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Latest from Sam Franco

    Sam gives his thoughts on UGA’s beat down of Georgia Tech. 
  • Humility is only a week away… It’s been Kirby Smart’s mantra all season long when talking about the success that Georgia Football has had in 2017. Week in and week out, Georgia has taken care of their opponents with relative ease. The game at Notre Dame was tough, and South Carolina provided a tougher test than most thought they would, but other than that, it’s been smooth sailing for the Dawgs. Well, smooth sailing hit the eye of the storm in Auburn, Alabama on Saturday. The Tigers dominated the Dawgs in every way possible and proved that they have come a long way since blowing a big lead against LSU. Here’s what I saw from an awful performance from Georgia: 1. Well, it was a good start: I wanted to start off on a good note, because the only thing Georgia did well in this game was putting points on the board on their first drive. If you had told me this game would go the way it did after watching the Dawgs’ first turn on offense, I would have said you were crazy. Jake Fromm was 3 for 3 on the drive for 56 yards, including a big third down pass to Javon Wims. The two of them have developed a very good understanding of each other, and Fromm has become comfortable throwing jump balls to Wims because of his ability to come down with a bunch of them. Unfortunately, Georgia never came close to replicating the success of the first drive at any point during the rest of the game.  2. Complete and utter domination: After that first drive, Auburn took control of this game and at no point looked like they would give it back. The Tigers more than doubled up Georgia in terms of total yards and outgained Georgia on the ground 237 to 46 (net rushing yards). Kerryon Johnson alone ran for 167 yards while the trio of Chubb, Michel, and Swift only combined for 66 yards for the Dawgs. In the passing game, Georgia couldn’t keep Jake Fromm upright as he was sacked four times and pressured a bunch more. At times, football is a very simple game. If you keep your quarterback protected, hit/pressure the other team’s quarterback, and control the game on the ground, you’re going to win a lot more than you lose. That was the formula for Auburn in this game, and they executed about as well as I’ve seen any team in the country this season.  3. There’s a first time for everything: Two things that have been a hallmark of Georgia Football this season are discipline and fundamental execution. Unfortunately, both of those were essentially non-existent against Auburn. Georgia kept shooting themselves in the foot with dumb penalty after dumb penalty. One that comes to mind was a late hit out of bounds by Malkom Parrish, but the glaring one was D’Andre Walker’s leaping penalty while trying to block a punt. Georgia’s defense had done a good job to force the punt and get off the field. After the penalty, Jarrett Stidham would hit Darius Slayton on a 42-yard pass for a touchdown. These players are told over and over again what they can and can’t do in those punt block situations, so Walker’s penalty was extra maddening. Another thing we had not seen this season was Georgia missing tackles. Kerryon Johnson did a great job of making defenders miss and might prove to be the best back the Dawgs have faced/will face all season.  4. Second-guessing: One of the more talked about things from this game was the way the Dawgs handled the end of the first half. Instead of taking a few shots into the end zone, Georgia was content with settling for a field goal when attempting to put some points on the board before the half. At the time, Auburn led 16-7 and was going to get the ball to start the 2nd half. Georgia had good field position due to a good Mecole Hardman that put the ball at Auburn’s 26-yard line with about 22 seconds left in the half. Georgia then ran the ball with Sony Michel and spiked the ball to give Rodrigo Blankenship time for the kick, a kick that he would ultimately miss. I actually said to a few people near me in the press box that there was no chance that kick was going to go in. It just didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do in that situation. If you take a few shots at the end zone and then kick, it would have felt much better. It just felt like Georgia was resigned to taking the three, and that was disheartening.  