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Georgia’s current team reminds Vince Dooley of another one he coached
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Georgia’s current team reminds Vince Dooley of another one he coached

Georgia’s current team reminds Vince Dooley of another one he coached

Georgia’s current team reminds Vince Dooley of another one he coached

ATHENS – Vince Dooley likes everything he has seen about the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs. But he wouldn’t compare them to his 1980 team, which went undefeated and won Georgia’s last national championship.

That’s not necessarily because he doesn’t think this bunch is as not as good as that one was.

“No, not really,” Dooley said of the comparison. “You know, 1980, if you look back at it, it was challenged so many times.”

That’s true. While this latest team has had one narrow escape, 20-19 at Notre Dame, Georgia’s last national champion was pulling a Houdini act seemingly every week. That season opened with a 16-15 at Tennessee, then followed with close contests of every sort after that.

Best remembered from 1980 was the Buck Belue-to-Lindsay Scott 93-yard touchdown pass that allowed the Bulldogs to escape Jacksonville and the Florida Gators with a 26-20 victory. But there was also the narrow escape against Clemson at Sanford Stadium and the 13-7 win over South Carolina that required a late fumble recovery and two 50-plus yard Rex Robinson field goals to secure. Few probably recall that Georgia managed to beat only 28-21 that year as Herschel Walker missed much of the game with an injury.

Even the national championship-clinching victory over Notre Dame was a one-score affair in which the Fighting Irish actually doubled-up Georgia in offensive production. The Bulldogs took advantage of five Notre Dame turnovers to win 17-10.

“In fact, I found out recently that Notre Dame didn’t take us very seriously when we played them that year,” said Dooley, who went to South Bend and threw out the first pitch at Chicago Cubs’ game when the Bulldogs played up there on Sept. 9. “When they studied our films, they were looking at the Tennessee game, which was just barely won, the Clemson game in which they knocked us all over the place and we had two big plays. Then you take the Florida game, where it looked like we were beaten, and before that, South Carolina. So just looking at us, they weren’t intimidated. But they underestimated us.”

And, of course, Georgia had to win at Auburn. As always, any championship the Bulldogs ever win has to go through Auburn. UGA has played it western cousin in mid-November pretty much every year going back to the 1920s. It is, after all, the “Deep South’s” oldest rivalry.

The truth is, the Dogs have had their hearts broken on The Plains as much as they’ve left victorious while in the championship hunt. The contest in 1980 was a typically hard-fought. The Bulldogs pulled away at the end behind Walker for a 31-21 win.

No, while this 2017 team doesn’t look much like that ’80 squad, Dooley said it does resemble quite a bit the 1982 bunch. And that’s fitting, seeing how Kirby Smart’s current Bulldogs are the first ones to start out 9-0 since that Dooley team did it 35 years ago.

“It was much more dominant, offensively particularly,” Dooley said. “They were just better than everybody we played that year.”

Well, pretty much everybody until they got to the biggest game. No. 1-ranked Georgia lost to No. 2-ranked Penn State 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl.

But after a slow start, it was a fun a ride during the regular season. It was Walker’s Heisman Trophy season – a couple years too late, many believe – and the Bulldogs for the most part ran over and around opponents.

John Lastinger, starting quarterback in 1982, did not realize Georgia was 9-0 for the first time since then until his daughter, Lindsay, “put it out on a tweet.”

“I had no idea until then,” said Lastinger, today a financial analyst in Valdosta. “One similarity that sticks out right away is both teams love to run the football. It was obviously a different era then and we had a guy named Herschel Walker. But the cohesion of the offensive line and the way they came together is similar. We stepped it up to another level against Florida and a lot of that was our offensive line.”

Of course, that team had to get through Auburn, too, and that was no easy task. The Bulldogs squeaked out the Plains with a 19-14 victory that required everything they could muster.

“I remember it was a cool day, an early-afternoon kickoff,” Lastinger recalled. “It was a remarkably quiet day over there, then on the last play of third quarter they pitched it out to Lionel James on the last play and he went 80 yards for a TD and that place was rocking. It was a battle in the fourth quarter and we had a great drive to win it. Just a typical Georgia-Auburn war.”

That’s when Larry Munson ushered forth his famous call, “look at the sugar falling from the sky; look at the sugar falling from the sky!”

Of course, there will be no such finality to anything that happens on Saturday. Georgia is going to be in the SEC championship game regardless of the outcome against Auburn. And the Bulldogs will have no idea where they’re going to be in the postseason until they play out the string currently ahead of them and faces whomever they shall in the title game.

Whatever happens, Dooley is enjoying the ride, too. As long as he’s in town, the Bulldogs’ Hall of Fame coach comes over to the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall football complex every Monday and picks up the SEC statistics and Georgia game notes from UGA sports communications director Claude Felton. Dooley studies all the numbers and trends carefully, not unlike he used to do when he was coaching the team himself.

While he enjoys comparing these teams of old to the ones currently going to battle under the UGA flag, Dooley acknowledged that the game is significantly different now than it was.

But one thing that never changes, he said, is the need for a good, strong defense. And if there’s one aspect Dooley likes about Georgia’s 2017 team, it’s the defense.

“The defense is just so fast,” Dooley said. “That’s what makes them so good, in my opinion. Team speed.”

Some things never change.

The post Georgia’s current team reminds Vince Dooley of another one he coached appeared first on DawgNation.

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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.