Dean Legge / Dawg Post

What We Are Hearing

ATHENS - If you had to guess the fastest player on UGA’s roster who would it be?

Mecole Hardman? Reggie Davis? 

No, actually the fastest player on the team is the joystick, Isaiah McKenzie. The junior special teams star is known for his quick-wiggle moves and explosive special teams plays. McKenzie is listed as the fastest player on the Bulldogs roster as clocked during football activities by GPS movements. 

His fastest movement was a staggering - over 23 miles per hour while on the gridiron. Keep in mind that Usain Bolt is the fastest man on Earth, and he runs just under 28 miles per hour. But his is in a straight line. His speed is usually for fewer than 200 meters. 

The key for McKenzie, who had a very good open practice two weeks ago, is ball security. McKenzie tied with Greyson Lambert and Sony Michel with five total fumbles in the 2015 season, but he lost three of them, which was the most on the team. McKenzie’s fumble against Georgia Southern was costly. Caleb Williams scooped it up and took it 62 yards for a Georgia Southern TD and a 14-7 lead in the 3rd quarter in one of the ugliest offensive games in recent memory. 

Nonetheless, McKenzie’s speed with the ball in his hands shows in his yards/touch average. On offense McKenzie averages around ten yards a touch. On special teams McKenzie’s production jumps up to about 12 yards a touch. He’s also more likely to score on a punt return (about once every nine times he touches the ball) than he is on offense (about once in every ten times he touches the ball). 

Imagine the reaction of McKenzie and his teammates last fall after lifting the Governor’s Trophy in the locker room after the Bulldogs’ 13-7 win over Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs had dropped the 2014 edition of the game in overtime to the Jackets, and that left the trophy in the hands of those on North Ave for the duration of the year. 

But the Bulldogs were in for a bit of a surprise when they lifted the gold-plated prize. Their yellow-clad foes had placed Georgia Tech stickers on the bottom of the trophy and inside the opening at the bottom of the trophy. Tech paraphernalia was well hidden, but seemingly all inside and underneath the trophy. 

Once noticed, UGA players stopped celebrating and took a few minutes to remove the stickers from the trophy before continuing their celebration by taking photos with the prize. 

There was once a time when Gary Stokan, the president of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, wanted Georgia Tech and Georgia to open the season in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. UGA officials balked at the notion of starting their season in Atlanta - only miles from the campus on North Ave. 

Stokan didn’t indicate that there is a future for that game at the start of the season in Atlanta. After all, the folks at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl have done a heck of a job getting season opening games to matter again in college football. Tech-Georgia to start the season under the flag of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl would be something to be considered on this front, however. Now UGA find themselves with two away games against Auburn and Georgia Tech or on the road in the same season. In other words the Dawgs either end the season with Auburn and Tech at home or nothing and no one. That was the case for the Jackets, who would host or travel to both Clemson and Athens, until recently. In 2012 and 2013, Tech traveled to Clemson in back-to-back years. That allowed the Jackets to have alternating big home games even and odd years with Clemson and UGA in Atlanta. Those two teams are Tech's most consistent big gates of the year.

If there is a change in the future it will likely have to come the the conference level with the SEC mandating that Auburn plays in Athens two seasons in a row to make up for the 2012 and 2013 games being in Auburn. That doesn't seem to be on the radar any time soon. 

One thing Stokan did tell me for sure is that he’s done (at this time) trying to move Georgia’s game with the Gators to Atlanta. He let me know that Greg McGarity’s preference is for the game to stay in Jacksonville for a very long time. The notion that game will move any time soon seems off the table for now.

Kirby Smart told the Athens TD Club on Monday night that Sony Michel is the only running back who is "questionable" for the season opener against UNC. Its expected that Elijah Holyfield will return in time to play in that game. But Michel's situation is a little less certain to be sure. He's got more than a dozen screws in his injured arm, and there is concern that he could re-damage his arm if it hits the ground the wrong way, or even in a situation as simple as taking a handoff the wrong way. 

Also, I expect UGA to wind up signing Lee County DL Aubrey Soloman. At least I feel that way at this time. He had an excellent performance the Thursday, and its hard for me to see him leaving the state right now. Obviously, recruiting can fluctuate. But it seems UGA is in a good spot right now. 


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