DawgNation will offer this report after every game which focuses on the freshmen who played, what they did and who has lost one of those newly-reshaped (four games or less) redshirts. Check out this edition for UGA football after a Swift 34-17 victory in Lexington which secured the SEC East crown for the second straight season.
Georgia won its 13th straight game against an SEC East opponent on Saturday afternoon. Kirby Smart has now posted back-to-back unbeaten seasons in the SEC East during his second and third years in Athens.
He was the first Bulldogs coach to do that in 2017 since the inception of divisional play in the SEC. Smart has now done that in back-to-back seasons.
The feeling here is that this year’s team will be the most vulnerable among the ones the Bulldogs expect to line up across the next 2-3 seasons. Does recruiting matter?
Well, Smart brought up “good recruiting” in his postgame interview with CBS.
When he met the media shortly thereafter, he either mentioned the term “recruiting” or the name of a promising freshman or redshirt freshman approximately 25 times during his approximate 14-minute post-game chat with the hard-working folks on the UGA beat.
Recruit and sign the best players. Then coach the stars out of them. That’s been the Georgia Way so far under Smart.
What role did the program’s true freshmen and redshirt freshmen have in the Swifty executed 17-point win on Saturday? Let’s “cut loose” on all of that.
Potential + Preparation = Performance
Freshman Report Quotable
When Smart was asked about true freshman Trey Hill, he shared a candid view of what he felt he could do for the Bulldogs coming into the 2018 season.
“Trey, to be honest with you, there were times this year during fall camp where we thought Trey might be a starter,” Smart said. “Or at least I did. We kind of tossed the idea around a lot of times.”
“But he’s just continued to work. A lot of these freshmen that are on our team that are highly-regarded talented players they just keep working and they take on their roles. Just like Justin (Fields) [and] just like all the other guys. Adam Anderson played more tonight. Channing Tindall played. Otis Reese played. These guys are taking on their roles and growing as players.”
Smart said that Hill took practice reps this week on the defensive line to try and stabilize the front in those trenches, too.
The 335-pound freshman signed with UGA last December during the early period out of the same high school program (Houston County) which sent Jake Fromm to the Bulldogs. He was rated as the nation’s No. 2 OG prospect and was deemed a U.S. Army All-American.
The true freshman will be a mainstay at center or guard going forward. The neat thing here is how hard he worked to get himself ready to play this fall. Hill weighed 367 pounds at the U.S. Army All-American game in January and reported to UGA at 362 pounds.
He earned the right to play quickly by dropping to 329 pounds prior to fall camp.
Hill is a worker. Expect him to apply that level of persistence to those high snaps, too. Check out his DawgNation.com commitment video from last December.
Cool segment coming on @DawgNation Before the Hedges at 3 PM. We'll stroll through our commitment videos and ask viewers to pick their favorite. This @hilldeontrey will definitely make it: https://t.co/wufx9L5Hh2 pic.twitter.com/8OfC2OctDR
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) September 5, 2018
FRESHMEN MAKE EARLY IMPACT
They are called freshmen. Well, those “Bullpups” certainly looked fresh in a top 10 matchup at Kentucky with the SEC East on the line.
Smart alluded to both Anderson and Tindall in his post-game session with the media.
Consider this early series of events:
- 3rd-and-6 on Kentucky’s fourth snap: Anderson and senior Jonathan Ledbetter combine to stop Kentucky’s Benn Snell for no gain off a shotgun snap. Anderson, an OLB recruit, was closed down on the play coming in off the edge.
- 1st-and-10 on Kentucky’s sixth snap: Freshman CB Tyson Campbell halts Snell after a 6-yard gain. Brenton Cox, another former 5-star signee, had also subbed in when D’Andre Walker left the game with an injury during this series.
- 3rd-and-5 on Kentucky’s 12th snap: Cox records his first career sack that sets Kentucky back for an 8-yard loss.
- Kentucky’s third drive: Redshirt freshman OLB Robert Beal Jr. has back-to-back tackles to force short 1-yard gains for the Wildcats. Campbell would eventually recover a fumble at the UGA 37 to snuff the series.
- Kentucky’s fourth drive: This Wildcat march would extend to 15 plays, cover 50 yards and lead to a field goal which cut the Bulldog lead to 14-3. UGA saw three true freshmen in Campbell, Jordan Davis and Otis Reese assist on tackles along this drive. Georgia halted Kentucky after a 3rd-and-9 snap in which freshman ILB Channing Tindall rammed through a Benny Snell block for his first sack. The resulting 5-yard loss stopped the Wildcats at the UGA 16 and forced that field goal.
Smart addressed why those freshmen were called on to make plays early.
“We’ve got some guys who have got to grow up. Defensively, we are in a tough situation where we have got some young good players that are still learning and we said this game because of the athleticism of their quarterback we have got to put them out there. I thought Channing [Tindall] and Adam [Anderson] answered the bell. We have got to get those guys ready to play. They are fast.”
