UGA Football: Game Notes – Georgia Makes First Visit to South Bend

The Georgia Bulldogs vs. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish

GAME & BROADCAST INFO

  • Game 2: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  • Kickoff: Saturday, September 9 – 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium (77,622) – South Bend, Ind.
  • 2017 Records: Georgia 1-0 (0-0 SEC), Notre Dame 1-0
  • 2016 Records: Georgia 8-5 (4-4 SEC), Notre Dame 4-8
  • Rankings: Georgia #15/15, Notre Dame NR
  • TV: NBC – Mike Tirico (play-by-play); Doug Flutie (color analyst); Kathryn Tappen (sideline)
  • Video Stream: NBCSports.com
  • Radio: WSB AM 750 – Bulldog Network | Affiliates
    Scott Howard (PxP), Eric Zeier (Color), Chuck Dowdle (sideline)
  • Audio Stream: georgiadogs.com | Mobile
  • Satellite: Sirius 129, XM 129
  • Web Stats: Live Stats
  • Twitter: #UGAvsND
  • ReBroadcast: SEC Network: TBA

Georgia 2017 Averages Notre Dame
31.0 Scoring Offense 49.0
10.0 Scoring Defense 16.0
-2 Turnover Margin 0
368.0 Total Offense 606.0
221.0 Rushing Offense 422.0
147.0 Passing Offense 184.0
3.0 Punt Returns 1.0
21.0 Kickoff Returns 24.0

 

Proud Programs Meet

The 2017 season marks the 124th year of Georgia football, and the Bulldogs are closing in on 800 wins. Georgia’s record stands at 796-418-54 and that ranks 11th nationally. Notre Dame ranks second overall with 897 wins and the Irish are in their 129th season. Notre Dame are 897-321-42 all-time. The Michigan Wolverines sit atop the list with a mark of 936-335-36. This is Michigan’s 138th campaign.

The Bulldogs make their first-ever visit to South Bend, Ind., to battle the Irish. Notre Dame holds the second-longest sellout streak in NCAA history, which currently stands at 256 games and dates back to 1973.

Georgia has faced Notre Dame only once and it was in the 1981 Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs won that showdown 17-10 to clinch the national championship. When Georgia plays host to Samford, it will be the teams’ first-ever matchup. A recap of the 1981 Sugar Bowl is located later in this notes packet.

Non-Conference Matchups To Start 2017

Kirby Smart‘s second year features games with Appalachian State, Notre Dame and Samford before a stretch of eight consecutive conference games, starting with a home matchup versus Mississippi State. The Bulldogs opened with a 31-10 victory over App State last weekend.

A Glimpse At Notre Dame’s Opener

The Irish opened its season at home last Saturday and cruised to a 49-16 win over Temple. Notre Dame tallied 606 yards of total offense, including 422 on the ground. The Irish had three players go over 100 yards, including running backs Josh Adams (161) and Dexter Williams (124) plus quarterback Brandon Wimbush (106). Wimbush made his first career start at quarterback and went 17-for-30 for 184 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

The Owls posted 330 total yards on offense against the Irish defense. Notre Dame senior captain Nyles Morgan was the leading tackler with eight stops followed by junior DE Te’von Coney who had six tackles and a sack. Morgan led the Irish with 94 tackles in 2016.

Bulldog Graduates

Georgia has seven players on this year’s roster who have already earned their degrees. The players who received a bachelor degree from UGA include: N John Atkins (Sociology), OT Aulden Bynum (Agricultural & Applied Economics), ILB Reggie Carter (Economics), DB Aaron Davis (Finance) and QB Brice Ramsey(Communication Studies).

Another pair of players joined the Bulldogs as graduate transfers during the offseason: Cameron Nizialek(Columbia University – Economics), David Marvin (Wofford – Biology/Chemistry). Marvin was a summa cum laude Honors graduate for the Terriers and is working on a Master’s of Public Health at Georgia. Nizialek is working on a graduate degree in Sport Management and Policy. All of the SEC players who have achieved a degree will be sporting the SEC Graduate patch on their uniforms this year.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

 

Personal
Full Name: Kirby Paul Smart
Birthdate: December 23, 1975
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama
Family: Wife: Mary Beth; Children: twins Weston and Julia (Feb. 8, 2008), and Andrew (May 25, 2012)
High School: Bainbridge (Ga.)
College: BBA Georgia ’98; MS Notre Dame State ’03Coaching Experience
1999 Georgia Admin. Asst.
2000 Valdosta State Defensive Backs
2001 Valdosta State Def. Coord.
2002-03 FSU Grad. Assistant
2004 LSU Defensive Backs
2005 Georgia Running Backs
2006 Miami Dolphins Safeties
2007 Alabama Asst. HC/DBs
2008-13, ’15 Alabama Def. Coord./ILBs
2014 Alabama Asst. HC/Safeties
2016-current Georgia Head Coach

