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Georgia Sports News

  • ATHENS Georgia remains a College Football Playoff contender, but there were enough red flags to make for a busy week in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Like any other team, the Bulldogs need to evolve, and it starts from the top down coming out of the Notre Dame win. Not finishing in big games has become part of the team's identity the past two seasons, and it very nearly happened again in the 23-17 win against the Irish. UGA went up 23-10 with 6:54 remaining on Rodrigo Blankenship's third field goal of the night, a 43-yarder. Smart had chosen the field goal option instead of going for it on a fourth-and-1. He likely felt confident in a defense that held Notre Dame without a first down in the third quarter or any points in the second half. But doesn't Smart also need to feel good about an offense that has led the SEC in rushing straight seasons and features a third-year starting QB capable of checking to the right play at the line? The Irish responded to the conservative call with a 75-yard touchdown drive, then held UGA's offense three-and-out and got the ball back with 2 minutes left on their own 48. Georgia dodged a bullet. Here are three takeaways on Georgia football Kirby needs to loosen up Successful head coaches with defensive backgrounds like Smart have a tendency to take fewer risks on offense and play not to lose. The older, more successful ones have grown out of that when personnel dictates. Jake Fromm is at his best in the two-minute drill, and Georgia has skill position players like few others. The Bulldogs are going to have to apply offensive firepower when leading in big games. Smart has released the hounds on defense this season, and it may be time do the same with Fromm and his offense. Recruits like seeing big offensive numbers, too, and right now Alabama and LSU have them on offense, and UGA does not. Talent vs. experience Seniors and returning starters are important, but there comes a time when the talent trumps equity. Some of the Bulldogs most gifted players didn't appear to be part of the game plan against Notre Dame, and that's likely something Smart and his staff will chew on during the bye week. The competition is real at most positions, as former UGA great David Pollack pointed out, and October will be a month to let it play out against middling SEC competition. By November, the best players need to have the ball in their hands and get targets. That didn't seem to be the case against Notre Dame on Saturday night. The Fans Every fanbase likes to think they affect the game, and to some extent they all do. But Saturday night in Athens was special, and it's fair to suggest that without the fans Georgia would not have beaten Notre Dame. The Irish had six false starts and burned at least three timeouts due to the noise, including two in the second half. Did the motion penalty yardage prevent the upset? Would Notre Dame's final drive led to a touchdown if Brian Kelly had two more timeouts up his sleeve on the final drive? Georgia's fans bailed out the Bulldogs and made a difference to proportions very rarely seen in recent history. DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Georgia football report card for Notre Dame Kirby Smart says Georgia got tested' in 23-17 win Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly: Physicality was real' Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post 3 takeaways from Georgia's Notre Dame win, from Jake Fromm to fabulous fans appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football passed the test Saturday night, but just barely. Coach Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs surely need the bye week they are afforded this week after surviving Notre Dame by a 23-17 count at Sanford Stadium. It was a case of home field advantage trumping the so-called luck of the Irish. UGA fans were so loud that they triggered six motion penalties and forced Notre Dame to burn valuable timeouts. As for the 4-0 Bulldogs, they were often their own worst enemies, from muffed punts to tight ends running wide open. There will be a great deal of disparity where takes on this game are concerned, depending on if people consider Notre Dame a legitimate top 10 opponent, or revert back to the Irish's 30-3 CFP final score last season. The baseline here is that Notre Dame is indeed a Top 10 opponent, and certainly the best team Georgia will see until the month of November when a trip to Auburn is on tap. Another issue here is this looked like a game plan with personnel decisions that were made without regard to the first three games of the season. Quarterback (A) Jake Fromm was 20-of-26 passing for 187 yards and a touchdown, and once again he came through when afforded the opportunity to use tempo in UGA's version of the hurry-up. Fromm put the ball in tight windows and used his legs for two rushes that netted 15 yards. Once Fromm went downfield, the offense came to life, making one wonder why that isn't the approach from the onset. Running backs (B) Brian Herrien had the longest run of the night, a much-needed 16-yarder that sparked a key scoring drive in the second half. D'Andre Swift had 18 carries for 98 yards, including a highlight-worthy 10-yarder during which he leaped a player. Neither Swift (5.4) nor Herrien (5.2) were able to take over the game, however. Meanwhile, James Cook only got one carry and Zamir White and Kenny McIntosh didn't touch the ball. Receivers (A) Lawrence Cager was outstanding, likely playing himself into the 2020 NFL Draft with that 5-catch, 82-yard