UGA Sports Communications
The following are selected excerpts from head coach Kirby Smart’s press session following the workout.
On today’s practice:
“We had a really good tempo, a good practice today. I was a little worried after going inside yesterday. Some times we’re a little sluggish after going inside, but the leadership did a good job challenging players during flex to have a good practice. There was a lot of energy, a little more enthusiasm than we’ve had some other days. I don’t know what the temperature was, but it seemed cooler than I expected. I was expecting it to be up in the 90s, but it didn’t seem to be that so that helped us get through. We’re doing a lot of end of game situations at the end of practice, which have been good and the battles have gone both ways. We’re getting a lot of looks at guys, and there have been a lot of changes in the OL lineup because we’ve been rotating those guys around.”
On the offensive line without Isaiah Wynn the past four days:
“I still feel real good about him. He’s just got a little bit of an illness. He’s here. He’s just not out there during those periods. We think he’s going to be fine. Andrew (Thomas) has worked at guard, but he also has to work at tackle because of Isaiah not being there. The good news is he’s a pretty bright kid. He has been working at left guard some, as well as Pat Allen. (Justin) Shaffer is working really hard. I thought Isaiah Wilson had his best practice so far yesterday. I’ll reserve judgement on today until I watch the tape, but he had a lot better practice. Ben (Cleveland) has competed really hard. That’s the spot where we have three guys competing. Dyshon (Sims) is not able to play there now, but he knows right tackle, you’ve got Ben, and then there’s Isaiah Wilson. There’s a lot of battling going on there. Left tackle, Dyshon’s working there. Kendall Baker has worked there some with Isaiah out. Lamont (Gaillard) has played well at center. (Sean) Fogerty is really pushing him. There are a lot of moving parts, which we knew going into camp it would be that way. I would say we’ve got to play more physical to improve on the offensive line, not only this year but so far this camp. We still haven’t done compared to what I thought we did early in the spring. A lot of that probably has to do with Trenton (Thompson) and Roquan (Smith). We’re not where we need to be to run the ball efficiently. Hopefully, the answers to that will come by scrimmage 1 or scrimmage 2.
“That’s the blessing in disguise of all this. We’re finding out a lot about the other guys. It bothers me the continuity of the offense is not getting what it needs with Isaiah out. I think they would be gaining confidence with him in.”
On what he’s learned about the team’s kickers and punters during camp:
“I’ve learned that we’ve got a lot better competition that we had last year. The competition is driving each person every day to raise there level. It’s well thought of that high stress situations create your best. Those guys, they’re are like assassins. They’ve got one shot, and that’s all they’ve got. They’re getting those kind of ‘hit or miss’ opportunities every day. I think Cam (Nizialek) has done a great job with the punting. He’s kind of leading that charge, and Marshall (Long) is competing with him. The field goal kicking and kickoff situation is really tight. Those two guys are neck and neck competing with each other, but it’s still early.”
On the expectations and format for Saturday’s first scrimmage of the fall:
“Every position is will be a focus in the scrimmage. The offensive line is the part that I’m challenging because we’ve got to be able to run the ball and protect the passer to be efficient and get where we need to go. In the scrimmage, we’ll have a lot of snaps and will give a lot of kids opportunities. We’ll have a lot of special team situations. We’re going to find out a lot about our team as far as who’s ready and who’s not by that competition.
“It will be very similar to the scrimmages we’ve done in the past where it’s 1s vs. 1s game situations, 2s vs. 2s game situations, 3s vs. 3s, goal line situations, two-minute situations, red area, what we call ‘move the field,’ which is just a normal part of the game. It’s very similar to what we normally do, it will just have a lot of kicking mixed in it.”
