Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …

“I will open with we are starting our third Dawgs for Pups initiative. A lot of our kids started this and they have done a tremendous job. Several of them have kind of grabbed the bull by the horns — they did a wifi, food drive, and then also they are starting a coat drive for winter months for kids in the local area who do not have coats. I encourage people who want to get involved in that to do it. I know it is important to our players and they have done a good job. Cortez Hankton has kind of been spearheading some of those, so it’s been a tremendous initiative those kids have taken part in.

“It’s an off week this week. We are a beat up football team. We’ve got some guys who’ve got to get well, but we’ve also got a lot of guys that have got to get better. So we are taking this week, working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday trying to get fundamentally better, trying to focus on us, not really on opponents, things we can get better at. That starts today. I am excited to see the kids go out and work. We’ve got a lot of guys who probably haven’t gotten to play the number of snaps that we would like in terms of the teams we played and the tight games we have had to play, and we’ve got to get those guys better. It starts today and they will get to work on it today.”

On JT Daniels and if this week gives them time to give him an extra look …

“We look at the off weeks as an opportunity to get everybody better, so it will be no different at any position in terms of the reps we are able to get. During a game week, we give ones 78 percent of the reps, twos 20-30 percent of the reps, but then our threes get a lot of reps during the week because they go against the other units. This week, we will get to get a lot of guys reps. JT will get reps, D’Wan Mathis will get reps, Stetson Bennett will continue to get reps. We try to develop our roster — that’s the way we look at it. It doesn’t change, it just gives a chance to give more guys work and see where they are in their progress. That’s true at every position and true at quarterback.”

On the difference between being medically cleared and ready to compete …

“Medically cleared is saying he can go out and get tackled and play football. It’s unique to that position because the quarterback doesn’t go live — maybe in fall camp some — but he doesn’t go live until real game time and then everything else is revolved around who we think gives us the best chance to win. That’s ultimately the decision you have. The toughest thing is getting enough reps once you are down the road of being able to get guys prepared for a game. You can’t prepare three or four quarterbacks to play in a game. You just don’t get enough time to do that. We do get a lot of time this week to compete, have reps. That’s every position. I look at it as every guy that is going out there is getting a chance to get better on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and that is the way we have always done our off week. That doesn’t change.

On what he would like Stetson Bennett to focus on over the next few weeks as far as improvement and if he is still the starter …

“Like I have talked about before, I feel great about Stetson. He’s done a good job of managing the situations we have put him in. He made a couple of bad decisions. Some of them he didn’t have to pay the dividend for. He threw a couple of balls that he shouldn’t have thrown based on the coverage they gave us, but those weren’t necessarily the ones that got picked. Sometimes, you get batted balls, they get tipped, and you get picked. Sometimes, you throw a ball — you know he missed Jermaine Burton over the middle a little bit there, a little bit out of his reach. Maybe Jermaine gets his hands on it more. It’s just unfortunate they picked it. But the ones that don’t get picked concern me more where we throw into coverage, and we had a couple of those. So, it’s one of those things he’s done a really good job executing on third down. He’s hit some guys that have dropped some balls on third down, but we’ve become a better third down team since he has been in there. We’ve got to continue to improve on that. Everybody around him has to continue to improve.”

On what he contributes slow starts in the beginning of games or the beginning of second halves to…

“I don’t know that that’s exactly true in all games because we had a couple games where we started moving the ball really well. In the third quarter I would agree, we have to do a better job of being able to come out of the half, whether it’s the first drive or the second drive. That Auburn drive, defensively, we didn’t come out very good at all. They converted a bunch of third downs. I feel like they held the ball forever on that one drive converting it. It’s not necessarily one thing you can put your finger on. It’s something that we have to execute better. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s the first quarter or third quarter, it’s throughout the game. If you chart our drives, defensively or offensively, and you say a penalty on defense sparks a drive for them because they convert a third down. On offense, a penalty prevents a drive because you’re first and 20 or second and 15- those are things you have to remove. It doesn’t matter what quarter it happens in. It only matters what did you do to cause the penalty, what did you do to have a mental error or missed assignment. That’s what we’re trying to improve. We’re trying to improve our ability to execute at a high level. When we do that on defense and offense, we’re pretty good. When we don’t, we’re not.”

