Monday, October 30, 2017

South Carolina Preview

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed the upcoming game against South Carolina with media on Monday. The No. 2-ranked Dawgs take on the Gamecocks at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Sanford Stadium. 

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments on Monday. 

Head Coach Kirby Smart 

Photo by Steven Colquitt
Opening comments … 

“ We are on to South Carolina —  a team that is really hot, playing well. They are playing with a quarterback who I have a lot of respect for from his days over in Opelika. We did not play against him last year, so they have a new spark of energy and have played really well this year — have had some tough injuries but have played through them. I think Will Muschamp is doing a great job over there with the team, the moral, the energy they play with. They run the ball much better, they have more experienced players on defense and they have always been good on special teams. I think they are one of the best special teams groups — when you talk about all the units, everything together — that we will play this year. So, it will be a great opportunity to play in Sanford Stadium. I expect our fanbase to turn out for what I expect will be a great game.” 

On comparing Sony Michel to other players he has coached in the past … 

“I have been around some defensive players that are similar to that. I have not been around a lot of running backs that have the personality that he has. He is not afraid to step up and be a leader. Sometimes running backs just don’t like that role. They want to carry the ball. They don’t want to be asked to stand up in front of people and have to get on them if they need to or do the things they have to do. I think he exhibits his leadership through his special teams play, through his carries, through his unselfishness. So, when he speaks people listen because they take pride in the fact that he gives all the effort himself, so when he speaks everybody wants to listen. He has been a great asset for us.” 

On the bond between him, Mike Bobo and Will Muschamp and if they have time to catch up throughout the season … 

“I take pride in the fact that we all kind of grew up educators’ kids, coaches’ kids. We grew up around the game. It is what we have been around all of our lives, so I respect both of those guys and think they do a great job. You know, no, we do not have time to catch up in season.”

On getting back late from the Florida game and if that affects anything this week …

“Just lack of sleep I think is the biggest concern. Not getting back until 2 or 3 in the morning makes it as if we had to play a night game on the road, which can be frustrating because the Florida game technically would be home-and-home usually, but we end up traveling each year. The weather got us and it was a situation we can’t control, so when you have situations that you cannot control you overcome them.”

On the College Football Playoff selection committee’s release of the rankings and if he likes getting a snapshot …

“No. Not really. It just matters how we finish.”

On Reggie Carter coming back from injuries in his career … 

“He is an incredible kid when you think about it. He has been through some knees, some shoulders. He has been banged up. He has always been a really good player. I can still remember the first time I saw his highlights when he was a ninth and 10th grader. He has come a long way. He is really a good leader for us. He understands the defense. He knows how to execute it. He is not real emotional. Reggie is a kid who gives you his best each day. It shows how resilient he is to come back from the injuries he has overcome.”

On if Georgia is doing anything different on the offensive line this season compared to last year … 

“Really has not been much change — probably a little less gap plays than we have been in the past, but not a whole lot different scheme wise. We ran a lot of zone plays last year. We have run a lot of zone plays this year, probably just less gap plays is the biggest difference. Having some situations where we get a little more favorable boxes is what we are always trying to do.”

On Lorenzo Carter and Roquan Smith being named finalists for the Butkus Award … 

“They both work hard. We have talked a long time about team success equals individual success. I think a lot of these kids on this team are deserving of some of those individual accolades, but you do not usually get them unless you have team success first. I think some of the team offense, defense and special teams success can lead to some recognition, but to win it you have to play well. You have to certainly be a very productive player, and both of those young men have been that.”

On how they addressed the playoff rankings when he was an assistant at Alabama … 

“They talked about rat poison a lot and things like that (laughter). We don’t really have to address it if you confront it from the beginning, so the rankings that have been coming out up until this point  — the AP ones — are the same thing. It’s just a distraction, so it is just a matter of who can manage it best and which team is mature enough to handle it because it has zero outcome on performance on Saturday. It’s only a distractive measure that we have to contend with.”

On the inside linebackers and how they have performed … 

Juwan Taylor and Monty Rice should be commended for guys that came in and gave us some really good, quality snaps. There’s a lot of anxiety when you are playing in one of those positions and you have not played in a lot of games and getting through that anxiety I think is going to pay off next year and the next year for us getting those young guys some reps. They take a lot of practice reps. You guys do not give them much credit for all those reps they take, but then they go in the game and we expect them to go in there and execute, and they have done that pretty well so far.”

On South Carolina QB Jake Bentley and how what he saw from him compared to Georgia’s quarterbacks the last two seasons … 

“I did not see a lot of the growing pains. I got to watch several of the games in the offseason, but as we played them he had not played much. Then, after our game, he came in and really played well. He has played well this year, so I do not even see him as a freshman — he is a sophomore — but I did not even see him that way last year. He has just been around the game his whole life, so the guy knows where to go with the ball, he understands the offense, he does what they ask him to do really well. He is really athletic. He was a good athlete in high school. He went through a knee injury, but he is running the ball well now.” 

On Solomon Kindley and marveling at the size of the linemen in the league now … 

“Solomon, since the ankle injury, has been much more consistent. Part of his deal is staying healthy. He is a very bright, articulate young man and enjoys the game of football. He has fun playing. He is a joy to be around. He still has a lot of areas to improve on and work on. He is not always the best practice player, and he knows he has to work at that. He covers people up well and, as he gains more strength and more quickness, I hope he will begin to get more movement and become a dominant guard to where he can reach his full potential. He is not there yet. 

To the size of the linemen — they just keep getting bigger. I thought they were big when I was here, so they just keep getting bigger.”

On if opposing defenses will throw more and more resources at slowing down Nick Chubb and Sony Michel … 

“You can’t put any more in there than they are already putting without uncovering somebody. So if you saw the Florida game, if Jake can just throw it to the ones they do not cover we would be ok, but they can’t put many more in there than they are. Ultimately, it comes down to can we block the ones that are in there and the ones we can’t block can we make them miss or make them further away? Ultimately, you are going to run up on somebody that is stout enough that you can’t block them. That could come any week and we have to be able to throw the ball. You have to be able to throw the ball with accuracy and high-percentage throws — they are hard to find with the way people are playing us, so we hope we can keep improving.” 

