Former UGA tight end Jeb Blazevich explains why Georgia’s tight ends don’t get the ball more
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#DGD: Catching up with former Bulldog Jeb Blazevich
In this week’s installment of the #DGD or “Damn Good Dawg” series, we catch up with former Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich.
Blazevich is still very close with a number of the players on the team, including Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner. Blazevich played for the Bulldogs from 2014-17 and recently started a new job in Nashville, Tenn working for HUB International, an insurance broker . The former tight end also played a key role in Georgia’s 2014 and 2016 road wins over Kentucky, including catching two touchdown passes in the 2014 game.
DawgNation: Georgia fans seem to always want to know why the tight ends aren’t getting the ball more. As a former tight end, what is your reaction when fans say, “Hey you guys should get the ball more?”
Jeb Blazevich: I think it’s justified. Guys have always been asking that in the locker room themselves. I will say this caveat that once you’re out of football you really don’t know what is going on. You’re not at practice or in meetings. You don’t know what the intended play is as opposed to what actually happened. It could be a touchdown and someone messed up. So that being said, I definitely think the guys are talented enough. It’s nothing about the players, their ability or their football IQ. It’s just sort of the plays that they’re calling and the situations that we need to be in. I said throughout my entire career, and these guys are saying it now, the main thing isn’t the stats. The main thing is winning games. That being said, it’s not like they’re doing anything wrong. They’re going to do what they’re coached to do. If they’re not catching the ball, it’s probably because they’re not catching all those balls in practice because, the coaches need to win games.
DN: Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta had a big game against Florida. When the game plan has called for him to get the ball, he’s shown that he’s a very good pass catcher. Having practiced with him and knowing him like you do, what is he like as a player and how much better can he continue to get?
JB: All those guys in the tight-end room, we’re all extremely close. Those guys are my closest friends in life and on the team. But even some of those passes he caught in the game, some of those were just check-down routes. That’s how it appeared. Again, I don’t know everything, but it looked like a “check flat,” where you check for pass protection, that’s your first assignment, and then if you can, you leak out into the flat. Again, they didn’t call that play, it just sort of happened. But he obviously showed that if you give him a chance, he’s going to make stuff happen. These are elite-level athletes, and they’re trained to do what they do, which is get the ball to the end zone.
DN: The first College Football Playoff rankings came out this week. Last year when these came out and you guys were up near the top four and No. 1 in the first set of rankings. How much do you guys pay attention to that, if at all?
JB: If anything it made me more nervous because I wasn’t sure how the rest of the team would react to it. The last thing that matters is those rankings. I’m going to sound like a coach right now, but it’s true. The last thing that matters is those rankings. It’s positive reinforcement. We’re doing great, we’re taking care of business and that’s nice but it doesn’t mean anything. Is that going to help them beat Kentucky? No. Is that going to help them seal the (SEC) East? No. I sound like a coach unfortunately but there’s no easy way out.
DN: As you mentioned, Georgia takes on Kentucky this week. You had a big game against them with two touchdown catches in your freshman year and then you played a key role in the 2016 game which was a close game. What is that environment like in Kentucky, with you guys usually playing them in November and it usually being a little colder?
JB: It’s weird. Being a recruit and then all this stuff, Kentucky is a basketball school, nobody really cares about them playing football. But then over the years you start going through and playing these guys. And while you might be winning your one-on-ones, they’re still really good players. Their program has just gotten better and better. They’re on the come-up. Every year, they’re a formidable opponent, especially in 2016. That’s when it was like ‘This is a bonafide SEC team now.’ I think it’s great for the fans, it’s great for everyone to watch. It’s obviously not as good because you can’t just go in there and blow somebody out but nowadays there’s nobody that can’t win on a Saturday in the SEC, I feel like.
DN: With it being your first year away from Georgia and starting a new job and everything, what’s that adjustment away from football been like and how much do you still keep up with Georgia?
JB: I’ve actually gotten to watch quite a bit of them this year. I’ve been traveling a bit so I might have missed a game or two but for the most part I’ve seen a lot of them. It’s great now because if Georgia is blowing them out, I can go and do whatever else. If they’re putting in freshmen I don’t really know, I can go do other stuff. If they’re getting blown out like in the LSU game, I always used to just think ‘I just want to get home,’ but now I am home. I always cheer for my guys to do well and obviously for Georgia to do so well, but I’ve definitely taken my liberties of being a fan and being able to say ‘hey there’s other things that are happening on a Saturday.’ But I’m sure next year I’ll be glued to the TV when they play.
DN: In your time at Georgia you played in a ton of big games, whether it be the National Championship game or one of the Georgia-Florida games. Is there maybe one memory or something that really sticks out to you as special?
JB: I think the best memories are on the sidelines and off the field. You obviously remember the great things you do on the field and the way the crowd cheers or when you practice something all week and it just came together. But I really just remember crying at the Rose Bowl and thinking ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ especially in such a back and forth game. To be able to partake in that with some of my closest friends and just enjoy the moment with them. It wouldn’t mean as much if I wasn’t close friends with those guys as I am.
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