Monday, November 12, 2018

Dawgs Schedule Clemson & Texas

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia has scheduled two home-and-home series with Clemson and Texas over a three-year period from 2028-2030.

Georgia will travel to Austin to take on the Longhorns on September 2, 2028, and will host Texas on September 1, 2029. The Dawgs will play at Clemson on September 15, 2029, and the Tigers will come to Athens on August 31, 2030. The schedule will result in Georgia playing both Clemson and Texas in 2029.

Georgia and Clemson first played in 1897 and have played 64 times since with the Dawgs holding a 42-18-4 advantage. The two teams last played in 2013 in Clemson and 2014 in Athens with each team winning the home game.

Georgia and Texas first played in the 1949 Orange Bowl with the Longhorns winning 41-28 but have only played three times since: 1957 in Atlanta (Texas 26-7), 1958 in Austin (Texas 13-8), and the 1984 Cotton Bowl which ended in a 10-9 Dawg victory.

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications
University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against UMass. They offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments …
“Onto UMass. Our guys came in yesterday and were able to get some treatment and do some things, and looking forward to moving on to UMass and getting another chance to come play at home. It’s another home game for our seniors, one of the last two they'll have at home. I know we have a really good senior class that has a chance to do some special things in terms of the number of wins in their career, and that's been exciting for them, as well as the win last Saturday night. So with that we'll open it up for questions.”

On the success of two-minute offense at the end of a half…

“I think the tempo of play sometimes speeds up. I also think defenses, a couple of the games you're referencing, they played us differently. Sometimes defenses change during that time because they know the pass is imminent. When you have the threat of run and pass, especially against us, it makes it a lot tougher to defend, and Jake (Fromm) has done a good job managing the clock.

Our offense does that every week. They do it against us. We practice it really hard, but I mean so does everybody else. So it's one of those things that I think we've been efficient at because of how much we work on it, but also because that's Jake's strength is being able to operate quickly and make good decisions with the ball, and he's not afraid to hit check-downs.”

On playing non-Power 5 conference teams, especially after playing several games with a lot riding on them the past few weeks…

“I've spoken on this before as far as playing non-Power 5 teams. I think there's two ways to look at it, you know. If attendance becomes a problem or continues to be a problem, which we haven't had a problem here at the University of Georgia, but across the nation, sometimes people are saying attendance is on the decline. I think it's important that you play quality opponents, but I also think, having coached at lower division levels, it's important to their programs to be able to finance their programs.

I'm a big believer in the sport of football, and that's at all levels. I think football teaches you lifelong lessons. I think football is very good for young people to be involved in, to feel like they are part of a team, to feel the failure, to feel the success. And you don't get that at some of the levels without these games. Some of these programs financially can't sustain without it. So there's good and bad with that.”

On Ben Cleveland playing in punt shield and if he will return to the offensive line if other injuries arise…

“Yeah. Ben played in the game the other night when Kendall Baker came out, so Ben was able to get in the game and play. He feels better each and every day. We feel like he's a really good shield protector, and with our coverage unit he hasn't had to cover a lot, so that's one of the safer things he's been able to do for us. I'm not sure yet on Kendall when he'll be back, same thing on Cade Mays. He's going to be day to day as well. So we may be looking at both those guys having work to do to get back.”

On the announcement of future home-and-home games with Texas and Clemson… 

“We’re excited. I mean I think when you come to the University of Georgia you want to play against the best. I've always believed in playing Power 5 opponents. Our fanbase will follow us anywhere. They want to go. We proved that last year. We've proven that over the history of time that the Georgia people will travel. They want great games. They want home-and-homes. And as a coach, I know going out recruiting, it helps.

The College Football Playoff has proven that they want strength of schedule. They want you to play good opponents. Who knows what the system will be 10 years from now. It certainly could all change, but I would argue that the better schedule you play and the better teams you play against, the more rewarding it'll be 10 years from now.

I know 10 years ago from today nobody thought we'd be where we were. And there are some teams that probably could have benefited themselves by playing a tougher schedule. To go out and get these two teams in the same year, you know, you want to come to Georgia, you want to play against the best, and that's what we want to build. We want kids that want to play against the best. So I'm excited for it and been looking at a lot of other opportunities as well.”

