DawgNation will offer this report after every game which focuses on the freshmen who played, what they did and who might lose one of those newly-reshaped (four games or less) redshirts. Check out this Georgia football edition after the rousing 55-0 win against Arkansas State.
Georgia has signed 12 prospects with a 5-star rating over the last two recruiting cycles.
That’s why the DawgNation freshman report came out after every game last season. The aim was to place a zoom lens on the freshman contributions from the nation’s No. 1 signing class in 2018.
This weekly edition is starting to notice a few changes in the offensive systems established by the first-year coordinator James Coley. Georgia ran the ball at will on Saturday and still threw for more yards than it piled up on the ground.
The program that recruits based on a Pro-Style offensive approach now finds itself starting to produce a final box score report that looks more like that Sunday league than the days of old.
- Georgia total offense vs. Murray State: 269 rushing yards, 292 passing yards
- Georgia total offense vs. Arkansas State: 268 rushing yards, 388 passing yards
The opposition has something to do with that. Sure. But do you want to know how many times in the Kirby Smart era that the Bulldogs have tallied up more than 200 yards on the ground and still had the better day through the air?
That answer? Two. That was one time in 2016 against Kentucky. The other occasion was last fall against Vanderbilt.
How odd is that to even see the Bulldogs pile up more than 150 yards on the ground and still put up more yards through the air? That’s only happened nine times during the 45 games of the Smart era at Georgia. (The Bulldogs are 7-2 in those games with those losses coming against Tennessee in 2016 and Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship Game.)
Why is this in the freshman report? Well, for the second straight week the leading rusher and the top receiver for the game included a redshirt freshman or a true freshman.
It was Zamir White and George Pickens last week. True freshman WR Dominick Blaylock extended the trend on Saturday. For the second straight week, the Bulldogs have shown unique balance with their offensive firepower with major kudos going to a true or redshirt freshman. Or both.
What did the freshmen movement look like at home against Arkansas State? Let’s start fast with a brisk pace around a few key weekly numbers:
- 30 of the 86 Bulldogs who played were freshmen (redshirt or true freshmen)
- Georgia did start a redshirt freshman in OLB Azeez Ojulari
- The Bulldogs did start a 2019 signee in graduate transfer Lawrence Cager
- DawgNation does not produce a freshman walk-on report, but the Bulldogs did get eight of those in on Saturday, including RB Sevaughn Clark and QB Nathan Priestley. Both were true freshmen.
Who played against Arkansas State (by classes):
- Freshmen: 20
- Redshirt freshmen: 10
- Touchdowns by true or redshirt freshmen: Dominick Blaylock (1), Kenny McIntosh (1) and Zamir White (1).
- True or redshirt freshmen among the leading tacklers: NG Tymon Mitchell (4); S Lewis Cine (3); Tryique Stevenson (2), Bill Norton (2)
Arkansas State game freshman focus
Georgia played 30 redshirt or true freshmen against Arkansas State. That’s 30 out of the 86 total Bulldogs who saw the field. As a means of comparison, the Bulldogs played 29 redshirt or true freshmen last week against Murry State.
The big picture tallies up to 35 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday. That equates to:
- 1 of 3 QBs
- 4 of 8 RBs
- 4 of 9 WRs
- 4 of 13 OLs
- 4 of 8 TEs
- 4 of 11 DLs
- 2 of 7 ILBs
- 2 of 6 OLBs
- 4 of 16 DBs
- 0 of 2 PKs
- 0 of 1 Ps
- 1 of 2 LSs
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 (3 games)
Who started against Arkansas State (all freshmen): Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari
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
Freshman Game Ball
WR Dominick Blaylock (Walton High, Marietta, Ga.)
Blaylock continues to make strides by the week. He didn’t play in the opener at Vanderbilt but has gained steam over each of the last two weeks. He got in work as a primary receiver and as the primary punt return after senior Tyler Simmons left for the locker room to check on his injury.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart made a clear path to Blaylock after several reps on Saturday, including pointing out a few techniques and coaching tips on special teams, too.
It seems likely that the better Blaylock blocks each week in practices and the games, then the more he will play in 2019. He has the longest catch from scrimmage (60 yards) and now sits second on the team in receptions (7) and yards (160) and also the co-leader in touchdown catches (2) so far in 2019.
