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College
Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test
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Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test

Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test

Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test

Kirby Smart's Dawgs didn't score many style points in a hard-fought win over Notre Dame. In a season where flashy offenses are running up big scores, this was an old-school defense-dominated throwback to the Dooley era, complete with a scoreless first period.

Still, considering key injuries to the Dawgs' offensive line and secondary, and the important fact that this was a battle of two Top 10-ranked teams, Georgia's down-to-the-wire victory should good on its resume if the Dawgs find themselves in contention for a College Football playoff spot at season's end.

No. 3 Georgia trailed 7 th -ranked Notre Dame 10-7 at the half, but the Irish allowed 16 straight Georgia points in the second half before a late touchdown made it a one-possession game. Georgia got the ball back with a little over 3 minutes left, but couldn't kill the clock. A poor punt set up the Irish at their own 48. However, the Bulldogs' defense stiffened, and Georgia killed the final 58 seconds with Jake Fromm taking a couple of knees.

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Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test

It was a tough battle Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said afterward it was " probably one of the most physical games that I have coached against any team" and many Georgia fans left the game thinking what we saw Saturday night was a very good Fighting Irish team that's going to win lots of games this season. Just not this one. After the loss, Notre Dame dropped just three spots to No. 10 in the latest AP and Coaches polls. Georgia remained No. 3, and even picked up a first-place vote in each poll.

I think it was probably all those rushing yards the Irish gave up to Louisville earlier this season that fueled those unrealistic expectations among media types and some fans that the Dawgs were going to dominate the Irish and win this game by three or four touchdowns.

However, many of us figured that a largely untested Georgia team that had faced one SEC doormat and two cupcakes might have a much harder time with the guys in the sparkling golden helmets. During a neighborhood coffee shop sports discussion a few days earlier, I was asked how I thought the game would turn out. I said I expected Georgia to win, but that I thought it likely the margin of victory would be less than the 14.5 points by which the Dawgs were favored. A guy I didn't know chimed in, "Georgia will win by 6 points." He hit the nail right on the head.

Actually, if not for an uncharacteristic fumble of a punt by Tyler Simmons that set up Notre Dame at Georgia's 8-yard line and the tendency of the ACC officiating crew not to call blatant pass interference or holding by the Irish the Dawgs might well have covered the spread. (Georgia's punt coverage team needs to learn not to nearly interfere with their own returner.)

That doesn't change the fact that Georgia has much it needs to correct if it hopes to keep company with the likes of Clemson and Alabama this year. As Smart said after the game, "We've got a lot of things to work on."

The banged-up offensive line continued to underperform. It allowed too much pressure on Fromm for him ever to consider a long throw downfield, and, on quite a few drives, the OL failed to open up holes for D'Andre Swift and Brian Herrien as the Irish stacked the box, with Georgia averaging only 4.6 yards per run.

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Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test

Georgia's offense was admirably balanced (187 yards passing, 152 yards rushing), but it is going to have to be a lot more dynamic in order for the Dawgs to live up to their advance billing this season. Too many Georgia drives still are ending in field goal attempts.

Yes, Rodrigo Blankenship is practically a guaranteed 3 points whenever he's called on, but the Dawgs' short-yardage game remains troublesome. The fact that Smart went with a field goal because he apparently didn't think Georgia could convert on a 4 th -and1 at the Notre Dame 26 with 7 minutes left in the game is concerning. It nearly cost Georgia the win. Notre Dame answered with an Ian Book touchdown pass and then, trailing 23-17, forced a punt to give itself a chanceto win by 1 point late in the game.

The Dawgs also continued to be mediocre on third down, converting on only 4 of 11 tries.

Defensively, the Dawgs were hampered by missing both their starting cornerbacks for most of the game. The Georgia D came up big at the end, but the lack of pressure on Irish QB Book, especially in the first half, coupled with the soft coverage the Dawgs secondary was playing, allowed the Irish short-passing game to flourish. (Another factor was the lack of holding calls on plays where Book seemed to have unlimited time to find a receiver.)

