Daily Dawg Thread: April 02, 2023

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Daily Dawg Thread: April 02, 2023

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Video/Transcript: Kirby Smart’s post-scrimmage presser

Opening Statement

“First scrimmage today. I think this is my eighth Spring here. It seems to be the same every time. We don’t tackle well. We’re a little lackadaisical. Probably more penalties than I am used to having on the first scrimmage. Administrative penalties, signals getting in, delay of game, communication, things that you shouldn’t have but we typically have in the first scrimmage. I was proud of guys for pushing through. We had rain this morning. The field was a little damp, but they competed. It’s hard to talk about individuals because I like to watch the tape. Over nine practices I’m pretty pleased with the effort. I keep thinking defensively we should be ahead of where we are. We are probably not where we need to be in terms of that. We played really physical up front on the offensive line. We got some guys dinged up that have been out, but we have some young guys that are coming along and picking things up. The good news in, those 21 freshmen, new guys, whatever you want to say, they are going to be a lot closer to being ready the next time we have a scrimmage No. 1 in the Fall. I’m excited about where they are going to be, but maybe not where they are.”





On his initial thoughts on the quarterbacks…

“It’s like everything. The ebb and flow. I can think of some really good things each one did, and I can think of some really poor things each one did. It’s not like one guy is sticking out. Carson (Beck) has really good command of the offense. He understands it inside and out. He communicates it. He gets things correct. He had a couple poor decisions and choices today, but he also made some plays, made some really food throws. He has a really good presence in the pocket, moves around. Brock (Vandagriff) made some plays. He made some plays getting out of the pocket. Made some good throws. He had a couple of downfield throws that I think he wished he had back to give us a chance in some 50/50 situations. Keep the ball in bounds with that. He did a really good job in two-minute. Gunner (Stockton) made some plays. The made some play with his feet. He’s still… the administration of the offense, getting everybody lined up, getting going, getting the call in, which is not all on him. He’s grown. He’s getting better. He made some nice throws. I’m going to keep repeating myself, but we have three pretty good quarterbacks and they’ve grown. Each one of them and they are all three different in their own ways.”

On the dynamics of the quarterbacks…





“I don’t think the dynamics have changed. Brock and Carson are both getting reps with the ones. Gunner got some reps with the twos, predominately the threes. Our threes are in a better state. There are times where they couldn’t function. This three group has some really good skill players in it. I’m not used to having this many wide receivers on our threes. We have some good guys to throw to. The offensive line with the threes has some experience and a couple walk-ons. It functions so you can evaluate Gunner better, where there is not always the chance to do that with the threes. I can’t sit and say that the dynamic has changed in any way, shape or form. I think we’ll evaluate this scrimmage and come back in Monday and be able to say what they did well or poorly with no coach on the field. It’s still a tough evaluation because there are probably 10 plays out there during the scrimmage where I have to say a guy got sacked. Did he get sacked, or did he not get sacked because we didn’t tackle him? You give the benefit of the doubt to the defensive player that is standing there unblocked but you actually have to get him to the ground. Until you tackle a guy live, which we are not going to do, it’s not going to be a true evaluation.”

On the speed at the receiver position…

“I don’t know, it’s hard to say. You throw Arian (Smith) in there and you know he’s fast. He’s as fast as we’ve had. He’s been part of the recent receiver groups. C.J. Smith is really fast. He’s done a really good job. Growing up. Anthony Evans has been dealing with a little bit of an ankle sprain. He went early in practice but didn’t get to finish out. He didn’t reinjure it. He just has a nagging injury, but he is fast. It’s hard to say. I think it’s one of the largest sheer groups we’ve had in numbers. We’re able to put ones, twos, threes out there and I remember in past Springs we were just depleted at that position. I can’t answer whether this is the fasted or not.”

