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College

    Kentucky is taking aim at Georgia football this season with hopes of ending a streak of futility, according to a recent Lexington Herald Leader story. The Bulldogs have dominated the SEC East Division the past two seasons. None of the East teams have managed to stay within single digits on the scoreboard by the conclusion of games against UGA in 2017 or 2018. RELATED: Georgia’s march to SEC Championship Game goes through Kentucky The Wildcats, as noted by Lexington Herald Leader reporter Mark Story, have a nine-game losing streak to Georgia, which he refers to as UK’s ‘bogeyman’ Kentucky has recently broken notable losing streaks to Steve Spurrier-coached teams (17 games, 2010), Tennessee (26 games, 2011) and last season in Dan Mullen’s first season coaching Florida, the Gators (31 games). Last year’s Kentucky team was confident it would end the streak against Georgia. UK was practically celebrating before playing UGA, taking out an ad in Times Square while rejecting the underdog role. RELATED: Confident Kentucky ready for UGA challenge at Kroger Field “The days of us being an underdog team are over,” UK tailback Benny Snell had said in the days leading up to the game. Georgia, of course, won the game and the Wildcats’ reality has set in this offseason. Story writes: “Of all the good works Stoops has done at UK, the Kentucky head man is 0-6 against the Bulldogs. Other than a 27-24 loss to Georgia in Lexington in 2016 during Kirby Smart’s first season after replacing Mark Richt  as Bulldogs coach, none of the games have been close. Under Stoops, UK’s other five losing margins against Georgia have been 42, 32, 24, 29 and 17 points.” Of course, this is why reports that Smart had offered Eddie Gran the offensive coordinator position once Jim Chaney left for Tennessee this offseason were suspect. After all, Kentucky’s offense ranked 103rd in the nation in total offense — well behind Georgia (18th). DawgNation learned that while a position on the staff was discussed, it was not to become the offensive coordinator, and no job was offered. RELATED: UGA did not offer Gran coordinator or position coach duties Meanwhile, it only made sense Gran would leverage his interview with Smart for a pay raise at Kentucky. If his athletic director and fan base believed Smart would hire him to be Georgia’s OC, all the better for him. But Smart had worked hard to keep James Coley in the fold as assistant offensive coordinator the season before, paying him $850,000. RELATED: James Coley puts his spin on Georgia football offense Coley was quickly elevated to offensive coordinator the same week Chaney left for the Vols, getting a $100,000 salary bump to $950,000. Georgia plays host to Kentucky in Sanford Stadium on Oct. 19 this season. The Bulldogs bring a four-game win streak against South Carolina into this season, and a three-game win streak against Missouri.       The post Georgia football called ‘bogeyman,’ giving SEC East opponent case of the blues appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The No. 14-ranked Georgia softball team hopes to heat up along with the weather in Minneapolis in NCAA regional action on Monday. The Bulldogs (41-18) are scheduled to resume play at 10 a.m. Monday batting in the top of the fifth inning with runners on first and second and one out leading Drake   4-2 in an elimination game. The game was suspended on Saturday night and rain on Sunday pushed back the resumption of play to Monday. If Georgia holds on to beat Drake (43-15), it advances to play host Minnesota at noon. The NCAA tournament No. 7-seed Golden Gophers beat the Bulldogs last Friday by a 2-1 count in eight innings, rallying from 1-0 down in the bottom of the seventh inning. RELATED: Minnesota cools off Georgia in extra innings The Bulldogs would have to beat the Golden Gophers twice on Monday to advance to Super Regional play, where they’d travel to play LSU. All 13 SEC softball teams made the NCAA tournament (Vanderbilt does not have a team). Six of those league teams have advanced to NCAA Super Regional play. Georgia is in the only regional where all four teams had 40 regular-season wins, and the Bulldogs have also been battling the elements. UGA opened the tournament last Thursday beating Drake 6-4 on Ciara Bryan’s walk-off home run. WATCH: Ciara Bryan lifts Georgia with a blast over the fence! Temperatures dropped int0 the 40s when UGA played Minnesota last Friday, adding to the Golden Gophers home field advantage. Temperatures on Monday are expected to rise from the 30s into the 60s.       