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Latest Bulldog News

  • When it comes to the success of the Georgia offensive line stopping Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons  on Saturday, preparation begins and ends with the scout team. Over the past week as the Georgia offense prepared to go toe-to-toe with the back-to-back SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, a lot of pressure was put onto scout team member Michael Barnett. All week long, it’s been Barnett’s job to prepare the Georgia offense to face Simmons. “Michael Barnett he is rushing just like [Simmons],” Solomon Kindley said. “[He has been] doing his moves and everything.” For Barnett, this means imitating both Simmons’ style and technique to give the Georgia offensive players the best look they can get before seeing the real thing  on Saturday. “[Simmons} has a really good long-arm spin move over the top and he is a really quick player,” fullback Christian Payne said. “I think Michael Barnett does a really good job of being Jeffery Simmons.” For those that need a refresher course on Simmons here it is; so far this season the sophomore defensive lineman has recorded 2.5 sacks. More so, in Mississippi State’s 37-7 over LSU last Saturday, Simmons was double teamed by LSU after putting together seven tackles against the Tigers’ offense. But one can’t mention Simmons now without first mentioning where Simmons was before enrolling at MSU. Video surfaced in March of 2016, when Simmons was still a five-star recruit, of the lineman hitting a woman. After deliberation, MSU officials and coaches still allowed Simmons to enroll at Mississippi State and play throughout the 2016 season. And once last season was all said and done, Simmons had made headlines on the football field despite the controversy before his enrollment. He found a spot on the SEC All-Freshmen Team, recorded a total of 40 tackles, 3.5 of those tackles for a loss, and led all other SEC freshmen in forced fumbles with two. Now in his sophomore campaign, the Georgia offense is preparing to face him head on come  Saturday. “He is a great player, you know he plays with really good technique,” Christian Payne said. “He’s a really, really quick defensive lineman and we are all looking forward to the challenge.” With the help of the scout team, specifically Barnett, the Georgia offense is getting plenty of looks that they could possibly see from Simmons’ himself. The key for Georgia will be to constantly be on alert to where Simmons’ presence is on the field, according to Payne. “You always have to be aware of where [Simmons] is,” Payne said. “The scout team always wears the numbers of the players who we are going to go against and he is always a player who we are always like, ‘well, 94 is over here,” or ’94 is over there’. We are always keeping a count of where he is.” And if you were wondering, yes, 94 is Simmons’ jersey number. But for Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, winning on Saturday means more than trying to stop No. 94 alone. “He is a physical player but its not just him, it’s all across the board,” Wynn said. “We have been preparing by getting the right type of scout team looks and cutting down our [missed assignments].” But one thing is for sure; even though the Georgia offensive has an entire Mississippi State defensive unit to worry with, extra attention will be put on the 6-4, 310 pound Simmons. And there is an added drive for the Georgia offense to keep Simmons from being named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for the third week in a row. “Oh yeah of course,” Wynn said when asked about being the ones to stop Simmons’ streak. “I mean its just competition and all of us want to succeed but we also want to definitely put an end to that streak.” The post Michael Barnett enjoys starring role in preparing UGA for Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS – Solomon Kindley began his Georgia football career by showing he was big, strong, athletic and only causing Kirby Smart a little bit of property damage. It happened on the lake trip that Smart took Georgia’s freshmen on before last season. Kindley, the 330-pound offensive lineman, was in a tube, getting ready to be driven around. Also in the tube was teammate Julian Rochester and Andrew Smart, the head coach’s son. The boat revved up, and then … “Yeah I tore up his tube,” Kindley said. “His little son Andrew was mad at me.” For those who have never gone tubing, when the boat starts pulling the tube you’re supposed to hold onto the sides. Kindley did that. But all too well. “The boat started picking up full speed, and I’m trying to hold on even tighter, I grabbed on tighter and tighter and then – pow, it popped,” Kindley said, demonstrating with his hands. They went flying. “Flying in the water,” Kindley said. Everybody ended up fine, especially Kindley, a proficient swimmer and a lifeguard back home in Jacksonville, Fla. He once saved a boy from drowning. It was that