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Former UGA QB John Lastinger shares memories of Georgia’s last win over Texas
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Former UGA QB John Lastinger shares memories of Georgia’s last win over Texas

Former UGA QB John Lastinger shares memories of Georgia’s last win over Texas

Former UGA QB John Lastinger shares memories of Georgia’s last win over Texas

Georgia football-John Lastinger-Texas football

Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

#DGD: Catching up with former Bulldog John Lastinger

In this week’s installment of the #DGD or “Damn Good Dawg” series, we catch up with former Georgia quarterback John Lastinger, who was the Georgia quarterback the last time the Bulldogs faced Texas in the 1984 Cotton Bowl. 

Lastinger also quarterbacked Georgia to the 1983 Sugar Bowl against Penn State. During the 1981 and ’82 seasons, Lastinger guided the Bulldogs to a combined record of 21-2-1. The Valdosta native also knows what it’s like to share a talented quarterback room, as he and former Georgia quarterback Buck Belue were teammates. 

DawgNation: Georgia is going to play Texas for the first time since 1984, a game in which you led Georgia to a win and scored the game’s only touchdown. What do you remember about the 1984 Cotton Bowl?

JL: It was a great run for us back then and we had gotten fairly comfortable going to the Sugar Bowl, having gone there in 1981 and ’82. That 1983 team, we lost to Auburn and not having a conference championship game, it was our first conference loss in four years, and it allowed them to go to the Sugar Bowl that year. But about a week after the game, coach (Vince) Dooley called the seniors in and said, ‘Here’s where things stand. We can either go to the Fiesta Bowl and play Iowa, or we can got to the Cotton Bowl and play an undefeated Texas team,’ and thus have a say in who might be the national champion. It didn’t take us long to decide to go to Dallas and play Texas. Of course we made that decision without having seen any film of Texas, but that’s how it started. We knew it would be a challenge and we knew we’d be an underdog, but in the end we caught a break, and were able to pull out a victory.

DN: You mention the 1983 national championship, which was pretty controversial given that a number of teams could’ve made a claim for it, including Georgia who went 10-1-1 that season. Back then, was there any thought to maybe Georgia having any sort of claim to a national title, much like some thought Georgia had a chance of getting into the College Football Playoff this year? 

JL: I don’t think we felt like we would’ve jumped all the way from No. 1. Auburn won the Sugar Bowl that night, and if I’m not mistaken they had to kick a field goal in the final minute to beat Michigan. Auburn needed some style points, they needed to win big and they couldn’t do it. The team that was accumulating a lot of style points was Miami, with Bernie Kosar at quarterback and Howard Schnellenberger as their coach. They could really move up and down the field. And the Nebraska team that year was phenomenal, with Turner Gill at quarterback and Mike Rozier. They had plowed through everybody, not unlike Alabama this year. That team got a bad draw and had to play in the Orange Bowl and playing Miami, which was basically a home game in Miami. But I don’t think we had a legitimate shot at it. But we were certainly glad to have a direct effect on who won by beating Texas. I don’t remember us really saying, ‘golly, we should be No. 1.’ I’m sure the Auburn people felt differently, but I think if they had won more convincingly, they would’ve moved to No. 1.

DN: In your time at Georgia, you shared the quarterback room with another highly touted quarterback in Buck Belue. He had his own success, and then you were able to come in and follow him up with some success of your own. You know what it’s like to share the roster with another good quarterback, and you see that now with Jake Fromm and Justin Fields at Georgia. What have you thought of how the two have co-existed this year, with Fromm growing a lot over the season, and Fields just trying to find consistent playing time?

JL: Well you look at both of them individually. Fromm just continues to impress me. He looks so comfortable throwing the football, and when I say that I mean he just always seems to know where he wants to go with the football. If his first read is covered, he does a nice job of progressing down to hitting the (running) back out of the backfield. I think that he seems to show great rhythm and comfort in the pocket, and that’s his strength. He’s a game manager guy, but he’s more than just not-make-a-mistake type thing. He gets things done. Justin Fields, golly, he’s a phenomenal physical talent. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. But to me, watching him sometimes this year, when he’s in the pocket where Jake may say, ‘I don’t like my first read, I’m going here, I’m going somewhere else.” With Justin, if he didn’t like his first read, he typically just kind of tucked it and tried to run. He’s going to have to continue to work on his poise in the pocket. He’s a true freshman and I don’t want to be too critical of that, but I think that’s an area he’s going to have to continue to work at. Kirby (Smart), coach (Jim) Chaney and those guys are going to continue to work with Justin. My hope is that Justin is at the University of Georgia because that’s where he wants to be. That he understands that he’s going to have to continue to work, and hopefully he will stay there. We’re in an era where that’s not always the case.

