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Dogs prep for Gamecocks
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Dogs prep for Gamecocks

Dogs prep for Gamecocks

Dogs prep for Gamecocks

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against South Carolina. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks kick off at noon ET on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. 

 

On Monday, Coach Smart and student-athletes offered the following comments. 

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement … 

“It's on to South Carolina, who I've been very impressed with. I think they're playing a lot better. They've gotten better throughout the year, you can tell from Game 1 to Game 2. They're healthier, number one. They've got a lot of guys playing at a high level. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way Will [Muschamp] runs the program. I think they're doing a really good job. Both coordinators really get after you. They put pressure on you in three phases -- offense, defense, and special teams. They do a great job up front. Defensively, they've got a lot of big guys and a lot more big bodies than they've had in the past, and they're healthy.

 

Offensively, they've got one of the best wide receivers that I've seen on tape in Bryan Edwards. He does a very good job. [Ryan] Hilinski is a very talented quarterback. We recruited him hard here. He's got extreme arm talent. He can make all the throws. And they're doing a lot of things that are tough to defend offensively, and they put pressure on you from a special teams standpoint.

 

So, an exciting game. I want to challenge our fans, who have always responded to challenges, to get in your seats early and get ready for an early kickoff. Our guys will need that support, and we'll need the crowd noise and the impact that we had in the Notre Dame game, we'll need that same thing going against a young quarterback. With that, I'll open it up.”

 

On if he is happy with the offense and big-play ability … 

“Am I happy with the offense? Yeah, I'm happy with what we've been able to do, sustain drives. Do we want to be more explosive? Yes, we want to be more explosive. I think we're always looking. We have a goal of 1 of every 8 plays to be explosive. In this game, we were 1.1 out of 8.3, so we missed our goal offensively of being explosive. That's our standard. That's not -- some teams may have they want 1 out of every 5, but we want 1 out of every 8 plays is our goal, and we were 1 out of 8.3. So we just missed it. In some of that, they did a good job of — you take one or two blocks downfield and one more play is explosive, and you make that goal. But we're always looking to improve, and the same thing with defense. We're trying to not give up explosives.”

 

On playing better in the second half compared to the first half … 

“Settling down, I think. Playing and understanding what the team is trying to do to us. Maybe we've got to do a better job as coaches of preparing them early in the game. I think, when you're a good defense, I do think that you don't see the same things. So what happens is, in the history of the really good defenses I've been with, you go into a game expecting one thing, and the other team has worked really hard to try to counteract that and get off tendencies to do different things. You see different stuff because they're trying to generate plays against you, and that's been the case for us, but we've got to do a better job starting off for sure.”

 

On his friendship with South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and their time together at Georgia … 

“Yeah, it was not like a close relationship when we were here because he was a fifth year senior captain and I was a redshirt freshman that we were really in two different places. I mean, he was good to me, but it wasn't like we had a friendship. We were at two different spots in our career. Where we became closer was the opportunity he gave me to come to Valdosta State, and we worked together there, and then we worked together at LSU, and those two years we spent in the same staff, we probably bonded more than we did while we were here. But he's always been a very intense coach, good football coach. I think he does a good job running the program, and that has allowed us to share information when possible, when it's not about scheme and it's more about philosophy, but he has been a good friend. I've got a lot of respect for him.”

 

On Jake Fromm taking deep shots down the field … 

“He's taken some shots, and we've hit some. I mean, we take shots in practice. He has progressions that he reads, and he goes through his progressions, and he looks for the right throws. I don't know that it's all about -- being explosive is a lot of things. It's blocking downfield. It's winning one-on-ones. It's speed, vertical speed versus horizontal speed. There's a lot of things combined in that. I mean, just look at us defensively in reverse and say, okay, what have we given up explosive? Well, two of our explosives are busts. One was against a team that came in. We gave up the play early in against -- was it Murray, I think it was? Or Arkansas - it was Murray. So we gave up a big play in that game off of a bust and then give up a really big explosive last week getting off of a bust.

 

So, some of that is mistakes where he's going to capitalize on those errors if he gets those opportunities, but we haven't had a lot of busts in coverage where they left a guy free or somebody just messed up. George had an explosive where he won one-on-one outside. Those are the ways you get an opportunity to get those explosives down the field, but it's not a matter of him not reading it correctly or us not calling it because a lot of times the progression is deep to short or short to deep or across the board, and he does a good job of finding the right guy with the ball.”

 

On South Carolina running backs coach Thomas Brown and coaching running backs in 2005 … 

“Thomas was one of the hardest working players we had in that room. I had a really good room of running backs. There were four or five really good backs. Kregg Lumpkin, Danny Ware, Tyson Browning, Thomas Brown. There were good backs in that room, and he was probably the hardest working, quietest guy that came to work every day, extremely physical and explosive for his size. He's just a great leader, great person. He continues to be that way as a coach. What was the second part?”

 

On what he learned as an offensive assistant…
“I think coaching the running backs was more than just effort. It was psychology. It was management. You got four guys in the room that all want the ball. Protection, protection of the ball, and protection of the quarterback was an ultimate goal, but it was a good experience for me to see how offenses think about things.

I think that was probably one of the most valuable years of my career because I looked at it through the eyes of an offensive staff – [Neil] Callaway, [Mike] Bobo, Coach Richt -- of how they analyze a defense and how they see things.”