On if he’s ahead of schedule with things he wanted to address at Georgia, including depth and size…

“I’ll be honest with you, there’s no schedule, they don’t have a book on it that says by this time you have to be here and by this time you have to be here. It’s not really done that way. It’s done each year independent of the previous. This year is independent of last year, just like next year will be independent of this year. You try to reshape your team based on the personality it takes on. We are worried about this year and we’re worried about South Carolina right now. That’s all I’m thinking about.”

On the changing and growing role of Georgia’s wide receivers…

“They’ve matured because it’s not about them, it’s about the team. There’s been no selfishness in that room and that’s one of the things after the game, the first thing I did was commend the receivers because it’s not always in their DNA to be comfortable in that role, but they’ve also embraced that when they get their opportunities they’re going to make the most of them. And some of them have done that, given the opportunity. They know the time and place is coming for them to make plays. They understand that during the week they get to work on that part of their game. It just so happens that for 45 plays in the game, I guess 38 or 37 of them, they didn’t get to work on that part of their game, but they will get to today. They get to go against some pretty good players and we continue to try to develop that part of our game.”

On the benefits of having Sony Michel and Nick Chubb fresher late in the season…

“I think you could ask a lot of teams in the country that question and they’d say it’s a huge benefit. We probably take it for granted to be honest with you. We don’t look at it that way until we look at someone we’re playing and they say, ‘well, we’ve got this back out, this back bruised up, this guy beat up’, and it’s not because of the last game, it’s because of the cumulative effect of the 15-20 carries. We’ve certainly had a lot of carries, just spread amongst a good group of backs. I continue to say, and harp upon, it’s not what our backs do with the ball that’s special to me, it’s what they do without it. It’s the special teams, it’s the punt coverages by Sony Michel, the protections by D’Andre Swift. There are so many things that they’re good at. Swift is probably our best pass protector back there and he does a really good job."

On the biggest improvement he’d like to see from last week to this week…

“Same thing. We have a lot to improve on. We have to tackle better on defense. We didn’t tackle. It was probably our poorest game tackling, getting guys to the ball, run defense was poor. Offensively, we didn’t execute real well. The series we did, it was great. But when we didn’t time at times we’d go backwards.  We just have to play more fundamentally sound and more clean, we call it. Execute the assignments. We get sloppy and that’s the disappointing part. You’re looking to play a clean game and we get sloppy in the second half several times."

On the recruitment of Jamyest Williams…

“Jamyest chose to go to South Carolina. I’m happy for him. He’s playing really well for them. He’s a talented young man that’s playing a really good role for them. He’s a good football player.”

On D’Andre Swift enjoying blocking this early in his career…

“I think it comes from the fact that he has two older brothers who have taught him it’s important. When you look at Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and what they’ve done over their history of being here- protecting, blocking for each other. Whether it’s a down field play and they’re a guy that has to convert and go block for a receiver, they do a good job of doing it. D’Andre is the same way and he’s learned that from those guys.”

On the added competitiveness of facing a friend like Will Muschamp…

“I don’t think so. You want these players to have success. I want my players to have success just like he wants his players to have success. It’s not about Will and I. It’s not about us, it’s about the players. I think he’d be the first to tell you that.”

On South Carolina’s ability to get 200 rushing yards in the last few games and their improvements on the ground…

“Their offensive line. It’s much more physical, dominant up front. They really come off the ball. They’ve got some big guys. They’re committed to it. They have two good blocking tight ends. The backs are running really hard. When you watch them, they do a really good job. After our Florida game that’s something we really have to improve on."

Graduate ILB Reggie Carter

Photo by Steven Colquitt
On returning to the field after a few games due to injury…

“It felt great to be great. It is very difficult to miss games. The most difficult part is getting back in shape after missing games, but also just watching your team play. It hurts every time you are injured when you have to watch your team play, but you just have to trust the process and hope that it heals right.”

On biggest motivation…

“My teammates and coaches. They trust me and I trust them. Those guys are like family to me and they motivate me to get ready and come back to play each day.”

On how the inside linebacker rotation due to starters being out…

“The young guys like Juwan Taylor, Monty Rice and the other guys were phenomenal. Even when I got back, they still built on what they did the previous week. They continue to get better and come to practice hard every day. They do a tremendous job in those two games against Vanderbilt and Missouri."

Junior WR Terry Godwin

Photo by Steven Colquitt
On the wide receivers facilitating the run game…

“It means a lot to us. For a receiver, you always want the ball in the air. A receiver wants the ball. But when you got that group that doesn’t really care about getting the ball, and will go out there and sacrifice their body to block for another player, that’s a lot. That goes to show how much this team has grown, and also that room as well.”

On the development of the team…

“The team, the growth, it’s been tremendous. Just coming from spring of last year to now, we’ve got a lot more team leadership, a lot more players following in the right direction, Going up on what Coach Smart has been coaching and trying to instill in us. We’ve got a lot more kids buying in, and I feel like it’s showing on Saturdays.”

On outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter…

"Lorenzo, that’s a different creature. Just to see him practice the way he does, and then go out there and do that on Saturdays. That means a lot to us, because as far as the offense, we know we’re going against this every week, everyday of the week, and by Saturdays, if we barely can stop him, there’s no one else in the country that can stop him. His hard work and his athleticism being displayed on Saturday.”

Redshirt freshman OL Solomon Kindley

On returning to his hometown of Jacksonville…

“It felt great. It felt amazing because I got to play in front of all of my people, all of my family. And then, I get to play against a great SEC team like Florida.”

On the offensive line mantra…

“The running game opens up the passing game, so if we keep pounding the ball, that’s intimidating. If your offensive line is doing good, that makes your team good. That’s just our biggest thing. If we’re doing good, the team’s doing good.”

On growing as a team…

“We always capitalize on our mistakes. We never see the good we did in the game, we always go back to the, ‘Oh, you could make this step, you could make that step, you could make this better, you could you throw this better, you could run better, you could block him this way.” It’s every game, we could pretty much say we had something to work on.”

