DawgNation will offer this report after every game which focuses on the freshmen who played, what they did and which ones might lose one of those newfangled (four games or less) redshirts. Check out the Georgia football edition after stepping away from Rocky Top with a song and a 29-point win.
The rhetoric all week was about checkerboards, road game attendance and letting that junior gunslinger loose on Rocky Top. When it was over, the Bulldogs had a crooner under center and a 29-point SEC East win.
How did the freshmen do? The Knoxville chapter of the 2019 season left this author convinced that a freshman in class standing (but definitely not in word or deed) is clearly one of the most vital players to the program.
That’s redshirt freshman Azeez Ojulari. We’ll get to chronicling another one of his Vibranium outings a bit deeper in this space. For now, let’s discuss how all the freshmen fared just off the SunSphere’s shadow.
Georgia played 63 players on Saturday night. They sent 60 out on the field for the previous game against Notre Dame.
- 15 of the 63 Bulldogs who played were freshmen (redshirt or true freshmen)
- Georgia did start a redshirt freshman in Ojulari at OLB.
- The Bulldogs did start a 2019 signee in graduate transfer Lawrence Cager for the second straight game. DJ Daniel, another junior college signee from the 2019 class, also started his second straight game at UGA.
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 and 13 out of 60 against that strong Notre Dame team.
Who played against Notre Dame (by classes):
- Freshmen: 9
- Redshirt freshmen: 6
- Touchdowns by true or redshirt freshmen: 1 (George Pickens)
- True or redshirt freshmen among the leading tacklers: 1 (Ojulari)
Tennessee game freshman focus
Georgia played 15 redshirt or true freshmen against the Irish. The big picture tallies up to 24 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday. That equates to:
- 0 of 2 QBs (1 QB played against Notre Dame)
- 2 of 6 RBs (4 RBs played against Notre Dame)
- 3 of 7 WRs (7 WRs played against Notre Dame)
- 0 of 7 OLs (8 OLs played against Notre Dame)
- 1 of 3 TEs (3 TEs played against Notre Dame)
- 1 of 9 DLs (9 DLs played against Notre Dame)
- 2 of 7 ILBs (7 ILBs played against Notre Dame)
- 2 of 6 OLBs (5 OLBs played against Notre Dame)
- 3 of 12 DBs (9 DBs played against Notre Dame)
- 0 of 1 PKs (No change versus Notre Dame)
- 0 of 1 Ps (No change versus Notre Dame)
- 2 of 1 LSs (2 LSs played against Notre Dame)
An interesting finding from that study so far this year: Georgia basically plays the same group of DLs, ILBs and OLBs regardless of the quality 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 (5 games)
- Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson (1 game)
Who started against UT (all freshmen): Ojulari
How many different Bulldogs have played in 2019: 95
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: 8
- Redshirt juniors: 5
- Juniors: 15
- Redshirt sophomores: 14
- Sophomores: 12
- Redshirt freshmen: 11
- Freshmen: 22
- Interesting that: Georgia has seen seven of its true freshmen play in every game this year. That’s out of the 22 Bulldogs who have played so far in 2019. (Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean, Trezmen Marshall, George Pickens, Nolan Smith, Tyrique Stevenson and Travon Walker.)
THE BIG PICTURE, PART I
(Redshirt) Freshman Game Ball (2nd time this year)
OLB Azeez Ojulari (Marietta High, Marietta, Ga.)
Ojulari now earns this weekly “Freshmen Report” honor for the second time this season. His first “FR” game ball came against Vanderbilt in the season opener.
- The Azeez Ojulari stat line: 3 total tackles (2 solo), 2 sacks for 12 yards in losses
- What Kirby Smart said about him: “Azeez is a great leader on our team. He was a captain for this game and to do that as a sophomore or I guess as a redshirt freshman whatever he is, is pretty special. He leads at practice. He plays the right way. He’s everything you want in a student-athlete and its a credit to his family. They’ve done a great job with him.”
- What Ojulari told DawgNation about being the first freshman captain of the Smart era: “I didn’t know that at all. It is just a blessing. It is a true honor. [I’ll] just continue to work and get better every week and just take advantage of the opportunity and just make the best of it and just know it as a blessing.”
- Richard LeCounte III on what’s unique Ojulari: “The way he moves and moves around you have just got to be around him to see how he is. He’s not a real outspoken guy. He comes in and he’ll work hard too just just how most everybody in this room is. He comes in there and doesn’t say much but he leads with his actions. That’s something you will thrive on and gain on.”
- Final 247Sports Composite recruiting rankings: Nation’s No.10 weak-side DE/No. 144 overall prospect/Ojulari was the 15th highest-rated recruit in Georgia’s 2018 class.
- Former All-American: Yes (Ojulari was a 2018 U.S. Army All-American)
There are four noteworthy elements to point out here from Ojulari’s outing against the Vols.:
- Prior to kickoff, he became the first freshman Bulldog, redshirt or otherwise, to serve as a captain for a Kirby Smart team
- Ojulari’s two sacks against UT were a career-high and a season-high for UGA so far in 2019
- Those two sacks were the most by a Bulldog in a single game since D’Andre Walker had two sacks at Missouri on Sept. 22, 2018.
- His game marked only the fourth time that a Bulldog defender notched at least two sacks in a game for Smart. Lorenzo Carter had two sacks against Vanderbilt in 2016. Trenton Thompson had three sacks against TCU in the 2016 Liberty Bowl. Carter had another 2-sack game against Samford in 2017 and Walker tallied his two sacks against Mizzou in 2018.