dexterity for his size that attracted Smart and assistant coaches, indicating to them there was promise in this overlooked, three-star recruit. The early indications are good: Kindley, after nearly pushing his way into the lineup last year, got a redshirt and is now the starter at right guard. He started his first game last Saturday, giving the line a very big body on the right side. Solomon Kindley played one snap last year, but his redshirt ended up being saved. (STEVEN COLQUITT/UGA) “He’s a big boy, I’d definitely say that,” fullback Christian Payne said, smiling. “He does a great job with opening up holes. Especially with me in the game, when I’m trying to get to the linebackers and stuff, he does a great job of clearing the way so I can get through to my guy, and clearing the way for the running backs too.” Kindley was actually around 360 pounds when he initially committed to Georgia. But once he arrived on campus the staff asked him to drop about 30 pounds. Kindley ran extra laps, the strength staff worked with him, and the nutritionists put him on a diet plan. Mostly Kindley had to give up sweets. “The Debbie Cakes and all that type of stuff,” he said, smiling. When Kindley takes the field this Saturday against Mississippi State, it will be the SEC opener – but it won’t be Kindley’s SEC debut. That came last year, on just one play, and it nearly cost him a season of eligibility. Kindley went in for just one play at Missouri, the third game of the season, when as a true freshman he was close to cracking the lineup. “It was my first play, I remember, it was very loud,” Kindley said. “They were very big, so I was like, Oh I’m really here.” But Kindley didn’t play any more that season. The NCAA ended up granting Kindley a waiver and a redshirt season, citing a back injury. It took a couple games for Kindley to start this year, an ankle injury slowing him at first. Now he’s in the lineup, with a chance to stick there and solidify a spot that has been in flux. “I want to get better on my run blocking, but other than that I’m playing pretty good,” Kindley said. “Playing fast and physical.” The post The wisdom of Solomon Kindley: Give up sweets, destroy a tube, become a Georgia starter appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Hugh Kellenberger has covered the ACC, the Big Ten and the SEC in his dozen or so years in the business. So he’s been around, in a sports journalist sense. Kellenberger has also covered the Ole Miss Rebels as as a beat writer before becoming the sports editor and a columnist for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. In that capacity, Kellenberger has become quite familiar with Mississippi State. Kellenberger saw up close and personal the Bulldogs’ 37-7 win over then No. 12-LSU last Saturday. And he’ll be in Athens this Saturday for the SEC showdown between No. 17 Mississippi State (3-0) and No. 11 Georgia (3-0). First of all, you should know that Kellenberger is a husband and a father to three sons and has a pet dog he has offered up to anyone willing to take him. So be nice to him. He’s a great follow on Twitter — @HKellenbergerCL — and you can read him and all his colleagues on the Clarion-Ledger’s online sports page. As we do every week, we sent some questions Kellenberger’s way to provide some insight from an opposing view perspective on Saturday’s game. Georgia opened as a touchdown favorite for Saturday’s contest, but a lot of the money has been going down on State and the line was around 4.5 points at last check. Let’s get to Kellenberger’s viewpoint on the contest. 1. At SEC Media Days in Birmingham everybody picked Mississippi State sixth or worse in the West. Did you see this coming? Are your Bulldogs as good as they appear or was maybe LSU way overrated and/or poorly coached? Kellenberger: The only surprise about the SEC predicted order of finish was that Mississippi State wasn’t picked to finish last in the West. It’s just become a thing that happens every year, despite the fact MSU has never finished at the bottom of the SEC West under Dan Mullen. You’d have to ask those who do it why, but it is what it is. Did I see Mississippi State beating LSU? Absolutely. Did I see it being a 37-7 game? No. LSU played as poor a game as it possibly could, and Mississippi State played one of its best. That’s how the outcome became what it was. The thing that was impossible to identify and determine in July that has become the biggest part of Mississippi State’s early success is the defense. I’m guessing we’ll talk more about Todd Grantham later, but it’s been a 180 degree turn from 2016 on that side of the ball and it’s made all the difference. 