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College
Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense
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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

EDITOR'S NOTE: This original Trey Hill story continues a special series in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau profiling homegrown talent from the state of Georgia. To access the other HomeGrown Talent articles please visit the series hub on DawgNation.com.

Trey Hill now snaps the ball to Jake Fromm at Georgia. That's the picture for 2019 after those two played together for two seasons at Houston County High School in Warner Robins.

What are the odds of that? The same high school program sending two players to Georgia is one thing, but what about the center and the quarterback?

Those are mighty long odds. DawgNation might not grasp that with every snap of the ball. But the man who coached them both during Fromm's senior year and Hill's junior year certainly does.

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

When Von Lassiter looks at the TV now to check out Georgia, he can't help but smile.

"When I see Trey now I see him doing the things I always knew he could do," Lassiter said. "I see him on the right track to living the life he has always wanted to live. I'm thankful that I can look at one spot on that TV and see two kids that I am very very proud of."

Lassiter is humbled by that sight.

"It is just a blessing from God," he said. "It is a blessing from God that he would see fit to coach this game that I care a lot about and then for him to entrust me with watching over and trying to help out the careers of these players that I have had."

The real head-scratcher is there was only one time when Fromm lined up behind Hill in high school.

A homegrown story that says a lot about Trey Hill

The first time Lassiter ever laid eyes on Hill was at an Academy Sports in Warner Robins. It was just right around the time he was entering high school.

Hill had a Macon County T-shirt on at the time. but it wasn't long before he made the decision to move to Warner Robins and play for Lassiter at Houston County.

"The next time I saw him it was a year later and he was just at the front steps and I had gotten a call that he had just enrolled at Houston County High School," Lassiter said. "He was coming to live with his brother and his brother was going to take him in."

Lassiter, now leading the program at Bleckley County, knew he had a fixture for his offensive line from that moment on. Hill was already right at 6 feet, 3 inches and about 350 pounds even back then.

"Large human being and one of the biggest kids in our school when he walked in, Lassiter said. "We knew from that first day he wanted to be a great football player and had a desire and a passion about it and was in tune with what we were looking for."

He started for three seasons at Houston County. Mostly a tackle for the Bears while Fromm was there. Well, except for that one game.

That takes things down the road of one of the best stories we can share about Hill.

Remember those long odds about the quarterback and center of the nation's third-ranked team playing together at the same time?

They get even longer than going hunting with Fromm and him not choosing to sit in the best "hot spot" for the ideal line of fire for the birds.

Hill was only the center for Fromm for just one high school game. That was also his idea.

It came about because Houston County had to face powerful Lee County during Hill's junior year. Fromm was a senior at the time. It was one of the biggest high school games in Georgia that fall.

Kirby Smart even showed up on the sidelines for that one.

Lee County lined up imposing 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon at the time. Hill saw that, noted that and felt that he needed to do more that week to try to check Solomon.

The coaches had been thinking about it, but it was Hill who suggested it.

"The ultimate motivation to see how much a kid wants to get better and to test himself was when he picks up the phone and tell his coach I want to block the best player on the other team' and do it as a position he had not played the whole year," Lassiter said. "He was telling me then that he wanted to be better and that he was going good but that he could be even better and do more for us. He thought he could block him and he knew our team needed him to line up and block him."

Hill did his job that night. Solomon made a few plays, but he wasn't the reason why Lee County took down Houston County that night.

"Trey doesn't say a whole lot now," Lassiter said. "He doesn't talk a whole lot, too. But he is a business-type player when the lights come on and when it is time to go you want to be behind him. I saw that over and over again with Trey."

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Trey Hill: How he found his way to Georgia

The Hills tried out an organic method for choosing Georgia. There was a clear acceptance he was going to be just fine playing football where ever he wound up.

It meant a lot of the normal things like depth chart and recruiter relationships and power programs were lesser issues.

Georgia had some built-in strong ties. Hill's older brother, Derrick, played football for Valdosta State when Smart was there as a young assistant. Astrong foundation of trust was established during that time.

The Hill family went about talking to the coaches at Georgia. They spoke to the current players on each team about the program. It meant they did the same for schools like Alabama and Auburn, among others.

"They all said he would be taken care of at Georgia," his mother said on the day Trey chose Georgia. "But that was what I already knew from the time when Derrick was with Kirby at Valdosta State. He knew and we knew what kind of person and what kind of a man he was. We knew he would take care of Trey."

The Hills then went on to interview the parents of those players. Those guys on the team would say something nice. But what would their families think?

They took another step. That was scouting out the churches in the potential campus communities for Hill.

