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Latest from Logan Booker

    Athens, Ga -- For the first time since spring, the University of Georgia football team will get together on the practice fields this afternoon and practice the sport of football. And if you’ve ever spent significant time in Athens or any other corner of the state, you may refer to this time of year as when “things are once again right in the world.” The wait has been a long one. Chalk that up to heightened expectations for the upcoming season, or maybe the sour taste left in the mouths of Bulldog faithful who watched their team lose to Georgia Tech in the last meaningful game in Sanford Stadium. Or maybe just the sticky, hot air that makes all of us dream of cool fall mornings with a pregame beverage while wearing a sweatshirt. Either way, it’s here.  Well, almost.  Kickoff is now just 33 days away, and head coach Kirby Smart stood in front of a room full of the regular media folks to discuss what he expects not only of his team, but himself, as the lifeblood of Athens is once again beginning to be be pumped back in.  “I'm thrilled for this day to get here,” Smart said.  “Excited to find out how a lot of these new guys learn. These practices are not easy. The idea is to create adversity for your team, find out who the leaders are and we're going to be able to do that. Not necessarily right away, because you've got shorts on, but as you move into it, you get into scrimmages, you move guys up and down the depth chart and you find out how they respond to things and how they react.” Some key areas will be addressed over the next four and a half weeks in order to avoid another embarrassing loss to Vanderbilt. Or Tennessee. Or Florida. Or Georgia Tech. And while the offensive line may be the first thing that comes to most fans’ minds, Smart exclaimed that another area holds the spot of concern No. 1 in his mind.  “Special teams would be No. 1,” Smart said “We are going to try to change some things up special teams-wise, as you guys know, from a quality control standpoint, Scott Fountain has joined us. I think he did a tremendous job at Auburn, always has. We counted, I think we had, I want to say it was 250 snaps on special teams played by true freshmen last year. So the question becomes: Can the true freshmen this year unseat some of those guys or create a competitive environment to make each one of those better. We've got to improve in our kicking units — that's punting, kickoff coverage, return game, everything. But we plan to do that and we'll do that in camp.” As Smart continued to reel off his main goals for camp, the offensive line didn’t even crack his top three. Instead he emphasized the passing game improvements he expects to see with sophomore starting quarterback Jacob Eason coming off being thrown into the SEC gauntlet as a true freshman. And then on to pass rush, and the importance of creating turnovers.  The offensive line eventually did come up, however. And for good reason. The Bulldogs are looking to replace three starters from an underwhelming line last season, and possibly resting some of those hopes on some heralded true freshman. Not exactly a situation any coach wants when your team plays in the Southeastern Conference, where defensive linemen have been known to win National Championships almost on their own. But Smart seems to think some players who may not have seen the field much in 2016 have shown drastic improvements going into this camp.  “I don't know that they are going to be really young,” Smart said. “I think it's going to depend on how those four freshmen come along. I think inexperience might be a better word, but not necessarily really young. We had 15 days of spring practice to watch the kids on our roster currently. To see Ben Cleveland grow, Pat Allen grow, see LaMont (Gaillard) move inside, Dyshon Sims played a lot of multiple positions, a lot of guys have come on to start and help. Solomon Kindley got a lot better. Those guys we were able to get right there at the end. I got to see both those guys grow because you know, that class didn't have a lot of linemen in it like we wanted. But those two guys have gotten better.” As far as the big-bodied freshman on that offensive line, Smart says patience will be key.  “Now the influx of these four, including now the junior college kid, D'Marcus Hayes that was here, we've got more depth and competition across the board. It's not necessarily saying, do you have the pieces to the puzzle. It's where do the pieces to the puzzle go, and we've got to figure that out early on. I think if you make a decision on day three or four, you can make a fatal decision and put a guy somewhere he doesn't belong, and you can put him up too fast.” Entering year two as the most popular - or at times most unpopular - man in Georgia, Smart will not have to deal with another season of firsts. But that hasn’t allowed him to be completely comfortable behind the wheel. In fact, he may never be comfortable, or even want to be remotely comfortable.  “I don't think you ever feel different when you're coming into a season because every team is different. It's a different set of problems, a different set of issues. Like I said, our biggest concern is what are our areas of focus and how do we get better at them.” Little will be known until September 2nd in Sanford Stadium around 8:30pm. That’s about the time the Bulldogs should be kicking off (hopefully receiving)  the second half of their opening game against Appalachian State. Lots of sound bytes will come out between now and then. Lots of speculations will be written and highly discussed. But for folks that need to see it to believe it, circle that date and that time. Now just 33 days away. 
