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Athens lawmakers converge on Capitol

Athens lawmakers converge on Capitol

Athens lawmakers converge on Capitol

Athens lawmakers converge on Capitol

Athens state Senators Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn and state Representatives Spencer Frye, Houston Gaines, and Marcus Weidower are joining their legislative colleagues at the Capitol in Atlanta for today’s start of a new legislative session. The AJC reporters who cover the Legislature size up the big issues confronting the lawmakers beneath the Gold Dome. 



State lawmakers will spend much of the 2020 session reviewing and deciding on Gov. Brian Kemp’s plans to cut 4% in spending this year and 6% in fiscal 2021, and on figuring out whether they want to cut the state’s income tax rate for the second time in three years.

Cutting the income tax rate again — from 5.75% to 5.5% — would likely mean further spending cuts for state agencies. In addition, lawmakers will debate several other tax proposals, such as ones to tax vaping products and force companies that facilitate online sales to remit taxes.

Key players: Kemp; Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, R-ReidsvilleHouse Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-AuburnHouse Ways and Means Chairman Brett Harrell, R-Snellville; and Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome.

Prospects: Passing the state budget is the only thing lawmakers are mandated to do every year, according to the Georgia Constitution. The tax bills — which typically involve lots of lobbyists — are iffy, but some tax breaks generally pass and lawmakers may be looking for ways to raise revenue.

— James Salzer

Social issues

Election years open up the possibility for incumbent lawmakers worried about primary opponents to file polarizing legislation on topics including abortion and guns that fire up their base of voters.

It’s hard to know what the dominating issue will be this year after the 2019 clash over anti-abortion legislation.

Bills have been filed addressing transgender children, gun control, stiffer penalties for crimes committed based on hate and a ban on so-called “conversion therapy.”

And while anti-abortion activists say they don’t expect to pursue legislation putting further regulations on the procedure while the law approved last year makes its way through the courts, anything can happen. At this time last year, those same activists said they didn’t see the law, which would outlaw abortion once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, on the horizon.

Key players: Kemp; Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan; House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge;House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington;Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton;House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville; and Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain.

Prospects: There really is no way of knowing what issue will come to the forefront of debate — or whether that debate will end in passage of legislation.

— Maya T. Prabhu

Traffic safety

Two years ago the General Assembly cracked down on distracted driving, prohibiting motorists from handling their cellphones while driving. This year, they may tackle another traffic safety issue: seat belts.

The state currently requires people in the front seats of passenger vehicles to buckle up. And it requires anyone 17 and under in the back seats to be restrained. But adults in the back seats are free to ignore the safety restraints.

Traffic safety advocates say requiring everyone to buckle up would save lives. A Senate study committee recently recommended such a law.

Key player: Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, the chairman of the committee that recommended a new law.

Prospects: Seat belt laws have a history of dying in the General Assembly. But many were skeptical about whether the distracted driving law would pass two years ago.

— David Wickert

Senior care oversight

Gov. Brian Kemp has called for changes to the state’s oversight of assisted living communities and personal care homes in response to an investigative series by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The AJC series exposed hundreds of cases of neglect and abuse of vulnerable seniors at large private-pay facilities across the state. The series also found that other states, including many in the South, have more strict regulations and more aggressive oversight of this rapidly growing industry. The state employs only a tiny platoon of inspectors to respond to complaints and conduct routine checks. Georgia requires only one caregiver for every 25 residents at night; its requirements for memory care units are relatively weak; and facility directors aren’t required to have the kind of training and licensing that other states demand.

Key players: Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Ralston, House Health and Human Services Chairwoman Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta,House Human Relations and Aging Chairman Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah.

Prospects: The governor’s support could help pass changes in oversight. Requirements that would significantly increase costs for the industry may face opposition. Support is strong from advocates and the industry to increase the number of state inspectors.

— Carrie Teegardin

Health care

Lawmakers last year gave the governor the ability to seek a waiver from the federal government to help get more Georgians health care, but it’s unsure whether the proposal will be funded during the 2020 session.

Under the governor’s proposals, $100 million or so of state funding would have to start flowing starting in January 2021. But the Legislature is also facing the question of big budget cuts. Moreover, the federal government hasn’t approved the waivers yet. So people involved in the process said they will likely postpone decisions about waiver funding.

