UGA Football: Dawgs to Host Samford Bulldogs

The Georgia Bulldogs vs. The Samford Bulldogs


  • Game 3: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Samford Bulldogs
  • Kickoff: Saturday, September 16 – 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Sanford Stadium (92,746) – Athens, Ga.
  • 2017 Records: Georgia 2-0 (0-0 SEC), Samford 2-0 (0-0 SoCon)
  • 2016 Records: Georgia 8-5 (4-4 SEC), Samford 7-5 (5-3 SoCon)
  • Rankings: Georgia #13/13, Samford NR
  • TV: SECN Alt – Channel Finder
  • Video Stream: SECN+
  • Radio: WSB AM 750 – Bulldog Network | Affiliates
    Scott Howard (PxP), Eric Zeier (Color), Chuck Dowdle (sideline)
  • Audio Stream: | Mobile
  • Satellite: Sirius 137, XM 190
  • Web Stats: Live Stats
  • Twitter: #SAMvsUGA
  • ReBroadcast: SEC Network: TBA

Georgia 2017 Averages Samford
25.5 Scoring Offense 38.5
14.5 Scoring Defense 32.0
-2 Turnover Margin +1
347.0 Total Offense 375.0
203.0 Rushing Offense 96.0
144.0 Passing Offense 279.0
5.4 Punt Returns 7.8
25.5 Kickoff Returns 28.7


Samford Up Next For The Bulldogs

Georgia is off to a 2-0 start following its 20-19 road win over No. 24 Notre Dame this past Saturday. Up next, the Bulldogs play host to Samford (2-0). The 2017 season marks the 124th year of Georgia football, and the Bulldogs are closing in on 800 wins. Georgia’s record stands at 797-418-54 and that ranks 11th nationally. Samford, which is located in Birmingham, Ala., competes in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and its first season playing was in 1902. This is the second-ever meeting with Georgia as the schools first played in 1943 in Athens as Georgia won 39-0. Back then, Samford was known as Howard. The school changed its name in 1965 to Samford.

Coaching Connections

Samford is coached by Chris Hatcher, and he gave Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart his first full-time coaching job at Valdosta State. Hatcher directed the Blazers from 2000- 06, and he hired Smart to be his defensive backs coach in 2000 and then promoted him to defensive coordinator in 2001. Coaching runs in their families as Kirby’s father, Sonny, and Chris’s father, Edgar, were both high school coaches in Georgia and the families are good friends. Kirby spent two seasons at VSU before heading to FSU in the early part of his career while Hatcher moved on to be head coach at Georgia Southern (2007-09), Murray State (2010-14) and then to Samford.

Three Non-Conference Matchups To Start 2017

Kirby Smart‘s second year features games with Appalachian State, Notre Dame and Samford before eight consecutive SEC contests, starting with a home matchup versus Mississippi State. Georgia and Samford are both 2-0. The Athens-based Bulldogs have a 31-10 win over App State in Athens and a 20-19 victory over #24 Notre Dame in South Bend. The Birmingham-based Bulldogs have beaten Kennesaw State (28-23) and West Alabama (49-41). Samford’s win over West Alabama was last Thursday, Sept. 7.

Another Late Rally For The Bulldogs

In the 20-19 win over No. 24 Notre Dame, Georgia erased four deficits, falling behind 3-0, 10-3 and 13-10, which increased to 16-10 in the final half, and lastly 19-17 in the final quarter. With 4:34 left in the 3rd quarter, Georgia took its first lead at 17-16. With 10:21 left in the contest, Notre Dame moved back in front after an 18-yard field goal for a 19-17 lead. With 3:39 remaining, Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 30-yarder for a 20-19 advantage.

In Kirby Smart‘s first season, Georgia rallied back for five victories when they trailed in the final period, beating No. 22 North Carolina in Atlanta, on the road against Missouri and Kentucky, home versus Auburn and against TCU in the Liberty Bowl (Memphis, Tenn.). In the Smart era, the Bulldogs have six fourth-quarter comebacks.

Rare Road Debut For A Freshman QB

True freshman Jake Fromm started at quarterback in Georgia’s 20-19 win over No. 24 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 9. Fromm assumed the starting role after sophomore Jacob Eason injured a knee in the opener versus App State. This marked only the fourth time in the past 17 seasons that Georgia had a change at quarterback due to an injury. Before this year, the last time it happened was in 2013 when Hutson Mason started for Aaron Murray versus Georgia Tech. Murray tore his ACL versus Kentucky the week before, breaking a streak of 52 consecutive starts.

Fromm became only the seventh true freshman Bulldog quarterback to start a game, including just the second to do it on the road in his first career start. True freshman Georgia quarterbacks to start included Johnny Rauch (1945), Joe Dupree (1990), Eric Zeier (1991), Quincy Carter (1998), Matt Stafford (2006), Jacob Eason (2016) and now Fromm.

Fromm joins Zeier as the only true freshmen to have their first career start on the road. Zeier led #22 Georgia to a 37-17 win over #23 Ole Miss in Oxford. In that game, Zeier was 18-for-30 for 216 yards. Against No. 24 Notre Dame, Fromm finished 16-for-29 for 141 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT in the win.

Head Coach Kirby Smart


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 Samford State ’03

Coaching 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 2 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. App State (9/2/17), #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

6 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
2017 #24 Notre Dame 17-16, trailed 19-17 with 10:21 left 20-19

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

Fromm Filling In As Eason Sidelined

It’s been an eventful two weeks for true freshman QB Jake Fromm who has been filling in for sophomore Jacob Eason. After Eason went down with a knee injury in the first quarter versus App State in the season opener, Fromm has been at the controls of the Bulldog offense. In that span the Bulldogs are 2-0 and Fromm is 26-for-44 for 284 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT.