The post Georgia softball aims to heat up in Minnesota, survive for Super Regionals appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Georgia’s women tennis team fell barely short in its bid to win a national championship. The Bulldogs advanced all the way the NCAA finals, but they were swept 4-0 by Stanford, the defending national champions. UGA finishes the year with a 28-2 record, with the other loss being to South Carolina during the regular season. Ironically, the Bulldogs defeated Stanford 4-3 this past February. Georgia and Stanford has now met four times to play for the NCAA championship, with each team winning twice. With no seniors on the roster, UGA will be heavily favored to return to the finals. The post UGA women’s tennis falls just short in bid to win national championship appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The NFL’s Cleveland Browns heaped a ton of praise on Nick Chubb this week. The former UGA running back is prepping for his second year with the NFL club after a stellar rookie campaign, rushing for 996 yards and catching more passes than he did in his last three seasons at Georgia combined. Chubb is “phenomenally talented,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told CantonRep.com’s Steve Doerschuk. “He just works really hard. He cares about winning more than anything. He had 1,000 yards (rushing for the season last year) and lost it. He didn’t care about that. He cared about the fact that we lost the last game of the year. “That speaks volumes about who he is as a teammate.” How highly do the Browns think of Chubb? Believe it or not, Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said Chubb will serve as a mentor to veteran running back Kareem Hunt. He was waived in the middle of last season by the Kansas City Chiefs after a video surfaced showing him shoving and kicking a woman. “Kareem can learn from Nick,” Kitchens told the website. “It doesn’t have to be the other way around. Any time you put two guys that are competitors like they are, it benefits the whole team.” Chubb, who not surprisingly was described by Mayfield as “very quiet” with his personality, had a few direct words to share about his professional career: “Everyone on the field in the NFL is very good,” Chubb said. “There are no plays off, no days off, no games off. Not everyone you played in college was AS tough.” The post Nick Chubb praised by Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Famed trophies from storied college football rivalries include the Golden Egg that Ole Miss and Mississippi State play for, the Little Brown Jug given to the Michigan-Minnesota winner, and Paul Bunyan’s Axe, awarded to the Wisconsin-Minnesota victor. Notably absent from that list, however, is the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The Silver Chalice is the oldest extant UGA football artifact in the university’s archive. (Jason Hasty/Hargrett Library) Few fans remember it, but, for a short time, Georgia and Auburn actually did play for a prize: an engraved silver chalice. And the chalice won by Georgia’s not-yet-Bulldogs in 1894 is among the treasures from the University of Georgia’s athletics archive that the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library will be taking on the road this summer.  Considering all the rivalries that Georgia football has, the trophy tradition is surprisingly lacking in Athens. Yes, Georgia and Georgia Tech do play for the Governor’s Cup, originally awarded to the winner of the Bullpups-Baby Jackets Thanksgiving Day freshman classic. And, for the past decade, the student governments at UGA and the University of Florida have been exchanging a prize called the Okefenokee Oar that goes to the winner of the annual game in Jacksonville. (It thankfully has resided at the Tate Center in Athens for the past couple of years.) But, that’s it. I’d long wondered why the Georgia-Auburn series doesn’t have such a trophy. And, then, when I visited the Hargrett Library in Athens last year, I heard about the Silver Chalice. The chalice in the Hargrett collection is the oldest extant UGA football artifact. It was awarded to the winner of the game between Georgia and Auburn played on Nov. 24, 1894, at Atlanta’s Athletic Park, a playing field on Jackson Street, off Auburn Avenue, that long since has been redeveloped.   