Into the Checkerboards (and Beyond)

Into the Checkerboards (and Beyond)

Han Vance on Georgia football: Chickens are next.

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Feature photo today of Hilley. He came over, and the immediate fam was together again in the ATL as the weather broke. Richard Hilley is a 6th-generation UGA man I will be attending the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party with, and I’m proud to be his friend. He’s doing so well that it’s inspiring ol’ me. BTW, we were 100% sober yesterday, and he will stay that way in JAX. (I will lightly imbibe.) We will be staying with one of my old college roommates, Mike Helton, in an RV on the Georgia part of modern sprawling suburban Jacksonville, in the city of St. Marys. Looking forward to seeing y’all down there.

Athens first. (S. Carolina, then Kentucky for Homecoming, then another BYE)…

Tae Crowder knows crowds. The senior linebacker a surprising defensive runner-up at MVP so far, barely behind J. R. Reed in my one-man voting committee for such, entered the University of Georgia as a running back: Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, D’Andre Swift were/are teammates and the Dawgs needed help so much more at linebacker, where the drop-off behind currently troubled professional Roquan Smith, the only UGA man to ever win the nation’s top linebacking award, and the rest of the Richt/Smart eras linebackers remains rather mountainous. Guys like Boss Bailey weren’t even close to what Roq was.

Physical cornerback Eric Stokes with a textbook tackle on a dialed-up blitz, shoulder pads hit into the body of the frosh Vol QB. Ball to Crowder, who I heard hundreds of Georgia fans who skew recruiting-over-reality say would be sitting behind our freshmen this season. He gone. Prior, he had been airborne and attempting a batted ball, should the kid have been able to get it off. He landed. He spun. He scooped. He scored. It was the longest scoring run by a former or current Georgia running back on a perfect night for college football on the banks of the Tennessee River. Boom!

Ah, the stable. Brian Herrien is so hard-nosed as a senior. He’s a man, baby! ZEU$ is flashing potential. James Cook is versatile and explosive. And, junior D’Andre Swift is the best college football player in Athens not named Jake Fromm. The scouts have him going as the top NFL draftee, ahead of the guys at Wisconsin and Clemson who put up bigger stats.

Swift had 72 yards receiving and 72 yards rushing. Fromm went 24-29 for 288 with two touchdowns. Dawgs had 526 yards of offense and will benefit immensely in experience from being out-schemed by former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney early, allowing the Rocky Toppers to belt out the tune, the official song of the state, at full-throat. The real loyalists still cared a lot about General Neyland’s side, yet 10,000 tickets were not claimed and then validated, total gate attendance “just” 92,000.

The strength of their program is clearly the Butch Jones recruited wide receivers right now, and Chaney used them quite wisely. He’s a good game planner, and is one of six UT coaches who worked at Georgia, including their head coach. They fought hard. It was basically a dead even football game through the first quarter, fairly close through the 2nd quarter and UGA up only 15 (29-14) into the 4th.

They had only 15 yards of offense in the 3rd quarter, though.

Georgia scored 33 unanswered points after trailing 14-10 early, as the Dawgs have now won 14-of-20 versus their SEC East rivals to the north. Georgia holds a 3-2 advantage in the last five over UT and the all-time series record 24-23-2. Georgia finally has your number(s), Fulmer.

Tennessee and Georgia have each won 13 SEC titles and only Florida, Georgia and Tennessee have won the SEC East and then the whole SEC. They fell to 1-4 this year, with losses to Georgia State and BYU and an utter decimation at the hands of Florida. Georgia covered the spread (24) Saturday night and scored more (43) than on the last trip to Neyland (41-0).

Kirby Smart is 3-1 vs. UT. He coached Georgia to a 15th straight victory over SEC East opponents, on a day the division gained some universal reputation strength by seeing a fairly mighty Florida top #7 Auburn in the biggest national game, in the Swamp. They travel to the Bayou next, where they could potentially get favored in the Georgia-Florida game by winning, against an LSU setting league scoring records. That was the Gators getting a 10th straight win overall, most in the whole SEC.

Cocktail Party looms large. …Chickens are next.

Richard Hilley