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3 questions for Georgia football D-Line: Is it a championship level unit?

3 questions for Georgia football D-Line: Is it a championship level unit?

3 questions for Georgia football D-Line: Is it a championship level unit?

3 questions for Georgia football D-Line: Is it a championship level unit?

Georgia football-UGA-Malik Herring

ATHENS — Georgia football is chasing Alabama and Clemson in the race to establish itself a national championship program, and nowhere is the gap wider than on the defensive line.

The Bulldogs, quite simply, have not played at the same level as the Tide and Tigers and that has ultimately cost them championships.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart knows better than anyone it starts up front and that the first key to success on defense is stopping the run.

Smart’s fourth year has arrived, full recruiting cycles behind him, and the UGA defensive line still has questions and threatens to be the Achilles heel.

Smart hired Tray Scott away from North Carolina to replace Tracy Rocker two years ago.

But Scott’s relatively meager $50,000 raise and $470,000 salary — lowest on the defensive staff and $430,000 less than O-Line coach Sam Pittman — leaves room to speculate about his job approval rating.

Rocker, it’s worth noting, was making $525,000 on Smart’s staff before splitting from Georgia and going to Tennessee, where he makes $500,000.

The big question: Can UGA build the sort of line that will prevent teams like LSU from converting 4-of-4 on fourth downs and running for 275 yards in a big-time matchup?

The answer could determine whether the Bulldogs clear the Alabama hurdle and win a national title during Smart’s tenure.

Here are three more questions about the D-Line entering spring drills:

How overweight is DL Jordan Davis?

Smart indicated during an offseason radio interview that 2018 Freshman All-American Jordan Davis has weight issues, despite working with Georgia’s celebrated strength and conditioning staff.

RELATED: Jordan Davis expected to be cleared for spring drills

“Weight is always going to be a struggle and a fight for (Davis), so when you say you’ve seen him and he’s ready to play, I don’t know if you’re seen him lately but he’s got to be ready to play,” Smart told Atlanta radio station 680 The Fan in an exclusive interview. “He’s got to control his weight. He’s done a really good job of having weight discipline thus far in his career, and he’s got to continue to do that.”

Davis’ emergence provided a noticeable boost for the Georgia defensive line, which had struggled to replace 2017 senior John Atkins.

Two-gap, too much?

Smart’s preferred alignment is the 3-4, but do the Bulldogs have the sort of dominant linemen required to play the scheme effectively?

Georgia closed last season allowing five consecutive opponents to rush for more than 100 yards   — yes, UMass — and Texas rolled for 178 in the season-ending 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss.

Graduate transfer Jay Hayes from Notre Dame was supposed to bolster the defensive line in 2018, but he was unable to excel in Georgia’s system, making just three tackles with no sacks in 11 games last season.

UGA rising seniors Julian Rochester (6-foot-5, 300 pounds), Michael Barnett (6-4, 304), Michail Carter (6-3, 295) and Tyler Clark (6-4, 300) combined for just 2 1/2 sacks and 6 1/2 tackles for loss last season.

By comparison, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams had 8 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss — himself!

Clemson’s Christian Wilkins was another one-man wrecking crew, posting 6 sacks and 15 tackles for loss.

Why can’t Georgia have a defensive lineman like that?

Breakout candidate?

Georgia football recruiting doesn’t often miss the mark, but if there’s an area where the Bulldogs have fallen short, it’s on the defensive line.

Consider, 2019 signee Travon Walker is the first 5-star defensive line catch for Georgia during Smart’s tenure.

Part of the challenge here is UGA didn’t sign any defensive tackles that enrolled in the 2017 class, and in 2018, only two of three signed defensive tackles enrolled — Davis and Devonte Wyatt.

The bet here is junior Malik Herring (6-3, 280) could be the breakout defensive lineman.

