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Georgia Bulldogs. 2012 SEC East and state champions.

Updated: 2018-01-21T20:38:17-05:00


Georgia defense may return more than you think in 2018



The tragic ending notwithstanding, 2017 was a momentous football season for Georgia football fans. It saw many great moments which will go down in program lore, courtesy of a brigade of players who came through in the clutch time and time again. Many of those clutch performers were on the defensive side of the ball. And therein lies the source of much foreboding for fans of the 2018 Georgia Bulldogs.

With the announcements that juniors Roquan Smith and Trenton Thompson will be turning pro it looks like the Red and Black defense will return no more than four starters next season. Jonathan Ledbetter is back at defensive end, J.R. Reed returns at star, and Deandre Baker remains at cornerback.

It remains possible that Natrez Patrick will return to man the inside linebacker spot he held after coming back from suspension but before going away again for substance abuse treatment. But that’s far from a given.

What may be more concerning beyond the pure number of losses is the leadership represented by those departing players. Smith, Thompson, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, John Atkins, and Dominick Sanders all played a lot of football in Athens and accumulated a lot of credibility to go with those snaps. You don’t just replace that.

But despite the prevailing narrative, the cupboard isn’t entirely bare. In fact, in terms of defensive production, Mel Tucker’s unit probably returns more than you think.


Five of the 2017 UGA defense’s top ten tacklers are back in 2018. And some of the players who didn’t start a majority of games in 2017 started at least some and played in every one. For example, junior defensive tackle Tyler Clark now has 27 games of experience. Ledbetter has 29.

Kirby Smart talked late in the season about getting this program to the point at which it reloads rather than rebuilding. I’m not 100% certain 2018 is the point where that happens. But it doesn’t look like an abject disaster, and with a couple of young contributors stepping up, the drop-off may be a lot less than some expect.

There’s a degree of recency bias that kicks in when evaluating a football team’s departures. But there was a time when every indispensable player was the guy replacing someone who seemed indispensable. The question for Kirby Smart and his staff will be whether the young, talented defenders coming back can approximate in 2018 what a super-experienced group did in 2017. They’ll be aided by an offense that played a lot of young players in 2017 and suddenly finds itself impressively experienced. It should be interesting, and we only have to wait eight months to start finding out the answer.

Until later . . .

Go ‘Dawgs!!!

Georgia collapses in second half against Auburn



A 31-5 run erased a 16-point first half lead as the Bulldogs suffered their third loss in the last four games.

A poor second half cost Georgia the chance for a signature win in a 79-65 loss to Auburn.

The Bulldogs came out of the gate well and put up one of their best halves of the season over the first 20 minutes. Controlling the pace of the game was a big key to the game and Georgia was able to do that early on.

With Mustapha Heron hampered by early foul trouble, the Bulldogs were able to slow things down and force the Tigers into some difficult shots. They dominated the paint and executed offensively at the other end.

Juwan Parker’s three-pointer with 1:45 remaining in the half put the Bulldogs up 40-24. Auburn would convert a pair of free throws at the end of the half to cut the deficit to 40-26 but the Bulldogs had to have headed into the locker room feeling pretty good about what they were able to accomplish.

However, the tide changed in a hurry and once the Tigers had the momentum, Georgia was powerless to stop it.

Heron knocked down a three-pointer on Auburn’s first possession of the second half. The Bulldogs turned it over on their next possession which in many ways sums up the second half.

A simple switch to a 1-3-1 zone defense ground Georgia’s offense to a halt. The ball movement that they exhibited so freely in the first half became non-existent and was replaced with forced one-on-one opportunities. The results was missed shots and turnovers which the Tigers used to their advantage to push the pace.

Heron exploded along the baseline for a thunderous dunk at the 13:49 mark which gave Auburn the lead. Five minutes later the Tigers led 57-44. At that point the Bulldogs had been outscored 21-4 in the second half. Georgia’s first field goal of the second half came with 6:45 remaining as Turtle Jackson converted a layup to cut the deficit to 59-47. In all the Bulldogs went more than 15 minutes without a made field goal dating back to the final moments of the first half.

