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Sam’s 7: 7 Takes from UGA vs App State

Oh happy day, college football is BACK!! There is no better time of the year than the beginning of September when the smell of tailgates is in the air and optimism is generally at its highest point for your fan base (unless you’re Baylor). Unfortunately, that optimism turns into a feeling of despair very quickly for some. If you’re Florida State or Texas A&M, you’re looking at the rest of the season without your starting quarterback. Even Georgia is in a similar situation, although Jacob Eason is expected to return this season (more on that in a second). Despite that, the Dawgs started the season off with an impressive win over Appalachian State, and here’s what I saw from the game: 

1. It’s Saturday in Athens: First of all, it’s hard to beat a game day in Athens, especially when it’s opening day. It started for me when I walked downstairs in my apartment to see like 6 bodies sprawled out on various couches, air mattresses, and floor space (shout out to my little brothers for that one). The atmosphere around the Classic City was electric on Saturday, and that optimism I referred to earlier could definitely be sensed. Year two is often a big one for new coaches, and there is a lot expected out of both Kirby Smart and the Georgia Football team this season. With Notre Dame coming up next weekend, this game could have been looked over, but it wasn’t. The Dawgs passed their first test of 2017 with flying colors. 

2. Down goes the Skinny QB: Georgia struggled on their first few drives on offense as Jacob Eason was trying to find a rhythm. Unfortunately, he would never find it as he was trying to keep a play alive and got hit late out of bounds in the middle of the first quarter. If I’m being completely honest, Eason should have thrown the ball away well before he got to the sideline, but it’s hard to fault a kid for trying to make a play. It is unknown exactly how long Eason will be out, but (at least on this day) the Dawgs were in good hands with their backup. 

3. Like a good neighbor, Jake Fromm was there: There’s an old saying that the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on campus. Well, that might be truer than ever here in Athens, GA. After Jacob Eason went down, Jake Fromm came in and looked every bit the part as Georgia’s quarterback. His poise, confidence, and patience were all seen and, as my cohost on the Morning Show said on Tuesday morning, he has that “it” factor. One big difference between Fromm and Eason that I noticed was that while Eason at times stares down his primary target, Fromm is constantly moving through his progressions. On a 4th and 4, Fromm could have tried to force one into a well-covered Mecole Hardman at the first down marker, but instead, he let the play develop and found Javon Wims on a crossing route for a bigger gain. Some have said that his touchdown pass to Wims was a bad throw and would have been picked off by a better defense. I’ll say this, it certainly was risky, but I love the way Fromm stood in the pocket, took a huge hit, and threw a ball up for his receiver to go get. His faith, as a freshman, in his teammates is high, and that rubs off on a locker room. He’s got a huge test this weekend, but from what I’ve seen so far, composure will not be an issue. Now, can we let him play in khaki britches? 

4. Domination on D: Georgia’s defense has gotten a lot of hype going into this season, and for good reason. They got Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, and Dominick Sanders to all return. The front seven is as good as any in the country, and that was very apparent against Appalachian State. The Mountaineers couldn’t get anything going with any consistency, and even when they had a big play, the Dawgs would immediately make up for it with stops. Roquan Smith and Trenton Thompson each had 6 tackles, and both looked like they hadn’t missed a beat. Another bright spot was J.R. Reed, who had 5 tackles of his own, including a sack and forced fumble. They’ll definitely face a tougher test in South Bend on Saturday, but for week one, the Dawgs defense was just as good as advertised. 

5. No Senioritis for these Backs: Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returned to UGA on a mission. They both wanted to end their careers in Sanford Stadium on much better notes than a loss to Tech, and both worked very hard in the offseason. That was very apparent in this game as the two combined for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns. This offense is going to go as far as these two will take it, especially while Jake Fromm adjusts to his roll as the starting quarterback. Against App State, both backs did what they do best. Chubb ran over people on his way to two touchdowns and Sony was very good hitting the hole and making Mountaineer defenders miss. I feel like a broken record here, but they both have a harder road ahead of them against Notre Dame, but if the offensive line can give them some holes, I expect huge games from both against the Fighting Irish. 

