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Bulldogs to Watch

Maurice Smith
Maurice Smith



Murray Poole has some Bulldogs for you to watch and keep an eye on in the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville on Saturday.



In his only season at Georgia, Smith has been a solid leader for the Bulldogs’ secondary this fall. The 6-0, 195-pound Smith, who transferred from Alabama after playing for the Crimson Tide and also obtaining his degree in Tuscaloosa, enters the Florida game Saturday with 26 total tackles and has recorded an interception, a fumble recovery and three pass break-ups. Starting six of Georgia’s seven games thus far, Smith’s biggest game came in the close loss to Tennessee when he had seven tackles (5 solo, 2 assists) including a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a pass breakup. The playing experience Smith notched under then Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and brought to Athens has proved most beneficial for the Bulldogs’ young defensive backs and, certainly, Smith’s play and leadership against the Gators will be key to Georgia springing the upset in Jacksonville on Saturday.



It hasn’t been an easy transition for Catalina, starting at left tackle for Georgia in the rugged Southeastern Conference after playing for Rhode Island his first three seasons. In fact, dealing with much faster defensive linemen and linebackers than he encountered at Division III Rhode Island and also getting acclimated to the heat and humidity of the Deep South took its toll on Catalina in the Bulldogs’ early games. However, the 6-6, 314-pound graduate transfer has rendered steady improvement, especially in the 28-14 win over South Carolina when he helped pave the way for the Bulldogs rushing for 326 yards.

It goes without saying that Catalina and the rest of his fellow O-linemen, after a poor showing in the loss to Vanderbilt, will have to step up considerably on Saturday against the Gators’ tenacious defensive unit.



Riley Ridley, the younger brother of Alabama’s star wide receiver Calvin Ridley, is already becoming an outstanding pass catcher in his own right in this, his freshman season at Georgia. The 6-2, 197-pound Ridley has appeared in six games and has totaled seven catches for 126 yards and one touchdown, that score being a 47-yard reception from Jacob Eason with just 10 seconds remaining … a touchdown that put the Bulldogs ahead 31-28 before the Vols pulled the game out on a final play, Hail Mary pass. Ridley, who snared five passes for 67 yards in the upset loss to Vanderbilt, will need to play to a high level once again when the Georgia receivers challenge Florida’s talented secondary.



Dell McGee was named Georgia running backs coach on January 3, 2015. He had just led Georgia Southern as interim head coach to victory in its first-ever bowl game, a win over Bowling Green in the GoDaddy Bowl. McGee, who served as running backs coach at Georgia Southern the previous two seasons, both of which the Eagles led the nation in rushing offense, is tutoring two of the SEC’s top ball carriers this season in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and after the Bulldogs had day-and-night rushing showings against South Carolina (326 yds.) and Vanderbilt (75 yds.) the past two outings, McGee’s tailbacks will have to step back up with a big-time performance against Florida, that is, if Georgia is to have any chance of pulling off the upset in Jacksonville.


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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.