Bulldogs Searching for Identity under First Year Coach Kirby Smart
Georgia Running Back Nick Chubb (Photo: UGA Athletics)
The Georgia Bulldogs enter Saturday’s game with Auburn with a 5-4 record, and 3-4 in the SEC. The Bulldogs are a team searching for an identity under first-year Head Coach Kirby Smart, who comes to Athens after a long stint with Coach Nick Saban at Alabama. Quarterback- Jacob Eason Georgia’s offense features a true Freshman quarterback in Jacob Eason. Eason was touted as one of the highest rated recruits in the 2016 class and earned the starting job after performing well in the season opener against North Carolina. Greyson Lambert got the start, but Eason took over and completed 8 passes for 131 yards, and threw a touchdown pass. Since then, he is passing for 194.4 yards per game, which is seventh in the league. He also has 11 touchdowns in his rookie campaign. Running Back- Nick Chubb and Sony Michel Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the duo they call “Thunder and Lightning”, has produced 1,178 yards and 7 touchdowns. Chubb is 5th on the all-time rushing list at Georgia, with 2,985 yards in three seasons, with an opportunity to pass Lars Tate for 4th during the Auburn game. Chubb has been on the road to recovery this season, after suffering a knee injury during the 2015 Tennessee game. Prior to that game, he had a 13-game stretch where he rushed for more than 110 yards. This season, a 222 yard game against North Carolina was a season high, but he has only one other game where he has rushed for more than 100 yards, that was against South Carolina. Speaking of the South Carolina game, Michel’s season high came against the Gamecocks, where he rushed for 133 yards. Last week, the junior rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown in the win over Kentucky. The Bulldogs rank 8th in the SEC in rushing, averaging 178 yards per game. Wide Receiver- Michael Chigbu, Terry Godwin, Javon Wims, Jayson Stanley, Isaiah McKenzie The Georgia receiving unit provides many targets for Jacob Eason. It all starts with Isaiah McKenzie, who has earned himself the honor of being Eason’s favorite target. The junior leads the team in receiving with 459 yards on 32 catches, six of those going for touchdowns. Terry Godwin falls behind him with 307 yards, and Javon Wims is next in the receiver category with 150 yards. Tight End- Jeb Blazevich, Isaac Nauta The core of the receiving unit is found in the tight end position. Freshman Isaac Nauta has had a solid freshman year, bringing in 253 yards and two touchdowns. Blazevich has provided excellent help on the line but has been a threat over the last three years in receiving. Offensive Line- Tyler Catalina, Isaiah Wynn, Brandon Kublanow, Lamont Gaillard, Greg Pyke In the SEC, Georgia ranks 12th in scoring (23.7), 11th in total yards (382.7), 8th in rushing (178.3), and 10th in passing (204.3). Defensive Line- Julian Rochester, John Atkins, David Marshall, Jonathan Ledbetter The Georgia defensive line is a young bunch, with two of the three starters being freshmen. Between the four players that could see playing time, there are 74 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. Linebacker- Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Natrez Patrick, Reggie Carter, Roquan Smith A majority of Georgia’s defensive stats come from the linebacker unit. Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick enter the game tied for the team lead in tackles with 55. Carter has a defensive score this season, he scored a touchdown in “scoop-and-score” fashion when he returned a fumble for 24 yards against Nicholls. Defensive Back- Malkom Parrish, Dominic Sanders, Aaron Davis, Deandre Baker, Maurice Smith Earlier this season, defensive back Dominic Sanders notched his 11th career interception early in the game against Florida, which set up a field goal to give Georgia the 3-0 lead. Also in the Florida game, Deandre Baker had a career-high 10 tackles. Last week, he recorded his first career interception against Kentucky. Special Teams- Rodrigo Blankenship, Marshall Long Placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship was deemed a hero in last week’s game against Kentucky, when he nailed a 25-yard field goal to give his team a last-second win, 27-24. Blankenship is now 9-of-10 on the year with a long of 49 yards. Long averages 38.7 yards per punt, with a long of 59.