ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
44°
Sunny
H 72° L 46°
  • cloudy-day
    44°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 72° L 46°
  • clear-day
    64°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 72° L 46°
  • clear-day
    69°
    Evening
    Sunny. H 72° L 46°
College
Georgia Bulldogs won, but historic 2017 game served as springboard for Notre Dame, too
Close

Georgia Bulldogs won, but historic 2017 game served as springboard for Notre Dame, too

Georgia Bulldogs won, but historic 2017 game served as springboard for Notre Dame, too

Georgia Bulldogs won, but historic 2017 game served as springboard for Notre Dame, too

Georgia football-Notre Dame lost to Georgia but 2017 game was springboard for Irish too-Georgia Bulldogs-Notre Dame Fighting Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Sept. 9, 2017, is a historic date for the Georgia Bulldogs. It represents the day they invaded Notre Dame Stadium with a red and black surge that they’re still talking about around here.

But while it was Georgia that came out on top in that game, 20-19, and advanced to the National Championshig, the Fighting Irish also count that day as a sort of crossroads in the program’s resurgence.

No. 24 Notre Dame (1-0) was coming off 4-8 record the previous season and there were calls for coach Brian Kelly’s job. The Bulldogs (1-0), at No. 15, were the higher-ranked team and offered more promise in Year 2 under Kirby Smart. But as only the second game of the year, nobody really knew yet what either team had. Both were carrying only lopsided, season-opening victories over over-matched opponents into the contest.

In the end, two incredible plays lifted Georgia to victory: A Houdini of a touchdown catch by sophomore receiver Terry Godwin and a fourth-quarter sack-and-strip by senior defensive end. A 30-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship — placed on scholarship a day earlier — proved to be the difference.

Fromm

“It was huge,” Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm said of getting that victory in what was his first career start. “Definitely up there as one of my special moments, being my first start, my first win, beating presitigious Notre Dame at their stadium. It’s incredible is what is was.”

Taking over for injured starter in the first quarter of the opener the previous week, the true freshman Fromm completed 16 of 29 passes for 141 yards and the 5-yard TD to Godwin. But he also lost a fumble and threw an interception. Georgia got 73 yards rushing and a TD from Sony Michel and 185 yards rushing overall and out-gained the Fighting Irish 326 to 265.

Afterward, the teams went their respective directions, but each team keeping the other in their rear-view mirrors. And with every passing victory — Georgia and Notre Dame both would reel of seven straight wins after that contest — came validation that it was two exceptional teams that did battle that warm night in South Bend.

Georgia would drop a game to Auburn, come back and avenge that loss in the SEC Championship Game, defeat Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl and finally fall in close and dramatic fashion to Alabama in the National Championship Game.

The Irish dropped late-season road games to Top 10 opponents Miami and Stanford. But they vanquished LSU in the Citrus Bowl. With a final record of 10-3 and most of the team coming back, everybody knew Notre Dame had been rebuilt and would be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

The Irish were indeed. They went 12-0 in the regular season before falling to eventual national champion Clemson in the Cotton Bowl in the semifinals of College Football Playoff. And while it wasn’t the ending they wanted, Notre Dame felt it was back where it belonged on college football’s grandest stage.

Now comes the return game. On Sept. 21 this fall, the Fighting Irish will make their first-ever visit to Athens and Sanford Stadium. Early projections have the Bulldogs as prohibitive favorites as Notre Dame lost seeks to replace a lot of production off its 2018 team. But thanks to that 2017 game that served as a launching-pad moment for both programs and the recruiting that has been going on ever since, the rematch Between the Hedges is already considered one of the top non-conference games in the nation in 2019.

DawgNation talked with several current Fighting Irish players who competed against Georgia in that 2017 game. We asked for them to recount what they remembered from that historic night, what it meant to their season and their thoughts on this year’s rematch on Sept. 21 at Sanford Stadium.

IAN BOOK, SR., QB, EL DORADO HILLS, CALIF.

Prominent recollection …

Book

“Got my first snap ever in college football in that game. It was a quarterback draw; never will forget it. (Starting QB) Brandon (Wimbush) got some turf in his eye, so I had to go in.”

What it meant …

“We’re never going to forget that game. We felt like we should’ve won that game and, you know, we came up a little short. It still stings. That’s what we’ll remember and we’ll use that for fuel, definitely.”