Playing Experience
Georgia (1995-98): Four-year letterman as defensive back. First team All-SEC in ’98; 13 career interceptions; four-time member of SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Bainbridge H.S. (1991-93): Three-year letterman in football, basketball, and baseball; first team Class AAAA All-State as a senior; 16 career interceptions.
High School Coach: Sonny Smart (father)

Coach Smart’s Record
Year W L Pct. SEC
2016 8 5 .615 4-4
2017 1 0 1.000 0-0

When Georgia looked for a new head football coach after the 2015 season, the arrows pointed to Kirby Smart, longtime University of Alabama defensive coordinator and former UGA player and assistant. After one season, he has not disappointed.

In his first year leading the Bulldogs, Georgia extended its school record to 20 consecutive bowl appearances and posted five fourth-quarter comebacks including wins over No. 8 Auburn and No. 22 North Carolina. He led UGA to an 8-5 final record, which included a victory over TCU in the Liberty Bowl.

He has also made an immediate impact in recruiting circles posting the nation’s third-ranked class in 2017 following his first class in 2016 generally considered among the top ten. In addition to his coaching duties, Smart oversees the Kirby Smart Family Foundation, which is focused on being champions in the community by supporting and giving back to needy children and families.

Smart officially came home to Georgia on Dec. 6, 2015. But he still had unfinished business at Alabama, which was chasing a national title. He juggled two jobs for a month until January 11, 2016, when the Tide won its fourth national championship in a seven-year span. Twelve hours later, he was at work in Athens, where he is one of nine head coaches at schools from Power 5 conferences that are coaching at their alma mater.

Did You Know?
Kirby Smart is one of nine head coaches at schools from Power 5 conferences that are coaching at their alma maters.

The complete list:
Paul Chryst (Wisconsin) Barry Odom (Missouri)
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) Mark Richt (Miami)
Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) David Shaw (Stanford)
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan) Kirby Smart (GEORGIA)
Cliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech)

Top Ind. Single-Game Performances Under Smart
Rushing Yards: 222, Chubb vs. #22 UNC (9/3/16)
Rushing TDs: 2, Chubb vs. #22 UNC (9/3/16), @ SC (10/9/16); Herrien @ #21 OM (9/24/16)
Longest Rush: 55-TD, Chubb vs. #22 UNC (9/3/16); 55-TD, McKenzie vs. LA (11/19/16)
Passing Yards: 346, Eason vs. VU (10/15/16)
Passing TDs: 3, Eason @ Missouri (9/17/16)
Receiving TDs: 2, McKenzie @ Missouri (9/17/16)
Longest TD Pass: 66-TD, Eason to McKenzie vs. Nicholls (9/10/16)
Longest Pass: 77, Eason to McKenzie vs. TCU (12/30/16)
Tackles: 13, R. Smith vs. Georgia Tech (11/26/16)
Sacks: 3, T. Thompson vs. TCU (12/30/16)
TFL: 3, Thompson vs. Nicholls (9/10/16)

Quick Facts

  • Led UGA to its first win over a ranked team in a season opener away from Sanford Stadium in school history, posting a 33-24 win over #22 UNC during the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic
  • In head coaching debut, Bulldogs overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and scored the final 19 points of the game in a win over the #22 Tar Heels in the Georgia Dome in 2016
  • Became first UGA football coach since Joel Hunt in 1938 to start his career 3-0 after winning his first 2016 SEC game on the road with a 28-27 victory over Missouri
  • Five fourth-quarter comebacks, including wins over #8 AU & #22 UNC

Defense/Special Teams Scores
2016: Safety vs. #22 UNC; Lorenzo Carter 24-yd fumble recovery for TD vs. Nicholls; Terry Godwin 43-yd KOR for TD @ SC; Maurice Smith 34-yd INT return for TD vs. #8 Auburn; Isaiah McKenzie 82-yd PR for TD vs. UL Lafayette

5 Victories When Tied Or Trailing Late
Year Opponent Start of 4th Qtr. Final
2016 %#22 UNC Trailed 24-23 33-24
2016 @ Missouri Trailed 27-21 28-27
2016 @ Kentucky Trailed 21-16 27-24
2016 #8 Auburn Tied 7-7 13-7
2016 ^TCU Trailed 23-21 31-23

%Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, Ga. Dome; ^Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.