The late Dr. John F. Stegeman (of the Athens family whose name graces Georgia’s basketball arena) wrote in his book about Georgia football history, “The Ghosts of Herty Field,” that the 1894 game, only the second ever between Georgia and Auburn, saw hundreds of fans travel to Atlanta from Athens on five Seaboard Railroad express coaches. There also were Georgia Tech students on hand — cheering for Auburn, naturally. The 1894 team, which finished with a 5-1 record, was coached by Englishman Robert Winston, Georgia’s first paid head coach. (A year later, the legendary Glenn “Pop” Warner would become Georgia’s coach.) The team didn’t yet have an official nickname, but its mascot was Trilby, a solid white female bull terrier owned by a student. The hard-fought battle with Auburn (then officially known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama)  was tied 8-8 late in the game, and darkness had fallen. Auburn requested the game be called, but Georgia refused. Then, as Stegeman recounted, the ball was snapped back to the Auburn fullback, “who stood ready to punt from behind his own goal-line, but he lost it in the shadows. He dropped the ball, tried to pick it up, and finally was smothered” by Georgia’s All-Southern center, Rufus B. Nalley. The safety put Georgia ahead 10 to 8, and that ended up being the final score. The Atlanta Constitution reported: “Athens is ablaze with enthusiasm tonight. Students and citizens alike are painting the town red and black.” The inscription on the chalice awarded to Georgia for winning the game reads: University of Georgia vs Auburn Nov 24 1894 Presented by Alumni and friends of both Colleges won by University of Georgia football team Score – University 10 Auburn 8 UGA athletics history specialist Jason Hasty is taking some of the school’s sports treasures on the road. (Bill King/special) As best UGA athletics history specialist  Jason Hasty can tell, the Silver Chalice was awarded twice. “We have the one from 1894, and Auburn has one they say was from the year after that, though I haven’t seen it,” Hasty told me this week. “It was supposed to be a tradition for the winner of that game to be given a little silver chalice each year. They did it in 1894 and I believe in ’95, but it seems like the tradition fell away after that.” He doesn’t know why. Hasty agrees that “ i t’s strange that the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, and one of the nation’s oldest rivalries, doesn’t have anything like that associated with it. I’d like to see them bring it back.” I’d like to see that, too. The Silver Chalice isn’t the only UGA athletics treasure Hasty is taking out on a summer tour of several public libraries in east and central Georgia. Hasty said he’s bringing “a lot of football material, because that’s what the most people want to see,” including “some jerseys from the 1920s and 1940s and probably the ’80s or ’90s. I’m trying to show the differences in style over the years. And how the color has changed a little bit. It used to be a much darker red, nearly a crimson, so we were really the Crimson and Black, not the Red and Black.” Also included in the traveling exhibit, he said, are “a pair of really early silver britches, probably from the early 1940s. And a pair of pants from the 1930s that belonged to quarterback Andy Roddenberry. They’re plain khaki football pants with black stripes. Not many people think about what we wore before we wore the silver britches.” The exhibit also includes a selection of football helmets, including Herschel Walker’s helmet. “We always show that,” Hasty said, “because that’s the one thing people always want to see. Also, a silver helmet from the 1950s and a leather helmet from the 1940s. I want to give people a sense of how things have changed over the years.” Among the newer items on display are placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship’s jersey and shoes, and the football from last year’s Florida game. (Jason Hasty/Hargrett Library) Among the newer items on display: the ball used in last year’s Florida game, and placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship’s jersey and some of his kicking shoes from last season (not the pink ones, unfortunately). Said Hasty: “I think he wanted to hang on to the pink kicking cleats. Hopefully he’ll put them to good use this coming season.” Another item to be included is a piece of the railroad track that ran behind Sanford Stadium prior to the expansion after 1980. “When the stadium was expanded, the rail lines were pulled out and replaced,” Hasty said. “The old track was cut up into small sections and we have a piece.  Given how fondly remembered the track crowd is, it’s an artifact that I’m pretty excited to display.”  