 Aftermath …

“You can always find a positive out of something. We came out knowing they were a good team and obviously we didn’t come out on top that night. But to see what they did the rest of the year showed us that we were a good matchup for them.”

Progression since named starter …

“Just getting through all my reads, trusting everybody, building chemistry with everyone, receivers, running backs, O-line, just knowing exactly where everyone’s going to be at the right time, defensive recognition. Just working on that and film study every day.”

Visiting UGA in September …

“I’m really trying to stay in the present this whole spring, but it’s hard not to notice the schedule. We’re extremely excited for all the challenges we have coming. Obviously, everyone knows about Georgia. It’s going to be a great game. We’re all excited for it and it will be here quicker than you know.”

JALEN ELLIOTT, SR., SAFETY, RICHMOND, VA.

Memories …

Elliott

“I just remember it was a high-intensity, high-emotion game. It was big for us to come out and make a statement that we could play with anybody and Georgia was a great test for us. They were a team we knew had been very successful over the years and we wanted to come out and make a statement against them and play together and show that we were progressing as well.”

Effects of loss …

“I think that game propelled us and showed that we could play with anybody if we played together and if we stuck to the traits our coaches give us and talk about every day. It was early in the year, so you have to take everything that happens then with a grain of salt. It was important to remember that it was early in the year and that we made some good plays and some bad plays but, at the end of the day, it was 20-19. You win or lose by one (point), you understand there were plays in the game that could’ve made it go the other way. When you looked at it that way, we understood that we had the pieces, that we just had to put it all together. That was huge for us.”

Georgia’s true freshman quarterback …

“We saw that (starting quarterback Jacob Eason got hurt), but we knew that, ‘man, both of these are good quarterbacks.’ So we prepared like (Fromm) was a four-year starter. He came in and was kind of calm and cool under pressure. He had some running backs who kind of took the pressure off of him in (Nick) Chubb and Sony (Michel). That was huge for us, too, because we were young in the back end. It was important for us (safeties) to come out and make a statement in that game as well. We embraced the challenge.”

On the Terry Godwin TD catch …

“Oh, man, I was running to it! I saw it. That was J-Love who was on him, (cornerback) Julian Love. He’s an All-American, a big-time guy. So that was just an unbelievable catch.

On having to go to Georgia this time …

“We’re circled on everybody’s schedule, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s how we talk about it. We know we’re going to get people’s best and we’re going to give them our best, too. So we take it a week at a time. We don’t want to overlook anybody because we play such a tough schedule. Every game on our schedule means so much since we don’t have a conference championship. We’re an independent, so we never try to look too far ahead. But we love playing the Michigans and the Georgias and the Big Tens, but we know we have to lock into all those other games before we get to those points.

On rebuilding the defense …

“I think we have all the pieces there. It’s about us coming together and just working through the kinks of being younger and making sure we all do our jobs. If we all play 11 as one and do our job we’ll be all right.

Connections to Georgia …

“I have some cousins down there. And I was recruited by them, by Coach (Mark) Richt. They were in my Top 3. So I liked Georgia a lot.”

The chance to play in Sanford Stadium …

“It’s definitely going to be unbelievable. You saw when they came to Notre Dame that they like playing in games like this. We’re just thankful for the opportunity to come down there to Georgia and we expect them to give us their best. We can’t wait. I haven’t been there since I was recruited and I’ve never seen it full, so I’m ready. It should be fun.”

CHRIS FINKE, SR., WR/KR, DAYTON, OH.

What he remembers …

Finke

“The first thing that pops into my mind about that game was a play on a third down on our second-to-last drive. It was thrown to me and I missed the ball and we had to punt. Yeah, that’s what I remember. We got the ball back and we ran the same play again and I caught it that time. But then we fumbled and turned the ball over and lost.

Score and situation …

“It was the fourth quarter, about three minutes left, we were down one. It was third-and-10. The ball came over the middle for me and I didn’t catch it.”

Attitude coming in and going out …

“We were coming off a bad year, but we’re never a team that thinks we don’t have what it takes. I think we were ranked 24th at the time and we were playing Georgia and we knew there was a lot to lose. But when you see them in the championship game, we thought back to our game and realized if we do a few different things we could have won the game. We felt pretty good about that but also kind of bad. We came up just short or that could’ve been us, things could have been different.”

