quarterback protected, hit/pressure the other team’s quarterback, and control the game on the ground, you’re going to win a lot more than you lose. That was the formula for Auburn in this game, and they executed about as well as I’ve seen any team in the country this season.  3. There’s a first time for everything: Two things that have been a hallmark of Georgia Football this season are discipline and fundamental execution. Unfortunately, both of those were essentially non-existent against Auburn. Georgia kept shooting themselves in the foot with dumb penalty after dumb penalty. One that comes to mind was a late hit out of bounds by Malkom Parrish, but the glaring one was D’Andre Walker’s leaping penalty while trying to block a punt. Georgia’s defense had done a good job to force the punt and get off the field. After the penalty, Jarrett Stidham would hit Darius Slayton on a 42-yard pass for a touchdown. These players are told over and over again what they can and can’t do in those punt block situations, so Walker’s penalty was extra maddening. Another thing we had not seen this season was Georgia missing tackles. Kerryon Johnson did a great job of making defenders miss and might prove to be the best back the Dawgs have faced/will face all season.  4. Second-guessing: One of the more talked about things from this game was the way the Dawgs handled the end of the first half. Instead of taking a few shots into the end zone, Georgia was content with settling for a field goal when attempting to put some points on the board before the half. At the time, Auburn led 16-7 and was going to get the ball to start the 2nd half. Georgia had good field position due to a good Mecole Hardman that put the ball at Auburn’s 26-yard line with about 22 seconds left in the half. Georgia then ran the ball with Sony Michel and spiked the ball to give Rodrigo Blankenship time for the kick, a kick that he would ultimately miss. I actually said to a few people near me in the press box that there was no chance that kick was going to go in. It just didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do in that situation. If you take a few shots at the end zone and then kick, it would have felt much better. It just felt like Georgia was resigned to taking the three, and that was disheartening.  5. Taming the savages: For me, this was the most shocking part of this game. Georgia’s defense has been DOMINANT all season long, but they were the exact opposite of that against Auburn. Auburn moved the ball seemingly at will against the Dawgs, whether it was through the air or on the ground. I’ve already mentioned how Kerryon Johnson could not be stopped, but neither could Jarrett Stidham. I was talking with Coach Donnan about this game, and he made a great point: It’s hard to have a consistent pass rush against a team that constantly runs RPOs (run-pass options), especially if you have a quarterback that is good a pre-snap reads. Stidham called a great game in that regard, and constantly had Georgia’s defense guessing.  6. Roadblock in Lee County: The two strongest elements of Georgia’s team this season have been the defense and the run game. I just talked about how Auburn’s offense dominated Georgia’s defense, and you can flip the words “offense” and “defense” there and the same held true. Two of the best backs in the country (Sony Michel and Nick Chubb) had no room to run against the Tigers. The offensive line was flat out horrible in this game. As soon as Georgia’s backs would hit the line of scrimmage, they were met with a host of blue jerseys. There just weren’t any holes for Chubb and Michel to operate in. D’Andre Swift has also been a big part of Georgia’s offense this season, particularly in catching passes out of the backfield. He had zero catches against Auburn and only ran for 18 yards on four carries (which resulted in a yards per carry average that was two yards better than either Chubb or Michel). When you’re a team that leads with the run and can’t run, it’s not going to be a good day for you.  7. Keep Chopping: Was this a bad result for Georgia? Absolutely. A lot of the national media had been questioning Georgia in the lead up to this game, and those doubters were given a lot of ammunition as a result of it. That being said, Georgia still has everything in front of them. If they win the last two games of the regular season against Kentucky and Tech and go on to win the SEC Championship, they WILL be in the College Football playoff. This is where Coach Smart’s “keep chopping wood” slogan comes in handy. Georgia just has to keep working hard and preparing well for each opponent. Even if Georgia doesn’t win the SEC Championship this season, they are still well set up to be in a good bowl game and are ahead of where I thought they would be at this point in Kirby Smart’s tenure as head coach. The future is bright for this program with the recruiting classes the Dawgs are building, but let’s not give up on this season just yet as a lot of different scenarios could still play out. During his press conference this week, Coach Smart spoke very little about the Auburn game, as he, his staff, and his team have moved on to Kentucky. I suggest all of you in DawgNation do the same. There’s still A LOT left to play for and that starts against the boys from the Bluegrass on Saturday.  
