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Sam’s 7: 7 Takes from UGA vs App State

Oh happy day, college football is BACK!! There is no better time of the year than the beginning of September when the smell of tailgates is in the air and optimism is generally at its highest point for your fan base (unless you’re Baylor). Unfortunately, that optimism turns into a feeling of despair very quickly for some. If you’re Florida State or Texas A&M, you’re looking at the rest of the season without your starting quarterback. Even Georgia is in a similar situation, although Jacob Eason is expected to return this season (more on that in a second). Despite that, the Dawgs started the season off with an impressive win over Appalachian State, and here’s what I saw from the game: 

1. It’s Saturday in Athens: First of all, it’s hard to beat a game day in Athens, especially when it’s opening day. It started for me when I walked downstairs in my apartment to see like 6 bodies sprawled out on various couches, air mattresses, and floor space (shout out to my little brothers for that one). The atmosphere around the Classic City was electric on Saturday, and that optimism I referred to earlier could definitely be sensed. Year two is often a big one for new coaches, and there is a lot expected out of both Kirby Smart and the Georgia Football team this season. With Notre Dame coming up next weekend, this game could have been looked over, but it wasn’t. The Dawgs passed their first test of 2017 with flying colors. 

2. Down goes the Skinny QB: Georgia struggled on their first few drives on offense as Jacob Eason was trying to find a rhythm. Unfortunately, he would never find it as he was trying to keep a play alive and got hit late out of bounds in the middle of the first quarter. If I’m being completely honest, Eason should have thrown the ball away well before he got to the sideline, but it’s hard to fault a kid for trying to make a play. It is unknown exactly how long Eason will be out, but (at least on this day) the Dawgs were in good hands with their backup. 

3. Like a good neighbor, Jake Fromm was there: There’s an old saying that the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on campus. Well, that might be truer than ever here in Athens, GA. After Jacob Eason went down, Jake Fromm came in and looked every bit the part as Georgia’s quarterback. His poise, confidence, and patience were all seen and, as my cohost on the Morning Show said on Tuesday morning, he has that “it” factor. One big difference between Fromm and Eason that I noticed was that while Eason at times stares down his primary target, Fromm is constantly moving through his progressions. On a 4th and 4, Fromm could have tried to force one into a well-covered Mecole Hardman at the first down marker, but instead, he let the play develop and found Javon Wims on a crossing route for a bigger gain. Some have said that his touchdown pass to Wims was a bad throw and would have been picked off by a better defense. I’ll say this, it certainly was risky, but I love the way Fromm stood in the pocket, took a huge hit, and threw a ball up for his receiver to go get. His faith, as a freshman, in his teammates is high, and that rubs off on a locker room. He’s got a huge test this weekend, but from what I’ve seen so far, composure will not be an issue. Now, can we let him play in khaki britches? 

4. Domination on D: Georgia’s defense has gotten a lot of hype going into this season, and for good reason. They got Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, and Dominick Sanders to all return. The front seven is as good as any in the country, and that was very apparent against Appalachian State. The Mountaineers couldn’t get anything going with any consistency, and even when they had a big play, the Dawgs would immediately make up for it with stops. Roquan Smith and Trenton Thompson each had 6 tackles, and both looked like they hadn’t missed a beat. Another bright spot was J.R. Reed, who had 5 tackles of his own, including a sack and forced fumble. They’ll definitely face a tougher test in South Bend on Saturday, but for week one, the Dawgs defense was just as good as advertised. 

5. No Senioritis for these Backs: Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returned to UGA on a mission. They both wanted to end their careers in Sanford Stadium on much better notes than a loss to Tech, and both worked very hard in the offseason. That was very apparent in this game as the two combined for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns. This offense is going to go as far as these two will take it, especially while Jake Fromm adjusts to his roll as the starting quarterback. Against App State, both backs did what they do best. Chubb ran over people on his way to two touchdowns and Sony was very good hitting the hole and making Mountaineer defenders miss. I feel like a broken record here, but they both have a harder road ahead of them against Notre Dame, but if the offensive line can give them some holes, I expect huge games from both against the Fighting Irish. 

6. Kicking game bringin’ the boom: Georgia definitely had trouble last season on special teams. Weather it was consistency in the kicking game (both kicking off and kicking field goals) or the punting game; this was an issue that Kirby Smart definitely wanted to correct. We started to see more consistency in the field goal department when Rodrigo Blankenship was promoted, but improvements still needed to be made in other areas. In terms of kickoffs, Rodrigo definitely improved in the offseason, as he was booming the ball for touchbacks left and right. He also hit on his only field goal attempt and all of his PATs. The other area that needed improvement was the punting. Enter Cameron Nizialek. He had five punts in this game, averaged 43.8 yards per punt, and hit a long of 53 yards. He was one of the best parts of the game for the Dawgs, and if he can continue to hit punts like this with consistency, punting should no longer be an area of concern for Georgia.