2. Obviously everybody back this way is very interested in Nick Fitzgerald. He’s yet another dual-threat quarterback from Georgia that UGA either didn’t recruit or didn’t land. What has been your impressions of Fitzgerald as a quarterback and, again, did Mullen and company know what they had in this kid or has he simply overachieved and overcome? Kellenberger: Hindsight is 20/20. Nick Fitzgerald didn’t play quarterback at his own high school until his senior year, and threw it all of 76 times that season. We talked to the high school coaches who faced him, and they all said they knew he was an incredible athlete. He could run, and he’s a big guy. But they also hinted they suspected he’d end up at tight end. He was far from a sure thing, and it took a leap to recruit him. “But he came to a Mississippi State camp, and Dan Mullen saw something in him. That’s what Mullen does, going back to Bowling Green and continuing through Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and now Fitzgerald. So could Fitzgerald have gone somewhere else and been just as successful? Maybe. But Mullen is one of, if not the, best in the country at identifying talent, nurturing it and playing to the strengths of that guy (no two of his quarterbacks have played the same way). 3. Clearly, Jeffery Simmons has lived up to his lofty billing. Fill us in on his tumultuous beginnings at State and tell us how he now fits into what State is doing on defense. Kellenberger: There was a period of time where it was very much in question whether or not Jeffery Simmons would ever enroll at Mississippi State, much less play any kind of role on the football team. In March 2016 he was arrested and charged with simple assault and disturbing the peace after a video emerged of him hitting a woman. It was jarring, not only because it happened but because there was a video of it. Mississippi State ultimately made a decision to suspend Simmons for only one game, and he played all of last season. I think it was the wrong call, but MSU supporters would point out Simmons has not had any issues since. “As far as his actual on-field product, he’s the kind of hybrid defensive lineman that Grantham (hey, there’s a mention of that guy again) seems to really covet. When they line up in a 3-4 front Simmons is large enough to play nose guard. When they’re going with unbalanced fronts Simmons lines up as a tackle or even an end. Wherever he is he creates havoc, not just plugging. He blocked a punt against Louisiana Tech by running up the middle of the punt team — how often have you seen that? 4. Speaking of defense, Todd Grantham is a name many Georgia folks are very familiar with. They weren’t real happy with the way he blew town for more money at Louisville and kind of left them in a lurch. What’s the real circumstances in which he left Bobby Petrino’s staff and what would you say has been his impact on and reception from Missy State? Kellenberger: “Why Mississippi State” has been a question asked a lot, and there’s so many answers given that you wonder if any of them are actually the case. But if you look at Grantham’s job history, he seems to crave situations where he has complete control of the defense and is also capable of fixing something that is wrong. Some guys like to build rather than maintain; maybe Grantham is the former? Mississippi State has had four defensive coordinators in as many seasons. Geoff Collins went to Florida, and is now the head coach at Temple. Manny Diaz said this was his last job, and he left after a year for Miami. And Peter Sirmon was a first-time coordinator in 2016, and weirdly enough ended up replacing Grantham at Louisville. So MSU is very happy to have someone of Grantham’s talent, and he seems more willing to dig in and not be somewhere else in 2018. Plus that defense is very good, and enough guys are having bounce-back seasons that it suggests Grantham is having a big impact. 5. Is Dan Mullen safely there in Starkville for as long as he likes? It seems his name has come up a couple times for being on the hot seat but just as often it’s been about leaving for another job at another place. What do you think? Kellenberger: If Dan Mullen wants he can coach here another 10-15 years and they’ll build a statue of him and Dak together outside of Davis Wade Stadium. Honestly, they may do that anyways. He’s the most successful coach in program history, and Dak is their best player. Fans got worked up last year when the team started slow, but the administration never wavered a bit. They know what they have, and a former peer (former baseball coach John Cohen) is now the school’s AD. All of that said, could Mullen leave for another school? Sure. His name has been bandied about plenty over the years, and if you believe that the days of a Joe Paterno or Bill Snyder staying at one school forever are over then Mullen will eventually leave. But it’d be on his terms. KELLENBERGER’S PREDICTION Mississippi State beat up LSU because it controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. That’s the sort of thing that travels well, so I don’t think going to Athens will be much of a factor. Georgia is certainly talented, and this is probably a 50-50 game in my eyes. But, yeah, I think Mississippi State wins. The post Opposing View: Lines of scrimmage give Miss. State edge over UGA appeared first on DawgNation.