While Medicaid funding is safe from budget cuts — for now — there are other potential cuts that could affect the program for poor and disabled Georgians.

A House study committee on maternal mortality recommended extending Medicaid coverage for poor mothers to a full year after birth, but that is also up in the air given the budget situation.

Key players: Hill; England; Senate Health and Human Services Chairman Ben Watson, R-Savannah; Cooper.

Prospects: Action on the waiver funding is unlikely until 2021

— Ariel Hart


In recent years, failing schools, teacher pay and school security loomed large, but so far this year no education issue has risen to the top of the legislative agenda.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign pledge to raise teacher pay by $5,000 was a dominant issue in the last legislative session. He made a $3,000 down payment on that promise, but he hasn’t committed to fulfilling the remainder this year, as falling revenue has triggered budget cuts.

That doesn’t mean education will be a tame topic. Lawmakers may renew the debate around private school voucherlike Education Scholarship Accounts, which proved controversial last year. Kemp and state school Superintendent Richard Woods have said they want to roll back standardized testing. And there will likely be a push to curb vaping, a growing problem for schools.

Key players: Kemp; Duncan; Ralston, Senate Education and Youth Committee Chairman P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville;House Education Committee Chairman Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper; Cooper.

Prospects: Backing from the governor and legislative leaders could push Education Scholarship Accounts across the finish line after a narrow defeat last year, though teacher and school board advocacy groups remain staunchly opposed. A rollback of test requirements could be easier to achieve given test fatigue, particularly among teachers. Curbs on vaping have proved controversial, but the industry is facing a backlash nationally.

— Ty Tagami


Supporters of expanding access to gambling are heading into the 2020 legislative session with high hopes after a series of hearings were held in the fall and winter investigating the best ways to bring the industry to the state.

Proponents believe a call from Gov. Brian Kemp to tamp down spending has created an opening to expand gambling, which supporters say would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, bolster the HOPE scholarship and create thousands of jobs in the state.

Lawmakers must determine which if any form of gambling they want to allow in the state.

Any change to the gambling industry will likely require voters to approve a constitutional amendment, which means two-thirds of the lawmakers in each chamber have to vote in favor of any proposal before it’s placed on the ballot.

Key players: Harrell; House Regulated Industries Chairman Alan Powell, R-Hartwell;House Economic Development and Tourism Chairman Ron Stephens, R-Savannah; and Senate Transportation Chairman Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta.

Prospects: Supporters of the gambling industry believe this is the year legislation could make it on to the ballot, but getting it out of the General Assembly remains a heavy lift.

