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College Football
Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Mississippi State
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Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Mississippi State

Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Mississippi State
Photo Credit: Curtis Compton/bandres@ajc.com
9/23/17 - Athens, GA - Georgia Bulldogs offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn (77) lifts Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm (11) after Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Terry Godwin (5) ran for Georgia's first TD after catching a Fromm's pass during a NCAA college football game in Athens, GA. UGA Bulldogs vs Mississippi State Bulldogs football. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Mississippi State

The college football season is really heating up. We’re starting to see who the contenders are in each conference and who might be looking for a new coach by the end of the season. It’s probably this way every season, but for some reason I cannot remember this many coaches of big time programs being on the “hot seat” in one year. Jim Mora at UCLA, Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, Bret Bielema at Arkansas, and Butch Jones at Tennessee are just a few of the big names that could be in trouble. On the other hand, teams like Alabama and Clemson appear to be keeping it rolling while some newcomers to the playoff hunt (including Georgia) are starting to make noise. The Dawgs made such noise this past weekend at Sanford Stadium by obliterating Mississippi State. Here’s what I saw from the game:

1. Fromm put on his big boy khakis: Jake Fromm is growing up right before our eyes. He was outstanding in this game, particularly in the first half where he did not throw an incompletion. The flea flicker to start the game was executed to perfection, and Fromm threw a perfect strike to Terry Godwin for the touchdown. Fromm’s other touchdown pass (a 41-yarder to Isaac Nauta in the 3rd quarter) was just as good. He stood in the pocket under pressure, delivered a perfect throw, and took a shot in the process. It wasn’t just his successful plays though. On Georgia’s last drive of the 1st quarter, Fromm just went down for no gain when the pocket collapsed around him. Instead of trying to force something, he just went down. That’s the growth I’m talking about. There was also another time when he just threw the ball at a receiver’s feet as opposed to trying to force something. That one seems like direct learning from another similar situation (the forced throw to Nauta that was intercepted against Notre Dame). As Fromm’s play continues to improve and he continues to grow in this offense, I don’t see any quarterback controversy. Fromm has to stay the starter while he plays this well. Period. The offense is clicking and I just don’t think you mess with the chemistry that is developing between Fromm and his receivers and Fromm and the offensive line. 

2. Kirby and Mel’s defense is swallowing everything in sight: Yes, that is a reference to the pink Nintendo character that ends his opponents by swallowing them. It’s also an accurate depiction of what this defense is doing to the opposition so far this season. A big part of this is improvements in fundamentals. Towards the end of the Coach Richt era, Georgia’s defense was plagued by a lack of discipline and sloppy fundamentals. It seemed like Georgia would miss one tackle or have one penalty that would cause them to lose a game. Well, that definitely wasn’t the case on Saturday. Every chance the Dawgs had to make a play on defense in the open field, they executed. One play in particular I loved was Aaron Davis wrapping up and plowing a State player into the ground on a third down to force a punt. That just doesn’t seem like a play that got made with regularity a few years ago. 

3. Don’t let them do what they do: Partly because of my points from number 2, Georgia completely forced Mississippi State away from their game plan on Saturday. State is a team that tries to exploit opposing defenses with their dual threat quarterback in read option situations and the threat of him running opens up the passing game. Well, when Georgia did not allow Nick Fitzgerald his normal running room (and when the Dawgs jumped out to a big lead), State became one-dimensional. They are not a team that is designed to come back from big deficits because they are not built to throw the ball around a lot. When they tried to do that, Georgia forced two interceptions that completely killed off the game. Georgia did not record any sacks against Mississippi State, but they didn’t need to. The goal was to keep Fitzgerald in the pocket and make him beat you with his arm, which he clearly couldn’t do. 

4. Speed 3 – Dawgs on the Move: Much better than the first two installments in the Speed franchise (no offense to Keanu Reeves or Sandra Bullock), Georgia’s team speed continues to be one of its biggest strengths. On defense, this team swarms to the ball before opponents can react. On offense, the receivers are doing a great job of getting separation and the backs are hitting the hole and getting into space seemingly at will. It was great to see Nick Chubb get back to his best in this game, and D’Andre Swift has been a revelation this season. Team speed has been the hallmark of pretty much every National Champion in recent memory. The best example of that I can think of is the complete mismatch between Notre Dame and Alabama for the 2012 National Championship. Alabama was much, much faster, and it clearly showed. Over the last two title games, Alabama and Clemson have had similar speed, and that’s a big reason why both games were close. This Georgia team is on that level in terms of overall speed. 

5. Getting a kick out of Cameron Nizialek: Georgia has had some good punters over the years, but recently, that part of the game hasn’t been very consistent. Well, that inconsistency seems to be in the rearview mirror. Georgia getting Cameron Nizialek from Columbia (yes, the Ivy League school in the middle of Manhattan) could prove to be one of the most important moves this team has made in a long time. His punts are not only long, but the hang time is remarkable. Teams just aren’t getting the chance to have punt returns because by the time the ball gets to the returner, he’s got a host of UGA’s punt coverage team in his face. Nizialek had 4 punts against Mississippi State. He averaged 45.5 yards with a long of 54, and NONE of the punts were returned. In fact, with Rodrigo Blankenship also constantly nailing touchbacks, State had zero kick returns of any kind against Georgia. As long as this consistency continues, not having to worry about special teams mishaps/inconsistency in the kicking game will go a long way in Georgia accomplishing their goals this season. 

6. Aaron Murray… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ : Aaron, what were you thinking? Maybe in some strange way, predicting that Mississippi State would beat Georgia was your way of trying to motivate the Dawgs. I want to say something to all college football pundits/commentators: Nobody is going to think you’re any less credible if you back your school. Shoot, Desmond Howard does it all the time for Michigan on College GameDay. Murray definitely felt the backlash too as not only were the boo birds out when he was introduced on the field during the game, but a bunch of his former teammates/former UGA players were killing him on Twitter about it. Murray is new to the broadcasting game, and maybe he thought picking State would show that he can be unbiased, but again, this is college football. Fans don’t care about objectivity if it relates to the school you attended. It’s part of the reason that David Pollack has seen some backlash from UGA fans. Now Aaron, we’ll let it slide this once. Just don’t get in the Ramblin’ Wreck car and hold up a number one while a “To Hell with Georgia” flag waves next to you…

7. The road ahead: I know Georgia handled Mississippi State with relative ease, but looking at the rest of Georgia’s schedule, this might have been one of Georgia’s hardest games. Going to Tennessee this weekend (and the house of horrors that is Neyland Stadium) will not be easy, but that team is struggling right now and Butch Jones is already getting paranoid and ranting at the media. Alabama just destroyed Vanderbilt, so that game in Nashville all of a sudden looks less daunting. Missouri might be the worst team left on the schedule, and that game is at home. Florida has nine players that are facing felony charges, including their two best offensive players. Outside of the Auburn game, it’s very possible that Georgia will be favored in all of their games for the rest of the season. That’s not to downplay any of them, but the point is that if Georgia really is moving in the right direction and getting where Coach Smart wants them to be, they cannot slip up against teams they should beat. That was the “old” Georgia. Let’s hope the “new” Georgia is here to stay. 

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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.