Terry Godwin

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Georgia losing top three receivers early to the 2019 NFL Draft, one more player to transfer

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It was a busy day of decision making for Georgia football players, and this has nothing to do with Justin Fields. Georgia’s top three receivers from the 2018 season — wide receiver Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman and tight end Isaac Nauta — all declared themselves eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft on Friday.

“I could not imagine any other program preparing me for the next step the way this one has,” Ridley said in a statement shared on his Instagram account. “Thank you to coach [Kirby Smart] and the entire phenomenal coaching staff for molding me into the athlete I am today. My experience here has been nothing less than absolutely amazing.”

“After thinking through this decision and speaking with my family and my coaches, I have decided to forgo my senior season and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft,” Nauta said in a statement on his Twitter account Friday afternoon. “I truly feel in my heart that this is the best decision for me, and I am ready to pursue another life long dream of mine, playing in the NFL.”

Joining the parade of social media statements was Hardman, who said “After much prayer and thought, my parents and I have made the decision that it is best that I forgo my final year at Georgia and enter the 2019 NFL Draft.”

Ridley was Georgia’s leading receiver with 570 yards this season and a team-high nine touchdowns. Hardman was just behind him with 532 yards and seven touchdowns on 10 fewer receptions this season. Hardman had mroe receiving yards than Ridley in 2017 with 418 yards to 218 yards as both came behind Javon Wims and Terry Godwin in the stat sheet.

Nauta was Georgia’s third-leading receiver this season with 430 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. His season was highlighted by a season-high 81 yards with a touchdown in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama when he averaged 20.25 yards per reception. Nauta had nine catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns in 2017, which was a drop from his 2016 season with 361 yards and three touchdowns.

On top of all of that news, and the idea that Justin Fields is about to officially transfer to Ohio State comes the news that Georgia is also losing another tight end to a transfer. Luke Ford is leaving Georgia for another Big Ten school, Illinois. Ford announced his decision with a statement on Twitter as well, citing the health of his grandparents as a factor in wanting to be closer to them as he moves forward.

No. 15 Texas begins 2019 by dumping Sugar on No. 5 Georgia

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The Allstate Sugar Bowl began when Bevo rushed Uga during a pre-game photo op, and then a group of Longhorns did the same to the Bulldogs. A No. 15 Texas team that will play the 2019 season with Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff expectations showed exactly why, showcasing superior physicality and execution to dump No. 5 Georgia in a 28-21 win that wasn’t as close as the final score.

After spending the past month — and Saturday night specifically — chirping about how they belonged in the Playoff over Notre Dame and Oklahoma, Georgia (11-3) backed that talk up by playing its worst game of the season. The Bulldogs fell into a 17-0 hole early in the second quarter and never recovered. The SEC’s best rushing team was out-rushed by a team that entered the game No. 95 in the country on the ground — and out-rushed emphatically, 180-72.

But this night was about Texas, and right from the start.

The Longhorns accepted the ball to open the game and rolled 75 yards in 10 plays to open the game with a touchdown. Sam Ehlinger completed all five of his passes for 61 yards — including a 3rd-and-7 to Humphrey to set up a first-and-goal, which Ehlinger converted with a 2-yard keeper.

Georgia’s first possession saw Jake Fromm convert a 3rd-and-6 with an 11-yard strike to¬†Terry Godwin, but a following 3rd-and-9 saw pressure from¬†Charles Omenihu¬†and¬†BJ Foster, forcing a throw away.¬†Jake Camarda¬†blasted the ensuing punt 53 yards to the Texas 6-yard line, but replay showed Camarda brought his knee to the ground as he corralled a low snap from¬†Nick Moore, flipping the ball from the Texas 6 to the Georgia 27 — a 66-yard change in field position. Georgia’s defense forced a three-and-out, but instead of a Texas punt from its own end zone,¬†Cameron Dicker¬†converted a 37-yard field goal to put the Longhorns up 10-0 at the 6:05 mark of the first quarter.

Georgia actually got off a punt on its second possession, but Camarda shanked this one for just 11 yards, handing Texas (10-4) the ball at midfield. UT pushed to the Georgia 32 but went backward from there and punted. However, Georgia was not done giving Texas first quarter gifts, as¬†D’Andre Swift¬†fumbled the ball to Texas defensive tackle¬†Gerald Wilbon¬†at his own 12.

When Ehlinger rushed in on a 3rd-and-7 for his second score of the game at the 14:53 mark of the second quarter, Texas had a 17-0 lead and a 110-8 total yardage advantage.

Georgia snipped at their yardage deficit on their first drive of the second quarter with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The score came on a 17-yard Fromm pass to Brian Herrien, but the key completion was a 12-yard strike to Riley Ridley on a 3rd-and-11 from the Texas 29.

Texas answered Georgia’s score, but not with a touchdown. Dicker’s second field goal, a 30-yarder, pushed the UT lead to 20-7 with 4:37 to go in the first half. The key play of the drive came on a 1st-and-10 from the Texas 37, when Ehlinger ducked a blindside sack and turned it into a 17-yard scramble.

