Georgia football freshmen report: South Carolina 20, UGA 17

Nolan Smith-Tyrique Stevenson-Georgia football-UGA football
Georgia lost to South Carolina on Saturday, but still had several impressive performances from the freshmen members of the program.

Georgia fell. South Carolina capitalized on a +4 turnover ratio at Sanford Stadium to topple the nation’s No. 3 team. That doesn’t keep the DawgNation “Freshmen Report” from its appointed rounds.

The Bulldogs played 62 players on Saturday. They sent 63 out on the field in the previous game against Tennessee.

  • 15 of the 62 Bulldogs who played were freshmen (redshirt or true freshmen)
  • Georgia did start a redshirt freshman in Azeez Ojulari at OLB.
  • The Bulldogs did start a 2019 signee in graduate transfer Lawrence Cager for the third straight game. DJ Daniel, another junior college signee in the 2019 class, started his third straight game at UGA.
  • True freshman ILB Rian Davis was listed on the participation report for the first time all season
  • South Carolina saw just 52 of its players see action in that game on Saturday.

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, 30 of 86 log reps versus Arkansas State, 13 out of 60 against Notre Dame and 15 out of the 63 players who faced Tennessee.

Who played against South Carolina (classes):

  • Freshmen: 9
  • Redshirt freshmen: 6
  • Touchdowns by true or redshirt freshmen: 0
  • True or redshirt freshmen among the leading tacklers: 1 (Ojulari (tied for fourth with six)
George Pickens led Georgia in receiving on Saturday against South Carolina. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

South Carolina game freshman focus

Georgia played 15 redshirt or true freshmen against the Gamecocks. The big picture tallies up to 24 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday. That equates to:

  • 0 of 1 QBs (2 QBs played against Tennessee)
  • 2 of 5 RBs (6 RBs played against Tennessee)
  • 3 of 7 WRs  (7 WRs played against Tennessee)
  • 0 of 8 OLs (7 OLs played against Tennessee)
  • 1 of 3 TEs (3 TEs played against Tennessee)
  • 1 of 9 DLs (9 DLs played against Tennessee)
  • 2 of 8 ILBs (7 ILBs played against Tennessee)
  • 2 of 5 OLBs (6 OLBs played against Tennessee)
  • 3 of 12 DBs (12 DBs played against Tennessee
  • 0 of 1 PKs (No change versus Tennessee)
  • 0 of 1 Ps (No change versus Tennessee)
  • 2 of 2 LSs (2 LSs played against Tennessee)

What that study has shown far this year: Georgia plays the same group of DLs, ILBs and OLBs regardless of the quality of the opponent. Davis seeing time on Saturday was the lone variant.

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 (6 games)
  • Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson (1 game)

Who started against South Carolina (all freshmen): Ojulari

How many different Bulldogs have played in 2019: 96

How many of those have been freshmen or redshirt freshmen: 34 (35 percent of all participation)

Nolan Smith played a strong overall game on Saturday against South Carolina. He is already one of the most disciplined and talented players on the Georgia defense. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Overall participation in 2019

  • Redshirt or grad transfer seniors: 9
  • Seniors: 8
  • Redshirt juniors: 5
  • Juniors: 15
  • Redshirt sophomores: 14
  • Sophomores: 12
  • Redshirt freshmen: 11
  • Freshmen: 23
  • Of note: Georgia has seen six of its true freshmen play in every game this year. That’s out of the 23 freshmen who have played so far in 2019. (Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean, Trezmen Marshall, George Pickens, Nolan Smith and Tyrique Stevenson.)

THE BIG PICTURE, PART I

Freshman Game Ball 

George Pickens was the most effective freshman on the Georgia offense against South Carolina. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

WR George Pickens (Hoover High, Hoover, Ala.)

Pickens earns this weekly “Freshmen Report” honor for the first time this season.

  • The George Pickens stat line: 7 receptions, 98 yards, 14.0 yards per reception
  • The biggest play he made was: The freshman brought down a 33-yard gain down to the South Carolina 44 on the first play of Georgia’s last drive of the third quarter. That promising drive was the one halted by a bobbled center snap between Trey Hill and Jake Fromm. 
  • Final 247Sports Composite recruiting rankings: Nation’s No. 4 WR/No. 24 overall prospect/Pickens was the fourth highest-rated recruit in Georgia’s 2019 class.
  • Former All-American: Yes (2019 Under Armour All-American)

There are a couple of elements to point out here from the day Pickens had against South Carolina:

  • His seven catches were a career-high
  • Pickens is now tied for the team lead in receptions with Lawrence Cager
  • He is also now the team leader in receiving yards with 283.

Why did he choose Georgia? He said on the day he flipped from Auburn that it had something to do with Georgia’s winning tradition compared to other finalists like Auburn and Tennessee. 

Notable time for other freshmen against Carolina

  • Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari: Ojulari had six tackles against the Gamecocks and remains one of the best all-around players on the Georgia defense.
  • Freshman OLB Nolan Smith: Smith had another strong all-around game with his two tackles. He also displayed strong awareness of his role out on the field and the discipline to maintain his assignments in each defensive play call. He continued to flash his impressive pass rush ability on several occasions.
  • Freshman WR Dominick Blaylock: He had two catches for 27 yards, including a 16-yard catch late in the game. The Bulldogs need to up his work rate more as he still leads the team in yards per reception (18.7) in 2019.
  • Freshman ILB Nakobe Dean: Dean had just one tackle, but continues to show he is worthy of the time he gets when he is in there. He is constantly diagnosing the read of each offensive play. He even flew into the pocket to pressure the South Carolina QB on at least one occasion.

FRESHMEN SUPERLATIVES FOR 2019

There are a number of categories in which a redshirt or a true freshmen Bulldog is already leading the team in 2019.

  • Receptions in a game: 7 (George Pickens)
  • Receiving yards in a game: 112 (Blaylock)
  • Longest catch: 60 (Blaylock)
  • Longest TD catch: 60 (Blaylock)
  • Longest run: 62 (Kenny McIntosh)
  • Longest TD run: 62 (McIntosh)
  • Sacks (game): 2.0 (Ojulari
  • Sacks (season): 3.5 (Ojulari)
  • Tackles for a loss (game): 2 (Ojulari)
  • Interceptions (game): 1 (Lewis Cine and Divaad Wilson, tied for season-high)
  • Interceptions (season): 1 (Cine and Wilson, tied for first)

THE BIG PICTURE, PART II

HOT BOARD: Game-by-game freshman heat check

 

Let’s continue the blog with an assessment of the five most valuable freshmen and redshirt freshmen to the team for the 2019 season. This feature is a nod to the top freshmen (redshirt or true) who have impacted the overall balance of the season the most up to this point.

  • No. 1: OLB Azeez Ojulari (Redshirt freshman and a former 4-star recruit): Ojulari continues to perform admirably along his redshirt freshman season.
  • No. 2: WR George Pickens  (former 5-star recruit): Pickens earned the “Freshmen Report” game ball after his performance on Saturday.
  • No. 3: RB Zamir White (former 5-star recruit): White was Georgia’s second-leading rusher against the Gamecocks with his 12 carries for 44 yards. Senior RB Brian Herrien was unable to go against USC and that saw White pick up a season-high 12 carries. He now has 38 carries for 242 yards (6.4 yards per attempt) and that ranks third on the team. He also ranks third with his two rushing touchdowns and is averaging 48.4 rushing yards per game.
  • No. 4: OLB Nolan Smith (former 5-star recruit): Smith continues to take the field on third down in the “Nickel” and “Dime” packages for the Bulldogs. His combination of power and speed rushes make him an all-around pass rusher. Smith also plays with relentless energy. He’s also clearly one of the most enthusiastic Bulldogs on the field. Smith made two plays against South Carolina QB Dakereon Joyner on Saturday that could be classified as eye-opening.
  • No. 5: WR Dominick Blaylock (former 4-star recruit): Blaylock had two catches for 27 yards against South Carolina. He also served as the primary punt returner in the game.
  • No. 6: DT Travon Walker (former 5-star recruit): Walker did not play on Saturday due. His left arm and wrist were stabilized in a sling on the sidelines on Saturday. His return is unknown.

OTHERS TO MAKE THE HEAT CHECK THIS FALL: Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson.

FRESHMEN TO PLAY IN EVERY GAME

The following true or redshirt freshmen Bulldogs have played in every game so far this season:

  • S Lewis Cine
  • ILB Nakobe Dean
  • Redshirt TE John FitzPatrick
  • ILB Trezmen Marshall
  • Redshirt OLB Azeez Ojulari
  • WR George Pickens
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson
  • OLB Nolan Smith
  • Redshirt walk-on LS Payne Walker
  • Redshirt DB Divaad Wilson

Participation for 2019 signees 

A number of the 2019 signees have seen heavy action so far this year, including a pair of former 5-stars in OLB Nolan Smith and CB Tyrique Stevenson. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The Bulldogs who have seen action so far in 2019 is worth watching in terms of the new redshirt rules.

  • QB Stetson Bennett IV (redshirt sophomore): 3 games
  • WR Dominick Blaylock: 5 games
  • WR Lawrence Cager (grad transfer senior): 6 games
  • S Lewis Cine: 6 games
  • CB D.J. Daniel (junior college transfer): 5 games
  • ILB Rian Davis: 1 game
  • ILB Nakobe Dean: 6 games
  • TE Ryland Goede: 2 games
  • OLB Jermaine Johnson (junior college transfer): 6 games
  • DL Zion Logue: 2 games
  • ILB Trezmen Marshall: 6 games (special teams)
  • QB D’Wan Mathis: 0 games
  • OL Warren McClendon: 2 games
  • RB Kenny McIntosh: 4 games
  • DL Tymon Mitchell: 2 games
  • DL Bill Norton: 2 games
  • WR George Pickens: 6 games
  • TE Brett Seither: 2 games
  • OLB Nolan Smith: 6 games
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson: 6 games
  • WR Makiya Tongue: 2 games
  • OL Xavier Truss: 2 games
  • DT Travon Walker: 5 games
  • DL Tramel Walthour: 0 games
  • OL Clay Webb: 1 game
  • TE Eli Wolf (grad transfer senior): 6 games

True freshmen signees who did not play this week: TE Ryland Goede, QB D’Wan Mathis, OL Warren McClendon, DL Zion Logue, DL Bill Norton, TE Brett Seither, WR Makiya Tongue, OT Xavier Truss, and OL Clay Webb.

The 2019 Freshman Reports on DawgNation

 

Next3 Georgia football takeaways: Players, not plays, key to success
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