DN: This is the renewal of a series with Texas, two teams that haven’t seen each other since 1984. These are two proud programs, and they did recently schedule a home-and-home to play each other. Don’t these games against big, out-of-regions teams, seem to really help the Georgia brand?

JL: Absolutely. It’s a great matchup between two traditional programs. I think Tom Herman and that group is pushing to get to the top just like Georgia. I think Georgia is a little ahead of Texas right now in doing that, but it should still be a really good ball game between these two teams. I’m glad it’s happening this year, because when I saw that we were playing them in the home-and-home in 2028, I started counting on my hands, hoping that I can make it that long. I’m starting to get old!

DN: The broadcast team for the Georgia-Texas game was announced and Todd Blackledge is going to be doing the color commentary. You famously faced off against Blackledge in the 1983 Sugar Bowl against Penn State. Obviously that game didn’t go well for Georgia, but it’s still an important game for the program. What kind of memories do you have with Blackledge?

JL: I’m going to be there and it would be awesome to see him. I’ve run into him a couple of times when he was back in Athens with CBS. I think I was up in New York when coach Dooley was getting into inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and I ran into him. If you ever go back and watch that game, Penn State was in its all white uniforms, and Todd took the field and came out with these black high-top shoes. I remember looking across the field and thinking ‘those might be the ugliest things I have ever seen.’ So I asked him if he still had those ugly, black high-tops and he just fell out laughing. Of course I couldn’t say much else because they won the ball game. But he’s phenomenal at the job he’s done, and he’s really a great person.