On how the offensive line performed and the production of the offense if they continue to do well…

“I think our offensive line has probably played pass-pro pretty well this season, in terms of protecting the quarterback and not losing one-on-one battles. I don’t feel like we’ve had a lot of mismatches- where we’ve said, that guy is really going to struggle against that guy. Maybe some of that has to do with who we’ve played and what the defenses are like. I don’t know that defensively teams are as good as they were last year, across the board. We’ve been able to run the ball at times, at Arkansas we really struggled to run it and that was probably the game where we struggled to run it the most- in terms of down in, down out. We have to develop more depth at the offensive line and we have to get the guys within the offensive line to play with even more conditioning and stamina, so that when we do go tempo we can out-compete the other team in terms of conditioning level.”

On if concerns about the defense were exposed and can be fixed…

“There are definitely things that we can do better, schematically, defensively to help our players. I don’t know if Alabama is the best offense in the country, I haven’t watched everybody else. So, I can’t say that. They certainly have a very good offense, in terms of their quarterback knows where to go with the ball, they have a talented offensive line- every one of those offensive linemen will be in the NFL one day- and they have really good skill players. We have really good players too on defense. When we execute pretty well, we do pretty well. We probably lost more 50-50 balls- and what I call 50-50 balls is not just fades and touchdown passes, it’s situational third down where can we get a ball out- we’ve probably lost more of those than we have in a long time. Even going back to the LSU game, we didn’t have as tight a coverage on them as we did on Alabama. We had tight coverage a lot of times against Alabama, we just didn’t get the ball out. You have to give them credit for that. It doesn’t cause alarm for me because I know that we have good players. We have kids that care. It bothers them. We have to do a good job as coaches to try to help them in other ways.”

On an update on DJ Daniel…

“DJ has been battling an ankle. It’s been bothering him and he’s practiced, he’s done everything we’ve asked, he’s rehabbed. He is trying to get better and we’re hopeful that he gets to 100 percent this week and can get back to the level he was playing at last year.”

On Stetson’s pocket presence and confidence in his play…

“The tipped passes may have. It may have had an overemphasizing effect on him. But it’s one of those things every good quarterback finds—you look all across the league, in the NFL, in college football, height is not the greatest indicator of batted balls. The ability to use the pocket is, and a lot of that comes from experience. He’s gaining in the experience category. He’s not elite in experience, he doesn’t have a ton of it. We do a lot of drills in practice where we try to simulate the pocket and you have to step up and through it. I thought that was one of the things Jake Fromm was really good at. He could feel the pocket opening and step up in the pocket and either run or make a throw. We continue to work with Stetson on that. He’s shown the ability to do that. He didn’t always trust it Saturday…he’s got good pass protectors around him.”

On the lack of non-conference play and its effect on player development…

“It makes the off week that much more important, I think. Statistically, I don’t have the number of what we have played versus what we haven’t played, but I know we’ve played fewer for sure. We had to travel, dress fewer. When you play SEC games, the rules are different than non-conference. We knew that coming in. I hate it for the development of the rest of your roster. When you talk across the league, that’s the most frustrating thing for coaches is you’ve got kids that want to play, that’s what they want to do. It’s tough to get them in in some of the competitive environments, so where does their growth come from? You’ve got to sell their growth in practice and when they go against ones on scout team—just not going to be a lot of opportunities to play a lot of guys.”

On the status of Kenny McIntosh…

“Kenny banged up his knee early in the game. I don’t know if it was on the opening kick or if it was one of the first carries, I’m not sure when it exactly happened. We don’t think he’s going to be out long, but he’s hurting a little bit, will probably wear a black jersey at least today. We’ll see how he goes day-to-day, but we don’t think it’s anything long-term.”

On the play of Jaylen Johnson…

“Jaylen’s done a tremendous job. Jaylen’s hit really good numbers on our GPS, he’s one of our faster guys, he’s tough, he’s smart, plays multiple positions. He’s created value for himself because of his ability to play on special teams, but also his ability to learn multiple positions in our offense. I’ve been very pleased with the work he’s given us.”