More Georgia football spring 2019

4 questions for Georgia football O-Line

3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation

Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers 

G-Day named one of most intriguing spring games

ESPN snubs UGA freshmen in spring preview

The post 3 questions for Georgia football D-Line: Is it a championship level unit? appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Joe Panik was fairly calm in the midst of his eight-pitch battle with Atlanta closer Luke Jackson. A pair of stolen bases earlier in the ninth inning, including one by pinch-runner Mac Williamson that put the winning run in scoring position, helped take the pressure off the Giants leadoff hitter. Panik hit a game-ending two-run single off Jackson with two outs in the ninth to lift the San Francisco Giants to a 4-3 win over the Braves on Tuesday night. 'Great comeback,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. 'We looked pretty flat. We just couldn't get it going. To come back and win it in the ninth like that, that's huge.' Brandon Crawford began the comeback with a one-out single. After Steven Duggar struck out, Kevin Pillar singled in Crawford. Pillar stole second then moved to third on Pablo Sandoval's pinch-hit infield single. Williamson stole second before Panik slapped a 3-2 pitch from Jackson into right field to cap the three-run rally. 'Any time you can advance 90 feet it's big in that situation,' Panik said. 'Especially for me, having Mac at second base versus first base, I don't have to hit a double to win the game. Just stay within myself, stay through the middle of the field and you can win the game that way with a single. Every 90 feet matters.' It's the fourth blown save this season for Jackson (2-1) and spoiled an otherwise strong day by the Braves pitching staff. Atlanta had won four straight against San Francisco and allowed one run in all four. The Braves were in position to make it five before the Giants rallied with three runs and four hits in the ninth. The stolen bases by Pillar and Williamson provided the late lift San Francisco needed. 'Kevin, he's a base stealer but once Mac got it, now you realize it just takes a hit and you win the game,' Bochy said. 'You saw the energy pick up in the dugout. We did a nice job.' Panik and Buster Posey had two hits apiece for San Francisco. Trevor Gott (2-0) retired three batters to win. Josh Donaldson, Nick Markakis, Ronald Acu a Jr. and Dansby Swanson had two hits apiece for Atlanta. 'A foot here and a foot there and we would have won,' Atlanta catcher Brian McCann said. 'But it's baseball and you've got to turn the page.' Braves starter Julio Teheran struck out six and gave up three hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings. Teheran has a 0.79 ERA over his last four starts covering 22 2/3 innings. He lost three straight decisions to close out April and had a pair of no-decisions in his first two starts in May. Acu a backed Teheran with a terrific leaping grab at the fence in center field to rob Brandon Belt of extra bases in the third. PUT ME IN (ANYWHERE) COACH Vogt made his second career start in left field. The 34-year-old Vogt has logged 370 games behind the plate. Wednesday marked his fifth appearance in left field and first since 2014 when he was with the Oakland Athletics. ROSTER MOVE The Giants placed pitcher Travis Bergen on the 10-day injured list because of a left shoulder strain. Bergen is 2-0 with a 4.24 ERA in 18 games this season. Infielder Donovan Solano was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento before the game, one day after being sent down to make room for pitcher Andrew Suarez. UP NEXT Braves lefty Max Fried (6-2, 2.86 ERA) makes his fifth road start Wednesday. Fried pitched two-hit ball over six scoreless innings against Milwaukee on May 17. RHP Jeff Samardzija (2-2, 3.69) makes his first start against Atlanta since 2017. Samardzija threw a season-low 68 pitches in 5 1/3 innings in his most recent start against Arizona on May 17. __ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — DawgNation has reported a lot about Carson Beck over the last week. Beck has his eye on several top targets for the rest of the 2020 class. He made a throw in the Florida Class 8A state championship that folks will not soon forget. The 6 foot-4 (and a half-inch) rising senior even convinced his QB trainer why the Bulldogs were a perfect fit for his game at the college level. His trainer, Denny Thompson, knows the 4-star QB as well as anyone. He has helped chisel an Elite 11 QB out of a guy with just four games of varsity experience prior to last season. Beck then took the reins at Mandarin High School and went