performance that included a gyrating TD grab that proved to be the difference in the game Demetris Robertson had 4 catches for 48 yards and Dominick Blaylock looked good (2-19) when afforded the opportunity. George Pickens, the most talented WR in the group, was only targeted twice. Eli Wolf is clearly the best TE target on the team and showed that again with a clutch third down grab. Offensive Line (B-) Notre Dame ranked 120th in the nation against the run, but you'd never know it by the way it held up against the Georgia offensive line. The Bulldogs averaged 4.6 yards per rush, but Jake Fromm saw more pressure than he'd seen all season and took one particularly nasty shot when Cade Mays got beat off the edge. Isiah Wilson's return for the third quarter provided a lift. Justin Shaffer filled in well, but he had a costly 15-yard personal foul. Defensive Line (A-) This much-maligned unit is starting to earn respect with its gritty and disciplined play his season. Notre Dame's run game was pretty much non-existent (3.3 yards per carry), and for all he talk on Ian Book UGA kept him contained for the most part. Georgia nearly made a goal-line stand thanks to the physical efforts of the Bulldogs' defensive line, which forced four downs inside the 5. Tyler Clark, Justin Young and Jordan Davis were warriors. Linebackers (A-) It was Tae Crowder's finest performance, as he came through with nine stops and the best open-field tackling performance of his career. Crowder had one of just three TFLs for the Bulldogs as well. Monty Rice had seven tackles including what appeared to be a bone-jarring hit on Book that had to leave a mark. Outside backers Nolan Smith and Jermaine Johnson were in hot pursuit of Book on the final play, forcing a scramble that limited the effectiveness of the final heave. Secondary (B-) J.R. Reed's late interception was the sort of veteran play he'll be looked to make in all the big games. Reed led the defense with 3 PBU and tied Richard LeCounte with seven tackles. The unit had to step up with Tyson Campbell out for the game and Eric Stokes missing from the second play until late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. D.J. Daniel had 5 tackles at corner and provided mostly adequate coverage. Tyrique McGhee is another veteran who stepped up, repping at corner all week with Campbell out and not getting UGA beat. Special teams (D) If not for Rodrigo Blankenship's steady field goal kicks makes of 40, 31 and 43 this unit was a fail. Sophomore punter Jake Camarda performed like a nervous freshman, shanking two kicks at critical junctures at the start of the game (25 yards) and again at the end (27 yards). Tyler Simmons punt return muff at the 8 set up Notre Dame for it's only TD of the first half. The kick return game continues to disappoint despite all the big names in the group. Coaching (D+) Credit to Georgia for some halftime adjustments, because Notre Dame arrived with the better game plan and use of its personnel. The Irish coached to win and UGA coached not to lose, and nearly gave the game away in the fourth quarter (Alabama, anyone?). The Bulldogs reluctance to use tempo more often is curious considering Fromm's efficiency. The inability to account for the tight end (9-108) was mind-bogging. Cole Kmet was running wide open too many times. Some offensive personnel usage decisions will be worth reviewing. Overall (B) The fans can pat themselves on the back for helping to decide this game, as they bailed out the coaches on a night when the Georgia players battled their guts out against a determined Notre Dame football team. Smart needs to use the off week and review his big-game and fourth quarter philosophies. It could be a matter of the Bulldogs underestimating the Irish. Whatever, UGA appears a half-click off from performing at a championship level, and it's not a matter of player talent. DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Kirby Smart says Georgia got tested' in 23-17 win Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly: Physicality was real' Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post Georgia report card: Bulldogs overcome themselves in 23-17 win over Notre Dame appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will remember Saturday night's classic at Georgia as one of the most physical games he has personally witnessed. 'You could hear it out there, the physicality was real,' Kelly said. 'It was probably one of the most physical games that I have coached, against any team that I have competed against, and that's a lot of games that I've coached.' The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs held off Kelly's No. 7-ranked Fighting Irish, 23-17, before a record crowd of 93,246 at Sanford Stadium. Notre Dame outplayed Georgia in the first half, taking a 10-7 lead into intermission before the Bulldogs' depth took its toll. 'Up front, we're trying to match (personnel), and trying to figure out what's going to come on the field,' Kelly said, 'and it's 3-down (linemen) and it's 4-down and it's different personnel groupings. It's more depth than we've seen.' The Bulldogs' offensive line took its toll as well. Georgia rushed for 97 of its 152 yards on the ground in the second half. The Bulldogs, however, were unable to break a run longer than 16 yards against a Notre Dame defense that entered the night 120th in the nation against the run. 'We kind of knew what we had and what we needed to do in this game,' Kelly said. 'If you give Georgia the opportunity to run the football, you have no chance to win the game. 