This season …

“We’ve got some guys stepping into roles to fill the places of people who have left. We have a lot of guys coming back, too, but, particularly in the receiver room. We’ve got Miles (Boykin) leaving and Chase Claypool stepping into his role. We’ve got Mike Young stepping into a bigger role, too, and we have some younger guys kind of figuring out where there fit and making plays and trying to move into a role. We’re going to need more than a few guys to make some plays for us and the line’s looking good and Ian Book is looking good.”

On his quarterback …

“I think this spring has been really good for Ian. This has been the first spring he’s come in as the starter, even though he started playing last year. He’s the No. 1 guy now and knows he’s the number one guy and he’s been delivering balls with confidence and just playing really well all spring. I think having that weight lifted off his shoulders, when you’re No. 2 and have a two-quarterback situation going on, has helped him.”

Going ‘between the hedges’ first time …

“I’m sure it will be an exciting atmosphere. SEC games, especially when it’s a big opponent, you see their games on TV all the time and how everybody shows up and it’s a big stage and a big event all the time. So, it’s going to fun, I think. We’re trying not to look too far past anybody, but we know that will be a cool atmosphere to play in.”

DAELIN HAYES, SR., DL, BELLEVILLE, MICH.

2017 Georgia matchup …

Hayes

“That was my sophomore year, second game starting. Theoretically, there’s no one game that’s bigger than the other. But that game had a particular buzz about it. It was a night game and it was like my first time starting against an SEC opponent. Obviously, growing up you know who Georgia is. Georgia, Bama, those types of teams you know. So it was an awesome opportunity to compete versus a team that historically is one of the best. So that was cool.”

Coming up short …

“We got to 9-1 that year, or 8-1, or whatever, and I remember that loss served as a blemish for us at the time. But it motivated a lot of us, too. Because, at the time, we were coming off a 4-8 season and that was a loss in our second game of the year. So we had a lot of doubters. But I remember being (8-1) and still kind of being overshadowed by that loss.

“I remember seeing a clip of Coach Kelly and somebody asked him if this had the same vibes as last year. I saw that bothered him, because we knew the work that we’d put in and we knew what kind of team we were going to be before that. So I remember from the outward perspective there being a sense of panic, but for us it really served as a motivation point and somewhat of crossroads. It was, like, ‘do we dwell on this or do we move on?’ We decided to impose our will. I think Drue (Tranquill) said it after the game, ‘our defense and our team is going to impose our will on opponents moving forward,’ and we did.”

Momentum from last season …

“These last two years, we’ve proven that what we do in the offseason, the attention to detail and the work ethic that our team developed and the culture that we established that year, that it works. So our guys take solace in that and they believe in that. It’s not so much who we’re playing – we often say that they’re faceless opponents – but we have to go out and do what we have to do and take care of ourselves. So we’re just staying true to our process. We’ve hit more this spring than we ever have, in my opinion. Scrimmages, half-lines, live periods, all that stuff, we’ve done a lot of it. It’s been a physical offseason, to say the least.”

Recollections of Fromm …

“I remember Chubb and Michel. That was more of the focal point for us. You stop Georgia’s run game then they’d have to put the ball in the freshman’s hands. That was a chance we were willing to take at that time. Like anything, you always have to stop the run. We know they’re going to come out, be physical, try to impose their will through their run game. That’s something we know we have to do. Once we establish that our defense isn’t going to get ran through, then we’re going to unleash our pass-rushers and get to the quarterback. We want to keep him from being comfortable and that’s something we pride ourselves on being able to do. We’re always the tip of the spear for our defense.”

Playing at Sanford …

“I’m excited. I’ve never been down there. I don’t think I’ve been to the state of Georgia since I was, like, 8. So it’ll be cool to go back. I know it’ll be hot. I know we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”

TOMMY KRAEMER, SR., GUARD, CINCINNATI, OH.

Build-up for 2017 game …

Kraemer

“That was my second season and my first year starting. We were coming off a 4-8 year and everyone was pretty disappointed. It was kind of sad all around, really. That winter, Coach (Matt) Baylis came in (as strength coach). Coach Kelly kind of cleared a little house on his staff and we were all juiced up. The entire season, Georgia was circled. I mean, we played Temple first and obviously you can’t overlook opponents, but Georgia was going to be the game, a big-time SEC school in Notre Dame Stadium. It was a first time we had a team coming in from that far South. It was just a big deal, so we were really focused on that, watching Georgia film all year.”