From other sports, Hasty has Keturah Orji’s track and field uniform from the 2016 Rio Olympics; a racquet from this year’s women’s tennis team (which won the indoor national title); and a baseball jersey from the early 1900s. “It’s thick wool,” Hasty said. “It would be difficult to wear that in Georgia weather.” The traveling exhibit, consisting of about 35 to 40 different items, is free and open to the general public. The materials will be on display on the following dates and locations:   June 4 (Mary Vinson Memorial Library, Milledgeville), June 5 (Monroe Public Library, Monroe), June 12 (Augusta-Richmond Public Library, Augusta), July 24 (Greensboro Public Library, Greensboro), and Aug. 23 (Washington Memorial Library, Macon). Generally, Hasty said, “some people take 10 to 15 minutes or a half hour to look at things” in the traveling exhibits, “while some people really want to stay and talk. I’ll be on-site and happy to answer any questions. “We get a lot of UGA alumni at these exhibits, and it turns into something like a mini alumni reunion, where people connect with other alumni from their town.” In plotting the exhibit’s itinerary, he said he “tried to look at different parts of the state and go to areas that don’t get a lot of things like this. Atlanta gets a lot.” (The closest stop to both Athens and Atlanta on this year’s tour is the library in Monroe.) “I’m really excited this time to take it to Macon and Augusta, which is about as far as we can go from Athens at the moment.” Currently, Hasty said, “we try to be an hour or two from Athens, to make it easier to move the materials there and back. In the future, I hope to expand that and get to areas of South Georgia and West Georgia, like Savannah and Columbus in the next couple of years.” Hasty said he tries to “tailor the items a little bit to the communities, so it’s not the same in every town. This year, since were doing Milledgeville, I’m going to have some photos of Charles Herty [the founder of football at UGA] and his early teams, since he was from Milledgeville.” He said he’s gearing the exhibits “toward everyone. It’s for the die-hard fans, but also someone who doesn’t know much at all will enjoy some of the exhibits. We get a lot of parents bringing little kids with them. They’re excited to see some of these things, even if they don’t really know what they are. You see the parents explaining to their kids who Herschel Walker was.” Bringing their kids up right, in other words. A fan’s fan The 1981 billboard design by famed artist Jack Davis. (University of Georgia) Every year, members of the Georgia Bulldog Club who’ve contributed to the Hartman Fund get a small packet of items from the club “as a small token of our appreciation for your support.” Some years, the items included are more elaborate than other years. Occasionally, in the past, there’ve been coin-like medallions commemorating championships, and sometimes more clever items. My all-time favorite is the mini-billboard from 1981 featuring the Jack Davis artwork marking the national championship. This year’s packet of treats for Hartman Fund contributors includes a mini USB fan. (Olivia King/special) This year’s packet includes the usual Georgia Bulldog Club car window decals and football schedule magnet, and also a mini USB fan that is designed to plug into a cellphone “to help you stay cool while watching the Dawgs in Sanford Stadium this fall.” Unfortunately, the fan appears not to work with all cellphones (though my daughter found it works on an iPhone 6). I’ve seen a couple of Facebook polls in which the majority of the fans responding said the mini fan didn’t work at all with their phone. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll be lucky and get another national championship mini-billboard. I think that’d work for all UGA fans. The post Forgotten relic of UGA-Auburn rivalry may be coming to your town appeared first on DawgNation.
  • CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The symmetry appears uncanny on the surface, but Lawrence Cager’s football journey has been filled with twists and turns. Ultimately, Cager believes, fate has brought him to where he belongs and needs to be. Cager  hosted Georgia receiver J.J. Holloman when Holloman visited Miami as a prospect in November of 2016. A little more than two years later, Holloman was Cager’s host in Athens, Ga., for the Hurricane receiver’s visit last February. The two hit it off so well that they’re going to be roommates when Cager arrives in Athens on May 28 with business degree in hand and a national championship on his mind. “J.J. is like family to me,” Cager told DawgNation last weekend. “Out of high school, I wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog from the jump.” Cager has impact player written all over him, ready for a break-out season after a career-high 21 catches for 374 yards last season. Smart said more than once he’s concerned about the