On Austin Blaske and the offensive line…

“He’s a competitor. I don’t know if there is anybody on the offensive line that practices as hard and as physical as he does day in and day out. He doubles as a center too. He goes in and plays center as well, so he’s really intelligent. He works really hard. He’s really good on our loose plays. He can cover down. He’s athletic. He does a good job. Earnest (Greene III) is doing a really phenomenal job as well. Earnest gives us something we didn’t have in the last couple of years. In the run game he is really physical. He moves people. Those two guys are battling it out there. We have to be able to flip too. They just can’t all be one side. Whether Amarius (Mims) id there or at left you have to have at least a couple of tackles that can flip. Go back and forth. They both have done a good job of doing that.

On the outside linebacker room…

“Green. Extremely green. Never seen one as green. The issue is even the old players, Darris Smith, Marvin Jones Jr., and CJ Washington, none of them really have true playing experience. Marvin probably has the most and he’s out. CJ was injured all year, going through a shoulder surgery a lot of the year and kind of recovered from that so he’s out there getting reps. Then you’ve got the incoming freshman. So it’s very unique, but I like what we have. I wouldn’t trade the room for somebody else’s room because we’ve got some good players in there, they just got a long way to go. I go back to Nolan Smith’s freshman year and you watch all the clips and he wasn’t where he was year three. He’s not supposed to be. And they’re not. Jalen Walker last year played a lot in some pass rush situations so he’s been able to do that as well.”

On the running backs and the injury bug…

“I don’t think we lost anybody today. We had a couple guys that weren’t able to scrimmage today, but we didn’t lose anybody within the scrimmage. Daijun Edwards has been dealing with a hamstring, so he’s been in-and-out. He’s hitting some good miles per hour, I think Daijun’s really close. Maybe could have pushed over the edge today to go to give us some more depth at back but we didn’t do that with the hopes that two days off, Sunday, Monday, we’ll have him ready to go Tuesday. Obviously, Kendall Milton’s injury, he’s out but Branson Robinson did a good job. I think we ended up getting about 10 carries for Branson and about 10 carries for Roderick Robinson, which is a lot for us in a scrimmage. The guys that haven’t played in games in the fall, we try to get them 10-12 a scrimmage. The guys who have played a lot in games, we try to get them 4-5 a scrimmage. Those guys did a nice job. Sevaughn Clark did a good job, as you know Cash Jones has been working at that position, he does a really good job. We’ve got a couple guys, Joseph Daniels and Miles Thornton, who moved there from DB and receiver who’ve actually been a blessing for us. Two walk-ons, one was a wideout, one was a DB, who’ve done a really good job.”

On the tight end room without the likes of Darnell Washington…

“It’s not the same. We don’t have that same mass and movement. It doesn’t just affect the run game, it affects the play action pass game. Where Darnell Washington was elite was he could block you, he could go out on the perimeter and block you, he could get vertical on a play action, but when we match protect, he was like having an extra lineman. Oscar Delp’s doing that. Oscar’s really been a pleasant surprise blocking this spring. He’s come so far. You don’t know how Oscar got better versus who are the people he’s blocking. He’s not blocking Robert Beal Jr. and Nolan Smith, he’s blocking Gabe Harris, Sam M’Pemba, CJ Washington, and even Chaz Chambliss. Oscar’s done a good job when he’s gone against Tramel Walthour and Mykel Williams when he was out there. I like the competition at tight end, but we don’t have the depth, especially with Pearce Spurlin out, that we need.”

On Mykel Williams…

Mykel had a foot injury that was bothering him all year. He did not get injured in spring practice, he had a continuation of a small injury that Ron Courson felt like if he couldn’t handle it with maintenance — meaning treatment and getting better and recovery — that we would have the possibility of taking him out. So we decided to do that. It’s going to allow him to be back running in June and working out. It was more of a choice that he and his family made at the advice of the doctors, but not a true injury. It’s just something that’s been nagging him and we wanted to clean it up for him and get him healthy.

