Kirby Smart


By: Kipp Branch news services

How many Georgia fans remember the 1980 jokes?

Kirby Smart is entering his 8th season as the king of the bulldog nation. With an 81-15 overall record that includes 2-SEC Titles and 2- back-to-back National Titles.

Georgia currently is the premier football program in the country and the consensus preseason number one team in the country.

Years of consistent top 3 recruiting classes are paying off now for the program as UGA has become a major pipeline for the NFL.

Carson Beck has won the starting QB job and looks to have a breakout season. Beck has patiently waited his turn in the transfer portal era, and it should pay off for him.

The offensive line is the best in the country. The WR room is the best the program has ever seen, and then you have TE Brock Bowers who just may be the best player in the country.

The RB room is banged up and must get healthy by the South Carolina game on 9/16.

On defense, two words Kirby Smart. As long as Kirby is running things in Athens then UGA will be elite on defense.

Let’s look at the schedule with my predictions:

Sat, Sep 2        vs UT Martin: UGA a lot and UT Martin a little. 1-0

Sat, Sep 9        vs Ball State: Thanks SEC for canceling the Oklahoma game and making UGA scramble for a replacement. UGA 49-10. 2-0

Sat, Sep 16      vs South Carolina: UGA is the last team to beat UGA in Athens back in 2019. The country will be hyping Carolina in this one, but UGA will look like a national champion contender in this contest and win 35-17 to go to 3-0.

Sat, Sep 23      vs UAB: UGA tunes up for Auburn 42-17 to go to 4-0 on the season.

Sat, Sep 30      @ Auburn: Auburn has rebuilt their roster in 2023 through the transfer portal. I have already seen the pundits attempting to call for an upset here. Hugh Freeze will be a problem for UGA while he is at Auburn. He is already turning Auburn around on the recruiting trail. UGA’s next trip to Auburn in 2025 will be a monster game, but Auburn is not there yet in 2023. UGA wins 31-17 to go to 5-0.

Sat, Oct 7        vs Kentucky: UK has won once in Athens in 45 years, and they play annually. Not happening. UGA 27-14 to go to 6-0.

Sat, Oct 14      @ Vanderbilt: Last two years combined score is UGA 117-0. 7-0 going into the bye week.

Sat, Oct 28*    @ Florida: Florida is another school that is in rebuild mode. Billy Napier has a top five recruiting class in the works for 2024. Florida will be a lot better on defense, but offensively the Gators aren’t there yet. UGA goes to 8-0 with a 35-21 win over Florida. I’ll be in Jacksonville for the festivities.

Sat, Nov 4       vs Missouri: I’m putting UGA on upset alert here. Mizzou is sandwiched in a tough back end of the schedule for UGA. I’m worried about this one as Missouri could be a top 3 team in the SEC East. UGA wis 24-20 to go to 9-0.

Sat, Nov 11     vs (22) Ole Miss: Lane coming to Athens will have Kirby’s full attention. UGA wins 42-24 to go to 10-0 on the season.

Sat, Nov 18     @ (12) Tennessee: Ok Tennessee you have been beating your gums all off season about this contest. Joe Milton is the most hyped QB in the country. Vol fans conveniently forget that Milton was the starter two years ago and lost his job to Hendon Hooker. I’m not buying the hype and Tennessee is not better than UGA on both lines of scrimmage. UT has been horrible in the secondary as well.  Statement game for UGA as they beat Tennessee 34-20 to go to 11-0.

Sat, Nov 25     @ Georgia Tech: UGA has not lost in Atlanta since 1999 and will not in 2023. UGA wins 45-24. 12-0.

Regular season 12-0 and favored to win SEC and National title for the 3rd consecutive year in the playoff era. Enjoy the mountain top UGA fans.

Bad Rep

By: Robert Craft news services

Star defensive tackle Jalen Carter became the third member of Georgia’s 2022 national championship team to be charged with reckless driving.

A fourth bulldog was charged with a DUI and the fifth was reported to have gone 34 miles over the speed limit at the time of arrest.