Georgia receiver position after four of the top five pass catchers from last season moved on. Cager is already on NFL radar, his 6-foot-5, 218-pound frame and impressive jumping ability leading to a team-high six TDs in 2018 at Miami. RELATED: Cager among four UGA players on Senior Bowl early radar It’s fair to assume Cager will be in the Red Zone mix at Georgia. Cager was recruited to Miami by current Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley, choosing the Hurricanes over Alabama and playing the 2015 season with Coley as his coordinator. “God works in mysterious ways,” Cager said. “I’m here now with the coach I loved at Miami (Coley), and the coach I loved at Alabama (Kirby Smart), so I couldn’t ask to be in a better position.”   Play ball! Growing up in baseball-crazy Baltimore, Cager fancied himself a future major leaguer and didn’t take football serious entering into his freshman year at Calvert Hall College High School in Maryland. Former five-time all-star Tori Hunter came to watch Cager hit when he was in eighth grade, and Lawrence’s high school coach was a regional scout for the Detroit Tigers. All signs pointed to baseball. Until they didn’t. Cager played football as a freshman “just to have fun” when coach Devin Redd, the CEO and co-founder of Baltimore’s Next Level Nation, altered Cager’s life with his observation. “Devin Redd said I could play on Sundays,” Cager said. “He told me ’you have something people don’t have; you move like a 5-foot-11 guy but you’re 6-5.” Cager scored 15 touchdowns and had more than 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman before moving up to varsity as a sophomore, a three-sport athlete also playing basketball and baseball. “Lawrence’s ascent began when he came into high school,” Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said. “He wasn’t sure what direction he would go in; he dabbled in baseball, at one point thought about soccer, and he was a very good at baseball.” Then Cager decided to go out for track his junior year, and he ended up at the Penn Relays and Nationals, clearing 6-foot-11. By then, however, Cager had decided on football. “I knew football would take me where I needed to go,” Cager said, “when I got my first offers from Oregon State and Toledo my sophomore year.” Silent commit A strong showing at a Nike Camp in New Jersey led Cager to receive an invite to The Opening in 2014. Future Georgia receiver Terry Godwin was also there. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer invited Cager to the Buckeyes’ famed “Friday Night Lights” recruiting event, and Cager and his family were so impressed that he made a silent commitment on July 25, 2014. Cager already had an Alabama offer in hand, and then Michigan State offered, along with Notre Dame, Miami, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Nebraska. Cager found himself intrigued and wanted to take visits, particularly to the Top 5 Mississippi State-Alabama matchup in 2014. “The fact I wanted to visit there told me I didn’t need to be committed,” Cager said. “I wanted to see other schools before I could know.” Cager’s parents were pushing for Wake Forest because of the academics there, so the Deacons got the first official visit followed by Virginia Tech, and then Cager’s visit to the Michigan-Ohio State game. Cager headed to the U.S. Army All-American Game thinking he wanted to go to Alabama, while his parents were still encouraging him to go to Wake Forest. Shower commit Cager told the CBS team at the U.S. Army All-American Game he was going to commit to Alabama, live at halftime, during the Jan. 3 broadcast. But behind the scenes Cager’s parents were telling hm to re-think it; there was uncertainty over whether offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin would be returning to the staff the next season. “It was a tough phone call to Nick Saban,” Cager said of the days leading up to the game. Once game day arrived, Cager had an issue on his hands: A spot on CBS to commit before a live national audience, but uncertainty as to which school that would be. “During warm-ups before the game, I was trying to figure out which school I’m going to commit to,” Cager said. “So while everyone else is on the field getting ready to play, I was in the shower room calling schools … some were answering, but they said they’d already had a commitment or were full at the position.” That included Georgia when Cager reached out to Mark Richt. “They told me they were full, because Jayson Stanley had committed,” Cager said. “Coach Coley was the only one at a school I liked who would take my commit. “He said, ‘Change the game!’’ “ Cager’s coach told then-Miami head coach AL Golden that it was a TV commit. Cager was scheduled to visit Alabama the following Saturday, and then he’d visit Miami. “So I committed on TV to Miami without ever being in Miami in my life,” Cager said, laughing at the naivety of his youth. “It’s funny how God works, because that’s how he put Coach Coley in my life.” Until he wasn’t. Lawrence Cager’s upside has him on NFL radar. Rob Floyd/ Getty Images The Richt Years The score was 58-0 on Oct. 25, 2015, Clemson handing Miami the worst loss in the Hurricanes’ 90-year football history. “I know it isn’t far from outhouse to penthouse,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, according ESPN. “I don’t celebrate anything from Miami’s bad day. I feel for him. I hate it, man.  Hurricanes’ coach Al Golden hated it even more when he was fired the next day, making way for Larry Scott to assume interim duties. Miami won the remained of the regular season games, but the Hurricanes elected to go with suddenly available Richt, a school alum who had parted ways with Georgia. RELATED: Mark Richt praised by rivals Saban, Fulmer, Spurrier Cager couldn’t wait to build off his freshman season, but then things took a turn for the worst — specifically, his knee. “I tore my ACL on the last play, on the last day of the last week of 7on -7 drills before camp, back in July of 2016 going into my sophomore season,” Cager said. “I was determined to come back quicker than they projected, so I was in the training room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until I could walk.” Cager was running in two weeks and running in three months, ready for spring drills, but Richt held him out as a precaution. The 2017 season, however, was at best “up and down” Cager said. “You think you won’t think about it (surgically repaired knee), but it’s in the back of your head, that what if I do this, or I do that, and I might hurt it again,” Cager said. Finally recovered, Cager was ready for a big redshirt junior season in 2018, but the Hurricanes’ offense struggled. The quarterback position was a revolving door, and the lack of consistency under center translated to a hot-and-cold passing game. Richt stepped down after the season, and Cager decided to exercise his eligibility as a graduate transfer. Georgia, with Coley recently promoted to offensive coordinator, was the first to call. “Kirby was like, ‘I’m not going to lose you this time, right?’ “ Cager said. “ ‘You’re going to come home now.’ “My mind went to Athens as soon as I made a decision to be a Bulldog, I felt right at home.” DawgNation in South Florida Kenny McIntosh draws comparisons to Sony Michel, Jordan Scarlett Lawrence Cager eager for Georgia touch down ’The Blueprint,’ championship plans for South Florida star Lawrence Cager with DawgNation   The post The fascinating story of how Lawrence Cager ended up at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The No. 14-ranked Georgia softball team is on the ropes in the Minneapolis NCAA regional, just one loss away from its season being over. The Bulldogs (41-18) play at approximately 9:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Saturday game between North Dakota State (42-15) and Drake (42-15) in the double-elimination regional. Georgia was two outs away from beating host Minnesota in its first game on Saturday, playing amid chilly temperatures that featured a wind chill that made it feel like 41 degrees. UGA pitcher Mary Wilson Avant (10-5) took a two-hit shutout into the seventh, her 1-0 lead compliments of Jordan Doggett’s solo home run in the top of the sixth. The Golden Gophers tied the game in the bottom of the seventh when MaKenna Partain drove an RBI single up the middle to score Ali Lindner from second with one out. Lindner had drawn a leadoff walk and moved to second when Taylor Chell was hit by a pitch. Georgia came up empty in the top of the eighth inning, unable to muster more than a Doggett infield single, and Minnesota’s Hope Brandner ended the game with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the frame. Minnesota pitcher Amber Fiser (28-7) limited the Bulldogs to just two hits, both by Doggett. UGA beat Drake 6-4 in eight innings on Friday after Doggett drew a leadoff walk and Ciara Bryan hit a walk-off home run. WATCH: Ciara Bryan lifts UGA over Drake with walk-off home run With a win Saturday, Georgia would return to play the Golden Gophers at 4 p.m. on Sunday needing to win two straight games to advance to NCAA Super Regional action.     The post Minnesota cools off Georgia softball, Bulldogs face must-win scenario appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — It was fitting that Emerson Hancock would be on the mound for Georgia’s final win of the regular season.  