By Craig Lawson in Riverbend Rundown1 commentThis list is complete speculation based on my own projected depth chart for next season. It's not meant to be taken as prediction, just a list of players who wouldn't cause a shock if they looked elsewhere.
✅Brock Vandagriff - Assuming Beck returns. Stockton could look elsewhere too, but given that he's a year younger, I would guess Gunner is more likely to stick it out and compete with Raiola and Puglisi for the 2025 starting job.
Cash Jones - With the production he's put on tape early this season when the RB room was decimated with injuries, and the likelihood of having 6 scholarship players ahead of him next season does Jones test the transfer market? He would have 2 years of eligibility remaining.
Arian Smith - Looking back at the Ole Miss game he still gets on the field with the ones, but Lovett and Thomas have both surpassed him. I'm guessing both of them return along with Dillon Bell. Outside chance that Ladd and MRJS leaving opens up a spot for Smith to be a bigger part of the gameplan, but he could be a go to option in another offense with his speed. He has some great tape making big plays in big games.
✅Jackson Meeks - He's blocked really well at times this season, but has yet to record a reception in 2023. There are a lot of young receivers like CJ Smith, Zeed Haynes and Anthony Evans who could also emerge. That said, he seems pretty happy when I've watched his podcast with Javon Bullard. I could see him sticking around as well.
De'Nylon Morrissette - This might be premature, but in year two he seems to have been passed over by younger guys. Perhaps there is an injury there that I'm unaware of. He could also still be in the doghouse after a May DUI.
No obvious scholarship candidates here
✅Austin Blaske - I mentioned him in a separate post. I'm not sure if his injury flared back up but we haven't seen much from him. He was a projected replacement level player back in August with the potential to start at LT. I would have thought he would at least be a rotational option in 2024, but I'm not sure if something has changed.
Chad Lindberg - The former 4 star recruit hasn't seen much action in his 4 seasons with the team, but will have at least one year of eligibility remaining.
✅Jonathan Jefferson - Could just as easily see him sticking around for a 4th season. The former 4 star has been passed over by some younger talent, but Kirby likes depth on the D Line. That said, Kirby will also be checking the portal for D Linemen.
✅CJ Madden - I almost didn't add this one. Just a gut feeling because we haven't seen much from him this season.
✅Darris Smith - Wouldn't be surprised if he stuck around either, but he hasn't made much of a move this season, and also had an off-field issue that kept him away from the team for a bit. There's a lot of young talent in this room and Smith is a freak who might be a feature player on another roster.
✅Xavian Sorey - The former 5 star recruit was in the rotation earlier this season, but again with the younger talent. CJ Allen and Raylen Wilson have just been too good to keep off the field. Dumas-Johnson and Mondon will likely head to the NFL, but if one or both returned there would be even less snaps to go around here.
✅EJ Lightsey - Lightsey has received a lot positive reviews out of practice, but hasn't been able to crack the rotation in his two seasons. Given the emergence of younger players he could seek immediate playing time elsewhere.
✅Nyland Greene - This could go either way, and might not happen until after spring. Assuming Lassiter goes to the NFL it has been Greene, Everette and Humphrey battling for the #2 CB spot. Everette and Humphrey have both surpassed Greene, but Kirby has been rotating 3 corners and Greene could work his way into that spot, but he would have to hold off players like A.J. Harris and incoming 5 star Ellis Robinson IV. Might be too tall of a task when Greene is a starter level player elsewhere.
David Daniel-Sisavanh - He's proven himself as a hard hitting rotational player who can be trusted in spots, but with Starks returning and the emergence of freshman Joenel Aguero there's no clear path to a starting job here.
JaCorey Thomas - It's only his second season, and I'd like to see him stick around especially if DDS doesn't. He could get his chance in 2025 which would be year 4, but he's another highly ranked recruit who could probably start somewhere else.
Dan Jackson? - Almost didn't add this one either, but Dan would have two years of eligibility remaining and one hell of a resume. He's a graduate so he may hang it up or try to go pro, but I could see him starting at the P5 level somewhere else next season while he gets a free graduate degree. I could also see him returning to Athens and remaining in the safety rotation for the Dawgs.
