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College
Murray State leaves with ‘ton more positives’ after 63-17 loss at Georgia
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Murray State leaves with ‘ton more positives’ after 63-17 loss at Georgia

Murray State leaves with ‘ton more positives’ after 63-17 loss at Georgia

Murray State leaves with ‘ton more positives’ after 63-17 loss at Georgia

ATHENS It seemed clear leading up to the game Murray State coach Mitch Stewart was intent on earning respect from his old coach and recruiter, Kirby Smart.

It's safe to say that happened on Saturday, even though the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs scored a 63-17 victory at Sanford Stadium.

After one quarter of play, Stewart's FCS Racers had played one of the nation's finest teams to a 7-7 standstill in their home opener, on a day legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley was honored.

Dooley was in the ESPN broadcast booth to talk about the field being named after him, but instead he called out the Bulldogs on their slow start and complimented Stewart's Racers as the first quarter unfolded.

RELATED: Kirby Smart pleased with progress, but points out flaws

"Those kind of things will make me remember playing teams when you're not ready to play and almost get beat," Dooley said during the ESPN2 broadcast, "so we better turn it up a notch, because this team has great potential."

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Murray State leaves with ‘ton more positives’ after 63-17 loss at Georgia

Stewart said the mood on the Murray State sideline was "joy."

"They were just happy and it wasn't like there was a shock factor or anything like that," Stewart said. "We had a huge belief system in our locker room. We start each team meeting off with the same graphic up on the screens, and it just says Belief.' "

Bulldogs fans believed Smart and his team weren't going to have more of it in the second quarter, and sure enough, quarterback Jake Fromm responded.

Georgia scored 35 unanswered points to take a 42-7 lead into halftime.

But Stewart, who earlier in the week pledged Murray State would be the harder playing team, kept his team's head together and made adjustments.

RELATED: Murray State says his team will be harder playing' than UGA

The Racers outscored Georgia 10-7 in the third quarter, his players maintaining their fight.

Cornerback Nigel Wilson scored for Murray State on a Pick-6 off UGA backup Stetson Bennett.

"First, I want to say Georgia was a great opponent," said Wilson, a senior from Atlanta. "We gave great effort. They gave great effort. It just felt great being back in my home state, paling in front of a lot of home fans."

Wilson said he read Bennett's eyes on the play, the UGA backup staring down the receiver.

"The play was a fire zone blitz," Wilson said. "I read the quarterback's eyes. I saw he was staring at my man, and I saw my man run a hitch out of the corner of my eye. As soon as he threw it, I just broke and was able to jump in front of it and take it to the house."

Murray State's other touchdown came off what Stewart and his offensive staff call a "PRO" Pass-Run-Option.

"We had to pass there before we did the run," Stewart said. "Preston did a nice job delivering the ball.

"Preston Rice, man, a guy goes out in his second collegiate start and one of he biggest atmospheres there is in college football and that joker goes 20-of-25, takes care of the football, throws for 200 yards and rushes the ball pretty good."

Indeed, Rice was 20-of-25 passing for 216 yards and a touchdown and broke off a 35-yard run.

Georgia also sacked him five times, but Rice and Florida transfer DaQuon Green will always have the memory of that 60-yard touchdown pass that stunned Sanford Stadium.

Smart explained there was a busted covered with no middle safety, and defensive back Mark Webb got beat ever so slightly by Green who turned on the jets and out-ran J.R. Reed.

"Obviously, there were no moral victories in this game," said Stewart, who was recruited to play quarterback at Valdosta State by Smart. "Our guys don't want any moral victories, but I'm really pleased with and encouraged with the effort in which we played.

"If you look back on it, we broke even in the first (quarter), I think, and then we won the third quarter," he said. "I believe we've got a ton more positives coming out of this game."

Murray State exited the stadium moments after one of the toughest Bulldogs on the Georgia squad put the Racers' performance into perspective.

"They definitely came out and played hard, salute to those guys," UGA offensive lineman Cade Mays said, "they fought all four quarters."

