Bulldogs to Watch in the Sugar Bowl

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Bulldogs to Watch in the Sugar Bowl

Kirby Smart

Many observers think it will be difficult for Smart to get the Bulldogs motivated for the Sugar Bowl matchup with Texas, what with Georgia coming off its second excruciating loss to Alabama in this calendar year. But bitter as it was in a game the Bulldogs led for more than three quarters, before dropping the 35-28 decision, Smart says that won’t be the case. He vows his team will be pumped to face a good Longhorn team, close out the 2018 season at 12-2 and thereby jump start into what could be a spectacular 2019 season. You’ve got to believe Kirby will indeed have the Dawgs ready to go in ol’ New Orleans!
With Texas’ prolific quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, targeting the Longhorns’ star receivers, 6-4 Lil Jordan Humphrey and 6-6 Collin Johnson, the Bulldog secondary will have to be on high alert in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl. And LeCounte, Georgia’s 5-11, 190-pound sophomore safety, is hoping to pick up where he left off in the SEC Championship Game when he picked off Tua Tagovailoa at the UGA goal line and returned the ball 29 yards for his first career interception. LeCounte also enters the bowl game as Georgia’s leading tackler this season with 67 stops.

Julian Rochester (5); Natrez Patrick (6)

Patrick has certainly had his ups and downs at Georgia but the 6-3, 242-pound senior out of Atlanta’s Mays High School has stepped up in the second half of this season to enable the Bulldogs to rank 13th in the country in total defense. As he enters his final game in a UGA uniform, Patrick has recorded 37 tackles this season along with four tackles-for-loss. It goes without saying Patrick and the Dawgs’ defensive front will have to play big against the Longhorns’ potent passing and running attacks.
Holyfield has teamed with D’Andre Swift this season to greatly cushion the loss of college football’s all-time leading rushing tandem, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The 5-11, 215-pound junior, with his 956 yards, needs just 44 yards against Texas to join Swift (1,037) in the exclusive 1,000-yard rushing club. Controlling the football on long drives — as the Bulldogs did against top-ranked Alabama’s defense — will keep the Longhorns’ explosive offense on the sideline and that’s where Holyfield and Swift’s play will be crucial.

Tyler Simmons (87)

This 6-0, 201–pound junior has proved a versatile offensive weapon for Georgia this season, whether it’s pulling in a first-down pass from Jake Fromm or running for big yardage on the jet sweep. Simmons has nine receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns and has also run for 131 yards and two scores. As with the case of Swift and Holyfield in the ground game, the Bulldog receiving corps must be sure-handed in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when Fromm’s passes come their way … again, just as they were when Georgia’s offense put up 28 points and 454 yards against the Crimson Tide.
Woerner has complemented starting tight end Isaac Nauta extremely well this season, snaring nine passes for 121 yards including consecutive receptions on a Bulldog touchdown drive in the SEC Championship Game. And the 6-5, 245-pound junior has played a key role in Georgia’s run blocking this year, helping spring the Bulldogs’ talented tailbacks on first down runs. Woerner, who had three catches in the Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma last season before being sidelined with a leg injury and missing the national title game, will be looking to end the season on a high note against the 15th-ranked ‘Horns.









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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.