Atmosphere in South Bend …

“That game, it was weird how it worked out. I don’t know if there was a hurricane down there or what, but it brought up a ton of Georgia fans. The stadium was half full of them. Notre Dame Stadium is never like that. Usually you might see a little bit of red in the top-left corner or something. But it was maybe half-and-half that night. That was pretty neat actually. …

“I think one of the coolest things when they came here was the lights thing in the third quarter or whenever it was. That was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had playing football, and it wasn’t even our tradition! It was cool to see, and our fans picked up on it, too. No one really knew what was going on.”

The aftermath …

“It was a one-point loss, which was pretty frustrating for us being the second game. But as the season went on, we started to pick up a lot of momentum and win games and we saw Georgia picking up momentum and becoming one of the top teams in the country. So you started to realize, based off that game, a one-point game that could have gone either way, that gave us a little bit of fire to finish the year strong.”

On the rematch ….

“Every year we play some of the top teams in the country. It’s always cool whenever we can play a big-time SEC team on the road like Georgia. We know it’s a great program. We missed (the playoffs in 2017) and last year we made it and they didn’t. So this year could be deciding who gets in and who doesn’t, like every game does every year, really. I know it’s going to be a really exciting game in a really exciting atmosphere.”

His Georgia connections …

“I have a couple of buddies on the team, Isaac Nauta and Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason. I know them from the Army game. We’ve kind of kept contact over the years. Really, Ben and I are pretty close. He’s one of the biggest human beings I’ve ever met.

On playing in Sanford Stadium …

“We’re all just really ready to get the season started. Our first game is against Louisville, so we’re really getting ready for that. But we know Georgia will be a special one. I’ve heard some cool things about Sanford Stadium, that it’s a really cool atmosphere. It’s two really great programs, so it should be a fun game.”

What Dawgs should expect …

“I think we’re going to be a very explosive offense this year. We know the whole line is coming back. We have one new starter in there, but he’s probably doing better than any of us. Ian’s throwing the ball around well, our receivers are making awesome plays, our running backs are running hard and I think it’s got the makings to be a really special offense this year. So I’m excited about what we can do and hopefully we can roll with it through the season.”

The post Georgia Bulldogs won, but historic 2017 game served as springboard for Notre Dame, too appeared first on DawgNation.