on to be a rare junior to win the “Mr. Football” honor for the state of Florida. Thompson has strong opinions and knows just how to deliver them. That’s why he hosts a popular sports talk radio show in Jacksonville. He says the things most might expect Beck’s trainer to say. He even shared he would put aside his allegiance to the Gators (as a fan) when it comes to Beck. That’s his guy. After all. In Beck, he has a pupil that he feels has as strong of a “functional arm” as he has seen recently in a prospect. There was this one other guy. His name will come up in that video interview up above. If you watch Carson Beck work, it does sometimes look like he is firing off a pair of six-shooters both before and after snaps. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Where Carson Beck can get better  He also knows the work Beck still has to do. The young passer needs to work on the technical aspects of the position. Most big-time guys his age still need to do that, too. Thompson shared his most important teaching point for Beck. “That’s probably the part of his game where it is like ‘Carson for you to take that real next step I need you to throw the same exact ball every single time and know exactly where it is going’ and we’re working on that. A lot of that is weight distribution and has nothing to do with the arm. [It] has everything to do with weight distribution and how you use your right hip and things of that nature.” He’s encouraged by the fact Beck is always asking him “why” things need to be done a certain way. It leads to a deeper understanding of what he is trying to learn how to do the same way every single time. That’s what he wants to see in a young man with tools like his. Beck would devour the game film of the next opponent on Sunday mornings with Thompson. Those sessions would last up to four hours. Thompson wouldn’t be able to deal with his wife most weekends if those sessions extended any longer. “Those guys were then beaten by the time he hit the practice field on Monday,” Thompson said. “That is his mindset with the work it takes to be great.” What Carson Beck can be at Georgia Beck is not a polished product yet. Even though all the tools are there. Thompson does make that clear. He is still big on what he can bring to the table, though. That was evident when he gave a very strong answer to this query: “ What can Georgia be with Carson Beck?” “I think with the momentum that they’ve got recruiting I think Carson is the guy who wins you a national championship,” Thompson said. “I really do.” Big bold words. But then Thompson continued to provide the right baseline to the conversation. He did so this time by adding real accountability to his own methods. He might regret saying this later. But he still said it. “Carson is the kind of kid that if he is not a first-round [NFL] guy I failed him,” Thompson said. “We failed him as coaches. Everything is there: Head. Size. Arm. Everything you want is there. Leadership. I mean he’s recruiting his butt off for Georgia right now. Everything is there.” “So if something other than injury happens. Then it is probably on me as a trainer or them as coaches or whatever it is. He is definitely the kind of talent though that you can win a national championship with.” Want to see the full context of that statement? With a bonus thought about who Thompson feels is the best college comparison to Beck? Check out the video interview above. Carson Beck is set to enroll at UGA in January of 2020. He currently rates as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style passer for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Carson Beck Beck on deck: Getting to know the UGA commit Carson Beck commits to UGA Carson Beck escalates his recruiting efforts for the Bulldogs Beck names off his top 5 targets for the 2020 class in Athens The throw Carson Beck made that the state of Florida is still buzzing about  The first Beck win for UGA? Getting a Gator to gush about the present and future in Athens The post The two strongest statements yet about what Carson Beck can be at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Pitching and defense has been carrying Georgia all season. Now the bats have heated up, and that bodes very well for the Bulldogs, who enter postseason play as one of the nation’s top-ranked teams and a favorite to make it to Omaha. After this past weekend’s sweep of Alabama to close out the regular season, the Bulldogs (42-14, 21-9 SEC) moved up to No. 3 in the latest RPI calculations. That makes them a virtual lock to receive a national seed, regardless of what happens in this week’s SEC Tournament. National seeds go to the top eight teams in baseball and guarantee that