Fromm Fills In At QB Following Eason’s Injury

Sophomore QB Jacob Eason, who had served as the starter since the second game of the 2016 season, sustained a left knee injury at the 6:30 mark in the opening period versus App State and the score was 0-0. Freshman Jacob Fromm made his Bulldog debut in relief and finished 10-for-15 for 143 yards and a touchdown in leading Georgia to a 31-10 win.

Fromm connected on his first career pass to sophomore TE Isaac Nauta for 8 yards and then hit senior WR Javon Wims for Fromm’s first touchdown later in the game. Fromm, a January early enrollee from Warner Robins, Ga., was a Parade All-American in 2016 after passing for 12,745 yards and 116 touchdowns in 46 games for Houston County High School.

In addition to the comeback over the Horned Frogs in the 2016 Liberty Bowl, Eason led the Bulldogs in three more wins with game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. In 2016, Eason notched his first win over a top-10 opponent in a 13-7 victory over #8 Auburn on Nov. 12. With the game tied at 7-7 headed into the fourth quarter, he directed two lengthy scoring drives that resulted in field goals. Eason directed a 13-play drive and a 14-play drive that each lasted nearly seven minutes. Overall, Georgia held the ball in the second half for 22:59. WR Riley Ridley finished as one of Eason’s top targets versus the Tigers, recording a career-high 89 yards on three catches.

In the road win over Kentucky, Eason directed the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter that started at the UGA 25 with 2:47 left. He was 4-for-4 for 42 yards before PK Rodrigo Blankenship‘s 25-yard field goal as time expired for a 27-24 victory. The first career fourth quarter comeback for Eason came in the 28-27 win at Missouri in just his second career start. He finished 29-for-55 for 308 yards and three touchdowns (all were career highs). In the win over Mizzou, Eason and the Bulldogs converted a 4th-and-10 with 1:29 left that resulted in a 20-yard scoring strike to Isaiah McKenzie. This game-winning TD capped an 80-yard drive in 10 plays that took 2:03.

Eason became only the sixth Bulldog freshman QB to start a game and the first since Matthew Stafford (No. 1 NFL Draft pick in 2009 to Detroit Lions) in 2006 when he lined up behind center in the win over Nicholls last year.

Jacob Eason (2016 UGA)
2016 Att Cmp TD Int Yds Sk Eff.
vs. *#22 UNC 12 8 1 0 131 1 185.9
NICH (W) 20 11 1 1 204 1 147.2
@ MIZZOU (W) 55 29 3 1 308 4 114.1
@ #23< om=””> 36 16 0 1 137 3 70.9
#11 UT (L) 28 17 2 1 211 3 140.4
@ SC (W) 17 5 1 1 29 1 51.4
VU (L) 40 27 1 0 3 46 1 148.4
vs. #14 UF (L) 33 15 1 0 143 2 91.9
@ UK (W) 31 17 1 0 245 0 131.9
#8 AU (W) 31 20 0 0 208 2 120.9
LA (W) 19 13 2 1 165 0 165.5
GT (L) 27 14 1 2 139 0 92.5
^TCU (W) 21 12 2 0 164 3 154.2
2017 Att Cmp TD Int Yds Sk Eff.
vs. App State (W) 3 1 0 0 4 1 44.5

*came in as a reserve

Year G/GS Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. INT TD Eff. LG
TOTAL 14/13 205 373 55.0 2,434 8 16 119.6 77TCU

 

Chubb, Michel Highlight Bulldog Rushing Attack

The centerpieces of the Bulldog backfield are seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb ranks fifth nationally in career rushing yards among active players with 3,520 while Michel is 15th with 2,498. The Bulldogs are the only school with two players in the top 15.

Here’s the top five active rushing leaders in NCAA FBS:

1. Royce Freeman (Oregon) Sr. 40 games 4,296 yards 48 TDs
2. Justin Jackson (Northwestern) Sr. 39 games 4,238 yards 30 TDs
3. Jarvion Franklin (W. Michigan) Sr. 41 games 3,679 yards 41 TDs
4. Larry Rose III (New Mexico St.) Sr. 32 games 3,678 yards 27 TDs
5. Nick Chubb (Georgia) Sr. 33 games 3,520 yards 31 TDs
*15. Sony Michel (Georgia) Sr. 33 games 2,498 18 TDs

During the 2017 opening win over App State, the Bulldog duo combined for 183 yards and three touchdowns to pace Georgia’s offense.