On why Brenton Cox did not play against Auburn…

“He has a little minor ankle sprain, should be back this week. He probably could have played the other day. It's more a situation I didn't think he was 100 percent.”

On the opportunity to evaluate players who haven't had as much playing time this year if Georgia gets an early lead against UMass...

“Well, I think that's a large assumption, first off, because I got respect for Coach Whipple, and I have seen him coach for a long time. There is probably an assumption in that they have a really good wideout. They have good personnel. We have to get better, and that's what our focus is this week, on us getting better, our ability to grow young players. I put just as much emphasis in practice as I do in the game. So we'll see how the game goes. If guys get to play, they get to play. I'm really focused on our practice today and how we can get better and get the younger players better so they can help us down the road.”

On his growing confidence in the run defense…

“I feel better. I think we have really worked on it. I think when you try to emphasize something, you get what you demand a lot of times, so we've certainly worked really hard to sure up those areas through technique, fundamentals, going against a pretty good run team in our offense.

We have gotten a couple guys back from injury. But at the end of the day I don't think you've ever arrived when it comes to any statistic. I don't know where we are now in the country in run defense, but we certainly know that coming down the road with UMass, Georgia Tech, and SEC Championship game, we have physical teams to play. So we have to continue to get better at our run defense, and that comes by how we practice.”

On if D’Andre Swift is now completely healthy after his groin injury and able to make big plays for Georgia…

“I mean, he may tell you that. I don't know. He had the surgery over the spring, and that was something that he recovered from over the summer. He really came to fall camp and was moving around well. He had a setback in fall camp a couple times that it bothered him, and I think it bothered him early in the season some, but D’Andre has always been a competitor and works hard. He plays for the big moment, does a really good job. But I think the surgery was during the spring.”

On Massachusetts’ senior WR Sadiq Palmer…

"He's talented. He's got really good quickness. He separates. He double moves a lot. They get the ball to him a lot. I think he's got a really good rapport with their quarterback. He's a good football player. He's one of those guys that is quick in and out of breaks, but he runs by people vertically. So I think it's pretty easy to see when you turn the tape on why they've scored the points they've scored. Scored a lot of points in a lot of situations, and he's a big reason why."

On which positions have new competition within the team and potential new personnel emerging on Saturday…

"All of them. Every position on our team – every week, inside backer, every week, outside backer, probably more the second and third at the outside backer than the first. But defensive line. We've had changes in defensive line, and you all don't write about who starts there, but we've had a lot of changes there. Secondary – we've had a lot of battles at safety, and rotating the dime, nickel and star.

Look at the offensive line. I think it's changed every week, not necessarily out of competition, but out of health reasons. Wide receiver, it's been that way. It's changed throughout the year at wide receiver probably three times as to who started, based on who practiced well during the week. That's been pretty consistent. I mean Elijah Holyfield started some games at running back. So that comes about through the work ethic you have during the week and putting a priority on how your practice matters, and that's every position."

On the rotation at safety between sophomore DB Richard LeCounte and freshman DB Otis Reese…

“It's really not a rotation as much as it is personnel based. So depending on what the other team's in, we play one or the other of the safeties. Otis is getting better. Richard is actually getting better. The best thing for Richard has been Otis's growth. So I think that the motivation and the competition has made Richard better."

On what redshirt sophomore DB Eric Stokes offers and his comparison to freshman DB Tyson Campbell…

"Very similar. They're both young guys. They're both really fast guys. They're both track guys. They're both pretty good tacklers. Eric's played well in the moments he's gotten to play in the game. And a lot of getting to play in our games is based on how you practice, so we see 2,000 snaps and you guys see 20 snaps. He’s done a really good job in the snaps he's been in the game, and he continues to improve, and we're really fired up about the way he's been able to play. He's one of the brightest kids. You teach him something, he knows it and he applies it to the game. And the moment he's been in the games, the two big games have not been too big for him."

On Smart’s assessment of freshman QB Justin Fields’ performance against Auburn…

"I see him growing. I see him getting opportunities to manage the game a little more. You got to see him do it probably a little more this time than he has before. And he had some freshman deals. He had the shot clock run out on him, and he had the scramble play that he'll be the first to tell you he should have thrown it away. Those are the things that we see him do right in practice. We put time constraints on him, and he manages it well. And he's made a lot of really good decisions in practice to throw the ball away; he didn't in the game. So I mean, those are things he has to grow from, and he will and he continues to get better."