recipients host games through the Super Regionals. Vanderbilt is No. 2, Mississippi State 4 and Arkansas 6 in the RPI released by the NCAA on Monday. So, theoretically, the Bulldogs could be “two and ‘cue” in the double-elimination SEC Tournament this week and still be in line to receive that distinct advantage. But they’re not leaving anything to chance. “You want to win every game that you play,” said coach Scott Stricklin of his Georgia squad, which opens play against Texas A&M at 10:30 a.m. (ET) Wednesday (SEC Network). “At this stage, I think we can still earn some national respect, not that it’s really that big of a deal for us. Internally, we know we’re a good team. We feel like we’re a 100 percent lock to be a Top 8 seed. There’s no way you win 21 games in this league and have an RPI of 3 and not be a Top 8. But certainly we would like to make a run.” The way the Bulldogs are suddenly swinging the bats, that would seem entirely possible. Thanks to the way Georgia ball hit the ball against Alabama — batting .402 and scoring 30 runs in three games — the Bulldogs are now hitting .275 as a team with 63 home runs, 336 RBI and a .434 slugging percentage. That puts them on pace to surpass last year’s power numbers, in which they hit 64 homers and had 352 RBI while slugging .425. That’s an unexpected outcome after losing last year’s three leading sluggers in Michael Curry (13 HRs), Keegan McGovern (18) and Adam Sasser (10). “We’ve just seen more consistency out of the lineup,” Stricklin said. “It’s really been the last three or four weeks, after Mississippi State, we’ve really swung the bats a lot better. We’re just getting more quality at-bats out of guys and wearing down the opposing pitching staffs and getting into the bullpen.” One big difference-maker has been designated hitter John Cable. The Roswell native came to Georgia as a late addition last June via a graduate transfer from the University of New Orleans. Batting fifth in the lineup, the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is third on the team with a .316 average, slugging a second-best .544 and leads the Bulldogs with 45 RBI. This past Saturday, Cable hit his seventh home run and had his fourth 4-RBI game of the season as Georgia’s 3-4-5 hitters — including Aaron Schunk and LJ Talley went 23-of-41 for the weekend. “It’s huge,” Cable said of Georgia’s hot bats. “Our pitching has been carrying us so to have that going is big for us. The past two weeks we’ve had really good at-bats and put up a lot of runs. The bats are rolling right now and we’ve got to keep them going.” To be clear, pitching and defense remain the foundation on which this Georgia team is built. The Bulldogs enter with their rotation intact as Tim Elliot (6-3, 2.93 ERA), the regular mid-week starter, will get the ball against the Aggies. He’ll be backed up by the best defense in Georgia history. In league play, the starting infield of Patrick Sullivan, L.J. Talley, Cam Shepherd and Aaron Schunk, have made four errors all season. Shepherd, the shortstop, has made none. That’s right — zero. Shepherd was error-free in 30 SEC games in a total of 109 chances. For the year, he’s fielding .990 with just two errors in 206 total chances. Up the middle, between catcher Mason Meadows, Shepherd and Talley and center field Tucker Maxwell, the Bulldogs have made a collective 7 errors all season. Put that defense behind the pitching rotation Georgia is throwing at opponents this season, and you’ve got winning formula. Led by first-team All-SEC designee Emerson Hancock (8-2, 1.31 ERA), the Bulldogs lead the SEC in opposing batting average (.196) — the closest to them is Missouri at .220 — and they are second in team ERA (3.17), saves (18) and wins (42). Add the hot bats and the Bulldogs’ confidence heading to Hoover is understandable. “It gives your pitchers a lot more confidence when they know they have that cushion and also the best defense in Georgia history behind them,” Stricklin said. “Our infield defense has been unbelievable.” Said Cable: “We want to keep the momentum because this tournament leads into the regional. We’re on a hot streak, playing well, and I think we’re going to go in there and play well. It’d be nice to win it and put it on the wall (at Foley Field).” The post VIDEO: No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs take hot bats to Hoover, face Texas A&M in SEC Tourney appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily — the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart’s quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 950 (May 21, 2019) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about how 4-star defensive tackle Jalen Carter’s commitment addresses UGA fans’ concerns about the program’s defensive line recruiting. Georgia football podcast: UGA appears to address a fan concern in emphatic fashion Beginning of the show: Georgia hasn’t recruited well enough on its defensive line according to many UGA fans. I’ll discuss on today’s show how 4-star defensive tackle Jalen Carter’s commitment potentially calms those concerns. 