— Maya T. Prabhu

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Local News

  • U.S. Rep. Doug Collins announced his campaign for U.S. Senate on Fox News on Wednesday with a pledge to support President Donald Trump. “We’re in for the Georgia Senate race. I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re getting ready for a good time down here.” The decision by the four-term congressman sets up a battle with U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a wealthy Republican executive tapped by Gov. Brian Kemp in December. The Rev. Raphael Warnock, along with several other Democrats, are also poised to join the November race. Collins hopes to earn support from Trump’s inner circle, if not the president himself. Trump privately lobbied Kemp on at least three separate occasions to tap Collins to fill the coveted seat, though he’s stayed publicly neutral since Loeffler was sworn into office. Loeffler, a political newcomer little known to many local GOP officials, has aggressively tried to win over the president - and prevent a Collins run. She has slammed the “impeachment circus” and promised to support Trump’s agenda. The congressman’s decision, first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, forces state Republicans to pick sides between a conservative with grassroots support and a little-known incumbent backed by a powerful governor. Since the race is a special election with no primary to filter out nominees, the GOP division heightens the possibility that a unifying Democratic candidate can win the race outright. Still, the Democrats have their own internal commotion to sort out. Matt Lieberman, an entrepreneur, and Ed Tarver, a former federal prosecutor, plan to qualify. And Warnock is set to soon enter the race and position himself as the front-runner with support from leading party figures. This report was written by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Brenau University has decided to halt its exchange program with China because of the coronavirus. Channel 2′s Tom Jones is in Gainesville, where the university is pausing its exchange program with a university in Wuhu, China. The way the exchange program works is that students from China complete their last two years of their undergraduate degrees at Brenau. But before they come to the U.S., students and faculty from Brenau go to China to prepare the Chinese students for their new life here. There are currently 87 Chinese students enrolled at Brenau. Another batch of students are scheduled to arrive in the summer. Students hope the virus is under control by then. Now, the program is on hold. The university will not send student ambassadors and faculty to China until the threat for contracting the deadly virus has diminished. “It’s just caused us to want to make sure that we are doing all we can to ensure the safety of our students and our faculty,” said Dr. Jim Eck, provost of academic affairs at Brenau. Student Phil Xu is a long way from home and worried about his friends and family back in China. He also doesn’t want anything to jeopardize the program. “We very much enjoy the environment of study here. And I think it’s a great program,” Xu said. Sarah Outler was a student ambassador for the program last year. '(I loved) getting to see someone else's culture through their lens and being put in their footsteps,' Outler said. She planned to go back in May, but the school has now put that trip on hold. 'I think it's for the safety of not only our students but also for our Chinese students,' Outler said. Faculty member Wenwen Guo has family and friends in China and had planned to travel there next month as part of the exchange program. She said she's already booked her flight, but may not end up going. “We’re looking to see how the situation in China will develop, so we don’t know yet,” Guo said. The school said so far, it hasn’t seen problems for Chinese students already here. None of the current students went home for the holiday break, so there are no concerns about those students spreading the virus. Students said they appreciated the school using an abundance of caution. “I feel like our university officials have handled it appropriately,” Outler said.