On an update of Jordan Davis and the impact he has on the defensive line…
“To be honest, I didn't see a huge difference when he wasn't out there because the things he impacts are the run game, and we were able to control the run game pretty well. The play he was in there, we actually had a run come out. We would play a run right early when he was in there and fit it a lot more right as the game went on.

We think Jordan is going to be fine. He's not going to be out there today early on. He's going to be rehabbing when you guys are out there, but he's going to be fine to go. We expect him to be able to play.”

On where he sees Brian Herrien from the off-season to where he is now…
“I think the confidence, I don't know that it's major improvement. The Brian that I'm seeing now is the Brian I've always seen. The difference is you guys are seeing him. You say, why didn't he play? The guys that are in the NFL is the reason he didn't play. Brian has been perfectly capable. And when he got that opportunity, he seizes his opportunity the times he got in the past. He's just getting more opportunity now.

I think his vision, his decision-making, he catches the ball well out of the backfield. He runs really hard. I mean, he runs physical and explosive. To be honest with you, he practices that way. So, when he goes out to practice, he doesn't treat practice different than a game. I think those practice habits have allowed him to be successful in games. It's just you guys are getting able to see it now.”

On the continued emergence of depth at running back, particularly with Zamir White…
“I don't see it as an emergence. I see it as it's kind of been there. When you say what's the deepest position on our team, you would probably argue that running back is the deepest position. Those guys compete really hard in practice. They work for their reps. We thought Zamir had some really good work last week. His protections have just become where he's really physical in his protections. He's one of our best pass protectors. So he's earned that right and that trust to get out there, and we're pleased with his growth, and he's added more depth.

I mean, he started on punt return in this game [against Tennessee]. He did more things in this game than he's done in the past. With him, and Kenny [McIntosh] is showing up more and more on special teams for us. He's figured out that that's an opportunity for him to gain trust, and he's done that. So those guys are working really hard.”

On if he’s surprised by the number of true freshman quarterbacks starting in the SEC and if you feel more comfortable having them be game managers towards the midpoint of the season…
“Yeah, I think it's a trend you're going to see because, number one, they're getting hit more. So there's a chance of injury. They're running more, so there's a greater chance of injury. So you're seeing backups who happen to be true freshmen because quarterbacks don't usually stay the long haul and they leave, so you're seeing more backups, but you're also seeing more talented freshmen arrive.

This young man [Ryan Hilinski] is talented. This young man has a talented arm strength. He can make all the throws. To see him go in the games he went in -- I mean, just look at the Alabama tape. He went out and played against one of the elite defenses in the country and spun the ball as good as anybody. He's got a great release. He's got intuition on throws. Very instinctive. He's going to be a really good player in this league for a long time, in my opinion.”

On the injury update of Tyson Campbell and Solomon Kindley… 
“Tyson will be trying to go today. I don't know much, so I haven't seen him since the game or since we left for the game. He didn't go. We're hoping to get him back, but we don't know. I'll know more by the end of the week. Then Solomon should be good. He's cleared to go today. We thought, if he had to go in the game, he would have been able to go. So we have him practicing today.”

On the status of Julian Rochester…
“Yeah, Julian played well. He came in and has just been practicing. We've been grooming him to get him ready and get him in the rotation and felt like it was the time to do it. He'll get opportunities to continue doing that if he continues to do everything he's supposed to do and work hard in practice, if he continues to do that. The biggest thing is we've got to get some quickness and production out of those guys. That's what we're hoping he can help with.”

On if Brian Herrien is the type that you kind of pull for a little more when he has a successful game since he’s been patient in getting playing time…

“I pull for all of our guys. The guys that practice hard and go out there and play, you want them to be successful just like you do anybody else. He works hard. You can say he's been patient, but he's been a contributor in every way. I mean, the guy has played almost every role on every special teams. He's first in line when we do stuff for special teams. I've seen him carry the ball plenty in practices and know that he's talented enough.

I don't think you look for greener pastures at Georgia. You continue to work and get better because the green pasture is what the O-line opens up. I mean, they open up green pastures for you to have the ability to run, and you're not looking to run away from here and run away from a good physical O-line where you get the opportunity to carry the ball.”

 

On assessing the defensive line and stopping the run game… 

“You know, we haven't fit things real well all the time. We haven't tackled the way we're supposed to, especially in space, and some of that comes off the passing game, but we have to play better in space. We have to be a better tackling team. That comes from perimeter runs from running backs. So I'm not pleased with how we have played, as far as contact and contact toughness. We have to improve on that and get better because that's a hole when you watch football in general, tackling tends to go downhill as the season goes, and we can't let that happen. A lot of that starts with our defensive line, controlling it from getting out of there.

 

On facing an opponent coached by a former staff member… 

“Talking about Tennessee's with Coach Chaney. Yeah, I'm worried about South Carolina right now. I've forgotten about that totally. They did a really good job. Got a lot of respect for those guys and how hard their kids played, but I'm worried about South Carolina right now.”

 

On Zamir White handling the ins and outs physically and mentally… 

Zamir's physically -- our kids lift, run, practice every day. There's probably more wear and tear on a Tuesday, Wednesday practice than there are sometimes in games. I think the psychological part of knowing and understanding what my role is in the game, and not every game's the same. I mean, you just don't know. So part of being a good football player is I'm ready to go when my number's called. I tell the guys all the time, because you prepare well in practice doesn't guarantee you'll play, but if you don't prepare well in practice, it guarantees you won't. So that goes perfect for Zamir. He prepares properly and gets ready. It doesn't guarantee that he'll play. He deserves to, and I want him to, but it doesn't guarantee he'll play. But if he doesn't do those things, it will guarantee he won't. He's handled that well. He prepares and gets ready to play. He prepared getting ready for Notre Dame just like he did getting ready for Tennessee. It wasn't different. It was just us making sure it happened and also him preparing to take advantage of the opportunity and practicing the right way so that we know he's ready.”

