Dantzler talks Dawgs at Duke's

Sep. 1—If Jeff Dantzler is dreaming, then please don't wake him up.

There's never been a better time to be a fan of his beloved Georgia Bulldogs, who are coming off back-to-back football national championships for the first time in the program's history.

"I think this is it," Dantzler said. "The early '80s were certainly magnificent. We came so close to winning that second national championship back then, but we never did. Now we've won two in a row. With Kirby (Smart) being right in his prime and with it being home for him, I think this is the tops right now."

The man whose familiar upbeat tones can be heard pre- and postgame across the vast Georgia Bulldog Radio Network was in town Tuesday making his traditional trip to speak to the Milledgeville chapter of the University of Georgia Alumni Association. Before the event, attended by nearly 100 folks at Duke's Lounge and Dawg House, Dantzler sat down with The Union-Recorder at the home of UGA Alumni Association-Milledgeville chapter president Larry Edwards and shared some thoughts on the program that kicks off its season Saturday in Athens.

There was no team finer in the land than Smart's 2022 Bulldogs. They capped off a perfect 15-0 campaign by absolutely thrashing surprise College Football Playoff finalist Texas Christian University 65-7 in the championship game. Dantzler likened the performance to the 2000 U.S. Open when Tiger Woods ran away from the field and won by 15 strokes.

"To win a championship game 65-7 is amazing," said Dantzler. "That was the culmination of a lot of dreams and a lot of hard work by that team."

The Dawgs are installing a new quarterback after Stetson Bennett IV was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams last spring. Jacksonville, Fla. native Carson Beck has been named the new starter. He stands tall at 6-feet-4 with a decent amount of game experience. Beck won't be as mobile as Bennett, but many think it's his time to shine. He's actually hovering around 10th in the preseason odds for the Heisman Trophy.

"There's only one way to find out," Dantzler said when asked if Beck is ready. "He's been in the program for four years. He's been patient and waited for his time. He'll definitely have the opportunity to perform well."

Luckily for Beck, he's protected by what's expected to be a great offensive line anchored by returners like Sedrick Van Pran, Tate Ratledge and Xavier Truss while having one of the best weapons in all of college football in junior Brock Bowers. Last year's winner of the Mackey Award, presented annually to the game's best tight end, Bowers has accumulated more than 1,800 yards receiving in his first two seasons and 24 total touchdowns. The case could be made that he's Georgia's best shot at winning a Heisman, if only the award had not turned into one given almost exclusively to quarterbacks.

"I think you can make the case that he's Georgia's greatest player since Herschel Walker," Dantzler said. "When you look at his accomplishments, what he's done on the biggest stages and biggest of games, his skillset and versatility, he is truly a generational talent. The guy could literally play anywhere. He's humble and a team-first guy."

Dantzler added that getting the football into Bowers' hands will be a priority for "new" Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. The man who quarterbacked the Dawgs in the '90s is back for his second round in the OC role replacing Todd Monken, who returned to the National Football League.

Carries at running back will likely be spread around similar to how business has been done in much of the Kirby Smart era. Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton bring back the most experience. The unit did take a blow this preseason with a season-ending injury to Branson Robinson, a player that showed Nick Chubb-like flashes his freshman year. Andrew Paul, who tore his ACL just prior to last year, and Roderick Robinson will be asked to contribute a little more than first thought after the loss of Branson.

Over on defense, Dantzler likes what the team has at linebacker, a position that has produced some all-time Georgia greats in recent years in names like Roquan Smith and Nakobe Dean. Jamon Dumas-Johnson seems to be the next one in line along with Smael Mondon. There are questions of youth at outside 'backer and whether the Dawgs have that game-wrecker along the defensive front. Sophomore Mykel Williams from Columbus does seem poised for a big year though.

UGA has a question mark at a position that can make or break a game, as Ohio State learned the hard way in last year's Peach Bowl semifinal. The Dawgs are starting a new kicker following the distinguished career of Jack Podlesny. Two guys, freshman Peyton Woodring and junior Jared Zirkel, have been battling it out for the starting job. It's not that Dantzler thinks they can't handle the important duties, it's that nobody has seen them do so "when the band is playing."

Georgia's strength of schedule took a hit this offseason when future SEC members Oklahoma and Texas announced they were coming to the conference sooner than first expected. They'll be in next year. UGA had the Sooners on the schedule for this year, but the teams were asked by the SEC to remove that contest from their slates for future scheduling reasons. That loss of a highly-regarded opponent, replaced by Ball State, gives the Dawgs little room for error, which Dantzler says puts more weight on repeating as conference champion come December.

Take care of business there and it's back into the four-team College Football Playoff for the fourth time under Smart, goals that the noted UGA sports historian Dantzler believes are attainable for the program that has won 29 of its last 30 games.

Dantzler ran through all that information and more in speaking to local UGA alumni and fans at Duke's Tuesday.

"As always, I want to thank Larry and the UGA Alumni Association's Milledgeville chapter," he told the newspaper. "I love coming to Milledgeville. This is definitely my favorite night of the year. It's kind of the end of the summer and the start of football season."

In addition to before and after Georgia football games, Dantzler's voice can also be heard on his daily radio show from noon to 1 p.m. where he talks Dawgs, Atlanta Braves, golf, and other current sports topics. The closest signal is 93.1-FM out of Macon, though the show also streams live online at