"Our family is made up of Christians," Lillie Hill said on the day Trey chose Georgia. "We believe the church to be the leaders and at the heart of every community. We believe if you put God first in everything you do, then everything else will fall into place."

She found a place like that in Athens.

"It was important to me because I wanted him to have a church home," she said. "Someone he could talk to if he was down and we were not around. A place that felt like family and Georgia was that place that felt like family all the way around."

Family is important to Hill. Trey has three brothers and two sisters and three adopted siblings. He's the baby out of all his biological siblings.

"In the end, I didn't think it was close at all between Georgia and all those other schools," she said back in December of 2017. "Georgia just felt like the spot for him to feel like he was with family."

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Another inroad in the recruiting of Trey Hill

Hill also knew former UGA All-American Roquan Smith. Those two even played together during Roquan's senior year and Trey's freshmen year before he moved to Houston County.

"He was like just go to the school that is best for you," Trey Hill said on his commitment day. "He wasn't forcing me or telling me to go to Georgia. All he said was Georgia is a great program and they will get you to where you want and need to be. I took that into consideration but that wasn't a big factor in my decision."

"In the end, I found other ways and I was just glad to be a Bulldog when I make my mind up."

Trey had a stuffed reb bulldog in his crib. He played with that plush toy until he was about two years old. He then began playing football at three years of age.

"I always knew he was my special kid," his mother Lillie Hill also said on the day he committed to Georgia. "I always knew. He was born with a special patch of white hair on his head. I always knew he was my special one. I just regard that as a sign that he is going to be something special."

So far, he's been up to the task.

Hill enrolled early in January of 2018. It gave him a jump on playing early during his true freshman season. He quickly flashed the skills that had him rated as the nation's No. 3 guard on the 247Sports Composite ratings for the 2018 cycle.

He played in every game last fall, including starting the last four at right guard. His biggest moment was when he was thrust into the game as the backup center. That was during a high-stakes on the road against a surging Kentucky team.

Hill stepped in for Lamont Gaillard that afternoon. It now serves as a precursor to his 2019 season. Gaillard had big shoes to fill. He wound up starting the final 42 games of his Georgia career.

While it may seem like the Georgia faithful is quick to pick the slightest of nits with the nation's No. 3 team, there is no outcry about a dropoff at that center spot.

That's a credit to Hill. He even had some advice for anyone else that becomes the big-time recruit.

"Don't believe the hype if it comes your way," Hill said back in December of. 2017. "That hype will work against you staying grounded. Stay grounded. Do what you do. Hype will get you mixed up from making the decision that should just be your decision at the end of the day."

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Homegrown: The next level for Trey Hill at UGA

Hill had a set of clear goals on the day he committed to Georgia.

"I look forward to coming in and working my tail off and starting as a freshman," he said. "Then I hope to keep spending three or four years at Georgia working my tail off and then going to the NFL. Those are my dreams as of right now."

"I've very excited about all of this. This is my next step forward."

Hill was weighing right at 360 pounds when he was at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio. That was his last stop before becoming a Bulldog.

He knew that wasn't going to fulfill that freshmen year goal. He had a clear target set in front of him to reduce that weight down to approximately 330 pounds in order to have a chance to play as a freshman.

Hill did. And then he did.

Smart recently shared his thoughts on what it will take for Hill to keep better at Georgia. He wants all of his players to focus on that "do more" mantra for 2019, but especially big trench guys like Jordan Davis and Hill.

He wants those guys to strain their considerable natural gifts on every rep.

"It means when you strain on a play and you block a guy, I want you to do it longer and harder," Smart said this fall. "So if you do it for four seconds, I want you to do it for five, for six. If you do it for seven, I want you to do it for eight, for nine. I want you to do it until the echo of the whistle. That's harder and longer. That's for every player on the team, not just Trey Hill. Jake Fromm, I want him to strain harder and longer to make it perfect."

Hill has also worked to improve on his snaps.

"He still has high ones in practice," Smart said. "He has thousands of snaps out there. I don't think you can be thousand-for-a thousand. So I think he has to continue to improve on his snaps and the pace of the snaps. But (knocking on wood) he's done a good job so far. And going into the environment he did at Kentucky I thought he did an incredible job. But he continues to grow and get better. He's a guy, he'll tell you, he needs fire and motivation under him because it's come easy to him. He's very talented, he's athletic. But his brother will tell you, both his brothers will tell you, his father will tell you, he needs a fire lit under him to motivate him sometimes. Because he's athletic."

Hill has shown himself more than willing and able to deal with those fires. That goes back to that high school game against Lee County.