  • Tailgating plans for the University of Georgia’s week three football game with Samford University on September 16th can now be planned in fine detail.  The SEC Network announced kickoff times for games taking place  the first three weeks on the network’s channels, and the Bulldogs have been assigned a 7:30pm kickoff against Samford on the SEC Network Alternate channel.  This will mark the second night game of the season in Sanford Stadium, with the week one matchup against Appalachian State kicking off at 6:30pm. It will also be the third night game in as many weeks, with the week two game at Notre Dame kicking off at 7:30pm.  The remaining kickoff times for the season will be announced closer to the games per SEC scheduling policies, with the exception of the Georgia-Florida game on October 28th, which is already scheduled as a 3:30pm kickoff. 
  • Athens, GA - The familiar sounds of coach’s whistles and stampeding linemen can be heard around the Butts-Mehre athletic complex in Five Points this afternoon. That’s because football, the lifeblood of the University of Georgia and Athens is back for 2017 Spring Practice.  Year two of head coach Kirby Smart will officially begin today with the first of a series of practices leading up to the April 22nd G-Day game to be held in Sanford Stadium, with no shortage of storylines to watch.  The progression of sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason will likely take the forefront of attention - again - as the heralded signal caller from Washington state will look to show maturity coming on the heels of a successful but otherwise not spectacular freshman season in the Southeastern Conference. And new this year comes legit competition from another five-star quarterback recruit from Houston County, Georgia, Jake Fromm. How the two will complement and push one another through the rigors of practice this spring and into fall will clearly define the success of the 2017 version of the Georgia Bulldogs.  Not to be outdone, plenty of attention will be given to the beloved pair of senior running backs who surprised many by announcing they would indeed spend their senior seasons between the hedges. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both could have declared for the NFL Draft, but instead decided they would rather wash the sour taste of an 8-5 season and a home loss to Georgia Teach in 2016 out their mouths the best way they know how, with the possibility of exacting revenge. Their return not only will cause headaches for opposing defensive coordinators throughout the SEC, but will provide invaluable leadership for a young corps of running backs in line behind them preparing to be the future of a program often tabbed “Running Back U.” Smart’s defense will also be under a microscope as the boys practice under the shadows of bloomed dogwood trees these next few weeks. What was considered the weakness of the program this time last year - an ultra thin and young defensive line - proved to be one of the strongest units in 2016. How they progress and grow together will be examined closely.  And the biggest mystery of them all, the offensive line, will likely not shake out until the leaves start changing this fall, rather than under the fragrance of pollen this spring. What was clearly the most-handicapping aspect of an underwhelming offense last season is now missing a few starters, but also has a lion’s share of top recruits scheduled to arrive on campus this summer. So any observations of struggles in protecting the quarterbacks or opening up holes for the running backs may require an asterisks until we make the same observations five months from now.  It’s a happy time of year for many in this part of the world. It’s often referred to as “stress-free football,” with all the nostalgia of SEC football on the practice field, without the worry of losing to a hated rival on Saturday. And when tens of thousands file into Sanford Stadium for G-Day, there’s a guaranteed Bulldog victory to be seen. And no matter how you view it, or how you want to examine and analyze it, there’s one thing everybody will agree on: football is back. And the Classic City is simply more fun with it. 
  • According to several reports, the Los Angeles Rams are signing former University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Most notably being reported by Ian Rappaport, a national insider for the NFL Network.  Murray graduated from UGA in 2013 after starting for four seasons, setting nearly every school quarterback record along the way. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played a backup role until late last season when he was cut, and then signed to the Philadelphia Eagles practice team before becoming a free agent this offseason.  Sure to make every UGA fan smile, Murray will be reunited with former UGA running back Todd Gurley in L.A. Gurley was drafted in the first round by the Rams in the 2015 NFL Draft, and then promptly won league Rookie of the Year. The duo was a huge fan favorite between the hedges, and also beat Florida together in back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013. 