Carter & Smith Butkus Semi-Finalists

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia senior Lorenzo Carter and junior Roquan Smith are two of 15 players named as semifinalists for the 33rd Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker.

The Dawg duo are two of the five players from the Southeastern Conference included on the list. Finalists will be announced on November 20 and winners will be announced on or before December 5.

Carter, a native of Norcross, is third on second-ranked Georgia with 30 stops, including 5.5 tackles for loss and a team-leading four sacks, from his outside linebacker spot. He has also recovered three fumbles, which leads the SEC and ranks second nationally, and forced two fumbles.

Smith, a native of Montezuma, is leading the 8-0 Dawgs with 61 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack, from his inside linebacker spot. An Associated Press, Sporting News and ESPN Midseason All-American, Smith has also forced a fumble and anchored a unit that ranks third nationally in Scoring Defense (11.9 points/game) and Total Defense (252.1 yards/game).

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Kirby Smart

Opening Statement: 

“I thought we came out with a really good demeanor and a good attitude. Throughout the game, the kids had a really good focus. They were not distracted by streaks and those kinds of things. They focused on the task at hand and got it done.”

On the offense's ability to move the ball: 

“I think that speaks to a few things — first a great game plan by Jim Chaney. It was also a commitment from the offensive line. It think it surprised them early and we shocked them a little bit, so it was good to see that.”

On the defense making a stop after the Jake Fromm interception:

“That was great. Jake just made a freshman mistake. The defense came out and held them, and I thought that was a turning point.” 

On any improvements the team needs to make: 

“We want to play to a certain standard all the time. Every possession is an opportunity to get better. Defensively, you have to tackle better. Offensively, it’s more about execution. We show them the things they do well. Then, we show them the things they did not do well. We have an opportunity to get better, and we will continue to improve down the stretch.”

On the upcoming game against South Carolina: 

“They have a great program. Will (Muschamp) does a great job. It’s the way of the SEC — Humility is just a week away.” 

On the crowd: 

“I just want to say thanks to all the fans who came out and stayed out to the end. Also, the city of Jacksonville did a great job. Our guys feel the difference when the crowd gets into it, and I just want to say thank you to Dawg Nation.”

Junior Linebacker Roquan Smith 

On Jake Fromm’s leadership: 

“It’s big time. I face him each and every day in practice and I’ve seen in in the game. It is nothing new to me. I tip my hat to the offense and the offensive line that opens up those holes for the backs and make things happen.”

On the defense: 

“We pride ourselves on offenses not scoring because if you can’t score, you can’t win. The second team got in there and didn’t take advantage of a few things, but it is okay. We can clean up a few things and come back to work next week and improve.”

Senior Running Back Sony Michel   

On team cohesiveness: 

“We are just keeping the circle tight. Once you start the playing for each other you start having fun and you start winning.” 

On team’s success: 

“I would say it is the way we prepare. Our defense gives us the best look. We knew we were going to run the ball well and we capitalized on that. We are winning now and it is exciting. We are going to enjoy this one and then get ready to go back to work.”

Senior Linebacker Lorenzo Carter     

On his last trip to Georgia/Florida: 

“Going across that bridge, it really hit me. It made me realize it and really take advantage of it. Next time I come across that bridge I’ll be a fan. It meant a lot to win. It was one of the reasons why I had to come back. We came out there and played hard and I can’t ask for more.” 

On mental toughness and facing Florida: 

“It is a faceless opponent. We come out and get the scouting report on Mondays and we go through it and know whom we are playing but at the end of the day it comes down to what we do. It is us competing against ourselves.”

Senior Wide Receiver Javon Wims 

On the rivalry:  

“We understand it is a great rivalry. The way we practiced this whole week and the bye week, we practiced hard. We were expecting nothing less. We dominated from the beginning.” 

On importance of a quick start: 

“It is great momentum. The defense gets out there and works hard. They get three-and-outs and shutouts for us in order to get the ball back. We just try to capitalize to get that momentum.”

Florida Head Coach Jim McElwain

Opening Statement: 

“Obviously it didn’t turn out the way we wanted. They jumped on us early. I thought our guys hung in. Would’ve liked to have been able to punch that one in during the first half. Getting the turnover in the second quarter or right after half, I thought that was something that was really good.”

“Hats off to them. They played their tails off. Our kids played our tails off too, and you know what, I still like these guys. I still like this team. They’re a bunch of hard-working young men, and you know, we put a plan together, had an opportunity to go out and win and didn’t win. At the end of the day, that’s really what it’s all about.”

On the distractions off the field and their impact: 

“You know it’s hard to tell. I thought our guys prepared well all week. Obviously, I was made aware of the stuff right before we walked into pregame meal and that was the first time I had heard anything of that nature. I talked to them immediately right there, and we’ll see, that’s the first I’ve heard of it.”

On his concern for his job security: 

“Well I mean at the end of the day, we all were brought here to win, and we haven’t done it. My concern isn’t about my job. My concern is about these players and our staff. We’ve got a fantastic staff, coaches, support staff and their families. That’s the concern, you know it isn’t about me.” 

On coming back from the blowout loss: 

“It was a blowout, and something I’m not proud of, and yet, you know how you rebound when something doesn’t go right, you certainly don’t run the other way and you come back to work and get ready to go play this game next week. It’s going to be an early start and something we have to prepare through the week for.”

Redshirt Freshman QB Feleipe Franks 

On two fourth down plays: 

“I love Coach Mac (McElwain). I thought it was a good job by (the coaches) to trust the offense on fourth down and it’s on us to produce. If they’re going to have faith in us, we have to have faith in each other to get it done.”

What’s the goal for November: 

“We have to keep on playing. We have a bunch of big games ahead of us. One thing we’re not going to do is point fingers and complain. We cannot live in the past, we have to live in the now. We are going to regroup and get to work this week. Guys work their tails off every week and we are going to keep on getting better and better.”

Biggest reason for offensive struggles: 

“There are a lot of things we can improve on. We definitely are not going to fold or bow our heads. We are going to keep on continuing to work.”