6. Kicking game bringin’ the boom: Georgia definitely had trouble last season on special teams. Weather it was consistency in the kicking game (both kicking off and kicking field goals) or the punting game; this was an issue that Kirby Smart definitely wanted to correct. We started to see more consistency in the field goal department when Rodrigo Blankenship was promoted, but improvements still needed to be made in other areas. In terms of kickoffs, Rodrigo definitely improved in the offseason, as he was booming the ball for touchbacks left and right. He also hit on his only field goal attempt and all of his PATs. The other area that needed improvement was the punting. Enter Cameron Nizialek. He had five punts in this game, averaged 43.8 yards per punt, and hit a long of 53 yards. He was one of the best parts of the game for the Dawgs, and if he can continue to hit punts like this with consistency, punting should no longer be an area of concern for Georgia.

7. Wake up the echoes: I haven’t been this excited about a Georgia road game maybe ever. So much worked out for those of us making the trip up to South Bend. Personally, I’ll be going to Wrigley Field on Friday to see Coach Dooley throw out the first pitch, Notre Dame on Saturday, and back to Chicago for the Falcons/Bears game at Soldier Field on Sunday. It may end up being the best sports weekend of my life, and I know I’m not alone in this pilgrimage. As for the game on the field, Notre Dame had a very impressive performance against Temple this past Saturday, with three players rushing for over 100 yards. Georgia’s defense will have to play even better than they did against App State, and the running backs will have to perform well to take pressure off of Jake Fromm. That being said, Fromm looked cool as a cucumber last weekend, and hopefully he can bring that same attitude with him to South Bend. Touchdown Jesus awaits Dawg fans. Let’s hope #TeamKhakis can bring back a win!

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  • Thrive on the road and play lackluster at home was becoming a trend for the Braves, but they bucked it in spectacular fashion Sunday afternoon with a ninth-inning rally for the ages. Dansby Swanson’s two-out, two-run single capped a six-run final inning and gave the Braves a thrilling 10-9 walk-off win over the Marlins to clinch a series and finish the homestand with a flourish at SunTrust Park. “There’s not many words I can say,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who had the first of the Braves’ four two-out hits in the ninth. “That was probably one of the most exciting games I’ve every played in or been a part of. What these guys have been doing, just grinding at-bats no matter what the score is, that was pretty incredible to watch.” Swanson capped it with his pulled line-drive hit to left field on a 98-mph fastball from Tayron Guerrero with the count 2-2, after Swanson had fouled off two other 98-mph heaters. The hit would’ve been a double but Swanson was mobbed by teammates after crossing first base. “I do enjoy those situations,” Swanson said after his second major league walk-off hit and first this season. “If the game’s going to be on the line I’d like to be up there, and I feel like everybody else in the dugout feels the same way with themselves. It just shows a lot about who we are and what we take pride in.” It was the biggest ninth-inning comeback win for the Braves since Brooks Conrad’s walk-off grand slam capped a seven-run ninth inning for a 10-9 win against the Reds exactly eight years earlier, on May 20, 2010 at Turner Field. This time, the Braves rallied without so much as an extra-base hit in the ninth, instead getting it done with three walks -- including Ryan Flaherty’s with one out to start the rally -- plus a sacrifice fly, five singles and a Marlins error. “Yeah, great at-bats,” said Braves veteran Nick Markakis, who followed Ronald Acuna’s sacrifice fly and Freeman’s two-out single with an RBI hit that drove in the third run of the inning. “Don’t try to do too much, just put the ball in play and let everything play out itself.” Since Brian Snitker took over as manager of the Braves on May 16, 2016 -- interim manager initially -- his team leads the majors with 43 wins in its final at-bat, including six this season. “We have fun as a team, and we’re good,” Markakis said. “We’re good and we have fun and that leads to good things. Today was a team win, not just one person doing it but everybody, and it was awesome.” Julio Teheran gave up a slam and Marlins led 6-0 after five innings, but the National League East’s last-place team couldn’t hold on against the division-leading Braves. The Braves finished a 3-2 homestand and