  • Sam gives his thoughts on Georgia’s destruction of Florida in Jacksonville
  • Sam gives his thoughts on another big Georgia win, this time against Mizzou
  • Sam gives his thoughts on UGA’s domination of Vanderbilt. 
  • Sam gives his thoughts on UGA’s beat down of the Vols. 
  • Sam gives his thoughts on Georgia’s blowout victory over Mississippi State.
  • Sam gives his thoughts on Georgia’s historic win over Notre Dame in South Bend. 
  • Sam’s thoughts on Georgia starting the season off with a dominating win over App State. 
  • According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, former UGA football coach Mark Richt will pay $1 million of his own money towards an indoor practice facility for the University of Miami. During his tenure in charge of the Bulldogs, the indoor practice facility topic was one that caused a lot of angst, and this will certainly grab the attention of UGA fans. Check out the story from the Palm Beach Post. 
  • Sam Franco

    Morning Show Co-Host

    An ATLien by birth, Sam makes no apologies for being a long-suffering Atlanta sports homer. Having grown up in Decatur, a short ten minute drive from downtown Atlanta, he's seen the good (the 1995 Braves World Series triumph), the bad (the Hawks years under Lon Kruger and Terry Stotts), and the ugly (the Falcons for, well, most of his life on this earth).

    Sam is a proud Double Dawg who earned his bachelor of arts degree from the Grady College at UGA in Broadcast News in 2009 and his Master's degree in Sports Management at UGA in 2014. In addition to his work here at The Ref, Sam is also the Public Address Announcer for UGA Men's and Women's basketball, Baseball, and Soccer.

    When he's not working, you can probably find Sam at a concert or festival, as he is an avid live music fan. Last, but certainly not least, he is very proud of his Hispanic heritage, as his father was born in Ecuador.

    Read More

Latest Bulldog News

  • NORMAN, Okla. — Back in the team meeting room they call the Red Room, underneath Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium, quarterback Baker Mayfield on Thursday met with the local press for the first time since accepting the Heisman Trophy in New York on Saturday. Asked who was the most intriguing person he met during his whirlwind postseason award tour, Mayfield did not hesitate. “Herschel Walker,” the Sooners’ superstar said. Then he gushed. “He looks like he could still play right now,” Mayfield said of Georgia’s greatest tailback of all time. “That’s just impressive. You meet so many special guys, but a guy like that is like a once-in-a-century type of athlete. It was pretty neat.” Reminded that Walker played for the team his Sooners are about to meet in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs, Mayfield laughed. “That’s OK,” he said. “It’s Herschel Walker. I don’t have to play him, so it’s all right.” That exchange offered a nice glimpse into the persona of Oklahoma’s record-setting quarterback. The dude knows how to work a room and is quite comfortable at a lectern. And he knows how to butter-up an opponent. Mayfield nsists he wasn’t just trying to endear himself to the Bulldog Nation by offering effusive praise about their greatest player of all time. But one started to wonder when he began to gush about the Georgia defense he’ll face when No. 2 Oklahoma faces No. 3 Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Mayfield was asked if the Sooners’ had faced a comparable defense to Georgia’s this season “They’re the best defense; you can’t compare them to anybody,” he said. “They’re in a league of their own and that’s the reason they’re in the playoffs. They follow behind that defense. You can’t compare them to other people because they’re so talented and they play so well together. To say they’re like anybody else would be downplaying how good they are.” And so it went. If there is going to be any trash-talking in the first-ever meeting between these two powerhouse programs, it wasn’t coming out of the Red Room on Thursday. Led by Mayfield, the Sooners come into the Rose Bowl No. 1 in the nation in total offense at 583.3 yards per game and No. 3 in passing at 367.4. Georgia will counter with the No. 2-rated passing defense (158.3 ypg), tied for third against the score (13.2 ppg) and fourth in total defense (270.9 ypg). Something’s got to give. But that’s what makes it one of the most exciting matchups of the postseason. It’s especially exciting for Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown. The Sooners’ starting left tackle happens to hail from Duluth, where he attended Peachtree Ridge High School. “A lot of those guys in high school tore me up,” said Brown, a consensus All-American as a redshirt junior. “I’m not the same player I