Georgia had trouble all night figuring out how to cover the Irish's Cole Kmet, who matched a Notre Dame record for catches by a tight end in a single game with 9 receptions for 108 yards.

And, while Hot Rod is money in the bank with his placekicking, Georgia's punting game (on both ends of the ball) is in dire need of improvement. In addition to the fumble on the punt-receiving end that led to an Irish score, Jake Camarda averaged only 35.2 yards per kick, and shanked one badly late in the game, giving the Irish great field position.

On the plus side, the defensive front mostly contained the dual-threat Book, who's known to do quite a bit of damage with his running. In fact, Notre Dame's running game was held in check, with the Irish rushing for only 46 yards Saturday night, and the Dawgs held the visitors scoreless in the third quarter. The Irish were even less successful than the Dawgs on third down, making only 4 of 13 attempts, and converted 1 of their 3 fourth-down tries ( a 1-yard touchdown pass).

And, the Dawgs' goal-line defense was impressive. After the Irish recovered that muffed punt, a pass interference call gave them first-and-goal at the 2-yard line, and it took that fourth-down pass for them to score even from there.

The Georgia defense again rose to the occasion on Notre Dame's final drive, which ended with a fourth-down end zone pass batted down to the turf.

Georgia also got two big interceptions from Divaad Wilson and J.R. Reed , ending Book's streak of 80 pass attempts without a pick .

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Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test

Offensively, Georgia got off to an extremely slow start, but the Dawgs made some key adjustments on both offense and defense at halftime. Fromm had a solid night. While he overlooked some open receivers at times, it was his pinpoint passing that allowed the Dawgs to take control of the game, and he kept his cool. Highlights included third-down completions to Eli Wolf and Lawrence Cager.

Fromm completed 20 of 26 passes for 187 yards and a TD. Also, he nearly got a first down on a QB keeper.

While Swift almost always had Irish defenders on him as soon as he got the ball, either through handoff or receiving a pass, the tailback showed toughness, often getting more yards than it initially looked like he would simply due to second effort. He wound up with 98 yards and a TD on 18 carries.

And, Georgia's receiving corps continues to be the pleasant surprise of the season, with transfers Wolf, Cager and Demetris Robertson all making big-time catches. Cager led the Dawgs with 5 catches for 82 yards and 1 TD.

In fact, when Georgia went hurry-up, it appeared Notre Dame's best defense was faking injury to slow things down, which they did twice.

All in all, Saturday's game in Athens was an early-season clash that had the feeling of a playoff game. After a week of incredible build-up, game day was electric with anticipation, with tens of thousands of Georgia fans without tickets making their way to Athens just to soak up the atmosphere.

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Notre Dame provided Dawgs’ first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test

And, what an atmosphere it was, aided by the stadium's new LED lighting system, which dimmed at the end of the third quarter to make the fans' Light Up Sanford even more impressive, and then turned everything red. Even Book called "a great atmosphere."

That atmosphere even figured into the game's final result, with the record crowd of more than 93K serving as the Dawgs' 12 th man.

The roaring fans appeared chiefly responsible for Notre Dame having 6 false starts and, more importantly, having to burn four premature timeouts, two in each half. That factored into the Irish failing to capitalize on their great field position late in the game.

As the Indianapolis Star put it: " How loud is it at this place? Loud enough to wonder how those famous English privet hedges, the ones that ring the playing field, refuse to wilt beneath the roars of 93,000 wild-eyed fans."

Said Smart of the UGA crowd: " They impacted the game tonight more than I've ever seen a game impacted, here or anywhere."

It might not have been the flashiest game of the week, but Georgia's prime-time showdown with Notre Dame was college football at its best.

The post Notre Dame provided Dawgs' first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test appeared first on DawgNation.