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  • ATHENS – Their average age is 40. Most of them played college football at places like Arkansas Tech and Texas Southern. Three of them didn’t play college ball at all. They are the 10 full-time coaches who will be assisting Georgia head coach Kirby Smart for what’s expected to be a championship run in the 2019 football season. It’s an interesting mix of youth and experience and it features a surprising lack of actual on-field, Division I playing experience. The makeup of the Bulldogs’ staff came more into focus after roles and salaries were revealed last Friday in response to open records requests from media outlets. Smart has yet to offer comment or answer questions about his new staff. Here’s some factoids to consider as we take a closer look at the group: Not that it matters, but two of Georgia’s three coordinators did not play college football themselves. Neither offensive coordinator James Coley nor co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann played ball beyond high school. Recently hired tight ends coach Todd Hartley also didn’t play college football. He was a student assistant coach while attending UGA as an undergrad. Only running backs coach Dell McGee played major college ball. He was a wide receiver and defensive back at Auburn from 1992-95 and played briefly in the NFL. New defensive backs coach Charlton Warren played as a defensive back at the Air Force Academy. The rest of the staff were small-college football players. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning played linebacker at tiny William Jewell College, an NAIA program at the time. Heralded offensive line coach – and newly-appointed associate head coach — Sam Pittman also played NAIA ball. He was an All-American lineman at Pittsburg State in Kansas. Special teams coordinator Scott Fountain played at Samford, receivers coach Cortez Hankton played at Texas Southern and defensive line coach Tray Scott played at Arkansas Tech Georgia’s staff also is not extremely deep on experience. Pittman, 57, and Fountain, 52, have been around the longest. They’ve logged 32 and 31 years, respectively, in the college game. Many people don’t realize that Pittman was once a head coach. He spent two seasons as head coach at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, three overall. Today he is considered one of the most successful recruiters of offensive linemen in the country. When broken down into experience as actual on-field, college assistant coaches, the average length of service for members of Smart’s staff is a relatively low 11.5 years. The 28-year-old Schumann has the least, entering his fourth year as inside linebackers coach for the Bulldogs. He was a volunteer analyst as an undergraduate student at Alabama, then a graduate assistant and, finally, a director of player development and personnel for two years before following Smart to UGA. Hartley (7), Hankton (7), Lanning (6), McGee (6) and Scott (6) all have less than eight years experience as well. Most of Georgia’s coaches spent a good bit of time coaching high school ball before moving into the college ranks. Fountain and McGee were high school head coaches before breaking into college as analysts. Pittman was also a high school head coach. Coley and Lanning each were high school assistant coaches before getting their breaks as analysts, or quality control specialists. Smart lost a combined 56 years of college and pro coaching experience off his staff when coordinators Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker left to accept new jobs after last season. Tucker became head coach at Colorado while Chaney accepted a $650,000-a-year raise to make a lateral move to Tennessee. That resulted in Smart paying $375,000-a-year less for his assistant coaches. Chaney’s addition along with the hiring of Derrick Ansley as defensive coordinator and Tee Martin as wide receivers coach and some other staff moves mean that Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is now paying his staff $800,000 more than Georgia is ($6.045 million). That’s primarily due to coordinator pay. Chaney ($1.6 million), Ansley ($1 million) and Chris Rumph ($805,000) all have multiyear contracts and make $3.4 million annually between them. Georgia’s three coordinators are due $2.25 million in the next year. It’s not yet known if they signed multiyear deals, but three-year deals are standard operating procedure in the business. What’s it all mean? Not much at the moment. Smart’s doing just fine, thank you very much. He is a combined 10-3 against Georgia’s four primary conference rivals of Auburn (3-1), Florida (2-1), South Carolina (3-0) and Tennesssee (2-1). He is, of course, 0-2 vs. Alabama. The post Georgia Bulldogs’ 2019 football staff is short on experience, long on potential appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings at least four days a week. The play sheet today calls for a look at two very big recruiting “fishing holes” for 2020.  The big picture for Georgia football recruiting on DawgNation now looks like the United States. Specific stories may point to this 5-star or that hot prospect, but sometimes the zoom button does the reporter tribe no favors. Can the Bulldogs sign the No. 1 class in 2020? The 2,680-mile wide view says yes. That is the approximate width of America from tight end to tackle. Alaska and Hawaii are still split out wide. That big picture means the Bulldogs now recruit off a national footprint. Kirby Smart and his staff have now signed the No. 1 player out of 10 different states. The Bulldogs will always be knocking at the door on signing the nation’s top class with Smart. He is simply just that effective leading the recruiting in Athens. With respect to the 2020 class, the chances there will sink or swim based off how the Bulldogs do around two specific pinpoints on that map. Let’s aspire to be true sons of the south and call them fishing holes. There are already two clear “fishing holes” that will largely determine whether this class can finish No. 1 overall. This Google Maps screenshot shows off a pretty good visual of what the DC “DMC” fishing hole looks like for UGA this cycle. (Google Maps) Oddly, the first one is 590 approximate miles away from Sanford Stadium. That pinpoint would be St. John’s College High School in the Washington, D.C. area. This blue-chip recruiting perimeter will extend just 30 miles north to Damascus High School in Maryland and then another 42 miles east to Baltimore. The circuit completes with a 33-mile trip back south near the nation’s capital at DeMatha Catholic. DeMatha is only about eight miles east of St. John’s College