Communication Issue: 

“Georgia did a good job. I can do a better job being louder and making sure they (the offense) hear my voice and not the defense. I put all of that on my back. It all boils down to me, and I have to do a better job. I’m not going to fold and lose confidence. That’s part of my position (quarterback) and that’s why I love it.”

Sophomore DB Chauncey Gardner 

On UF’s performance on defense: 

“Georgia just executed their game plan. They did what they had to do. We just have to keep playing ball. We’re not going to hang our heads on this. We have another game next week and we’re going to bounce back and do what we have to do.”

On going down 21-0 so early in the game: 

“It was a shocker. We knew they could put up points but not in that short of a time. It is what it is. We just have to move on and play the next game.

On where the team goes from here: 

“You have to keep going, keep pushing. We can’t shut each other out, we’re a team. We stand behind Coach Mac, he stands behind us and this program stands behind us; we’re going to keep playing football and outsiders are going to be outsiders. We’re not going to worry about them. We’re just going to keep doing what we have to do.” 

On whether the season is out of reach: 

“We’re not really about, ‘Is this out of reach?’ There is a lot of football left. We have a lot of young guys and I told them ‘There is more football. Don’t hold you’re head on this one game.’

 Redshirt Junior DL Khairi Clark
  
On breakdowns against the run: 

"I felt like today as a unit they just ran the ball all over us. They got it started and we couldn't stop it and I feel like that's not a part of what we do as a Gator football team."

On how demoralizing it is to be down 21 in the first quarter: 

"It sucks because we practiced this whole week and to come out and not execute what we practiced and have them run all over us is just embarrassing."

On if Georgia did anything they hadn't done on film: 

"They had some trick plays we hadn't seen on film, but at the same time it's all about playing our techniques and I feel like as a unit all of us didn't play to our ability." 

On if the McElwain news right before the game was deflating for the team:

"You've just got to keep the positive mindset, you've got to keep everybody into it. I feel, as a leader, the way I express and handle things is how the people are going to follow."

Senior DB Duke Dawson 

On what the breakdown was: 

"It was all mental. I wouldn't say it was physical, we just weren't mentally prepared on some things, so we've got to correct that come Monday."

On why there are mental breakdowns this far into the season: 

"We've got to come mentally prepared. We put in a lot of new stuff; just being locked in is one thing we have to do more. We have to be more consistent with that."

On Georgia’s performance as an overall team: 

"[It was] the same thing they were doing on film, [Georgia] did that tonight. They added new things to their offense and we just had to adjust and we had mental breakdowns."

On if the McElwain news right before the game deflated the team at all: 

"Nah."

On quick Georgia start: 

"We stayed composed as a defense, we stayed together. That's one thing with me, you all know I'm not really vocal, so that's one thing I did, I opened up to the guys and they listened to me. Just having somebody like that to be on them, it's always great to see. You see those guys buying in, everybody was buying in, everybody was locked in to what was going on."

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications
#3 Georgia Postgame Notes vs. Florida, October 28th, 2017

Dawgs Improve To 8-0:


With today’s 42-7 victory, Georgia moves to 8-0 for the eighth time in school history including the first time since 2002. The 35-point win is the largest margin of victory over the Gators since 1982 (44-0). The Dawgs are now 12-2-1 when it enters the Florida game undefeated or untied. Also, Georgia leads the all-time series with Florida 51-43-2 including 44-41-1 in Jacksonville. This was only the sixth time in the series when both teams had a bye before the game.

Points To Ponder:


The Dawgs came in today averaging 37.6 points a game and 43 points a game in SEC contests and posted a 42-7 win over Florida. Georgia led 21-0 at the half, and it scored all 21 points in the first quarter and that was the most in the first quarter this year, and the most against the Gators in a first quarter going back to at least 1970. The previous high was 14 against Missouri, Miss. State and Samford. In the Red Zone, Georgia finished 2-for-2 as the Dawgs are tied for the national lead, going a perfect 31-for-31 on the year.

Defense Posts Another Gem:

Coming in today, Georgia ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense at 12.6 points a game and UF avoided being shutout for the game when it scored with 2:42 left in the contest. At the half, Florida had no points. It marked the first time in the series since 1988 that the Gators were shutout at the half. That year, Georgia was up 10-0 and went on to win 26-3.

Senior OLB Lorenzo Carter was the leading tackler for the Dawgs with a career-high nine stops and a sack, while junior LB Roquan Smith and junior J.R. Reed were next with eight tackles apiece. Also of note coming in today, the Gators were 8-for-11 in fourth down conversions, and Georgia stopped them on a 4th-and-2 at the UGA 4. It was the first Red Zone stop of the Gators this season as they were 15-for-15 at that point.

Rushing Attack:

Georgia tallied 292 rushing yards highlighted by senior Sony Michel with 137 yards on only six carries including TD runs that covered 45 and 74 yards. Also, senior Nick Chubb had 77 yards on 13 attempts and one score. Chubb had a six-yard TD for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. It marked his 42nd career touchdown including 38th on the ground. Michel had a 74-yard scamper for a TD for a 21-0 lead, the longest rush by the Dawgs this season and one yard short of his career high (had a 75-yarder versus Troy as a freshman in 2014). Michel’s 74-yarder was the longest rushing TD by a Dawg since Chubb went 83 yards against Alabama in 2015. Michel’s 45-yarder made it 28-0 with 6:43 left in the third quarter. Michel has 3,637 all-purpose yards in his career which ranks seventh all-time. In the fourth quarter, sophomore Elijah Holyfield made it 42-0 with a 39-yard TD run. Coming in today, UF was tied for third nationally in allowing only four rushing TDs, Georgia had four today.

Fromm Directs Offense:

In the first half, freshman Jake Fromm was 2-for-4 for 56 yards with one TD and finished 4-for-7 for 101 yards with one TD and one interception. On Georgia’s opening drive when it was 3rd and 2, he completed a 39-yard screen pass to freshman running back D’Andre Swift. It helped produce a four play, 53-yard scoring drive in 2:02 for a 7-0 lead after a six-yard TD run by senior Nick Chubb. On the second possession, Fromm capped another scoring drive with a 17-yard TD pass to senior Javon Wims for a 14-0 edge. Swift finished with a career-high 84 yards on three catches.