In total, nine Georgia players have been arrested in the last 13.5 months.

These arrests don’t have to be blamed on Georgia. There’s nothing that’s come to light that suggests it is. With that being said, these incidents still reflect poorly on the program’s image, as a charge reflects poorly on all five player’s criminal records.

All of these are misdemeanors, but Georgia’s program is at their highest media coverage nationally in the history of college football. The microscope is more zoomed in than ever, and narratives will be longer if these habits continue.

The car crash that took the lives of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy is a terrible tragedy. The other parts of the story have always seemed irrelevant: I don’t care about staffers socializing with athletes. I don’t care very much about a university car being used. I don’t care that they were at a strip club.

I do care what directly led to the crash. Now, Kirby Smart should talk with his program and take a leadership role in athlete risk aversion.

Smart needs to get a handle on street racing and reckless driving. Police report the cause of the car crash to street racing and reckless driving.

A coach can’t take away anybody’s ability to drive, but they can take away a starting roster position. An athletic director may set an example by suspending or dismissing players for criminal offenses while eligible.

Smart has indubitably built an athletic powerhouse in seven seasons in Athens, going for his third consecutive National Championship next season. However, after their latest title win, the team has been marred with bad morale and criminal news headlines.

The one thing that could bring down Smart and the Bulldogs’ dynasty is legal actions and a criminal reputation. Anybody remember the facelifting SMU and Miami have been doing after their debacles?

University of Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks stated that neither Willock, nor the driver of the car was on “athletic department business” at the time of the accident.

Brooks added that his department “[conducted] a thorough review, in coordination with appropriate legal counsel, to fully understand the circumstances surrounding this tragic event.”

This sounds like Brooks is trying to minimize sue damage. In a wrongful death case involving a motor vehicle accident, it is sometimes possible to hold an employer responsible if their employee’s negligence was responsible for the fatal accident. This is a vicarious liability under Georgia law.

Georgia follows a “comparative fault” standard in all personal injury cases, which includes wrongful death claims. Basically, this means that when the negligence of multiple parties led to an accident, a judge or jury must apportion the blame accordingly. The judge will then reduce the victim’s damages to account for their determined percentage of fault.

Willock’s family has not filed any legal action arising from his death. High-profile accidents like this one often raise a number of questions regarding the law in this area. Dave Willock, who is the father of the late Devin Willock, said that he was not planning a lawsuit at this time.

“Georgia is working with us,” Willock told the AJC. “We have no reason to do that (sue Georgia), because they are compensating us 100 percent.”

I have a feeling that in the near future lawsuits will be filed, but until then, Smart and Georgia’s athletic department have to clean up their public image.

In scenarios like these, a little bit of prevention is worth a whole lot of cure- Georgia got lucky, but it won’t matter if these incidents keep happening.


By: Robert Craft news services

The problem to be solved with the Florida Gator football team runs deeper than Dan Mullen’s hubris. Yes, please fire him (hiring Todd Grantham much less keeping Grantham for another year is a Nussemeier on staff levels of incompetence) but the administration just doesn’t get it.

Florida doesn’t need an X’s and O’s coach; they need a CEO type that knows what it takes to build a program. I have no doubt in my mind that Coach Mullen wants to be successful at Florida, but it takes a lot more than wanting it, especially at Florida.

Someone who “gets it” is Kirby Smart. He sacrifices so much time with his family and so much of his free time to recruit. Kirby demands so much from his assistants, you ask yourself, why the hell would anyone do that?

How do you recruit so hard, you rival Nick Saban in relentlessness and even beat him on the trail consistently? What drives a person to do something that makes many normal men insane?

Well, Kirby is a Georgia alum who spent his playing days being consistently clobbered by Steve Spurrier coached Florida teams. It’s almost like his very identity revolves around Georgia Football. He is Mr. UGA!

Kirby was born and raised in the South and knows the culture. I think that’s why a lot of recruits gravitate to him.

