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College Football
Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Vanderbilt
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Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Vanderbilt

Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Vanderbilt
Photo Credit: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
October 7, 2017 Nashville: Georgia tailback Elijah Holyfield high steps into the endzone against Vanderbilt for a touchdown to take a 45-7 lead during the fourth quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, October 7, 2017, in Nashville. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Vanderbilt

Kirby Smart has an interesting way at looking at the college football season. He compares it to a 100-meter dash. He’s given different meter marks for how far along in the season the Dawgs. This past Monday, Coach Smart said that Georgia is at 50 meters. Being 6-0 at the halfway point, you would think the team could have a chance at becoming complacent. Not this team. Another one of Coach Smart’s sayings this season seems to be driving this team: “Humility is only one week away.” In these game recaps, I’ve talked about the letdown factor that has plagued UGA teams in the past. That has been nonexistent with this team, even though this past Saturday in Nashville had a few ingredients for it to rear its ugly head again. It was an 11am local kickoff at Vanderbilt Stadium, the stadium was at least 75% red and black, and there were virtually no Commodores fans there. Georgia went on a business trip, handled it easily, and returned home. Here’s what I saw from the game:

1. Runnin’ Down A Dream: First of all, rest in peace Tom Petty. One of the all time greats, and this song title also describes the season so far for the Dawgs. If it is indeed going to be a dream season for Georgia, the running game is going to get them there. Against Vanderbilt, Georgia ran the ball 54 times for 423 yards. They were led by Sony Michel (12 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown) and Nick Chubb (16 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns), but they weren’t alone. Elijah Holyfield had the biggest game of his Georgia career, rushing for 51 yards and his first collegiate touchdown. Even Jake Fromm got involved, trucking a Vandy defender in the open field in the 2nd half. Michel and Chubb got some high praise this week, as former Georgia great Todd Gurley called the duo “unstoppable”. Well, the SEC is definitely learning that so far this season. 

2. Fromm Won’t Back Down: Had to get in another Petty reference… Jake Fromm continued his good play for the Dawgs against the Commodores, throwing for two scores on 7 of 11 passing for 102 yards. Fromm also didn’t turn the ball over, which shows that he’s getting more and more comfortable in the offense. His touchdown pass to Terry Godwin was a beautiful ball over the top, and the touchdown pass to swift was a great check down and showed that he’s getting better at going through his progressions. Jacob Eason came in late in this game, and fumbled the ball after getting hit on a blindside blitz. It seems like he held the ball for too long, but it was also a missed assignment. At this point, it seems pretty clear that Jake Fromm is Georgia’s guy until he either starts to struggle or gets hurt. 

3. Next Man Up: Georgia’s defense was without Natrez Patrick, Reggie Carter, and Trenton Thompson against Vanderbilt, but if you didn’t know their numbers, you wouldn’t have been able to tell. Coach Smart wasn’t super enthused about the defensive performance, but that’s not a surprise. They did give up more points than they did against Tennessee (although one point would have been enough to do that) and Mississippi State, but they still made plays when they needed to and forced seven Vandy punts. Roquan Smith was once again Georgia’s leading tackler (shocker), with seven total tackles. He is continuing his march towards some major accolades after the season and has to be one of the leaders for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker. Georgia didn’t get any sacks in this game, and that was cause for concern to Coach Smart, but hopefully it was just a one-time thing for Georgia’s dominant pass rush. 

4. TCBY isn’t just about yogurt anymore: TCBY now stands for “takin’ care of business, y’all”, and that’s exactly what Georgia is doing. Every game this season, other than the one at Notre Dame, has been an easy win for the Dawgs. Georgia lost at home to Vanderbilt last season, so you would think that there might be a little worry about this game, but the Dawgs ended any need for worry very quickly against Vanderbilt. The special teams mistakes that have plagued Georgia in the past? Gone. The missed tackles in the open field? Gone. Coach Smart and his staff have gotten this team to buy in 100% and work together as three collective units. A lot of what they are preaching seems like “coach speak” and they have a lot of generic sayings like “attack the day”, but maybe narrowing the focus for all the players has allowed them to get better at their individual jobs. Whatever the coaches are saying to the players, it’s definitely working. 

5. DawgNation on the road: What this fan base has done this season supporting this team on the road has been absolutely incredible. The contingent of UGA fans that travelled to Notre Dame has been well documented, but the Dawgs have also had impressive crowds in Knoxville and Nashville. Despite being somewhat divided after the departure of Coach Richt, Dawg fans have shown out for Coach Smart, even going back to last year’s G-Day aka 93K Day. Does this fan support come from the fact that the team is winning? I’m sure it does in part, but I also think it’s the way Georgia is winning and the culture change that Kirby talks about so much. I know that Georgia/Florida is supposed to be a 50/50 crowd, but I have a feeling that EverBank Field is going to have more red than blue in a few weeks. 

6. What’s new with Mizzou?: Not really a whole lot. This team struggled last season, only winning four games, and this season, they’ve lost four straight after allowing 43 points to Missouri State in a season opening win. They’ve shown an ability to score a lot of points at times, but in their last two games, they’ve allowed 51 points to Auburn and 40 to Kentucky. Auburn is the best defense they’ve seen this season, and they were only able to put up 14 points in that game. The matchup favors Georgia in many different areas, but mostly they just don’t have the players to match up with a team as good as the Dawgs are this year. Georgia should be able to control the clock with the running game and limit Missouri’s opportunities on offense. I see this being yet another comfortable UGA win. 

7. Florida… what are you doing?: Okay, this has nothing to do with UGA, but I had to talk about it. This weekend, Florida will take on Texas A&M, and they are wearing some of the most hideous alternate uniforms I’ve ever seen (If you haven’t seen them, click here). They are supposed to be “Gator-inspired” with an alligator skin pattern, and they call it “swamp green”, but it looks mostly gray with some blue and orange accents. Georgia had a bad look against Boise in 2011 with the “Power Rangers” uniforms, but these are easily worse. I get that the apparel companies want teams to wear something different every once in a while in an attempt to sell more merchandise, but whoever green lit this needs to be fired. Someone at Florida had to sign off on this, so they’re also to blame. Seriously, these may be the ugliest uniforms in the history of college football, and that includes any combination of Wyoming’s brown and yellow. 

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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.