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Georgia's Homegrown Talent: The DawgNation series

The post Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • ATHENS Georgia coach Kirby Smart wasn't making excuses following his team's shocking 20-17 double-overtime loss to South Carolina on Saturday. Smart was just stating facts, and the truth hurt the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs. The program's 16-game home win streak was snapped by the three-touchdown underdog Gamecocks, along with 15 consecutive wins against SEC East opposition. UGA out-gained South Carolina 468 yards to 297 yards, but they lost everywhere else, most importantly on the scoreboard. 'When a team scores on defense, it's like a 90 percent chance they're going to win, and we still almost overcame that,' Smart said after suffering his first home lost since his first season as UGA's head coach in 2016, referring to a Pick 6 thrown by Jake Fromm in the first half. 'But you can't turn the ball over four times and win.' Fromm threw three interceptions, the final one coming off the hands of receiver Tyler Simmons in overtime, and he also fumbled a snap. This, after Fromm had thrown 128 passes through five games this season without a turnover. 'I (also) felt like (South Carolina) won the line of scrimmage,' Smart said. 'They played really physical, they rotated guys up front and did a better job against our run game than most people have as anybody who has done in the past.' Even reliable kicker Rodrigo Blankenship had a rough day. After entering the contest 11-for-11 on field goal attempts, Blankenship had a 53-yarder blocked and missed a 42-yarder in the second overtime that would have extended the game. South Carolina, meanwhile was turnover free and won with a quarterback who started the season third on the depth chart after freshman QB Ryan Hilinski was knocked out of the game in the third quarter. 'Our kids will continue to fight, we've got to look ourselves in the mirror as coaches, as staff and do a better job,' Smart said. 'We've got to help our kids out. I just told everyone in the locker room, you can't hang your head. They've got to go get better. We've got to help them get better. 'When you play in the SEC, guys, every week, you've got to be at your best because every team is 100 percent capable of out-physicalling you and outplaying you. Today ,they played better than we did.' The post Georgia's Kirby Smart speaks bitter truth after 20-17 OT loss to South Carolina appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The UGA Police Department is seeking help from the public and identifying suspects in an armed robbery that occurred on campus late last night.  From the UGA Police Department:  October 11, 2019 UGA Police Department Timely Warning UPDATE ARMED ROBBERY The University of Georgia Police Department is seeking the assistance of the community in identifying the suspects in an armed robbery that took place shortly before midnight on Oct. 10, 2019, in the lower Russell Hall parking lot, off of Cloverhurst Avenue. The below images were caught on nearby security cameras. An updated description of the suspects has been developed based on the victim’s statements and video taken from the area. Both suspects were described as black males in the their early to mid-twenties, approximately six feet tall with slender builds. One of the males was described as having a dark complexion, short hair, short facial hair, wearing a dark blue or black long-sleeved t-shirt with a white design on the front, dark jeans with tears on the front and white shoes. The second male was described as having a medium complexion, clean shaven, wearing a dark grey hoodie style zip up jacket, dark pants with a white stripe down the sides, grey beanie hat and white shoes.The University of Georgia Police Department is continuing to actively investigate this crime. If you have any knowledge of the incident or observed individuals near the area matching the description given by the victim above, please contact the University of Georgia Police Department at 706-542-2200 as soon as possible.
  • Athens-Clarke County Police investigate a reported armed robbery: a 21 year-old man tells police he was held up at gunpoint on Pope Street near the corner of Waddell Street. There were no injuries reported.  We have this morning the name of the Tennessee man who led Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase earlier this week: 34 year-old Julius O’Brian is from Johnson City. The police pursuit that reached speeds of 130 miles per hour began on I-85 near Carnesville and ended with O’Brian’s arrest in Anderson County South Carolina. A high-speed police pursuit in Habersham County ends with the arrest of a 15 year-old: Police in Cornelia say the chase reached speeds of 80 miles per hour before the car overturned. The teenager was not seriously injured.   Winston Turner gets a three-year prison sentence: the Jackson County man pretended to be a securities broker, stealing almost $900,000. The 50 year-old Jefferson man was sentenced in federal court in Gainesville. Inspectors have now condemned the Banks Crossing motel that was burned in a fire last weekend: Banks County firefighters say the blaze that gutted the Scottish Inn on Highway 441 in Commerce was apparently sparked by a cigarette outside the motel.   A 29 year-old man from Baldwin faces child sex charges in Hall County: Dustin Dodd was booked into the Hall County jail, where he is being held without bond.