On the mentality of the defensive backs moving forward…

“The current state is you’re an SEC defensive back playing man-to-man against really good players. The state of Tyson Campbell after he gave up a touchdown pass against Tennessee is not going to be different than a touchdown pass given up to Alabama. When you play in the secondary, you assume the risk. It comes with a note: when you play man-to-man, you will get beat. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is going to play a perfect game, nobody’s going to play a perfect season. Turn on the NFL every Sunday—the best corner in the NFL gets beat. It’s going to happen. What you don’t want to do is get beat by a bust and give up a 90-yard touchdown when you don’t have great communication. That, to me, is a problem—not when I’m pressing a guy and I’ve got this guy and I get beat. That’s going to happen from time to time, and you accept that, and you’ve got to win more than you lose. We’ve got to hit some of those. We’ve got to score some of those to make big plays. Our DBs are fine. They understand they go against good players every day in practice. They get right back out there and compete.”

On whether he has any memories about Kearis Jackson and his relationship with his family…

“He’s an unbelievable young man. His mom is a wonderful woman. He is a big brother to a young sibling, and he’s a great example for our team. I love the way he competes. He’s on the leadership group with the SEC office; he represents our team. He’s just a tremendous worker, and when you work that hard, usually good things come to people who work that hard. He’s had some success based on his work habits."

On how he has managed the morale at the quarterback position, particularly with JT Daniels…

"The quarterback question is the same as every position. Every day you go out there you have an opportunity to get better. Those guys don’t get the opportunity to play as much as maybe another position does, but there’s guys all over our team who aren’t playing in games who have to go out there each day and improve their craft, and that’s a lot about inherently who you are. Can you grow and get better without being in the limelight? And the great ones all probably have done that in their career. It’s unfortunate in a ‘me now’ society of ‘I’ve got to take care of me right now,’ but that’s hard to do. We challenge them every day, and we give each guy the opportunity to get reps and get better daily.”

On how much working with the secondary helps JT Daniels and D’Wan Mathis to step in at the starting QB position, if needed…

“Any work prepares you. It’s the same for Stetson Bennett and Carson Beck. Any work you do prepares you for a game. I think the scout team work sometimes is tougher because you’re not necessarily running your plays. You’re not breaking the huddle and making checks. You are throwing the ball and reading the defense, but some of the plays are very similar to ours, and some are different. So, it’s a lot more relevant when they’re getting the reps with our offense.”

On whether the whole team is together when in a scout team or whether the team is split up…

"It’s a combination of both. We have periods where we go ones and twos against the scouts, so offense would have ones and twos there against the defensive scouts. Then same thing— one, twos defense against the scout offense. But then when we come together, and we do one defense against two offense, they service each other, much like an NFL team will do, because you don’t have the depth to go past the twos. So, we have periods we would consider more competitive— ones/twos, twos/ones— and we have some periods that are sort of scout periods. We script all that, and not many people do it any different than that. Your goal is to get really good, high-end, quality work when you go more good-on-good, and then as good as your scouts can be. In some cases, we get really good work out of our scouts because we have offensive linemen and defensive linemen who are scholarship players on the scout units.”

On the status of Devonte Wyatt and Matt Landers…


"Devonte Wyatt is fine. He played the whole game against Alabama. He’s banged up, but he’s fine. He’s good to go. Matt Landers has been dealing with a shoulder that occurred in the Tennessee game on what I thought was a pass interference, but it was the play he got banged up on. He came back and helped us in the game on special teams and played, but he was limited during the week of practice. We will go hard this week. We will go physical like we always do on off weeks and try to get better."

Azeez Ojulari, Redshirt Sophomore, Outside Linebacker

On whether there is a discussion or sense of urgency to get things back on track…

"Definitely. There are definitely a lot of things we can come in this week and work on. That’s why we call it a work week, to just improve and just continue to do what we have to do to stay at the top and keep that dominant defense that we are. We just have to come in this week, look at those things and fix it and just be ready for next week."