was then, so I’m just ready. … I always play with a chip on my shoulder but I’m excited about that. These are guys I’ve known for a long time.” Asked what Georgia players specifically “tore him up” in high school, Brown mentioned Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. The two seniors start at outside linebacker for the Bulldogs and definitely will get matched up against Brown on occasion if not constantly. “Obviously I played against 7 in high school, Carter,” Brown said. “I think I saw Bellamy at one point at a camp. It’s going to be competitive. They’re great. They play a lot of good ball. Very instinctual, very well-coached. You can tell they make a lot of scheme-related plays and a lot that are not scheme-related. They’re in the playoffs for a reason.” Brown and running back Trey Sermon are the only Sooners who hail from Georgia. Sermon, a freshman from Marietta’s Sprayberry High, rushed for 710 yards and two touchdowns while playing in all 13 games as Rodney Anderson’s backup. Sermon as named to the Big 12’s all-freshman team. Like Georgia, Oklahoma does not allow freshmen to be interviewed. The Sooners certainly don’t need many other voices with Mayfield front and center. The fifth-year senior from Austin, Texas, is as comfortable before cameras and microphones as he is behind that big offensive line that allowed him to throw for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns with just 5 interceptions this past season. It’s understandable considering he and Herschel Walker are the only players to have been invited to three consecutive Heisman Trophy Award ceremonies. The third time was the charm for both. Asked what was the best advice he got from his fellow award winners, Mayfield said it was that the national championship remains the better prize. “It was kind of common theme for the guys who were able to win it and play for a national championship,” Mayfield said. “I got the same advice from all of them: This is a special deal but if you can do anything you need to win the big one at the end. I talked to Chris Weinke about that and he’s a guy who lost to OU. So he was speaking from the heart.” So was Mayfield, he’d have you believe. The post Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield gushes about Herschel Walker, Georgia’s defense appeared first on DawgNation.
  • NORMAN, Okla. – The marijuana charges against Natrez Patrick were dropped, we learned Thursday. That’s certainly good for him. It may be good for Georgia football, too, in terms of its pursuit of wins and championships. Ultimately, we don’t know yet exactly what it means. On the surface, one’s left to believe that the Bulldogs’ starting inside linebacker will be reinstated and play against No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl in three weeks. But we don’t know that because coach Kirby Smart has yet to weigh in on it. And it’s a bit of a tricky situation when closely evaluated. In the meantime, some charges were dropped out here in Boomer Sooner territory on Thursday, too, and they were much more serious than what Patrick faced. A rape allegation levied against OU running back and leading rusher Rodney Anderson did not result in charges by the local district attorney. The news was shared with local media in a rare news conference by a prosecutor to explain why he wasn’t going to prosecute a case. In a nutshell Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn told reporters that, “after a thorough investigation” that include polygraph tests, interviews of friends of both the accused and the alleged victim and examinations of phone records and texts, “charges are not warranted.” “There are certainly cases where we just simply can’t prove something, so we decline due to insufficient evidence,” Mashburn said. “In this case, I think it’s important for us to tell the whole story so people understand that facts were presented to us through the Norman P.D.’s investigation.” Earlier in the day Thursday, before the D.A.’s announcement, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley had said that Anderson was “still fully on the team” while authorities continued to investigate the allegations. Riley didn’t issue any other statements after the charges were dropped, and Anderson was not made available after the Sooners’ practice he participated in Thursday. But those in the OU camp expect Anderson to be play against Georgia in the Rose Bowl. “Good for him; he’s a great person,” said Sooners left tackle Orlando Brown, a junior from Duluth. “Hopefully he’ll be able to play in the game.” Likewise, the assumption in Georgia’s camp is that Patrick will be able to play in the Rose Bowl. Smart probably won’t weigh in on this latest development until the Bulldogs’ Rose Bowl media day Monday. Georgia