On helping the freshman push through the adjustment to college football:
“Coaches, our job is to lead them through it. Some of these kids, they don’t know how to push through it. They’ve never been through consecutive practices this intense in their life. We’ve got to call them in. We’ve got to meet with them. We’ve got to encourage them. We’ve got to be positive with them. We’ve got to text them at night. And then we’ve got to teach them. A lot of times you don’t get to teach on the field because you’ve got to go on the next play so I’m yelling and screaming at a guy and he’s like ‘I don’t learn.’ We’ve got to settle them down, we come to the meeting room and walk through it in the morning. We’ve got to lead them through the wall. Some of them have hit. Some of them are mature and they push right through it. Most of those kids have not had the adversity they’re facing right now.”
ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia football team on Wednesday had its ninth practice of the preseason camp, including its second inside UGA’s new $30.2-million, 102,306-square-foot Indoor Athletic Facility (IAF).
The practice in shoulder pads and shorts lasted just over two hours.
Afterward, select defensive players talked about how preseason camp has been going.
Linebacker Reggie Carter, who rolled up 45 tackles — to match his uniform number — last year, said he and his fellow veterans have been serving as mentors to the younger players.
“Our message to them is to embrace the grind,” Carter, a senior, said. “We’ve been encouraging the younger guys, trying to help them out and be an example for them. They’re all eager and ready to learn, and they all want to get out and play to help the team. I’ve been through a lot since I’ve been here, so it feels great to help the young guys. Seeing how eager they are reminds me of when I was a freshman.”
Senior cornerback Aaron Davis said the Bulldogs have been using camp to set and start working toward their season’s goals.
“We’re hungry,” said Davis, who had 54 stops and two interceptions a year ago. “We’ve got high goals, high standards for each other, and we want to meet them. We’re all hungry to get something done this year. Camp is going pretty well. I’ve seen a lot of guys competing and getting after it.”
The Bulldogs return 10 defensive starters from a year ago when Georgia ranked fourth in the SEC and 16th nationally in total defense.
The Bulldogs will return to action on Thursday and will practice through Saturday this week. Georgia starts classes on Monday. The 2017 season opener will Saturday, Sept. 2, against Appalachian State. Kickoff is slated for 6:15 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN.
ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia football team had its seventh practice of the preseason camp on Monday with temperatures hanging in the upper 80s.
The practice in full pads lasted just over two hours at the Woodruff Practice Fields.
Finishing with 2,430 yards passing and 16 touchdowns, quarterback Jacob Eason took over the starting role during the Bulldogs’ second game last year. In 2017, Eason is trying to build on last season’s progress with help from Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Jim Chaney.
“(Chaney) and I have grown to know each other better and are finding the balance between working hard and getting to know each other on a personal basis and be friends,” said Eason. “I am always just trying to absorb everything he is throwing at us. He is hard on me but I know it is for my own good. When we are out there, he has a job to do and is trying to get it done and I do too so I think we work together well and have continued to bond in that way.”
One of the linemen expected to protect Eason is senior Dyshon Sims. Sims played in all 13 games during his junior season and started two out of the last three at guard. He is part of a line that features a variety of new faces this year.
“There are battles for every position and wherever they put me, I’ll take it,” Sims said. “I trust the coaches to make the right decision and I’ll do my best wherever I line up.”
Sims also added his take on being a quality offensive lineman.
“Being a good pass protector to me is knowing the pass rusher in front of you so you definitely have to study them,” said Sims.
The Bulldogs return to action on Tuesday and practice through Saturday this week. Georgia starts school on Monday, August 14.
ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs’ fourth preseason practice featured a new twist. Thursday’s workout was the team’s first of the fall held in UGA’s new $30.2-million, 102,306-square-foot Indoor Athletic Facility (IAF).
The practice in shoulder pads and shorts lasted just over two hours.
“Practice seemed to go smooth,” junior linebacker Natrez Patrick said. “Everybody was fresh. It obviously wasn’t as hot as it was outside. Me personally, I didn’t get as winded as I would have. That’s one of the positive aspects of the indoor (facility). We still have the same type practice as outside, though. Nothing changed there.”
The goals of the defense are simple during the early portion of fall camp.
“We’re all just working hard and trying to improve daily,” said senior noseguard John Atkins. “Everyone as a whole is working hard. To improve daily, that’s our goal.”