On staying sharp against both inclement weather and a non conference opponent…

"I think that's leadership. I think we'll find out a lot about our team this week because it's never about who we're playing. I mean for you guys it's about who we're playing. But I've told you all every week that it's not about Florida, it's not about Kentucky. It's not really about them. It's just about how we work, because we worry about us. And that way when you get to this week, it's not different. And we focus on us. As far as being inside, it's not harder to have intensity inside. As a matter of fact, sometimes I think we're faster when we're inside, and the collisions may be greater. Space is probably the toughest thing, having everybody in a limited space. We have to do a good job of rotating where we do things."

On how Smart evaluates special teams…

"We work really hard on it. And I think (special teams coordinator) Coach Scott Fountain and his staff of guys that help him with special teams have done a tremendous job. Our kids are committed to special teams. I try to make it the most important thing of the game, because I really think it's a selfless part of the game where guys don't get a lot of credit. I mean Mecole Hardman gets credit, but the guys that are doing all the work up there don't get a lot of credit. So we say it's not for yourself but for others when it comes to special teams. And they've bought into that.

Now, statistically – we're not really where we need to be, like on kickoff coverage, but it's very misleading because of Rodrigo Blankenship’s leg strength and his ability to get touchbacks, and the same way with punt coverage. We haven't hit a lot of great punts, but we haven't had a lot of return yards against us because our gunners are good. We're good in both return units, and that's thankful to Mecole as well as some guys that are committed to it. We do a composite at the end of the year that tells us where we rank across the board. We don't do it throughout the season, but we do expose our players to where they are in the SEC and where they are in the country in terms of special teams.

And the other thing we do is we talk about momentum plays, and I thought the other night we had some huge momentum plays. A momentum play is a big play on special teams. Scott has a criteria for what that is, a tackle inside the 20 on kickoff, a downing the ball inside the 10, which Mecole did a great job and Jake Camarda hit a great punt. And then the thing that goes unnoticed is what Terry Godwin does to make a decision to get the ball in the end zone and be a decoy or fair catch the ball and get a 15-yard penalty. He did a really good job, and that's something that changes field position, which I thought in this game was really big."

On improving the run defense…

"Like I said earlier when she asked, I think it's just work. I think going against our offense creates a more competitive run environment. I mean our guys are physical up front and can run the ball. So when we go against them in good-on-good, we really try to crank it up and challenge our defensive line and don't shy away from practicing hard. The other thing is we've tackled better. We try to play with better technique. We've been healthier. I mean there was some time in there where we didn't have as many 300-pound guys healthy, and we've got a couple more guys now that helped build a wall for us. Jordan (Davis) has been a big part of that. Although he was present at LSU and we didn't tackle well, he's been present since and we've tackled better."

On an update for David Marshall and DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle…

“They both will not be available this week."

On Smart’s assessment of the defense affecting the quarterback…

"I thought that was a big difference in the game this past week. I thought we were able to disrupt him. We didn't always sack him, but we moved him out of the pocket, made him think a little bit, did some things that we hadn't been doing, changed him up from the SEC Championship game. I think anytime you can give the quarterback a different picture or picture he's not clear on, you have a chance to rattle him a little bit. We just have to do a better job of finishing on him when we can get to him to get the sacks and not hurries in pressures. Thanks."

Jake Fromm, Soph, Quarterback

On what’s been working well since the bye week…

“Execution. Everyone’s been playing off each other, everyone’s been in that groove right now. Hopefully we can keep it and keep rolling with it. It’s working out really well for us right now.”

On the offensive line working really well and keeping that confidence high…

“Those guys are doing an incredible job. Just keep doing what they’re doing, keep being physical, keep grinding on these guys. Auburn had a Sunday-caliber defensive line and our guys did a really good job with those guys and moving them. D’Andre [Swift] and Elijah [Holyfield] had really good performances so those guys are doing a really good job of playing at a high level and I hope they can continue to do that.”

On Fromm’s personal motivation during defining moments…

“I keep thinking about the reason I play football. God put me here to play football and glorify Him. So I think I best glorify Him when I’m playing at a high level. I’m working to be the best football player I can be. Just trying to serve my God, serve my teammates, serve my family, and be the best I can be.”