On whether the fact that the UGA defense was “humbled” earlier this year rather than during the SEC Championship puts Georgia in a better position…

“We always want to win every game, but the outcome against Alabama wasn’t what we wanted. So, it’s definitely good for us to just come back, make these adjustments early in the season, and just do what we need to do to improve and just make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

On what he attributes to defense’s success and productivity so far this season…

"I just think it’s the way we work here at Georgia. I just think we put in the work every day. Every day, we come out here. We don’t take any days off. We just know that we can improve every day. We know how big of an impact we can make on the field, so we definitely just come out here, do what we need to do and try to just execute."

 Nakobe Dean, Sophomore, Linebacker

On whether he feels he is stepping into a leadership role as one of Georgia’s top producers…

“I feel like I stepped into a leadership role during the off season. It’s not production-based at all, it’s how I can influence the other people on the defense and the team. About my stats—I just try to work every day to get better. This week is definitely for us just to get better, and not really focus too much on any opponent just focus on myself and my craft.”

On how he would assess his development in his time at UGA…

“I feel like I have grown tremendously, not just from a football standpoint but from a person standpoint—just learning and going throughout life. I am 19 years old, and I am still trying to figure a lot of stuff out. Being able to continue to learn definitely during this pandemic I have had a lot of time to myself and just learning who I am and everything like that. I feel like I have grown tremendously.”

On whether there is a situation where confidence needs to be regained or whether it is just a matter of watching film and making corrections…

“Our defense, we know we are going to look at it just like every other game and assess. We do not really pat ourselves on the back much. We are going to assess everything we did wrong and what we could have done better and everything that we could possibly get in the future. We are going to continue to just work hard in practice every day—that’s all I can possibly say about that.”

Dawgs For Pups Underway

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia football team has officially started its third project of the “Dawgs For Pups” initiative in the form of a coat drive for area children.

After the idea arose from a recent team meeting, the Dawgs will be participating in a number of “Dawgs For Pups” activities in the Athens area and beyond to help students and others affected by the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest initiative is a coat drive for children in the Athens-Clarke County area. With winter approaching and colder temperatures coming, the Dawg football team and the rest of the UGA Athletic Association will be working with the local Boys & Girls Club to generate donations of new or gently used coats for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Donations for the coat drive can be dropped on the main floor (third floor) of the UGAAA’s Butts-Mehre Building (1 Selig Circle, Athens, GA 30602) between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Dawgs will be offering 2020 football schedule posters signed by head coach Kirby Smart to anyone who donates a new or gently used coat.

“It’s going to start getting pretty cold out there and a lot of kids don’t have the gear they need to stay warm,” said Dawg receivers coach Cortez Hankton. “We want to be sure we provide them with coats and support. We want to be sure our Dawgs take care of the ‘Pups’ in our community and that we give what we can.”

“While effects of the pandemic continue to bring challenges to all walks of life, we have been proud of our Dawg student-athletes and the work they have done to promote these important community initiatives,” said Senior Deputy Athletic Director Josh Brooks. “It’s wonderful to see the work that is being done to make a positive impact in the lives of youth in the Athens community and beyond. We hope their actions present a challenge to others in the community to lend a helping hand as well.”

The first activity helped raise approximately $100,000 to help provide students in Athens-Clarke County with WiFi hotspots (Link for WiFi hotspot donations: http://gado.gs/53q) . The second project was called Food2Kids Snack Drive and it generated more than 27,000 pounds of food donations for area children. Donations can still be dropped at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. The food bank’s warehouse address is below and the hours for drop-off are 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Food Bank of Northeast Georgia

861 Newton Bridge Road

Athens, GA 3060
7

The Georgia football team will spearhead several other “Dawgs For Pups” initiatives to continue to do their part in the Athens community. Announcements about those activities are expected in the coming weeks.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Post Game Notes

Bennett Directs The Offense: Junior Stetson Bennett (18-for-40, 269 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) directed No. 3 Georgia to a 24-20 half-time advantage but No. 2 UA outscored Georgia 21-0 in the second half for a 41-24 win. The Dawgs finished with 414 yards of offense on 70 plays.