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The post Murray State leaves with ton more positives' after 63-17 loss at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who was involved in a horrific crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500, was hospitalized after Monday’s race. Update 2:03 p.m. EST Feb. 19: According to Roush Fenway Racing, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was released from a Daytona Beach hospital Wednesday afternoon, two days after he was involved in a scary crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Roush tweeted a photograph of Newman leaving Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, holding the hands of his two daughters. “Ryan Newman has been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center,” the racing team tweeted. Update 12:25 p.m. EST Feb. 19: Ryan Newman continued to show “great improvement” as he recovered from injuries he suffered Monday night in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 race, his racing team said. Roush Fenway Racing tweeted a statement that said Newman was “fully alert” and walking around Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. The racing team also tweeted a photo of a smiling Newman with his children. Update 4:47 p.m. EST Feb. 18: In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Roush Fenway Racing tweeted that Ryan Newman was “awake and speaking” with family members and doctors. Newman, who was seriously injured in a final-lap wreck during Monday’s Daytona 500 race, remains at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Update 10:13 p.m. EST Feb. 17: In a statement Monday night, NASCAR officials said Newman, 42, was in serious condition, “but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.” Original report: Newman, 42, has 18 Cup wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400. He was battling for the lead with Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the 2.5-mile track at Daytona International Speedway when he crashed. Newman was in the lead coming into the final turn with Blaney and eventual winner Hamlin in close pursuit, NASCAR.com reported. Closing in on the finish line, Newman attempted to block Blaney, who was in second place. The impact of the cars touching sent Newman’s car airborne and into the wall. Newman’s car flipped several times and was hit head-on by Corey LaJoie, who sent Newman skidding across the track upside down Newman’s No. 6 Ford crossed the finish line engulfed in flames, ESPN reported. An ambulance departed Daytona International Speedway’s front stretch at 8:10 p.m. Newman was taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown. 'I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are, and No. 1, we are praying for Ryan,'' Hamlin said. “I hope he’s all right,” Blaney told reporters. “I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is all right.” “I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him,” Lajoie said. “I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay. It was some scary stuff.” Newman, who led 15 laps, was credited with a ninth-place finish. “We ask that out of respect for privacy that you please do not speculate on Ryan Newman’s condition until an official statement has been issued,” Roush Yates Engines tweeted. Kelley Earnhardt, the daughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr., tweeted, “Please let @RyanJNewman be ok!” Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Newman, born Dec. 8, 1977, in South Bend, Indiana, was named Winston Cup rookie of the year in 2002, beating Jimmie Johnson, according to his NASCAR biography. Nicknamed “Rocket Man,” Newman graduated with honors from South Bend La-Salle High School in 1996. He studied engineering at Purdue University but at the same time, continued to race. Newman was a champion midget racer when he was 17, ran USAC sprint cars and won that division’s Silver Crown championship in 1999.
  • A mistrial has been declared by Athens Judge David Sweat in the courthouse hacking case involving a Gwinnett County judge. Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas said Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader walked out of court without comment as she remains suspended from the bench on charges that she hired three men to hack into the county computer system amid fears the district attorney’s office was spying on her. After the mistrial, the jury foreperson, Rachel Steahr, told Thomas she was frustrated because basically the evidence didn’t provide any clear answers to what happened. “There was a lot of evidence and it was really good, but either side it wasn't strong enough. They needed more since they didn’t come to a conclusion of how this happened,” Steahr said. She said a majority of jurors thought Schrader was not guilty on count one of computer trespassing, were split on the second charge and wanted to convict on the third charge. Prosecutors said they are now trying to figure out if they want to retry this case. “We are going to continue to reevaluate the case. We are going to be in discussion with the executive director and make a decision,” prosecutor John Regan said. Schrader’s attorney maintains her client is innocent. “I'm always relieved when it's clear our message was heard. She is not guilty,” said defense attorney BJ Bernstein. Prosecutors said it remains unclear when they may retry the case, but they are hoping to make it happen sooner rather than later.