Juwan Taylor, Senior, Linebacker

On preparing for the UMass game after coming off wins against teams like Auburn, Florida, and other ranked opponents…

“It isn’t tough at all. It is the next game for us, the next opponent. We approach every week the same so there is nothing different about preparing for this game. Every week is the same for us, we prepare the same way for every opponent, no matter who we play.”

On what has been the key in the improvement of Georgia’s run defense…

“I think it has a lot to do with the bye week that we had. Coming off the bye week, I think we have continued to improve over the last three weeks on our run defense. We just went to work on the bye week, focusing on what we need to focus on and worked on us. We are going to continue to improve each week and continue to practice hard these last couple of weeks of the season.”

On how much hitting goes on in practice and if that helps…

“Going good on good is what helps the team and what helps everyone with their craft. We try to make everything perfect. Everything isn’t always going to be perfect, but we try to keep everything groomed up. Going one-on-one helps a lot with that.”

On the development of Tae Crowder at linebacker…

“Man, Tae has come a long way. Honestly, I can say he works hard. We came in together and he is like my brother. He came in as a running back, which unfortunately didn’t work out for him at running back, but then he moved to linebacker. We had to toughen him up a little bit but he is a great player. He is very athletic and he has grown so much.”

Rodrigo Blankenship, Junior, Placekicker

On playing a non-power five opponent…

“We are just going into this week with the same mindset that we had last week against Auburn. We don’t want to take anybody on our schedule for granted on any given Saturday. Anything can happen in this country. We are going in with a mindset of being as serious as we can be and we need to have the same level of focus and concentration on details that we had last week. Hopefully, that will allow us to perform our best if not better than we did last week.”

On importance of future games schedule like Texas and Clemson…

“I think it is awesome just to take different teams. You get to play some incredible talents and incredible teams across the country and from different conferences. It brings new challenges that we might not normally be preparing for, so I think it is going to be awesome to have such big historic programs like Georgia, Texas and Clemson to meet and cross paths. It will be an awesome opportunity for all the programs.”

On percentage of times he converted the fake field goal pass in practice…

“I don’t really remember, but I know I completed it a lot more in practice than I did on Saturday. We repped it three out of four days in the week. I just threw it a lot better Monday through Thursday then I did on Saturday. It was a similar situation to LSU that coach did a lot of film work and saw that if they line up a certain way that they are giving us a look that we can make a play on. They lined up for it like we envisioned and decided to run it.”

On team’s confidence of special teams…

“I think we definitely have confidence every week with the amount of talent that we contain on all of our special teams that we have the ability no matter who we play to have the advantage on special teams. That only comes with hard work week-in and week-out we have to grind. We have to focus and pay attention to as much detail as we can to every phase of special teams. As long as we do that Monday through Friday then we are going to have a chance to win that phase of the game on Saturday.”

Tyler Simmons, Junior, Wide Receiver

On acknowledgement of receivers blocking…

“Last year, we called them KOs. This year, we aren’t really giving out awards for them, but we still track them…I don’t think I’m leading in the category, but I know I’m up there.”

On competition in the receiver room…

“Our room is very competitive. We have a lot of players that can go out there and can play at any given time in the game. If one man goes down, it’s next man up, so it can get a little chippy in the room. The blocking is right up there too with the catches and yards.”

On red zone offense struggles…

“That is something that we have been practicing a lot, because we know we have been struggling on that phase of the game. We are emphasizing it at practice and we hope to get better at it this week.”

On timing of facing a non-power five school…

“We take every game like any other one. Like Auburn, Alabama, we are going to take UMass the same way.”

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

On the win over Auburn… 

“We didn’t play a perfect game. It was physical and we shot ourselves in the foot too much. We’re a work in progress. We’re fighting tooth and nail and we don’t panic. … It was a physical game. We played a ton of guys on defense. I’m proud of the way the guys competed.” 

On D’Andre Swift… 

“If we feed him, he does well. He’s got a great offensive line in front of him, he’s explosive and he makes guys miss on the second level. The wideouts deserve credit for some big-time downfield blocking too.” 

On the team…

“We’re working hard and getting better. The guys are buying into what we’re selling. If we can keep improving as a team, if the guys keep buying in, we’ve got a good shot.” 