  • A Madison County farmer says he will run for a seat in the Georgia House: Tripp Strickland (pictured above) says he is joining the race to replace retiring state lawmaker Tom McCall, the Elbert County Republican who announced last year that he would not run for reelection. Strickland is running as a Republican in a primary that will be held in May. Strickland is one of three announced candidates for the House seat in the May 19 Republican primary, along with Elberton attorney Rob Leverett and Colbert real estate agent Bruce Azevedo. Gerald Couch says he will run for another term as Sheriff in Hall County. Couch was first elected to the Sheriff’s Office in Gainesville in 2012. Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway says he will not run for reelection this year.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs were defeated by the Missouri Tigers, 72-69, on the road Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.    Freshman Anthony Edwards led Georgia in scoring and rebounding, recording his first-career double-double with 23 points and a career-high 10 boards. This is the 12th time this season that Edwards has paced the Bulldogs in scoring. This also marks Edwards’ ninth-career 20-point game.    Senior Tyree Crump and freshman Toumani Camara joined Edwards in double figures, scoring 13 and 12, respectively.    “I told my team, momentum is always up for grabs,” Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean said. “Reed Nikko was living proof of that today. He came in and was much tougher than us around the rim. He changed it in the second half, gave them confidence and we did not guard as well in the second half. We did not guard the dribble as well. We had some guys who really struggled tonight and they really struggled on both ends of the floor. If you are struggling on one, you certainly can’t struggle on the other. We had that. We have to learn that when we play hard and play together like that, we can do a lot of really great things. Momentum is up for grabs and no one went and grabbed it back. That is the level of toughness you have to have to be able to make strides and to be able to win on the road. Our offense left us a little bit. Bottom line, we did not guard them well enough at the end of the game.”    After Missouri gained an 8-2 advantage as the result of an 8-0 run, a basket in the paint from Camara knotted the game 8-all to cap a 6-0 Georgia run.    The Bulldogs took their first lead of the contest, 12-11, off Edwards’ second shot from behind the arc with 12:46 to play in the opening half.    The combination of going three-of-three from the field and forcing a 2:43 Missouri scoring drought resulted in Georgia’s first double-digit advantage of the matchup (27-17).    The Bulldogs continued to extend their lead. A tip-in from freshman Rodney Howard capped a 15-1 Georgia run over five minutes to grab the 35-17 advantage.    While the Tigers were able to get within nine points of Georgia at one point in the closing minutes of the opening half, the Bulldogs went into the locker room sporting the 42-30 lead.    Missouri cut its deficit to single digits (46-37) off a 7-0 run out of the locker room. Edwards drained another 3-pointer to extend Georgia’s lead to 20 points, 59-39, for the first time with 13:33 left to play.    The Tigers, off a 10-point run, cut Georgia’s lead back to single digits with 7:04 remaining. Missouri, for the first time since 11:13 remaining in the first half, regained the one-point lead with 2:20 to play.    A layup from graduate transfer Donnell Gresham Jr. reclaimed the one-point Georgia lead on the following possession. While the two teams traded leads in the final minutes, Missouri grabbed a two-point advantage with 37 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs were unable to overcome the last-minute deficit, falling to the Tigers, 72-69.    Up next, Georgia returns to a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum to host the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 1 p.m. The matchup will be televised on SEC Network. 
  • Athens State Rep Houston Gaines is pushing a bill that would crack down on human trafficking: the measure from Republican Gaines would take away the commercial drivers licenses of those convicted of sex trafficking in Georgia.  “Survivors and victims across Georgia are counting on us to bring this evil activity into the light and work together to end this horrific industry,” said Rep. Gaines. “I want to thank the first lady and governor for their commitment to this issue, and I am proud to join with them, the GRACE Commission and advocates across the state to find ways to defeat human trafficking in Georgia.” The legislation would allow the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services to revoke a person’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued in Georgia, as well as permanently disqualify him or her from driving a commercial motor vehicle if he or she is convicted of trafficking an individual for labor servitude or sexual servitude and used a commercial motor vehicle to commit the offense. This legislation would work in accordance with a federal regulation that was created by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2019.

