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College Football
Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Tennessee
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Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Tennessee

Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Tennessee
Photo Credit: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
September 30, 2017 Knoxville: Georgia tailback Nick Chubb picks up yards against Tennessee during the first half in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, September 30, 2017, in Knoxville. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Sam’s 7: 7 takes on UGA vs Tennessee

Redemption comes in many ways. In sports, it often comes from avenging a previous loss (or losses) to a team, particularly a rival. In some sports, like baseball or basketball, it’s easier because you play teams more frequently. In college football, it’s different because you (normally) only play a team once in a season. Fans have to wait around all year for a chance to get those bragging rights back. Well, for Georgia fans, the wait was well worth it as the Dawgs went into Neyland and put a historic beat down on Tennessee. Here’s what I saw from the game:

1. Hail Kirby: Any thoughts of the Tennessee Hail Mary from last season were quickly put to bed on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville. Over the years, this game has been a bizarre one with a lot of twists and turns, but that was not the case this time. It was a thorough, government mule beating. Coach Smart is still very early in his tenure, but 2017 so far has gone a long way in endearing him to a fan base that was split after Georgia parted ways with Coach Richt. The best way to move on and get a united fan base is to win, and that’s what Kirby is doing right now. I still remember that feeling leaving Sanford Stadium last year with my stomach in my throat, unwilling to believe what I had just seen. Well, I’m sure Tennessee fans had a similar feeling, albeit while leaving much earlier in the game. Tennessee likes to use that trashcan when they force turnovers. Well, it feels like a fitting representation of that program right now, but more on that later. 

2. A sequel better than the original: Nick Chubb’s 2nd career game at Neyland Stadium went much, much better than his first. A lot of the buzz going into this game was about Chubb returning after the brutal knee injury he suffered in Knoxville two years ago. If you know anything about Nick Chubb, he’s all business when it comes to the football field, and he took care of said business Saturday. He ran for 109 yards on 16 carries and ended up getting SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. The entire UGA running game was dominant, going for 294 yards in the game, but Chubb was the biggest difference maker. He’s such a hard worker and has battled adversity throughout his UGA career, so it’s just awesome to see it pay off for him in a big way against the Vols. 

3. Aerial & Ground Coverage by Jake from State Fromm: Who says Jake Fromm isn’t a dual-threat quarterback? While his numbers passing weren’t anything to write home about (7 of 15 for 84 yards with a really nice touchdown throw to Javon Wims & an interception), he made two great plays with his feet for touchdowns. He’s finding ways to get the job done. Look, he’s not Deshaun Watson with his legs, but he’s much more mobile than Jacob Eason. Those rushing touchdowns probably don’t happen with Eason in the game. The QB controversy will continue now that Eason is close to being 100%, but I don’t think Fromm did anything in this game to lose the job. Coach Smart says it will be a week-to-week competition based on what they see in practice (and obviously in the games), but I just have a feeling that it’s Fromm’s job to lose. The next two games are against Vanderbilt and Missouri, so barring something really bad happening, I see Fromm as UGA’s starter at the Cocktail Party. 

4. #Savages: What can be said about this defense that hasn’t already been said? Georgia’s defense has been suffocating all season long, and that didn’t change at Neyland. Roquan Smith continues to be one of the best (if not the best) linebackers in the country. He had 11 total tackles in this game to lead the Dawgs. Georgia also had three sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions (including Tennessee’s first offensive play). The Vols only had 142 total yards of offense in the entire game. This game was also the perfect example of the offense complimenting the defense. Georgia played ball control and held the ball for 10 more minutes than Tennessee. That’s extra time for the defense to rest, and a well-rested Georgia defense is a scary proposition for any team in the country. 