Down 7-0, Bennett led an 8-play, 57-yard TD drive in 2:40 capped by a 10-yard rush by Zamir White, his fifth of the year and eighth of career. Bennett connected on an 82-yard TD to James Cook, career-highs for both, and it makred the longest TD pass by the Dawgs since a school record 98-yarder in 2013 from Aaron Murray to Reggie Davis versus North Texas. Following the PAT, it made it 14-7 Georgia. With the scored tied at 17, Bennett led a 12 play, 66-yard TD drive in 2:43, converting a 3rd-and-goal to freshman Jermaine Burton with a five-yard TD pass.

A Look At The Defense: Coming in, Georgia led the SEC and ranked fifth nationally in Scoring Defense at 12.3 points per game while Alabama led the nation in Scoring Offense at 51.0 points per game. In the first half today, Georgia held No. 2 Alabama to 20 points on 298 yards of total offense on 41 plays. However in the second half, UA scored 21 points including getting 14 off turnovers and finished the game with 564 yards of total offense on 76 plays. UA hit a 90-yard TD pass to Jaylen Waddle for a 27-24 lead with 4:00 left in the 3rd quarter.

Special Teams Summary Includes NCAA Record For Consecutive PATs: Redshirt sophomore PK Jack Podlesny hit a 50-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead with 5:42 left in the first half, missed a 35-yarder in the 4th quarter, and he was 3-for-3 on PATs. Georgia now has made an NCAA record 306 consecutive PATs with the streak including six kickers dating back to 2014. Auburn did hold the mark of 304 that ended last year. Podlesny is 8-for-10 in field goals including hitting a pair from 50-plus yards.

Junior punter Jake Camarda finished with four punts for a 49.0 average, placing three inside the 20 and two going for for 50+ yards. He also served as the kickoff specialist tonight for the first time in his career. Coming in tonight, Camarda ranked No. 1 nationally in punting (51.4 avg.) and Net Punting (47.7). UA had just one punt return for 2 yards. Sophomore Zamir White had two kickoff returns for 58 yards. Redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson had two kickoff returns for 56 yards. White finished with 57 rushing yards on 10 attempts.

Leading Receivers: Junior running back James Cook established career-highs as he tallied four catches for 101 yards (all in the first half) including an 82-yarder for a TD. Sophomore George Pickens had five for 53 yards. Freshman Jermaine Burton had a five-yard TD, the first of his career, on a 3rd-and-Goal to make it 24-17. He finished with four for 58 yards, both career-high.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia got no points on one turnover while UA got 21 points off three Dawg miscues.

Richard LeCounte got his team-leading third interception of the year on the first play of the game at the UA 41. It led to an eventual interception on a tipped pass at the line at the UA 42.

For Starters: Senior DT Julian Rochester made his 20th career start but his first since 2018. The longest active starting streak on offense belongs to center Trey Hillnow with 22 while Richard LeCounte leads the defense with 22 straight.

Captains: Georgia senior Monty Rice, junior Jamaree Salyer and redshirt sophomore Azeez Ojulari served as the captains. The Dawgs won the toss and elected to defer until the second half.

Series History And Another Ranked Foe: With the 41-27 victory, No. 2 Alabama now leads the all-time series 41-25-4 including 8-2 edge in Tuscaloosa. Tonight marked No. 3 Georgia’s third straight game facing a top 15 foe after posting wins over No. 7 Auburn and No. 14 Tennessee. Overall, Georgia is 9-5 in Top-10 showdowns in the CKS era.

Up Next: Georgia (3-1) is now off next Saturday and will face Kentucky, Sat., Oct. 31 in Lexington at Noon, per the SEC’s announced schedule change yesterday.

Post Game Quotes

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“Give Alabama a lot of credit. They have great skill players, and I thought we contained them early. The second half we couldn’t do it. Give their coaches credit. They outcoached us. Frustrated we couldn’t get anything going in the second half. We played a really great football team, and we had some costly turnovers. Give them credit, and we have to go back to the drawing board. We still control our own destiny.”