Would you ascribe the same “X factor” about Dan Mullen? This is what recruits think: Some dorky Northeasterner who talks too fast and isn’t funny or relatable, and who thinks Publix cakes and some tastefully Jordan sneakers can woo recruits on their official visits.

Mullen has been quoted as saying “I want guys who want to be Gators”, but at this point as a program when you have the likes of Kentucky and Missouri out-recruiting you. You have to wonder if the brand has lost its’ sheen after the lost decade.

In order to compete with the Elite (hell to even remain relevant in the SEC East) in the present day, you HAVE TO GO ALL IN. There is no half-ass in the current recruiting landscape. The push to become a top 5 public university is great but all these young men have dreams to play in the NFL.

Mullen has some of the top attributes I would seek in a head coach. He can game plan and coach offense, quarterbacks and call plays, but he has to reflect on just about every other part of the program at this point and make some really big changes.

I do believe there will be some significant staff changes this offseason. Todd Grantham being gone is all but a foregone conclusion.

The following coaches have their contract set to expire after the recruiting cycle ends February 8th: John Hevesy, Billy Gonzales, Tim Brester, Greg Knoz and David Turner.

Change is coming Gator fans, but you are not fixing the roster issues overnight and simply replacing coaches is not a guaranteed fix.

“If you don’t recruit, there’s no coach that can out-coach recruiting, I don’t care who you are.” Kirby Smart definitely understands how to build a program.

The Time Is Now

By: Kipp Branch news services

Let me go ahead and get my next statement out of the way.

The Georgia Bulldogs are a big, fast, talented, well coached, and most of all a hungry football team.

Kirby Smart has built the program into a national powerhouse. Who knows if UGA will win a Natty in 2021? That seems to be the measuring stick the national media has placed upon Kirby.

I never recall that same measuring stick applied to Dabo Swinney at Clemson. Swinney’s Clemson program didn’t play for a national title until his 8th season at Clemson, and didn’t win one until his 9th season at the school.

Smart’s UGA program played for one in only his second year with the program. The better question for UGA is can it beat Alabama when it matters the most?

By my reasoning Alabama has cost UGA three national championships over the past nine years in 2012, 2017, and 2018. Smart enters year six at UGA with a 52-14 record.

UGA is loaded across the board. Let’s look at the position groups:

QB: JT Daniels could be the best returning QB in the SEC along with Matt Corral at Ole Miss.

Daniels does not turn the ball over that much, and throws the deep ball well. Daniels is the best pure passer that Kirby Smart has had during his tenure at UGA.

RB: UGA has the best RB back room in the SEC. Zamir White, James Cook, Kendall Milton, Kenny McIntosh, and Daijun Edwards. I don’t think I need to comment further here.

OL: UGA has recruited well in this position group. Jamaree Salyer leads a talented group that includes former Brunswick High Pirate Warren McClendon, who will start at Right Tackle for the second straight season.

WR/TE: Another deep group that will be led by Kearis Jackson, and Jermaine Burton.

Arik Gilbert came in from LSU and may dominate at whatever position he lines up at. What if George Pickens returns from his ACL injury by late season?

DL: Jordan Davis will be a first team All- American. Another deep position group that includes Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt. Maybe the most underrated position group on the roster from a fan standpoint.

LB: Adam Anderson, Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith. Five Stars everywhere.

DB: Talented but untested. Many say the weakest link for UGA this is the group. Tykee Smith, a transfer from West Virginia, will play the Star position, and Derion Kendrick, a transfer from Clemson, will start at one of the corners. Kelee Ringo could end up being great at corner but must get some game experience.

P/K: Former Glynn Academy PK Jack Podlesny and P Jake Carmada give UGA maybe the best kicker combo in the SEC or maybe the country.


9/4 vs Clemson in Charlotte: Clemson does not strike fear in UGA. The Tigers lost their best QB and RB in school history to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Their best WR Justyn Ross missed all of 2020 with a spinal condition. Question to the masses is how will Clemson be better in 2021 than they were in 2020? They won’t and UGA will win that game 31-21.

Wins over UAB, South Carolina, Vandy, and Arkansas.