In his career, Michel now has 2,498 yards and that is good for 10th in school history. He went for a career-high 170 yards on 19 carries (8.9 avg.) and a touchdown in last year’s game versus Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs are the only school in the FBS to have two active rushers each with more than 2,000 yards. They lead the nation in combined yardage at 6,018.

Chubb and Michel combined for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries in the road win over South Carolina. It marked the first time since the 2014 win over Auburn that a pair of Bulldogs went over the 100-yard mark in the same game (Gurley, Chubb).

Chubb and Michel are the first Bulldog teammates to each have 1,000-yard rushing seasons in their career. Michel became the 10th Georgia player in history to rush for more than 1,000 yards while starting six games in 2015 He became a starter last year after Chubb, who became the ninth running back with 1,000+ yards in 2014, went down with the knee injury against UT.

Career Rushing For Sony Michel
Year G/GS Att. Yds TD LG Rec Yds TD LG
2014 8/1 64 410 5 75 7 106 1 33
2015 13/6 219 1,161 8 66 26 270 3 48
2016 12/2 152 840 4 42 22 149 1 33
Total 33/9 435 2,411 17 75 55 525 5 48

 

Career Rushing For Nick Chubb
Year G/GS Att. Yards Per/Att. Per/Gm. TD LG
2014 13/8 219 1,547 7.1 119.0 14 83 CSU
2015 6/6 92 747 8.1 124.5 7 83 ALA
2016 13/11 224 1,130 5.0 86.9 8 55 UNC
Total 32/25 535 3,424 6.4 107.0 29 83 (2x)

 

Career Receiving For Nick Chubb
Year G/GS Rec. Yards Per/Rec. Per/Gm. TD LG
2014 13/8 18 213 11.8 16.4 2 27 AUB
2015 6/6 4 32 8.0 5.3 1 24 SU
2016 13/11 5 86 17.2 6.6 1 49TD LA
Total 32/25 27 331 12.3 10.3 4 49TD LA

 

Developing Depth On The Offensive Line

Georgia returns just two of five offensive linemen who started a majority of the 2016 season. In the 2017 season opener, senior Isaiah Wynn started at LT while junior Lamont Gaillard made his starting debut at C. Gaillard started all 13 games at RG last year. Senior Dyshon Sims started two games at OG last year and one in 2015 and got the nod versus App State. The rest of the unit on the offensive line to start the year were a pair of first-time starters in redshirt sophomore OG Pat Allen and freshman RT Andrew Thomas. Thomas became the first true freshman to start on the offensive line for the Bulldogs since John Theus in 2012.

The Bulldogs who have competed for playing time across the front are junior Kendall Baker, redshirt freshman Solomon Kindley, redshirt freshman Ben Cleveland and junior Sean Fogarty. Georgia’s 2017 signing class included Thomas, junior transfer DeMarcus Hayes and true freshmen Netori JohnsonJustin Shaffer and Isaiah Wilson. Shaffer played versus the Mountaineers to get his first game experience.

Top Targets

Six different Bulldogs caught a pass in the season-opening win over App State. Senior Javon Wims had three receptions for a team-high 81 yards and scored his second career touchdown. Georgia relied on its talented senior running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as the rushing attack accounted for 233 yards. The Bulldogs were 11-of-20 through the air for 147 yards. Freshman TB D’Andre Swift also pulled in three catches for 18 yards during his Bulldog debut.

Georgia welcomes back an experienced group of tight ends in senior Jeb Blazevich, junior Jackson Harrisand sophomores Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner. The unit combined for four of the Bulldogs’ 11 catches against the Mountaineers.

Experienced Defense Returns

In 2017, Georgia welcomed back its entire starting defensive unit except STAR Maurice Smith, who completed his graduate transfer season and earned one of the team MVP awards. Smith, an undrafted free agent, made the Miami Dolphins roster. Four out of the top nine tacklers from 2016 were the Bulldog linebackers and all are back in 2017. Junior ILBs Roquan Smith had a team-leading 95 stops last year to anchor the middle of the defense. Junior DB Deandre Baker worked himself into a starting roll last year and is teaming with a veteran defensive backfield in seniors Dominick SandersAaron Davis and Malkom Parrish. However during preseason camp, Parrish went down with a broken bone in his foot. He missed the opener and is listed as day to day. Parrish started 12 of 13 games in 2016 and finished with 49 stops and two interceptions. He has 108 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions in 37 games during his Bulldog career.

Junior ILBs, Senior OLBs Return

Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick ranked 1-2 on the team in tackles with 95 and 59, respectively, in 2016. This marked the first time a sophomore led UGA in tackles since 2008 (Rennie Curran, 115). OLBs Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter combined for 95 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, last season.