Swift fumbled the ball inside his own territory on Georgia’s next possession, but the Bulldogs hopped on this one and eventually reached the Texas 31, but¬†Anthony Wheeler¬†sacked Fromm on a 3rd-and-10, giving Texas just their third third down stop on eight first-half tries.

After a scoreless third quarter, Ehlinger’s third rushing touchdown of the game put Texas up three scores with 11:49 left, but it didn’t come easy. After Ehlinger kept a 4th-and-1 rush from the Georgia 13, Texas called his number on six straight snaps — a 5-yard run on 2nd-and-15, a 10-yard conversion on 3rd-and-10, and then four straight quarterback runs up the gut from the Georgia 1. Finally, on fourth down, Ehlinger got in, and replay review showed he had the nose of the ball on the first white blade of the Superdome’s goal line FieldTurf when his knee hit the ground, upholding the touchdown call on the field. Texas went for two and gave Ehlinger a break, hitting¬†Collin Johnson¬†with a fade to push its lead to 28-7.

Georgia needed a quick response and got one, moving 66 yards in six plays and 84 seconds to pull within 28-14 at the 10:25 mark of the final frame on a 3-yard toss to Mecole Hardman. Texas put together a brief drive but punted back to Georgia at their own 15, with exactly half the fourth quarter to play and momentum on their side.

Instead, Georgia punted — immediately.¬†Gary Johnson sacked Fromm on first down, and pressure forced two incompletions on second and third down. Texas burned all but the final 70 remaining seconds and both of Georgia’s available timeouts. A plethora of penalties — Texas had two defensive backs ejected for targeting on the drive — helped Georgia pull within one score on a 5-yard pass to Swift, but with just 14 seconds remaining. Collin Johnson recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win.

Ehlinger closed a fantastic sophomore season by hitting a modest 19-of-27 passes for 169 yards while carrying the load in the Texas rushing game with 21 carries for 64 hard-fought yards and all three of his team’s touchdowns.

He will enter 2019 as a Heisman Trophy candidate and his team, which just won a New Year’s Six game for the first time since¬†Colt McCoy¬†and company did so in 2008, will enter the year with championship expectations. Tuesday night’s game showed exactly why.

Texas leads Georgia in smash mouth Sugar Bowl

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Tuesday night’s Allstate Sugar Bowl was supposed to be a consolation game between two conference championship game losers, but it’s turned into anything but that as No. 15 Texas holds a 20-7 lead over No. 5 Georgia at the half in New Orleans.

Texas accepted the ball to open the game and rolled 75 yards in 10 plays to open the game with a touchdown. Sam Ehlinger completed all five of his passes for 61 yards — including a 3rd-and-7 to Humphrey to set up a first-and-goal, which Ehlinger converted with a 2-yard keeper.

Georgia’s first possession saw Jake Fromm convert a 3rd-and-6 with an 11-yard strike to¬†Terry Godwin, but a following 3rd-and-9 saw pressure from¬†Charles Omenihu¬†and¬†BJ Foster, forcing a throw away.¬†Jake Camarda¬†blasted the ensuing punt 53 yards to the Texas 6-yard line, but replay showed Camarda brought his knee to the ground as he corralled a low snap from¬†Nick Moore, flipping the ball from the Texas 6 to the Georgia 27 — a 66-yard change in field position. Georgia’s defense forced a three-and-out, but instead of a Texas punt from its own end zone,¬†Cameron Dicker¬†converted a 37-yard field goal to put the Longhorns up 10-0 at the 6:05 mark of the first quarter.

Georgia actually got off a punt on its second possession, but Camarda shanked this one for just 11 yards, handing Texas the ball at midfield. UT pushed to the Georgia 32 but went backward from there and punted. However, Georgia was not done giving Texas first quarter gifts, as¬†D’Andre Swift¬†fumbled the ball to Texas defensive tackle¬†Gerald Wilbon¬†at his own 12.

When Ehlinger rushed in on a 3rd-and-7 for his second score of the game at the 14:53 mark of the second quarter, Texas had a 17-0 lead and a 110-8 total yardage advantage.

Georgia snipped at their yardage deficit on their first drive of the second quarter with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The score came on a 17-yard Fromm pass to Brian Herrien, but the key completion was a 12-yard strike to Riley Ridley on a 3rd-and-11 from the Texas 29.

Texas answered Georgia’s score, but not with a touchdown. Dicker’s second field goal, a 30-yarder, pushed the UT lead to 20-7 with 4:37 to go in the first half. The key play of the drive came on a 1st-and-10 from the Texas 37, when Ehlinger ducked a blindside sack and turned it into a 17-yard scramble.

Swift fumbled the ball inside his own territory on Georgia’s next possession, but the Bulldogs hopped on this one and eventually reached the Texas 31, but¬†Anthony Wheeler¬†sacked Fromm on a 3rd-and-10, giving Texas just their third third down stop on eight first-half tries.

Ehlinger was 10-of-13 for 90 yards through the air while rushing seven times for 27 yards and both of his team’s touchdowns.¬†Tre Watson¬†leads all runners with 49 yards on 10 carries, which equals the rushing total from all three of Georgia’s running backs (on 16 combined totes).