10/9 @ Auburn: A game UGA fans always worry about. Auburn plays great when they have no expectations. 2021 is one of those years under a new coach when many pick the Tigers as low as 5th in the SEC West. I’m worried. UGA 23-20 in a war.

10/16 vs. Kentucky: Don’t get caught thinking about Florida, Dawgs. UGA wins 34-21.

10/30 vs Florida in Jax: No Kyle Trask, no Kyle Pitts, no Kadarius Toney, and no Trevon Grimes. How will UF be better on offense in 2021? Quick answer is they won’t and UGA will be much improved on offense. UGA wins this game by two TD’s 31-17.

11/6 vs Missouri: Upset alert, upset alert, and upset alert. UGA has one of these types of games every season.

JT Daniels leads UGA from behind in the 4th quarter for a 35-31 win over a very good Missouri squad that will finish second in the SEC East.

Wins over Tennessee, Charleston Southern, and GT.

Regular season record 12-0. Plays the winner of Texas A&M and Alabama in the SEC Title game.

The Quarterback Room

By: Robert Craft news services

The eighth ranked Florida Gators topped the #5 ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, taking control of the SEC East at the midway point in the 2020 season.

Florida was led by Senior quarterback Kyle Trask. Trask completed 30 of 43 passes for 474 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception. Trask became the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for 4 plus touchdowns in 5 consecutive games.

Trask was a low three-star quarterback coming out of Manvel, Texas, where he played behind D’Eriq King. Trask’s composite score was 0.7984 and ranked the 2123rd player in the country.

Georgia’s starting quarterback Stetson Bennett was a high three star with a composite score of 0.8304. Bennett was replaced by four-star quarterback D’Wan Mathis, whose composite score was 0.8992.

After the game on Saturday, whining Bulldog fans were making excuses for the loss.

Some were saying ‘we would have won but we have five players out with injuries and a walk on quarterback’.

Another said I really miss Jake Fromm. I also heard Bennett could not start for Valdosta State University. Injuries are part of the game, but the quarterback position at Georgia is another issue.

Georgia’s quarterback issues started when Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State. The Georgia coaching staff selected Fromm over Fields and the rest is history. Fields is currently the front runner for the Heisman Trophy.

In January, Jamie Newman, the Wake Forest graduate transfer, announced he was transferring to Georgia. On September 2, Georgia’s projected starting quarterback opted out of the 2020 season.

Many speculated that five-star transfer from USC J.T. Daniels would assume the starting job. Daniels has yet to see the field due to medical clearance on his knee. Daniels was the 18th overall in the 2018 class and threw for 2,672 yards as a true freshman in 2018.

D’Wan Mathis started the opening game against Arkansas but was benched in the second half for former walk-on, Stetson Bennett. Bennett has done a very serviceable job for the Bulldogs leading them to victories over Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky. Bennett gives UGA the best chance to win.

Georgia’s quarterback problems can be traced to a couple factors: coaching, development and offensive systems.

Georgia’s offensive coordinators/quarterback coach under Kirby Smart have been Jim Chaney 2016-18, James Coley 2019 and Todd Monken 2020. Three coordinators in three years, how can a player be developed?

The product on the field in big games prove that UGA quarterbacks are not being developed or coached up to their true strengths.

Kirby Smart has brought in three different coordinators to run a spread offense in Athens, but Smart’s football DNA is to run the ball and play stout defense. The strength of this team is its defense and running the football.

However, it appears offenses have finally caught up to Georgia’s defense. LSU sliced and diced the Dawgs in last season’s SEC Championship Game and Alabama did the same three weeks ago.

Florida handed Georgia their second loss of the season by a score of 44-28.

The defeat also makes it very unlikely for the Bulldogs to claim its fourth straight SEC East title.

It also created questions at the quarterback position moving forward.  Who should start at quarterback: Bennett, Daniels, Mathis or Carson Beck (true freshman for Jacksonville)?

Wait until next year when another five star comes to Athens in Brock Vandagriff.

