ATHENS — Check here for regular updates, notes and observations as No. 7 Georgia prepares for its home season finale, against visiting Kentucky here at Sanford Stadium.
Emmitt in the house
NFL legend Emmitt Smith – not sure where he went to school – is here today, escorting his son E.J., who is a 2020 prospect.
Smith went to Florida, obviously, where he rushed for 3,928 yards during his three-year career. Nick Chubb passed him on the SEC career rushing list a few games ago.
Inside linebacker notes
Senior Reggie Carter looks to be getting the most first-team work at inside linebacker, but Natrez Patrick is rotating in too. It appears the two will once again be in a time-sharing arrangement beside Roquan Smith, who in case you didn’t notice doesn’t often come off the field.
Carter would be starting his fourth straight game. Patrick returned from his four-game suspension last week but Carter, who played well in his absence, held the first-team spot.
Offensive line update
It looks like Ben Cleveland is working with the first team at right guard. Solomon Kindley appears to be going with the second team.
That would be a mild surprise. If Cleveland was going to enter the lineup the early guess was at left guard. But Kendall Baker remains with the first team.
The Orange Bowl
There are a couple reps from the Orange Bowl here today, and hard to miss with their gaudy orange blazers. They were schmoozing with Kentucky A.D. Mitch Barnhart, though clearly they’re here mostly to see Georgia.
It’s not exactly news that bowl reps would be here – hence I’m doing a note on it, rather than a separate story – and in most cases these bowl reps are just here to schmooze and eat. The press box food today, by the way, is lasagne, with meat or vegetable each an option.
If Georgia makes the playoff, then it’s not going to the Orange Bowl: The Rose and Sugar are the two semifinals this year. But if the Bulldogs miss out then the Orange is a very possible location. The non-playoff top four bowls are Orange, Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A. Since Georgia will have already played in Atlanta – and two straight weeks to finish the season – then Miami makes for a seemingly more sensible location.
Oh, and as for black jerseys …
… It’s officially not happening this season, at least for a home game. Kirby Smart indicated earlier in the week they would be wearing red – in the sense that he was asked and reacted like he’d been asked whether they would wear a G helmet on their helmet too.
And sure enough, the team has come out for warm-ups in red jerseys. Yeah, they could pull a switcheroo before the game, but that doesn’t sound like Smart’s style.
Technically I suppose the team could whip out the black jerseys for next week’s game at Georgia Tech. I don’t know of any approval that is needed by the home team for the visitors to use an alternate jersey. But I get the sense that Smart doesn’t look as deeply into this as others might.
Kentucky is going all-white today, by the way. White jerseys and pants to go with white helmets. Sort of like the football version of Tom Wolfe at a horse race.
A few stat notes:
As we await Georgia hitting the field for warm-ups, a few notes to tide you (or me) over:
- Jake Fromm’s next touchdown pass will be his 17th of the season, surpassing Jacob Eason’s total as a freshman last year. But Fromm has a ways to go to surpass Eason’s passing total: Eason had 2,430 and Fromm has 1,643.
- Nick Chubb, having passed Bo Jackson last week on the SEC career rushing list, is now chasing third place – and second-place closely after that. Chubb has 4,318 rushing yards. Kevin Faulk (LSU from 1995-98) is third with 4,557, and Darren McFadden (Arkansas, 2005-07) is second at 4,590.
- Sony Michel as a chance to move up to fourth on Georgia’s all-time rushing list today: Michel has 3,142 and Garrison Hearst is just ahead of him at 3,232. (Todd Gurley is third at 3,285).
- Chubb also needs 106 yards to reach 1,000 rushing yards, which would be the third time in his career he’s done that. Only Herschel Walker has ever had three 1,000-yard seasons.
- Dominick Sanders needs just one more interception to tie the Georgia career record, jointly held by Jake Scott and Bacarri Rambo. Sanders has 15.
The referee is Hubert Owens, who I believe is now the most tenured SEC official. If he’s not he’s in the top two or three.
The side judge is Chris Conley. No, not that Chris Conley.
The other seniors
This is of course the last game between the hedges for a number of key players: Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Dominick Sanders, Aaron Davis, Isaiah Wynn, Javon Wims, John Atkins … I started typing names and just kept going. That shows how deep and worthy this class has been.
My colleague Chip Towers has a story up on how vital this class has been, especially for those guys who passed on NFL money and came back for this type of season.
But those aren’t the only guys who will be honored pregame, and who could see some playing time.
A total of 31 will be honored, and among them are some pretty interesting stories:
- Brice Ramsey, who famously decided to transfer this spring and then changed his mind. Once considered the heir apparent as Georgia’s starting quarterback – he was essentially recruited to be – he’s never started a game, and is leaving as the No. 3 quarterback. But he’s been a good soldier all along.
- Dyshon Sims has been a leader and versatile offensive linemen despite not ever earning a full-time starting position. (He has started here and there at guard and tackle.)
- Christian Payne is in the long line of walk-ons who flourished at fullback, and continues to do so. The kid is a very, very good blocker and has been employed as the ball-carrier in short-yardage situations.
- Aulden Bynum, a fifth-year senior and another of those rare members of the 2013 signing class to finish his career at UGA, has played tackle and tight end in some formations, switching between jerseys in order to do so.
- Trent Frix is the starting long snapper, continuing a family tradition. Is there another Frix in the pipeline?
- Jeb Blazevich and Reggie Carter started a lot of games early in their career and are still contributing now. They’re kind of quiet but important members of this veteran core.
- David Marvin was brought here to compete for and, many thought, be this team’s kicker this season. He turned down scholarship offers from North Carolina and N.C. State because he thought he had a good enough chance here to either win the place-kicking or kickoff jobs, or both. Instead Rodrigo Blankenship held him off on both and has done well. Marvin might be wondering what might have been.
- Cam Nizialek, like Marvin, came here as a graduate transfer, but without a scholarship, and has ended up winning the punting job. He’s a semifinalist for the Ray Guy award. Pretty good adjustment from the Ivy League, huh?