  •   For the second year in a row, the University of Georgia School of Law has been named the best value in legal education in the country by National Jurist. These rankings are based on outcome-driven metrics such as bar passage and employment rates in addition to average indebtedness, tuition and cost of living. This recognition speaks volumes to the School of Law’s relentless pursuit to be the nation’s very best return on investment in legal education, according to School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge. “Over the past five years, buoyed by private donations and holding the line on tuition, the aggregate annual indebtedness of our students has been reduced by more than $5 million, and for the 2018-19 academic year almost 40% of our J.D. student body did not borrow funds to support their legal education,” he said. “The first-rate training our students receive helps them secure jobs, posting one of the nation’s top employment rates and best in the state earlier this year,” Rutledge said. “For the second straight year, roughly 95% of our students passed the bar within 12 months of graduation. This sort of success, coupled with a laser-like focus on student debt, allows our grads to make professional career choices based on their passions, not their finances.” Over the last several years, the School of Law has implemented a three-part strategy to achieve its best return-on-investment vision: holding the line on tuition increases, critically examining expenditures and increasing student scholarship support. More than 70% of the Juris Doctor Class of 2022 is receiving some kind of scholarship aid, with 100% of first-generation college graduates in the first-year class and all enrolled military veterans receiving financial assistance. “The School of Law provides students a strong foundation so they can become future leaders serving state, nation and society,” Rutledge said. “We remain committed to advancing our vision to be the nation’s best return on investment in legal education. I’d like to thank President Jere Morehead, Provost Jack Hu as well as our alumni and alumnae, donors, faculty, staff and students who all support this vision.”
  • Georgia Democratic Party Chair Nikema Williams and former Columbus Mayor and US Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson are the featured speakers at tomorrow night’s meeting of Jackson County Democrats: their annual dinner is set for 6 o’clock at the Jefferson Civic Center. From the Jackson Co Dem Party website…   Featuring speakers including US Senate Candidate Teresa Tomlinson, DPG Chairwoman Sen Nikema Williams and others.  A donation of $30 gets you a night of great speakers, an amazing dinner featuring an international cuisine, and great music.    See any JCDC member for tickets - or buy online today! 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia football is coming off one its worst upsets in Sanford Stadium history, but as bad as things are, the Bulldogs still opened as a 27-point favorite over Kentucky. COLUMN: Changes needed after historic upset in Athens This, even though the Wildcats are coming off their first SEC win of the season, a 24-20 home victory over Arkansas. UGA plays host to Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Sanford Stadium (TV: ESPN). The Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1) dropped to No. 10 in the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll after their 20-17 double-overtime loss to South Carolina, a game that saw Georgia struggle at the most inopportune times. A review of the boxscore reflects the Bulldogs outgained the Gamecocks 468-297 and controlled the clock 36:04 to 23:56. Four UGA turnovers and two missed field goals, however, proved too much to overcome. Georgia enters the week with many second-guessing offensive coordinator James Coley, even though the Bulldogs rank 10th in the nation in total offense with 504.8 yards per game. Contrast that to Kentucky (3-3, 1-3), which ranks 89th in the nation in total offense (384.3) under offensive coordinator Eddie Gran. It was Gran who reportedly indicated to Kentucky media last spring that he received an offer from Kirby Smart to become the Bulldogs offensive coordinator. Some suspected it was an attempt to leverage a new contract in his coordinator role. RELATED: Georgia didn't offer Eddie Gran offensive coordinator position Georgia sources confirmed to DawgNation that coach Kirby Smart talked with Gran about a position on the staff, but an offer to become the offensive coordinator was never forthcoming. Indeed, the Wildcats offense last season ranked 103rd in the nation, and that was in a 10-win season. Coley was being groomed for the OC position at Georgia for some time, having been promoted to coach quarterbacks and work alongside Jim Chaney as co-offensive coordinator last season. It's hard to imagine any political fallout from Gran using his UGA interview to boost his stock at Kentucky playing a role in the game, but it's safe to say the Bulldogs will look to get their offensive on track to its fullest potential after the embarrassing loss to the Gamecocks. Georgia handled Kentucky last season in Lexington, 34-17, in a game that was never really in doubt. 