Georgia closed to within 64-59 with a Parker three with just over four minutes remaining but Auburn answered with an 11-0 run to slam the door shut.

Yante Maten led the Bulldogs with 17 points and nine rebounds. Parker added 16 with 13 coming in the first half. Rayshaun Hammonds added 10 off the bench.

Bryce Brown exploted in the second half and scored a game-high 28 points including five three-pointers. Heron added 14 while Jared Harper finished with 13 and six assists.

Georgia has now lost three of its last four and is a one-point win at LSU away from having a four-game losing streak. They will try to get back on track Tuesday night when they return home to face Arkansas.

Georgia looking for signature win at Auburn



Georgia snapped a two-game skid at LSU on Tuesday. Now they face another stiff challenge at Auburn.

Georgia’s road trip will continue on Saturday with a stop in Auburn to face the Tigers.

The Bulldogs successfully snapped a two-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 61-60 road win over LSU. Yante Maten’s go-ahead bucket in the game’s final moments was the difference and gave Georgia a much-needed win.

Saturday brings another opportunity for a resume building victory. Auburn is 16-2 overall and 4-1 in SEC play after suffering a 76-71 loss at Alabama on Wednesday. Georgia comes into the game 12-5 overall and with a 3-3 mark in a wildly competitive conference picture. The Tigers enter Saturday with the ninth best RPI in the country and tops in the SEC. The Bulldogs are 46th in RPI which is the ninth-best mark in the conference.

Mark Fox looked to shake things up with his slumping team and switched up the starting lineup for the first time all season. Freshman Teshaun Hightower and senior Juwan Parker both moved into the starting lineup replacing freshman Rayshaun Hammonds and E’Torrion Willridge. Hightower played 27 minutes and finished with eight points, three rebounds and two steals. He however gave the Bulldogs another athletic body to throw at a talented LSU backcourt.

Perimeter defense will be key again today as Auburn features one of the best backcourts in the country. Auburn leads the SEC in scoring averaging 85.7 points per game and their talented trio of guards are a big reason why.

Junior Bryce Brown is averaging 15.8 points and shooting 39 percent from three-point range. Mustapha Heron averages 15.1 and at 6-5 uses his size well to get to the free throw line where he averages more than five attempts a game. Jared Harper averages 12.4 points, is shooting 41 percent from three-point range and has the all-around game that complements Brown and Heron well.

Georgia comes into Saturday’s game with the league’s best defense allowing just 60.7 per game. They are holding conference opponents to just 35 percent shooting and lead the league in rebounding.

The inside game will be very important today as the Bulldogs will need big days from Maten and Derek Ogbeide. Auburn is no slouch inside either but it is critical that Georgia control the pace if they want to have a chance to pull off an upset.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, January 20, 6 p.m. ET

Location: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Alabama

TV: SEC Network

Streaming: SECN+

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network. Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; Satellite: Sirius 137; XM 190