5. Taming the savages: For me, this was the most shocking part of this game. Georgia’s defense has been DOMINANT all season long, but they were the exact opposite of that against Auburn. Auburn moved the ball seemingly at will against the Dawgs, whether it was through the air or on the ground. I’ve already mentioned how Kerryon Johnson could not be stopped, but neither could Jarrett Stidham. I was talking with Coach Donnan about this game, and he made a great point: It’s hard to have a consistent pass rush against a team that constantly runs RPOs (run-pass options), especially if you have a quarterback that is good a pre-snap reads. Stidham called a great game in that regard, and constantly had Georgia’s defense guessing.  6. Roadblock in Lee County: The two strongest elements of Georgia’s team this season have been the defense and the run game. I just talked about how Auburn’s offense dominated Georgia’s defense, and you can flip the words “offense” and “defense” there and the same held true. Two of the best backs in the country (Sony Michel and Nick Chubb) had no room to run against the Tigers. The offensive line was flat out horrible in this game. As soon as Georgia’s backs would hit the line of scrimmage, they were met with a host of blue jerseys. There just weren’t any holes for Chubb and Michel to operate in. D’Andre Swift has also been a big part of Georgia’s offense this season, particularly in catching passes out of the backfield. He had zero catches against Auburn and only ran for 18 yards on four carries (which resulted in a yards per carry average that was two yards better than either Chubb or Michel). When you’re a team that leads with the run and can’t run, it’s not going to be a good day for you.  7. Keep Chopping: Was this a bad result for Georgia? Absolutely. A lot of the national media had been questioning Georgia in the lead up to this game, and those doubters were given a lot of ammunition as a result of it. That being said, Georgia still has everything in front of them. If they win the last two games of the regular season against Kentucky and Tech and go on to win the SEC Championship, they WILL be in the College Football playoff. This is where Coach Smart’s “keep chopping wood” slogan comes in handy. Georgia just has to keep working hard and preparing well for each opponent. Even if Georgia doesn’t win the SEC Championship this season, they are still well set up to be in a good bowl game and are ahead of where I thought they would be at this point in Kirby Smart’s tenure as head coach. The future is bright for this program with the recruiting classes the Dawgs are building, but let’s not give up on this season just yet as a lot of different scenarios could still play out. During his press conference this week, Coach Smart spoke very little about the Auburn game, as he, his staff, and his team have moved on to Kentucky. I suggest all of you in DawgNation do the same. There’s still A LOT left to play for and that starts against the boys from the Bluegrass on Saturday.  
  • Sam gives his thoughts on Georgia’s destruction of Florida in Jacksonville
  • Sam gives his thoughts on another big Georgia win, this time against Mizzou
  • Sam gives his thoughts on UGA’s domination of Vanderbilt. 
  • Sam gives his thoughts on UGA’s beat down of the Vols. 
  • Sam gives his thoughts on Georgia’s blowout victory over Mississippi State.
  • Sam gives his thoughts on Georgia’s historic win over Notre Dame in South Bend. 
  • Sam’s thoughts on Georgia starting the season off with a dominating win over App State. 
  • According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, former UGA football coach Mark Richt will pay $1 million of his own money towards an indoor practice facility for the University of Miami. During his tenure in charge of the Bulldogs, the indoor practice facility topic was one that caused a lot of angst, and this will certainly grab the attention of UGA fans. Check out the story from the Palm Beach Post. 
  • Sam Franco