 

On facing teams coming off bye weeks…

“Well, it's a reality that you deal with, kind of like the kickoff time. You don't have control over it. You take it, and you go, and you do the best job you can with it. In a two off-week year, I found, it seems like, obviously, there's more opportunities just statistically for that to happen. So when there's a two off-week season, which there is this year, there's more that have that chance of happening. You worry about it as a coach, but it's something you can't control. So when you can't control t you just move on and say, hey, maybe we didn't start good defensively last week because we were off the week before. Sometimes there's some roughs there, and sometimes playing in a game is good for you. You get to grow and develop. I do think the healing part is helpful and getting fresher, recovery time. Those things are probably beneficial for the team that's off, but at the end of the day, you've got to go out there and play the game, and everybody's playing the same number of games.”

 

On campaigning Rodrigo Blankenship for the Heisman… 

“I'm ready to start now. I mean, Hot Rod does a great job. He does everything he's asked. He's a great leader for our team, and he's very consistent. He has an approach to the game and an approach to his method of doing things that is unique to him. He believes in it. We trust him a lot, and he's been a tremendous leader, you know, just in this room with our team because people see how hard Rod works. So it's an honor to have him on here, and he works really hard.”

 

On forming connections with families during the recruiting process… 

Yeah, I think you connect during recruiting, and you spend more time with the family during recruiting than you do with them just as a player a lot of times. The toughest part about, when they come here as a player, their families come for either team events in the spring, team events in fall camp, banquets and galas. A lot of times you get to see the family, you don't always get to see them around game time because we're so busy with media and with recruiting afterwards. So you don't get to spend as much time as you want with them. But the connection you form with their family, you know what made their son and daughter who they are through everything they do, and you see a lot of that with these kids, and you know the trials and tribulations they may have had at home, and you're so happy for them when they have success on the field because they worked so hard for it. But just as important to me is the development of the guy that's not having success right now, that's going through the hard time of growing pains, of I haven't quite been able to crack the lineup, but I'm getting close. Those are the ones that stick -- the Brian Herrien and the guys that stick it out and stay and work, they're rewarded by their patience are the great stories.”

 

On how Ryan Hilinski compares to Jake Bentley… 

It's hard because you see Jake in the first game, and we played Jake a couple times. There are a little different quarterbacks. Hilinski has a quick release. He's got the ability to get it out. He's got great velocity on his ball. He's athletic and mobile enough to get around in the pocket and move around and do some things. He just does not play like a freshman. Not that Bentley does because Bentley is certainly not a freshman, but Hilinski's done a great job of whipping the ball, throwing quick game stuff, vertical down the field. He's got a really good group of wideouts, and they do a great job of putting them in successful situations. So he's made that transition really smooth.”

 

#20 J.R. Reed | Senior | DB 

On the hunter vs. hunted message Coach Smart gave against South Carolina two years ago and what he remembers about that game… 

“That is our mindset the entire year. We want to hunt people, attack people, instead of feeling like we are being attacked. Even if we were number one during that game, it feels like everyone is constantly coming for you. We want to play our best against everyone.”

 

On how he has continued to adopt that mindset over the past two years… 

“It is a saying that I really like and a saying that I tell the DBs a lot. We emphasize that you don’t have to be attacked, you can be the one attacking. We apply that to defense all the time.” 

 

On what goes into a halftime at a game like Tennessee to lead to such an effective third quarter defensively… 

“Just making adjustments and staying calm. Everyone figuring out what they need to do individually and then making sure everyone is on the same page. Everyone just focusing on coming out after halftime and doing their job.” 

 

#87 Tyler Simmons | Senior | WR

On what has led to Georgia’s type of offense/its efficiency...

“We’re just big on the running game. We’re a run-first team. That’s shown on the field. When we get the big plays, we get the big plays, but staying consistent and driving down the field is our biggest thing, as long as we keep the ball moving.”

 

On whether Georgia has the potential to be a "big play" offense…

"We definitely have the potential to be a big play offense, where we’re coming out and might score on the first play of the game or first play of the drive. Just keeping the ball moving is our biggest thing, though. As long as we’re doing that, we’re good.”

 

On the uniqueness of Brian Herrien’s [Sr. | RB] situation coming in to his first season at Georgia...

"With Brian coming in, he had some of the best in front of him. He got a chance to learn from those guys and learn from what they were doing right— he gained the little details about special teams and everything. Then it comes down to waiting on your number to be called and being ready then. So, just to see all his hard work and everything he’s put into the game pay off, it’s really great."

 

#35 Brian Herrien | Senior | TB

On describing his own running style…

“My running style, I kind of like to bruise, I kind of just want to hit the defense as much as I can so then as the game goes on, the defense is going to want to come back making the same tackles. They’ll kind of get to the side, hesitate a little bit and at that point, I can just run by them.”

 

On his favorite runs…

“My favorite runs usually aren’t the longest runs, they are the hardest ones, like the tough ones that shouldn’t have been a gain, or should’ve been a loss and kind of get back to the line of scrimmage or a gain a couple yards.”