‘Dawgs on Tour: ‘Dawgs Doin’ Work


Tournament: CareerBuilder Challenge, January 18-21, 2018 Course: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, 7,113 yards, par 72 (also TPC Nicklaus Course, and LaQuinta Country Club) Purse: $5,800,000 Defending Champion: Bulldog Hudson Swafford!! Big Hud got his first PGA Tour win last year playing a stellar final round. He started off in 3rd place and bogeyed his 1st hole, but birdied 7/8/9, then 15/16/17 including an iron on the 17th that was uber-clutch and almost holed it. This win got him in his first Masters (last season). Fellow ‘Dawg Brian Harman tied for 3rd, two other ‘Dawgs made the cut. Fun Fact: The main course is 30 years old, and was once described by a noted golf columnist thusly: “You need a camel, a canoe, a priest, and a tourniquet to get through it.” Television: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Former ‘Dawgs in the Field ( Seven ): Harris English, Keith Mitchell, Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk, Hudson Swafford, Brian Harman, Bubba Watson. In case you missed it, we had seven former ‘Dawgs playing in Hawaii for the Sony Open. We didn’t get a win, but six made the cut and we had some serious challengers for the top of the leaderboard. Now back stateside, the Tour holds the annual Bob Hope Invitational. Except it’s not called that anymore. This was the tournament with a pro-am replete with celebrities of the 1960’s and 70’s. President Gerald Ford was a fixture, and often scared galleries with wayward shots. Bob Hope died, the Tour was looking for more money, and the Palm Springs thing isn’t quite as novel and attractive as it once was during the Brat Pack days. Thus a corporate sponsor or two came in and we now have the CareerBuilder Challenge, but still incorporating the pro-am (where a pro is paired with an amateur of the corporate or B-list celebrity type). Since it is a pro-am, it has double the number of participants (each pro has 1 celebrity paired with him). That is why the tournament also plays on nearby PGA West Nicklaus Tournament course, and La Quinta Country Club course. Each pairing will play 1 day on each course with the final round played by pros only on the tougher TPC Stadium Course layout. These courses are carved out of the desert and nearby mountains, and only exist because Man said so. And we wonder why there are water problems in southern California. As mentioned, there are some “celebrities” but don’t expect much. Quick research didn’t turn up any names (yet) so they might still be finalizing who will play. Pro Phil Mickelson will make his 2018 debut (he serves as some sort of official tourney Ambassador), as will John Daly and his LoudMouth pants. (I’m not really sure why these have been successful. To each his own.) But here’s who you really want to root for: Brian Harman. Last year, Harman was 136th in the world (OWGR). Now he’s 20th. Chris Kirk. Last year he was 74th in OWGR but he’s fallen to 169th currently. Kevin Kisner. He has climbed from 41st to 27th in OWGR. Hudson Swafford. Last year Swafford was 204th, which was a career high for him. After the win, and a very successful season, he is now 90th. Harris English. Once inside the top 75, he’s 289th in the world at the moment. Keith Mitchell. Being his rookie season on the PGA Tour, his 335 ranking is understandable. But he has made his last 3 cuts and improved his finish each time. Bubba Watson. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Up to #2 in the world (early 2015), Bubba’s sparse play and frequent mediocre finishes have him currently at #93. This is actually the first he’s played here since 2010. So if football is dead to you, flip it on over to Golf Channel for late afternoon resort-style golf. And as always…. GO ‘DAWGS!!! [...]

Did you know you need a Dawg to win a Super Bowl?



I don’t know if that’s true. In fact, I know it really isn’t, but it sure does seem that way thanks to guys like Richard Seymour, Hines Ward, Jake Scott, and countless other Dawgs who’ve contributed to Super Bowl champions over the years. In the very least, it helps. Science has proven* that much.

But in case you were curious, a former Dawg will win the Super Bowl this year. That is because there isn’t a team left in the running without one. The Jacksonville Jaguars head north to face the New England Patriots Sunday at 3, followed by the Minnesota VIkings hosting the Philadelphia Eagles near 7. And on those rosters, you’ll find...

Jacksonville- starting DT and five year vet (all with the Jags), Abry Jones, of Northside Warner Robins

New England- Co-captain and starting C and three year vet (all with the Pats) David Andrews, formerly of the Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, along with Valdosta High School product, author, and member of the injured reserve, WR Malcolm Mitchell.

Philadelphia- Starting MLB and former Super Bowl champion as a Raven, Dannell Ellerbe, an eight year vet out of Richmond High School in Rockingham, NC, formerly with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and of course, Baltimore.

Minnesota- (technically none, but they have brother of incoming RB James Cook, Dalvin, on injured reserve, along with a couple of Georgia high school products like RBs Mack Brown and Jerrick McKinnon).

So there is technically a slightly greater than 75% chance (cause the Vikings aren’t the favorite) of a Dawg holding up the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LII is held in Minneapolis on Febuary 4th. See, science!**

*I am not a scientist, and did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night either.

**again, not a scientist. not even close.

Yante Maten leads Georgia past LSU



Bulldogs snap two-game skid with 61-60 win.