On Javon Bullard…

Javon Bullard’s true position. He’s a really good blitzer, he’s a really good STAR. Natural, just good football player. He reminds me a lot of Chris Smith because Chris could play STAR, Chris could player safety, and Chris came in as a corner. When we recruited Javon out of high school, he was a deep part of the field player. He broke on balls, made lots of tackles. The things we saw on tape, we see now. He’s competing for the strong safety spot, he’s repping STAR. So we’re very pleased with where he is, but we’re trying to continue to get him better.

On what he’s looking for out of the quarterbacks…

Demeaner and communication. I can get the stats, but a true quarterback is a decision-maker. In our system, because some systems take all the pressure of the quarterback and they just go really fast, we don’t do that. We’re a quarterback driven offense. So, can you process the information? That means you to signal. You get people lined up, then see what the defense is in and figure out, are we in the right situation? Which of these three choices Coach Bobo’s given me am I going to utilize on this play? And then the play happens, and there might be a mistake or a breakdown, and you do not go full metal jacket and have catastrophe mode and put us in a bad situation. Decision-making is the number one thing I want to see at the quarterback position. Can you make consecutive, good decisions over and over that don’t cost our team games? Because we have enough play makers, and we have enough plays that you will make a play inevitably. Don’t make a bonehead play. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.

On transfers and their early impact… 

“Rara had a little bit of bone bruise on his knee, so he missed one or two days. Came back Thursday, had a good practice Thursday, he was catching his wind, and then he had a pretty good scrimmage today. The biggest thing with Rara is he’s showing us that he can make plays downfield, which we really need. He catches the ball well, but he has to learn the system. For him, it’s little administrative things, what’s my split? What’s the call? Where do I get the signal? Where do I line up? He wasn’t in a system where he had to do all those things so there’s a bit of a learning curve there, but he’s a guy with a great amount of ability who has to be more dependable. Dom (Lovett) has picked things up nicely, he’s very intelligent, and he’s been able to make some plays down the field. He gets to match up against Tykee, Bullard, and Joenel a lot, and he’s made some plays on those guys. I’m very happy with what he’s been able to pick up. Smoke Bouie is another guy that has to learn the defense, he’s got a long way to go but he’s picking it up, he’s not afraid to go out there and compete.” 

On Branson Robinson… 

“He’s working, he got his share of carries today. I thought he looked quick and powerful; he broke some tackles like you would expect. He could’ve easily played more last year but we had guys that were capable and in front of him, the biggest learning curve is pass protection. The biggest jump they have to make from year one to year two is, can we count on you in pass protection, and can you protect the ball if we’re giving you the ball as a back. He’s shown that he has the intelligence and toughness to do that.” 

On what kind of player an NFL team is getting in Nolan Smith… 

“He’s going to make an organization better, and he’s going to make the community better. First, he’s a very bright individual with a huge personality, he’s a hard worker, coachable, but that’s why they draft those guys in the first round, those teams look at the board and ask, ‘Where are the pitfalls?’. With Nolan Smith, you’re not going to get many because his character stands out, he has a great momma and grandma at home that raised a bright young man. He’s fun to be around, he texts me all the time and I miss him because you’d walk into the team meeting room and he’s sitting right in the front smiling, being loud as hell, always talking, and they’re going to get a great personality that would represent an organization in the right way.” 

On the cornerback competition… 

“I would say that Kamari has played well, he’s ahead, but not where he needs to be. I want him to continue to grow and get better, but the steps he’s taken have been with leadership, toughness, and showing people how to practice. It’s really an open competition, those guys are rolling through there, Daylen, Nyland, Julian, AJ Harris, so we’re trying to figure out who’s going to play the best, who’s going to matchup with guys. A lot of it is not just who can make plays, but who isn’t going to give up explosive plays. Our defense is going to allow us to stop the run and do a lot of things, but who’s not going to give up plays on the perimeter. It’s similar to the three quarterbacks, all three have flashed, but who’s going to be the best after the next 26 practices we have, and I don’t know if we’re ready to say that yet. They’ve all had moments of success and they’ve all had moments of failure. Even today, a couple of those guys had picks and big plays, but they also gave up some plays.” 