'They beat us in all phases,' UK coach Mark Stoops said after the Bulldogs out-rushed the Wildcats 331 yards to 84 in a game that determined the SEC East Division champion. Other SEC Games, per VegasInsider.com Alabama 35 1/2 vs. Tennessee LSU -18 at Mississippi State Auburn -16 1/2 at Arkansas Missouri -21 1/2 at Vanderbilt Texas A&M -6 at Ole Miss Florida -6 1/2 at South Carolina Georgia-South Carolina Game coverage Loss to Carolina could prove season defining WATCH: Rodrigo Blankenship discusses missed field goals Georgia recap: How the Bulldogs lost 20-17 in 2OT to South Carolina Stock Report: Bulldogs stock falls in mistake-filled loss to Gamecocks Twitter reacts to Georgia loss to South Carolina Demetris Robertson clutch in fourth quarter for Bulldogs Georgia-Kentucky game time announced Remainder of 2019 season impossible to predict The post Georgia football favored to bounce back impressively against Kentucky appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The decision not to allow Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship to attempt what would have been a 60-yard field goal at the end of regulation has led to some second guessing. Kirby Smart explained how a 5-yard illegal shift penalty led to UGA deciding to attempt a deep pass rather than kick on the final play of regulation. COLUMN: Georgia football changes needed after historic and shocking upset Blankenship's career-long field goal is 55 yards. But Blankenship had a 53-yard attempt blocked at the end of the first half in the 20-17 double-overtime loss to South Carolina. WATCH: Rodrigo Blankenship postgame, discusses missed kicks 'We thought 38 yard line (55-yard attempt), it was a long, long field goal but it was a shot to make it,' Smart said. 'We felt like we had to take one more chance to get five or six yards and we were going to kick it. Thought we could get some more yards back but the penalty obviously killed us.' Indeed, some thought Georgia was rolling the dice trying another play with six seconds left and no timeouts. The penalty on the play an incomplete pass made the decision costly. 'Not only did we get the penalty, but we lost the play,' Smart said. 'When you lost the play and you get the penalty, now you're forced with three seconds left to kick a 60-yarder or try a Hail Mary.' The illegal shift occurred when Jake Fromm appeared to change the play with just three seconds on the play clock. Fromm's audible or route change triggered a shift from receivers George Pickens and Demetris Robertson. One stepped up on the line of scrimmage, one took a step back. The receivers, however, did not shift quickly enough to be set for one second. That led to the 5-yard penalty that Smart felt took Blankenship out of range. Blankenship said he trusted his coach's decision and understood the concern a 60-yard attempt would have created. Rodrigo Blankenship says he wanted the chance to kick the ball at the end of regulation. pic.twitter.com/g6XAj9r3tL 960 The Ref (@960theref) October 12, 2019 'When we had it at the 38-yard line, that was going to be in range,' Blankenship said. 'But the penalty pushed us back, and I think with them blocking one earlier, we really didn't want to risk that again. 'I trust coach Smart, and he trusts me. I think he would have given me that chance from 55 yards. I'm already ready, I'm ready for anything.' Georgia coach Kirby Smart Georgia-South Carolina Game coverage Loss to Carolina could prove season defining WATCH: Rodrigo Blankenship discusses missed field goals Georgia recap: How the Bulldogs lost 20-17 in 2OT to South Carolina Stock Report: Bulldogs stock falls in mistake-filled loss to Gamecocks Twitter reacts to Georgia loss to South Carolina Demetris Robertson clutch in fourth quarter for Bulldogs Georgia-Kentucky game time announced Remainder of 2019 season impossible to predict The post WATCH: Kirby Smart explains not trying field goal at end of regulation appeared first on DawgNation.
  • There are two ways for Dawgs fans to look at Georgia's shocking upset loss to South Carolina Saturday in Athens. On the one hand, rarely in the SEC can a team turn the ball over four times, as Georgia did, and come out on the winning end even against a midlevel opponent like the Gamecocks. Add to that uphill battle the doomsday scenario that two of Georgia's key points producers, quarterback Jake Fromm and placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship, had possibly the worst games they've ever played, and you had a perfect storm bearing down on the Bulldogs just in time for Sanford Stadium's 90 th birthday. Fromm finished the day with three interceptions, a fumbled snap and also was sacked three times after only being sacked once in the first five games. Only one of the three picks clearly was Fromm's fault, but, even when his passes weren't being caught by South Carolina's Israel Mukuamu, Fromm frequently was off-target, throwing just a bit high or a bit behind his receivers. The nearly perfect pass he threw to Demetris Robertson late in the fourth quarter (a play that wouldn't even have happened had not the Cocks been called for defensive holding on that series) was the exception rather than the rule. And Mr. Automatic, Blankenship, finally proved to be human, having one kick blocked and missing the key field goal attempt in the second overtime, after previously being perfect on the season. What are the odds of both Fromm and Blankenship having the Game From Hell on the same day? Add in that the injuries are mounting, and