On next week’s game… 

“UMass presents a good offensive unit. We’ve got to get better this week and work on us.” 

On Georgia’s fans… 

“The fans were awesome. The students were packed in there. The fans represented well and impacted the game. We love that, and the recruits fall in love with it.”

Eric Stokes, RS-Freshman, Defensive Back 

On what changed with the defensive effort in the second half … 

“It was just figuring out what they we’re going to do and then how we were going to finally adjust to adjust to it.” 

On his pass breakup on a critical third down inside the red zone... 

“We had our call and basically I knew I had him man-to-man, so I just had to lock on him. Luckily, I was able to break it up and just keep him out of the end zone.” 

Jonathan Ledbetter, Senior, Defensive Lineman 

On the defensive goals for this game…

“We wanted to hold them to under 100 yards rushing, whether that’s any running back or anybody rushing, no 100-yard rushers. We wanted to hold them to 3 points, so technically we didn’t meet our goal, but they didn’t score in the second half. We’ve still got some work to do. We set a standard and we go get it, and we didn’t do that but we played well. Not saying we that we didn’t have a good win, but you don’t want to celebrate too much. We’re going to enjoy it tonight with our friends, family and our teammates. We’re going to come to the drawing board and start working again.” 

On Georgia’s third-straight top 25 win… 

“It feels great right now. I’m excited to look at the tape and see what I can correct and what the team can correct. Everybody has a job to do, and if we’re doing it to the best of our ability then we can’t be stopped.” 

Tyler Simmons, Junior, Wide Receiver 

On Jake Fromm’s performance on third downs, with 8 conversions on third down… 

“That’s something we really emphasize at practice. We have a day of the week where we emphasize third down and it shows on the field … We always put ourselves in that situation in practice, so when we get to the game it’s easy.” 

On his first career touchdown reception, a 14-yarder with 2:47 to go in the first half… 

“It just gave us a lot of momentum going forward in the game. Of course it feels good for me to get into the end zone, but it felt for the team to get some momentum going.

Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn 

Opening Statement 

“Disappointing loss. First of all, give credit to Georgia. They’ve got a complete team. They outplayed us in all three phases. You know, we really wanted to get off to a solid start, and I thought we did a good job of that. Right before the half, I think the momentum of the game changed. The offense went three and out. I think it was two minutes left and they went down and scored and it was kind of uphill after that. Second half we still had a couple of opportunities, got across midfield a couple of times. Needed to really put points on the board and we didn’t. And then the fourth quarter got away from us. Third downs, we weren’t very good on offense, weren’t very good on defense. They were able to run the football. Disappointing loss. I really thought we’d play better and we didn’t. Give Georgia credit. They’ve got a good football team.”

On the dropoff of Stidham’s performance as game went on … 

“I think it was the entire offense kind of tailed off in the second half. The disappointing thing is, we got across midfield a couple of times and needed to put points on the board and weren’t able to convert third downs. I think a couple of them were third down-and-three, and they weren’t capable of picking up.”

On the running game… 

“That’s disappointing. What’d we run it, 20 times? We’ve gotta run the football better. Really felt like, starting out, our plan was to get some 10 personnel. We thought we had some possession throws to get us in pace. That was the plan early on. Sometimes maybe we should have kept the same personnel in there. You get certain plays, certain things you like versus certain personnel. But obviously, anytime you come up short, especially in the fourth quarter, and you’re not putting any points on the board, that’s disappointing.”

On defense allowing 200-yard rushing games vs. SEC teams … 

“Tonight, like I said, you’ve got to give them credit. They did a good job, and we didn’t do a very good job. They had that long run and had some other runs. We just didn’t play well in all three phases. We didn’t get off the field on third downs. I think that’s really the key to the deal.” 

On Ryan Davis’ breaking Auburn reception record… 

“Ryan Davis is a special player. He has meant so much to us during his time here. That is a big record. He deserves it. He is a great player and great person. He is electric with the ball in his hands."

Jarrett Stidham, Junior, Quarterback 

On the start of the game... 

"I thought we had a really good game plan going in getting the ball in a space for our guys. I thought we did a really good job of that for the most part all night. We didn't capitalize on some things and made some questionable plays."

On getting in the play call... 