  • A reporter from Mississippi prefaced a question to Dan Mullen on Wednesday with an observation: Georgia has 54 four- and five-star players. And Mullen’s Mississippi State team has 16. What does that really mean, Mullen was asked? The head coach let out a slight chuckle as he began responding. “To me it means they have an awful lot of talent on their football team,” Mullen said. “Besides that, probably not that much else to me, but you look, they have a tremendous amount of talent at every position. You have 54 if you say four- and five-star, only 11 guys are on the team at the time, or 22 on offense and defense, that means everybody on their two-deep is a four- or five-star potentially. So that means one guy comes out, another four/five-star comes in. You can see that on film, that they’re an extremely talented football team.” The contrast exists at the game’s most visible position: One of those Georgia four-star recruits is quarterback Jake Fromm, who will be starting his third game for the Bulldogs in place of the injured Jacob Eason, who was a five-star. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has Nick Fitzgerald, who was a lightly-recruited three-star, overlooked by his home-state Georgia, as well as plenty others. Mullen was asked what he thought so far of Fromm’s decision-making. “I think he’s done a great job. He’s a competitor. He’s used to winning. And he has that winning attitude,” Mullen said. “And I think their coaching staff does a good job of putting him in position to be successful. By building confidence and not making it too complicated to him, so he can find a way to make good decisions and build on his confidence.” Earlier on the SEC teleconference, Smart spoke of his respect for Mullen, and the fact they know each other off the field: Their lake houses are near each other. On the field, Smart’s defenses at Alabama tended to get the better of Mullen’s offenses at Mississippi State. Now with Smart in his second year at Georgia, Mullen said he could see the similarities with those Alabama defenses, as well as its players being more comfortable. “In the different checks that they have to make, the fitting every single play, you just see them improved,” Mullen said. “Obviously it’s a very good scheme, and I know Kirby’s a great coach and did a great job when he was at Alabama. And you can see the defense growing into that same style at Georgia.” “Obviously this is a huge challenge for our team this week. Going to play a top 10 team on the road. A very talented Georgia football team, and having to go do it in a hostile environment. We have a tough challenge. Last week our guys answered that but that was at home. Even tougher challenge this week.” The post Dan Mullen on Georgia’s talent, Jake Fromm and Kirby Smart appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Jake Fromm has looked pretty good overall in Georgia’s first three games. The completion percentage is better than Jacob Eason’s last year. He has managed the offense well. The team is unbeaten. There’s been just one blemish: Three turnovers, two of them fumbles. And as Kirby Smart spoke on Wednesday, it seems one play was probably fresh in his mind: When Fromm fumbled away the ball after scrambling last Saturday against Samford, rather than sliding or throwing the ball away. “We’ve talked to him about decision-making, and we keep making it about that,” Smart said during his appearance on the SEC teleconference. “I don’t like to talk about outcomes and wins and losses and those things. You just try to make it more about the decision-making. When you’ve got an opportunity for him to make a play, we want him to be confident to do that. When you’re not sure, or you’re unsure, throw it away and play for another down. When you scramble, get rid of the ball or slide, don’t turn the ball over. “The mistakes he’s made have been those kinds of things as opposed to just making good decisions. We continue to encourage him to make better decisions.” When Georgia hosts Mississippi State on Saturday, Fromm will start his third straight game in place of the injured Jacob Eason, who sprained a knee ligament in the first quarter of Georgia’s season-opener. Fromm has led the team to easy wins against Appalachian State and Samford, allowing him to sit the fourth quarter, while he got through an up-and-down personal performance at Notre Dame – an interception and a fumble on a muffed handoff – to lead the team to a 20-19 win. As for the other starting quarterback in Saturday’s game, Nick Fitzgerald, who torched LSU through his arm and legs, Smart called him “one of the premier” quarterbacks in the SEC and the country. And his size and mobility continues to be an emphasis for Georgia this week. “He’s big, and he’s elusive,” Smart said.” So it’s not just about how you hit him, where you hit him. We’ve got to get him on the ground, and affect him. And we’ve got to try to wear him down.” But he’s also not all that Mississippi State has. Tailback Aeris Williams also rushed for more than 100 yards against LSU. Williams has the ability to run between and outside the tackles, observed Smart. Smart said Williams reminded him of Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back LeVeon Bell. “He’s really physical,” Smart said. “I think the quarterback running the ball obviously complements him. Because when you’re putting extra defenders to defend Nick, you’ve got less defenders for Aeris. So they complement each other really well. It’s really tough to defend when you’ve got a guy who’s as big as Nick and is as fast as Nick, and is able to run the ball. There are certain coverages, and certain defenses you can’t play. So you end up being a little more limited and a little more predictable, because you’ve got to have people in the box to stop them.” The post The emphasis on Georgia QB Jake Fromm: ‘Decision-making’ appeared first on DawgNation.