Before the 2017 season I identified ten Georgia Bulldogs I believed to be headed toward a breakout season in the series Ten ‘Dawgs Poised to Pounce. You may have forgotten all about that because, hey, it’s been a pretty busy fall.
But I haven’t and now, in the spirit of accountability, I’m counting back through to see which players actually took that step forward. Let’s start with #10, senior tight end Jeb Blazevich.
MaconDawg’s Utterly Unrealistic Expectations
See, what happened was . . .
Is Jeb Blazevich on track to meet the 18 reception, 207 yard target I set for him? Not even close. Blazevich has 2 catches for 19 yards on the year. So unless he has one of the all-time great out-of-nowhere efforts by a Georgia receiver he’s going to fall short of my (admittedly lofty) expectations.
To be fair, none of the other Bulldog tight ends has really lit up the stat sheet this season either. Isaac Nauta’s 9 catches for 114 yards (41 of them on one catch against Mississippi State) are the most among UGA tight ends, followed by Charlie Woerner with 6 catches for 79 yards (66 of those came in the Mizzou game).
So all Red and Black tight ends have been a no-show in the passing game, not just Blazevich. In my defense (and theirs) I’m not sure anyone expected Javon Wims to step up quite like he has in the passing game, leading the team in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns. In some ways Wims has become the big bodied, sure-handed goal line and short yardage receiver who should have come out of Coach Shane Beamer’s meeting room.
And as Coach Smart remarked midseason when asked why his tight ends seemed more at home on a milk carton than in the endzone, if they’d get open more they’d get thrown to more. That seems like a pretty fair criticism.
It’s worth noting that when the tight ends have gotten open and caught the ball it’s been a great thing. Among them they’ve tallied 19 catches for 224 yards on the year, a solid 11.8 yards per catch. In particular, when Woerner and Nauta have gotten the ball it’s been a big play (10 yards or more) far more often than a small gain to move the chains.
And as my summer post points out, tight ends need to be judged by a lot more than their receiving yards. Blazevich remains the best blocking tight end on the UGA roster and one could make the argument that he gets a big slice of the credit for Georgia’s out of control running game in 2017.
And he’s not alone there. Four Bulldog tight ends (Nauta, Blazevich, Woerner, and Jackson Harris) have seen action in all thirteen games this season. That’s a deep group, and all except Blazevich should be back in 2018. That and a more experienced Jake Fromm should have you pretty excited.
Did Jeb Blazevich live up to the hype I placed on him? Probably not. The receiving numbers just didn’t materialize, and when a tight end has a good block on a big running play he’s usually just one of six or seven players who had a good block on that play. The number of great blocks is in direct proportion to the greatness of said running play. It’s practically Newtonian.
I think Blazevich had a good year blocking. He’s going to get an SEC championship ring, still has a chance to win a national title, and is a player I expect to at least get a look from an NFL team in need of pro style tight ends. That sounds like a nice senior year to me. So let’s give Jeb a B+ for his season, and give MaconDawg a D- for his predictive powers. Until later . . .