"Whenever you're backed up on your one yard line and you end up having to change the play and there's two seconds on the clock, we have to do a better job of getting into the play and getting it called. It's not on anybody, just trying to make some plays."

Deshaun Davis, Senior, Linebacker 

On the zone... 

"They stuck with their game plan and did what they've been doing all year. We just had some mistakes and we had some guys not in the right spot. Sometimes we were in the right spot but they have some great backs and they busted our side and picked up about eight yards."

On the fourth and two play... 

"We were in the pressure, we manned up in that situation and made the play. If we don't make it we need to at least get the guy on the ground. We did neither."

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Dawgs With Another Win In the Series: With tonight’s 27-10 victory over Auburn, the Dawgs close out the SEC part of the regular season with a 7-1 league mark and improve to 9-1 overall. Georgia extends its series advantage over the Tigers to 59-56-8 in this the 123rd meeting in the Deep South’s oldest rivalry. Georgia blanked Auburn in the second half, the third time the defense has done that this year (also Austin Peay & Middle Tennessee). Sophomore WLB Monty Rice led the team with eight tackles. The Tigers were limited to 274 yards of offense on 57 plays.

300+ On The Ground Again: The Dawgs, who lead the SEC in rushing at 233.8 yards per game, finished with 303 on the ground today after getting a season-high 331 yards in the road win over UK last Saturday. Overall, Georgia churned out 516 yards of total offense, the most since 560 against Vanderbilt this year. Sophomore TB D’Andre Swift went over 100 yards for the third straight game to highlight the Dawgs’ rushing game. Swift went for a career high 186 yards on 17 carries after going for 156 at #9 Kentucky last week. This is the most yards for a Dawgs’ running back since Nick Chubb exploded for 222 versus North Carolina in the 2016 season opener. Swift also had a team-high four catches for 43 yards. Junior TB Elijah Holyfield also carried the ball 15 times for 93 yards.

Cashing In: Georgia had the ball for 20:02 in the first half and out-gained Auburn 266 to 149 in total yards as the Dawgs surged ahead 20-10. After starting with two field goals, Georgia had a pair of touchdown passes, including one in the second period’s final minute. On their second touchdown drive, the Dawgs went for it on 4th-and-2 from the Auburn 38-yard line and sophomore QB Jake Fromm delivered a scoring strike to senior WR Terry Godwin. Georgia is now 3-for-5 on fourth downs this season. This five-play, 69-yard drive took 1:39.

This is the Dawgs’ fourth score at the end of a first half this year with less than two minutes to go. Versus Austin Peay, Georgia scored a touchdown in 1:10 on a four-play, 70-yard drive to end the half. Against South Carolina, the Dawgs managed a field goal in 43 seconds on a five-play, 40-yard drive. Versus Florida, Georgia connected on a field goal at the end of a seven-play, 75-yard during a drive that took 50 seconds.

Fromm finished13-for-20 for 193 yards and two touchdowns with one INT. The Dawgs were 5-for-8 on third downs in the opening half and finished 8-for-14. He is now 21-3 as a starter and 8-3 against teams ranked in the top 25. Freshman QB Justin Fields was 2-for-2 for 20 yards passing.

Blankenship Puts Georgia On The Board: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship connected on a 25-yard field goal on Georgia’s opening drive to give the Dawgs a 3-0 edge. Blankenship returned to hit a 20-yard chip shot at the 11:13 mark of the second period to cut Georgia’s deficit to 7-6. He is 17-of-19 on FGs this year. Blankenship also launched touchbacks on four kickoffs of the game to give him 58 on the year, which is ranked second nationally.

The first drive started at the Georgia 12-yard line and the Dawgs advanced to the Auburn 2-yard line before the Dawgs settled for a field goal. On the second drive, Georgia drove to the Tiger 1-yard line and then kicked four plays later. Late in the fourth quarter, the Dawgs tried a fake field goal at the AU 14 and Blankenship overthrew Issac Nauta in the endzone. The drive did consume 8:44 as Georgia led 27-10 with 3:20.