    Morning Show Co-Host

    An ATLien by birth, Sam makes no apologies for being a long-suffering Atlanta sports homer. Having grown up in Decatur, a short ten minute drive from downtown Atlanta, he's seen the good (the 1995 Braves World Series triumph), the bad (the Hawks years under Lon Kruger and Terry Stotts), and the ugly (the Falcons for, well, most of his life on this earth).

    Sam is a proud Double Dawg who earned his bachelor of arts degree from the Grady College at UGA in Broadcast News in 2009 and his Master's degree in Sports Management at UGA in 2014. In addition to his work here at The Ref, Sam is also the Public Address Announcer for UGA Men's and Women's basketball, Baseball, and Soccer.

    When he's not working, you can probably find Sam at a concert or festival, as he is an avid live music fan. Last, but certainly not least, he is very proud of his Hispanic heritage, as his father was born in Ecuador.

    Read More

Georgia Sports News

  • For the UGA fans who wish the Bulldogs didn’t always play the Florida Gators in Florida, they’ve found an ally on the other side. Florida athletics director Scott Sticklan was asked this week what he thought about the Gators-UGA series being played in Jacksonville, as part as an extensive Q&A with Gatorsports.com’s Pat Dooley. “Jacksonville is really unique and special,” Sticklan said. “It’s something not many schools have. It would be nice to have Georgia on our campus and go to their’s, but we have to weigh that against what Jacksonville means to that series. It’s pretty important now. But you never say never.” The Georgia-Florida game has been played in Jacksonville since 1933, with the exception being a home-and-home series during the 1994 and 1995 seasons due to stadium renovations at Jacksonville. Many UGA fans approve of the Florida game always being in Jacksonville because it’s a longtime tradition, and nice vacation during the fall to go to St. Simons Island and the nearby beaches. Other Bulldog fans prefer a switch to a home-and-home series because they feel that Florida has an advantage with the game being played in the state of Georgia or they simply don’t like giving up a home game every other year, among other reasons. Are you pro-Jacksonville or not? Please post your opinion below. The post Florida A.D. likes idea of home-and-home series for Georgia-Florida appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The Georgia basketball family is rallying around Coach Tom Crean, whose mother Marjorie passed away Thursday in Michigan. Bulldogs’ assistant coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said he wanted to respect Crean’s privacy at this sensitive time. But Abdur-Rahim confirmed what many of the Georgia players have already come to know and respect: Tom Crean is a man of faith and a man of great strength and resiliency. RELATED: Tom Crean dealing with pain of mother’s passing There’s no doubt Crean will be coaching with a heavy heart when Georgia (9-7, 1-3 SEC) plays host to Florida (9-7, 1-3) at noon on Saturday in a nationally-televised CBS tilt. But throughout these final times of his mother’s life in Michigan, Crean has shown exemplary leadership in Athens amidst a challenging schedule dealt him and UGA the SEC conference office. A sellout crowd will be at Stegeman Coliseum to show their support for Crean and the Bulldogs. UGA has already played the three highest-ranked teams in the SEC in Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn — easily the most difficult early slate in the league. Georgia fans have responded, having already sold out seven games this season. It’s the most sellouts for the Bulldogs since they had eight during the 2002-03 season. Crean has been appreciative of the support, but obviously, he has also been dealing with a much more painful, personal family issue for some time. “I t’s a pretty private matter, (but) the one thing that I will say is you know Tom Crean is a really strong person,” Abdur-Rahim said. “Obviously you know that his faith is very important to him, but just watching him here over the last you know week or so, you just realize how strong of a person he is.  He’s still been able to come to practice dealing with what he was dealing with and still give guys and give our guys and our staff 100-percent effort, 100-percent focus on what we’re doing and preparing us. “I think he’s one of the best leaders I’ve been around. I’m sure it’s been difficult for him, but how he’s done it I couldn’t answer that for you.” Crean has kept the focus completely on basketball, declining to elaborate on his mother’s health after a road loss at then-No. 12 Auburn last Saturday. RELATED: Tom Crean wants more mental toughness from Bulldogs The Georgia head coach hinted that he may have to make some lineup changes to spark his team’s defensive effort and slow starts in the second half. “We know that’s been our Achilles heel this season,” Abdur-Rahim said, “so we have to make sure we do a great job of just mentally coming out with great energy you know physically being prepared to playing knowing that it’s a 40-minute game.” Georgia sophomore star Nicolas Claxton said the Bulldogs are ready to change their mental approach. WATCH: Kentucky coach John Calipari praises Nicholas Claxton “I think it is more of a mental thing, I wouldn’t really say it is a physical thing,” Claxton said. “We have to make sure to come out with the right mentality and make sure that we starting the second half with the right mindset and ready to go.” Georgia is 7-2 at home this season, with the only losses coming to ranked opponents Arizona State (No. 20) and Kentucky (No. 12). Georgia basketball assistant Amir Abdur-Rahim   The post WATCH: Georgia basketball family respects, rallies around Tom Crean leading into Florida game appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Once again, Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley appears to be a wanted man. Only this time, it’s an NFL team that may be after his services. The Dallas Cowboys fired their offensive coordinator Scott Linehan on Friday, and will be searching for a new one to optimize the talents of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. And one name that was almost immediately mentioned was that of Coley by the NFL Network’s Adam Ian Rapoport. As the #Cowboys dig into possible replacements for embattled OC Scott Linehan, they have one on their current staff — TE coach Doug Nussmeier — and may look to the college game to better utilize Dak Prescott’s talents. UGA OC James Coley will receive some consideration there. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 18, 2019 Just last Friday, Coley was named Georgia’s new offensive coordinator, replacing Jim Chaney. Chaney left to become the offensive coordinator at Tennessee. Contract details for Coley’s new deal have not been announced yet. Georgia hired its tight ends coach, Todd Hartley, on Monday and released his contract details on Thursday. Coley has been with the Georgia program since 2016, starting as the wide receivers coach before moving up to quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator this past offseason. Coley is also an excellent recruiter in the South Florida area, making him a major asset for the Georgia program. Last offseason, Texas A&M tried to hire Coley to be its offensive coordinator, but he elected to remain with the Bulldogs. Related:  Terry Godwin: Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley ‘brings the juice every day’ Most of Coley’s work has come in college, but he did serve as an offensive assistant for the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and 06, when Nick Saban ran the team. He previously worked as an offensive coordinator at Florida State and Miami, but only served as the play caller in Miami. While Georgia has filled out its offensive staff, it is still looking for a new defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. The search to fill that position has lasted longer than six weeks, as Mel Tucker was named the head coach at Colorado on Dec. 5. Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Georgia football staff attrition challenging Kirby Smart, leaves anxious fans watching, waiting ESPN names Georgia standout Andrew Thomas to early 2019 All-American team Georgia football podcast: UGA’s delay in hiring defensive coach starting to make more sense Terry Godwin: Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley ‘brings the juice every day’ Identifying who could be Georgia’s best under-the-radar offensive player in 2019 When should Georgia fans start to worry about the defensive coordinator hire? The post Report: James Coley mentioned as candidate for Dallas Cowboys OC job appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily — the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the cast of DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss UGA coach Kirby Smart’s quest to keep the Bulldogs on top of the SEC. On episodes No. 868 (Jan. 18, 2019) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about UGA’s upcoming recruiting weekend. Georgia football podcast: UGA heads into major recruiting weekend without DBs coach in place Beginning of the show: Georgia’s expected to host a number of top recruits this weekend — incuding 4-star defensive back Kaiir Elam. However, as of Friday it still hasn’t announced a defensive backs coach. I’ll address that subject on today’s show. Eight-minute mark: UGA left tackle Andrew Thomas is generating early buzz as both an All-America candidate and a first-round draft pick. I’ll discuss why Thomas might be UGA’s most important player next season. 15-minute mark: DawgNation’s recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… Whether UGA’s lack of defensive coaching hires is a problem The lastest on Elam Reaction to an interesting thread from the DawgNation forum on UGA’s wide receiver recruitment And a look at some fun videos involving a a new helicopter for UGA coach Kirby Smart and an impressive dunk from 2020 recruiting target, 5-star defensive end Brian Bresee. 35-minute mark: I take a look at other SEC headlines including the odd way in which former Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos was reported to have left the program, a minor NCAA violation for Tennessee that might point to a larger problem, and a Vols coach who has apparently decided to pass on a new job and promotion in order to stay with the team. 40-minute mark: I recommend DawgNation Daily listeners and viewers check out Chip Towers’ piece on running back Brian Herrien and address the reports involving former UGA defensive back Deangelo Gibbs transfer to Tennessee. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. The post Georgia football podcast: UGA heads into major recruiting weekend without DBs coach in place appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean lost his mother, Marjorie Crean, after her long battle with an illness. “My sister Michelle and our family are incredibly fortunate to have my mom as a mother and a grandmother,” Crean said in a school release. “Her perseverance and toughness were huge characteristics in her life, and she carried those with her until the very end,” he said. “We could never thank her enough for giving us the wherewithal and the courage to pursue our dreams with an incredible passion she instilled in each of us.” Crean traveled to Michigan last Friday to be with his 80-year-old mother, returning last Saturday to coach the Bulldogs at Auburn. Crean, in his first year as UGA’s head coach, has let Georgia know he does not plan on missing any games. The Bulldogs play host to Florida at noon on Saturday in the second of five consecutive sellouts at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia is 9-7 overall and 1-3 in the SEC with league losses to No. 3-ranked Tennessee, No. 12-ranked Kentucky and No. 14 Auburn. The defeats to the Vols and the Tigers were both on the road. Marjorie Crean is survived by her two children, Tom Crean and Michelle Dean; her daughter-in-law, Joani Crean; her son-in-law, Shannon Dean; and three grandchildren, Megan, Riley and Ainsley Crean.         The post Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean’s mother, Marjorie Crean, passes away at 80 appeared first on DawgNation.