✅Jared Zirkel - Jack Podlesny left a vacancy after last season and freshman kicker, Peyton Woodring took the job and ran with it in 2023 which relegated Zirkel to kickoff duty, a spot where he has performed admirably. He would have at least one if not two years of eligibility remaining.
This isn't an exhaustive list, and I didn't delve into walk-ons who rarely if ever get snaps during games. I'm sure some of them will leave, and there is always the threat that NIL or other outside circumstances (or both) lures a starter away to another program willing to outbid Georgia ie AD Mitchell. Let me know if I missed anyone or if any of my guesses are crazy.
Not on my initial list:
Mehki Mews - Mews has entered the portal. He played significant snaps on offense and was the primary punt returner (presumably because Ladd McConkey was hobbled for most of the season), and he also returned kickoffs. Freshman speedster, Anthony Evans, was inserted at punt returner during the 4th quarter of the SEC Championship and had in immediate impact with a 28 yard return. Mews had some dropped punts this season and perhaps Evans insertion signified a pending change in that role for Georgia. Mews should have plenty of suitors, the former walk-on had an excellent spring game and found himself on the field a lot despite only recording 13 receptions on the season.
0 commentsGeorgia returned to the hardwood on Tuesday night for a game against Georgia Tech. Mike White and the Bulldogs entered this one on a 3-game win streak.
The Yellow Jackets beat #7 Duke last time out, so there was some hype growing around them. The Georgia offense made the first basket of the game and never gave up the lead the whole first half. At the break, the Bulldogs were up 36-20. This was the lowest amount of points Georgia Tech has scored in their season so far. At one point, the UGA defense held them scoreless for over 5 minutes. Georgia Tech couldn't buy a shot in the first half as their field goal percentage was 26.5% (9/34) and three-point percentage was 16.7% (2/12). Tech also had 6 turnovers. Georgia shot 40% (14/35) from the field and 23.5% (4/17) from three. Noah Thomasson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 9 points, including a huge three-pointer to close out the half.
In the second half, Georgia Tech was able to cut it to a 12-point deficit at one point but could never get any closer. Georgia won this game 76-62. The Bulldogs shot 40% (26/65) from the field and 30.3% (10/33) from three. Of the 10 made threes, Justin Hill and Blue Cain combined for 7 of those. Georgia shot decently from the charity stripe, as they made 14 of 21. It wasn't a great shooting performance from the Yellow Jackets tonight. They finished the game with a field goal percentage of 32% (24/75), a three-point percentage of 29.6% (8/27), and made 6 of 13 free throws.
Georgia had 4 players score in double figures against Tech. Blue Cain knocked down 4 three-pointers for 12 points. Cain was committed to Georgia Tech before flipping to Georgia. Justin Hill continues to be a weapon for the Bulldogs, as he scored 14 points off the bench. Jabri Abdur-Rahim turned in 12 points and 8 rebounds. Noah Thomasson continues to be the best straight scorer for Mike White. He had 16 points on 6 of 10 shooting and also added 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Georgia's record is now 6-3 following the win tonight. The Bulldogs are currently riding a 4-game win streak and will look to extend that against High Point in Stegman. This game is set to tip off on December 16th at 5:30 PM EST on the SEC Network.
Photo Courtesy of the SEC Media Portal.
By Alec Smith in Comin Down the Tracks0 commentsThe Georgia Bulldogs (-5.5) vs The Alabama Crimson Tide
3:30 P.M. (EST) on CBS
Broadcasters: Brad Nessler (Play by Play) and Gary Danielson (Color)
Record at School
36-0 in three consecutive regular seasons… my friends, do not forget to relish in these times. 29 wins in a row (SEC Record), 25 players selected in the ’22 and ’23 NFL Drafts, two national championships, All-Americans, award winners, the list goes on. In a time of college football where competition has never been so good and where roster maintenance has never been so difficult, Kirby Smart has built a self-sustaining ecosystem in Athens. The likes of Smart’s immediate success are uber rare and they should be marveled at by Georgia and college football fans alike.