A late bucket from Yante Maten helped Georgia snap a two-game losing streak and escape Baton Rouge with a 61-60 win over LSU.

Georgia came into Tuesday’s game struggling having lost to Missouri and South Caroline to drop their conference record to 2-3. Looking for a spark, Mark Fox elected to switch up his starting lineup inserting senior Juwan Parker and freshman Teshaun Hightower replacing Rayshaun Hammonds and E’Torrion Willridge.

The results weren’t pretty early on as LSU raced out to a 34-24 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs’ defense was non-existent in the first half as the Tigers shot a blistering 52 percent from the field.

Georgia came out much more focused in the second half and quickly used a 14-3 run to erase the deficit and take the lead at 38-37. From there the game would go back and forth with neither team able to gain a clear advantage.

The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 46-41 with a pair of free throws by Maten but LSU answered with six straight points to retake the lead. Georgia trailed 58-56 until Parker knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key to put the Bulldogs in front 59-58 with just 57 seconds remaining.

LSU would answer on the next possession as Duop Reath got loose on the baseline and knocked down a go-ahead jumper over Maten with 47 seconds to go.

The Bulldogs got some good ball movement on the ensuing possession but Hightower missed a three-point attempt from the left corner. However, Parker was able to run down the rebound for Georgia and Fox called timeout to set up the final shot.

Georgia then worked the ball into Turtle Jackson who found Maten in traffic for the go-ahead basket with just over five seconds remaining. Tremont Waters missed a desperation heave at the horn to allow the Bulldogs to escape with a much-needed win.

Maten logged another double-double finishing with a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds. He was 7-20 from the field and a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Derek Ogbeide scored nine of his 11 in the first half to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance. Parker added nine points and eight rebounds.

Brandon Sampson led the Tigers with 17 points while Reath added 12. After struggling defensively in the first half, Georgia locked in in the second holding LSU to just 26 points on 36 percent shooting.

Georgia’s road trip will continue again on Saturday when they square off against No. 17 Auburn.

Georgia needs a bounce back performance at LSU



Bulldogs look to snap two-game losing streak on the road against the Tigers.

A two-game losing streak certainly wasn’t what Mark Fox and the Georgia Bulldogs were looking for. They will look to get back on track Tuesday night when they hit the road to face LSU.

The Bulldogs enter the week with an 11-5 record and a 2-3 conference mark. They suffered a 12-point setback at Missouri last Wednesday and followed that up with a 64-57 loss at home against South Carolina on Saturday.

While they certainly don’t help, the two losses don’t completely undo a lot of the work Georgia has done to set itself up for an NCAA tournament bid. However, with a road heavy stretch coming up, they need to put this losing streak behind them soon.

Per, Georgia has an RPI ranking of 52. That is ninth in the SEC and six spots ahead of LSU who checks in at 58.

The Tigers come into Tuesday’s game with an 11-5 record and are an even 2-2 in conference play. They scored a big road win at Arkansas last Wednesday before falling at home against Alabama on Saturday.

LSU has four players averaging double figures led by 5-11 freshman Tremont Waters who averages 16.9 points and a team-best 6.0 assists.

Yante Maten led Georgia with 25 points in Saturday’s loss to the Gamecocks but no other player finished with more than 11. Turtle Jackson finished with nine points but was 3-of-15 from the field. Rayshaun Hammonds was held scoreless. The Bulldogs shot just 35 percent from the field for the game.

Maten is the focal point but Georgia needs more from his supporting cast if they are going to be successful. Tonight’s game might not be a clear must-win but with road games at Auburn and matchups with Arkansas and Florida on the horizon, it is about as close as you can get.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Tuesday, January 16, 7 p.m. ET

Location: Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, Louisianna


Streaming: WatchESPN

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network. (Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; Satellite: Sirius 137; XM 190

Roquan Smith makes his decision



Junior LB and Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith has announced his decision, and he’s joining DL Trenton Thompson in preparing for the NFL draft.

Most boards have Smith among the top 10 players in this draft, and he’s expected to fall within the first 15 picks (thanks to positional issues and teams overvaluing QBs).