5. Kirby’s Culture Club: One thing you constantly hear when listening to Kirby Smart is him talking about changing the culture at Georgia. Towards the end of Coach Richt’s time in Athens, the team seemed to be lacking discipline and attention wasn’t being paid to fundamentals. Those things seem to have been fixed pretty quickly under Smart. A big part of that culture change is confidence or swagger. I think this Georgia team (particularly on defense) is playing with that swagger right now. They knew they were better than Mississippi State and Tennessee, and they went out and played like it. Coach Smart was at Alabama for a long time, and he seems to be bringing that feel to Athens. Georgia is playing like they know they’re going to win. This team doesn’t doubt itself. I know Tennessee isn’t a great team, but in the past, Georgia has lost these types of games. This team plays first quarter to fourth quarter with the same intensity. There’s just a better feel around this team than in the past, and we can thank Kirby Smart for that. 

6. Champion of the Hot Seat Life: The seat Butch Jones sits on in Knoxville is approaching surface of the sun level hot. Leading up to this game, Jones went on a rant about how the media creates drama and that they’ve done great things at Tennessee while he’s been there. That kind of paranoia usually comes about when you’re feeling the pressure. After this game, Jones said that it’s “gut check time”. How is it “gut check time” after a game against one of your biggest rivals? Shouldn’t it have been “gut check time” before this game? What about after losing to Florida on a Hail Mary? If I were a Tennessee fan (I dry heaved writing that), I’d be 100% done with this guy. He said last season wasn’t a disappointment (it definitely was), he declared Tennessee the “Champions of Life”, and he constantly seems to patronize his fan base. Tennessee still has to play Alabama to, and that could get very, very ugly. I predicted before the season that Tennessee would lose to Tech, Florida, and Georgia in September and that Jones would not make it to October. Well, that was very close to coming true. 

7. Throwing caution to the wind: Okay, I’m done. I’m done being a cautious Georgia fan. I’m going to borrow some of that confidence and swagger that Coach Smart has brought to this team and get really cocky. Does pride cometh before a fall? Sure, but I don’t care. This team is so fun to watch and the defense might be the best in the country. They’re certainly in the discussion for that distinction. The next two games are at Vandy and a night game against Missouri at Sanford Stadium. The way Georgia is handling their business right now, I fully expect the Dawgs to handle those games pretty easily. This brings us to Florida. This Florida team has struggled on offense, and that plays right into Georgia’s hand with their defense. I expect the Dawgs to win in Jacksonville. I also expect Georgia to beat Kentucky and South Carolina. The only games that worry me honestly are Auburn and Tech, but we can get to those later. I’m feeling too good to worry right now. Thanks for the swagger Kirby. 

 

(Disclaimer: I fully expect people to throw this in my face if I’m proven incorrect, but again, I don’t care right now. I’m feeling savage.)