Bulldog News

  • It's hard to imagine the awkward silence on the Georgia basketball plane ride back from Missouri late Tuesday night and into the early morning hours of Wednesday. The Bulldogs blew a 20-point lead to drop their fourth-straight game in deflating fashion, 72-69. There are growing pains, and then there's this, a team that lacks an identity with players who appear to either refuse or be unable to accept roles. Missing point guard Sahvir Wheeler (ankle) was no doubt a factor in the loss. But this was a game Georgia had won, up 59-39 with 13:33 left. The Tigers (10-10, 2-5 SEC) were just as desperate for the win as the Bulldogs (11-9, 1-6), as they snapped a four-game losing streak with the win. RELATED: Meltdown in Missouri, how Georgia lost to the Tigers Crean tried to take the approach on the postgame radio show on the Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network that it was another lesson learned. 'We've got to learn that when we play hard and we play together like that, we can do a lot of really good things,' Crean said, focusing on how Georgia played through contact early and controlled the glass in the first half. 'But momentum was up for grabs, and no one ever went and grabbed it back, and that's the level of toughness that you have to have to be able to make strides and to be able to win on the road.' The Bulldogs have been outscored in the second half of each of their seven road games in the SEC. Here are three things from the Bulldogs' heartbreaking loss at Missouri Anthony Edwards' effort The freshman played all 40 minutes and left it all out on the court, leading the team with 23 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Edwards' missed a potential game-tying 3-point shot at the buzzer, and he had his shot blocked at the rim the previous trip down the floor. But anyone who watched the game could see Edwards' effort providing the lifeblood for the team on a night point guard Sahvir Wheeler was sidelined by an ankle injury. Edwards' downfall was his 3-point shooting. He was just 3 of 12 beyond the arc after a 3-of-10 shooting performance from three in the loss to Ole Miss on Saturday. Rayshaun Hammonds stat line Hammonds roller-coaster season continued at Missouri. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound junior played 33 minutes but failed to score and had just two rebounds. 'It's a tough stat line,' Crean said. 'We'll watch the film.' Hammonds attempted just one shot in the game. Hammonds was coming off a 4-point outing in the loss to Ole Miss, 1-of-8 shooting in that game in 30 minutes. Georgia seems at its best when Hammonds is asserting himself inside: offensively, defensively and rebounding. Plus-minus It's always interesting to see how the team does with each player on the floor, and the plus-minus statistic can provide a window. Tye Fagan played only five minutes and made the only shot he took. But the Bulldogs outscored Missouri by 15 when he was in the game. Conversely, Jordan Harris played 23 minutes and scored 8 points on 1-of-4 shooting, and UGA was outscored by 13 with him in the game. The most puzzling plus-minus came from Donnell Gresham Jr.,. Gresham had a minus-12 despite going 2-of-2 shooting from the floor, 5-of-5 from the line while pulling down five rebounds and recording two steals. DawgNation Georgia basketball Anthony Edwards needs to get back to having fun Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky 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 3 things from Georgia basketball's perplexing 72-69 loss at Missouri appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia basketball squandered a 20-point lead in the second half at Missouri on Tuesday night, losing its fourth game in a row, 72-69. 'We have witnessed a meltdown,' UGA play-by-play man Scott Howard said, encapsulating the game on the Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network. Anthony Edwards recorded his first career double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds, playing the full 40 minutes before the crowd of 8,451 Mizzou Arena and an SEC Network television audience. Edwards, however, came up short on the final play of the game when his 3-point shot attempt from the wing went off the front of the rim just before time expired. The Bulldogs (11-9, 1-6 SEC) led 59-39 with 13:33 left when Edwards, who was 9-of-24 shooting including 3 of 12 beyond the arc, hit a 3-pointer. Georgia, playing without injured point guard Sahvir Wheeler (ankle), appeared to be in control of the game against the Tigers (10-10, 2-5) at Mizzoui Arena, on the verge of outscoring an SEC opponent in the second half for the first time this season. Instead, Missouri rallied behind Xavier Pinson moments later. Pinson, who scored all 16 of his points in the second half, sparked the rally in full with a 3-pointer that ignited a 23-4 run. 'I told my team, momentum is always up for grabs,' Crean said on his post-game radio show. 