7. Wake up the echoes: I haven’t been this excited about a Georgia road game maybe ever. So much worked out for those of us making the trip up to South Bend. Personally, I’ll be going to Wrigley Field on Friday to see Coach Dooley throw out the first pitch, Notre Dame on Saturday, and back to Chicago for the Falcons/Bears game at Soldier Field on Sunday. It may end up being the best sports weekend of my life, and I know I’m not alone in this pilgrimage. As for the game on the field, Notre Dame had a very impressive performance against Temple this past Saturday, with three players rushing for over 100 yards. Georgia’s defense will have to play even better than they did against App State, and the running backs will have to perform well to take pressure off of Jake Fromm. That being said, Fromm looked cool as a cucumber last weekend, and hopefully he can bring that same attitude with him to South Bend. Touchdown Jesus awaits Dawg fans. Let’s hope #TeamKhakis can bring back a win!

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Georgia Sports News

  • OXFORD, Miss. — Georgia Lady Bulldog junior forward Caliya Robinson scored a season-high 28 points to lead her team to a 66-52 victory Monday evening at The Pavilion on the Ole Miss campus.  The Lady Bulldogs, now 22-5 overall and 10-4 in the SEC, saw their 17-point halftime lead trimmed down to a one-point margin in the third quarter, before outscoring the Rebels 18-8 in the fourth.  Robinson’s 28 points were just two shy of her career-high 30 that she scored last season against Minnesota. In addition to Robinson’s performance, freshman Que Morrison finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.  “We never gave up the lead, but I thought we just came out sluggish in that third quarter,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “Ole Miss was aggressive after the half and we started fouling and giving up offensive boards. In the fourth, we went back to what we do best. It’s always tough to win on the road and we have another tough one Thursday at Alabama.' Robinson scored Georgia’s first 10 points as she outscored the whole Ole Miss team, 10-5 out of the gate. Haley Clark and Mackenzie Engram were the only other Lady Bulldogs to score in the first period as Georgia finished just 7-of-18 from the field. Still, the Lady Bulldogs led 15-12.  Simone Costa nailed a 3-point basket to begin the second quarter, before the Lady Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run later in the frame to take a commanding 26-13 lead.  Georgia allowed the Rebels to score just six points in the second quarter, outscoring Ole Miss 20-6. Georgia finished the first 20 minutes with a 48-percent mark from the field en route to a 35-18 halftime lead.  Robinson started the second half much like the first, scoring her team’s first four points. Following two free-throws by Morrison, Georgia missed eight of its next nine shots to allow the Rebels to cut the 17-point margin to just one — 45-44. The Lady Bulldogs finished the third with nine team fouls, compared to just two from Ole Miss.  Engram saved Georgia late in the period with a big 3-pointer to extend it to 48-44 going into the fourth. The Lady Bulldogs built on Engram’s late basket and held the Rebels to just 22 percent shooting over the final 10 minutes to pick up the win,  Georgia now hits the road to face Alabama on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. 
  • The Atlanta Hawks are tied for the worst record in the NBA. Predictably, the team’s local TV ratings have dropped dramatically. The decline is the largest by any NBA team in its home market this season. > More:  How many Atlantans are watching Hawks games? All 82 Hawks games this season are being televised on Fox Sports Southeast. The Hawks’ next game is Friday at Indiana.  > Also:  Seating changes coming to SunTrust Park
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet today calls for a good birds-eye view of a few trends that are emerging already for the class of 2019.  The eyes are on the horizon today for UGA recruiting regarding the class of 2019. The Bulldogs have seven commitments and still hold a 167.13-151.64 edge on Miami for the nation’s top But that race still has a lot of track left to go. The better topic for today is to try and pick up any hints as to what the class will look like in 2019. We can look at the level of offers that the Bulldogs are sending out a recruiting trail and follow those data points. They show where the staff feels its needs are in the class of 2019. But before we probe forward, it also helps to see just exactly what the Bulldogs have done so far under Kirby Smart. Check out these position-by-position recaps of what the positions the Bulldogs have recruited since Smart’s first class in 2016. We will also trim the players from those signing classes that are no longer with the team from our findings. The class recaps maintained by 247Sports allow us to bring this research forward very clearly for this exercise, but we are going to dial in a few elements here. For example, Charlie Woerner was rated as the nation’s No. 25 receiver back in 2016, but he’s always been a tight end at UGA. The example set by 5-star Mecole Hardman, Jr. also refines our thinking. Hardman was recruited as an athlete, spent his freshman season at cornerback but then moved to receiver in 2017. He’s classified as a receiver in the following data tables. The same goes for players at other positions as well. Position 2016 2017 2018 Offense QB 1 1 1 RB 2 1 2 WR 3 4 2 TE 2 0 2 OT 0 3 2 OG 2 2 2 OC 1 0 1 K 0 0 0 Totals 11 11 12 Defense  2016  2017   2018 DT 3 0 3 DE 1 1 0 OLB 1 2 4 ILB 1 3 1 CB 0 4 4 S 0 4 1 P 1 0 1 Totals 7 14 14 Overall class total 18 25 26 Why just the last three classes, you say? It is interesting to note that there will still be holdovers from Mark Richt’s last two singing class in Athens this fall. There look to be two potential starters from 2014 (Lamont Galliard, Kendall Baker) that remain on the 2018 roster. That number only expands to five likely starters or heavy contributors (Terry Godwin, Jonathan Ledbetter, Natrez Patrick, D’Andre Walker and Deandre Baker) among the approximate 16 holdovers from the class of 2015. Smart’s first three classes are by and large the ones that will still have viable eligibility in 2019. What does the recruiting picture look like for 2019 then?  