'The game plan was set that they were going to have some one-on-one shots on the perimeter, but the extra hat was going to be committed to the run. And they hit some one-on-one shots on the perimeter, but we had to be effective against the run, or we had no chance.' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post WATCH Brian Kelly: Physicality was real' in 23-17 loss to Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia coach Kirby Smart learned something about his program on Saturday night, and it was very nearly a painful lesson. Smart and his No. 3-ranked Bulldogs escaped, pulling out a 23-17 win over Notre Dame. But not before the No. 7-ranked Irish (2-1) took UGA (4-0) down to the wire. The biggest home weekend in recent Georgia football history the first non-conference matchup of Top 10 teams since 1966 very nearly became the most disappointing. 'You don't know what's inside you in life or football until you get tested, and I thought we we got tested tonight, and found out a lot about our team,' Smart said, moments after his defense knocked down Ian Book's fourth down pass from the Georgia 37-yard line in the game's final moments. 'We're far from perfect, and we've got to get a lot better,' Smart said, 'but they'll fight you over and over again.' That's what it took against a physical and determined Fighting Irish team that came in seeking respect after being designated a two-touchdown underdog. Notre Dame took chances downfield from the onset. The Irish pierced Smart's defense repeatedly with tight end Cole Kmet, who had 9 catches for 108 yards and a TD. 'They were running boots, waggles, (and) that guy is a phenomenal player,' Smart said. 'You notice later in the game they tried to target him and we had two or three pass break-ups.' The Bulldogs also had two second-half interceptions and held the Irish without a third down in the third quarter. Georgia had star players step up, too. RELATED: WR Lawrence Cager steps up in clutch 'There were some really large hearts out there tonight,' Smart said. 'D'Andre Swift ran the ball with passion, guts and just relentless effort.' Swift had a career-high 18 carries for 98 yards and a TD, hurdling a Notre Dame player on a spectacular 10-yard run. 'The effort and leadership of a Jake Fromm, for him to third down scramble and take two hits and almost get a first down and manage the game really beautifully,' Smart said. 'And the defense to rise up and keep playing past a bunch of injuries, a couple injuries on the offensive line, I'm just proud of our guys.' Fromm was 20-of-26 passing for 187 yards passing and a TD, taking care of the football against was had been a very opportunistic Notre Dame football teams It was a beat-up Georgia team by the end of the night, several players pushing through injuries to help the Bulldogs pull out the win Cornerback Eric Stokes left the game with a leg injury on Notre Dame's second play, only to return late in the fourth quarter to help stem the Irish's comeback attempt. The Bulldogs lost starting left guard Solomon Kindley to a left ankle injury in the second quarter, triggering yet another shuffle on an offensive line that entered the night without Isaiah Wilson. Wilson came off the bench to start the second half, like Stokes, pushing through in a game where every play mattered. Indeed, even the crowd played a pivotal role. The Sanford Stadium record crowd of 93,246 triggered six Notre Dame motion penalties. 'I think when you get tested, you find out something about yourself inside,' Smart said. 'They had not been tested like that. They came out fighting.' Georgia football coach Kirby Smart DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post WATCH Kirby Smart: Georgia got tested' in 23-17 win over Notre Dame appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Here's something you can expect to happen a lot over the next 48 hours: No. 3-ranked UGA will be penalized and criticized by the national media because the Bulldogs didn't beat Notre Dame convincingly enough as the national media had predicted. Notre Dame will get more credit for losing a close game on the road rather than UGA will for actually winning a big game. Crazy, huh? ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is arguably college football's top influencer, and he got the narrative rolling in the wee hours of Sunday morning when he tweeted out his top four. UGA dropped out of Herbstreit's top four last week, and they stayed that way this week despite the fact that Bulldogs had just defeated a top-10 opponent in No. 7 Notre Dame. But it was Herbstreit's next tweet that stirred up UGA fans where he focused more on Notre Dame's gaining 'national respect' for their 'willingness to play in a heavyweight brawl' on the road, as opposed to elongated praise for the Bulldogs for pulling out the clutch win, despite not playing at their best (Herbie did throw UGA a small bone with the 'great win' comment, if that counts for much). SO IMPRESSED by @NDFootball tonight!! Willingness to play in a heavyweight brawl. Battled and had a chance to win in the end. Did NOTHING to hurt their cause-only strengthened their position. Great win for @GeorgiaFootball but Irish on the road gained some national respect! Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 22, 2019 Herbstreit is one of the first college football influencers to spin that narrative, but he won't be the last within the next couple of days. For UGA, it's a tough position because the Bulldogs never said they would win big that was Las Vegas and the national media. The post Kirk Herbstreit leaves UGA out of his top 4 again, heavily praises Notre Dame appeared first on DawgNation.