On the breakdowns on defense:

“They made a couple big throws. They beat us on some bubble plays and a double move with Waddle. They made a lot of big plays on 50/50 balls. Smith and Waddle had some big catches.”

On the end of the second quarter and momentum shift:

“I thought it brought their crowd back into it. We didn’t want to give up a big shot to (Jaylen) Waddle, and we didn’t play that aggressive. That is on me, and the official on my side said they had time and they ended up getting a field goal. We should have played more aggressive, but we have to get better.”

Stetson Bennett, Junior, Quarterback

On how he saes it for himself and his game….

“I just didn’t play well enough. I have to figure out how to not give bad balls, have to figure out how to not throw interceptions and how to score point in the second half.”

On what he saw on the interceptions…

“The first one was a batted ball. The second was tipped up. The third one I was trying to do too much and just threw it across my body. It wasn’t smart and I just threw it right to the guy.”

On not scoring in the second half…

“I don’t know. I still feel like we moved it but we just didn’t finish the drives. We are going to have to watch the film and see what happened.”

On the mentality after his third interception…

“I was frustrated. I was frustrated with myself. Mentality didn’t change, we still went down and moved the ball. I just can’t have interceptions like that.”

On the potential to get to play Alabama again…


“Our destiny is still controlled by us, which is how you want it. If we win out, we will probably see those guys, or somebody else, and we will be in the SEC Championship, so everything we want is still ahead of us.”

Richard LeCounte, Senior, Defensive Back

On the pass interference call that led to a touchdown…

“Penalties will get you beat. We have to be better in the secondary. We were able to make some plays, but they made more plays than us. They have a great wide receiver group, great quarterback, great team.”

On Alabama hitting big plays through the passing game….

“We have to play better as a secondary. We gave up some big plays that they were able to capitalize on. They have perfect throws, perfect catches and we were playing a great ball club in Alabama.

On if this causes Georgia to go back to the drawing board…

“We have a great team, man. The team who played better tonight won. It’s not really a demoralizing thing, but we will go back to the drawing board where we are able to fix where we messed up tonight and finish our season out. We’re good. It’s just a little bump in our road. We are here to learn from our experience and get better so they next time we’ll be good.”

Tide Rolls Over Dawgs In Second Half Comeback

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs suffered their first loss of the 2020 season to the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, 41-24 Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in front of a crowd of 19,424 and a national-televised audience on CBS. 

“I was really pleased with the way our guys competed,” coach Kirby Smart said. “Frustrated that we couldn’t get anything going in the second half, especially on that opening drive. I thought we would have been able to run down, but we stalled out and lost some momentum.”

Smart added, “Give them credit. We have to get back to the drawing boards because we still have a really good football team and we control what is in front of us by how we play.”

The Dawgs (3-1) compiled 414 yards on offense, 269 through the air, and 145 on the ground. The defense forced one interception and sacked Alabama quarterback Mac Jones three times.

Redshirt-junior Stetson Bennett completed 18 passes on 40 attempts, throwing for 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Bennett threw for 177 yards in the first half, the third most by a quarterback in the last four seasons against Alabama behind LSU’s Joe Burrow in 2019 and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in 2018.

Sophomore James Cook recorded 117 all-purpose yards, including his first career receiving touchdown on an 82-yard completion. Bennett’s favorite receiving target was sophomore George Pickens, who recorded five receptions for 53-yards. Freshman Jermaine Burton caught four passes for 58-yards and his first career touchdown. Redshirt-sophomore Zamir White led the way on the ground for the Dawgs, rushing 10 times for 57 yards and one touchdown with a long of 12.

Defensively, sophomore Lewis Cine led the way with eight total tackles, four solo. While seniors Jermaine Johnson, Malik Herring, and sophomore Nakobe Dean each recorded a sack. Richard LeCounte grabbed his third interception of the season and ninth of his career.

Specialist Jake Camarda punted four times for 196 yards and an average of 49 putting three inside the twenty and hitting two over 50 yards. Jack Podlesny went 1-for-2 in the kicking game, making a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter.