Points Off Turnovers:

Georgia got one turnover in the first half, threw an interception in the second half and had a sack/fumble for a TD (J.R. Reed scored) to make them +2 in turnover margin this year. Georgia has scored 48 points off 11 turnovers while opponents have scored 31 points off 10 Bulldog miscues. In the first half, senior Dominick Sanders notched his 15th career interception and returned it 13 yards to the UF 29. It led to a TD and a 14-0 edge. Sanders holds the school record for INT-Return Yards with 342 and ranks third with 15 picks. Reed had a three-yard return for a TD on the fumble, marking Georgia’s first defensive TD of the year.

For Starters:

Graduate linebacker Reggie Carter made his first start of the year and 10th of his career. It was Carter’s first action since the Tennessee game. Senior SS Dominick Sanders made his team-leading 46th career start.

Captains:

Georgia’s captains were seniors Sony Michel (TB), junior Roquan Smith (ILB) and Isaiah Wynn (LT).

Up Next:

Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC) returns home next Saturday where it will face South Carolina at 3:30 pm (CBS Sports).

Gators Talk.....Dawgs Win 42-7

UGA Sports Communications

The third-ranked Dawgs overwhelmed the Florida Gators 42-7 at EverBank Field on Saturday, improving to 8-0 for just the eighth time in school history.

Georgia tabbed its fifth conference win, while Florida dropped to 3-4 on the season, and 3-3 in the SEC. The Dawgs’ 35-point advantage marks the most extensive margin of victory over the Gators since 1982.  

“I thought we came out with a good demeanor and a good attitude,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “Had a great work week last week, and I thought the kids came out with a good focus. Their focus was on the task at hand, which was playing the best they could play, and not getting distracted by streaks or letting the past affect the present.”  

Georgia’s defensive ambush held Florida scoreless until its first touchdown in the final minutes of the game. In the first quarter, Georgia surrendered only two first downs to the Florida offense.  Senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter steered the Georgia defense with nine tackles, followed by junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith with eight.

Prior to the game, Florida was tied for third in the nation in allowing only four rushing touchdowns, which the Georgia offense matched on Saturday with four rushing touchdowns of their own, combining for 279 yards. Senior running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb led with 137 yards and 77 yards, respectively, while freshman quarterback Jake Fromm needed only four completions on seven passes, including three to freshman running back D’Andre Swift.

In the first quarter, the Dawg defense held Florida to three-and-out on its first possession, setting up a four-play, 53-yard march into the Gator end zone a minute and a half into the game. Fromm completed his first pass to Swift for 39 yards, and Chubb combined for 14 yards on three carries, featuring a six-yard rushing touchdown.

On Florida’s second drive, senior safety Dominick Sanders snagged his 15th career interception from a tipped Feleipe Franks pass to place Georgia on the Florida 29-yard line. Two plays later, an airborne senior wide receiver Javon Wims extended above Florida cornerback Marco Wilson to secure a 17-yard touchdown pass from Fromm for the 14-0 advantage.

On the first play of Georgia’s third offensive possession, Michel exploded for a 74-yard touchdown run, sealing a 21-0 Georgia margin that carried into the half.

In the third quarter, Georgia returned to the end zone with 6:43 remaining in the frame, as Michel finalized a five-yard, 76-yard drive with a 45-yard rushing touchdown. Fromm led the Dawgs down the field with a 13-yard rush and an 18-yard connection to Swift.

Less than a minute later, a Georgia duo of defensive backs, sophomore Tyrique McGhee and redshirt sophomore J.R. Reed, enveloped Franks on the Florida three-yard line, forcing a fumble as Reed scooped the ball for a three-yard touchdown return. After another defensive stop, Georgia closed the third quarter leading 35-0.

In the fourth quarter, the Georgia defense held Florida to a three-play, 23-second Florida drive, allowing the Dawg offensive streak to continue. Following runs from sophomore tailback Brian Herrien and sophomore running back Elijah Holyfield, Fromm found Swift for a 27-yard pass, and Holyfield capped the 42-0 score with a 39-yard rushing touchdown.

Florida avoided the shutout with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter as redshirt senior running back Mark Thompson ran for a one-yard touchdown.

Up next, Georgia returns to Sanford Stadium on Saturday, November 4th to play host to South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. The game will be aired on CBS.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Practice Report

UGA Sports Communications

The third-ranked Dawgs conducted a two-hour workout in full pads Wednesday on the Woodruff Practice Fields.

The Dawgs (7-0, 4-0 SEC) face Florida (3-3, 3-2 SEC) in Jacksonville Saturday at EverBank Field. During Wednesday’s SEC Coaches weekly media teleconference, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said the Dawgs are looking forward to their upcoming league contest.

“The guys are excited about a neutral site rivalry,” said Smart. “It’s different than most games in college football. It’s unique and our players enjoy getting to play in Jacksonville. It’s really cool for college football when you have a 50-50 stadium (fans) and a great tradition. You come out of the tunnel, it’s 50-50, it’s half red and half orange & blue. it’s special.”
               
Meanwhile, Florida coach Jim McElwain also described the Georgia-Florida contest as a “unique” game on the teleconference.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to play a neutral site game in a great city like Jacksonville, it’s 50-50 in the stadium, it’s one of things that you go to one of the two schools to play in,” said McElwain. ”When you come over the bridge and see fans from both sides, it’s pretty special.”

After last week’s open date on the schedule, Smart was asked how the team can find a higher gear for the last five games of the regular season compared to the first seven.
               
“It’s about execution and doing things better in special teams, offense and defense,” said Smart. “There are very few teams that get better as a season goes along. You have to stay focused each day, and that’s what we try to do.”

Following Wednesday’s workout, selected players met with the media and discussed the upcoming game against the Gators in Jacksonville.