  • Athens, Ga - You can now make Homecoming plans for the fall of 2017. The University of Georgia has announced that the weekend of October 14th will be the epicenter of a week filled with activities. The football team will host the University of Missouri that Saturday, when all alumni are invited and encouraged to return to campus to take part in a celebrations and special gettogethers campus wide.  The Bulldogs and Tigers have played five times since Missouri joined the SEC in 2012. Georgia has won four of those meetings. The last time the two played in Athens, the Bulldogs won a 9-6 game, which did not feature a touchdown by either team. 
  • Athens, Ga - The University of Georgia football team and its head coach Kirby Smart got an early Christmas present on Thursday, with the announcements that several key juniors would be returning to play their senior seasons 'between the hedges' in 2017. Most noteably, running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, both of which were highly thought to be candidates to dart to the NFL, will return and create a world of depth at the position. Chubb returned in 2016 from a devastating knee injury suffered in 2015, and progressively got better as the season went on. Michel once again made his case in 2016 as being  the best athlete on the Bulldogs' team.  Also returning will be linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. It was rumored recently that Bellamy was a lean to the NFL, but will instead stay in Athens, and along with Carter, continue to help a strong defense get stronger under defensive-minded Kirby Smart.  “It’s really special when you get around a special group that care about a place that I really care about, and regardless of their decision – which all four of them have decided to stay, and want to come back – it means a lot to me when guys do that,' Smart said. “I think each one would tell you they handled it the right way. They got a lot of information, they used all the resources that our university provides, and they made the decision. I particularly tried to stay out of the decision-making, and just get these guys information, and I think they did a nice job about that.” Chubb spoke to media after the announcements, where he declared the sour taste left after the loss to Georgia Tech played a factor in why he and his junior teammates elected to have one more round with Georgia's many rivals.  “The last game didn’t go the way any of us wanted it,” Chubb said. 'So I couldn’t have that be my last memory of Georgia.”
  • Athens, Ga - Reports are swirling from numerous outlets today that University of Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is a candidate for the head coach opening down the road at Georgia State University.  GSU fired Trent Miles after the Panthers started the 2016 season a dismal 2-8.  Tucker is finishing his first season with the Bulldogs in Athens, coming over with head coach Kirby Smart from Alabama after UGA fired Mark Richt this time last year. Prior to his role as defensive backs coach at Alabama, he held several stints in the NFL, most notably the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Cleveland Browns.  GSU would have to be willing to drastically increase its head coaching salary if it were to lure Tucker from Athens. Prior to his firing last month, Miles was making $463,500 as Panthers head coach. Tucker is currently making $850,000 as defensive coordinator at UGA.  The job at GSU could be more appealing with an overhaul coming to the football program, among other athletics. The school will begin construction on Turner Field, the now former home of the Atlanta Braves for the last 20 years, converting the 46,000 seat baseball stadium into a 22,000 seat football stadium. The team currently plays in the Georgia Dome, usually in front of only a few thousand. Many believe the new stadium will be much more appealing to recruits and fans alike. 
  • The Atlanta Braves announced this morning that they will be removing the 'interim' label from manager Brian Snitker, making him the full time manager of the program.  Snitker took over as Braves interim manager back on May 17th after the club fired former manager Fredi Gonzalez, and then lead the team to a 59-65 record for the remainder of the year - a drastic improvent from the beginning of the season. The Braves finished one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning 10 of their final 12 games.  Several candidates were reportedly interviewd for the job over the past couple weeks since the conclusion of the 2016 MLB season, which suposedly included former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington - who was instead named Braves third base coach today - and Sandiego Padres manager Bud Black.  Also being rtained on the Braves coaching staff will be bench coach Terry Pendleton, first base coach Eddie Perez, hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and assistant hitting coach Jose Castro, and bullpen coach Marty Reed.  The Brave also announced the hiring of Chuck Hernandez as their new pitching coach, after announcing last week that former pitching coach Roger McDowell's option would not be picked up in 2016. 