Bulldog fans, accept your loss to the better team last week and stop making excuses! It is embarrassing!

The Big Dawgs

By: Kipp Branch news services

UGA is loaded in 2019. Kirby Smart is a recruiting machine.

Smart enters the 2019 season with an overall record of 32-10.

UGA won the SEC in 2017 but lost the National Championship game to Alabama and lost the SEC Title game to Alabama in 2018.

Jake Fromm leads the offense; JR Reed and Monty Rice will lead a faster more athletic defense in 2019. Andrew Thomas will lead the best offensive lineman in the country.  The Swift/Herrien/White/Cook running back rotation will beat teams to a pulp.

Georgia’s talent across the board is well documented. This team should contend for a National Title this season and next season if Jake Fromm returns.

My game by game predictions:

Aug. 31: at Vanderbilt: Season and SEC opener at night in the Music City.

Vandy will be sky high and UGA has not always played so well in Nashville. Jake Fromm and a solid run game will spell doom for the Dores as UGA takes care of Vandy 38-13. George Pickens starts making a name for himself at Wide Receiver.

Sept. 7: MURRAY STATE: UGA drills Murray State 52-7.

Fromm and company will be discussing which band to go listen to downtown after the game midway through the second quarter.

Sept. 14: ARKANSAS STATE: Tougher than expected for a half then UGA pulls away in the third quarter and wins 45-14.

Sept. 21: NOTRE DAME: Athens, Georgia will be the center of the college football universe on 9/21. The Irish roll in and it will not be a cakewalk like most UGA fans expect.

This one will be a war. Zamir White has his coming out party as UGA eats up yards and clock to put ND away 27-17.

If UGA wears the black jerseys, then put the Dawgs on upset alert right now.

Oct. 5: at Tennessee: UT is still two recruiting classes away. Dawgs win in Knoxville 38-17, and UGA takes the lead in the series for the first time in 30 years.

Oct. 12: SOUTH CAROLINA: Carolina’s schedule is brutal, and Muschamp is trying to get them back in the mix in the SEC East. UGA has too much talent and wins at home 41-14 to stay undefeated.

Oct. 19: KENTUCKY: UGA blew out UK’s best team in 40 years in Lexington last year, and UGA is better in 2019. Kentucky is not as good as they were in 2018. Dawgs win 49-17.

Nov. 2: vs. Florida (Jacksonville): Dan Mullen has been popping off about UGA all “Talking Season”.  Kirby isn’t much on talking but look for UGA’s best effort of the season in this one. Dawgs win the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party 35-20 over a good Gator squad.

Nov. 9: MISSOURI: Kelly Bryant didn’t get a national title ring from Clemson last year and he won’t get a victory in Athens either. Dawgs win 38-21.

UGA clinches the SEC East for the third straight year.

Nov. 16: at Auburn: Unbeaten UGA rolls to the Plains and I smell trouble brewing for the Dawgs. Auburn will be solid on defense, but will they be good on offense?

Will Gus still be employed by November? If he is then I smell upset. Auburn upsets UGA 24-21 in Jordan Hare.

Dawgs fall to 9-1. History tells us that UGA lays an egg against someone every season, right? Enjoy this November contest folks. Auburn lobbied the SEC and won and now the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry moves to October in 2020 and beyond.

Heck, maybe with that pansy move UGA rips Auburn a new one, 35-17 and stays unbeaten on the season.

Nov. 23: TEXAS A&M: Everyone is jumping on the Aggie bandwagon. Not me. The Aggies lost their leading rusher and leading tackler, nor am I sold on Kellen Mond at QB.

Senior Day in Athens as UGA rolls 38-24. UGA goes to 11-0 on the season.

Nov. 30: at Georgia Tech: Jackets go to a pro-style offense with option attack players. Georgia Tech will get better fast by focusing on the Atlanta area in recruiting. Dawgs go to 12-0 with a 42-17 blistering of the Jackets.

SEC Championship: UGA finally breaks the Alabama jinx and beats the Tide 31-24 in another title game classic between these two teams.

UGA goes into the College Football Playoff as the #1 team in the country.

Georgia Tech To Sting Georgia?

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The college football season is almost over. We’re going into the final week of the season, which features rivalry games. One of my favorites is Clean, Old Fashioned Hate from my home state.

This will be the 113th meeting between Georgia Tech and UGA. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 66-41-5. The longest win streak in the series is eight games by Georgia Tech from 1949-1956.

Since 1991 UGA has won 21 of the 27 games. To say they have been dominating recently would be an understatement. Tech did win the last meeting in Athens back in 2016, 28-27. Last season Georgia obliterated the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, 38-7.

No. 5 Georgia (10-1) has won the SEC East for the second consecutive year and guaranteed a spot in the SEC Championship.

“I try to have a 24-hour rule, too, but this one is different because you don’t have enough time to prepare for them,” Smart said, explaining why he would change things up to begin early preparations for rival Georgia Tech.

The Bulldogs have superior size, speed and talent. They are a 17-point favorite over Tech. On paper, they should win easily but that’s why they play the game.

Georgia Tech (7-4) got off to a slow start but they won four consecutive games. They have won the last two games in Athens so they should have some confidence. The Yellow Jackets lead the nation with 353.7 yards per game rushing.

The Dawgs run defense looked shaky against UMass in their 66-27 win. Georgia surrendered 125 yards rushing in the first half rushing before the Minutemen shifted into catch-up mode for the second half.

“Zero. None,” Smart said when asked after Georgia’s win over UMass if there was anything he could take from this week and apply to Georgia Tech. “No offense we faced all year. Zero. It has zero carry over. I think you see across the country if you watch teams play the triple option, it’s extremely different and so extreme that I don’t think you guys can understand. There’s not one call in our defense. The only common theme is you’ve got to tackle the man with the ball. That’s the only common theme. Outside of that, there’s nothing like it.”

One good thing for the rivalry is Paul Johnson playing the villain. He’s very outspoken about everything even it may come back to haunt him. He’s only 3-7 against Georgia but he still takes time to troll the SEC.

“Week in and week out, I promise you there isn’t any difference in lining up and playing those guys than there is playing North Carolina, Clemson and Virginia Tech,” Johnson said.

“What happened in my opinion is you had really good teams at the top of their league and they got credit. It was almost like the ACC in basketball this year. They all get ranked in the top 15 and then when they beat each other they don’t ever drop. Then you get to the tournament and you don’t do so well and you start thinking maybe they were overhyped.”

The Dawgs could make this game close if they are not focused. They may be looking ahead to their showdown with Alabama the following week. If they sleepwalk this can be a close game. No matter the scenario UGA will notch another W in the series.

The New Trick Dawgs

By: Kipp Branch news services

I know many of you Dawg lifers like me are wondering if last year was a fluke.

Let me ease your mind and tell you all that UGA, under Kirby Smart, will be in position to compete for National Championships for years to come.

Georgia just hauled in the best recruiting class in the nation during the last cycle and has five 5-star recruits committed for the next cycle so the talent pool is as deep as it has ever been in Athens, Georgia with top talent at every position on the two-deep roster.

At QB, Jake Fromm is the starter after that fantastic freshman season last fall that came a blown coverage away from a Natty. Fromm will be a starting NFL QB one day and then you have a once in a generation talent in Justin Fields that UGA will have to figure out ways to get in the game in special packages that will make opposing defensive coordinators binge eat at night trying to keep their jobs.

UGA is running back U. Sony and Chubb are gone but Swift, White and Cook to the rescue. Oh yeah, Georgia still has Holyfield too. This is a nasty sick positional group.

Now that UGA has a head coach that knows how to recruit offensive lineman, the run game looks unstoppable. D’Andre Swift may be in Heisman discussions in October. Wow, I left out Brian Herrien.

Where’s the beef? That used to be the question, but not anymore. Sam Pittman may the best offensive line coach in the business. Andrew Thomas moves to LT, Kendall Baker, Lamont Galliard, Ben Cleveland, and stud recruits coming in like Jamaree Salyer, and Cade Mays make this group a team strength. UGA has recruited this position well and has quality SEC depth in place now.