Photo by Andy Harrison
“It’s cool to play down there; I’m from Florida and I know a lot of the guys on their team,” said senior running back Sony Michel who hails from Plantation, Fla. “It’s a rivalry game, and we’re focused on our preparations and playing for one another.”

“It’s awesome (playing the game in Jacksonville) and one of the coolest environments we play in other than at home,” said sophomore tight end Charlie Woerner. “It’s a cool experience to look up and see all the red and then all the blue in the stands.”

Kickoff between the Dawgs and Gators on Saturday will be at 3:30 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Practice Report

UGA Sports Communications

The #3-ranked Dawgs practiced for just over two hours this afternoon in preparation for their SEC match-up this Saturday against Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.

Following are comments from head coach Kirby Smart after today’s practice:

Opening Statements

‘’I thought the guys had good energy, good enthusiasm for practice. It’s cool out there, so it’s easy to keep your tempo up. I don’t think they’re as tired as they used to get when the heat was a factor. I don’t know if we always had the enthusiasm in the right direction. Sometimes I worry about guys’ focus in practice and things like that. But they did practice hard.  We’ve got to clean some things up. Got to put the rest of the game plan in and get ready to go play.’’

What do you see in Lorenzo Carter that he brings to this defense?

‘’He brings athleticism, versatility, speed. He runs a lot of plays down. He’s smart and he can play a lot of positions. I think what makes him unique is his length and his ability to play several spots.’’

The quarterbacks worked with wet footballs today.  With a rain chance in Jacksonville this weekend, how much of a concern is the weather?

‘’I’ll be honest with you. We do ‘wet ball’ every other week. That’s in our rotation. We don’t ever go three weeks without doing ‘wet ball.’ It’s in the rotation. So it’s just what we do. Y’all have seen it before. We do it because we’re eventually going to play with a wet ball.’’

How much of an effect have the seniors had on what’s taken place so far this season?

‘’I think the seniors always are the best leaders on the team. I personally think that your team is defined by your seniors, more so your leaders. In some case, like Roquan Smith who’s not a senior but a really good leader. I think your team is defined by that, and I think they control and they take ownership. The ownership is on them. Every person we’ve had come in here and talk has said, ‘Coach Smart can’t make you do it. He can only try to motivate you to do it. You’ve got to decide amongst yourselves and police yourselves.  That’s what they have done a good job of. Whether or not that’s some kind of revenge as motivation, I don’t always think revenge is a great motivating factor. I’d rather be intrinsically motivated to do well because we want to do well, not because of something that happened last year, because next year what’s your motivation?  It has to come intrinsically and I think these kids are growing in that.’’

Do you concern yourself with the weather a few days ahead?

‘’We look at the weather for Saturday from Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. We have a forecast on our injury report.  We look at it daily for our practices. That’s always a concern. Jacksonville is historically a windy place, and there is a chance of rain, so you’re always on top of it. But I don’t think it dictates a lot to you because you’re going to do what you do. You’ve got to play with whatever conditions are there, and so do they.’’

What does it say about Trenton Thompson that he has come back from several injuries during his career?

‘’He’s resilient. He’s a hard-working kid. He bounces back. He enjoys the game, he enjoys the rehab part. He enjoys the interaction with the training staff, whom he’s spent a lot of time with. He looks quick out there. Looks like he’s got his step back, so that’s good.’’

Conditioning-wise, how has Reggie Carter come back after missing the past two games?

‘’He seems good. He’s running around out there good. He’s had good burst, almost like a sense of fresh legs. He doesn’t get so many reps that he is truly conditioned. We don’t play our linebackers every snap. They rotate in the game, so he’s not like a defensive back that would play 70-80 snaps. So I don’t think conditioning will be a big concern for him. If somebody got injured, it could be. But he’s done a good job in practice with pushing himself so that he can be conditioned.’’

How much can this year’s success be traced to being at 85 scholarships?

‘’I don’t know. I think you can trace it to the fact that we’ve got more fast people. I don’t know that it’s the number 85. I think the total overall speed of the team has increased. I think the depth of the team has increased. But the part people don’t talk about, outside of the 85, is the 10-15 walk-ons that we’ve been able to get in here. They’ve done a tremendous job, not only from a special teams standpoint. Prather Hudson’s contributions, Christian Payne’s contributions, so many other guys that have been walk-ons on the scout team to give us a great look each day. I think that’s what is unique, more so than just the sheer number 85.  But it certainly helps to be operating at a full load.’’

What kind of challenge do Taven Bryan and CeCe Jefferson pose on Florida’s defensive line?

‘’Extremely athletic. Extremely fast. Faster and more athletic that what we’ve faced all year. Very disruptive. Vertical penetration guys. Unique skill set that we don’t typically face. I mean, you don’t see a lot of guys with that explosive power in the SEC. At least we haven’t faced many this year that have that same ability to disrupt plays, which they’re very good at.’’

How do you feel about your kick return game?

‘’Kickoff return probably hasn’t been what I’d like for it to be. It’s been OK but haven’t had any really big ones. But we’ve got a stat on punt returns where we’re one of the only teams in the country to have eight or more returns of 10 or more yards. When you start talking about that, it’s what you want. Our goal is to get a first down every time we get a punt return, and we’ve done that more times than pretty much everybody in the country. You’re right, though. We’ve not had the Isaiah McKenzie, all-the-way-to-the-house explosive, really big one. We have been close. But I’m very pleased with the work we’ve put into it. I actually think we got better, better, better, better, and then we’ve kinda tapered off because, as your opponents see the tape, No. 1 they scheme you and No. 2 they start practicing a lot harder covering it. It became a weapon for us all the way through Tennessee and we’ve tapered off a little bit since then. We’ve got to do a good job because Mecole Hardman is a weapon. He’s got to do a better job. I have been proud of him for his decision-making and ball security, but he’s got to do a better job when we get him an opening of making people pay.’’

How much better is the pass rush when Trenton Thompson is playing, as opposed to when he’s been out?