Georgia's most reliable possession receiver, transfer Lawrence Cager, had to leave Saturday's game with continuing shoulder problems, and it's pretty amazing that the Dawgs still had a chance to win this game in the second overtime. Some Georgia fans are taking solace in the fact that just about everything that could go wrong for the Dawgs Saturday did indeed go wrong. As more than one said to me in the wake of Saturday's demoralizing upset, Kirby Smart's teams usually have one game a year where they stink, and this was it. The Dawgs still control their destiny, these folks noted; they just no longer have any margin of error. On the other hand, the growing glass-half-empty faction of Bulldog Nation (some might call them the more realistic fans in light of what we've seen so far this season) looked at Saturday's upset this way: A 2-3 Gamecocks team, a three-touchdown underdog, came to town playing with their second-team quarterback, who went down midway through the game and was replaced by the third-stringer, and they still triumphed over the Dawgs, despite being shut out in the second half of regulation, and trying to give the game away in overtime. On the Georgia side, there was plenty of blame to go around Saturday, and not just Fromm and Blankenship's off days. Georgia's defense certainly had its bad moments Saturday including the seemingly obligatory long touchdown pass that the Dawgs' patchwork secondary seems to give up with alarming regularity but overall it played well enough to win the game. After halftime, South Carolina didn't score at all until a field goal in the second overtime. No, most of the onus for the loss is born by the offense and the coaching staff. The offensive line continued to show they were overrated in the preseason, allowing South Carolina to tamp down Georgia's running game while also leaving Fromm under pressure on key passing plays. As Smart said after the game, ' Everybody likes to talk about our offensive line being a dominating offensive line. I'd love to talk about that. But they've got to do it.' The underperformance of the OL is a key component in one of the growing storylines of this season: When slow-starting Georgia, which has trailed in the first half of three straight games, needs a yard or two, it too often just can't get them. Also, the generally unimaginative play-calling was atrocious (a word used to describe it by almost everyone I heard from after Saturday's game), especially on second down, where the Dawgs alternated between short runs up the middle that everyone in the stadium saw coming, and incomplete passes that resulted from Georgia receivers' inability to get separation from their defenders. Georgia's inability to establish its running game against the Gamecocks meant Fromm had to put the ball up in the air 51 times Saturday, and that played into a disturbing trend: Only five times in his career has Fromm thrown as many as 30 passes in a game, and Georgia has lost all of them. Live by the running attack, die by the contained running attack. And, the offense was positively execrable in the two overtimes, with Georgia's first drive quickly ending with an interception, and the second one gaining not a yard before the missed kick. On top of all that, Smart's in-game decisions and clock management still need a lot of improvement, particularly late in each half. A decision that particularly stuck in the craw of many fans came at the end of regulation, when Smart hesitated to have Blankenship attempt a game-winning field goal that would have been 55 yards, and then saw an illegal shift on an ill-advised attempt at another offensive play add 5 more yards to the distance. Smart shied away from having Blankenship try a 60-yarder, despite the Georgia crowd chanting Hot Rod's name, and went for a Hail Mary (probably the lowest-percentage of all football plays) that never even got properly thrown. As my brother Tim put it: 'Unfortunately, Kirby makes game-winning or -losing decisions as a defensive coach. I can guarantee you [Florida's Dan] Mullen would have tried the kick.' My buddy Scott summed up the game like this: 'Bottom line is their DBs outplayed our WRs, their D-line outplayed our vaunted O-line on the run, Fromm had a bad day and we were outcoached by a team with not even half our talent.' Back to Georgia's offense, for a moment. The signs have been there all season, as the Dawgs continually have struggled in short-yardage situations and rarely have had a serious downfield threat against top-level opposition. But, as my son Bill said, offensive coordinator James Coley seems to have no idea how to use this team's weapons, or how to attack a defense when runs up the middle aren't working. Whether it's a failure of his own imagination, or he's simply slavishly trying to follow Smart's mandate that Georgia establish the run and wear down defenses by imposing their will, the result is the Dawgs are running an antiquated offense that pales in comparison to the wide-open attacks that other playoff contenders, like Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State, are operating. You want to see how moving your offense into the 21 st century can impact a program that seems stuck at not-quite-good-enough? Just look at LSU this year! As Scott noted, all those schools running high-scoring spread attacks used to subscribe to the power running game that Smart clings to so desperately. 