 

On earning a run by breaking tackles or running through a hole in the offensive line…

“We call it Dawg Yards. If the offensive line opens a big hole and you run through it, that’s kind of like the offensive line’s part; but the Dawg Yards come from you when you get contact and you still break the tackle or you make somebody miss and after contact you get yards, that’s Dawg Yards. We want the runs like that instead of the open hole. We want to work for a lot of them.”

 

#94 Michael Barnett | Senior | DT

On the defense adjusting at halftime to what the offense is doing…

“We just really read our keys and really focus on what we’re messing up. The things that we do well, I feel like we’re supposed to do those things well. That’s the game of football. We practice all week to get those things right. So, when we execute them right, we’re happy, but at the same time, those things that we get wrong, we have to fix those things. So that’s what we primarily focus on.”

 

On the biggest factors to a rush defense besides good tackling…

“Really it starts up front with us. We just have to hold the points and read blocks and making sure nothing comes in our gaps and making sure we push everything that’s supposed to come on the inside to the outside and let the outside defenders handle what they’ve got to handle. I feel like I did pretty good [this season] but there’s always room for improvement.” 

 

On opponents being fresh coming off a bye week… 

“I feel like Will Muschamp is just like how Coach Smart is. So on those bye weeks, I feel like they got a really good work in. Every day in the SEC you have to prepare like you’re going into battle because you never know. They’re going to give us their best shot. They’ve been well rested and they’ve been probably working hard and watching film as well as watching our games to see what they can capitalize on. So I feel like they did exactly what we did, find mistakes and just capitalize on them.”