  • We are learning more about the three University of Georgia employees arrested last week on theft charges: Amy Stowers is from Gainesville and was manager of the University’s Vision Clinic. She’s facing felony charges, accused of masterminding a bribery scheme that netted a reported $2,500 from eyeglass vendors. Two other women are facing misdemeanor counts after taking gift cards from vendors, cards said to have been worth several hundred dollars.From Asia Simone Burns, AJC… Amy Stowers, Rita Melville and Jamie Fay Coley were each taken into custody in connection with the investigation.  Police said Stowers, who managed the University Health Center Vision Clinic, orchestrated the bribery scheme. According to the police report, she made a “prohibited” agreement with an optical vendor, who was not named. The vendor would give her gift cards, and in exchange she would lead the vendor to believe it would “influence the performance of her official duties,” the report said.                    Stowers received about $2,550 in gift cards from the vendor, police said.  As part of the same agreement, Melville and Coley, who were opticians in the clinic, received $348 and $404 in gift cards, respectively.  The funds stemmed from the sale of eyewear frames, the report said. The women were able to convert the proceeds for personal use.  Stowers is facing four counts of felony bribery, while Coley and Melville each face six counts of misdemeanor theft by conversion. Stowers was booked into the Clarke County Jail on Wednesday and released the following day on a $44,400 bond. Coley and Melville were both booked into the jail Friday morning and released the same day on $10,100 bonds.
  • The Newton County parents convicted of murder says there is no evidence they killed their 2-week-old daughter.  Both Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell have filed motions for new trials, according to documents filed in Newton Superior Clerk. Both were convicted of killing baby Caliyah in May 2019.  In his motion filed Monday, McNabb says prosecutors were unable to prove he killed baby Caliyah and that his prior attorney was ineffective during the trial.  “There was no physical or direct evidence produced that demonstrated that Mr. McNabb caused the child’s death. Nor was the State able to demonstrate what actually caused the child’s severe injuries,” McNabb’s motion states. “The thrust of the State’s case was that Mr. McNabb was a bad man that lived in a bad environment.” In her motion for a new trial, filed in late January, Bell also says prosecutors did not prove she was responsible for Caliyah’s death.  “The State did not prove that Ms. Bell caused Caliyah’s death, at best they attempted at trial to prove that she contributed to the circumstances that led to Caliyah’s death,” her motion states.  A jury deliberated about an hour before convicting both McNabb and Bell following a joint trial. McNabb was sentenced to life in prison without parole, Bell to 30 years with 15 to serve. But both parents were adamant they weren’t responsible for Caliyah’s death.  “I’m innocent. I didn’t do it,” McNabb told Judge John Ott before his sentencing. “If you ever find out who did it, they deserve to be under the jail.” In October 2017, Bell reported the baby missing from the family’s mobile home. That night, McNabb angrily demanded the child’s return in front of television cameras. It’s likely that Caliyah was already dead by the time McNabb pleaded for the community’s help in finding her, according to investigators. 
  • Athens Democrats hold a debate watch party tonight, as Democratic presidential candidates take the stage in Las Vegas in advance of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. Tonight’s local viewing is set for 8 o’clock at Little Italy on Lumpkin Street in downtown Athens. The debate—the first to include former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg--can be heard live on WGAU. It starts at 9 o’clock, with television on MSNBC. From Facebook… Join your fellow democratic socialists for some #yallidarity and FREE PIZZA! We'll gather in the back room of Little Italy downtown, and cheer Bernie on as he continues to rise above the fray of the party establishment. It's the first debate featuring American Oligarch and proud stop-and-frisk-er Michael Bloomberg, so it's a must-watch. Come have fun with like-minded folks, and learn more about how you can get involved with Athens Area DSA... we need your ideas and energy!

