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):
True freshman Lewis Cine had a swapped jersey (28) on Saturday but still snared his first career interception. (Curtis Compton/AJC)
- 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
OLB Azeez Ojulari is the only freshman or redshirt freshman Bulldog to start a game so far in 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
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.
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
Kirby Smart signals a touchdown way in advance of freshman WR Dominick Blaylock crossing the goal line on Saturday in the 55-0 win against Arkansas State. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
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