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Local News

  • On the afternoon of May 28, University of Georgia President Jere Morehead announced that the school will begin gradually reopening in three phases. The reopening will begin on June 15. Below is the email sent to faculty and staff: Throughout the University of Georgia’s response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, we have remained focused on the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students. This commitment has never wavered, and it remains a guiding tenet as we prepare to enact a carefully planned and measured reopening of our campuses. The gradual reopening will occur over three phases and will commence on Monday, June 15. UGA’s preliminary plan has been developed over the past month, as nine working groups have researched and developed recommendations which have now been submitted to the University System of Georgia (USG) for approval. These recommendations comply with Executive Orders and directives from the Governor’s Office, and reflect guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the USG. Phase 1, beginning on June 15, applies primarily to essential staff and supervisors, and their presence on campus should continue to be limited in accordance with guidance from the GDPH for social distancing and control of group sizes. A staggered or rotating weekly schedule is still recommended, and the continuing use of teleworking in conjunction with on-campus work remains appropriate, encouraged, and preferred to achieve social distancing. The primary task of those returning in Phase 1 will be to prepare our campuses for the continued safe return of even more members of the University community in Phase 2, ultimately culminating in the full Phase 3 return of faculty, staff, and students in August for the Fall Semester. We will soon launch a comprehensive educational campaign to ensure that all members of the community are aware of the many safety precautions being taken by the University, are knowledgeable of the resources available to them, and understand their own responsibility as individuals to abide by the guidelines issued by the GDPH, CDC, USG, and UGA to contain the spread of the COVID‑19 coronavirus. Each and every one of us will have a critical role to play as we work together to protect the health and safety of every member of the Bulldog Nation. It will be up to vice presidents, deans, department heads, and directors to determine over the next two weeks those supervisors (including administrative faculty) who should return to campus in order to ensure the work environment they oversee and manage is compliant with health and safety guidelines. Those faculty and staff previously defined as essential and who have been working on campus during the period of reduced operations should continue to do so. In addition, staff members who perform mission critical/time-sensitive functions, as determined by their supervisor, and who need to work onsite also can return. Staff members who need to support supervisors or personnel with mission critical/time-sensitive work also can return to campus. Please note that no employee should return to campus until they are notified by their unit that they can do so. UGA’s health and medical experts have played a key role in the development of our plans, and they will continue to take a leadership role as our plans are continually adapted in response to the evolving COVID‑19 pandemic. In particular, Dr. Marsha Davis, Dean of the College of Public Health; Dr. Lisa Nolan, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Shelley Nuss, Campus Dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership; and Dr. Garth Russo, Executive Director of the University Health Center, are helping to refine protocols for screening, monitoring, notification, and isolation; coordinate plans for contact tracing with the GDPH; and explore options for COVID‑19 testing. The diligent efforts of all of our working group members and chairs to develop plans for our safe return to campus in a gradual, phased manner are greatly appreciated. We are also grateful for the hundreds of University employees who continue to keep essential operations running and work to clean, disinfect, and prepare our campuses. Their work includes the use of enhanced disinfection techniques and more frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. These efforts will help all of us to feel safe and reassured upon our return to campus. We appreciate your continued efforts to adapt to the ever-changing and uncertain conditions of the pandemic. We are doing everything within our power to maintain a healthy and safe environment for all of us to live, work, and learn. Your ongoing support and cooperation will be essential for our efforts to succeed.
  • The Clarke County School District schedules five hearings on the District’s proposed budget, which will be funded by a millage rate that is expected to remain unchanged. The Clarke County School Board has given tentative approval to a $164 million school district spending plan. Hearings will be held on June 9 and June 16. Budget adoption is scheduled for June 25.  From the Clarke Co School District website... The Clarke County Board of Education gave tentative approval to the fiscal year 2021 budget of $164,080,447 on May 21, 2020, based on the continuance of the tentative millage rate of 20 mills. Due to the district’s millage rate being higher than the rollback rate (the rate that would be used to produce the same amount of taxes collected last year), the hearing schedule is detailed below, as required by state law. There is an expected increase of 5.47 percent for property taxes levied in 2020. While the millage rate for the school district is to remain at the tentative 20 mills, this estimate would, in effect, increase overall collection by 1.086 mills. All meetings will be held using video conferencing through the website http://www.zoom.us (see meeting IDs and passwords below). Written comments can be emailed to palmerli@clarke.k12.ga.us prior to the meetings. These meetings can also be accessed by calling 646-876-9923 and using the meeting IDs provided for the respective time. Each year, the assessed value for the taxable property in Athens-Clarke County is recalculated, and the board of tax assessors is required by law to reassess values based on fair market value. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $225,000 is approximately $86.88, and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $250,000 is approximately $108.60. The Board of Education is scheduled to give final approval to the proposed budget and millage rate at a called board meeting on June 25, 2020, at 6 p.m. 
  • The University of North Georgia has reached what it says is a major construction milestone with the completion of work on domes that will shelter two new telescopes at North Georgia Astronomical Observatory. 'This is a major milestone because the facility looks and feels like a professional observatory,' said Adam Strzemienski, assistant director of facilities for capital planning and sustainability. 'This building will accomplish the instructional, research and community education goals of the project.' The installation indicated construction on the new state-of-the-art facility is near an end. The project is set to be complete in late July .
  • We’re letting you know that Thursday will be another rainy day but the chance for scattered storms is going up. Severe Weather Team 2 has been tracking the rain throughout the week on Channel 2 Action News. And more is coming today. We’re tracking the wet weather LIVE throughout the morning on Channel 2 Action News This Morning Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan said that an upper level low is continuing to spin to our west, and this will spread more rain and scattered storms to north Georgia. [DOWNLOAD: Severe Weather Team 2 Weather App for storm alerts in your neighborhood] Here’s what you need to know: Rain will continue throughout the morning. Chance increases for an scattered storms in the afternoon. Storms could produce periods of heavy rain, lightning and hail.