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Georgia Sports News

  • ATHENS — New Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean has finally pulled the trigger on naming a second assistant basketball coach. Joe Scott, most recently an assistant coach at Holy Cross, sports 16 seasons of head coaching experience at three Division I schools. He joins Chad Dollar on the Bulldogs’ staff. “I’m excited to welcome Joe, Leah, Ben and Jack to our Georgia Basketball family and the entire UGA community,” Crean said in a statement released by the school. “Joe is known nationally as someone who excels at coaching, teaching and competing. He has tremendous respect of his peers who have gone against him and those who have worked along side him. He will bring many different elements to our program, but overall and he will help our young men get better every day.” Said Scott, also in a statement: “My family and I are extremely excited to be joining the Georgia family. The University of Georgia is a special place. This is a tremendous opportunity to help Coach Crean implement his vision and make Georgia Basketball special. I cannot wait to get started coaching our players to develop and get better every day.” Scott was tabbed one of the nation’s top-20 “Xs & Os” coaches in a survey of his peers by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman in 2013. He was head coach at Air Force for four seasons, Princeton for three campaigns and Denver for nine seasons. He also has served as an assistant coach at Monmouth, Princeton and Holy Cross. All told, Scott sports 27 years of collegiate coaching experience. Before breaking into the head coaching ranks, Scott was an assistant coach at Monmouth during the 1991-92 season and at Princeton from 1992-2000. While at Princeton, Scott helped the Tigers to five consecutive postseason appearances, with trips to the 1996, 1997 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments and the 1999 and 2000 NITs. The Tigers won three Ivy League titles from 1996-98, including perfect 14-0 records in the final two seasons. Princeton upset defending national champion UCLA in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and ranked as high as No. 7 nationally in 1998 en route to earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest ever for an Ivy League team. The post Georgia’s Tom Crean finally settles on a second assistant coach appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia basketball and Tom Crean have hired a second assisstant coach, this time in former Princeton head coach Joe Scott. The school released a statement on the hiring, with a statement from Crean. “I’m excited to welcome Joe, Leah, Ben and Jack to our Georgia Basketball family and the entire UGA community,” Crean said. “Joe is known nationally as someone who excels at coaching, teaching and competing. He has tremendous respect of his peers who have gone against him and those who have worked along side him. He will bring many different elements to our program, but overall and he will help our young men get better every day.” In addition to serving as the head coach at Air Force, Scott also has head coaching experience at Princeton and Denver. As an assistant Scott has worked at Monmouth, Princeton and Holy Cross, where he spent the past two seasons. Scott is a Princeton alum. “My family and I are extremely excited to be joining the Georgia family,” Scott said. “The University of Georgia is a special place. This is a tremendous opportunity to help Coach Crean implement his vision and make Georgia Basketball special. I cannot wait to get started coaching our players to develop and get better every day.” Scott will join assistant Chad Dollar in helping Crean. Dollar’s hire was announced earlier in April. Crean replaced Mark Fox, who had been the coach at Georgia since the 2008-09 season. The post Georgia basketball announces hiring of assistant coach Joe Scott appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia held their final actual practice of the spring at the Woodruff Practice Complex on Thursday. Under clear skies and relatively cool temperatures, the Bulldogs were working out in shorts and helmets and were scheduled to for about two hours. The next time they get together and play as a team will be during G-Day Saturday at Sanford Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB). Actually, it will as two teams. UGA on Thursday released its split rosters for the Red and Black squads for Saturday’s intrasquad game. This year, Georgia’s No. 1 offense, led by quarterback Jake Fromm, will be the Red team. The Black Squad will be led by the Bulldogs’ No. 1 defensive unit — and freshman quarterback Justin Fields, of course. Fromm’s Red squad will be protected by the first-string offensive line — which included both Solomon Kindley and Kendall Baker to play left guard. It will also feature juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien at tailback and Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman at wideout and Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner at tight end. Fields’ No. 2 offensive unit will have walkons Prather Hudson and Ian Donald-McIntyre in the backfield and will feature a receiving corps of Ahkil Crumpton, J.J. Holloman, Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers and Tyler Simmons. Of course, the Black team will be hanging its hat on a defensive team led by Tyler Clark, DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, Jonathan Ledbetter, Julian Rochester and Malik Herring and inside linebackers Juwan Taylor, Tae Crowder and Nate McBride. D’Andre Walker, Robert Beal and Walter Grant will man the outside linebacker positions. The secondary for the Black squad has Deandre Baker and Tyrique McGhee at the corners, William Poole at star and J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte III at the safeties. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs appeared to be going through normal drill work and play-polish in the early portions of practice on Thursday. Following are a few observations: Senior Terry Godwin was going through regular drill work with the receivers but appeared to be a bit gimpy in doing so. He had a reinforced brace on one knee and a regular sleeve on the other. Cornerback Mark Webb was not practicing after suffering a knee injury of undisclosed severity on Tuesday. Indications are it’s not a “major” injury. D’Andre Swift was going through bag drills with the running backs and did not exhibit noticeable limitations. He is dealing with a groin injury, according to coach Kirby Smart. Defensive tackle Michael Barnett (knee) was not at practice again, assuring that he’ll miss G-Day. Justin Young, who missed practices last week due to a minor knee sprain, has been able to practice and might be able to play. One area lacking depth that has not been much discussed is deep snapper for special teams. The Bulldogs technically have just one on the roster in redshirt freshman Oren Morgan of Toombs County. But senior fullback Nick Moore also snaps to the kickers. Former tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were watching Thursday’s practice from the sideline and having a good time commenting on what they say. Asked which tailback they expected to be the leading rusher for the G-Day Game on Saturday, they simultaneously said “Prather Hudson.” Hudson is a redshirt sophomore walkon from Columbus. Recently-matriculated receiver Javon Wims was also at practice watching his position group. All of them plan to attend on Saturday, with Chubb conducting an autograph-signing at the bookstore.   The post Practice report: Jake Fromm to lead Red against Justin Field’s Black squad on G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Don’t be surprised if you see players being shuffled around a lot and playing in somewhat unfamiliar positions Saturday, especially on defense. Spring practice is a highly experimental time as it is, but injuries have forced Georgia’s hand in some key areas on the football field. As a result, you’re likely to see some defensive ends playing tackle, some tackles playing nose guard and some safeties playing cornerback when the Bulldogs conduct their annual G-Day spring intrasquad game at Sanford Stadium (4 p.m. Saturday, ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB). Georgia has been hit with injuries along the defensive line and in the secondary this spring. Defensive end Justin Young and tackle Michael Barnett have been out for most of the spring with what coach Kirby Smart calls “minor” knee injuries. This Tuesday, cornerback Mark Webb suffered what’s characterized as a non-serious knee injury, but he won’t be available for game simulation on Saturday. He’ll be joined on the sideline by senior safety Jarvis Wilson, who has a sprained foot. As a result, Georgia will have to do some mixing and matching in order to keep a competitive 22 players on the field at all times. The Bulldogs have 111 players on their spring roster, but that includes six kicking specialists or holders and 36 walk-ons, including three quarterbacks not named Stetson Bennett. The point is, not all of those players are going to play and many won’t get significant amounts of time. Junior David Marshall, who played in 14 games at defensive end last season and started three, has been playing inside at tackle. Likewise, defensive tackle Julian Rochester has been cross-training at nose guard. Just a week ago, the Bulldogs moved redshirt sophomore Chris Barnes from offensive guard to the defensive line to shore up depth. “We’re just a little short,” said Marshall, who logged 52 tackles and 3 1/2 quarterback sacks last season. “But it’s next man up around here, so we’ve got to tough it out.” Smart hasn’t been thrilled with the end result. At different times this spring he has complained about the defense not being “stout enough” against the run. “We’ve certainly got to get better at defending [the run], especially against big, physical people like our offense,” Smart said. “But the way to do that is you’ve got to have big people to combat big people with, and we don’t have a lot of big guys. So, we’re looking to recruit. We’re trying to find 290-[pound]-plus guys that can help us become more stout. For us to play the way we want to play we’ve got to have physical guys in there.” In terms of interior defensive linemen that are on scholarship, Georgia has just eight. Freshman signees Jordan Davis and Tramel Walthour won’t join the team until this summer. Smart said he’d like to sign four in the Class of 2019. Georgia also is missing Deangelo Gibbs and is down to 10 scholarship players in the secondary for the scrimmage. By specialty, it breaks down to five corners and five safeties. As always, some from both groups work at the “star” or nickel back positions. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker also could pluck a linebacker to play in the back third. That has required proven veterans such as junior safety J.R. Reed and senior cornerback Deandre Baker to do a lot of on-field coaching when they’re facing off against Georgia’s high-octane offense. “It’s always good to see these young guys grow,” said Reed, who started all 15 games at strong safety last season. “My goal is to really mold these young guys and really get them up to almost be where I’m at and to get these guys that don’t know a lot to learn more.” While Georgia is expected to receive an infusion of talent when elite signees Tyson Campbell, Nadab Joseph and Otis Reese enroll in June, G-Day will be especially important for their predecessors. Sophomores Ameer Speed, Eric Stokes and William Poole and redshirt freshmen Tray Bishop and Latavious Brini have much to prove. “It’s their time,” Smart said, “and they have to step up or they’ll be replaced by the people coming in.” Low numbers overall are not unusual for spring games. After all, the majority of the incoming recruiting class hasn’t joined the team yet. In Georgia’s case, it has 17 more players on the way. In the meantime, the players that are present and accounted for aim to give the expected crowd of 78,000 a show of some sort. “We like to see all the fans come out and support us,” Marshall said. “We’re going to come out and show great effort hopefully we’ll see how the season will go this year.” The post Injuries have left Bulldogs a little light on defense heading into G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.