High. The region is commonly known as the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) area. There are at least five players in that radius the Bulldogs would love to sign for 2020. How the Bulldogs recruit that area amid challenges from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State and now Maryland will be watched closely. The “DMV” fishing hole  Bryan Bresee -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting” width=”640″ height=”615″ /> 5-star strong-side DE Bryan Bresee was in Athens over the weekend. (Bryan Bresee/Instagram) Who has their reels up there for Georgia: Offensive coordinator James Coley, receivers coach Cortez Hankton, running backs coach Dell McGee, Outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning, defensive line coach Tray Scott and head coach Kirby Smart. Trophy pulls from the “DMV” 5-star SDE Bryan Bresee/Damascus HS/Damascus, Md: The 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior ranks as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. He was in Athens this weekend with the family in tow. It was no less than his fourth unofficial to UGA in the last 14 months. Bresee sat next to Kirby Smart at Stegman Coliseum for the LSU game and might just have heard his name being chanted by the crowd. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 2 )   5-star OLB Mekhail Sherman/St. Johns College HS/Washington, D.C: The nation’s No. 2 OLB is in the process of bouncing back from a season-ending knee injury in 2018. Looking good. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder can play inside or outside (See Rian Davis, Quay Walker) but flashed a serious 4.52 time in the laser at the Nike Opening finals out in Texas last summer. He was also very pleased to see the official promotion of Dan Lanning to defensive coordinator. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 13 )   5-star WR Rakim Jarrett/St. Johns College/Washington, D.C: St. John’s also had an Alabama  How did St. Johns ever lose a game, right? The 6-foot, 182-pound blur was in Athens last weekend on an official. The Bulldogs didn’t make his original top 6, but they are in it now. UGA was a little late to offer the nation’s No. 3 WR and that’s a good reason why. The interest is there now for the nation’s No. 3 WR prospect. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 21 )   5-star RB MarShawn Lloyd: Lloyd is as serious of a contender at this time to join the 2020 class as anyone in the “DMV” fishing hole. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound will flash to a lot of former great UGA backs with his game. How does a one-part Sony, one-part Chubb, one-part Knowshon, one-part Verron Haynes and one-part MarShawn sound? The nation’s No. 4 RB has already visited Athens once this year. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 25 )   4-star DE Demon Clowney:  The nation’s No. 5 weak-side DE resides in Baltimore. Clowney, a cousin to NFL All-Pro Jadeveon Clowney , is a big Lanning fan. UGA was his first offer back in February of 2018 and it was his pinned tweet for a significant amount of time. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has made at least two trips back to Athens since then. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 78 ) Will the blue-chips be biting?: If the program puts up a 0-for-5 in the DMV, then that means it will have to go down the board scrambling for alternate targets. It is not out of bounds to think that the Bulldogs can pull at least two of these targets out of the region, though. Another obstacle is the Bulldogs have yet to sign a player out of this region during Smart’s time as head coach. The other big “fishing hole” on Georgia’s mind is a lot closer down the road. The Cobb County fishing hole  Myles Murphy -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football” width=”640″ height=”427″ /> 5-star weak-side DE Myles Murphy has remarkable speed and athleticism. He can play out on the edge in space. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Gwinnett County hasn’t been good to the Bulldogs the last few years. Cobb County is more of a success story. Georgia has signed elite targets like Dominick Blaylock, Justin Fields, Ryland Goede, Azeez Ojulari, Tyler Simmons and Julian Rochester from this region, among others. This pinpoint on the map will cover 345 square miles, but the radar here pings around the 18.5-mile circuit from Marietta High School to Hillgrove High School to McEachern High School and back to Marietta. Cobb County has five players rated among the nation’s top 100 recruits for the 2020 class. The Bulldogs can sign a pair of 5-star prospects from this pocket of the Peach State. These two elite athletes could also go down as the two of the three highest-rated signees in the 2020 class at that. Who is doing the fishing there for Georgia: Tight ends coach Todd Hartley, running backs coach Dell McGee, defensive coordinator and OLBs coach Dan Lanning, defensive line coach Tray Scott and head coach Kirby Smart. The big fish in Cobb County Arik Gilbert -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting” width=”400″ height=”267″ /> Arik Gilbert rates as the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite scale. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Arik Gilbert/Marietta High/Marietta, Ga: DawgNation profiled Gilbert late last week . The nearly 6-foot-6, 250-pounder wants to be a tight end or a hybrid at the next level in the Travis Kelce mold. He has agility, acceleration, catch radius and length for days. That’s why he rates as the nation’s No. 1 ATH for 2020. He visited Alabama over the weekend and was back for another unofficial at UGA today. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 9 )   B.J. Ojulari/Marietta High/Marietta, Ga.:  He’s started both ways for the Blue Devils for the balance of his high school career at offensive tackle and defensive end. His future is on defense flying in off the edge. His older brother, Azeez, is already at UGA. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior plans to make his decision sometime in May. Look for him to play ball in the Southeast. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 84 )   Myles Murphy/Hillgrove High/Powder Springs, Ga.: Murphy will check off every box of what an elite national recruit should look like in high school. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has exceptional agility and footwork. There’s another national prospect with a UGA offer with the same name in North Carolina, but very few prospects like Myles Murphy come along every 10 years. That’s why Dabo Swinney has his fishing pole mounted near Hillgrove High, too. (Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 14)   COMMIT: Jamil Burroughs/McEachern High/Powder Springs, Ga.: The nation’s No. 4 DT is already in the boat. So to speak. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound prospect is one of three current commitments in the class of 2020. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 62 ) Will the blue-chips be biting: Burroughs is in the boat and should be seen as a very invested recruit in the program. Clemson looms large for both Gilbert and Myles. The chances with Ojulari might very well spike with how well the Bulldogs are recruiting at that position. He’s a terrific player and one of the most impressive in this class but not even Brandon Adams can foresee the Bulldogs ending up with Clowney, Murphy, Ojulari and Sherman at OLB going on the wall for the 2020 class. Gilbert and Murphy are two players in the state this year that the Bulldogs cannot let leave the state and still hope to finish with the nation’s top class. It would bring up too many empty net stories with the likes of Andrew Booth, Derrick Brown, Jadon Haselwood, Aubrey Solomon and Trevor Lawrence from back in the day.   Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.   The post UGA recruiting: Which two points on the map lead to the nation’s No. 1 class for 2020? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia Athletic Association board members will be briefed on the progress of efforts to add a new football-dedicated building to the Butts-Mehre Athletic Complex when it holds its annual winter meeting on Wednesday. In a conference call with members of the board’s facilities and development committee Monday morning, Athletic Director Greg McGarity confirmed that a status report will be provided on the latest multi-million dollar project to come on line since Kirby Smart became the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2016. McGarity said Georgia is in the process of selecting engineers and architects for the project, which is expected to be erect a building in the space between the Spec Town Track & Field grandstands and the Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. As DawgNation reported six months ago, such a facility is expected to carry a price tag of more than $50 million. Fundraising efforts are already underway. Since Smart’s arrival on campus in January of 2016, Georgia has built and dedicated a $30 million indoor practice facility and $65 million locker room and recruiting area underneath the West grandstand at Sanford Stadium. Since the fall of 2015, members of Georgia’s relatively new Magill Society have pledged donations totaling nearly $100 million to cover the cost of those projects. Board members will also be briefed on an upcoming project to improve the lighting at Sanford Stadium, McGarity said. The majority of the focus on facilities updates on Wednesday will be on construction of a new grandstand for the Henry Feild Stadium courts at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, McGarity said. Cost for that project is now expected to exceed $8 million. The board will also be briefed on plans to erect a new six-court indoor tennis facility for the complex. “That will be the only action item on Wednesday,” McGarity said. To date, none of the monies raised from the Magill Society have gone toward tennis. That is the sport Magill oversaw for decades before his death in 2014 at the age of 93. Board members will also be briefed on an ongoing $3.1 million equestrian project that will include a 7,000-square foot clubhouse at the team’s facility in Bishop. The post Expansion of Georgia Bulldogs’ football complex to be discussed at UGA athletics board meeting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — As many as three outgoing Georgia football players have been projected as first-round NFL Draft picks by different analysts at different times. But there’s always one Bulldog on the first-round list — Deandre Baker. That didn’t change on Monday when the Georgia Thorpe Award winner surfaced as the No. 20 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Mel Kiper’s latest first-round mock draft on the ESPN Insider pay site. RELATED: Georgia opens with 10 on NFL Draft boards Kiper has Baker as his second-highest rated cornerback in the draft behind LSU’s Greedy Williams, who he forecasts will go to Denver at No. 10. Earlier this month, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter opened eyes when he projected both Baker and tailback Elijah Holyfield to be selected in the first round. Reuter, in a Feb. 5 three-round NFL mock draft, had four Bulldogs listed: Deandre Baker, No. 24 overall, Oakland Elijah Holyfield, No. 30 overall, Green Bay Riley Ridley, No. 35 overall, Oakland Isaac Nauta, No. 62 overall, New Orleans Ridley was at one point projected as high as the first round — at No. 32 — by NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah. WATCH: Riley Ridley coached up by NFL legends Jeremiah and fellow NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein recently penned an article on which one player each team should keep an eye on. The Baltimore Ravens were advised to keep an eye on speedy Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman, as “the buzz is starting to build in personnel circles.” The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, should watch for Ridley, according to the story: “The Niners need another big target at wide receiver with size and toughness for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Ridley’s college production was just OK, but there were plenty of mouths to feed in the Georgia offense. Ridley might be a fit for San Francisco as a Day 2 option, provided he shows ball-tracking ability and some route acumen in Indianapolis.” Projections from one analyst to another vary, as they each do their own evaluations and rely on different NFL sources. Kiper, for example, doesn’t have Holyfield, Ridley or Nauta ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions in the upcoming draft. It’s all talk for now, and NFL Draft projections are sure to get a thorough shaking up after the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The combine testing runs from March 1-4. Georgia will have eight players at the combine, seven taking part in on-field testing. Outside linebacker D’Andre Walker had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 16 in Birmingham, Ala., and is rehabilitating. Walker hopes to be healthy enough to take part in the Bulldogs Pro Day for NFL scouts on March 20.     The post Georgia football favorites Elijah Holyfield, Mecole Hardman generating NFL Draft buzz appeared first on DawgNation.