Terry Godwin leads a talented WR group. Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley and if transfer Demetris Robinson can get a favorable hardship ruling from the NCAA then this unit will be the best UGA has had in a long time.

Isaac Nauta looks to play a huge role at TE this season. Watch out for newcomer Kearis Jackson.

The Dawgs are going to need more production in the passing game this fall. Yeah, I know that sounds like I’m looking for something to be critical about but better balance makes this offense almost unstoppable.

On defense, UGA lost 6 out of its top 7 tacklers in 2017. Am I worried? No, I am not because talent is ready to step in.

On the defensive line, look for Tyler Clark to have a big season. Notre Dame Transfer Jay Hayes will provide depth. Jonathan Ledbetter will clog the middle. Oh yeah, I almost forgot Julien Rochester.

UGA lost some awesome linebackers from last season. Get ready to hear the name Monty Rice who will step in and be the next all conference LB for UGA. Natrez Patrick has all-American potential on the inside if he can get his head straight. Walter Grant, D’Andre Walker, and newcomers Brenton Cox and Adam Anderson make for a deep and talented unit but very young.

Georgia could be special at DB. Deandre Baker is the best corner in the country. J. R. Reed could make many All-America teams. Richard LeCounte is a potential superstar at safety, William Poole, Tyrique McGee and some talented others provide depth. Watch out for incoming freshman Tyson Campbell at CB.

Mecole Hardman could end of being the best kick returner in the SEC. Rod Blankenship will be the best FG kicker in the conference. Punter will sort itself out in fall camp.

Road games at LSU, South Carolina and Missouri will be tough. Auburn at home in November will not be easy. Florida and Tennessee are still a year or two away.

Georgia wins the East with an 11-1 record and plays Alabama for the SEC title and playoff berth. This team could go 12-0, but will slip up against someone in the rugged SEC.

Enjoy this ride Dawg fans. You have suffered long enough. In Kirby we trust. Georgia begins the season ranked #4 in the first coach’s poll just released.

Don’t I Know You?

By: Kipp Branch news services

Have you ever sat down and tried to come up with top 5 lists? I got the thinking as I write for the Georgia Sports Edition as of July 1st (changed from Southern Sports Edition) who are the top 5 current sports figures in the State of Georgia. Here goes my totally subjective list:

  1. Jake Fromm QB UGA: The starting QB for the flagship university always makes an updated list of top sports figures in the State.

Fromm goes into his sophomore season at the University of Georgia as the starting QB after leading UGA to a 13-2 record, Rose Bowl win, and national title game appearance as a freshman in 2017.

Fromm is loved throughout the State and the Dawgs are loaded going into 2018 on offense. Fromm looked a little rusty during the spring game, but this kid has something you can’t coach and it is called the WOW factor.

Nothing seems to bother him and that is a good thing because Justin Fields is nipping at his heels now in Athens. UGA is set at the QB position for the next few years, and Jake is the golden boy around the State right now.

  1. Ozzie Albies 2B Atlanta Braves: Albies is taking not just the State of Georgia by storm, but the nation by storm as he is the front runner for the National League Rookie of the year.

The kid is around 20 homeruns and his enthusiasm for the game has helped ignite the Braves nation in 2018.

Albies will likely be the starting second baseman for the National League All Stars in this year’s game in Washington DC. At 5’8 and 155 lbs. the power numbers are off the charts and the excitement is back in the State for Braves baseball.

  1. Matt Ryan QB Atlanta Falcons: Matty Ice is the highest paid player in the NFL. Ryan just became the NFL’s first 30 million per year player and his current deal guarantees him $100 million.

Football is king in the State of Georgia and Ryan will lead the Falcons to the playoffs in 2018. Possibly, back to the Super Bowl and redemption from blowing the 25-point third quarter SB lead two years ago. Ryan is putting together a potential Hall of Fame career in Atlanta that could be cemented with a Super Bowl ring.