Read More

Local News

  • There is a chance of rain and thunderstorms for Athens and northeast Georgia. The threat of severe weather, apparently diminishing overnight, nonetheless leads several school districts in south Georgia—Albany among them—to cancel classes for the day.  From Channel 2 Action News… There are several metro Atlanta counties under a Tornado Watch early Friday morning as a line of storms and rain move into the area. Severe Weather Team 2 has been tracking the system all week as it moved through the country. The Tornado Watch has been issued for Troup, Meriwether, Pike and Upson counties.
  • The University of Georgia gymnastics team begins competition in the NCAA Finals: the Gym Dogs are taking part in the tournament set for this weekend in Fort Worth Texas.  “We’re peaking at the right time,” says Georgia coach Courtney Kupets Carter. Oklahoma is ranked first going into the tournament. UGA is eighth.
  • A Newton County fine arts teacher faces two felonies for allegedly sexually assaulting students last month, authorities said. Christopher Ehren Matyas, born in 1980, of Covington, was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority, according to a sheriff’s office arrest report. He was a teacher at Alcovy High School, and both school employees and students reported the alleged sexual assaults on March 22, according to the police report obtained by Channel 2 Action News. Newton County School District spokeswoman Sherri Davis sent the news station a statement that said, in part:  “School officials launched an investigation and immediately reported the allegations to local law enforcement. Mr. Matyas was removed from the classroom setting and placed on leave during the course of the investigation. He will not return to the classroom.” He’s out of jail on a $16,700 bond, records show.
  • A White County judge denies bond for Mitch Simpson. The former Cleveland car dealer closed his auto lot earlier this year; he was arrested in March on theft charges.From WSB TV…   A north Georgia car dealer was denied bond Thursday in what’s now being described as a more than $2 million fraud and theft case, prompted by a Channel 2 investigation. Mitch Simpson was arrested and charged with three counts of felony theft by conversion late last month. They were tied to unpaid state vehicle taxes in which nearly 60 buyers say they paid Mitch Simpson Motors for their purchases, but their TAVT taxes were left unpaid and their titles were never delivered. Those purchases spanned a time period between late 2018 and early 2019, right before the Cleveland dealership shut its doors, and the buyers came to Channel 2 after unsuccessful attempts to contact Simpson. Soon the Georgia Department of Revenue began working with the White County Sheriff’s Office and state Attorney General’s Office to investigate the case. On Thursday, the Georgia DOR filed two additional theft charges in the case and argued against bond in Simpson’s case. A prosecutor revealed a much larger, complex case while highlighting Simpson’s 2011 federal conviction in a car loan scam. He served probation in the case, while several other co-defendants went to federal prison. In addition to $385,000 in unpaid vehicle taxes that were collected, prosecutors say Simpson failed to pay multiple floor planning companies $780,000 for vehicles they financed. Those companies essentially act as a bank for car dealerships, lending them the money to provide inventory on car lots. In a third tier of the ongoing investigation, prosecutors allege Simpson double and sometimes triple-financed the same vehicle through the lenders, pocketing about $1.3 million. Simpson’s attorney hit back at those allegations after a state investigator told the court Simpson’s personal bank records had been subpoenaed but not yet analyzed. Search warrants netted titles and documents from Simpson’s Habersham County home, as investigators say evidence was taken out of the car dealership building. “He has a compelling story, and there are certainly issues with the state’s case,” defense attorney Jeff Wolff told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr. Wolff highlighted in court that Simpson simply managed the namesake lot and that it was owned by his former in-laws.  No one else has been charged in the case, and employees of McGregor Financial, the dealership’s in-house financing company, have cooperated with investigators. They’ve maintained their role was financing and Simpson had access to accounts and paid the bills, according to investigators’ testimony. “It was an underfunded business,” Wolff said. “And that’s a large gap between an underfunded business and criminal enterprise.” About a half-dozen friends and family members served as character witnesses for Simpson, arguing against a notion that he’d serve as a flight risk in this case. Perhaps his strongest supporter was his 86-year-old mother, Elsie Hogan, who said Simpson never had a desire to leave his north Georgia roots, even when he faced trouble in his earlier federal case. “He says he’ll never fly until he gets his wings and goes to heaven,” Hogan said. Hogan also revealed she’d used yard sale money to pay for Simpson’s heart medication while he was in jail. She pushed back against any suggestion that he’d profited from stolen car lot funds. “He has no money at all. He has nothing. He has nothing, sir,” Hogan said, answering Wolff’s questions. Nonetheless, Superior Court Judge Joy Parks ruled against bond in the case, citing the complexity and seriousness of the newly-revealed allegations. A grand jury is set to convene in June. The good news for Simpson’s car buyers is that they are receiving their titles. Fifty-three of the car buyers affected are from Georgia, and the state says it worked with those floor planning companies to get the missing titles. “We've been able to obtain 52 (titles) with the help of the Attorney General's Office. It's been a great win for us,” said Josh Waites, director of special investigations for the Georgia Department of Revenue. The department says it continues to receive complaints tied to purchases from Simpson. Outside of court, car buyers Paul Cleiman and Justin Mathis thanked Channel 2 for exposing the case. Both men have either received titles or expect them any day after four months of uncertainty. “It’s been a long battle,” said Mathis. “We appreciate you, Nicole. We wouldn’t be here today without you.” 'I don’t think it was getting any attention until you stepped in and got the Department of Revenue involved,” Cleiman said. “We need justice, and I think that’s been served today for now.”