  • The Hall County Sheriff’s Office says it is still looking for the cause of death for a woman whose body was found in a mobile home that burned last fall: Brenda Autry was 59 years old. A blaze burned her house trailer in Hall County last October 1. The state Fire Marshal’s Office says there is still no determination on what started the fire.  From the AJC, October 1 2019… A woman was killed early Tuesday when a mobile home caught on fire in Hall County, authorities said. Firefighters responded to the 2500 block of Lee Land Road shortly after 1 a.m., Hall County fire spokesman Zach Brackett said. They discovered a single-wide trailer engulfed in flames. The fire was extinguished by about 6 a.m., but 59-year-old Brenda Autry was found dead inside, Brackett said.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis has received clearance to take part in games after undergoing an MRI one year after his emergency brain surgery. A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed the positive results of the MRI on Thursday. Mathis had been cleared to go through practices since last November, and Smart said indicated he would be a full participant in spring football drills before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended all collegiate sports activity on March 12. RELATED: Mind Game, how UGA's D'Wan Mathis is overcoming brain surgery UGA does not typically tackle its quarterbacks to the ground in practices. The Bulldogs go full speed and 'thud,' players wrapped up without being taken to the ground to avoid injuries. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Mathis was rushed to Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital last May after the UGA medical staff, led by director of sports medicine Ron Courson, diagnosed his symptoms as life threatening. 'The honest truth, waking up in a hospital bed, and seeing my parents, and seeing how my head looked and everything, man, it was humbling,' Mathis, whose skull surgery involved a metal plate secured by screws, said following the Sugar Bowl. 'I was like, wow you are so blessed, be thankful that you are still here.' Terence Mathis, D'Wan's father, stated simply that 'Georgia saved my son's life.' The comeback D'Wan was in the ICU unit for days following the surgery and lost more than 20 pounds after his skull was cut open to remove the life-threatening cyst. It took months for him to gain back his weight and strength but Mathis was determined to return to practice. By November and into the bowl season, Mathis was working out with a modified helmet and running the scout team, earning the praise and confidence of Georgia coach Kirby Smart throughout the offseason. 'D'Wan's been scout-team quarterback the last couple of weeks now and has done a tremendous job,' Smart said last November. 'He helped with the Bo Nix scout team stuff. He's able to simulate some of these guys we've played, so that has been a big bonus for us.' Smart indicated during a virtual G-Day Game telecast last month that Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman had not yet clinched the starting job. RELATED: Kirby says we don't really know what we have at QB' ' You evaluate our quarterbacks, and you look at it and you say I've got a guy who had a major surgery, I got a guy that just came out of high school, I've got a guy that's been a No. 2 last year, Stetson, and then I have a transfer from Wake that we don't know a lot about, as far as in our system,' Smart said. 'So we have a lot of unknowns at that position.' QB competition Smart's assessment of the QB competition wasn't much different on Thursday, just hours before USC transfer J.T. Daniels announced his commitment to Georgia. 'W e don't even know the threshold or the capacity of some of our players,' Smart said. 'We did not get to go through spring ball with necessarily some of the positions, especially on offense, of guys to see what they can handle.' RELATED: Smart says there's going to be a good QB competition' More than once source close to the team told DawgNation that Mathis was throwing the ball equally well if not better than Newman in the team's voluntary workouts outside of the supervised winter conditioning. Mathis ran the 100-yard dash in 10.8 seconds in high school and his running skills and athleticism were on display in the 2018 G-Day Game Mathis was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards in the game and caught a double-reverse pass from Matt Landers for a 39-yard touchdown. D'Wan, he's explosive,' Jake Fromm said of his former understudy. 'I think he converted three or four first downs in a row with his legs. 'The guy can run the ball, he can throw it 70 yards, he's going to be a great player.' Investing in Georgia Mathis made his commitment to Georgia quarterbacking duties clear when he chose to stay in Athens after on-campus activity was suspended. Mathis applied for and was granted a special exemption. It provided insight into the trust he has built with Courson and the UGA medical staff, and his comfort in living in Athens. 'D'Wan came back on spring break and told me he loves where he is from, but that he needed to go back to Georgia,' Terence Mathis said in a March 28 interview. 'Georgia could have given up on my son, but instead, Kirby and his staff have treated D'Wan as though he was their own son. They've used every possible resource to stay behind him and keep him engaged with the team after saving his life.' But now Daniels is in play, and there are suspicious the UGA quarterback room may have reached its tipping point. If Daniels receives a waiver for immediate eligibility its hard to imagine four quarterbacks getting repetitions as Georgia competes for a national championship this season. Freshman Carson Beck is also expected to be in the mix, along with redshirt junior Stetson Bennett. Mathis was Ohio State's quarterback of choice in the 2019 signing class before Justin Fields jolted Georgia by transferring from the Bulldogs' program following his freshman season. RELATED: D'Wan Mathis shares signing day story, Ohio State denied interest in Justin Fields Mathis determined the Buckeyes were not being forthcoming in December of 2018 when they said they were not recruiting Fields, and he chose to trust in Georgia, signing and enrolling in January of 2019. It remains to be seen how Mathis' future will play out, but the Oak Park, Mich., product is once again healthy and ready to compete full-go on the football field. The post Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis fully cleared for game action after MRI appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS USC quarterback JT Daniels announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he has committed to play football at Georgia. THANK YOU USC Excited for the future #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/ewfhBG3ved JT Daniels (@jtdaniels06) May 28, 2020 Daniels, a redshirt sophomore, has been in the transfer portal since April 16 and will need to be granted a waiver if he is to have immediate eligibility with the Bulldogs. Georgia football enters the 2020 season with a championship caliber defense but plenty of questions on offense with the departure of three-year starter Jake Fromm, 1,000-yard rusher D'Andre Swift and three starting offensive linemen. Daniels entered last season as the Trojans starting quarterback before suffering a torn ACL in the opening game against Fresno State after opening the contest 25-of-34 passing for 215 yards with a TD and an interception. In a manner similar to how Fromm replaced Jacob Eason in 2017, freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis replaced him and ran away with the job, earning FWAA Freshman All-American honors. Many felt Daniels might return to USC after the NCAA shelved the one-time transfer proposal last week, but the former 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Mater Dei High School has apparent chosen a route that will take him through Athens. Smart indicated on Thursday that he's still not settled on the Georgia offense, even with Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman in the program since January. 