'How many years did [Alabama's Nick] Saban stick to that before he realized, with the rule changes, he needed an offense that could score quickly at any point? Hope it doesn't take Kirby that long.' That's for down the road, though. Right now, the task facing the Dawgs is shaking off this bad, bad day and trying to win out, including taking on a surging Florida team that gave LSU all it could handle for more than three quarters. Georgia set out to make the College Football Playoff this season, but the Dawgs' only path to the playoff now is to win the SEC Championship. Anything less will find them again left out of the final four. Were the 2019 Dawgs ever really a playoff contender, or have they been exposed as talented but underperforming pretenders? That remains to be seen; there's still a lot of football to be played. But, on Saturday against South Carolina, the Dawgs didn't look anything like a championship team. The post Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • There was a lot of accountability shown by the Georgia football team in the wake of a stunning 20-17 loss at home to South Carolina on Saturday afternoon. Senior captain J.R. Reed said the loss would not linger.Rodrigo Blankenship was one of the very first Bulldogs to meet the media after likely the most unexplainable loss of his Georgia career. Those losses back in 2016 could be explained away by the notion Georgia was still building something in Smart's first full year. Not this game. Not this loss to a 2-3 Carolina team. Especially when Georgia showed the nation just how hard it will be to beat any team with a minus-4 ratio in takeaways. Smart was also among the many members of the team who took ownership of the final result. Jake Fromm didn't play at his best when his best was required. He was called upon to throw the ball 51 times after South Carolina stymied Georgia's run game. He'd never thrown the ball more than 41 times in a game in his Bulldog career. Georgia ran 95 plays on Saturday. South Carolina ran 67. The Bulldogs totaled up 467 yards against their SEC East rivals but did so with a meager output of 4.92 yards per play. The loss sparked a memory in former Georgia Bulldog Arthur Lynch. He took to Twitter after the loss with a historical parallel with another bitter loss to South Carolina in 2012 and a reminder about how that season turned out. Relax peeps. In 2012, we lost to South Carolina, on October 6th (WK 6), and still made it SECCG only to miss the National Championship by 5 yards. In short, LONG season and Dawgs are ALWAYS on top. #LFG #GoDawgs Arthur Lynch (@alynch1788) October 12, 2019 Some of the most important lessons the game of football taught me is that nothing in life is guaranteed and how to bounce back after failure. We've got no choice but to pick up the pieces, learn from our mistakes, and move forward! Go Dawgs pic.twitter.com/SlLn3Xdy5p Rennie Flomo Curran (@RennieCurran53) October 13, 2019 Heartbreaking, but the ultimate season goal is still intact. We just have the pressure of being perfect the rest of the way. Let's go #GoDawgs!!! pic.twitter.com/GsbbPm8xL0 FOST (@GeorgeFoster72) October 12, 2019 Said this at the beginning of the season and unfortunately it showed today. Loosing Cager hurt. @finebaum @AtlantaSportsX https://t.co/2CaiEXXIAu Hutson Mason (@HMason14) October 12, 2019 Ugly loss but we will bounce back Happy for @CoachBmac_ & @iamthomasbrown though! #GoDawgs Keith Marshall (@Truthh4) October 12, 2019 Former WR Jeremiah Holloman supports former teammates Lawrence Cager's absence down the stretch was one of the reasons why Georgia's receivers had trouble making plays against the Gamecocks. Cager (separated shoulder) has been battling that all season. The graduate transfer from Miami had four catches for 48 yards but was unable to finish the game. Without Cager, the Bulldog receivers had a hard time getting open against the physical coverage employed at the line of scrimmage by South Carolina's cornerbacks. The Gamecocks have recruited athletes with height and length to play that position. It brought to mind thedismissal of former receiver Jeremiah 'J.J.' Holloman back in June. University police investigated allegations of a domestic dispute between Holloman and his girlfriend. It was a disappointing end to his time at Georgia . The contest with South Carolina marked the first time all season where his absence was clearly felt on the field in a contested game. While Georgia does have good emerging young playmakers at receiver in freshmen Dominick Blaylock and George Pickens, those two are still first-year players in the SEC. Redshirt junior receiver Demetris Robertson came up to make a few plays. He finished with five catches for 51 yards. Robertson's 6-yard touchdown catch with 1:48 left to play tied the game up at 17. Holloman had the skills to help Georgia recover from the humbling loss on the road at LSU last season. He is now sitting out the 2019 season after transferring to another FBS program at Florida International University. He hauled in two big touchdown passes from Fromm to help put down the Gators and steady the 2018 season. When the NFL drafted Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley this spring, he was in line to be Georgia's leading returning receiver 2019. The reason he is no longer at Georgia is a non-football story, but his absence is another reason why Georgia didn't have more options that could consistently