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia baseball stayed atop the SEC standings and completed a three-game sweep of Missouri on Saturday afternoon. The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (33-8, 13-5 SEC) had three pitchers combine on a one-hitter in 4-2 win over the No. 21-ranked Tigers (26-15-1, 7-10-1).   Brought our brooms to the park today! #DawgsOnTop | #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/FNkeNPzd1C — Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) April 20, 2019   Tony Locey (7-0) got the start and the win, allowing two runs on one hit with five strikeouts and five walks before giving way to Ryan Webb (one inning) and Zack Kristofak (5 saves). “Tony Locey was big for us today, I think their hitters went 1-for-19 off him,” UGA baseball coach Scott Stricklin said. “He’s just so hard to hit — he’s throwing 96 miles an hour..” Georgia, which has won five straight, opened the scoring in the first inning when Riley King doubled, moved to second on Aaron Schunk’s infield single and scored on a wild pitch. LJ Talley hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to make it 3-0. Missouri closed the gap with two runs in the top of the fourth, but the Bulldogs added an insurance run in the fifth when Talley scored on a passed ball. Talley reached base on a walk, moved to second on a balk and was at third on a wild pitch. “The goal right now is that we want to win an SEC Championship,” Talley said. “Coach says, ‘Great teams sweep, good teams will be ok with winning the series.’   So, it was a good thing that we swept.” Georgia baseball returns to action on Tuesday night in Atlanta against Georgia Tech at SunTrust Park. UGA then plays at Mississippi State in a battle of Bulldogs for a weekend series. Georgia baseball stories Slap-happy Georgia outlasts Clemson in 20-inning marathon Miraculous recoveries spark Bulldogs baseball program Bulldogs sting Yellow Jackets in 12-2 blowout at Foley Field   The post WATCH: No. 5 Georgia baseball atop SEC standings, completes Missouri sweep appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Action and Football pictures from the 2019 G-Day game in Sanford Stadium 
  • ATHENS — Offense, defense and special teams, there was something for everyone who turned out at the Georgia football G-Day Game. DawgNation beat writers Mike Griffith and Chip Towers broke down the Bulldogs’ spring showcase. The Saturday night Sanford Stadium discussion debated the game MVPs, as well as areas where Georgia has improved the most, and areas the Bulldogs still need to get better. RELATED: Eric Stokes experiences good and bad at cornerback WATCH: Kirby Smart shares thoughts on G-Day Game Georgia football lands major commitment on G-Day Stock report from Georgia G-Day Game Instant analysis of Georgia football G-Day Game Georgia football DawgNation breakdown The post WATCH: Georgia G-Day Game breakdown with Mike Griffith and Chip Towers appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Eric Stokes made the play of the game, was probably the defensive player of the game and drew strong praise from his head coach not just because of what he did in the G-Day Game, but what he did all spring with the Bulldogs. Yet all the junior cornerback could think about Saturday as he got ready to leave Sanford Stadium was the one that got away. Well, that and what he was having for dinner. That’d be Beanie Weanies as he suited up with the Black Team that lost 22-17. The winners from the Red Team were to dine on steak and lobster Saturday night. “That’s going to be very tough, knowing that we had the lead most of the game and they came back in the end,” Stokes said of his Saturday night fare. “But I blame that all on me because I was the one that gave up the touchdown that put them up. So that’s on me. I should never allow those things.” Stokes got beat on what was indeed the decisive play of the game. Jeremiah “J.J.” Holloman, a lifelong friend and fellow Newton County resident, got open on a post route, hauled in the pass from backup quarterback Stetson Bennett and turned it into a 43-yard touchdown that gave the Red Team a 19-17 lead with 8:09 to play. Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes wrestles away the ball from wideout J.J. Holloman and turned it into a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown on the third play of Saturday’s G-Day Game. (Curtis Compton/AJC) Such is the life of a cornerback. The touchdown allowed ruined what otherwise had been an incredibly productive day for Stokes. In fact, it could not have gotten off to a better start. The primary objective for the defense this spring and for the 2019 season is to create “havoc plays.” Interceptions, pass-breakups, sacks, tackles for loss and defensive touchdowns are something coach Kirby Smart believes the Bulldogs have not produced enough of the last couple of seasons. So there’s been a very pointed initiative to show marked improvement in that regard this season. “That’s all we wanted: havoc, havoc, havoc,” Stokes said. “Havoc can lead to a lot of things. We wanted to create some havoc and keep the score down. We talked about that all week and that’s exactly what we did.” Havoc is exactly what Stokes created right out of the chute on Saturday. On the day’s third play from scrimmage, with the Jake Fromm-led Red Team facing third-and-three from the 37, Stokes jumped Holloman’s slant route, snatched the ball at the same time Holloman did, wrestled it away, then returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. Two minutes into the game, Stokes’ Black Team led 7-0. “J.J. slipped and that enabled me to look at the quarterback,” Stokes said. “I really shouldn’t, but since he slipped, I felt like I could take a little gamble. Luckily the gamble paid off. So I was just glad I was the one who ended up with the ball.” Predictably, Stokes was absolutely mobbed by the Black Team coaches and players as he came to the sideline. “They absolutely loved it,” Stokes said. “A lot of hands on my helmet. It was amazing. I’m thinking, ‘this is a great way to start.’ But then a couple of plays humbled me real quick.” Holloman would have the last laugh with the late TD. “I really don’t know what happened,” Stokes said of the decisive play. “I’ve got to go back and look at film because that’s the play that’s eating me alive right now.” Holloman was more than happy to fill in the blanks for his buddy. “That was a double move, so it was just a win situation for me,” Holloman said with a grin. “I got him on a good move and I was open coming across the middle and Stetson saw me. He let the ball go and I made the play.” Nevertheless, Smart had nothing but praise for Stokes. Getting beat down the middle is the cost sometimes of being playing corner. It should never happen against a true opponent, but it doesn’t erase all the strides Smart has seen Stokes make. “He certainly made a good play to start us off today,” Smart said. “I thought that was a good fight for the ball and he scored with it when he got it. He’s a kid that has come a long way from a guy that wasn’t really a DB coming out of high school to an athlete that is very conscientious about doing things the right way. When you teach Stokes something, he listens and applies it. When you combine that ability with talent, you’ve got a pretty good player.” Stokes knows he good. He just wants to be great and he knows what that looks like. He’s following Deandre Baker at corner and Baker didn’t allow a TD the last two seasons. That’s not including G-Day, of course. “I remember all the bad plays. I barely remember the good plays,” Stokes said. “That’s more of what I’m looking at. I know I gave up a third-and-four, a third-and-five, where we could’ve been off the field. And then, of course, I gave up a touchdown. So that’s more how I’m looking at it. I’m thinking of all of the bad instead of all the good.” Fortunately, for him, there were more of the latter. The post Georgia’s Eric Stokes experiences the bad of good of playing cornerback during G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Kirby Smart’s initial thoughts on the G-Day Game indicate the fourth-year head coach felt it was a win for Georgia football. “I’m excited about the tight nature of the game and the back and forth battle,” Smart said on Saturday afternoon. “I like it when both quarterbacks get to compete and do two-minute (offenses) and the guys get to play, so that was really good from a competitive standpoint.” The Red Team — made up of the first-team offense and second-team defense —scored a 22-17 victory in the intrasquad scrimmage before an announced crowd of 52,630 at Sanford Stadium. RELATED: Instant analysis of Georgia football G-Day Game Georgia football coach Kirby Smart opening comments   It was an impressive display of support considering the 48-degree temperatures and intermittent rain before and during the game in Athens. Smart joked he wasn’t even sure if he would come to observe a game in such conditions and thanks the Bulldogs’ fans for their support. Some of the best news of the day, Smart said, was that none of the players sustained any major injuries. “I got to see the look in some guys’ eyes, that they were out there competing and playing hard, that part was good,” Smart said. “No major injuries, which is also good.” There were 115 plays in the scrimmage consisting of 83 passes and 32 run plays. Smart indicated part of the imbalance had to do with the two-minute style of offenses run at the end of both halves by both teams, which are passing oriented. Third-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm was 14-of-29 passing for 116 yards with a touchdown and an interception, UGA keeping most of its offense under wraps. Backup quarterbacks Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis both impressed. Bennett, the more seasoned of the two with a year at UGA and a year in junior college under his belt, was a combined 12-of-23 passing for 210 yards with a touchdown splitting his time between the first-team and second-team offense. Mathis, a freshman early enrollee, was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards with an interception, but also, a 39-yard TD reception on a reverse pass. Tailback Brian Herrien was the total yardage leader, the senior carrying seven times for 25 yards and catching three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. RELATED: Hard-charging Herrien among biggest gainers in UGA stock report D’Andre Swift flashed his explosive open-field skills with three carries for 39 yards and three catches for 17 yards. Georgia tight end Charlie Woerner and receiver Trey Blount split team honors with five catches, Woerner with 44 yards and Blount with 69 yards. J.J. Holloman, the team’s leading returning receiver, had three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Georgia football coach Kirby Smart takes questions The post WATCH: Kirby Smart’s initial thoughts on Georgia football G-Day Game appeared first on DawgNation.