From the first snap, the Dawgs made their presence known, pressuring Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, allowing LeCounte to secure the interception. On the ensuing possession, Bennett would go on to throw his first interception of the season. The Crimson Tide would take advantage with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jones to John Metchie to put the Dawgs down 7-0.

The offense would respond a few drives later, going 57 yards on eight plays, capped off by a 10-yard White touchdown run. Freshman Kendall Milton was integral in setting up the score, rushing for a career-high long of 25-yards. A Podlesny point-after-attempt tied the game a 7-7 with a minute to go in the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Bennett threw his first touchdown of the game to Cook for 82-yards. It would be the longest play for the Dawgs since 2013. Podlesny put the extra point right down the middle for the Dawgs to take their first lead of the game, 14-7.

The Crimson Tide would spend the following 5:49 going 60-yards on 13 plays before being stopped at the 15-yard line thanks to a Johnson sack. Will Reichard hit a 33-yard field goal to put the Crimson Tide within three, 14-10.

A week after hitting his career high with a 51-yard field goal against Tennessee, Podlesny capped a 10 play, 44-yard drive a yard shy of tying that high, making a 50-yard field goal to push the lead back to seven, 17-10.

A back and forth first half continued as Jones would tie the game once again at 17 after completing a 17-yard pass to DeVonta Smith with three-minutes to go before halftime.

The Dawgs would use nearly all three of those minutes, driving 66-yards on 12 plays, including Bennett drawing the Alabama defense offsides on fourth and inches, ending with a five-yard strike to Burton.

With 23-seconds left on the clock, Alabama would drive 41-yards and finish the first half with a career-long 51-yard field goal for Reichard. Georgia would lead the Crimson Tide 24-20 heading into the break set to receive in the second half.

The second half began with great defensive series on both sides, it would not be until the four-minute mark that Jones would find Jaylen Waddle for a 90-yard connection to put Alabama ahead for the first time since the first the score was 7-0. The Dawgs would go down 27-24 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.

On the next Georgia possession, Bennett would throw his second interception of the night after a ricochet off a receiver. Jones would take the Crimson Tide 56-yards in 5 plays finished off by a Najee Harris 2-yard touchdown rush to put the Dawgs down 34-24.

Another turnover led to a 45-yard, 10 play drive by Alabama ending with a 13-yard touchdown reception by Smith to put the Crimson Tide up 41-24, where the score would stay.

Georgia will take their bye week, a week early due to SEC rescheduling before heading to Lexington, Kentucky for a matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, October 31st. Kickoff is set for Noon, ET with coverage provided by SEC Network.

Friday, October 16, 2020

SEC Announces Schedule Changes

The SEC is adjusting its football schedule following the postponement of two games originally scheduled for October 17th due to positive tests and quarantine of individuals related to COVID-19.

One of the adjustments will move the Saturday, October 24th Georgia-Kentucky game in Lexington to Saturday, October 31st. Kickoff for that game will be 12:00 noon ET on the SEC Network. The Dawgs will now be off on October 24th.

On Monday it was announced that, due to positive tests and quarantine in the Vanderbilt football program, the Vanderbilt at Missouri game of October 17th is rescheduled for December 12th.   

On Wednesday it was announced that, due to positive tests and quarantine in the Florida football program, the LSU at Florida game of October 17th is rescheduled for December 12th. In addition, due to an extended pause of team activities for the Florida football program at the advice of health officials, the Missouri at Florida game originally scheduled for October 24th is rescheduled for October 31st and will be televised on the SEC Network Alternate channel at 7:30 pm ET.

Also, the Kentucky at Missouri game of October 31st is rescheduled for October 24th at 4 pm ET  on the SEC Network.

In addition, the South Carolina at LSU game of October 24th will change game times and is now scheduled for 7 pm ET on ESPN.

SEC Football Schedule Adjustments:

Kentucky at Missouri moves from 10/31 to 10/24 at 4 pm ET on SEC Network
South Carolina at LSU remains on 10/24, changes game time to 7 pm ET on ESPN
Missouri at Florida moves from 10/24 to 10/31 at 7:30 ET on SEC Network Alternate
Vanderbilt at Missouri moves from 10/17 to 12/12, time and network TBA
LSU at Florida moves from 10/ to 12/12, time and network TBA

Lady Dawgs Hold First Practice

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia Lady Dawgs opened the 2020-21 campaign with its first official practice Thursday afternoon at the Stegeman Coliseum Training Facility.