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Georgia Sports News

  • ATHENS Georgia football rising senior Malik Herring started the season on the bench and ended it as the top returning defensive linemen in the SEC, per advanced metrics. Coach Kirby Smart wasn't and isn't going to have it any other way. It is Smart who has pushed Herring to the verge of greatness, ensuring the Forsyth product get the best out of himself and make the most of his talents on the field. 'Malik can be a good player, (but) he's gotta hone in and do the little things right, and he's gotta be a little more mature and serious about things to be the player we want him to be,'Smart said last spring.'He's talented, though, and he's played well. He's just gotta mature some.' Pro Football Focus, which grades players each week, has Herring as the top-ranked SEC defensive lineman in its Top 25. Herring comes in at No. 7 with Alabama's Chritisian Barmore second among league players at No. 12. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Herring showed just how much he'd grown in the 26-14 win over Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Herring, starting in place of departing senior Tyler Clark, had five tackles, a pass break-up and 1.5 tackles for loss. Herring platooned all season in the Bulldogs' deep defensive front. It was a unit that set the tone for the nation's best run defense with its sound gap integrity. Georgia didn't allow a rushing TD until the 10th game of the season. But at the start of the 2019 campaign, on the road trip to Vanderbilt, Herring did not play. 'We talked about it after the game,' Smart said the next week. 'If he continues to use practice and get better, he'll play.' Herring did just that, earning nine starts and finishing with 24 QB hurries, third-best on the team. The Bulldogs have lost reliable seniors off the 2019 D-Line. Most notably, seniors Michael Barnett, David Marshall and Clark have moved on. But Herring is one of a handful of defensive linemen coming back with star potential that figure to play in the NFL one day. Nosetackle Jordan Davis was a Freshman All-American in 2018 and continued his run-stuffing ways last season. Freshman Travon Walker overcame in-season wrist surgery to make highlights, including the game-clinching sack at Auburn. Then there are the fellow seniors. Devonte Wyatt was second on the team with 27 QB hurries. Justin Young played in nine of 14 games and had his moments. Then there's Julian Rochester, a fifth-year senior after qualifying for a redshirt, playing just four games after coming off knee surgery. Amazingly, none of the Georgia defense was named first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press last season. This, even though the Bulldogs finished the regular season leading the conference in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. Ultimately, safety J.R. Reed was named an All-American by one outlet, and linebacker Monty Rice and cornerback Eric Stokes were second-team All-SEC picks by the AP. But all was silent among the defensive tackles, nosetackles, and defensive ends from an awards perspective. WATCH: Dan Lanning champions no-name' Georgia defense Smart has said he prefers his players make noise with their helmets, so UGA players won't likely be tooting their own horns during the offseason. But those who watch and grade film have taken note, and Herring leads the way on a defensive front that could dominate the SEC in 2020. DawgNation Georgia football Herring makes time for Kids Fun Day in hometown Georgia offseason has produced fascinating offensive change Football stars endorse Todd Monken hire at Georgia WATCH: 2021 commit Brock Vandagriff shares story with DawgNation Why Buster Faukner a perfect complement to Todd Monken The post Georgia's Malik Herring rated top returning D-linemen in SEC, spearheads dominant front appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia suffered a 70-60 home loss to Ole Miss, a sellout crowd and decisive rebounding advantage not enough to get the Bulldogs back on track. The Rebels (10-9, 1-5 SEC) snapped a a six-game losing streak with the upset over Georgia (11-8, 1-5), which has lost two of its last three at home after opening the season 8-0 in Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards continued his struggles with 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Ten of Edwards' attempts came from behind the arc, his inability to get to the rim out of the half court offense surfacing once again. Senior Jordan Harris led the Bulldogs with 15 points and eight rebounds in a game that saw UGA hold a decisive 38-28 advantage on the boards. Georgia