On Jamon Dumas Johnson and Smael Mondon… 

“Him and Smael started out the spring in a curious position, whereas last spring they had a chip on their shoulder and nobody knew who they were, everyone is questioning them, so they were out there hungry, eating off the floor. They both had good seasons, but I had to call them in at one point because I didn’t think that they were practicing with the same ferocity that they would’ve been practicing with last year. I showed them some clips and said ‘Here’s you last spring and this is the way you were practicing when you had something to prove, and here’s the first four practices of this spring. Is that the same two guys?’. I think they both acknowledged that it probably wasn’t, and it needed to be, and that’s the disease that’s out there. Since that conversation, they’ve both really picked it up and been great leaders. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong, it’s just that they weren’t doing it right enough.” 

On replacing the pass production out of the backfield… 

“It’s almost impossible with the situation that we have with Kendall and Daijun out, we’re not going to replace Kenny’s receptions with just the backs we have, and Andrew Paul is out too. So, you’re sitting there telling yourself ‘Andrew is almost back but he’s not, Daijun is almost back but he’s not, Kendall’s out’, it’s been tough but that’s why we got a wideout that’s 200 pounds, and a DB that’s 200 pounds that’s moved to tailback. Those two guys Daniels and Thornton have done great. They’re part of the culture at Georgia where you go out and get really good high school players from the state of Georgia, and they can play any position. They have helped with the receiving skills that we lost. Branson is working on it and so is Roderick.” 

Softball: Georgia tops Kentucky 9-5

The 15th-ranked Georgia softball team defeated No. 16 Kentucky Saturday afternoon, 9-5, at Jack Turner Stadium. With the win, Georgia has won its eighth-straight Southeastern Conference game as the Bulldogs improve to 8-1 in SEC play.

The Bulldogs climb to 28-6 on the season. Georgia has won 10 straight games.

Georgia’s offense narrowly out-hit Kentucky in the game, 9-8. Sydney Kuma highlighted the day, hitting a grand slam in the first inning. Kuma, along with Sara Mosley and Jaiden Fields, all had two hits, while Lyndi Rae Davis joined Kuma and Fields in leaving the yard. 

Madison Kerpics (11-4) worked four innings in her start, allowing four earned runs on six hits. She struck out three and walked three. Shelby Walters earned a three-inning save, her third save of the season, working the final three innings, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out five Wildcats.

Georgia put together a two-out rally in the first to go ahead in the contest. With one on and two out, Fields lined a base hit to right. Davis followed with a walk to load the bases. Kuma stepped in and blasted a grand slam to right center, her second slam of the season, to put the Bulldogs in front 4-0.

A two-out error in center extended the top of the second. The Wildcats (21-8-1, 4-3) capitalized on the free runner with a single through the right side to push in a run, 4-1. The run ended Georgia’s scoreless inning streak at 25 innings.

Watch a fullscreen slideshow HERE.

Kentucky’s Grace Lorsung knocked a two-out RBI double to right in the top of the third to cut Georgia’s lead in half, 4-2.

Another four spot in the third extended Georgia’s lead to six. The scoring began with a two-run home run off the bat of Fields. Davis followed with a home run of her own, a monster shot over the trees in right. Kuma pulled up at second with a double to left center, then immediately scored on a base hit from Sydney Chambley to go ahead 8-2.

The Wildcats pushed three two-out runs in the fourth to whittle away at Georgia’s lead, 8-5.

With Dallis Goodnight on first in the bottom of the sixth, Sara Mosley singled to left. On the play, throwing errors from the left fielder and right fielder allowed Goodnight to score and bring Georgia’s lead back to four, 9-5.

A one-out error in the top of the seventh put a Wildcat on. Walters concluded the game, inducing a 1-6-3 double play to end the contest.

