The freshmen report files a little later this week. This space will not chronicle excuses as to why.
It won’t be because keeping up with a busy recruiting weekend is taxing. Or because its author is taking an “off” week on the schedule just as the Bulldogs do.
The reality here is that this top 10 matchup with a stout opponent said something about the team, its freshmen and the quality of the opponent.
The Bulldogs didn’t go heavy on the young pups on Saturday.
While the Bulldogs have an enviable stable of freshmen players this was the first time all season in which the redshirts and first-year guys did not make a sizable impact.
Why? Well, this is Georgia. The nation’s No. 3 team now has at least two waves of highly-regarded classes ahead of those 2019 signees in Athens.
Notre Dame is also a formidable opponent. The 2019 version of the Irish will wake up some more echoes this fall under Brian Kelley. This group was so stout that the Sanford Stadium crowd gave them a classy standing ovation at the end of the 23-17 result.
Georgia played 60 players on Saturday night. They sent 86 out on the field for the previous game against Arkansas State.
This freshman report feels more worthy of a hybrid “2019 signee report” after the Irish win. That’s because at least one 2019 signee (junior college cornerback D.J. Daniel) loomed very large in the win after getting thrust into increased service after Eric Stokes suffered an early injury.
What did the freshmen movement look like against Notre Dame? Let’s start fast with a brisk pace around a few key weekly numbers:
- 13 of the 60 Bulldogs who played were freshmen (redshirt or true freshmen)
- Georgia did start two redshirt freshmen players in OLB Azeez Ojulari and STAR Divaad Wilson.
- The Bulldogs did start a 2019 signee in graduate transfer Lawrence Cager for the second straight game.
Want a clear takeaway from the freshman who played earlier this year? The Bulldogs saw 13 of 61 play against Vanderbilt, 29 of 86 see time against Murray State and 30 of 86 log reps versus Arkansas State.
Travon Walker did make sure he saw eye to eye with a few members of the Notre Dame kickoff return team. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Who played against Notre Dame (by classes):
- Freshmen: 9
- Redshirt freshmen: 4
- Touchdowns by true or redshirt freshmen: 0
- True or redshirt freshmen among the leading tacklers: Divaad Wilson (3) was it a two-way tie for the sixth-highest tackle total on the team.
Notre Dame game freshman focus
Georgia played 13 redshirt or true freshmen against the Irish. That’s 13 out of the 60 total Bulldogs who saw the field. As a means of comparison, Notre Dame played 54 players against UGA. There were also 13 true or redshirt freshmen among that lot.
The big picture tallies up to 22 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday. That equates to:
- 0 of 1 QBs (3 QBs played last week)
- 0 of 4 RBs (8 RBs played last week)
- 2 of 7 WRs (9 WRs played last week)
- 0 of 8 OLs (13 OLs played last week)
- 1 of 3 TEs (8 TEs played last week)
- 2 of 9 DLs (11 DLs played last week)
- 2 of 7 ILBs (7 ILBs played last week)
- 2 of 5 OLBs (6 OLBs played last week)
- 3 of 9 DBs (12 DBs played last week)
- 0 of 1 PKs (2 Ks played last week)
- 0 of 1 Ps (No change)
- 1 of 2 LSs (No change)
An interesting finding from that study: Georgia basically plays the same group of DLs, ILBs and OLBs regardless of the difficulty of the opponent.
FRESHMEN BULLDOGS IN 2019
What’s more important? Snaps or starts? Both are important, but there is a reason why certain players start the game and stay on the field for the biggest plays. That’s because the coaches trust them to play winning football by what they have seen on the practice field.
There are common instances where the scheme fit based on each opponent allows for a different starting rotation as well.
Here is the weekly list of the true freshmen and redshirt freshmen that have started games in 2019.
- Redshirt freshman TE John FitzPatrick (1 game)
- Redshirt freshman WR Kearis Jackson (1 game)
- Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari (4 games)
- Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson (1 game)
Who started against Notre Dame (all freshmen): Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari and redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson
How many different Bulldogs have played in 2019: 94
How many of those have been freshmen or redshirt freshmen: 33 (35 percent of all participation)
Overall participation in 2019
- Redshirt or grad transfer seniors: 9
- Seniors: 7
- Redshirt juniors: 5
- Juniors: 15
- Redshirt sophomores: 13
- Sophomores: 11
- Redshirt freshmen: 12
- Freshmen: 21
THE BIG PICTURE, PART I
(Redshirt) Freshman Game Ball
Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson is one of the fun-loving, vibrant and happy players on the team. It seems like he is always dancing and a buzz of constant energy on the team. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
DB Divaad Wilson (Northwestern High, Miami, Fla.)
Wilson had his first breakout game for the Bulldogs. It built on the promise he showed against Texas in the Sugar Bowl at the close of the 2018 season. He was in line for a lot of playing time coming out of spring practice, but a knee injury limited him for the balance of his true freshman season.
Wilson kept rehabbing and working. He waited for his time. The injury to Tyson Campbell allowed him to earn the first start of his Georgia career and he made the most of it.
He made his UGA debut against Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Wilson came up with four stops in the game, including one TFL and also a pass breakup. He first dressed for Georgia last fall for the Auburn game.
Check out a glimpse of his inspiring personal story. His grandfather meant the world and them some to him.