'We don't even know the threshold of some of our players,' Smart said on Thursday. 'We didn't get to go through spring ball with some of the positions to see what they can handle.' The Bulldogs figure to find out sooner than later, with players returning to campus to start voluntary workouts on June 8, and football activity expected to start in mid-July. The post BREAKING: Georgia football gets commitment from USC transfer quarterback JT Daniels appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football coach Kirby Smart provided a detailed look into the new normal for college football on Thursday. The Bulldogs' fifth-year head coach explained how things are going to be 'a lot different' for Georgia players from the time they return to campus on account of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put sports on hold dating back to March 12. The Bulldogs will arrive back on campus at the start of June after the SEC approved a June 8 start date for voluntary workouts. RELATED: 3 things to look for, what's next for college football after return 'We're going to bring them back prior to June 8 so they can get a medical workup,' Smart said, referring to the UGA protocol put in place by director of sports medicine Ron Courson. 'They've got to have an extensive physical, they've got to have COVID tests.' Some players, Smart said, could be screened and tested before they arrive back on campus. The big what if?' Smart acknowledged Georgia obviously has to be prepared in the event a player, or players, test positive for COVID-19 after arriving back on the UGA campus. 'Each guy will have the option of if they want to go back home if they test positive, or we have a quarantine policy that we're able to put guys into should they test positive,' Smart said on the Zoom call. 'We've also got the ability if it happens during a workout period that we'll have contact tracing. Guys that have worked out together, those groups will stay the same, and we'll be aware of those guys.' Smart said players will be educated throughout the resocialization period. 'It's not going to be the normal, where I walk in, and I go to my locker, and I can workout, and then I shower it's going to be completely different,' Smart said, referring to state guidelines that mandate social distancing and restrictions on group gatherings. New normal Georgia football players will notice immediately things have changed drastically since their winter workout sessions concluded. 'They will come in and do a light workout initially, because we want to bring them back slowly,' Smart said. 'They will work out in smaller groups. Twentyor so guys to a group. Then, of the 20 that come in, they'll be subdivided into groups of seven. 'So you're looking at a 7-person rotation in a 12,000 square foot weight room and they will be spaced out.' Smart said a cleaning crew come through after each group session of players. The areas from the indoor football facility and into the weight room will be scoured and disinfected. 'There will be one door in, one door out,' Smart said. 'And we won't be using the locker room.' The Georgia coaching staff has been working in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall on a rotational basis the past few weeks. 'There's less time in the office, and we've been alternating how many guys are in the office, with offense and defense separated,' Smart said. 'There's a lot of protocol there that's been instituted from our university for a safety standpoint. There has been cleaning crews after and before we're in here.' Safety trumps finances Smart debunked any notion that student-athletes are being brought back on campus prematurely on account of financial pressures. 'I certainly think that fiscally and financially it's going to benefit if there is a football season, but that has nothing to do with the decisions that go into it medically,' Smart said. RELATED: SEC task force provides blue print for safe return to campus 'A lot of people have said, Well, the SEC has had to come back really strong with comeback dates and return to sports, and they've had this protocol to allow us to play football,' he said. 'But every decision that's made at the SEC level, I can assure you, is made by infectious disease people. It's based on information about the safety and well-being of the student-athletes.' Smart said parents and players feel the workout environments UGA can provide are safer than those in the athletes' hometowns. 'Wherever it is they are working out, at a local local high school or a local gym that has opened back up is that environment is any more safe than one that is professionally cleaned, monitored and taken care of by our staff?' he said. 'Most of the kids we talked to, they are more comfortable saying, If I'm going to workout, than I'm gong to do it there.' Smart made it clear his staff will see to it that the Georgia players come into the workouts with both eyes wide open. 'I promise you there's some of our players don't feel vulnerable, they feel like they're not vulnerable because of what they have heard, or because they think they have super powers,' Smart said. 'So we're going to educate our guys to be safe and make good decisions and we're going to have education sessions even when they get back to give us the best opportunity to have a season.' DawgNation College Football Offseason SEC presidents make it official, looking ahead to June 8 return RELATED: 5 keys, NCAA vote on Wednesday includes pivotal provisions College football return takes turn out West NCAA president Mark Emmert discusses issues with return to campus Les Miles says college football set for return, expert says no fans in stands Return of college football critical to fans' psyche, pocketbooks UGA president Jere Morehead employs 9 research groups for optimal return NCAA advances ball on name, image, likeness player compensation States opening equates to flickering light for college football return Greg Sankey hasn't ruled out a CFB season without all conferences Three keys amid college football return process, from Greg Sankey NCAA board of governors unanimously approves NIL compensation The post Kirby Smart: Georgia football workouts new normal completely different' than pre-COVID19 appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS P.J. Horne wasn't looking for promises from Tom Crean when he spoke with him about transferring into the Georgia basketball program. 'We just talked about me coming in and having an opportunity to compete,' Horne, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, told DawgNation. 'Right now, I just want to play the game and compete.' The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Horne played post for a Hokies' team that went 16-16 last season. RELATED: How Tom Crean is building another winner at Georgia It's likely UGA will look to Horne to help guard the rim and rebound after junior Rayshaun Hammonds opted to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. Hammonds was Georgia's leading rebounder with 7.4 per game and second-leading scorer with 12.9 points per outing. Hammonds and Horne faced off in a 2017 Georgia High School State Championship Game in addition to playing AAU basketball together. Horne sheepishly said his Tift County team beat Hammonds' Norcross squad, 'but neither of us played real well in that game.' Rome (Ga.) High School principal Eric Holland, who coached Horne at Tift County, explained why Georgia basketball fans should be excited. 'P.J. is a kid of very few words and a lot of action, you'll see that,' Holland said. 