'We did not guard as well in the second half, we didn't guard the dribble as well, and we had some guys that really struggled tonight.' Georgia failed to score a field goal for more than seven minutes during the Tigers' run, missing seven shots during that stretch. Senior Reed Nikko , a 6-foot-10 post, hit a pair of free throws with 2:20 left to put Missouri up 66-65, the Tigers' first lead since a 14-13 lead led than nine minutes into the game. But Nikko's biggest play of the night came with 8.6 seconds left and Missouri clinging to a 71-69 lead, when he blocked an Edwards' shot at the rim. UGA fouled immediately, but Mitchell Smith split a pair of free throws to extend the lead to three, leading to Edwards' final trey attempt of the night. The Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak with the win despite Edwards recording his first 20-point scoring outing since he went for 26 in an 80-63 win over Tennessee on Jan. 15 in Athens. Senior Tyree Crump scored 13 points and Toumani Camara added 12 for the Bulldogs, who out-rebounded Missouri 32-31 and went 17 of 21 from the free-throw line to Missouri's 16-of-21 effort from the charity strip. Georgia junior Rayshaun Hammonds, who entered the game as the team's second-leading scorer, took just one shot missing it and had only two rebounds in his 33 minutes on the floor. The Bulldogs held a 42-30 lead at the half on the strength of 52-percent shooting and a 21-13 rebounding advantage through the first 20 minutes. Edwards scored the first 14 of his points in the first half, 5-of-12 shooting while pulling down five rebounds. Crump had 11 first-half points, coming off the bench midway through the first half to hit a pair of free throws and consecutive 3-pointers that ignited a 22-3 run. Rodney Howard's jumper closed the Bulldogs' pivotal surge by scoring a basket from in the paint, giving UGA its largest lead of the game to that point at 35-17 at the 4:53 mark. Georgia returns to action at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Texas A&M (10-9, 4-3) at Stegeman Coliseum. The Aggies won at Tennessee, 63-58, on Tuesday night. DawgNation Georgia basketball Anthony Edwards needs to get back to having fun Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky 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 Meltdown' in Missouri, Georgia squanders 20-point lead to lose fourth straight appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The Georgia basketball team arrived in the 'Show Me State' on Monday night intent on being prepared to show Missouri a new brand of physicality. Bulldogs' coach Tom Crean said playing that style of basketball, with toughness, will be needed against Coach Cuonzo Martin's Tigers at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Columbia (TV: SEC Network). 'W e've got to deal with [Missouri's] physicality, because they're a very physical, aggressive basketball team,' Crean said on Monday before the team practiced and flew to Missouri. 'We've got to defend their guards and definitely have to be able to continue to run our offense, because of that physicality and the way they help and recover.' Georgia (11-8, 1-5 SEC) will be looking to snap its season-long three-game losing streak against Missouri (9-10, 1-5). The Tigers rank 33rd in the nation and second in the SEC in scoring defense, opponents averaging just 62.3 points per game against them. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are fourth in the SEC in scoring with 76.7 points per game. The improved health of freshman point guard Sahvir Wheeler figures to be key, as he has been battling back from an ankle injury suffered in the 80-63 win over Tennessee on Jan. 15. ' He's got to push the ball better, (and) we have to get out and go,' Crean said. 'We have to get him flying up the court and doing a better job with that. There's no doubt about that and when he does, he's really good. That's what we have to have. 'Push it, throw it ahead, get it back, attack, get his confidence back making layups. Continue if it's not there keeping the ball alive, don't try to force a shot, keep it alive, keep it moving. Hopefully his confidence will come back to him.' Tempo, spacing and ball movement are all near the top of the priority list for the Bulldogs. But on Tuesday night, it starts with toughness. 'At the end of the day we've got to get some loose balls, we've got to get some guys that will put their body on the ground, be quick, react quicker, and that's part of it,' Crean said. 'You want to make this your career and it doesn't stay your career very long if you're not aggressive if you're not tough, you're not physical, if you don't have a mindset for winning. That's what it is.' DawgNation Georgia basketball Anthony Edwards hits 'Freshman Wall' like no other Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky 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 Georgia basketball Coach Tom Crean plans physical showing at Missouri appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Former Georgia quarterback and SEC Championship Game MVP (2005) D.J. Shockley knows all about offseason competition, drawing from his days playing with David Greene under Mark Richt. Shockley, recently speaking with WSB on the Bulldogs Game Day show, discussed how pivotal it is that incoming grad-transfer quarterback Jamie Newman will be present for spring drills. 'You've got some young guys who have already been there,' Shockley said. 'Stetson Bennett has already been there. D'Wan Mathis is coming off his injury, he has been there, he's been a part of the system. 'So (Newman) is going to need this time to really dive into that playbook and understand all the nuances of it.' The Bulldogs hired new offensive coordinator Todd Monken to replace James Coley earlier this month. Coley left for Texas A&M last Friday, opening up a spot on the staff many expect newly hired analyst Buster Faulkner to fill. RELATED: Football stars endorse new Georgia hire Todd Monken Monken has been active on the recruiting trail since his hire, but with the start of a dead period fast approaching (Feb. 3), Kirby Smart and his staff could have time to crunch some Xs and Os. RELATED: Terry Bowden shares thought on drop-back to dual-threat QB flip Georgia will likely retain some of its base offense, but there are sure to be plenty of twists. Monken, an 'Air Raid' pass scheme expert, will bring part of his playbook and look to maximize UGA'sdual-threat quarterbacks. Mathis, Bennett and incoming freshman Carson Beck all have good mobility. And then there's Newman who rushed for 574 yards and 6 TDs last season, including a 50-yard run. Of Newman's 180 attempts, 128 were designed runs, per PFF advanced metrics. The former Wake Forest quarterback was recently tagged among the top five Heisman Trophy favorites, and PFF ranks him the third-best quarterback returning in the nation behind Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. 