Game two of the series is set for Sunday evening at 6 p.m. at Jack Turner Stadium. Sunday’s game will air live on SEC Network.

Head coach Tony Baldwin’s Remarks

On Saturday’s performance…

“We competed well. We had a couple of pretty good innings where we strung some at bats together. All in all, I think we can play better on the pitching and defensive side – maybe clean up some of the free bases. That’s what created the stress. I don’t think we did a very good job of getting the shutdown inning after we scored, those are some of the things that we talked about; tomorrow we’ll try and do a little bit better. But with the conditions and the opening (game of the) series where you’re trying to feel out each team, I’m proud of the way that we competed and handled our business. We’ll take the win every time.”

On the crowd… 

“It turned out to be a beautiful day. I’m thankful that they were patient because the weather was kind of nasty this morning. To just see a full house out here on an SEC Saturday doesn’t get any better than that.”

WGolf: Jenny Bae rallies to second place at Augusta National Women’s Amateur

📸: Darren Carroll/USGA

The valiant comeback effort by Georgia’s Jenny Bae came up just short at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday. Bae rallied from a six-shot deficit to force a sudden-death playoff before Rose Zhang, the world’s No. 1 ranked amateur, secured victory on the second extra hole.

Bae and Zhang finished 54 holes tied at 9-under 207. Bae closed with a 2-under 70, the low loop of the 31 golfers in the field and one of only three par-or-better efforts in the final round. 

“I’m proud of myself, being able to even get the chance to go to a playoff and possibly win the title,” Bae said. “I’ve worked really hard. I also just want to say thank you to everyone, especially my caddie and my coach (Josh Brewer). 

“Honestly, without him, I don’t think I would’ve been able to even come here,” Bae continued. “He played a major factor today. I was really nervous and really tense the first few holes. He was just right there next to me, trying to crack jokes and trying to get me to eat and drink. A really key thing for me was trying to get me to stay patient, and I think he did a fantastic job.”

Bae began the day a half-dozen shots behind Zhang, but that gap was cut in half when she birdied No. 2 and Zhang doubled No. 1. Almost just as quickly, the margin returned to six strokes as Bae doubled No. 3 and Zhang birdied No. 3. Bae steadied to par the next four holes as Zhang struggled with bogeys at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 7 before horn sounded to suspend play with a weather delay at 10:31. 

At that point, the difference was back to three, with Zhang at 9-under and Bae at 6-under.

When play resumed at 1:50, Bae birdied No. 9 to close the gap to two. Another birdie at No. 13 brought Bae within one; however, Zhang followed with her own birdie at 13.

“To be honest I try to avoid looking at the leaderboard for a little over the first nine holes,” Bae said. “Then, I glanced back and saw that I was about a shot behind, and I was like ‘I can do this. Let’s get it.’ I think the last three or four holes when the roaring was so big, I realized I really had a good chance.”

As Bae surged, audible support of from University of Georgia fans could be heard following virtually every shot.

“It was great,” Bae said. “Left and right, all I hear is ‘Go Dawgs!’ and ‘Go UGA.!’ All that support, I really felt happy. I’ve never heard that much roaring before in my life. I think it will be the one moment in my life that I really cherish.”

A bogey by Zhang at No. 15 again brought Bae back within a stroke of the lead. She then hit her approach at No. 17 within a foot and converted the birdie to head to No. 18 tied atop the leaderboard. Both golfers parred No. 18, setting up the first playoff ever at the ANWA.

They returned to No. 18 and again made par before moving onto No. 10, where Bae’s approach went left of the green into pinestraw. Zhang eventually converted a tap-in par to secure the win.

“I had a great position, but I kinda of tugged it a little bit and it went left and past the green and into the bushes in the back,” Bae said. “It was really challenging. I couldn’t really take a backswing. My goal was to get it out there and hopefully trickle onto the green, and I think I just hit it a little too far. I tried my best, but Rose did a really great job. Hat’s off to her.”