The Bulldogs return 10 starters from a year ago when Georgia ranked fourth in the SEC and 16th nationally in total defense. Senior linebacker Davin Bellamy expects the unit to be solid again in 2017.
“I feel like we’re an older, more veteran group now so we have to lead and show everybody how it’s supposed to be done,” Bellamy said.
The Bulldogs will return to practice on Friday before turning attention to their annual Fan Day on Saturday afternoon. The event, which is presented by UnitedHealthcare, includes photos with Georgia’s mascot, Uga X, beginning at 3 p.m., followed by an open practice by the team from 3:30-5:30 and autographs with players and head coach Kirby Smart from approximately 5:45-6:30. More information on the event can be found here.
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football will host Appalachian State in its 2017 opener and the matchup on Saturday, September 2, will be televised by ESPN at 6:15 p.m., according to an announcement on Thursday.
The Bulldogs have faced the Mountaineers once, topping Appalachian State 45-6 in 2013.
Georgia plays its first away game at Notre Dame on Saturday, September 9, and NBC will televise the 7:30 p.m. matchup. The Bulldogs open their Southeastern Conference schedule in Sanford Stadium versus Mississippi State on Saturday, September 23.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–UGA Sports Communications
PHILADELPHIA — Georgia junior wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was selected in the NFL Draft’s 5th round by the Denver Broncos with the 172nd overall pick on Saturday afternoon.
McKenzie, a native of Miami, Fla., is the 315th Georgia player taken in the NFL Draft’s history. The Broncos have now taken 13 Bulldogs since selecting Frank Richter in 1967. The last Georgia player drafted by Denver before McKenzie was fellow wide receiver Tavarres King in 2013, who was also selected in the 5th round.
Playing in all 13 games in 2016, McKenzie led the team with 44 catches for 633 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also Georgia’s fourth-leading rusher with 134 yards on 19 carries. He is the school record holder in career punt return touchdowns (5) and overall kick return TDs (6), having set both records in the Louisiana game with an 82-yard punt return touchdown. In addition, McKenzie caught the game-winning touchdown vs. Missouri on a 4th-and-10 play with 1:29 remaining in the game and finished the game with 10 receptions for 122 yards, both career-highs.
For his career, McKenzie caught 60 passes for 823 yards and carried the ball 37 times for 329 yards. He scored 17 touchdowns in his three seasons in Athens, with 11 coming on offense and six in the return game.
McKenzie was the lone Bulldog drafted in the 2017 draft, and Georgia has now had at least one player drafted in each of the past 25 years. The last time the Bulldogs had exactly one player drafted was fellow wide receiver Lindsay Scott in 1982, famous for preserving Georgia’s undefeated season in 1980 with the game-winning touchdown against Florida with under a minute to go.
In 2016, Georgia had five players drafted, highlighted by the Chicago Bears’ selection of Leonard Floyd with the ninth overall pick. Malcolm Mitchell, who was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round, helped New England come from behind to win Super Bowl LI.
For Immediate Release–UGA Sports Comm.
ATHENS——–University of Georgia football signee D’Antne Demery has been released from his National Letter of Intent according to an announcement by UGA head coach Kirby Smart. The release follows Demery’s arrest Saturday night on charges of simple battery, criminal trespass-damaged property in downtown Athens.
The Brunswick, Ga., native signed with UGA in February and was scheduled to report to the University in June to begin classes.
ATHENS, Ga. — The 74th annual G-Day game this afternoon didn’t quite have the atmosphere, nor the crowd, of last year’s 93K Georgia spring game, but its result was certainly more in doubt. In front of what was announced as officially 66,133 in attendance—although popular opinion was the crowd was probably more so around 50,000—the Red defeated the Black 25-22 on a game-winning field goal with just over a minute remaining in the contest.
‘’I’m really excited about our fan base. We had 66,000 people,” said head coach Kirby Smart after the game. “It makes me proud to be a Bulldog. I’m glad they came out. A lot of recruits made comments about the attendance.”