head to Philadelphia to start a three-game series Tuesday against the second-place Phillies, who are 1 ½ games back. The Braves scored nine runs in the final four innings, and their ninth-inning rally continued after the Markakis hit with a Tyler Flowers walk and an RBI single from pinch hitter Kurt Suzuki. Johan Camargo drew a two-out walk against Guerrero to load the bases and brought up Swanson, who was nearly hit by a pitch before his drive to left field brought in the tying and winning runs. Teheran didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when he fell apart in a six-run frame that saw the Marlins send 11 batters to the plate and rookie Lewis Brinson hit the first grand slam of his career. The Braves had only one hit in the first five innings against Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and trailed 6-0 before getting two runs in the sixth on four consecutive one-out singles including run-scoring hits from Freeman and Markakis to chase Chen from the game. Teheran was 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA in his past seven starts before Sunday, when he gave up seven hits, six runs, three walks and hit two batters in five innings. He hit Miguel Rojas twice with pitches before Rojas homered twice in the late innings against relievers Lucas Sims and A.J. Minter. Teheran’s problems in the fourth inning began when Justin Bour hit a leadoff triple that caromed off the center-field wall and left Ender Inciarte in a heap on the warning track, after Inciarte slammed into the padded wall at full speed trying to make a leaping catch.  Inciarte stayed in the game until the seventh inning, when Acuna moved over to center field and Charlie Culberson took over in left field as part of a double-switch. Manager Brian Snitker said Inciarte was just sore and should be ready to play Monday. While the next batter was up, Bour scored on a Teheran balk. Starlin Castro doubled, Brian Anderson singled, Derek Dietrich walked and Rojas hit an RBI single before Brinson delivered the big blow, a mammoth, 450-foot homer near the left-field line that cleared the bases for a 6-0 lead. In 18 career starts at SunTrust Park, Teheran is 3-10 with a 6.11 ERA and 18 homers allowed in 98-2/3 innings.  After the Braves cut the lead to 6-2 in the sixth inning, the Marlins answered with a two-run homer by Rojas off Sims, who was recalled from Triple-A earlier Sunday after the Braves released veteran third baseman Jose Bautista. Acuna added a two-run single for the Braves in the seventh inning and sacrifice fly in the ninth, giving him five RBIs in five games on the homestand after he’d driven in one run in his previous nine games.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet this time calls for insight into why Trey Sanders is considering the Bulldogs. BRADENTON, Fla. — There is a reason why Trey Sanders will consider Georgia for the long haul during his recruitment. Sanders can provide the proper view on that history lesson. “They were my second offer and I got that one my freshman year,” said the nation’s No. 1 RB prospect for 2019. “Of course, they have been coming hard now. Just like every school. It is pretty much like every day. I’m on the phone with those coaches a lot. [UGA assistant] coach [Dell] McGee and I have built a great relationship since my freshman year.” Trey Sanders rates as the nation’s No. 1 RB prospect for the Class of 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation.com) How can UGA make itself an even more attractive destination? “Just keep doing what they are doing right now,” Sanders said. “Of course, they’ve got great running backs now and have also got great running backs coming in. It would be a great opportunity to go there and watch James Cook and Zamir White and D’Andre Swift and watch them do it. They can teach me stuff before they all go on to the NFL.” Florida State was his first offer. Sanders, a onetime Alabama commitment, said he’s never wavered in his interest in Georgia. “It was always constant,” Sanders said. “But I guess that has been for every school, too. But Georgia has always known about my talent. There have never been any ‘ifs’ or ‘maybes’ with me and Georgia. They’ve been on me hard since that offer my freshman year.” Sanders used an interesting parallel with DawgNation last month after G-Day. He compared his timeline to a football game and felt his process was in the third quarter. It is still there now. “I am just taking my time and slowing it down to take my time,” Sanders said. “This is one of the biggest decisions of my life. I just want to find the right school for me for the next four years.” It was pretty hard to not latch onto that “for me” portion of that last statement. Will Trey Sanders follow his older brother to Florida? Umstead Sanders, his older brother, rated as a 3-star OLB prospect in the Class of 2018. He has decided to accept a preferred walk-on opportunity with Florida. There are many that speculate that was a shrewd move on coachDan Mullen’s part. If Umstead comes out and shows his talent in Gainesville, he might earn a scholarship. Trey Sanders expressed that there were just two schools that stand out in terms of the O-line he’d get to run behind in college. Georgia was one of those. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) That, at the very least, might make Florida an even more attractive destination to the IMG standout back. Trey Sanders does rank as a 5-star recruit and as the nation’s No. 7 overall prospect on the 247Sports composite rankings for 2019. How does Trey look at that situation? “First of all, for me, I know my brother is going to ball out at Florida,” he said. “He is just that type of player. He feeds off negativity and things like that. I wasn’t the reason why they picked him up. They watched his film and they loved him right away. “He talks to me every day about going to Florida, too. But I feel like at the end of the day we just have to do what is best for us. If Florida is the best thing for me, then it is the best thing. But until then, I still have to make that decision and figure that out. I’m going to just enjoy my recruitment.” Sanders said that his mother wants him to go to Florida. “But at the end of the day, I am going to have to do what is the best thing for me,” Sanders said. “That’s my mom. She is always going to love me no matter what. I feel like she just wants what is the best for both of her sons. Whatever that may be. … My dad wants the same thing for us. My parents just really tell us that they both want us to be successful in life.” Sanders will visit FSU next weekend. That is expected to be a family trip. He also dropped some insight about an IMG player he expects to play with in college. That would be 2020 safety Lejond Cavazos. Cavazos continues to maintain that UGA is his leader. “That is my little brother,” Sanders said. “I am going to put you in on a little insight. Wherever I go, he is going to come with me. I am going to make sure of that. I am going to recruit him the hardest next year. You can make sure of that.” A couple more nuggets about Trey Sanders What’s he like off the field? “I am probably the goofiest person that you have ever met,” Sanders said. “Especially out of all of us players. I am the goofiest kid that IMG has got here. Honestly.” Trey Sanders plans to decide at some point during his senior season. He’s not exactly sure when. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Cavazos overheard that quip. He nodded his head to that claim. What does he still need to see about Georgia? Sanders wasn’t able to supply much on that one. “I’m ready to get up there for another game,” he said. He’s not sure about his official visits yet, but he does plan to take all of those before he commits. Sanders will sign on the first day of the early period on Dec. 20. “I am going to likely decide between mid-season and [early] signing day,” he said. But in the back and forth of an interview, it sounded like he just kept it all pretty real. “I don’t know where I want to go,” Sanders said. “At this point, I should be used to it by now, but this is probably the craziest part of my recruitment that I have had. But I am just blessed to have all these opportunities that I do. I’m not going to wish I didn’t have this blessing and I am surely not going to take any of these opportunities for granted.” Who’s got the best line he could play behind? “I’m pretty sure everybody knows this one for me,” Sanders said. “That would be either Georgia or Alabama. No question about that one. Alabama has got a young line that is going to be great. Georgia has a young line that is coming in that is going to be crazy.” While everyone has wild RB dreams in their head Noah Cain, the other elite RB at IMG Academy, continues to seriously consider Georgia. Now, I’m not saying that it sounds like any of that “this is the place” as of yet with Cain. But it does sound like the Bulldogs continue to carry their weight in the chance to land an official visit from Cain. Cain even said that there were just a few schools that could land both him and Sanders. Sanders acknowledged that it was something that they do talk about. “It is possible,” Sanders said on that front. “He and I talk about it all the time. You have to be ready to go to the NFL. You can’t already have been beat up [as a showcase back taking the brunt of the carries] when you are ready to go