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia basketball had the sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum rocking on Wednesday night, upsetting No. 13-ranked Auburn 65-55. Freshman Anthony Edwards had 18 points and six rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, who snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory. Georgia (13-13, 3-10 SEC) had lost three of the previous four games after leading by double-digits, but not this time against the Tigers (22-4, 9-4). The Bulldogs went up 10 points on a Sahvir Wheeler free throw that made it 37-27 with 14:55 left. Auburn couldn't get closer than three rest of the game. Wheeler had 13 points and four assists, controlling the ball and the tempo against Bruce Pearl's trapping Tigers with the seventh sellout crowd of the season urging him on. Freshman Toumani Camara took care a lot of the tough work in the paint with 12 points and eight rebounds. Camara sealed the win down the stretch, 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 22 seconds. It's UGA's second win over a ranked opponent this season. Georgia beat then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4 in Memphis Auburn won the teams' first meeting by an 82-60 count on Jan. 11 in Auburn. But Georgia served notice of just how good it can be when Rayshaun Hammonds (13 points, eight rebounds) is playing well in the first half, leading 31-25 at the break. The Bulldogs had led by as many as nine before intermission, a Hammonds' fast break layup giving UGA a 21-12 lead at the 9:31 mark. Hammonds scored all 10 of his first-half points the first 11 minutes of the game, also pulling down six rebounds. Edwards, meanwhile, didn't score the first eight minutes of the game. But Edwards third bucket of the game was a big one, as it ended a 9-0 Auburn run and put the Bulldogs back on top 25-23 with 3:55 left in the half. It was a lead Georgia would never relinquish. The Bulldogs return to action at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Vanderbilt in Nashville (TV: SEC Network). DawgNation Georgia basketball Georgia basketball drops close one at Texas A&M, Anthony Edwards ill Alabama topples Georgia in overtime Georgia suffers deflating defeat at Florida UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri Column: Anthony Edwards needs to get back to having fun Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post Georgia basketball upsets Auburn before sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The NCAA Transfer Working Group looks to open the door for for football transfers to gain immediately eligibility. 'The current system is unsustainable, (and) working group members believe it's time to bring our transfer rules more in line with today's college landscape,' Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, the chair of the working group, said in an NCAA article. 'This concept provides a uniform approach that is understandable, predictable and objective. Most importantly, it benefits students.' Per the proposal: The working group concept would change waiver criteria to allow approvals for first-time four-year transfers in all sports to compete immediately if they: Receive a transfer release from their previous school. Leave their previous school academically eligible. Maintain their academic progress at the new school. Leave under no disciplinary suspension. The proposal could be in place by the 2020-21 academic year. Of course, it's all too late for former Georgia tight end Luke Ford. RELATED: Ford transfer tied to being closer to agi ng grandfather Ford, who spent the 2018 season with the Bulldogs, lost his bid for a waiver last summer that would have allowed him to play for Illinois during the 2019 season. My Grandpa just passed on to a better place in heaven. Love you Papa! I'm sorry you didn't get to see me play in person, my heart is devastated Rest in Paradise L U K E F O R D (@lukeredx97) February 19, 2020 Ford lost his appeal following the 2018 season despite being represented by high-profile attorney Thomas Mars. Mars, of course, keyed Justin Fields' successful bid for immediate eligibility at Ohio State last season after he transferred from Georgia. The NCAA Transfer Working Group's proposal for football, basketball, baseball and hockey would be the same as the transfer legislation already in existence for other sports. The Division I Council appointed the council last fall, well aware that there could be unintended consequences. 'We know that challenges will exist with this concept, particularly as it relates to other coaches potentially tampering with currently enrolled student-athletes,' Steinbrecher s aid in the NCAA.org story. 'The working group will continue to examine this, as well as any potential financial aid and academic impacts, so the Council can make a fully informed decision.' ACC Network analyst and former Georgia football coach Mark Richt is among those who have concerns. I know, I have an idea. You recruit and develop players and when I think they're good enough I will poach them from your roster! Welcome to what the new normal will look like in college football! Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) February 18, 2020 ESPN analyst and Georgia football legend David Pollack expressed frustration with the inconsistency of the current policy. 'Fields versus Luke Ford, guys that were at Georgia, what determines who gets it (immediate eligibility)?' Pollack said to DawgNation last summer. 'Somebody's family is sick (Ford's grandfather), or somebody has a reason to go back home and they get a no,' and somebody else that doesn't really have a reason gets a yes.' That drives you nuts for the kids. 