  • Athens, Ga - While most of the collegiate sports focus is zeroed in on college football, the college basketball season is right around the corner. And with a new season comes a plethora of new rule changes.  The NCAA released a 23-min video explaining all of these rules with demonstrations, which will help you better understand the men with whistles making the calls.  You can watch the video by CLICKING HERE. 
  • The term 'add insult to injury' has never been more true, at least for the University of Georgia and its football fans on Saturday. Star running back Nick Chubb carried the ball 12 times for a total of 57 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury, and did not return. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart addressed the issue during his postgame press conference. “Don’t know the severity yet. He couldn’t come back in the game,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “If he could have come back, I know he wanted to. So we’ll see how that goes the next couple days.' Georgia has relied heavy on its passing game the past two games, as it has struggled with the run since the first game. Whether thats banged up running backs, weak offensive line play or a playcalling issue is up for interpretation.  During the 45-14 loss, UGA freshman Brian Herrien ran the ball 11 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns, while Elijah Holyfield - another true freshman - was given four carries for 27 yards. Both players could be relied on even heavier if Chubb's injury results in any loss of playing time. 
  • Logan Booker

    Logan Booker is the producer for Classic City Today on 98.7FM and AM 1340 WGAU from 6am-10am weekdays, and occasionally contributes on-air with Tim Bryant. Logan also covers the midday news on WGAU Monday-Friday. On occasion, he fills as a co-host of The Morning Show on 960 The Ref. 

    Logan has covered UGA sports since 2012, previously with Bulldawg Illustrated. 

    He is a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where he earned a degree in magazine journalism in addition to a Grady Sports Media certificate. He was born and raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and in addition to his current home in Bethlehem, Georgia, he spends lots of time with his dog and his boat in Lincoln County, Georgia. 

     

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Latest Bulldog News

  • ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia soccer defeated High Point, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon for the Bulldogs’ first win of the 2017 season.   In the 71st minute, Maddie Burdick passed to Caroline Chipman, who played the ball into the box, allowing Katie MacGinnitie to kick it into the back of the net, putting the Bulldogs up 1-0.   “We’re happy to come away with the win,” Georgia head coach Billy Lesesne said. “I think our effort was there, just as it was Friday night against Wake Forest, but today we ended up grinding it out and getting a hard-worked goal. It was not a thing of beauty but the players kept it alive until Katie was able to put it away. It was a really nice finish and a determined effort at the end of the field.”   Georgia (1-1) controlled the ball offensively throughout the first half of the game, taking nine shots to High Point’s (1-1) one, but the score remained 0-0 after the first 45 minutes of play.    The Bulldogs came out determined in the second half, continuing to control possession.    High Point’s best chance for the equalizer came seven minutes after Georgia took the 1-0 lead with a penalty kick that hit the left goal post and went wide.   Georgia hits the road for the first time this season when the team travels to take on Charlotte on Friday, August 25 at 7 p.m. before continuing onto Blacksburg, Virginia to play the Virginia Tech Hokies on Sunday, August 27 at 2 p.m.   Fans now have the opportunity to enjoy Georgia soccer games with a UGA soccer seatback. The seatbacks are thick and comfortable, and can be purchased at the Fan Info table located in the plaza of the Turner Soccer Complex for $5 per game. You can also save $15 by purchasing a soccer seatback for all nine home matches of the season for a total of $30.