there. I feel like Noah and I correlate pretty well, man. Wherever I am weak at, he’s strong at. Where he’s weak, I’m strong there in my own right. I feel like we feed off each every time we come on and off the field.” That’s the aspect of the both of them going to the same school. They don’t dismiss the thought of continuing to carry the load they currently do for the IMG backfield. Cain said there were only three schools that have a legit shot to land the duo. That’s because of the mutual interest that the two share in the same programs. Those schools were: Georgia Miami Texas Sanders agreed. He also added FSU as another darkhorse. “All of those schools know how to run a two-back system,” he said. A few other tidbits about the other elite RB on UGA radar Sam Spiegelman of SEC Country caught up with 4-star RB John Emery Jr. recently. Emery was at UGA over the weekend for the scavenger hunt and other activities. Emery shows up as the nation’s No. 5 RB and the No. 68 overall prospect on the 247Sports composite rankings. He had McGee, Georgia running backs coach, and UGA area recruiter Cortez Hankton at his spring game last Thursday. John Emery Jr. ranks as the nation’s No. 5 RB for the Class of 2019. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country) LSU could very well be the spot for him. Eventually. But the Bulldogs appear to be making a race of it. He will sign early. His mother also made the trip with him to UGA this weekend. When asked about how close the schools at the top are at this moment, Emery offered up this response to Spiegelman: “It’s still close. It does [make things hard]. LSU is home and the connections I could have there … it’s going to be a hard decision for me.” There’s the feeling around those close to Emery that he could be ready to make his decision in maybe another month or so. It could be that soon. “It’s still close,” Emery told SEC Country. “I’m still waiting, trying to take some more visits and still scheduling things out, but I plan on committing in June. It’s nothing specific, just sometime in that month.” The information that I’ve been hearing is that Emery was leaning away from UGA at one point. He expressed some concerns about wanting to be in the two-deep immediately. But something has happened here to draw the charge led by Hankton and McGee back into it. Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will et you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap. The post Nation’s No. 1 RB Trey Sanders still has lot to say about Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - Bradley-Wright Phillips scored two second-half goals in the New York Red Bulls' 3-1 victory over Atlanta United on Sunday night. New York (7-3-0) has won four in a row, outscoring its opponents 12-4 during that span. Wright-Phillips headed home Michael Murillo's cross to the center of the box to give the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute. About four minutes later, Wright-Phillips capped the scoring with a header, off an entry from Alejandro Romero Gamarra, that banged in off the crossbar. Atlanta's Ezequiel Barco put away a deflected through pass from Miguel Almiron to open the scoring in the 26th minute. Daniel Royer converted from the spot in the 42nd to make it 1-1 after Wright-Phillips drew a foul in the area conceded by Miles Robinson. Atlanta (8-3-1) lost for just the second time since opening day. Wright-Phillips has eight goals this season, tied with Almiron and Columbus' Gyasi Zardes for the most in MLS. Atlanta's Greg Garza was shown a straight red card in the 71st minute for a serious foul.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - Dansby Swanson struck out to begin the ninth inning, so he wanted to do something special with the game on the line after the Atlanta Braves batted around. 'Yeah, I mean who doesn't?' Swanson said. 'I think situations like that are what this game is meant to be played for. But obviously we wouldn't have been in that situation if the whole team didn't pick each other up that whole inning.' Swanson's two-run single capped a six-run ninth, and the NL-leading Braves rallied to stun the Miami Marlins 10-9 on Sunday. Ronald Acuna Jr. drove in two runs in the seventh and another in the ninth as the Braves moved 11 games over .500 for the first time since July 5, 2014. Atlanta has won nine of its last 12 and keeps performing well in the clutch with an NL-best 88 runs scored this season in the seventh inning or later. 'I almost expect 'em to do it,' said manager Brian Snitker, whose club has 43 victories in its last at-bat, most in the majors, since he took charge on May 16, 2016. 