Bulldogs to Watch: Georgia vs. Texas A&M

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Bulldogs to Watch: Georgia vs. Texas A&M

UGA safety J.R. Reed (20), Georgia vs. Auburn, Saturday, November 16, 2019
UGA safety J.R. Reed (20),
Georgia vs. Auburn, Saturday, November 16, 2019

J.R. REED (SAF, #20)

Playing in his final game between the hedges on Saturday, Reed has been a starter at the safety position for three consecutive years after transferring from Tulsa. The 6-1, 194-pound senior from Frisco, Texas., who will be going against his home-state team in Texas A&M, is not only one of the Bulldogs’ leading tacklers and pass defenders but also one of the team’s primary senior leaders this season. Georgia’s second-leading tackler both in the 2017 and ‘18 seasons, Reed was named Preseason All-SEC First Team for 2019 as well as being named second-team on two preseason All-America teams. He was also named to the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, and Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Reed will be primed for a big performance in his farewell game at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium while leading the Bulldogs to a win over the Aggies.

Bulldog defensive lineman Michael Barnett,
Georgia vs. Florida Dawg Walk, Saturday, November 2, 2019
Bulldog defensive lineman Michael Barnett,
Georgia vs. Florida Dawg Walk, Saturday, November 2, 2019

MICHAEL BARNETT (DT, #94)

This graduate senior tackle has been a steady contributor to the Bulldogs’ defensive front, whether taking down opposing running backs or getting pressure on the quarterback. Five years in the UGA program, the 6-4, 304-pound Barnett, out of Ridgeville, S.C., played as a freshman in 2015, was redshirted during the 2016 season, and then returned to the lineup in 2017, ‘18 and this year to help the Bulldogs’ defense become the best in the Southeastern Conference. Like all the Georgia senior players, Barnett is hoping to make a statement against the visiting Aggies Saturday afternoon.

UGA junior left tackle Andrew Thomas (71), Georgia vs. Auburn, Saturday, November 16, 2019
UGA junior left tackle Andrew Thomas (71),
Georgia vs. Auburn, Saturday, November 16, 2019

ANDREW THOMAS (OT, #71)

Thomas is in his junior season at UGA but with the 6-5, 320-pound left tackle expected to be a first-round NFL draft selection next spring, this assuredly will be his final home game in Athens. And what a player Thomas has been for the Bulldogs the past three seasons! He was recently named a Mid-Season All-American by The Sporting News, CBS Sports, Athlon, ESPN.com and the Associated Press. Named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after Georgia rolled up 325 rushing yards in the season opener at Vanderbilt, Thomas is on the Outland Trophy Watch List and was selected as Preseason First Team All-America by Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and Athlon Sports. That came after a sophomore season where Thomas was named to at least two All-America teams. Andrew Thomas is a true road grader in the offensive line and should receive another high grade for his blocking against the A&M defensive front.

Dawgs' placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98), Georgia vs. Auburn, Saturday, November 16, 2019
Dawgs’ placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98),
Georgia vs. Auburn, Saturday, November 16, 2019

RODRIGO BLANKENSHIP (PK, #98)

The guy who always gets the loudest cheer and ovation when the Bulldogs’ starting lineup is introduced on the jumbo screen above the West end zone, Blankenship will be putting the cap on a fabled Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium home kicking career against the Aggies on Saturday. “Hot Rod,” as he’s affectionally known to Bulldog Nation, is one of the semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s top place-kicker, and is already UGA’s career field goal percentage leader … improving his own accuracy mark to over 83 percent this season. And too, he hasn’t missed an extra-point kick his entire four-year career at Georgia while also continually booting the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs. Kirby Smart and his staff will be facing an almost impossible job in attempting to replace Rodrigo Blankenship.

UGA tight end Charlie Woerner (89), 
Georgia vs. Florida, Saturday, November 2, 2019
UGA tight end Charlie Woerner (89),
Georgia vs. Florida, Saturday, November 2, 2019

CHARLIE WOERNER (TE, #89)

Another Georgia senior leader who will be seeing his final action between the hedges Saturday afternoon, Woerner has been a starter at tight end all season-long for the Bulldogs. The 6-5, 245-pound Woerner, out of Rabun County High in Tiger, Ga., always seems to step up in the biggest games, as he did as a sophomore in Georgia’s Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma two years ago and as he did in the 24-17 win over Florida this season when he had two clutch catches for 20 yards. Also, a consistent blocker on the perimeter for the Bulldogs’ running backs, Woerner and his fellow UGA seniors are hoping to make their final game on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium one to remember.

James Coley during Fall Camp press conference, Monday, August 5, 2019
James Coley during Fall Camp press conference,
Monday, August 5, 2019

JAMES COLEY (UGA Offensive Coordinator)

Coley, who served as Co-Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Georgia in 2018, was promoted to Offensive Coordinator in Jan. 2019 and continues to coach the Bulldog signal-callers.

He has been on the UGA coaching staff since Kirby Smart took over as head coach in 2016 and was named Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach at Georgia in 2018 after two seasons coaching the Bulldogs’ wide receivers. Coley came to Athens from the University of Miami where he coached present Bulldog graduate wide receiver Lawrence Cager, who readily credits Coley for his development into one of the SEC’s top receivers. Coley had a masterful game plan against Florida in the Bulldogs’ 24-17 win, keeping the Gators off balance with an outstanding run/pass mixture and is hoping to do the same against the A&M defense Saturday.

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.