‘’I don’t know. I think Trenton does a good job for us. Trenton is not a natural sack getter. He’s not just an explosive pass rusher. He’s actually better playing the run, chasing things down. He’s very athletic. But it’s not like he was getting a ton of sacks before he was injured. We’ve got to disrupt the passer. Some of that is on what we call. Some of that is pressuring. But you’ve got a tough line to draw when you start talking about pressuring guys versus covering guys. That’s a decision we have to make based on the back end and the front end. And we’re not a great natural pass-rush team. It’s something we’ve got to work on.’’

Do you think your team’s results, as well as Alabama’s results this year, given the SEC a top-heavy appearance?

‘’We’ve had a couple of games that ended up the way they ended because of circumstance. I expect every game to be a four-quarter battle, to go to the wire. That’s what the SEC is. We’re no cut above the SEC. I can promise you that. We’re just fighting our tails off to play each week the best we can.’’

Kickoff between Georgia and Florida on Saturday will be at 3:30 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Press Conference


UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed the upcoming game against Florida with media on Monday. The No. 3-ranked Dawgs take on the Gators at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday in Jacksonville. 

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments on Monday. 

Head Coach Kirby Smart 

Opening comments … 

“I would like to open with a congratulations to Carla Williams (new Director of Athletics at Virginia). What a great opportunity she's been presented with. Tremendous job she's done for Georgia athletics. I've known Carla for a long time — I am happy for her and her family, for the opportunity they are getting.

We are getting ready for Florida. We prepared a little bit Thursday. Worked some on Florida Thursday, about 50% of the practice on Florida, 50% just on us getting better, like we did most of the week last week.

It’s an exciting game when you talk about a neutral-site game in Jacksonville. I think all the players really enjoy that atmosphere, the 50/50 stands. Great opportunity to go play a good football team. We're going to continue getting ready today.”

On struggling to run the ball against them last season … 

“I think they have a tremendous front this year. Last year, they probably had more depth, more guys up there. Still have a quick, athletic front. They get off the ball really well. I've seen a lot of their defense because we've had games that we've played crossover teams. Certainly explosive, quick. It will be a challenge. It's hard to run the ball in the SEC. I keep telling y'all, it's really hard. It's something you have to be committed to. You have to do it a lot. You have to try to wear people down. But they get off the ball. They do a really good job. They did last year, as well. We'll find it tough sledding, I'm sure.”

On a true freshman quarterback starting in an environment like Jacksonville … 

“Any time you have a true freshman starting, it's challenging. I think this kid has grown. He's gotten better each week. Hope that continues through the bye week. You reference Jacksonville. I think what makes it challenging is the Florida defense that happens to be in Jacksonville. It's not just the fact we're playing in Jacksonville, it's that we're playing against a caliber of defense that has been really, over the last 10 years, one of the best defenses in the country. So you look at what they've done, the players they've had, style of defense they play. They're attacking, they're aggressive. Randy Shannon does a great job with them. So it's always a challenge.” 

On the fan support Georgia has received this year and if it is different than in years past … 

“You start with the opening game for us against App State — incredible atmosphere, packed house. Then you go to the Notre Dame game. Each of the road games, they've been really incredible as far as the atmosphere they've created for the players. I think the energy of our fan base has been great. A lot of that enthusiasm comes from playing well. I mean, you play good, you create a good atmosphere. The night games have helped with that. Whatever the magic potion has been, it's been good for our players. We certainly hope it continues in Jacksonville.”

On being a part of the Georgia-Florida series as a player in the 1990s … 

“I think trends are pretty commonplace. It has a lot to do with who the quarterback is, who the defense is, who the players are. At the end of the day, it boils down to players, guys making plays, not turning the ball over, how you respond to a little adversity. In this game, it's traditionally been a seesaw type game. I mean, I don't get too much into who won last year, who won the year before that. It's a whole lot more about what we're going to do this year, because that's really all we can control. We can control how we play this year, worry about the things that matter. I don't think any of that matters.”

On coming into the game as a sizable favorite … 

“I just don't think that you worry about that. I mean, it ultimately comes down to how we play. The number one thing we are concerned with is what is going to allow us to play our best football game, what is going to allow us to be more sound in execution, what's going to allow us to protect the ball, attack the ball better defensively and offensively. It's not about what the favorite is, what the line is. I mean, it's going to boil down to how we play. That is the one thing we can control, is how we play. That's all we can worry about.”

On the reason for improvement on the offensive line … 

“I don't know if I could pinpoint one moment there was a total buy-in. I think the group as a whole, it's a little different group. I mean, we've got guys that have done it by committee for the most part. We've rolled some guys in there. We've got good backs. We had good backs last year. I think the fact that we've been a little more open in our personnel groupings has helped. I don't know one thing, one overriding factor. I think the receivers have played better and blocked better. That's allowed us to spring some more runs, do some more things. A few more RPO's mixed in there have helped. There's a lot of things that are cumulative. Second year in the same offense. A lot of things affect that. I don't think it's one thing that we can pinpoint. But I do think the offensive line has matured and is playing a little better.” 

On strength Coach Scott Sinclair and his understating of what it takes to win in this league …

“He's built confidence in our players. I think they recognize they're stronger than they've ever been. They see that in their gains, in their body weight. As far as his experience in this league, he really didn't have much experience in this league. I do think that part is somewhat overrated because I think if you're a good strength coach, you're a good strength coach. I don't think it has to be your understanding of this league. This league is very unique in size, speed, toughness across the offensive lines and defensive lines. I think he understands that. He's coached good players before. He's been places before. He and his staff do a great job of motivating our players, but also convincing them they are stronger, they are more physical by the way they work in the weight room.”

On Florida redshirt-freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks and the Gators’ offense … 

“They have tremendous wideouts. They've probably got the best wideout group we've faced combined with the fact that their quarterback has one of the strongest arms I've ever seen. I knew Feleipe well in high school, recruited him — know the arm talent that he has. I mean, they'll see the Missouri game. We know what we're in for. We have to do a good job covering those guys. The toughest part is they're a lot more physical up front and bigger than, say, Missouri was. So it's going to be a task. We've got to do a tremendous job defensively against a good quarterback and a group of wideouts that are very talented.”

