Bulldogs to Watch – Middle Tennessee

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Bulldogs to Watch – Middle Tennessee

Mecole Hardman (4)

Hardman is one of the Bulldogs’ most dynamic playmakers. Named AP All-SEC 2nd Team in 2017 when he tallied 25 catches for 418 yards and six touchdowns, including an 80-yard scoring bomb from Jake Fromm in the national championship game, Hardman started 2018 with a bang when he scored on a 59-yard pass from Fromm, in the Bulldogs’ opening win over Austin Peay. Hardman and his fellow wideouts should stretch the field against Middle Tennessee and thus carry that success over into a key road test at Missouri next week.
This 6-6, 340-pound redshirt sophomore out of Toccoa is one of the Bulldogs’ pillars of granite up front in the O-line. Playing in all 15 games last season, Cleveland started the final five games at right guard for the SEC and Rose Bowl champions and has carried that momentum into nailing down that position again this season. Cleveland and the rest of the UGA linemen need a big game against the Blue Raiders Saturday night and thus get tuned for the crucial SEC stretch ahead.

Natrez Patrick (6) and J.R. Reed (20)

Patrick is certainly a key component on the Bulldogs’ defense this season. Overcoming off-the-field problems, the 6-3, 242-pound Patrick has returned to the lineup and is providing much-needed experience and senior leadership for Mel Tucker’s unit. And for Georgia to have success in the big games ahead, Patrick will need to return to the stellar performance he had as a sophomore two years ago when Patrick was the team’s second-leading tackler with 59 total stops, despite missing the season’s final three games with an injury.
This 5-11, 190-pound sophomore from Liberty County has moved into a starting berth at safety this season and has the potential to evolve into one of the Bulldogs’ all-time defensive backs. Head coach Kirby Smart certainly knows LeCounte’s potential and that’s why Smart continually pushes his young safety in practice, knowing full well what LeCounte’s play could mean for the team over the next several years. LeCounte and the Georgia secondary will have to be zeroed in Saturday night against the passing of Blue Raider quarterback Brent Stockstill.

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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.