Fromm is only the seventh true freshman Bulldog quarterback to start a game, including just the second to do it on the road in his first career start. True freshman Georgia quarterbacks to start include Johnny Rauch (1945), Joe Dupree (1990), Eric Zeier (1991), Quincy Carter (1998), Matt Stafford (2006), Jacob Eason(2016) and now Fromm. Fromm joined Zeier as the only true freshmen to have their first career start on the road. Zeier led #22 Georgia to a 37-17 win over #23 Ole Miss in Oxford. In that game, Zeier was 18-for-30 for 216 yards.

Against No. 24 Notre Dame, Fromm finished 16-for-29 for 141 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT in the win which featured a fourth quarter comeback. Trailing 19-17 with 6:47 left in the contest, Fromm directed a nine play, 63-yard drive to set up the go-ahead field goal. He was 3-for-4 for 45 yards during the drive.

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.

Eason had served as the starter since the second game of the 2016 season before his injury. In addition to the comeback over the TCU in the 2016 Liberty Bowl, Eason led the Bulldogs last season to three victories with game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. He notched his first win over a top-10 opponent in a 13-7 victory over #8 Auburn. 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 4thand- 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.

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


Jake Fromm (UGA Career)
2017 Att Cmp TD Int Yds Sk Eff.
ASU (W) 15 10 1 0 143 0 168.7
@ #24 ND (W) 29 16 1 1 141 2 100.5
TOTAL 44 26 2 1 284 2 123.8


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 3,583 while Michel is 15th with 2,571. 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. 41 games 4,449 yards 50 TDs
2. Justin Jackson (Northwestern) Sr. 40 games 4,256 yards 31 TDs
3. Larry Rose III (New Mexico St.) Sr. 33 games 3,777 yards 27 TDs
4. Jarvion Franklin (W. Michigan) Sr. 42 games 3,715 yards 41 TDs
5. Nick Chubb (Georgia) Sr. 34 games 3,583 yards 31 TDs
*15. Sony Michel (Georgia) Sr. 35 games 2,571 19 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 the road win over #24 Notre Dame, they tallied 136 yards on 26 attempts with one TD.

In his career, Michel now has 2,571 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 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.

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
2017 2/0 29 160 2 44 1 -2 0
Total 35/9 464 2,571 19 75 56 523 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
2017 2/2 28 159 5.7 79.5 2 30 ND
Total 34/27 563 3,583 6.36 105.4 31 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
2017 2/2 1 11 11 0.5 0 11 ND
Total 34/27 28 342 12.2 10.1 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. Against #24 Notre Dame, junior Kendall Baker earned his first career start as he lined up at left guard.

Additionally, Bulldogs who have competed for playing time across the front are 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. Cleveland and Kindley have played in the first two games while Shaffer made his debut versus the Mountaineers.

An Array Of Targets

A dozen Bulldogs have caught a pass through the first two games this season but only two have a touchdown. Senior Javon Wims leads the team with five receptions for 116 yards and one TD. Junior Terry Godwin made an acrobatic one-handed grab for a five-yard TD at No. 24 Notre Dame. His catches was No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top-10 List”. Along with the receivers, Georgia welcomes back an experienced group of tight ends in senior Jeb Blazevich, junior Jackson Harris and sophomores Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner.

OLBs Spark Defense In Win At #24 Notre Dame

Senior OLBs Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy wreaked havoc on the Irish offense by forcing the Bulldogs first two turnovers of the year and combining for 13 tackles. Carter was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after posting seven tackles, including a sack for loss of 12 yards, forced two fumbles and recovered a pair of fumbles. Bellamy finished with six stops, including a sack and 1.5 TFLs, and forced a fumble. His sack came on Notre Dame’s final possession with under two minutes left and Carter pounced on the ball to clinch the victory.

Junior ILBs 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). 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. Smith added seven stops versus the Irish.

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. Four out of the top nine tacklers from 2016 were the Bulldog linebackers and all are back in 2017. 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 and firstyear starters J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte.

However during preseason camp, Parrish went down with a broken bone in his foot. He missed the first two games and is listed as day to day. Parrish 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.

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.

Atkins has tallied three tackles in each of the first two games anchoring down the middle of the defense. 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.

That duo, along with sophomores Tyler ClarkJulian Rochester and others, helped limit App State to 136 yards rushing on the evening, including just 62 in the second half. The Irish totaled only 55 yards on the ground, the least recorded by the Irish since 2011.

LeCounte, Reed Assume Larger Roles

An early enrollee and another second-year Bulldog are making an early impact for the Bulldogs. Highly-recruited in-state standout Richard LeCounte joined the program in January. He had five tackles versus App State and made his first career start in the win at #24 Notre Dame.

J.R. Reed had five tackles in the opener before leading his team with a career-high nine stops in the 20-19 win over the Irish. He also had a sack and a forced fumble in the same play against the Mountaineers and added a TFL versus Notre Dame. 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.

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 in 2016. 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.


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. This year, he has posted a 43.9 average on 13 punts, including placing six inside the 20. App State did not have any punt return yards in the opener while Notre Dame had minus three yards. Georgia ranks 2nd nationally in fewest punt return yards allowed at -1.0.

Nizialek 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.

Blankenship Earns Starting Spot, Scholarship

Redshirt sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship earned the starting job before the 2017 opener and received the news last week that he had been awarded a scholarship. He hit the game-winning 30-yard field goal at the 3:34 mark in the fourth quarter on the road versus #24 Notre Dame and connected on both of his PATs. 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.

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. Marvin 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.