however, couldn't overcome its poor shooting (17 of 55, 30.9 percent) while Ole Miss was an efficient 26 of 50 (52 percent). The loss marks UGA's first three-game losing streak of the season, sending many of the10,523 in attendance to the exits early as Ole Miss pulled away late. The Rebels threatened to run away at the start of the second half, scoring the first five points after intermission to make a 40-29, before Tom Crean called time out with 17:17 left. The Bulldogs responded with a 9-0 run sparked by a Harris 3-pointer and consecutive drives to the basket by Sahvir Wheeler (11 points) that resulted in a bucket and two free throws that cut the lead to 40-38 with 13:44 left. Moments later, Edwards pulled the trigger on a 3-pointer from the wing that put Georgia up 43-42 with 12:31 left and sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was the Bulldogs' first lead since a 13-12 advantage early, and Edwards first points since the 16:07 mark of the first half. It proved to be the final lead for Georgia. Ole Miss wrestled the lead back on a pair of J.J. Buffen (14 points) free throws the next trip down and didn't trail again. Breein Tyree scored 20 points to lead the Rebels. Georgia was down 35-29 at the end of the first half, a victim of its own 9 turnovers and 33 percent shooing (9 of 27). Ole Miss led by as many as 10 points, 32-22, before the Bulldogs battled back. Harris scored on a drive to the basket and hit a trey, and then Edwards capped the 7-0 run with a pair of free throws to make it 32-29. The Rebels scored the final three points of the half, the Bulldogs missing four shots on their final possession, squandering offensive rebounds. Georgia returns to action at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Missouri (9-10, 1-5 SEC) before returning to Athens to play host to Texas A&M (9-9, 3-3) next Saturday. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Mississippi State wins battle of Bulldogs in Starkville, decisively Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post Anthony Edwards struggles against Ole Miss, Georgia basketball hits three-game skid appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The Georgia football offensive staff gyrations have continued into the weekend, and the next one could be processed as early as next week. Former Bulldogs' director of player personnel Marshall Malchow is headed to Texas A&M.DawgNation reported on Friday that former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Coley was headed to work for the Aggies. RELATED: James Coley leaves Georgia football staff, as expected The 247Sports network was first to report the news on Malchow on Saturday. Georgia coach Kirby Smart made Coley expendable when he hired former NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken on Jan. 17 to take over the offense and play-calling. Monken was in attendance at the Bulldogs' basketball game on Saturday, part of UGA' big weekend filled with key visitors. RELATED: Todd Monken trades 'total mess' for championship quest The writing was on the wall for Coley and other assistants closely tied to him last Monday. The hiring of former Southern Miss offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Buster Faulkner last Monday temporarily as an offensive analyst was more evidence Coley was likely on his way out. RELATED: Kirby Smart hires QB coach Buster Faulkner to offensive staff Faulkner is the odds-on favorite to fill the staff position vacated by Coley, though nothing is official at this point. Former UGA All-American Jon Stinchcomb told DawgNation that Faulkner was the right fit to work with Monken. 'You just brought in someone with experience with the NFL ranks who knows what it looks like when you have some of the elite athletes on the planet playing for you,' Stinchcomb said in regard to Monken. 'Buster comes from a background where you have to create a little more opportunities because you don't have that same level of talent. 'I think this new role for him is a great compliment to coach Monken being hired and the rest of the staff.' The departure of Malchow, an Alabama graduate, represents more collateral damage from Coley taking his recruiting prowess to Jimbo Fisher's staff in College Station. Coley has previously worked for Fisher at Florida State. Smart, who has stayed silent throughout the changes, traditionally holds a February signing day press conference, at which point he could address the new Georgia staff. More from DawgNation Georgia offseason has produced fascinating offensive change Football stars endorse Todd Monken hire at Georgia WATCH: 2021 commit Brock Vandagriff shares story with DawgNation Podcast: Brandon Adams shares his take on Brock Vandagriff addition Kirby Smart has turned Georgia offense upside down Why Buster Faukner a perfect complement to Todd Monken The post Georgia football changes continue, another staff member leaves for Texas A&M appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia basketball returns to the friendly confines of Stegeman Coliseum where the team is 9-1 his season, seemingly, just in time. The Bulldogs (11-7. 