Special Specialist: Junior Mecole Hardman took his first kickoff return of the game from the goal line a season long 41 yards in the second quarter. He came in averaging 25.7 each KOR this season. The Dawgs capitalized on the return by scoring their first touchdown of the game. Fromm connected with junior WR Tyler Simmons for a 14-yard touchdown catch. This marked Simmons first scoring catch of his career. This put Georgia up 13-10 at the 2:47 mark in the second quarter. Freshman punter Jake Camarda had his first punt of the game on the Dawgs’ opening drive of the third quarter. On his second punt, Camarda hit his second 38 yarder of the game. However, Hardman downed this one at the Auburn 1-yard line. Camarda only punted twice tonight.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia is +4 in turnover margin. The Dawgs have forced 14 turnovers that have led to 48 points and have 10 turnovers that have resulted in 16 points. Fromm threw his fifth interception of the year in the third quarter on the Auburn 19-yard line. The Tigers were forced to punt on the ensuring drive.

Starters: Freshman DB Otis Reese started his first game for the Dawgs. After leaving the Kentucky game with a knee injury last week, senior C Lamont Gaillard returned to start his team-leading 38th consecutive game. Redshirt sophomore OL Ben Cleveland returned on special teams after missing the last five games with a leg injury.

Dawgs Beat Auburn.....Again

UGA Sports Commuications

Behind 303 yards on the ground and a scoreless second half, the fifth-ranked University of Georgia football team defeated the 24th-ranked Tigers 27-10 in front of a capacity crowd at Sanford Stadium on Saturday night.

For the third consecutive contest, sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift ran for over 100 yards, leading the Dawgs (9-1, 7-1) with a career-high 186 yards on 17 carries. Swift also paced Georgia through the air, reeling in a team-high four receptions for 43 yards. Senior tailback Elijah Holyfield also registered 15 carries for 93 yards. The pair of tailbacks combined for 32 carries and 279 yards.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm directed the offense, producing a 13-for-20 clip for 193 yards, helped by senior wide receiver Terry Godwin, who added a team-high 84 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Auburn scored for the final time in the second quarter at the 7:46 mark, halted by a Georgia defense led by sophomore linebacker Monty Rice with eight total tackles and sophomore defensive backs Richard LeCounte and Mark Webb with six apiece.

“We’re a work in progress,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “We’re fighting tooth and nail and we don’t panic…It was a physical game. We played a ton of guys on defense. I’m proud of the way the guys competed.”

After sending the Auburn (6-4, 3-4) offense to the sideline after its first five plays, the Dawgs took the field to conduct a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive. A 25-yard Godwin reception and a 22-yard Holyfield rush preceded a Rodrigo Blankenship 25-yard field goal for the 3-0 Dawg advantage.

The Tigers responded on the next drive, using a 9-yard pass from Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham to John Shenker to establish the 7-3 lead. A 15-play, 73-yard Georgia drive followed, finalized with another Blankenship field goal to cut the Tiger margin to one.

The back-and-forth battle continued into the next Auburn possession, as the Tigers marched to the Georgia 5-yard line. A stout defensive stand – complete with an Eric Stokes pass breakup on a touchdown pass in the end zone – held the Tigers to a field goal for the 10-6 score.

With a kickoff return from the goal line, junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman placed the Dawgs on their own 41-yard line, and the footwork of Georgia tailbacks Holyfield, Swift and Brian Herrien guided the Dawgs to the Auburn 20-yard line. Fromm completed a 7-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ahkil Crumpton before connecting with junior Tyler Simmons in the end zone on the next play. Simmons’ first-career 14-yard touchdown claimed a Dawg lead Auburn could not overcome in the remaining 32:47.

Three plays and 47 seconds after the Blankenship PAT, the Georgia defense sent its offense back onto the field with two minutes remaining in the half. Fromm connected with Godwin for a 38-yard touchdown, sending the Dawgs into intermission with the 20-10 lead. The touchdown marked the fourth time this season Georgia has scored with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

Hardman guided the Dawgs to favorable field position once again in the second half – this time for the defense – halting a Jake Camarda punt at the 1-yard line to place the Tigers’ offense inches from their own goal line. Auburn was forced to punt, and on the next Dawg drive, Swift ran for a 75-yard touchdown, sealed with a Jeremiah Holloman block downfield. The Blankenship extra kick sealed the 27-10 final.

The Dawgs return to Sanford Stadium on Saturday, November 17 for a matchup with the University of Massachusetts. The contest is slated for 4 p.m. ET on SEC Network.