10-minute mark: I share audio from UGA coach Kirby Smart’s appearance at a fan gathering in Macon, Ga and invite DawgNation Daily listeners and viewers to register for a chance to win a VIP stay at Callaway Resort and Gardens for DawgNation Days of Summer. 15-minute mark: DawgNation’s recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… Jeff’s thoughts on Carter Reaction to 4-star offensive lineman Justin Rogers’ Kentucky commitment The latest on 5-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson 4-star defensive end Jacolbe Cowan’s intriguing description of his conversations with 5-star recruits, Kendall Milton and Kelee Ringo And a look at UGA’s so-called “scavenger hunt” 35-minute mark: I take a look at CBS’ ranking of SEC teams’ schedule strength. 40-minute mark: I share the latest edition of our Summer Q&A. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. NOTE: If you’d like to share your answers to the Summer Q&A you can enter your responses in the comment section below or reach out to BA on Twitter @DawgNationDaily. The post Georgia football podcast: UGA appears to address a fan concern in emphatic fashion appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs signed the No. 2 overall recruiting class for the 2019 recruiting cycle. It landed a total of five 5-star prospects, including the No. 1 prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings in Nolan Smith. That’s before even mentioning a player like incoming wide receiver Dominick Blaylock. But none of the 20 freshman members of the class were selected to ESPN’s instant impact team. Put together by Tom Luginbill, the list highlights some of the top incoming freshmen who have a chance to make meaningful contributions right away. Some of the players named include LSU running back John Emery Jr. and Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. But there was not a player from Georgia’s class named. Interestingly, there was also not an Alabama player named in the class as well. The Crimson Tide signed the No. 1 overall class in the country for the 2019 cycle. Texas, which had the No. 3 class also did not have a player named. Saying all that though, there’s a very good chance that a number of freshmen play a meaningful role for the Bulldogs. Smith — along with inside linebacker Nakobe Dean —really stood out this spring for the Bulldogs. Related:  The national media is making a big mistake by sleeping on Nolan Smith And given the needs Georgia has at wide receiver, it should not come as a surprise to see either Blaylock or 5-star wide receiver George Pickens play a big role early. Georgia coach Kirby Smart has also mentioned Blaylock working heavily on special teams. “We think Dom can play all three spots, slot and both outside,”  Smart said. “He’s very bright and intelligent. He picks up things well. We think he’s going to help in the return game, too. But it’s not like we’re sitting there going, ‘He’s a slot receiver.’ We think he can play all of them.” Related:  Kirby Smart says all Georgia Bulldogs, incoming and otherwise, have made the grades to play Georgia has also seen a number of players who weren’t thought to be early impact players make significant contributions in their first year. This time a year ago, no one was saying much of anything about defensive lineman Jordan Davis. Now he’s a key member of the Georgia defense. And most thought that Jake Fromm would end up being the backup to Jacob Eason in his freshman season. Fromm went on to win the SEC and lead Georgia to an appearance in the national title game. Georgia and its talented pack of freshmen begin the 2019 season on Aug. 31 when the Bulldogs visit Vanderbilt. Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Meet 6-foot-6 Josh Braun: Brains, rhinos, swing dancing, tennis and a mauler’s mindset Fire and ice: Incoming Miami transfer compares Kirby Smart to Mark Richt VIDEO: Kirby Smart, Tom Crean update fans on Georgia Bulldogs during ‘Coaches Caravan’ Why commitment of 4-star DT Jalen Carter is a big win for Georgia football Kirby Smart expects QB Jake Fromm to have more ‘offensive input’ in 2019 Update on injury status of UGA running back Zamir White Nation’s No. 10 DT Jalen Carter has made his college decision     The post ESPN snubs Georgia freshmen on instant impact list appeared first on DawgNation.