DawgNation should be thankful he chose Georgia just prior to his senior season on August 17, 2017. Check out his DawgNation.com commitment day story from that date.
He was rated as the nation’s No. 3 DE at the time, but then saw a season-ending knee injury cut short his senior year.
Notable time for other freshmen against the Vols.
- Freshman WR George Pickens: Caught a 7-yard touchdown from Jake Fromm with nine seconds left to play in the third quarter. That gave the Bulldogs a much cozier 26-14 edge in the game.
- Redshirt freshman RB Zamir White: White responded well from not playing in the previous game with Notre Dame to churn out 57 yards on his seven carries against the Vols. He had a long run of 17 yards in the game and saw action in the first quarter and also on the punt return team.
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: 5 (George Pickens is now tied with graduate transfer Lawrence Cager)
- 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
FRESHMAN MOMENT OF THE UT GAME: There was one play in which freshman DT Travon Walker was working inside after the injury to Jordan Davis. He came all the way around the right edge off a stunt and almost took down the QB. He just missed and Ojulari came crashing in and tallied that one.
It offered up an impressive glimpse of the future of the pass rush at UGA.
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): The opinion here is that Ojulari is both playing and leading like one of the top 5 players on the team. The former Marietta High star is one of two redshirt or true freshman Bulldogs to start a game this season, but he continues to keep getting better.
- No. 2: WR George Pickens (former 5-star recruit): Pickens is now tied for second on the team in catches (12) and TD receptions (2) in 2019. His 185 yards receiving so far is also No. 2 for the Bulldogs this fall.
- No. 3: WR Dominick Blaylock (former 4-star recruit): Blaylock didn’t record a catch against the Vols but he is still the third-leading receiver (179 yards) on the team. He got a lot of important reps against UT and also served as the primary punt return in the game.
- No. 4: RB Zamir White (former 5-star recruit): He was on the punt team against the Vols and Kirby Smart noted on Monday he’s continuing to progress as a pass protector. White has 26 carries for 198 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and that ranks him third on the team. He also ranks third with his two rushing touchdowns and is averaging 49.5 rushing yards per game as a Bulldog. He stands out for how quickly he hits the hole. The 220-pounder has only lost one yard on his carries this year.
- No. 5: OLB Nolan Smith (former 5-star recruit): Smith continues to get key on third downs 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. He genuinely revels in seeing his teammates succeed.
- No. 6: DT Travon Walker (former 5-star recruit): Walker rounds out this list of former All-Americans this week. He’s been a first-teamer on kickoff coverage since the opener and he now appears to be a first-team contributor on the defensive line in third-and-long and dime situations. He didn’t record a tackle against the Vols but was able to pressure the passer.
OTHERS TO MAKE THE HEAT CHECK THIS FALL: Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson.
FRESHMEN REPORT: SOCIAL MEDIA
There were a few strong offerings this week.
Azeez “The Disease” Ojulari with the sack pic.twitter.com/mA1e4tO4aq
— Jake Reuse (@ReuseRecruiting) October 6, 2019
George Pickens @geo_Thagoat!!!!!!!!!
— HRKK (Hiro Katsuki) (@KatsukiFB) October 6, 2019
— Nathan Moore (@nm_51_) October 6, 2019
— HRKK (Hiro Katsuki) (@KatsukiFB) October 6, 2019
I'll be finishing up a film study article on a Devy name to know moving forward: George Pickens, the true freshman WR for Georgia who is drawing early comparisons to A.J. Green. This was his latest flash last night against Tennessee. @DynastyPrice @RayGQue pic.twitter.com/uaUaQe63s8
— Dynasty Tools (@DynastyTools) October 6, 2019
TRUE FRESHMAN S Lewis Cine @LewisCine with the great pressure!!!
— HRKK (Hiro Katsuki) (@KatsukiFB) October 6, 2019
— HRKK (HiRo KatsuKi) (@KatsukiFB) October 6, 2019
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
- DT Travon Walker
- Redshirt DB Divaad Wilson
Participation for 2019 signees
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: 4 games
- WR Lawrence Cager (grad transfer senior): 5 games
- S Lewis Cine: 5 games
- CB D.J. Daniel (junior college transfer): 4 games
- ILB Rian Davis: 0 games
- ILB Nakobe Dean: 5 games
- TE Ryland Goede: 2 games
- OLB Jermaine Johnson (junior college transfer): 5 games
- DL Zion Logue: 2 games
- ILB Trezmen Marshall: 5 games (special teams)
- QB D’Wan Mathis: 0 games
- OL Warren McClendon: 2 games
- RB Kenny McIntosh: 3 games
- DL Tymon Mitchell: 2 games
- DL Bill Norton: 2 games
- WR George Pickens: 5 games
- TE Brett Seither: 2 games
- OLB Nolan Smith: 5 games
- CB Tyrique Stevenson: 5 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): 5 games
True freshmen signees who did not play this week: ILB Rian Davis, 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.
Interesting travel roster note of the week: Georgia has gone on the road in the SEC for two road games. True freshman OT Xavier Truss has made the travel roster for both of those games, but he did not play. That’s a positive sign for the No. 1 player from Rhode Island in the 2019 class.
More travel roster to keep in mind: Preferred walk-on QB Nathan Priestley again traveled with the Bulldogs as the No. 3 QB behind Jake Fromm and Stetson Bennett IV.
The 2019 Freshman Reports on DawgNation
- The “FR” from the biggest win of the year so far: Georgia 23, Notre Dame 17
- Freshmen Report: Georgia 55, Arkansas State 0
- Freshmen Report: Georgia 63, Murray State 17
- Freshmen Report: Georgia 30, Vanderbilt 6