While that might seem very obtuse for one of the nation’s top receiver recruits from the 2019 class, that is most definitely the Georgia way when it comes to that position.
The 112 receiving yards he had on Saturday against the Red Wolves was the most for a Georgia receiver since the 2016 season. Isaiah McKenzie tallied 122 yards through the air against both North Carolina and Missouri on Sept. 3 and Sept. 17, respectively, during Smart’s first season in Athens.
- The Dominick Blaylock stat line: 4 catches for 112 yards, 28 yards per catch, 1 60-yard TD
- What Kirby Smart said about Blaylock: “Dominick didn’t do anything different leading up to Vanderbilt that he’s doing now. It is just [an] opportunity. He is getting an opportunity to play more. Like I said before he was very deserving to play at Vanderbilt. We just didn’t get an opportunity during the game to get him in there. He’s taking advantage of his opportunity.”
- What Smart added about Blaylock: “Dom works every day so hard. He catches the balls thrown to him. He’s got a very compact body type. He’s hard to tackle. He’s a very savvy route runner and he’s got great hands.”
- Final 247Sports recruiting rankings: Nation’s No. 5 WR/No. 36 overall prospect/No. 6 rated recruit in Georgia’s 2019 class.
Notable playing time for other freshmen against Arkansas State
- Freshman WR George Pickens: Pickens had five catches for 84 yards against Arkansas State, including a 32-yard catch and another big sideline grab. He now leads the team in both catches and yards for 2019.
- Freshman S Lewis Cine: The nation’s No. 3 safety prospect from the 2019 class posted the third-highest total tackle on the team with his three total stops. He added a half-tackle for a loss and picked off a pass which he returned for 15 yards to snuff a late Arkansas State scoring drive in the end zone. He also broke up a pass.
- Freshman RB Kenny McIntosh: The true freshman RB from South Florida had four carries for 67 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown run. His 128 rushing yards in two games already ranks third on the 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)
- Receiving yards in a game: 112 (Blaylock)
- Leading receiver (catches): 7 (Pickens)
- Leading receiver (yards): 162 (Pickens)
- Touchdown catches: 2 (Tied for 1st -Blaylock)
- Longest catch: 60 (Blaylock)
- Longest TD catch: 60 (Blaylock)
- Longest run: 62 (Kenny McIntosh)
- Longest TD run: 62 (McIntosh)
- Sacks (game): 1.5 (Nolan Smith)
- Sacks (season): 1.5 (Ojulari and Smith are among a five-way tie for the team lead)
- Tackles for a loss (game): 1.5 (Smith)
- Interceptions (game): 1 (Lewis Cine, tied for season-high)
- Interceptions (season): 1 (Cine, tied for season-high)
- QB Hurries (season): 4 (Smith)
THE BIG PICTURE, PART II
What was another buzz-worthy freshman moment of the game? It had to be at least a couple more Sanford Stadium catches for WR George Pickens.
As stated earlier, Pickens had a team-high five catches for 84 yards against the Red Wolves. That was the program his older brother, Chris Humes, played for at the college level. Humes now plays cornerback in the CFL and he was bumping and pushing and pressing Pickens growing up.
That has no doubt played a part in his development in high school into an Under Armour All-American and the nation’s No. 5 WR recruit for the 2019 class.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 14, 2019
THE BIG PICTURE, PART III
Redshirt freshman RB Zamir White added his second touchdown run of the season with a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter. He now has two touchdown runs on the season. That places him in a tie for second with D’Andre Swift on the team.
That said, he only had six carries for 18 yards against the Red Wolves. For the season, his 141 yards on 19 carries is also good for second on the team. Swift leads all Bulldogs with his 290 yards on 34 attempts.
Did the Zeeeuuuus” happen on his first carry? Yes
It does say something about the future of this program when we can get this deep into the freshmen report before we can shine a light on the nation’s No. 1 RB prospect from the 2018 class. This continues to be an even better story when that freshman is the redshirt RB from Scotland County in North Carolina.
THE BIG PICTURE, PART IV
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.
We debut this feature for the first time this week after three games. It is a nod to the top freshmen (redshirt or true) who have impacted the overall balance of the season up to this point.