After all, he was the one that started this magical ride for the Bulldogs. It was Hancock who got the ball and the win for Georgia in the season opener against Dayton way back in February and it was Hancock who got the SEC schedule started on the right foot with a road win at South Carolina back in March. Injuries and circumstances left Hancock in the role of Saturday starter rather than the customary Friday spot reserved for masterful hurlers. But that meant Hancock was last up for the home crowd against poor, unfortunate Alabama in the regular-season finale at Foley Field. Hancock proved again that he’s pretty much untouchable no matter when you pitch him. The redshirt sophomore from Cairo struck out 10 and didn’t have a walk in seven innings as the Bulldogs cruised to a 9-1 victory over the Crimson Tide. “It’s pretty poetic, I think, to have your best guy coming out on the last day because of circumstances,” said Georgia star third baseman/closer Aaron Schunk, who was 8-for-15 at the plate during the series. “But he’s a dude, he’s been a dude since he got here and he’s going to continue to do big things for us.” The win set a UGA record for SEC wins in a season and gave the Bulldogs (42-14, 21-9 SEC) their most regular-season wins since the 1990 national championship team. Already assured of a first-round bye in next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., Georgia will get the league’s No. 3 if South Carolina closed out Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. Vanderbilt wrapped up the regular-season title last night. But if there’s a team playing better or set up better heading into the postseason, it’s going to be hard to find. Tim Elliott (6-3, 293 ERA) will get the start when the Bulldogs open SEC tournament play on Wednesday. After that, they will resume the starting rotation with which they ended the season, with high-90s pitchers Cole Wilcox, Tony Locey and Hancock going back-to-back. That’s what the Crimson Tide (30-26, 7-23) had to look forward to when they showed up in Athens on Thursday. They left Saturday having lost three games by the aggregate score of 30-7. Georgia out-hit them 47 to 20. “What a tough draw for Bama, honestly,” sophomore catcher Mason Meadows said. “That’s tough. It’s the third day and you’ve already seen two great arms and then come out and the first couple of pitches are 98 and 97 or so with a bunch of run on it. I imagine it’s exhausting for them.” It was. But Georgia coach Scott Stricklin wasn’t feeling sorry for anybody. His only show of compassion was pulling Hancock after seven innings even though he’d only thrown 86 pitches and seemed only to be getting better. But that was only to protect Hancock, who missed two starts with a minor back/arm issue, and to get his bullpen some much-needed work. Left-handers Justin Glover and Adam Goodman each pitched scoreless frames “No hard feelings whatsoever about that,” Stricklin said. “In this league, you never feel bad for anybody. In this league when you get a chance to step on somebody you’ve got to because it’s just so hard. But, yeah, we felt good about our chances with Emerson on the mound.” Hancock actually ran into some trouble right out of the gate. He allowed three infield hits — one was called an out but overturned by review — and gave up a run to fall behind 1-0. The inning ended with a throw-out at home plate that stood up to review. But then Alabama would never threaten again. The game wasn’t exactly on cruise control, but it felt like it. It was the fourth time this season Hancock logged double-digit strikeouts. He has given up zero or 1 run in nine of his starts this season. “The I felt like I settled in a little more each inning,” said Hancock, who protested not going back in for the eighth. “Last year I learned that it’s a one-pitch league, you can’t take a pitch off, an inning off. A couple pitches here or there and they’re putting up runs on you really quick. So any time I’m out there I’m just really ultra competitive. I want to be the best.” It was a mesmerizing performance for the sophomore, who was just named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, which goes annually to college baseball’s best player. “He’s the best I’ve ever had; that’s a given,” Stricklin said. “I’ve been fortunate to coach some really good ones, but he has explosive stuff and a chip on his shoulder.” And now the Bulldogs, unceremoniously bounced from its home regional as a national seed last year, heads into the postseason assured of another national seed and the ultimate do-over. “It