1-4 SEC) play host to Ole Miss (9-9, 0-5) at 5:30 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) in desperate need of a victory to rekindle any sort of NCAA tournament hopes. The fan support is certainly there. The only remaining Georgia home basketball games with tickets available this season are South Carolina (Feb. 12) and Auburn (Feb. 19). This, even though virtually no one outside the program is projecting Coach Tom Crean's young team, filled with nine freshmen on the roster, to make the so-called Big Dance. Even with projected NBA lottery pick Anthony Edwards on the roster. Still, sophomore Tye Fagan and freshman Toumani Camara confirmed that is indeed the long-term season goal, even if the focus never goes beyond one game. 'Most definitely, without a doubt, we take each game one at a time so we're not thinking so far into the future,' said Fagan, who's coming off a 6-of-6, 13-point shooting performance at Kentucky last Tuesday. 'But that is the goal.' The surge from the 6-foot-8 Camara over the last 12 games, has provided a boost. Camara is UGA's second leading rebounder (5.2 rpg) and third on the team in scoring (7.6 ppg) and minutes played (26.9 mpg) in that span. But the Bulldogs, No. 56 in the projected RPI rankings, had better get back on the winning track and take advantage of the softer stretch of the schedule. After opening the 2020 with six opponents and seven games against teams that played in last year's NCAA tournament and going 2-4 in that stretch so far, with wins at Memphis and against Tennessee Georgia's schedule lightens up this week. Saturday's Ole Miss home game is followed by a road trop to Missouri (9-9, 1-5) on Tuesday, and then a home game with Texas A&M (9-8, 3-3) next Saturday. Crean, understandably, isn't losing sight of the task at hand against the Rebels. ' Right now we're focused on how we get ready for Ole Miss,' Crean said. 'I had the number one team in the country and wasn't talking about the NCAA Tournament, back at Indiana. 'What you do is you focus. We're in late January here. We focus on the team and what we have to do and be absolutely wrapped up in that.' Crean said he's not certain if freshman point guard Sahvir Wheeler is back at 100 percent after suffering an ankle injury in the 80-63 win over Tennessee on Jan. 15. Wheeler has played the last two games, but he has last the explosion and quickness that makes him so effective. He has scoring just one basket and dished out two assists in the last 38 minutes he played against Mississippi State and Kentucky. Edwards continues to lead the nation's freshmen in scoring with 18.9 points per game, but he's still learning to get to the rim and overcome the extra attention defenses are paying to him. Edwards was held scoreless in the first half at Kentucky last Tuesday night before scoring 16 points in a second half at Rupp Arena that saw the Bulldogs fail to get closer than seven points. RELATED: Too little, too late from Anthony Edwards at Kentucky Crean, however, defends Edwards' youth and is focusing on developing him like he does every other player. ' I came in knowing we're going to have to develop him every day, help him grow every day,' Crean said. 'It's all different when you get them and how they process, how they learn, what do they have to get better at, how they apply it, how you build confidence, how you tweak them, how you challenge them is all a part of the daily process. We're just right in the midst of that and I'm enjoying it.' A win over Ole Miss would make Crean and Georgia enjoy the process of the team growing more, as well as keeping what appears to be scant NCAA tourney hopes alive. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Mississippi State wins battle of Bulldogs in Starkville, decisively Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphis Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post Georgia basketball returns to home sellout, desperate for win over Ole Miss appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia has the quarterback and the coaching expertise to flip the offense, and from Terry Bowden's perspective, that should be enough to get a new-look offense off and running. Bowden was holding court wearing Clemson gear two days before the College Football Playoff Championship Game. The fact he's now a graduate assistant with the Tigers does nothing to dilute Bowden's knowledge or experience flipping an offense to a mobile quarterback. RELATED: Mark Richt says Jamie Newman can adapt to any system ' Once you make the decision that's where you need to go and you see a lot of the pros doing it now, you see college teams that make that move, and it starts with a quarterback that can do that,' Bowden told DawgNation. 'I think the other parts of that block with the right assistants,' the 63-year-old former Auburn, North Alabama and Akron head coach said. 'You have to have people that know what their doing in that capacity, and you've got to have a quarterback you believe in.' Georgia certainly checks all the boxes. RELATED: Georgia creates buzz with Todd Monken hire The Bulldogs return mobile quarterbacks in redshirt junior Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis and incoming freshman Carson Beck. The biggest offseason player addition, however, has been Wake Forest graduate transfer quarterback Jamie Newman. Pro Football Focus ranks Newman the No. 3 returning quarterback in college football and recently projected Georgia football the preseason No. 3 team. Bowden, 63, knows all about high rankings after winning his first 20 games as the Tigers' head coach after replacing Pat Dye before the 1993 season. Georgia snapped the streak with a 23-23 tie at Auburn, and Bowden lost his first game as the Tigers' head coach the following week to Alabama, 21-14. Bowden left Auburn halfway through the 1998 season with a 47-17-1 record at Auburn. After 10 years out of coaching working as a television analyst, Bowden returned to coaching at North Alabama, a Division ll school where he was 29-9 with playoff appearances each three seasons. Bowden moved on to Akron from there, ultimately resuscitating the Zips' downtrodden program with an 8-5 season in 2015 that included the program's first-ever bowl game victory. More history was made in 2018, when Bowden's Akron team beat Northwestern for the school's first win over a Big Ten team since 1894. The Zips, however, finished 4-8 and Bowden was fired. That led Bowden to the opportunity at Clemson, that came with the graduate assistant provision. It's surely a snap for Bowden, who graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia with a degree in accounting. Bowden did postgraduate work at Oxford University in England and earned a law degree from Florida State. 'Thirty-seven years ago, I graduated from law school, and the next year I became a football coach, and we didn't have internet, and we didn't have computers,' Bowden said, putting his unique situation in perspective. 'Thirty-seven years later, in order to be a coach on the field, I have to be a student. So I got accepted to Clemson grad school, and I'm getting a Master's in athletic leadership. I've got two classes this semester and they are online and that's been kind of fun.' Bowden seems to think offenses that employ mobile quarterbacks are apt to have more fun and success on Saturdays. 'I don't feel like you need to go to a running quarterback, but you must have a quarterback that's mobile, and Joe Burrow is mobile,' Bowden said, tying he conversation into the game he was preparing for at the time. 'The guy can scramble, but he's not a running quarterback. He is a drop-back, classic quarterback that has what you need.' No doubt, Burrow put on a show against Clemson in the CFP Championship Game. Georgia fans are yearning for an offense with the same explosive elements and big-play potential. Bowden explained how a running quarterback changes the dynamics by simple math. 'Anytime your quarterback runs the football, it gives you one more blocker,' Bowden said. 'And if they've got any safeties sitting up high upfield, that evens you up pretty good in the blocking department. 'So once your quarterback either scrambles well, or you devise a few plays that allow him to run, you have created plays that are in (your) favor for the offense, in numbers, that you just don't have when the quarterback is just a fake or a disguise.' More from DawgNation Football stars endorse Todd Monken hire at Georgia WATCH: 2021 commit Brock Vandagriff shares story with DawgNation Podcast: Brandon Adams shares his take on Brock Vandagriff addition Kirby Smart has turned Georgia offense upside down Why Buster Faukner a perfect complement to Todd Monken The post Georgia offense flipping script: Terry Bowden's thoughts on drop-back to dual-threat transition appeared first on DawgNation.