'Joe Burrow (was) far and away the highest-graded quarterback throwing to a tight window, but Newman is second and third isn't anywhere near him,' PFF penned earlier this month. 'He also limited his uncatchable pass rate to the fourth lowest. 'Newman has some rushing ability and has seen the eighth-most designed rushes for a quarterback (128). While some may say it's his rushing that can be his greatest weapon, it's clearly his arm.' But the key where Georgia is concerned is that Newman is already on campus and working out with his teammates. 'So him being here early,' Shockley said, 'I think, gives him an opportunity to be the guy.' Former Georgia QB D.J. Shockley With Jamie Newman already on campus in Athens, @DjShockley3 says spring practice will be huge for him to prove he can be 'the guy'! : Sat at 11am on @wsbtv! #GoDawgs Bulldogs Game Day (@WSBbulldogs) January 27, 2020 DawgNation Georgia football Malik Herring spearheads dominant defense ESPN details how Georgia might win national title Georgia offseason has produced fascinating offensive change UGA recruiting in South Florida affected by James Coley departure Why Buster Faukner a perfect complement to Todd Monken The post WATCH Former Georgia QB D.J. Shockley: Key to Jamie Newman being The Guy' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The Georgia football opening game with Virginia is more than seven months away, but talking season is well underway and Heisman talk has begun. Incoming graduate-transfer quarterback Jamie Newman ranks among the Top 5 among Heisman favorites before throwing his first pass in a formal practice, currently at 14-to-1. Newman is ranked the No. 3 returning quarterback by Pro Football Focus, behind Ohio State's Justin Fields and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. RELATED: Mark Richt says Jamie Newman can adapt to any kind of offense Fields, who spent his 2018 freshman season at UGA backing up departed starter Jake Fromm, is the co-favorite with Lawrence to win the Heisman, both at 4-to-1. Sophomore tailback Zamir White and sophomore George Pickens are also among the current favorites. White is at 80-to-1, and Pickens is at 100-to-1. The bettable opening Heisman odds are evidence there's plenty of outside buy-in on Kirby Smart's well-documented offensive makeover at Georgia. The Bulldogs hired 'Air Raid' pass game expert Todd Monken to take over as the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator, replacing James Coley who has since departed for Texas A&M. Monken was the offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns last season, but the year, before, he was the OC and play caller for a Tampa Bay Bucs offense that led the NFL in passing yardage. Newman, who transferred to Georgia from Wake Forest, is a dual-threat quarterback with dynamic arm strength and running ability. Smart's past three UGA offenses have leaned more toward a power run game, the head coach intent on utilizing dynamic backfields that included NFL stars Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and projected first-round pick D'Andre Swift the past two seasons. Georgia, however, appears to be intent on a more aggressive pass scheme now that the receiving corps is loaded up with talent at receiver and tight end. RELATED: Georgia top-ranked SEC team in PFF Way-too-early' Top 25 Smart has always professed coaching to the talent, and the hiring of Monken is an indication the Georgia head coach is betting more offensive balance is in order. The Bulldogs return a championship-caliber defense, with nine of 11 starters back on that side of the football from the 26-14 Sugar Bowl-winning team. Georgia's offense can afford to be more aggressive in marquee matchups with that sort of defense behind it. Most notably, in the Sept. 19 showdown with Alabama in Tuscaloosa that the college football world has circled. Favorite Player/School Odds T-1. Justin Fields/ Ohio St. 4-1 T-1. Trevor Lawrence/Clemson 4-1 3. Spencer Rattler/Oklahoma 12-1 T-4. Sam Ehlinger/Texas 14.1 T-4. Jamie Newman/Georgia 14-1 T-6. Travis Etienne/Clemson 20-1 T-6. Chuba Hubbard/Okla. St. 20-1 T-6 Ian Book/Notre Dame 20-1 T-9. Kedon Slovis/USC 25-1 T-9. Myles Brennan/LSU 25-1 11. Mac Jones/Alabama 25-1 12. Bo Nix/Auburn 25-1 13. D'Eriq King/Miami, Fla. 25-1 14. Adrian Martinez/Nebraska 30-1 T-15. Sean Clifford/Penn State 40-1 T-15. Najee Harris/Alabama 40-1 17. Kellen Mond/Texas A&M 50-1 T-18. Tyler Shough/Oregon 60-1 T-18. Brock Purdy/Iowa State 60-1 T-18. CJ Verdell/Oregon 60-1 T-18. Kyle Trask/Florida 60-1 T-18. Charlie Brewer/Baylor 60-1 T-18. Sam Howell/North Carolina 60-1 24. Master Teaguelll/Ohio Sate 60-1 25. Zamir White/Georgia 80-1 DawgNation Georgia football Malik Herring spearheads dominant defense Podcast: How Todd Monken might use Zamir White 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 football QB Jamie Newman ranked among Top 5 Heisman Trophy favorites appeared first on DawgNation.