To start the 2017 season, Smith posted a team-high six tackles. He led a defensive unit that blanked the Mountaineers for three quarters before App State scored 10 points thanks to short fields on a pair of Bulldog turnovers.

Experienced Group For New Defensive Line Coach

The Bulldog coaching staff has one new face this season in defensive line coach Tray Scott, and he inherited an experienced unit. The elder statesman is senior nose John Atkins while the other returning starter is junior Trenton Thompson. In 2016, Atkins made 22 stops while Thompson was the leading tackler among interior lineman with 56 stops, 9.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks and seven QB pressures. Thompson was named MVP of the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl in leading Georgia to a win over TCU, tallying three sacks and eight tackles. In this year’s opener, Thompson tied for the team lead with six stops, including two TFLs, and Atkins had three tackles.

That duo helped the line limit App State to 136 yards rushing on the evening, including just 62 in the second half.

Young DBs Getting Early Experience

Two early enrollees and another pair of second-year Bulldogs are also looking to make an impact. Highly-recruited in-state standouts Richard LeCounte and Deangelo Gibbs joined the program in January. LeCounte had five tackles versus App State and Gibbs added another pair of stops.

J.R. Reed and Tyrique McGhee each had five tackles in the opener. Reed also had a sack and a forced fumble in the same play. Reed, whose father Jake played receiver in the NFL for 12 years and whose uncle Dale also played in the League, redshirted the 2016 season after transferring from Tulsa. McGhee played in all 13 games last year and tallied nine tackles, eight of those coming on special teams.

Sanders Closing In On School Record

Senior safety Dominick Sanders is one of four members of Georgia’s defensive backfield who returns in 2017 along with Baker, Parrish and Davis. Sanders finished with a team-best three interceptions last year. He had an SEC-leading six picks in 2015 and finished that season with a UGA single season record of 205 interception return yards, which ranked fifth in SEC history. Sanders stands in third place for Bulldog Career Interception Yardage, just 20 yards from establishing a record. Last season, Georgia tied for third in the SEC with 15 INTs.

UGA RECORD BOOKS – INT RETURN YARDS (CAREER):
1. 315 ^Jake Scott (16) 1967-68 {fifth in SEC history}
2. 303 *Scott Woerner (13) 1977-80
3. 296 Dominick Sanders (12) 2014-

^2011 College Football Hall of Fame; *2016 College Football Hall of Fame

Nizialek Earns Punting Job

Graduate transfer Cameron Nizialek (NYE-zuh-lek) arrived in Athens during the preseason and earned the starting punting job. He spent his first three seasons at Columbia University where he finished with a degree in Economics. In his career with the Lions, Nizialek averaged 41.3 yards on 149 punts in three seasons. He averaged 44.8 on his punts in 2016.

In his Bulldog debut, Nizialek posted a 43.8 average on five punts, including placing two inside the 20. App State did not have any punt return yards.

Last year, Marshall Long and Brice Ramsey shared the punting duties. They averaged 37.5 yards per attempt. In 2017, Long is still recovering from a dislocated knee cap sustained during practice between Georgia’s ninth and 10th games last year. Ramsey, who started his career with the Bulldogs as a quarterback, is working only with the quarterbacks this year.

Blankenship Returns At PK

Redshirt sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship emerged onto the scene last year and was named to the Freshman All-SEC team after connecting on 14-of-18 field goals and all of his 26 PATs. Blankenship drilled a game winner at Kentucky last year and booted a career-long 49 yarder versus the Wildcats as well. During the preseason camp in 2017, the competition at PK included graduate transfer David Marvin. In the season-opening win over App State, Blankenship was 4-for-4 on PATs, hit a 23-yard field goal and boomed five kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

Marvin, who was a summa cum laude graduate in Biology/Chemistry, set the Wofford school record for most field goals in a career (32) and tied the record for the longest field goal in SoCon history at 57 yards.

First-Time Starters In 2016

The Bulldogs had four first-time starters in the 2017 season opener. ASU: Andrew Thomas (RT), Tyler Clark(DL), J.R. Reed (DB), Pat Allen (LG)

The True Freshman Experience

During the 2017 season opener, 17 true freshmen played for the Bulldogs. Andrew Thomas started at RT becoming the first true freshman lineman to start since John Theus in 2012.

In Kirby Smart‘s first season coming in 2016, 12 true freshmen made their debut plus two redshirt freshmen. The Bulldogs ended last season by playing a total of 15 true freshmen and five redshirt freshmen. In 2015, a total of 22 true freshmen, which led the nation, played for the Bulldogs, including 19 in the season opener and that also led the country.