  1. Freddie Freeman 1B Atlanta Braves: Freeman is currently batting .311 with 16 HR and 56 RBI for the division leading Atlanta Braves and is the face of the franchise.

The Freeman led Braves are in first place in July for the first time since 2014 and Freeman is having an MVP season in 2018. If the season ended today Freeman would probably be named National League MVP.

Freeman has been a regular in Atlanta now since 2010 and is one of the most recognizable sports figures in the state. If Freddie leads the Braves back to the World Series he might have a future in Georgia politics one day.

And the most recognizable sport figure in the state of Georgia currently is: Kirby Smart Head Football Coach University of Georgia: Smart is the face of UGA Football.

Born and raised in Georgia, played and earned All-SEC honors at UGA, and now has UGA competing for national championships in a State that is football crazy and championship deprived.

The 2017 UGA football season was magical and Smart had the Dawgs a blown coverage away from its first National Championship since 1980.

Smart is the best recruiter in the business and now has UGA reloading every year. Georgia season football tickets are the most treasured possession in the Peach State currently all because of the monster Kirby is building in Athens.

Kirby Smart is the most popular and most recognizable sports figure in the State of Georgia and if he wins a national title in the near future your future Governor when he retires from coaching football.

New Dawgs, Old Tricks

By: JJ Lanier news services

It’s been a good start to the Kirby Smart regime. I’d be lying if I said I saw his early success coming this soon, but I have a feeling Georgia fans won’t mind me being a little off with my prediction.

While I understand the excitement, and if you’re a UGA fan you have every right to be, I would caution getting too overzealous. If you’re experiencing a bit of Deja vu, it’s because you’ve seen this movie before.

Kirby Smart and Mark Richt will be forever linked for the obvious reason that Smart succeeded Richt, after the latter was relieved of his head coaching duties. However, it’s some of the similarities concerning each coaches’ first couple years in Athens that I want to talk about; their records in particular.

For one, they both arrived as first-time head coaches. Sure, that’s not necessarily life changing or anything, but neither had any other head coaching experience prior to UGA, which does play a part when assessing their early years.

And going by the first two years for each at Georgia, those seasons are almost identical.

Smart finished his inaugural season 8-5, ending up just outside the Top 25. Richt finished 8-4, ranked 25th at season’s end.

Kirby then followed that up with a second season consisting of a 13-2 record, the school’s first conference championship in over a decade, a berth in the playoffs, and a number two ranking in the final polls. That’s a sophomore slump anyone would sign up for.

What about Mark Rich’s second season? How about a 13-1 record, a conference championship for the first time in 20 years, a third-place finish in the season ending polls, and a Sugar Bowl win. Had the college playoffs actually existed during the 2002 season, Georgia would have been one of those four teams, without a doubt.

I know it’s purely coincidental, but to have two first time head coaches with almost identical seasons to start their career at the same school, is still pretty interesting.

I do have to say that Smart has done a better job on the recruiting trail, specifically with local talent. Richt did a good job with Top 10 recruiting classes those first few years, but I don’t remember him ever having a number one class, like Smart has for this upcoming season.

I know this may come across as me antagonizing the UGA fan base- like I’ve been sitting around all day, drinking beer with Skip Bayless and Danny Kanell, scheming of ways to get under your skin- but I promise it’s not like that at all. Even though it’s been 12 years since I lived in Georgia, I was a resident there long enough and remain friends with enough people, to know expectations are at an all-time high.

I’m not trying to knock Smart, or anything he has accomplished; bringing him in was obviously the right call. Bulldog fans have every reason to be excited and should be. This is the greatest amount of promise their team has had since, well, Mark Richt’s first two years.

I will say this though; if you’re a Georgia fan, finishing this upcoming season at 11-3, with a SEC East Division title, to go along with a loss in the SEC Championship game, may not be the outcome you’re looking for, for one particular reason.

As different as Smart and Richt may be in certain areas, so far, they’ve been pretty similar in the one area that counts.