It is very important to realize that we are currently in The Golden Days of Dawg football, but this dynasty has been built upon forward thinking and the refusal of complacency. Ahead lies #8 Alabama and a trip to the College Football Playoff. In my opinion, no conference will get two teams in the playoffs, meaning this would be a de facto elimination game for the two SEC giants. This matchup has played host to so many classic finishes, and I think we are in for another knife fight on Saturday. Here are some of my insights on The SEC Championship Game.
No need to beat around the bush, I see Jalen Milroe’s legs as the biggest threat on this offensive unit. He has 126 gives for 439 yards, which only comes out to a YPC of 3.5, but Jalen has 12 TDs on the ground. He’s averaging 229.6 yards per game through the air with 21 TDs, 6 INTs, and a completion percentage of 66.4%. The Bama RB’s do get their share of the pie, with Jase McClellan leading the team with 166 attempts, 803 yards, and 6 TDs. Roydell Williams rounds out the main ball carriers with 94 touches for 497 yards and 4 touchdowns. My take on Milroe as a quarterback is that he is a pocket passer by nature but possesses the speed to cause a lot of issues. He also throws the deep ball up there with the best in football (97.9 Grade on throws of 20+), and he excels off play action. Despite my singing his praises, there are weak areas to exploit. Jalen’s PFF Passing Grade goes from an 87.8 off play action, to a 78.8 mark on straight drops. His Pass Grade goes from a 91.6 to a 51.2 on plays when kept clean vs. under pressure. Milroe also seems to struggle on intermediate throws, especially between the hashes. Of 22 attempts on intermediate throws over the middle, Jalen has a grade of 43.9, 50% CMP, and 3 TDs to 3 INTs. For comparison, Carson Beck has a 93.8 grade and a 74.1% CMP in the same area. Another comforting stat is that Milroe has only thrown the ball >30 times once this year against Texas A&M. His second most attempts in a game came against Texas where his stat line was 14-27 for 255 and 2-2. In summary, I believe Alabama will be able to put up some rushing yardage. I also feel as if Georgia can give up 150+ on the ground and still win this game comfortably. The Dawg offense itself will score some points, and I do not have a ton of faith in Milroe beating us with his arm. Kamari Lassiter has turned into a true lockdown corner that will erase whoever he is guarding. Starks and Bullard are the best safety combo in the country and rarely get beat deep.
According to Alabama sources, lead back Jase McClellan has missed practice for the first half of this week with a lingering foot injury. It is up in the air whether he will suit up on Saturday, and that would put the bulk of the carries on Roydell Williams/ Milroe.
Moving on to the offensive line, they have greatly improved as the season progressed. The Tide rank T-113th in the nation with 39 sacks allowed on the year, an average of 3.25 per game. UGA is T-64th with 25 team sacks, along with being T-98th in TFL with 5.0 per game. 26 of the 34 sacks on Milroe came in Alabama’s first six games, while they haven’t allowed more than three in a game since week 8. Here are some grades and rankings for the Tide O-line:
Does anything stick out there? Kadyn Proctor came in as the #1 OT in the 2023 class and has been starting since day one for UA. Proctor is a great athlete and a physical run blocker, but he struggles against twitchy pass rushers. I would keep an eye… maybe two eyes on whoever the Dawgs have lined up over the young LT. McLaughlin at Center is another solid run blocker who struggles with speed rushing. The Dawgs front seven must take advantage of these weak spots and keep pressure on the QB.
You may have noticed that I am just now getting around to discussing Alabama’s WR room, which is an anomaly compared to past UA teams that UGA has faced. Isaiah Bond is their leading receiver with 39 catches for 542 yards and 4 TDs. Former Bulldog Jermaine Burton is the deep threat out of the group averaging 22.7 yards per catch on 33 receptions, while also sporting 7 TDs. From there, the Tide do not have another player with more than 18 catches.