Bae’s effort was a record-setting performance. She broke the ANWA record with 16 birdies over 54 holes, topping the tally of 15 by Maria Fassi in the inaugural tournament in 2019. Bae and Zhang’s 54-hole score of 9-under was a stroke off the tournament record of Jennifer Kupcho, also in established in 2019.

Bae becomes the fourth SEC golfer finished as runner-up in four editions of the tournament, joining Fassi from Arkansas in 2019 and both Ingrid Lindblad and Latanna Stone from LSU in 2022.

Bae’s finish in this year’s ANWA is the best ever by a Georgia golfer. Previously, Caterina Don tied for 12th in the inaugural tournament in 2019. All told, five Bulldogs have now competed in the ANWA seven times: Bae and signee Savannah de Bock, the 2022 European Ladies Amateur champion from Belgium, this year; Don in 2019 and 2021; and both Isabella Holpfer and Candice Mahé in 2021.

Bae and her Georgia teammates will return to action week after next when they compete in the SEC Championships at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., on April 12-16 The tournament will begin with 54 holes of stroke play on Wednesday-Friday. The field will then be cut to eight teams for a bracketed match play competition to determine the SEC Champion. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be on Saturday (April 15) and the championship match will be televised live on the SEC Network on Sunday (April 16).

Baseball: Vandy takes game two

Fourth-ranked Vanderbilt clinched an SEC series with a 16-8 win over Georgia Saturday in front of a Hawkins Field crowd of 3,802.

Vanderbilt (22-5, 8-0 SEC) responded each time Georgia scored including when the Bulldogs tied the game in the sixth after trailing 8-2. The Bulldogs fell to 15-12 overall and 1-7 SEC.

Redshirt freshman Charlie Condon blasted his team-leading 11th home run with two outs in the first to put the Bulldogs in front 1-0. He now has reached base in 26 straight games. Vanderbilt answered as Enrique Bradfield Jr. tied the game with a leadoff home run, his fourth this year. Then with two outs in the first, Chris Maldonado gave the Commodores a 3-1 advantage with a two-run single.

Coming into Saturday, Bulldog left-hander Liam Sullivan had issued just nine walks in 28 innings, but he had five in three innings and got a no decision, allowing five runs on five hits. In the third, the Commodores took advantage a of a couple free passes, and with two outs, Matthew Polk delivered a two-run single to stretch their lead to 5-1. In the fourth, Georgia turned to sophomore right-hander Chandler Marsh. In the fifth, Georgia loaded the bases with one out and managed only a sacrifice fly by Condon to cut it to 5-2. The Commodores extended their lead to 8-2, adding three runs on three hits and three walks off Marsh in their half of the fifth.

The Bulldogs erupted for six runs on four hits to tie the contest in the sixth to chase Vanderbilt sophomore Hunter Owen.  Sebastian Murillo got the outburst going with an RBI-double. Ben Anderson (3-for-4) notched an RBI-single and graduate Connor Tate delivered the big blow, collecting his second career grand slam to cap the scoring off Commodore reliever Bryce Cunningham (1-0). However, Vanderbilt struck back again, pushing across three runs on three hits for an 11-8 lead off the Bulldogs and right-hander Will Pearson (0-1). In the eighth, the Commodores added five runs on six hits off Zach DeVito and Dalton Rhadans to push their lead to 16-8. The Bulldogs walked 10 and hit one batter on the day and seven of those runners scored.

“We fought back, but every time we scored, they scored, every single time,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “We only scored in three innings, but right after we did, they came right back to squash the momentum. You’re just not going to win baseball games with the walks. We had some guys look good in their first inning and then not in their second. Bottom line, we have to have guys step up. For us to start winning games, we got to have guys step up. It’s just been really disappointing.”

Game three of the series will be Sunday at 2 p.m. ET (SECN+) and available on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.

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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.