has yet to begin its Rose Bowl preparations, and there won’t be any interview access until then. But it might not be as cut-and-dried as it seems. While we know that Patrick doesn’t face any legal ramifications, we don’t know for certain that there won’t be any team repercussions. Patrick already had violated UGA’s marijuana-use policy twice due to previous marijuana arrests, hence his four-game suspension in the middle third of the regular season. A third calls for dismissal from the team. We do know from the body-cam footage provided by police that Patrick was in a car with a teammate who was was either actively smoking or had just smoked marijuana. Jayson Stanley, also a starter as a wide receiver, had DUI charges against him dropped  Thursday but is still charged with misdemeanor possession. So we assume he’ll be subjected to UGA’s first-strike pot policy, which is a one-game suspension in football. That the one game is the College Football Playoff and the Rose Bowl makes it particularly painful. What we don’t know is whether Patrick had to undergo any kind of testing as a result of the encounter. Usually a student-athlete who has had more than one violation is subject to counseling and intensified drug-testing. Perhaps Patrick already has successfully cleared that, or he could be awaiting results. We can’t be sure. We’ll know for sure in 18 days when Georgia and Oklahoma kick off in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, these off-field issues have been the one downside to an otherwise magical season. While they’ve been piling up wins and points this year, they also have been piling up arrests and disciplinary issues. Duly noting that this latest charge against Patrick was dismissed, there are still 14 known arrests of Georgia football players going back to last season. The latest came earlier this week when freshman defensive back Latavious Brini was jailed on a first-degree forgery charge. It was for an incident that allegedly occurred back in July, or shortly after he arrived from Miami. He hasn’t played this season and is therefore set to be redshirted, but neither Georgia nor Smart has commented on his status just yet either. Generally, UGA student-athletes charged with a felony are immediately suspended on a temporary basis until their legal matter is worked out. The arrest ledger also counts the case of D’Antne Demery, a signee who had his scholarship revoked after he was charged with battery/domestic violence against his girlfriend in April. I don’t know why Demery wouldn’t be included in such an accounting since he already had signed his national letter-of-intent two months before he was jailed in Athens. Most of the other arrests seem relatively trivial, depending on your personal sensibilities. Most of them involve pot. Tailback Elijah Holyfield and wide receiver Riley Ridley also were arrested earlier this year and subsequently suspended for single games for misdemeanor marijuana possession. But 14 is a high number of legal run-ins no matter how one slices it. That begs the question: Does Georgia have a discipline problem on this team? I know that last sentence makes you cringe. It does me, too. There is so much good going on for UGA, nobody wants to throw water on it. But that question bears asking. It’s only fair. Former Georgia coach Mark Richt came under sharp criticism for a perceived lack of discipline during his UGA tenure. It reached a peak when the Bulldogs incurred 11 arrests from March to October of 2010. Then he cracked down. Georgia had only one arrest in 2011 when Cornelius Washington was charged with DUI. There were some isolated incidences and some serious offenses that followed, but they were dealt with harshly. Bulldogs fans don’t need to be reminded that several dismissals occurred from 2012 to 2015. Smart is a coach who preaches discipline on the first line of his mission statement. He expends a lot of time and energy talking about poise and composure. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs were flagged for nine personal fouls in their two games against Auburn (they seem to have a thing for face masks in particular, don’t they?). Georgia enters the postseason as the fourth-most penalized team in the SEC. Is there a connection there? Who knows. Certainly most good football players are aggressive by nature. Arrests numbers and penalty numbers are facts, but the assertion that Georgia is an undisciplined team is not. That’s subjective and speculative at this point. And what has been going on here at Oklahoma proves that UGA is not alone in fighting that perception. It’s not just what proved to be false accusations against the Sooners’ current running back. Lest we forget, quarterback Baker Mayfield, who accepted the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, was