just shows all the hard work has come to fruition since last year,” Schunk said. “Last year was a heartbreaker for everybody and everybody knew it. But we put our heads down, went to the grindstone, kept a chip on our shoulder and put ourselves back in that position. And we want to be on the other side of it this year. Setting a school record shows that we mean business.” The post VIDEO: No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs head to postseason red hot after sweep of Alabama appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Kirby Smart has no intentions of leaving his post as Georgia football coach any time in the near future — or ever, for that matter. “Why would I leave home?” Smart said Thursday night in his hometown of Bainbridge, Ga., during a question and answer session,  according The Post Searchlight. “I have more passion and energy in my heart for the University of Georgia than you’ll ever realize,” Smart said. “Because it did more for me than anything I’ve been to in my life.” Smart was an All-SEC safety at Georgia and four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll (1995-98), graduating from UGA’s celebrated Terry College of Business. Smart began his coaching career with the Bulldogs as an administrative assistant on Jim Donnan’s staff in 1999. He returned in 2005 to serve as an assistant to former coach Mark Richt. RELATED: Brandon Adams podcast discusses Kirby Smart as Georgia ‘coach for life’ Smart’s 32-10 record as Georgia’s head coach marks the highest winning percentage (.762) in UGA history. The Bulldogs recently had seven players selected in the 2019 NFL draft and are poised to break the program record next year as Smart enters his fourth season at the helm. RELATED: Kirby Smart’s 2020 draft class will set record Only 43 years old, Smart has already delivered an SEC Championship. UGA was seconds away from the College Football Playoff Championship in 2017 and narrowly missed a second College Football Playoff appearance in 2018. Smart has been paid appropriately for his success. He draws a $7 million per year salary as part of the seven-year, $49 million contract extension he signed last year. Still, there has been speculation that the NFL or Alabama might one day lure Smart away from his alma mater, as it has many other great coaches. Florida’s Steve Spurrier is a prime example. Spurrier was a Heisman Trophy winner for the Gators who came back to coach his alma mater for 12 years (1990-2001) before leaving for the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Spurrier ultimately returned to college coaching, but he did so at South Carolina, where he coached another 11 years. Smart could be different in the sense that he grew up and played his high school football in Georgia, whereas Spurrier was raised in Tennessee. RELATED: AJC columnist Mark Bradley asks, could Smart coach UGA for life? Smart’s appearance at the Bainbridge football fundraiser at the Bainbridge Country Club on Thursday night served as evidence of his loyal nature. “I get asked to speak a lot, but I asked to speak at this event,” Smart said, according to his hometown newspaper. “You got me now because you put Bainbridge back on the map, put it where it’s supposed to be.” Bainbridge, where Smart starred before choosing Georgia, beat Warner Robins 47-41 in triple overtime of the Class AAAAA State Championship Game last season. Smart shared how Bainbridge is what led him to the national level of success he’s enjoying at Georgia. “I had the great fortune of going (to Georgia),” Smart said. “Probably would have never gotten there without some of the great people in this room. “I assure you, it was what drove me to success.” Smart has been proactive designing future success for Georgia as well. It is Smart who is spearheading UGA’s aggressive scheduling model and seeking a facilities blueprint aimed at keeping the Bulldogs an annual title contender. RELATED: Smart shares visionary side of Georgia scheduling plan The Bulldogs recently scheduled a future home-and-home series with Oklahoma in 2023 (away) and 2031 (Athens). Smart’s comments this week make it clear he plans to be on the sideline for both, in Norman, and between the hedges in his “home.” More Kirby Smart DawgNation coverage • Kirby Smart takes playful jab at Florida • WATCH: Kirby Smart shares two most meaningful Georgia wins, bucket list • MORE: Kirby Smart ‘no regrets’ on Justin Fields’ situation • Kirby Smart says ‘We want to talk with our helmets’ • Kirby Smart makes key point defending Jake Fromm The post Kirby Smart plans to coach Georgia infinitely: ‘Why would I leave home’ appeared first on DawgNation.