'Some people get waivers, some people don't, and it makes absolutely no sense.' Related: David Pollack goes off on NCAA transfer inconsistencies Current Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has been relatively liberal in his view of transfers and the invent of the NCAA transfer portal. Smart said his priority is that the NCAA do what's best for the student-athletes. 'Kids have always been able to go places, change and make decisions. Roster management hasn't changed from the standpoint of, we've been working off 85, working off medical (redshirts),' Smart said last year. 'There's been slight changes to the number of guys you can sign early, there's been a slight of increase of players who have come out early over time. 'As we continue to grow, it's something we'll deal with. I don't think there's a major concern there. You've got 85 scholarships, you operate at your 85. NFL teams do it with less than that so I'm not that concerned about roster management as I am making sure what's best for the student athlete is what we do.' The post NCAA group recommends immediate eligibility for transfers, too late for Luke Ford appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart is considered one of the top defensive minds in football, constantly studying trends and concepts at the NFL, collegiate and even high school level. It's a safe bet the Georgia football head coach is considering new wrinkles this offseason just like the rest of the coaches who attend and speak at the UGA Coaches Clinic March 26-28. Smart has landed a star-studded guest speaker lineup consisting of new Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel and new New York Giants coach Joe Judge. Middle school and high school coaches who want to attend the clinic can sign up through the school's website. Smart's staff will be involved coaches love to talk ball. But as much as anything, they will also be listening to one another. Especially when it's Leach's turn to speak. The Bulldogs are overhauling their offense. A dual-threat quarterback is set to be under center this season, with Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman the favorite entering spring drills. Smart says he's looking for the same things from his offense as before: efficiency, scoring and explosive plays. RELATED: Kirby Smart offers no grand speech' on future of Georgia football offense But Georgia has not locked into how it will go about it, even after the hiring of former NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken, whose 2018 Tampa Bay offense set franchise records. Monken and Leach will be quite a meeting of the offensive minds. Leach is known for building some of the nation's most potent and prolific spread offenses, those of the 'Air Raid' variety he helped develop with Hal Mumme at Valdosta State and Kentucky. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon had the second-highest passing yards in the FBS ranks last season (5,579) and the fourth-highest completion percentage (71.6) operating out of Leach's offense. RELATED: The Mike Leach coaching tree Vrabell, a former defensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, saw his team rank 12th in the NFL in total defense last season. The Titans, however, were tied for 10th in the NFL with 23 takeaways an area Smart has said UGA has room to improve. Judge is the Giants new coach in New York after an eight-year stint on Coach Bill Belichick's staff in New England. Judge worked with the Patriots' special teams throughout his tenure, adding the role of wide receivers coach last season. New England's special teams were among the best in the NFL throughout last season, per advanced metrics. They have traditionally been among the best in the NFL under Belichick, a characteristic Smart harps about wanting in his program. Each member of the Georgia football coaching staff will also participate in 'chalk talks' at the clinic. Bulldogs defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is fast becoming one of the hottest coaching commodities. His future in Georgia figures to be shorter rather than longer with programs recognizing his talents and head coach potential. Lanning's defense was tops in the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense, while finishing third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense. This, despite not having any defensive players selected first-team All-SEC by an Associated Press panel. RELATED: League-leading Georgia defense shut out of first-team All-SEC picks Georgia had 37 players on defense get more than 100 snaps last season. The post Georgia football sure to benefit from Air Raid' guru Mike Leach at coaching clinic appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Jake Fromm's arm strength holds the key to his NFL draft status, according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper jr. 'We know what he has: the smarts, we know he has the leadership, we know he's an accurate passer forget the numbers, he lost all his receivers going into this year so you know he can do all those things,' Kiper said on an ESPN teleconference on Wednesday. 'But is the arm good enough? (That's what) people are going to be really scrutinizing with Fromm going through this whole draft process leading up into late April, which will determine whether he's a second round pick, or whether he's a fourth- or fifth-round pick.' Kiper Jr. continues to maintain that Fromm reminds him of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. But, the long-time draft expert said, there is also a scenario where he projects more closely to former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Fromm's performance at the NFL combine next week in Indianapolis will obviously be important. 