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Trenton Thompson (78) - UGA vs. Mississippi State - Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017
Trenton Thompson (78)
– UGA vs. Mississippi State –
Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017

This Saturday, who are the Georgia Bulldogs to watch as UGA travels to Knoxville to take on Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.



Without question, the 6-4, 295-pound Thompson is the leader on the Bulldogs’ defensive front this season. The team’s top tackler in the interior line, the Albany native excelled last season as a sophomore, especially in Georgia’s final game in the Liberty Bowl when he recorded eight tackles, including three quarterback sacks, to earn the game’s MVP award. Thompson must step up again Saturday against a capable Volunteer O-line.


Whether he’s lined up at tackle or guard, and whether he starts the game or not, Sims has been an integral part of the Bulldogs’ offensive line this season. The 6-4, 290-pound Sims, who along with Isaiah Wynn is one of the few contributing seniors up front, provides leadership for Georgia’s young linemen both with his experience and by-example performance on the field. Those two seniors, Wynn and Sims, must continue to inspire their fellow linemen to a higher level of play as the season moves along.

J.R. REED (SAF, #20)

This redshirt sophomore transfer from Tulsa has been maybe the biggest surprise on the UGA roster this season. Making plays all over the field, Reed led the Bulldogs with 10 tackles in the romp over Mississippi State while also deflecting the Nick Fitzgerald pass that Dominique Sanders intercepted in the third quarter of last Saturday night’s contest. No question, Reed’s strong performance in both run support and pass defense will be needed against the Volunteer offense Neyland Saturday afternoon.

Cameron Nizialek puts his leg into a punt and sends into orbit over Sanford Stadium - UGA vs. Mississippi State - Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017
Cameron Nizialek puts his leg into a punt and sends into orbit over Sanford Stadium
– UGA vs. Mississippi State –
Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017



This graduate transfer from Columbia University in New York City has provided a big boon to Georgia’s special teams this season. With the ability to punt the football high and long, as well as placing his kicks inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, Nizialek carried a sterling 44.3 yards punting average into the big battle with Mississippi State last weekend. His ability to “flip the field” has enabled a stingy Bulldog defense to play with even more aggressiveness when the other team has the ball. Nizialek’s right leg will be a key to success at Neyland this weekend.


The 5-11, 183-pound Hardman has certainly become a dangerous weapon for the Bulldogs this season, both with his receiving and kick returns. Boasting tremendous speed, quickness and the ability to make people miss, the sophomore is expected to get better and better over the next two seasons as he learns all the nuances of being a receiver and continues to return kickoffs and likely punts also. Certainly, a long return or deep touchdown reception by Hardman would ignite the Bulldogs against the Vols Saturday.


One of Georgia’s all-time running backs, Chubb returns Saturday to the site of his horrific knee injury two years ago. Certainly, Chubb, who simply said following the win over Mississippi State that he was looking forward to playing again at Neyland Stadium, will be motivated to have a productive rushing game against the Tennessee defense. After running for 81 yards and notching touchdown runs of 7 and 28 yards in the 31-3 rout of the Maroon Bulldogs, a 100-yard plus rushing day for Chubb in Knoxville would be huge in keeping Georgia in the unbeaten ranks.


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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.