We can then check to see an early read on 2019 by how many offers the Bulldogs have extended for 2019. UGA fired off 295 scholarship offers over the last cycle along the way to the nation’s top-rated recruiting class for 2018. The staff sent out offers to 49 receivers among that lot, including another 38 to cornerbacks, 35 to defensive ends (strong-side and weak-side) and another 31 offers to defensive tackles. Just by looking at the tables, we can see what the needs look like for 2019. QB: 1 RB: 0 WR: 3 TE: 2 OT: 2 OG: 2 OC: 0 K: 0 DE: 3 DT: 3 OLB: 2 ILB: 3 CB: 2 S: 2 P: 0 Total: 25 (of a possible 25) Those seem like the likely totals for 2019 and there would be room for another player at RB, OLB or CB in terms of the best player available for the class. Of course, these are not the actual numbers but rather the best guess for what the class will look like in 2019 given everything we’ve shared so far along this specific blog. Does this hold up so far in real life? Here’s a look at what the offer totals look like across those varied positions so far for 2019. QB: 10 (5 Dual-threats, 5 Pro-Style) RB: 9 WR: 28 (Already with a pair of 5-star commits) TE: 5 (Already with a 4-star commit) OT: 22 (Already with a 4-star commit) OG: 2 OC: 7 K: 3 DE: 33 (Both strong-side and weak-side DEs) DT: 31 OLB: 14 (Already with a 5-star commit) ILB: 2 (Already with a 4-star commit) CB: 38 (Already with a 4-star commit) S: 19 ATH: 9 P: 1 Total: 192 It is interesting to immediately note how heavy the Bulldogs are going at the CB and DT positions so far prior to March of this cycle. The numbers at wide receiver and tackle on the offensive side of the ball are also indicative of a clear trend. The fact that the Bulldogs are only 110 offers away from surpassing last year’s offer total is also telling. It seems clear that the Bulldogs are casting a wider net across the nation for its 2019 class.   Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap. The post UGA recruiting: A sneak peek into how the next recruiting class at UGA will shape up appeared first on DawgNation.
  • KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Chipper Jones says this spring will be wide open for the Atlanta Braves. 'Guys need to know that this team and this organization are tired of the last few years,' the former Braves star after Monday's first full-squad workout. 'We're a very proud organization. We went through a rough offseason with the changing of the (front office), but ... there's definitely a change in attitude. You see it in the way the coaching staff is putting together spring training.' The 45-year-old Jones was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility this winter. His 19-year career, all with Atlanta, ended in 2012 and nearly coincided with the Braves' run of 14 straight division titles. They come into 2018 on a streak of four straight losing seasons, including last year's 72-90 mark. In his role as a special assistant, the star third baseman is hoping that competition for positions might spark a revival. 'It's a free-for-all,' Jones said. 'There are a few people who had big league jobs last year who need to come in here and play for their spot.' Jones' assessment might apply to almost any player except first baseman Freddie Freeman and Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte. There is also competition for two spots in the rotation after the Braves traded for right-hander Brandon McCarthy. 'It's a little bit about change,' manager Brian Snitker said. 'It's a different camp, a young camp.' Snitker's immediate concern is getting ready for exhibition games this weekend after just a handful of workouts. 'We probably did more than we normally would (on the first day),' he said. 'I don't care how good a shape they're in, it still takes a lot to get used to and you're going to get sore. That's just part of the process. We started live (batting practice) already today, which we have to do to prepare for the games. We're kind of amping things up a bit quicker than normal.' Much of the spring focus will be on prospects, starting with 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna. 'He's as good a prospect as I've seen,' Jones said. 'You've got your cornerstone guy in Freddie, and it's going to be interesting to see if (Acuna) can continue to develop as the second guy.' In camp as a non-roster player, Acuna is a long-shot to make the opening day roster. But after trading Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that brought in McCarthy, the Braves have only four roster outfielders - Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Lane Adams and Preston Tucker. 'The first day of spring training is like the first day of school,' Jones said. 'You get to see all the guys again and the guys out here have something to prove. But there's really only a couple spots where you can say the team is cemented. Everywhere else is a free-for-all and I think that makes for a competitive camp. We'll see how the young guys respond to it.' NOTES: Veteran relief Peter Moylan was set to rejoin the Braves, according to reports. The 38-year-old right-hander, who pitched 79 times for Kansas City, will join Atlanta for a third time pending a physical. Moylan pitched for the Braves from 2006 through 2012 and again in 2015.