ATHENS – Eric Stokes played the game, was probably the defensive player of the game and received strong praise from his head coach, not only for what he did in the G-Day Game, but for what he did all spring with the Bulldogs. . However, everything that the junior cornerback could think of on Saturday when he prepared to leave Sanford's stadium was the one that escaped.
Well, that and what I was having dinner. That would be Beanie Weanies as she dressed with the Black Team who lost 22-17. The winners of the red team were to dine steak and lobster on Saturday night.
"That's going to be very difficult, knowing that we had the advantage in most of the game and that they came back at the end," Stokes said of his Saturday night fee. "But I blame all of that because it was me who gave up the touchdown that put them in. So that's in me, I should never allow those things.
Stokes was defeated in what was in fact the decisive play of the game. Jeremiah "JJ" Holloman, a lifelong friend and resident of Newton County, opened up on a later route, received pass from quarterback Stetson Bennett and converted it into a 43-yard touchdown that gave Red Team an advantage of 19-17 with 8:09 to play.
Such is the life of a cornerback. The touchdown allowed to ruin what otherwise had been an incredibly productive day for Stokes. In fact, I could not have had a better start.
The main goal for the defense this spring and for the 2019 season is to create "havoc games". Interceptions, breakdowns, sacks, tackles for loss and defensive touchdowns are something that coach Kirby Smart believes the Bulldogs have not produced enough. couple of seasons So there has been a very clear initiative to show a marked improvement in that regard this season.
"That's all we wanted: chaos, chaos, chaos," Stokes said. "Chaos can lead to many things. We wanted to create some havoc and keep the score low. We talked about that all week and that's exactly what we did. "
Havoc is exactly what Stokes created just after the ramp on Saturday. On the third play of the day since the scrimmage, with the Red Team led by Jake Fromm in front of the third and three of the 37, Stokes jumped Holloman's leaning route, snatched the ball at the same time as Holloman, withdrew it and then returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.
Two minutes into the game, the Stokes black team led 7-0.
"J.J slipped and that allowed me to look at the quarterback," Stokes said. "I really should not, but since he slipped, I felt I could bet a little bit, luckily the bet paid off, so I was glad I was the one who finished the ball."
As expected, Stokes was absolutely assaulted by the Black Team coaches and players when he reached the sideline.
"They loved it," Stokes said. "Many hands on my helmet. It was incredible. I'm thinking, this is a great way to start & # 39; But then a couple of plays humiliated me very quickly. "
Holloman would have the last laugh with the late TD.
"I really do not know what happened," Stokes said of the decisive play. "I have to go back and watch the movie because that is the work that is eating me alive at this moment."
Holloman was more than happy to fill in the blanks of his friend.
"That was a double movement, so it was just a victory situation for me," Holloman said with a smile. "I got it on a good play and it was open crossing the middle and Stetson saw me, he let go and I made the play."
However, Smart had nothing but praise for Stokes. Being beaten in half is the cost sometimes of playing in the corner. It should never happen against a real opponent, but it does not erase all the advances that Smart has seen Stokes do.
"He certainly made a good play to start today," Smart said. "I thought it was a good fight for the ball and he scored with it when he got it, it's a boy who has come a long way from a guy who was not really a DB who left high school to an athlete who is very conscientious in doing things the right way … When you teach Stokes something, he listens to it and applies it … When you combine that skill with talent, you have a pretty good player. "
Stokes knows that he is good. He just wants to be great and he knows what that looks like. Follow Deandre Baker on the corner and Baker did not allow a TD in the last two seasons. That does not include Day G, of course.
"I remember all the bad moves, I just remember the good plays," Stokes said. "That's more than I'm looking at, I know I gave up a third and four, a third and five, where we could have been off the field, and then, of course, I gave up a touchdown, so that's more like I'm seeing, I'm thinking about everything bad instead of everything good. "
Fortunately, for him, there was more of the latter.