'It's the invisible things that make people great. It's his work ethic, his leadership, the way he treats people, the way he communicates, and he's just the consummate teammate 'It seemed like every coach was calling me about him, we had at least 40 calls.' Horne averaged 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game for the Hokies last season. He also ranked second on his team with 21 blocked shots. Georgia brings back 6-8, 220-pound sophomore Toumani Camara, who averaged 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds last season, improving as his freshman season progressed. But the Bulldogs have little else in the way of rebounders or rim protectors at this time. Holland said it doesn't matter where Crean wants Horne to play. 'P.J. is very flexible,' Holland said. 'He's adaptable, he doesn't complain about anything.' Horne, whose transfer was triggered by a desire to be closer to home amid the coronavirus pandemic, said he watched film on Georgia before finalizing his decision to play for the Bulldogs. 'I saw a young team that has room for growth and has a lot of talent,' Horne said. 'It's a team that has a lot of guys that can do different things on the floor.' Crean, entering this third year as the Georgia basketball coach, has explained that is by design. 'We want to get this team to the point where you have to guard all five guys past the 3-point line, and if you're not guarding one of them, it's because you can't guard him inside,' Crean said. 'For us to win in this league, there's a lot of different ways, but you've got to stop people on one end, you can't give up easy baskets with your turnovers, and you have to have the combination of getting layups, getting fouled and getting 3-point shots.' Horne improved his shooting range last season. After making 1-of-4 attempts his sophomore season, Horne was 45-of-129 (.349) last season. That would have ranked second on the UGA team among players that attempted more than 20 threes, Hammonds setting the bar at 35 percent on 36-of-103 shooting beyond the 3-point arc. Georgia ranked 322nd out of 350 Division I teams in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage as a team an even 30 percent. Only Missouri and Texas A&M were worse in the SEC. But with a new batch of players coming in Georgia will sign at least six and maybe seven Crean will surely be hoping his team's fortunes will change. Crean's Indiana teams had the best 3-point shooting percent among major college teams during his 10 years leading the Hoosiers. Horne said he likes what he sees coming back on the team. 'They have competitive players,' Horne said. 'I look at it as a huge opportunity. I feel like we have a good chance of competing in the SEC and getting to the NCAA tournament.' Georgia coach Tom Crean DawgNation Georgia basketball WATCH: Tom Crean opens up, tells all on UGA basketball Bulldogs upset Ole Miss in SEC tourney opener Anthony Edwards takes over final minute, UGA topples Arkansas WATCH: Georgia celebrates like crazy after Vandy win Bulldogs score resounding win over No. 13 Auburn UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss The post Transfer center P.J. Horne has NCAA tourney goals for Georgia basketball appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Marquis Groves-Killebrew told DawgNation earlier that this month that he felt like he was a No. 1 priority for the 2022 class for the Georgia Bulldogs. That now seems very fitting. Groves-Killebrew committed to Georgia on Wednesday evening. It means that the former No. 1 priority is now the No. 1 commitment for UGA in the 2022 recruiting cycle. The impressive rising junior cornerback is now at Brookwood High School. The 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback already ranks as the nation's No. 10 CB and the No. 64 overall prospect for the 2022 cycle on 247Sports. It has been a busy month for the Kentucky native when it comes to commitments. Groves-Killebrew also committed to play in the 2022 All-American Bowl out in Texas earlier this week. Blessed to be invited and 100% COMMITTED to the 2022 All American Bowl ! /// @Mansell247 @ErikRichardsUSA @rlacey23 @tballardqbcoach @TWithJay pic.twitter.com/1cuQIY27DA Marquis Groves-Killebrew (@qfromtheville) May 21, 2020 Want to get quickly up to speed on the newest Georgia commit? Here you go: He will list the following members of his family as current or former professional football players. NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (he is a cousin on his father's side) Former Texas LB Robert Killebrew (his uncle won a national title with the Longhorns) NFL WR DeVante Parker (the former first-round pick is a cousin on his mother's side) 'I've got a whole bunch of athletes in my family,' he said. Georgia offered him back in November. WOW!! After a great conversation with @CoachCwarren I'm blessed to receive a offer from the University of Georgia ! #GoDawgs @KirbySmartUGA @CarterRamsFB @coach_SB21 @Coach_FredM @tballardqbcoach @TWithJay pic.twitter.com/5qLx61RWKO Marquis Groves-Killebrew (@qfromtheville) November 9, 2019 Charlton Warren has been the primary recruiter for the Bulldogs. 'I'm the number one priority for them in Georgia to keep me in the state for my class,' Groves-Killebrew told DawgNation earlier this month. Noted Atlanta-area DB trainer Justin Miller has been working with him since he was in the eighth grade. Miller was a second-round draft pick by the New York Jets back in 2005. 'I think he has all the attributes to be an elite CB for a very long time,' Miller said. The main thing Miller stressed was how much the young Grayson High Ram likes to compete. 'A mindset of win-at-all-costs and always up for the challenge of covering the best WR,' Miller said. Check out some of his reel from his sophomore season in 2019. Big on big @_UnderTheRadar_ pic.twitter.com/hFTxvB7nM1 Marquis Groves-Killebrew (@qfromtheville) September 14, 2019 Special talent @qfromtheville 1% #SFSP pic.twitter.com/whKXog7m4C Oliver Davis II (@I_Am_OD3) April 11, 2020 Georgia adds Groves-Killebrew to the board over competition from Clemson, LSU, Oregon, Tennessee and a strong home state tie to the Kentucky Wildcats. 'The recruiters see me as somebody they can move all over the secondary,' Groves-Killebrew said. 'Mainly as a guy who can play everywhere.' What does he like best about the Bulldogs right now? 'I would say the atmosphere really,' Groves-Killebrew said. 'Everything really. I really love Georgia for real. That's one of my top schools.' Georgia offered him after a game last season. 'They offered me like a week after I played Marietta High School,' Groves-Killebrew said. 'I played against Marietta and I gave up zero catches. Do you know Arik Gilbert? I guarded him the whole game and I gave up zero catches against him that night.' That impressed Georgia. As it should. It looks like the Bulldogs can still pull an elite recruit out of Gwinnett County after all. Groves-Killebrew recently transferred to Brookwood from Grayson High School. 'I like the location there with Georgia,' he said earlier this month. 'It is right up the street for me. I live on Athens Highway. So Georgia is right there for me.' DAWGNATION RECRUITING (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) Who is Chaz Chambliss? Carrollton staff shares the goods on the new Bulldog commit BREAKING: Chaz Chambliss commits to Georgia football Taking a deep dive at how well Georgia has been recruiting Metro Atlanta of late Elite 2022 defensive athlete Daniel Martin already has a 'family' feel at UGA HEDGES: The rival national programs between UGA and another No. 1 class Brock Bowers: Nation's No. 3 TE knows what he needs to do before his college decision De'Jahn Warren: The 'nugget' for the nation's No. 1 JUCO prospect with UGA Elite cornerback Marquise Groves-Killebrew is a 'No. 1 priority' for 2022 Decrypting that recent tweet from 5-star LB Smael Mondon Jr. Prince Kollie: The ILB target who had 1,085 yards as a receiver in 2019 Lovasea Carroll: DawgNation goes one-on-one with the 2021 RB commit Dylan Fairchild: Elite O-line target includes UGA among his top six schools What exactly are these virtual recruiting visits like right now? The post BREAKING: Georgia football adds an anchor 2022 commit in CB Marquis Groves-Killebrew appeared first on DawgNation.