Keeping up with traditions, Alabama is still running a 3-4 multiple defense. UA is T-9th nationally with 3.0 sacks per game and 33rd with 6.3 TFL per game. Rather than Bama having their one dominant edge rusher, Dallas Turner, Chris Braswell, and Justin Eboigbe all have at least 6 sacks and 10 TFL a piece. Another former Dawg, Trezman Marshall, has been instrumental for the Bama defense at the ILB position. The unit as a whole ranks 17th in yards allowed with 312.7, and they are sitting at 14th in the nation with 17.9 PPGa.
UA’s defense has given up 20+ points in 7 contests this season. The most points allowed came in their week two loss to Texas. Here is what the Longhorns did right: Quinn Ewers went 24/38 for 349 yards and 3 TDs with no INTs. Texas had zero turnovers and put up 454 yards of offense with a middling run game. Bama had a very difficult time covering Texas’s TE Ja’Tavion Sanders who had 5 catches for 114 yards. If only there was a mismatch nightmare of a TE in red and black that we could utilize! Brock Bowers is undoubtedly still not at 100%, but I see very few scenarios where he stands on the sideline watching this game. Bowers is a competitor of the highest order, and I expect that he’ll be chomping at the bit to make an impact in this game.
Quinn Ewers averaged 14.5 yards per completion with 4 connections of 30+ yards, but a lot of damage was dealt on the perimeter with swing, bubble, and tunnel screens. Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry are two of the better cover corners in the country, but they seemed to struggle with coming up and making tackles in the flat against Texas. Let it be known that it caused me physical pain to type out Kool-Aid in a serious manner. Another true freshman starting for the Tide, Caleb Downs is their leading tackler from the safety position. An elite run defender and hardnosed tackler, Downs has made an immediate impact; however, he has been known to get beat deep against good route runners. If McConkey or Lovett get matched up on Downs 1v1, watch out!
Regarding the interior defensive line, Bama is missing their game wrecker that we have seen in the past. In fact, the Tide do not have one IDL defender ranked in the top 100 according to PFF. UA is 33rd in the country in rush yards allowed per game, and they gave up 244 on the ground against Auburn last week. Only 57 yards of that 244 total came from Auburn’s QB. I see Edwards and Milton having a big game on Saturday behind a proven and experienced Georgia Oline. Assuming Ratledge is ready to go, the Dawgs will have their entire offensive line back together for the first time in several weeks.
For the first time out of the past several matchups between Georgia and Alabama, I believe that UGA has the advantage at quarterback. Carson Beck has shown tremendous growth as the season has gone on, and Mike Bobo has schemed perfectly to Beck’s strengths. This game hinges on the Dawgs’ ability to respond to adversity. We saw them do it against South Carolina, Auburn, and Missouri this year. Can UGA respond if they go down two touchdowns? Can they maintain composure if they go up two touchdowns? I believe the answer to both is yes. This Bulldog offense is arguably going to be the most well-rounded unit that Alabama has seen all year. Georgia’s defense has been porous at times, but they have always turned their nose up when it counts. I am expecting a lot of points. I am expecting for this game to be decided in the fourth quarter. My final prediction is 41-31 GEORGIA.
0 commentsThe Georgia Bulldogs traveled to Tallahassee to take on the 4-1 Florida State Seminoles in the ACC vs. SEC Challenge. After winning last Friday against Winthrop, the Bulldogs were looking to gain some momentum.
Florida State jumped out to a quick 13-5 lead over the Dawgs, but they battled and entered the half down 25-21. Georgia struggled shooting the ball in the first half, as they only made 7 field goals and only 2 three-pointers. Their first-half field goal percentage was 29.2% (7/24), and their three-point percentage was 22.2% (2/9). The Bulldogs were playing a good Florida State team close, and it was time to see if they could keep it up in the second half.