'Only thing (that's) gonna be on display there, he's going to have to show is the necessary arm strength, because that's going to determine, is he Aaron Murray or is he Andy Dalton?' Kiper Jr. said. 'That's what everybody is trying to figure out.' The NFL combine runs from Feb. 23 through March 2 with testing taking place in Lucas Oil Stadium. Quarterbacks and wideouts will workout on Feb. 27. 'If he's Andy Dalton, you're talking about a second round, early-second round type of quarterback. If you're Aaron Murray, you're a later-round quarterback who's now playing in the XFL.' Murray, currently with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Murray is the SEC's all-time leading passing yardage and passing touchdown leader, played for Mark Richt in Athens from 2010-2013. Kiper, however, has leaned more toward the Dalton comparison, which he first revealed last month during a podcast with fellow draft analyst Todd McShay. 'The easiest (comparison) in this draft is Jake Fromm to (Cincinnati Bengals quarterback) Andy Dalton,' Kiper said. 'From competitiveness, leadership, smarts, size ' Kiper, like Georgia coach Kirby Smart, qualified the drop-off in Fromm's numbers to the loss of UGA's top five pass catchers from the season before, along with other attrition. 'All of (Fromm's) touchdowns were gone,' he said. 'Think about (former UGA players) Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, Terry Godwin, Isaac Nauta. 'Then, he also lost Elijah Holyfield who was the No. 2 or 1-A running back with (D'Andre) Swift, who had a big year. And he lost his center as well. You can't take that away with anybody.' Fromm has been working out in Mobile, Ala., at 'QB Country' with his quarterback coach, David Morris, in preparation for the NFL combine. RELATED: AJC exclusive with Jake Fromm, what went into decision Fromm is one of 10 Georgia football players who received an invite to the all-important combine. Players will undergo thorough medical exams in addition to testing out in drill work and meeting with teams. RELATED: The 10 Georgia football players invited to 2020 NFL Combine DawgNation: Georgia in the NFL draft Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout ESPN labels Georgia a 'loser' in NFL early entry process Evaluating Andrew Thomas, why he's a first-round lock Eli Wolf, Charlie Woerner, Brian Herrien, Tyrique McGhee shine in all-star games Todd McShay projects Georgia QB Jake Fromm to have first-round talent Closer look at Jake Fromm's decision, factors and faith Mel Kiper Jr.'s mock: Andrew Thomas and D'Andre Swift future teammates The post Jake Fromm 2020 NFL Draft stock hinges on arm strength, per Mel Kiper Jr. appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean is referring to it as an 'opportunity' game when the Bulldogs take on SEC powerhouse Auburn. Bruce Pearl looks at it as a 'must-win' for his Tigers. Georgia (12-13, 2-10 SEC) plays against No. 13-ranked Auburn (22-3, 9-3) at 7 p.m. with a sold-out crowd awaiting the tip at Stegeman Coliseum (TV: ESPN2). ' We have tremendous opportunity tomorrow night with Auburn, and the way that they're playing,' Crean said. 'They pose numerous challenges as most everybody else in this league does but especially the way they're playing. 'The way they're getting fouled right now, the way their offensive rebounding the ball, extremely high levels, playing extremely fast, aggressive. They play with great confidence and are playing like a veteran team.' Auburn is coming off a shocking 85-73 road loss to Missouri, a defeat that could be attributed to a 1-of-17 shooting night beyond the 3-point arc. Bruce Pearl's team did, however, get to the free-throw line to attempt an eye-popping 46 free throws. 'I look at it this way: the Georgia game is a must-win if we're going to stay in this conference championship race,' Pearl said. Kentucky is a game up on Auburn with its Tuesday night win over LSU. '(Georgia is a) tough place to play, hard to win on the road, but if we're going to be in this conference championship race, we have to win the game,' Pearl said. 'Strong statement with seven games left, but I've always kept it real with my team.' Georgia expects to have a healthy Anthony Edwards primed for the meeting. Edwards, recently projected by ESPN to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has been battling flu-like symptoms during the Bulldogs' four-game losing streak. Crean stressed the importance of team focus for the upcoming game. Junior forward Rayshaun Hammonds has shown signs of returning to form after going through a self-admitted slump. Freshman point guard Sahvir Wheeler appears recovered from an ankle injury that slowed him during the team's four-game losing streak the second half of January. If the Bulldogs can get Edwards, Hammonds and Wheeler healthy and playing well at the same time, it would greatly improve the team's chances for a strong finish. 'We just need to focus on playing well,' Crean said. 'Like playing longer stretches together, talking through it, playing with confidence not, you know, not waiting for the bottom to fall out right and that's what happens sometimes with teams it's just keeps playing.' A loud home crowd could go a long way for the Bulldogs on Wednesday night with the team looking to snap out of a funk that's seen it lose eight of the last nine games. Auburn won the first meeting between the teams this season, 82-60, on Jan. 11 in Auburn. The post Georgia basketball braces for Auburn team bringing must-win' mentality to sold-out Stegeman Coliseum appeared first on DawgNation.