'I mean, down six in the bottom of the fifth, I felt good. I really did. I thought that these guys have a lot of time to go to work here and then you get a little bit farther away, but they never stop. It's a great win for these guys.' Miami led 6-0 after four innings and 9-4 to begin the ninth. Lewis Brinson's first career grand slam highlighted a six-run fourth, and Miguel Rojas homered twice and drove in four runs for the last-place Marlins, who have lost three of four. Atlanta started the ninth with three runs off closer Brad Ziegler on Acuna's single, a throwing error by first baseman Justin Bour and a single by Nick Markakis. Taylor Guerrero (0-2) came on with two outs and allowed four straight batters to reach base. He walked Tyler Flowers, gave up an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki and walked Johan Camargo, who became Atlanta's everyday third baseman earlier Sunday when the Braves released Jose Bautista. Facing Swanson, Guerrero threw seven straight fastballs - all in the upper 90s - before the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2015 laced a single down the left-field line to touch off a celebration in the outfield. 'I just came to do my job and while today wasn't a good day to do that, I'll take the experience to take the next opportunity and do my job,' Guerrero said. A.J. Minter (3-0) allowed Rojas' homer in the ninth but benefited from the rally. Julio Teheran dug the Braves a hole in the fourth by balking in a run and hitting two batters before allowing Lewis Brinson's first career grand slam. Teheran allowed six runs in the frame, matched the second-worst inning of his eight-year career, and he has a 6.29 ERA over his last six starts against Miami. Teheran allowed seven hits and three walks while striking out four in five innings. He had won four straight decisions and had a 2.20 ERA over his previous seven starts. Wei-Yin Chen allowed just two baserunners before four straight singles made it 6-2 in the sixth. The left-hander gave up five hits, one walk and struck out five in 5 1/3 innings and has a 3.00 ERA in his last six starts against Atlanta. Acuna's two-run single off Drew Steckenrider cut the Marlins' lead to 8-4. Marlins manager Don Mattingly knew his team wasn't entirely safe entering the bottom of the ninth. 'They're at the back end (of the lineup), but you know if they roll it around, you know what happens,' Mattingly said. 'You could be in some trouble.' TRAINER'S ROOM Braves: CF Ender Inciarte stayed in the game for a while after slamming into the wall in the fourth. As Bour's triple sailed over his glove, hit the wall and bounced away, Inciarte's right shoulder hit the wall and he dropped onto his back, staying down for a couple of minutes while play was stopped. Snitker and a trainer visited Inciarte as he was helped to his feet, but the manager replaced Inciarte in the field before the start of the seventh. 'The shock wore off, and he got sore,' Snitker said. 'I wanted to get him out of there. I think he'll be fine tomorrow.' BYE, BAUTISTA General manager Alex Anthopolous said the decision to release Bautista was made before Saturday's 8-1 win. The 37-year-old Bautista, signed to a minor-league deal in April, joined the Braves on May 4 and hit .143 with two homers and five RBIs in 12 games. Camargo went 0 for 3 with two walks on Sunday. BEEN A WHILE Bour hit the Marlins' last grand slam on June 19, 2017 against Washington. Teheran last gave up six in an inning on May 26, 2015, at the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed a career-worst seven runs in an inning at Philadelphia last July 28. TAKING ADVANTAGE Derek Dietrich grounded into a forceout in the seventh but advanced to third on throwing errors by first baseman Freddie Freeman and second baseman Ozzie Albies. Rojas then homered off Lucas Sims to make it 8-2. Rojas' homer in the ninth was his seventh this season and gave him his first career multi-homer game. Before this season, Rojas had four homers in 358 career games. UP NEXT Marlins: RHP Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 2.25 ERA) will make his second career start as Miami opens a three-game series at the New York Mets. He allowed one run and four baserunners in five innings against the Dodgers last week. Jason Vargas (0-3, 13.86) rejoins the Mets' rotation after three ineffective starts. Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (3-2, 2.87 ERA) will make his 10th start and 75th of his career as Atlanta opens a three-game series at Philadelphia with a 1 -game lead in the NL East over the Phillies. He is 4-2 with a 3.74 in nine career starts and one relief appearance in the series. Nick Pivetta (3-2, 3.72) starts for the Phillies. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball