Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Georgia's ability to make clutch plays — such as Isaiah McKenzie's game-winning TD catch against Missouri — is one of a handful of positives for the Bulldogs this season.

Good Day, UGA: The look on the bright side edition

Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday morning. Today, in the wake of this weekend’s misery, we try to find to find some positives from this season to dwell on.

Accentuate the positive

Over at DawgSports, MaconDawg took a break from all the negativity surrounding the Vanderbilt loss and tried to focus on some of the positives from the 2016 season. Those positives include the play of Jacob Eason, the emergence of Isaiah McKenzie and the young talent on the defensive line, among others.

I could use a dose of positivity myself, so I did some thinking and came up with a few positives of my own:

Defensive youth — Building on what MaconDawg wrote about the line, there’s reason for optimism across the entire defense. The only defensive starter the Dawgs lose this offseason is nickel Maurice Smith (see below). Sixteen of the 27 players listed on Georgia’s defensive depth chart are freshmen or sophomores; six are listed as starters. Roquan Smith, Natrez Patrick, Julian Rochester and Trenton Thompson — to name a few — have an opportunity to become really good players in this system. Those guys are getting tons of experience in Smart’s defense, and the growing pains now should pay big dividends in the future.

Rodrigo Blankenship — We’ve got the coolest kicker in the entire country. Just look at his rec specs. Those things are fly as hell.

Rodrigo Blakenship kicked three field goals for the Bulldogs, one of few bright spots on a very dark day. Brant Sanderlin/AJC
Rodrigo Blankenship made 3 field goals in a 17-16 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

I’m gonna say Rodrigo is the best kicker in the nation, and there are no stats or facts that will convince me otherwise. COME AT ME, COLLEGE FOOTBALL.

Maurice Smith — The grad transfer from Alabama had an effect on the secondary from his first day. He knew Smart’s system and didn’t have any problems adjusting to his new surroundings. And on the field, he just looks smoother and more in control than any other UGA defensive back. He’s the kind of player you expect Smart and this defense to produce once they get their footing. If Georgia can get a few more Maurice Smith-types strewn around the field, it’ll make for one hell of a defense. It’s a shame Smith will only get one season in the red and black.

Clutch moments — It’s hard to remember this with that horrible fourth-and-1 call so fresh in the mind, but Georgia has had a few clutch moments this season; the kind of moments that make your stop before nearly exploding with excitement. And we had one of those in Smart’s first game in charge, when Nick Chubb dashed 55 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the win over UNC. Since then, two more come to mind. There is, of course, Eason’s 20-yard TD strike to McKenzie on fourth down to beat Missouri, as well as the would-be game-winning bomb from Eason to Riley Ridley against Tennessee.

It seems like Georgia had a dearth of those clutch moments in Mark Richt’s last few years, which is probably one reason fans soured on him. But Kirby’s team has already proven capable of coming up with big plays in big moments, even if the Bulldogs haven’t done it every time it was needed. It gives me hope that he’s instilling a winning mentality where players expect to go out when the game is on the line and finish the drill.

And, purely as a fan, it’s damn fun to watch when those moments happen.

Now for the dreaded bye week

It’s gonna be a long two weeks, folks.


Bowl projections

Here’s where various outlets have Georgia going bowling:

Outlet Bowl Opponent
ESPN (Schlabach) Music City Iowa
ESPN (McMurphy) Liberty TCU
CBS Sports Outback Nebraska
SB Nation Liberty Oklahoma State
Campus Insiders Music City Penn State

Former Bulldog moving up

Ole Miss has struggled at linebacker this year and that provided a big opportunity for former Bulldog linebacker and current Rebels graduate assistant Christian Robinson. From The Clarion-Ledger:

Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack had been primarily working with the linebacker, but Rebels coach Hugh Freeze announced defensive graduate assistant Christian Robinson will take responsibility for middle linebackers now.

“Christian Robinson is going to take the mike linebackers this week and coach them from this point forward,” Freeze said. “Dave will handle the stingers (outside linebackers) to try to get more attention to them in practice.”

Good dog

Today’s good dog belongs to a Gamecock. Check out South Carolina defensive lineman Dante Sawyer’s dog Rex, a.k.a. Mr. Steal Yo Girl.

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