Fromm completed 9-of-15 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, which wouldn’t be a problem for Georgia if the running game was clicking. The running game is not clicking. Georgia’s 118 first half yards were a season low.

Whether that trend stays or flips will decide the game.

Georgia will receive to open the second half.

RB D’Andre Swift leaves mark on Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry as No. 5 Georgia downs No. 24 Auburn

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Hanging around in a relatively close two-score game, No. 24 Auburn still harbored hope of pulling off yet another comeback in SEC play and winning the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry early in the fourth quarter.

Tailback¬†D’Andre Swift however, had other ideas.

The speedy sophomore from above the Mason-Dixon Line left his indelible mark on one of the sport’s best rivalries by dashing 77 yards to pay dirt between the hedges to help No. 5 Georgia secure a 27-10 victory on Saturday night and make the improving Bulldogs look even more dangerous ahead of their showdown with Alabama in a few weeks.

Swift, who hails from Philadelphia, was a dynamic threat in all phases of the game and finished with 186 yards rushing (and that one TD run) to go along with a team-high four catches and 43 yards receiving. His incredible, weaving runs may have been the highlight of the night for the Bulldogs offense but fellow back¬†Elijah Holyfield¬†wasn’t too shabby at all himself as a guy who had no issues running between the tackles on his way to 93 yards on the ground.

Both players’ efforts kept the clock moving and took plenty of pressure off quarterback¬†Jake Fromm, who had another efficient night with 193 yards passing, two scores and an interception. His two touchdown throws in particular were pretty impressive in their own right, one on a short toss across the field to¬†Tyler Simmons and another just before halftime — on fourth down, no less — to a streaking¬†Terry Godwin,¬†who took it 38 yards to the house.

Even backup QB¬†Justin Fields¬†got into the game and was allowed, much to the crowd’s delight in Athens, to throw the ball a bit against a good defense and completed two passes for 20 yards.

Things were close for much of the first half between the two rivals but the Tigers offense never could hit another gear to make things interesting. Signal-caller¬†Jarrett Stidham¬†threw for only 163 yards, starting quick but fading as the game wore on. Fellow member of the backfield¬†JaTarvious Whitlow was actually the one to throw for a touchdown but running the ball proved to be a problem all around for¬†Gus Malzhan’s¬†crew as the team couldn’t muster much offense at all after the first quarter.

The game, let’s face it, didn’t mean a ton in the grand scheme of things. UGA has already locked up the SEC East Division title and a rematch against Alabama, while Auburn is only playing spoiler down the stretch in the middle of another disappointing campaign on the Plains. The Bulldogs remain in running for another College Football Playoff bid with just one loss though and should continue to sit just outside the top four as they play out the string of the regular season.

Perhaps the bigger question the team might have answered on Saturday night though, was that with Swift coming along and others stepping up on both sides the ball, this Georgia team continues to improve with each passing week and are looking like a stiff test for the top-ranked Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium once again in a few weeks.

No. 5 Georgia out in front of No. 24 Auburn between the hedges at halftime

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No. 5 Georgia and No. 24 Auburn split their two meetings last season in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry but the rubber match in Athens this year might be a one-sided affair as the Bulldogs used a big third quarter to take a 20-10 lead into the locker room at halftime of a fun one between the hedges.

Tigers QB Jarrett Stidham¬†threw for 108 yards in a solid performance for him given the hostile conditions (though JaTarvious Whitlow wound up with a touchdown throw off a trick play). That the signal-caller did it without getting sacked and without much a run game (27 yards total for¬†Gus Malzhan’s¬†squad) was a testament to just how sharp he was early. Senior¬†Ryan Davis was not surprisingly on the other end of six of those passes (50 yards) and became the program’s all-time leader in career receptions early in the first quarter as a result.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the game for the visitors came on defense however. While that unit was quite stout in the first half against a team that can throw a number of playmakers at you, they did suffer a big loss when Big Kat Bryant was ejected for targeting on a third down play in a second quarter. The fairly obvious call on a hit to quarterback Jake Fromm will no doubt have lingering effects on the team as they allowed another long drive on their next defensive possession.

Speaking of which, while the Bulldogs could move the ball between the 20’s, their red zone offense left much to be desired with three trips inside the 10 yard line resulting in just one touchdown. Fromm was 10-of-13 with 148 yards and tossed a beautiful throw across the field to¬†Tyler Simmons in the end zone for a touchdown. The quarterback added another scoring toss when he found a streaking¬†Terry Godwin¬†on fourth down, who promptly took it 38 yards to the house just before the halftime break.

Georgia’s tailbacks were also heavily involved in the first half, as is typical, with¬†Elijah Holyfield recording 50 yards rushing while¬†D’Andre Swift¬†was a typical multipurpose threat with 53 yards on the ground and 33 more through the air.

Both games last season were actually somewhat close at the break before one of the two sides pulled away starting in the third quarter. We’ll see if that is the case once again in 2018 or if Georgia was already starting to assert their dominance in the second quarter and will keep things rolling from there.