Georgia opened the half on a good note as they were able to battle and tie the game at 37 with over 12 minutes remaining. Then, the Bulldogs fell apart, as in the next 6 minutes, the Seminoles grew a 17-point lead. With 7:22 remaining on the clock, the Dawgs had just a 0.6% chance of coming back and winning the game. In years past, this is when you could chalk this game up as a loss, but since Mike White has taken over, Georgia should never be counted out. The Bulldogs rallied back, and the game was tied at 66 with just 27 seconds left to go. Out of a timeout, Justin Hill called an ISO and went to work. With 1 second to go, Hill hit a mid-range step-back jumper to secure a 68-66 win for the Bulldogs. They ended the game on a 22-5 scoring run. UGA finished the game shooting 40.0% (22/55) from the floor and 32.0% (8/25) from three. The Seminoles shot 34.4% (22/64) from the field and 36.4% (8/22) from behind the arc. The Bulldogs did give up 13 offensive rebounds, but UGA's 7-footer Russel Tchewa was ejected in the first half. Georgia had 10 turnovers to Florida State's 9, but FSU's were more costly, as 4 came in the last 3 minutes of the game and fueled the Bulldog's comeback. Their percentage from the charity stripe was 61.5%, making 16 of 26 shots. Georgia went on the road against a good Seminole team, missed 10 free throws, and somehow came out with the win.
Four Dawgs scored in double figures in this game. Silas Demary Jr. led the Bulldogs with 15 points and also added 5 rebounds as well. The freshman guard made big shots for Georgia down the stretch. Jabri Abdur-Rahim did what he does best, and that's shooting the ball from the deep. He connected on 4 of the 7 attempts he took from behind the arc for 12 points. RJ Melendez and Justin Hill came off the bench for UGA and combined for 25 points. Melendez finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds, which was his second career double-double. Justin Hill added 13 points, with the biggest being the jumper to give the Bulldogs the win.
This is easily Mike White's best win in his tenure at UGA so far and one of the biggest wins for the program in the past few years. Georgia's record goes to 4-3, and they're currently on a 2-game winning streak. They will look to extend that on Friday night versus Mercer at 7:00 PM EST. That game will be shown on ESPN+/SECN+.
Stay tuned to DawgsCentral for all things UGA Athletics.
Photo Courtesy of the SEC Media Portal
0 commentsCoach Smart met with the media today to talk about the game against Alabama in the SEC Championship this Saturday. His quotes are italicized.
Opening Remarks: We got to get started yesterday on Alabama and putting the last game out of the way and get a little bit of a head start on these guys today.
On Jalen Milroe: He is a tremendous football player. I didn't really know until I got further into the games and watching him last night how good he really is at what he does. I think anytime you can scramble and extend plays, it makes it harder to defend. When you have the component of designed runs mixed in with that, it complicates it even more because he becomes an extra guy to tackle- a physical guy to tackle. He is a physical guy who has running back characteristics, but he has the ability to throw the ball, and he throws the ball well, especially in their play-action game. He does a really good job of taking shots and throwing the ball downfield. He sees it well, and they've got a massive offensive line to protect him. When you have the ability to run the ball as a designed run and can also run the ball on your scrambles, it just makes it harder to defend.
On What Stands Out About This Alabama Defense: I mean size, speed, toughness, aggressiveness, multiple coverages, and players that can play multiple positions. The depth across the defensive line is one of the things that pops out at you. They roll guys and constantly have fresh guys in there striking. They're really good at the star position; they're very experienced. Two good corners that are going to be drafted that are good players. They've got an all-around really good defense, but that's what you would expect. I mean, you expect nothing less from this group.
On What Beating Alabama Meant to Georgia the Last Time They Played: It meant the University of Georgia got a National Championship. That's the significance of that.
On What He Attributes to Kendall Milton's Success Lately: Good run schemes. Being in the right runs at the right time. A really good run plan and good perimeter blocking. He certainly is healthier than he's been. He's running with confidence. I feel like he's hitting the hole a lot harder because he's more confident. And being explosive is getting to the secondary. You're not going to be an explosive run offense if you don't get your backs to the secondary. That's one thing we've been able to do is get him past that first level. He's running through a lot of arm tackles too, which is really important to be an explosive run team.
