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College Football
Sam’s 7: 7 Takes on UGA vs Missouri
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Sam’s 7: 7 Takes on UGA vs Missouri

Sam’s 7: 7 Takes on UGA vs Missouri
Photo Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
October 14, 2017 Athens: Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman breaks away from Missouri defenders for a touchdown to take a 53-28 lead during the second half in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, October 14, 2017, in Athens. Georgia beat Missouri 53-28 to remain undefeated. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Sam’s 7: 7 Takes on UGA vs Missouri

I’m not a superstitious person by any stretch of the imagination, but what happened this past Friday (the 13th) was weird. Clemson was a 24-point favorite at Syracuse and a lot of people thought the Tigers were going roll into their third straight College Football Playoff appearance. Well, Dino Babers and his Orangemen didn’t get the memo. They pulled off a monumental upset that came completely out of left field. The other big upset on Friday was Cal beating Washington State. The Cougars lowest point total in a game before this one was the 30 they scored in their win over USC. They only scored three points against Cal… three. Those big Friday upsets (in combination with Oklahoma losing to Iowa State with a similar point spread) made a lot of Georgia fans nervous for their game with Missouri. The start of the game didn’t help that, but the Dawgs settled in and cruised to an easy victory. Here’s what I saw from UGA’s homecoming:

1. QB (Non) Controversy: Any Georgia fans that were questioning Georgia’s ability to have a consistent passing game with Jake Fromm under center had those questions answered on Saturday night. Jake Fromm had the best game of his young career and really led Georgia early in this game when Mizzou was stacking the box and forcing the Dawgs to throw. He was 18-26 for 326 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His short-term memory in bouncing back from the interception and being great from that point on showed his maturity and poise under pressure. Fromm converted on five third downs passing the ball in the first quarter (the quarter that Mizzou did their most damage offensively in), including the great back shoulder touchdown to Riley Ridley. That would be an impressive conversion rate for a 5th year senior, let alone a freshman. If Georgia hadn’t converted those third downs, this game could have turned out much differently because Mizzou’s offense was rolling in the first quarter. This was exactly the type of game I wanted to see from Fromm to 100% solidify himself as Georgia’s quarterback. In regards to Jacob Eason, how about we just stop speculating and let the chips fall where they may after the season. 

2. Shaky start, Savage Finish: Georgia’s defense was tested early in this game like they hadn’t been all season. Missouri was the first team to be able to test the Dawgs vertically with their passing game. The two 63-yard touchdown passes that Drew Lock threw to Emanuel Hall will definitely worry Kirby Smart, but Georgia definitely picked things up as the game progressed. Another thing that will worry Coach Smart is that for the second straight game, Georgia failed to record a sack. Being without Trenton Thompson to plug up the middle has definitely affected the ability to get after the quarterback, so hopefully that will get the pass rush back to where it was to start the season. He wouldn’t say this publicly, but I bet that Coach Smart wasn’t too mad about how this game went. You don’t want your team thinking every game will be a cakewalk, and for Georgia to get hit in the mouth early and then respond was a good sign for the rest of the season. 

3. Every game is different: You wouldn’t know it by the way the other SEC games have gone this season, but every game provides it’s own set of challenges, and the way Georgia responded to something they weren’t used to (on both offense and defense) was impressive. On defense, Georgia hadn’t been tested vertically, but definitely were against Mizzou. The coaches (and players) made adjustments, and after the 3rd Missouri touchdown, the clamps were put down. Offensively, the Dawgs were facing a stacked box early as Mizzou dared Jake Fromm to beat them. Well, he did exactly that, and that allowed the running game to slowly get things going as the Tigers had to back off. As the season continues, Georgia will undoubtedly face adversity again. The ability to make adjustments is key, and the Dawgs were able to do that against Missouri. 

4. Keep Chopping Wood: Unless you’re Paul Bunyan, it takes a few swings of the axe to chop the tree down. That’s a perfect analogy for Georgia’s running game against Mizzou. The Tigers were determined to force Georgia to pass early in the game, but when Jake Fromm proved he could beat them with his arm, they backed out of the box. That’s when the rushing attack got it going. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel kept grinding early on, and when the dam broke, it got ugly for Missouri. Georgia ended up rushing for 370 yards with the 5 backs, Mecole Hardman, and even Jake Fromm. D’Andre Swift showed that he just needs one touch to make a difference, as he busted out a 71-yard gain. Sony only needed 9 carries to pick up 86 yards and two touchdowns. Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield were solid in finishing off the game as well. Teams will probably continue to stack the box and try to make the freshman quarterback beat them. As long as he keeps playing well, the running game can keep chipping away until the break through. 

5. Meet Mecole: When Coach Smart announced that Mecole Hardman would be making the move to offense full time going into this season, there was a lot of hype surrounding this young man. He wasn’t a receiver by trade, but had game breaking speed that could be huge for Georgia’s offense. So far this season, it’s been a mixed bag for Mecole with drops probably standing out more than anything. Well, that all changed against Mizzou. Hardman showed why there was so much hype and then some. His two touchdowns were both incredible. He bookended UGA’ s scoring, getting the first touchdown on a jet sweep where he went around the edge and left everyone in his dust. In scoring Georgia’s last touchdown, he took a short pass from Jake Fromm and turned on the afterburners. He torched a host of Missouri defenders en route to the end zone. If Georgia can continue to figure out creative ways to get him the ball, Georgia might have just found a new (and possibly better) Isaiah McKenzie. 

6. Schadenfreude: You may have heard me talk about this before. Schadenfreude is the German concept of gaining pleasure from the misfortune of others. Well, this past weekend was chock full of that for Georgia fans. The following Georgia rivals lost: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn, and Tennessee. I’d have to do some research, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that either that’s never happened before or it’s happened very few times. The way Georgia’s season is going, it’s almost too good to be true. Going even further, it’s the way that all of those teams lost. All of the losses had some element of heartbreak to them, which for Georgia fans should have been like a happiness strudel (I’m stuck on the German thing). Some might say it isn’t nice to laugh at other people’s misfortune, but I’m a realist. Georgia winning (and being 7-0 and ranked 3rd in the nation) in combination with all of those teams losing made this weekend that much better. Most Georgia fans have a habit of either living in the past or looking towards the future, but I’m having too much fun living in the now with this group of savages.

7. Bring on the Bye: The bye week comes at a great time for Georgia as they’re trying to get some guys healthy. It also gives fans a little break from what’s been a crazy (and extremely fun) season so far. The back end of the schedule certainly shapes up to be exciting, with games against rivals Florida, South Carolina, Auburn, and Georgia Tech all on the slate. Kentucky’s on there too, and they might be Georgia’s biggest threat in the SEC East (that felt weird to type). Here’s some advice: use the bye week to knock out some chores and get all the stuff you’ve been putting off done. Also, make sure to check out the Tennessee/Bama game because who doesn’t want to see the Tide try and cover that 34.5 point spread (at the time of this writing)? We could be in for a very special November/December Dawg fans. Just make sure you’re ready. 

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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.