On his assessment of the strength of the SEC and the possibility of two teams in the playoff…

“Yeah, I have no idea. I'll be honest with you. I don't get to watch enough games. I'm not a good judge of how talented the SEC is. I've spent the last seven days watching Florida, getting ready for future opponents in the SEC. I'm going to leave that to you guys. I'm focused on getting ready for Florida.”

On the importance of the Florida game as a coach and reflecting on his time in this game as a player…

“Every game is special to me as a coach. I'll be honest with you. I don't think there's one that's more special than another. I think it's special to these kids. I mean, we recruit a lot against Florida, but we recruit a lot against all the SEC teams. We have several guys on our roster from Florida. It's the second most represented state for our team. So, I mean, I think that makes it important. At the end of the day we're trying to go 1-0 this week. Florida is the next opponent. That's the most important thing.”

On the challenges of playing road games at night and the concerns for player recovery and coach prep work…

“Both. I mean, there's rest and recovery for the players. It's really challenging for coaches. I think that's part of the job because you might be back up after getting in at 3, 4 in the morning. You got to go back in and start to work on the next opponent, turn it over quickly. The players it affects more than anything. I think their sleep habits get screwed up. They sleep in on Sunday morning. Next thing Monday morning they have 7 a.m. study hall or class at 8 a.m. It's tough on them to get a routine going. That part is challenging for the players.  I think each and every one of us in the SEC will admit the reason for it is the fact that we're playing on ESPN and they're making more money for it.”

On the advantages of disadvantages of playing at a neutral site…

 “I think it is what it is. The biggest disadvantage, advantage to me is the recruiting aspect. I've always said you lose a great opportunity once every other year, and you figure in your state you're going to have a hundred top players. Every four years they're in high school, there's two opportunities to bring them to a big game, to an environment that would be second to none. You lose that opportunity. You don't get that opportunity. They also lose that opportunity. So the both of us, if anything, that's the impact. I don't think it's an impact on the outcome of the game. I don't think it's an impact on anything other than the fact you lose an opportunity at a good chance to recruit prospects and have them on your campus.”

Injury update on Trenton Thompson, DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, and David Marshall...

“Yeah, Trenton was able to practice (last week), do mostly everything. We think he'll be fine. He's cleared to go practice. Daquan is still battling back. David Marshall is cleared and ready to go.”

On cleaning up mistakes after the Missouri game…

“I think the biggest thing is play with better technique, understand where your help is, try not to put them in those situations. A lot of things combined. Throw more deep balls. Let us play more deep balls. Cover guys, cover fast people. Practice.  You try to address them on what you call, how you play what you call, then the technique you use when you call it. The only way to get better at stuff like that is really to work on it. We tried to attack some of that. We'll continue to.”

On having so many guys back on the D-line and ability to affect the quarterback…

“I think the depth will keep us a little fresher. I mean, it's not a matter of getting back some elite, great rusher. It's not the case. I think it's a matter of how many guys they keep and protecting with. They keep seven guys in and protect, it's tough to get rushed with four guys. They've got seven. You have to be able to hold up in coverage when people max protect. You have to do a better job of affecting the quarterback when they don't pass-protect. Hopefully having more depth will allow us to do that.”

On working with Carla Williams over the years…

“It's great. I think Carla has a great relationship with the student-athletes. She cares. They know she cares about them personally. She's done a tremendous job for the University of Georgia in the way that she represents Georgia and the way she represents student-athletes. She did a tremendous job with the academic side of things. She was a great asset for me, especially when I first got here from bouncing ideas off of, finding out how things worked. She did a tremendous job.”

Graduate Nosetackle John Atkins 

On the bye week and Florida week…

“We just have to attack the week. Like what Coach Smart said, last week was a work week. We can’t let Florida beat us throughout the week. We have to come to practice and practice hard. If we have a bad practice then Florida beat us today. We use that as our mindset — attacking the day, everyday.”

On memories of past years versus Florida…

“I haven’t really thought about it until last night when coach told us to stand up if you have beaten Florida and no one stood up. The road to win in the east goes through Florida so you have to be able to beat them. It’s a big rivalry, you don’t want to lose to a big rival.”

On Florida’s offense…

“If you look at the stats, Florida is only three points from being 5-1 this year. They were two points from Texas A&M and one point from LSU. They are a great team and they are physical. They have one of the biggest offensive lines that we will face.”

Senior Tight End Jeb Blazevich

On Jacksonville … 

“At Jacksonville, it’s always been an awesome venue, 50/50. It’s a really unique environment. At this point, the grass is always greener. It would be interesting to switch it up maybe. It’s awesome being down there too. World’s largest tailgate. I know they get a bunch of rowdy fans in there. Everyone loves it and we love playing there.

On Coach Kirby Smart’s experience as a player in the Georgia-Florida series … 

“It’s always good to have him be able to identify with exactly what we are going through having been there. All the coaches have been there once now. I don’t think it matters what field, when or where, we are just here to play ball. I don’t think that will have a huge impact on us. We are ready to play anywhere.” 

Junior Center Lamont Gaillard

On Florida’s rushing success against Georgia last year…

“They had a great defense last year, everybody knew that. We struggled, but it’s a different team now, so the focus is on this week.”

On how much the senior leadership has contributed to the Georgia success…

“A lot. They preach it everyday. If you follow them, and have good leadership, everything seems to work out. With practice, the games, everything.”

Senior DB Aaron Davis

On Florida’s explosive plays this season…

“That’s something we go over every game, so Florida’s no different. We just know that they’ve had a lot this year, as far as explosive passes. So that’s something that they’re probably stressing on their offense that they look for. You can count on every single game, so that’s something we look for.”

On Florida’s record…

“They’re dangerous every year; Florida’s a great team. That's no one to sleep on. No one is thinking we’ve already passed them, we know they’re going to bring their game. They’re tough, they’re coached well over there. Regardless of their record, they send a lot of guys to the NFL every single year.”

On the senior leadership…

“I think first and foremost, just the chemistry. A lot of guys have made sacrifices to come back, and bringing back that chemistry together and having another year, leadership is crucial as far as helping to get guys developed, helping the team rise to the occasion."