Injury Status of Julian Humphrey and JDJ: Still week to week with their injuries. Trying to get both of those guys back.
On What He's Seen From Caleb Downs and Dallas Turner: Both tremendous athletes and very instinctive. You know, we recruited both of those guys. They're passionate about the game of football. They love to play the game of football, and those kind of kids are your favorite kids to coach. They're in there every day with a bright eye, and they're taking notes. They love to play the game, and you see that on tape out of both those guys.
On the SEC Championship Game: I have a great appreciation for this game because I grew up an SEC footprint kid, an SEC player, and coached most of my career in the SEC. I have an appreciation for this game and how hard it is to win. It was no different from my experience at Alabama. You know, we had a year that we won a national championship that we didn't win an SEC championship. That's happened a couple of times in our conference, and it's hard to find that in most conferences. I think it speaks to the depth of our conference. It speaks to how hard it is just to get to the game. In some ways, I think Alabama and us, we've been spoiled, and I don't think some kids appreciate it. They think it's a right of passage, and it's not; it's earned. It's one of the greatest environments that I've been a part of to play in that game.
On the Alabama WR Core: They're athletic and fast. They've got speed all over the place. They've got some guys that really do well on the vertical balls. Obviously, Milroe throws that deep ball really well. They've got intermediate routes. They have teams that play off of them, and they hit timing routes. They do a really good job. Their run after catch has been good. You know, one of the key contributing factors to explosive plays for them has been if a play breaks down and the timing is not right some quarterbacks have to throw it away; they turn plays into massive explosive plays. Part of their plan is they know their quarterback's going to be able to extend plays. He has the longest time to throw in the whole NCAA. They make plays out of those plays, and I think that's really a contribution they've made as a receiving core to him. It is the ability to get open on plays that may not have been by design.
Initial Reaction to Bama's Game Winner Versus Auburn: I didn't see it till yesterday when I watched that game and went through the tape. It was crazy how it got to that point. Like to be down there and be close, then be all the way back up, and then come out on top with that play. It shows his arm talent. Most teams have a play-by-design that they play from certain yardage intervals. 15 to 25 is this play, and 25 to 35 is this play. You know, it's not just a hail mary play. It's a play to try and find a one-on-one. They were able to find one which gives you the best percentages you could have.
On The UGA Defense After Watching Tape: Like with most things, it's never as bad as you think and never as good as you think. There are some mistakes in there, and maybe some guys are not keying what they're supposed to key. I actually thought that we struck the blocks and played the blocks really well up front than I thought coming out. It was not a matter of, oh, we just got whipped; it was a matter of some things we didn't fit well, and we didn't knock back tackle. So instead of 2nd and 7, it's 2nd and 4...it's a big difference. The effort to finish and get more bodies on contact is really important because that manages what your down and distances are.
On CJ Allen and Raylen Wilson: They've grown up. They had to grow up fast. I mean, you talk about getting thrown into the fire at Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech. They've had to play in three games that were really tough physical games. In prep, each game was different in terms of styles. They went from Ole Miss, to Tennessee, and then Georgia Tech, and all three are completely different offenses to prepare for. They're young guys. They make mistakes, but they also have a quite confidence about them. They're good athletes, and they're well coached. So, I'm really proud of what they've been able to do, and we need them to play well to get defensive stops. When you're playing with freshmen at that position, I think anybody in the country will tell you it's a little like playing with a quarterback there. You just don't want to play with freshmen there, but they're the guys that are up, and they've done a good job.
On What He's Seen From the Alabama OC: I think he's adapting to what he has. You know, people always talk about this team and where they are now. They're playing as good of football as anybody in the country. Don't talk to me about playing in Auburn because I know. They have played really, really good football, and they've evolved from the start of the year to now. They're not the same team they were in the beginning of the year; not many are. I mean, we had to figure out who we were and who we were identity-wise. You evolve, and they're a very talented and really well-coached good football team that's playing their best ball at the end of the year.
Photo Courtesy of Charles Jordan