  • ATHENS, Ga.--- Three members of the Georgia soccer team have been named to the Southeastern Conference Soccer Preseason Watch List announced Wednesday by the conference office. Since 2011, the SEC has named a watch list in lieu of selecting preseason all-conference teams.     Seniors Louise Hogrell and Mariel Gutierrez, as well as freshman Katie Higgins joined players from each of the other 13 member institutions on the list. Hogrell receives the honor for the third consecutive season, while this marks the second consecutive season Gutierrez was named to the list.    Hogrell returns in goal for Georgia after playing all but 15 minutes during the 2016 season. She led the SEC in saves (94) and ranked second in saves per game (5.22). The Asa, Sweden native ranks near the top in several UGA career records following her junior season, including fifth in career shutouts (14), fifth in saves (262), and fifth in wins (21).    Gutierrez is back for her senior season as Georgia’s leading returner in assists with four in 2016. The Mexico City, Mexico native started all 18 games at midfield for the Bulldogs last season and scored four goals.     Higgins kicks off her collegiate career after leading PDA O’Reilly to an ECNL U-18 Northeast Conference championship and a quarterfinals finish in the national playoffs. The Andreas, Pennsylvania native was an early enrollee who contributed in the spring in preparation for the 2017 season. She started in the exhibition game against Auburn and took one shot.   Georgia will officially kick off the 2017 season at the Turner Soccer Complex against Wake Forest on Friday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs cap off opening weekend in Athens against High Point on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. Admission is free.
  • 960 The Ref’s Sam Franco got the chance to tour the new Mercedes Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United
  • LONDON --- Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas finished third place in the 200-meter dash to earn a bronze medal and top the highlights for the current and former Bulldogs’ performances at the IAAF World Championships in London over the last week.   Miller-Uibo, who won the 2013 NCAA indoor 400m title for Georgia, secured her third-place finish in the 200m after crossing the finish line in 22.15. She was one of four competitors who finished with times between 22.05 (Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands) and 22.22. In the 200m semifinal, Miller-Uibo tied with the fastest time of 22.49 and won her heat.    In the 200m opening round, Miller-Uibo ran out of the fourth heat and topped the field with a 22.69. This was the second-fastest time of qualifying for the 2016 Rio 400m gold medalist, who is ranked second in the world in the 200m this year.     In the 400m final last Wednesday, Miller-Uibo was part of the lead back and then stormed out to the overall lead during the homestretch. She slipped to fourth in the final meters with a 50.49.   Another host of current and former Bulldogs also competed at the World Championships last week in London.   A pair of Lady Bulldogs, one current and one former, competed in the qualifying round of the women’s high jump last Thursday. Former Georgia jumper Levern Spencer of St. Lucia cleared 6 feet, 2 ¼ inches to finish one spot out of qualifying in her group while rising senior Tatiana Gusin was 13th in the same group with a 6-0.75 clearance.   Three Georgia men, two who competed in 2017 and another who finished in 2016, competed in the decathlon over this past weekend. Team USA’s Devon Williams, who completed his UGA eligibility in June, scored his fourth consecutive 8,000-point total and his fifth overall after tallying 8,088 points for 10th place. Karl Saluri of Estonia, who is a rising senior, surpassed the 8,000-point mark for the second time in his Bulldog career with a season-best score of 8,025 for 13th place.    Fellow Estonian Maicel Uibo, who won two NCAA decathlon titles before completing his Georgia career in 2016, did not reach a mark in the pole vault after coming in at 16-0.75 and retired after the eighth event.   Williams launched the javelin 190 feet to highlight his second day of action. Saluri won his group in the pole vault with a personal-best mark of 16-4.75 to keep pace in the scoring. Uibo peaked on his second day in the discus with an effort of 157-1, which was first in his group and fourth overall.   After day one, Williams (4,222 points) was in 11th, Saluri (4,204) stood in 14th and Uibo (3,933) was in 25th place. Williams sister Kendell Williams, who also completed her UGA career in 2017, took 12th in the heptathlon earlier in the meet. Uibo married Miller-Uibo earlier this year after being teammates during the 2013 season.   Williams won his group in the shot put with a third try that measured a personal-best distance of 47-4.25 and then sprinted to the fastest 400m finish of his career (48.11) to stay in the mix on the first day. Saluri approached his career best in the 100m to finish third in his heat after crossing the line in 10.55 in his second decathlon of 2017. Uibo tied for ninth overall in the high jump after clearing 6-7.50 on his first attempt to pace his day one scoring.   Former Bulldog Kibwe Johnson also competed last Wednesday and finished 16th in his hammer throw qualifying group with an opening toss of 225 feet, 11 inches.