arrested in February in Fayetteville, Ark., for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing police. But the Bulldogs need to do better. Obviously, Georgia is a very, very good football team under Smart. Based on recruiting, it appears that will continue if not get even better. But the disciplinary issues need to trend in the other direction, even if you care about nothing other than what happens on the football field. The post Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia junior inside linebacker Natrez Patrick got some good news on Thursday. According to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Patrick had his marijuana possession charge dropped after his arrest the same night as the SEC Championship game. Patrick now likely will not face the consequences of his third suspsension for marijuana Jayson Stanley also had one of his charges dropped, according to Schlabach.   The post Report: Natrez Patrick has charges dropped after recent arrest appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Rose Bowl fever is sweeping across the UGA campus and Wednesday one quick-witted student scored free tickets to the game. A time-honored tradition at the University of Georgia is to ring the Chapel Bell after a Bulldogs victory. On this day, it got junior Carter Glenn two seats. 'Unbelievable! I am so excited. Now I have to make my travel plans to get out there,” Glenn said. Rose Bowl officials were on campus giving away tickets to the big game. It was a contest of sorts.They tweeted clues all morning long, like “Where does a UGA fan go after the Bulldogs win?” RELATED STORIES: Kirby Smart vs. Lincoln Riley: Breaking down the Rose Bowl coaches JAKE FROMM: From AJC Super 11 to the College Football Playoff Breakdown of how Georgia has fared against Heisman Trophy winners 'So for the final tweet today, we had a tweet saying where we were and to ring the Chapel Bell and yell 'Rose Bowl.' That's how the winner got it,” Rose Bowl spokesperson Karen Linhart said. Carter is taking fellow student Jack Glenn with him to Pasadena. Jack happens to be his brother. 'Two months ago I told my dad if the team goes to the Rose Bowl, we gotta go, so it's pretty cool,” junior Jack Glenn said. The Glenn brothers had a strategy to win the tickets: They split up. 'You know, North Campus is more scenic, so we'll stay around here. He took the South part.I took the North part and it just worked out,” Carter Glenn said. Rose Bowl officials gave away another pair of tickets a few hours later. On Thursday, they’ll do the same thing at the University of Oklahoma.
  • By Georgia Sports Communications ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia junior linebacker Roquan Smith has now been included on the All-America First Team by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) FBS Coaches’, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Sporting News, Walter Camp and the Associated Press. Smith, a native of Montezuma, Ga., becomes the fourth Bulldog over the last 20 years to earn unanimous NCAA First Team All-America honors joining Champ Bailey (1998), Drew Butler (2009) and Jarvis Jones (2011-12). In addition, senior offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn and senior tailback Nick Chubb were named to the AFCA All-America Second Team and Wynn was also an AP and College Football Madness Second Team All-American. Also of note, quarterback Jake Fromm and right tackle Andrew Thomas garnered ESPN Freshman All-America honors this week. Smith has also been named a First Team All-American by ESPN, SI.com, Bleacher Report, College Football Madness and The All-American while Wynn was also on the Bleacher Report’s First Team. Smith became the first Bulldog to win the Butkus Award this season, which is given to the nation’s most outstanding linebacker. He was also a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award, which are given to the country’s most dominant defensive player. Wynn, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Chubb, a native of Cedartown, Ga., Fromm, a native of Warner Robins, Ga., and Thomas, a native of Lithonia, Ga., directed an offense that has averaged the Southeastern Conference’s third-best scoring offense (34.9 ppg) this season while posting the nation’s seventh-best rate for third down conversions (47 percent).  The Bulldogs captured their first SEC title since 2005 and went an undefeated 6-0 versus teams from the league’s Eastern Division for the first time since the SEC split into divisions in 1992. The third-seeded Bulldogs (12-1) travel to Pasadena, Calif., to face second-seeded Oklahoma (12-1) in the College Football Playoff’s semifinal round in the Rose Bowl Game on Monday, January 1. Kickoff is at 5:10 p.m. ET.