“We got to continue to get Otis [Reese] and some of these young players better like Jordan [Davis] has done.”
THE WEEKLY FRESHMAN HEAT CHECK
Let’s continue the blog with a current assessment of the five most valuable freshmen and redshirt freshmen to the UGA football team at this time.
We kicked off this feature after the LSU game. It is a nod to the top 5 freshmen (redshirt or true) who have impacted the overall balance of the season up to this point.
- CB Tyson Campbell (former 5-star recruit): The speedy first-year player has started every game. He now has 35 tackles this season. That is now the fourth-highest total on the team.
- OG/OT Cade Mays (former 5-star recruit): Mays had what Smart called a “stinger” at Kentucky. He plays so much and flashes so much value in his true freshman year it is easy to forget he is still a first-year player. “He probably will be okay,” Smart said afterward regarding that injury.
- OT Isaiah Wilson (Redshirt freshman and a former 5-star recruit): Along with sophomore Andrew Thomas, he was able to hold Kentucky stalwart Josh Allen to just three total tackles and two recovered fumbles. Allen came into the game leading the SEC in sacks.
- DT Jordan Davis: The only 3-star prospect on this list started his second straight game as a Bulldog and finished with two tackles. Smart said after the game that Davis is playing better than he figured he was going to in 2018. He added that taking him on the road and throwing him into the fire for live reps was likely what accelerated his development up to this point.
- QB Justin Fields: He didn’t see action against Florida, but he provided what Smart termed as two very big plays with his legs that moved the chains in Lexington. He also said that Fields had his best practice of the year on Tuesday.
A little more from Smart on Fields: “I told him ‘Man, this guy is practicing. Buying in. Positive. Cheering on the sideline.'” Smart said. “Then he goes in and plays well. I just wish we could get to the point where we could play him a little more because he’s getting better. He does good things and he doesn’t just have to run the ball. Those situations today dictated that and he did a great job doing it.”
True freshmen travel roster note for this week: The Bulldogs brought 16 freshmen from their 24-man signing class to Jacksonville. Matthew Downing, a preferred walk-on QB, also dressed out, and that made it a total of 17 true freshmen on the bus. Owen Condon did not make the trip. That was the only change from the 70-man SEC travel roster for the Florida game.
The math beyond that: That previous item meant that 24 percent of the travel roster for the Kentucky game was made up by guys were still playing high school football a year ago.
PICTURE THIS, PART I
The “OL is really young” moment for the week: CBS color man Rick Neuheisel noted on the broadcast that the Bulldogs were running behind their veterans of the left side of the line. At the time, those left tackle and left guard spots were being manned by a true sophomore (Andrew Thomas) and a redshirt sophomore (Solomon Kindley), respectively.
That said, we did notice that a lot of those big “chunk” gains from sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift came while searching for yards on play calls to the right side of the front.
- Senior OLs who played against Kentucky: 1) Kendall Baker; 2) Lamont Gailliard
- Juniors: None
- Sophomores: 3) Solomon Kindley (redshirt); 4) Justin Shaffer; 5) Andrew Thomas
- Redshirt freshman: 6) Isaiah Wilson
- Freshmen: 8) Trey Hill 9) Cade Mays 10) Jamaree Salyer
Freshmen Bulldog Tweet of the game: Tindall’s effort here, which was mentioned earlier, certainly qualifies.
— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) November 3, 2018
How many freshmen played against Kentucky (true or redshirt): 14 or 15* (see below)
Who started (all freshmen): P Jake Camarda; DT Jordan Davis; CB Tyson Campbell; OG/OT Cade Mays; OT Isaiah Wilson
The 12 true freshmen who played against Kentucky: Camarda + Campbell + Davis + Mays and :
- OLB Adam Anderson
- RB James Cook
- OLB Brenton Cox
- QB Justin Fields
- OL Trey Hill
- DB Otis Reese
- OG Jamaree Salyer
- ILB Channing Tindall
Which redshirt freshmen Bulldogs played against Kentucky:
- OLB Robert Beal, Jr.
- DB Latavious Brini (Not positive here. Was listed on the final participation report but not the UGA travel roster prior to the game.)
- OT Isaiah Wilson (starter)
Position breakdown for the true freshmen who saw action against Kentucky (with the Florida number in parentheses):
- DB: 2 (1)
- ILB: 1 (2)
- OLB: 2 (2)
- OL: 3 (3)
- DL: 1 (1)
- P: 1 (1)
- QB: 1 (0)
- RB: 1 (1)
- TE: 0 (0)
- WR: 0 (0)
PICTURE THIS, PART II
What should the 2019 recruiting class address based on what we see each week: These answers have been apparent for a few weeks, but these are the high priorities for the next class based on what we have seen on the field in 2018.