The placekicker for both teams, Rodrigo Blankenship had an off day by his standards, missing two of six field goals and even an extra point after the Black had tied the game at 22-all with 2:31 remaining on an extraordinary catch-and-grab 38-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Eason to Charlie Woerner. Still, as Coach Smart remarked, Blankenship made the kick that counted the most.
With the game tied, early-enrollee quarterback Jack Fromm drove the Red 60 yards in eight plays to the Black’s 10-yard line. From there, Blankenship made a 28-yard field goal with just 1:03 remaining in the game to seal the victory for the Red squad.
Fromm finished the game 14-for-23 through the air for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Eason was 16-of-36 for 311 yards and two scores, becoming the first Bulldog in the history of G-Day to pass for 300-plus yards. The Black’s Terry Godwin was the game’s leading receiver with 130 receiving yards while Tyler Simmons led the Red squad with 114 receiving yards and a touchdown.
To the contrary, the two running games were near-stagnant. Featuring the team’s starting offensive line, Black rushers were limited to 37 yards on 14 carries not including the minus-39 yards Eason netted on six rushes. The Red netted 67 rushing yards on 25 attempts.
“Obviously, we didn’t run the ball like you want to, but to be honest with you, it wasn’t part of the game plan,” Smart said. “We wanted to see if we could throw the ball some, move the ball around. We would have liked to run it better with the ‘One’ offense, which we didn’t do, which we have to improve on.”
Trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter, the Red scored touchdowns on its next two drives, ending with a 42-yard scoring pass from Fromm to Jeremiah Holloman, followed by a three-yard scoring scamper by Holyfield. Just prior to halftime, Blankenship’s 33-yard field goal pulled the Black within eight points, 14-6.
After a near-scoreless third quarter, Eason connected with Jayson Stanley for a 33-yard touchdown late in the stanza before another Blankenship field goal gave the Black a 16-14 advantage with 5:25 left in the game. However, less than two minutes later, Fromm connected with Simmons for a 76-yard touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion on a pass to Holloman, to regain a 22-16 edge.
Following Blankenship’s late-game field goal, the Black had one more shot at victory, but Eason could only move his offense five yards in seven plays before turning the ball over on downs with 10 seconds remaining.
The Red’s victory gave it a 39-31-3 all-time advantage over the White-turned-Black in the G-Day series.
“[The players] really competed and challenged each other more than maybe we had done earlier in the spring,” Smart said. “So overall, I was pleased with the day, excited about the growth of our team. I really saw some players getting better throughout the entire spring.’’
DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits (G-Day)
RED 14, Black 6
- From 1941 to 1963, G-Day pitted the Red versus the White; however, it became the Red against the Black in 1964 with the hiring of head coach Vince Dooley. Still, the “Black” always wore a white jersey—that is, until today, the first time the “Black” has worn a black jersey on G-Day.
- Entering today, the Red held a 38-31-3 advantage over the White-Black in the all-time G-Day series. These 72 results include twice when an all-Alumni Black team faced a current-team Red squad (1984 and 1989), and once when the Black was an all-offensive team whereas the Red consisted exclusively of defenders (1999).
- In the first half, the highly-anticipated battle between the quarterbacks featured Jacob Eason (Black) completing just 8 of 21 passes for 133 yards and one interception, whereas Jake Fromm (Red) completed 7 of 10 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.
- After a lot of attention was given to Georgia’s first-string offensive line during the spring, the starting five paved the way for Black rushers to total a net of minus-3 yards on 11 rushes (including two sacks of Eason).
DEFENSE /SPECIAL TEAMS
- After no points were scored in the opening quarter, the two squads combined to score 20 in the second. A G-Day was not featured less than 40 combined points since 2011 (Black 18, Red 11).
- Columbia transfer Cameron Nizialek punted for both the Red and Black in the first half, punting twice for an average of 33.5 yards. While at Columbia from 2014 to 2016, Nizialek averaged 41.2 yards per punt for his career, including a 44.6-yard average in 2016.