- No. 1: OLB Azeez Ojulari (Redshirt freshman and a former 4-star recruit): The opinion here is that Ojulair is already among the best 10 players on the team. Easy. He might be inside the top 5 by now. He’s also the only redshirt or true freshman Bulldog to start a game this season.
- No. 2 WR George Pickens (former 5-star recruit): Smart is right to bring up the areas in which Pickens has to work on. That’s the proper way to do it in the press conference setting. That’s because it already looks like the young man from Hoover High in Alabama already has as much potential as any receiver on the team at this time.
- No. 3 RB Zamir White (former 5-star recruit): It looks like White is putting the pieces together to be one of the most complete backs on the team. He also added his first college catch out of the backfield against Arkansas State.
- No. 4 OLB Nolan Smith (former 5-star recruit): Smith didn’t make a play against the Red Wolves as he had in the first two games, but he is already one of the best pass rushers on the team.
- No. 5 WR Dominick Blaylock (former 4-star recruit): Blaylock surged up into the list this week after his second consecutive strong performance.
- No. 6 DT Travon Walker (former 5-star recruit): Walker rounds out this list of former All-Americans making the first “heat check” listing for 2019. 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’s at least getting a good share of those reps now.
FRESHMEN TO PLAY 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
- Redshirt RB Zamir White
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): 2 games
- WR Dominick Blaylock: 2 games
- WR Lawrence Cager (grad transfer senior): 3 games
- S Lewis Cine: 3 games
- CB D.J. Daniel (junior college transfer): 2 games
- ILB Rian Davis: 0 games
- ILB Nakobe Dean: 3 games
- TE Ryland Goede: 2 games
- OLB Jermaine Johnson (junior college transfer): 3 games
- DL Zion Logue: 2 games
- ILB Trezmen Marshall: 3 games
- QB D’Wan Mathis: 0 games
- OL Warren McClendon: 2 games
- RB Kenny McIntosh: 2 games
- DL Tymon Mitchell: 2 games
- DL Bill Norton: 2 games
- WR George Pickens: 3 games
- TE Brett Seither: 2 games
- OLB Nolan Smith: 3 games
- CB Tyrique Stevenson: 3 games
- WR Makiya Tongue: 2 games
- OL Xavier Truss: 2 games
- DT Travon Walker: 3 games
- DL Tramel Walthour: 0 games
- OL Clay Webb: 1 game (Murray State)
- TE Eli Wolf (grad transfer senior): 3 games
True freshmen signees who did not play this week: ILB Rian Davis, QB D’Wan Mathis and OL Clay Webb.
A few last words
What did everyone have to say after Saturday’s game?
There were some notable post-game comments from a few Bulldogs regarding a few true freshmen or redshirt freshmen on Saturday night.
- Jake Fromm on what the freshmen receivers bring to the offense: “We think that they are able to go out there and make plays. A lot of times they went out there and they did. So that’s what we are doing. Trying to put guys in a position to go out and make plays and they are making plays.”
- Fromm on Blaylock: “Dom did a great job all week in practice. I was like ‘Dang this guy is going out and he’s making plays’ and he’s really taking his job seriously. He’s not having a whole lot of mental errors. You don’t have to worry about him at all. He’s a guy that is going to do what he is told and do it really well and he came out and got rewarded for it today and it is awesome to see for him.”
- Lawrence Cager on how Blaylock is getting better: “Just grinding. Doing whatever coach is asking him to do play inside. Play outside. A lot of freshmen come in with that ego. He’s not that. George [Pickens] too. Makiya [Tongue] and all of them. They just put their head down and do whatever coach asks them to do. Whether it is to play special teams or do this or that. You see them reaping the benefits. As an older guy, it is just great to see it. Young guys go to work.”
- Brian Herrien on that Kenny McIntosh scoring play: “Amazing. He does that every day in practice so we know what he can do.”
- Herrien on Blaylock: “Every day we are at practice when he catches a ball I will look to my left or my right and I will say ‘that kid is going to be good I mean he is good’ and he is a real good kid. He comes to work. He learns. He knows when he did something right and when he did something wrong. He just goes to work every day.”
- Herrien on the future of the receiver position at Georgia: “It is going to be tough. It is going to be tough to guard, man. I mean they are real good. They are young and they are listening and learning from real good players in front of them right now. The coaches that they have they are going to have them right and ready to go.”
The 2019 Freshman Reports on DawgNation