- ILB: The Bulldogs desperately need stronger and more athletic play from this position. (This class has a pair of impressive 4-star commits at this time.)
- Defensive backs: The Bulldogs brought two young freshmen DBs to Jacksonville beyond Campbell and Otis Reese saw early action. There was some pregame social media buzz he might earn his first career start this week. Senior Deandre Baker is the team’s top player and he exhausts his eligibility this year. (The Bulldogs do have a solid pledge from the nation’s No. 3 safety prospect in Under Armour All-American Lewis Cine. The Bulldogs need more size and speed at the cornerback spot. Especially in nickel and dime packages.)
- Defensive tackle: Freshman DT Jordan Davis started his second straight game. (UGA has a 5-star and a pair of 3-stars committed at this time. Another DL will likely slide over to DT as he matures)
- Offensive line: Baker was once again a key injury stopgap at Kentucky. He filled in for Andrew Thomas at left tackle against Florida but subbed in for Mays at right guard this week. It was his second straight week of extended playing time of the season after starting 14 games at left guard in 2017. (UGA currently has two 4-star commits at OT and an eye on a third for Sam Pittman’s room in the 2019 class. The Bulldogs are also in the race for 5-star center Clay Webb. Webb hopes to be a guard early on in college.)
- Quarterback: Justin Fields, a true freshman QB everyone knows about, returned to the field against Kentucky. He moved the chains on two big runs in the contest. (A 4-star prospect is committed, but another one makes a lot of sense for scholarship depth.)
The Justin Fields stat line: He had six carries for 26 yards. It looked for a nanosecond that he was about to attempt his first pass on the road in the SEC, but he quickly brought the ball down to escape pressure. It was his third-highest single-game rushing total of the year.
Fields first entered the game when: It came on the fourth UGA series of the game in the second quarter. He tucked the ball on a 2nd-and-4 carry from the UGA carry and found six yards. He stayed in the game for the next snap and lost a yard on that play.
Here’s a look at the times when Fields has entered games this year:
- Austin Peay: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- South Carolina: The 10th UGA series during the fourth quarter of the game.
- Middle Tennessee: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Missouri: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Tennessee: The third UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Vanderbilt: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- LSU: The fifth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Florida: Did not play.
- Kentucky: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
Best game as a Bulldog: Trey Hill deserves the nod here for reasons noted earlier in this blog. He came into the game after starter Lamont Gaillard, one of the team’s true indispensable players, limped off the field in the first quarter. That took place after Georgia’s first offensive series.
True freshmen to play in every game
Simply put, they have seen time in every game. There are a few of these guys who largely get those snaps on special teams.
- OLB Adam Anderson
- P Jake Camarda (9 starts)
- CB Tyson Campbell (9 starts)
- RB James Cook
- OLB Brenton Cox
- OL Trey Hill
- OL Cade Mays (6 starts)
- ILB Channing Tindall
- ILB Quay Walker
True freshmen players who did not play this week: WR Tommy Bush; OT Owen Condon; OL Warren Ericson; TE Luke Ford; TE John FitzPatrick; WR Kearis Jackson; OLB Azeez Ojulari; DB Chris Smith; ILB Quay Walker; RB Zamir White (out for the season); DB Divaad Wilson (likely out for at least 3-4 more weeks.)
Participation for the 2018 freshmen signees
This is worth watching in terms of the new redshirt rules.
- OLB Adam Anderson: 9 games
- WR Tommy Bush: 1 game
- P Jake Camarda: 9 games
- CB Tyson Campbell: 9 games
- OT Owen Condon: 1 game
- RB James Cook: 9 games
- OLB Brenton Cox: 9 games
- DT Jordan Davis: 7 games
- OL Warren Ericson: 1 game
- QB Justin Fields: 8 games
- TE John FitzPatrick: 2 games
- TE Luke Ford: 7 games
- OL Trey Hill: 9 games
- WR Kearis Jackson: 4 games
- OL Cade Mays: 9 games
- OLB Azeez Ojulari: 1 game
- DB Otis Reese: 6 games
- OL Jamaree Salyer: 8 games
- DB Chris Smith: 3 games
- ILB Channing Tindall: 9 games
- ILB Quay Walker: 8 games
- RB Zamir White: 0 games (Redshirt-Summer ACL injury)
- DB Divaad Wilson: 0 games (Spring ACL injury
2017 signees who did not show on the game participation report: R-Fr. DB Tray Bishop; Senior Ahkil Crumpton; Sophomore DB Deangelo Gibbs; Redshirt junior OT D’Marcus Hayes; ILB Jaden Hunter; OL Netori Johnson; WR Matt Landers; Sophomore CB Ameer Speed and R-Fr. CB Eric Stokes.