get off the line and create separation on Saturday. Remember the downfield blocks he made to turn 15-yard runs into touches that went the distance?Holloman's blend of size, speed and physicality has been missing from that unit all season. He helped all phases of the offensive game plan. Holloman tweeted out his regrets after the game for not being on the field for Georgia, too. He did so while also showing support to his former teammates in Cager, Fromm, Malik Herring and Richard LeCounte III after the loss. Georgia-South Carolina Game coverage Kirby Smart details the South Carolina injury report Loss to Carolina could prove season-defining for UGA WATCH: Rodrigo Blankenship discusses missed field goals Georgia recap: How the Bulldogs lost 20-17 in 2OT to South Carolina Stock Report: Bulldogs stock falls in mistake-filled loss to Gamecocks Twitter reacts to Georgia loss to South Carolina Demetris Robertson clutch in fourth quarter for Bulldogs South Carolina rips off pieces of hedges after upset The post Former Bulldogs share their views on the South Carolina loss, including a WR who still supports his former team appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart didn't use injuries as an excuse for Georgia's upset loss to South Carolina on Saturday, but it's fair to say its significant when two of three game captains can't play. The most significant injury in the Bulldogs' 20-17 overtime loss to South Carolina came to receiver Lawrence Cager. Cager, a grad-transfer from Miami, has become the most irreplaceable player not named Jake Fromm on the roster. Cager had come up big in the first half with three catches to convert on third down plays. READ: ESPN expert says loss 'a dagger' to Georgia playoff hopes Cager had been doing it with a separated shoulder, Smart said, but on Saturday the Gamecocks were able to knock him out of the game. 'He's got the separated shoulder he's been dealing with it for weeks,' Smart said. 'It's hard to get healthy. He goes out there and plays. He doesn't bang on it during the week but he goes out there and plays on it and he's just having a hard time getting healthy.' Tailback Brian Herrien, coming off the best performance of his career, was healthy enough to go to midfield for a coin toss and dress out. But Smart said back spasms limited him to riding the exercise bike during the game. 'He had back spasms and he got them (Friday),' Smart said. 'They were going treat him for it and get him out there today. He tried to go, went through warmups but couldn't get over them. It's unfortunate that he wasn't able to play being a senior.' Redshirt freshman Zamir White ran hard, but he's understandably still getting a feel for game action after missing more than year of game action on account of two ACL surgeries. White missed some cuts that could have led to big plays. Justin Shaffer had drawn the past two starts at left guard in place of Solomon Kindley, but a neck sprain forced him out of the game and Kindley was forced back into action at less than 100 percent. Kindley suffered an ankle injury in the first half of the 23-17 win over Notre Dame on Sept. 21 and didn't appear to play with the same physicality against a determined South Carolina team. Defensive back Mark Webb got the start against the Gamecocks, but Smart said he suffered a knee injury early. Divaad Wislon subbed in and got beat by Bryan Edwards on a 46-yard touchdown. '(Webb) bumped knees on the Hilinski kid's knee brace,' Smart explained. 'They went knee to knee on one of those pressures and the knee brace got him. He's injured. I don't know how serious it is. We'll check into it.' Smart revealed Tyson Campbell's injury has been a painful and 'delicate' turf toe ailment, and so the 5-star cornerback was unable to play for the third consecutive game. 'He's been able to run around in practice, he's just not 100 percent,' Smart said. 'That's a very delicate injury and it's tough to get over. We're trying to be patient because you don't want to come back early from that injury. Turf toe is a tough deal.' Nose tackle Jordan Davis, who suffered an ankle injury against Tennessee, attempted to play agent South Carolina but was noticeably limping an unable to go. Receiver Tyler Simmons continues to tough it out and play in a shoulder brace, but for the second time in three games he was responsible for a costly turnover, this time unable to raise his arms sufficiently to catch a pass that came out of his hands and was intercepted in overtime. Freshman defensive lineman and kick coverage ace Travon Walker had his left arm in a cast and did not play. That took one more talented player out of the defensive front's rotation. Kearis Jackson, who began the season as the starting slot receiver, was listed as playing but did not have a catch. Jackson suffered a broken hand in the opening game and has been cleared the past two games. Georgia-South Carolina Game coverage Loss to Carolina could prove season defining WATCH: Rodrigo Blankenship discusses missed field goals Georgia recap: How the Bulldogs lost 20-17 in 2OT to South Carolina Stock Report: Bulldogs stock falls in mistake-filled loss to Gamecocks Twitter reacts to Georgia loss to South Carolina Demetris Robertson clutch in fourth quarter for Bulldogs South Carolina rips off pieces of hedges after upset The post Kirby Smart: Georgia football injuries added up in loss to South Carolina appeared first on DawgNation.