Entering its sixth year under the direction of head coach Joni Taylor, Georgia returns four starters and 10 players off last season’s squad. The Lady Dawgs welcome back close to 90 percent of their scoring and rebounding to go along with three eligible newcomers — Sarah Ashlee Barker (Birmingham, Ala.), Zoesha Smith (Brunswick, Ga.) and Mikayla Coombs (Buford, Ga./UConn transfer).

Georgia enters the 2020-21 season needing just three wins to reach the 1,000-victory mark in program history. The LadyDawgs would join Tennessee as the lone SEC programs to reach that feat. In addition, Georgia has made appearances in 33 of 38 NCAA tournaments and is one of three programs nationwide (Tennessee and Wisconsin-Green Bay) to boast a winning record in every season.

Taylor, along with seniors Gabby Connally and Jenna Staiti, offered the following comments during Thursday’s zoom call with media.

Coach Joni Taylor

Opening statement...

"Our call to action is to show up. From a basketball standpoint we need to show up better, stronger and faster. Two years ago, we were the youngest team in the SEC and one of the youngest teams in the country, those ladies are all seniors now. We're returning heavy leadership, heavy experience, and it's time for us to show up. Considering the world we're living in now, with a health crisis going on, it's also time to show up as a citizen, as an advocate, as a role model, as an ally and as a daughter. Those words really epitomize not only what we want to do on the basketball court, but what we want to do in the city of Athens and our community."

On her message to the team...

"Our message has always been about what legacy they're leaving. It's always been to lead with grace, humility, compassion, seek to understand before you're understood and what you can do for others. During quarantine and the social injustice that we have been facing, that's been our conversation."

On the conversations she’s had with the team during the offseason...

"What I'm most proud of is how our family has really shown up. We have a great culture and that has shown itself to be true during difficult times. They have an ability to educate themselves, to help, to look outward instead of inward and to seek and understand everyone's experiences. The conversation we always have is about seeing each other's perspectives. We are a program of 15 wonderful coaches, staff and players, but if we can sit down and seek to understand before we're understood, at the end of the day, if I get it wrong, you're going to know my heart. We want the best for each other and that's what is leading us."

Gabby Conally, Senior, Guard

On staying consistent this year...

"It's about showing up every day and doing what is asked of us and even more. It's not just about what we do in practice, but also coming in to get extra shots and doing the little things. If we do something wrong, it isn't going to translate how it's supposed to. We give our best effort with the right attitude and are willing to listen to our teammates if we're doing something wrong, because great programs not only have coaches who lead, but players who lead. That really translates to a team culture, because we want the best for one another and the program."

On what expectations she has coming into this season...

"As a team, we want to make a deep run in the tournament. We want to get back to Georgia Basketball. Giving it everything we have to get in the best position possible to reach the Final Four and win a national championship."

On the conversations they have had with Joni Taylor on social justice...

"She sat us down as a team and told us about her experiences growing up in Mississippi. She told us about instances in her life that we can shed a light on to get a deeper understanding of what she's dealt with to get to where she is today. We all look at her as a role model, so for her to do that shows how great of a person she is. It made me apply those things to my life. Coach Joni [Taylor] is an awesome coach, but the one thing I'm going to remember about her is the kind of person she is."

Jenna Staiti, Redshirt Senior, Center

On what goals she has for herself this season...

“Obviously, our first goal is we want to make it to the [NCAA] Tournament, we want to get as far as we can. Especially with this being my last run and having three other seniors with me. That and winning too. Obviously winning is important but yeah just seeing how far we can get this year is something big to me.”

On what more she feels like she can do this year... 

“I feel like there is a lot more I need to do this year that I didn’t do last year. Which was, if I’m not getting the ball right away or I’m if I’m not getting any touches, I need to figure out a way to get the ball. Whether that’s rebounding better, set better screens and getting my teammates open. Especially with what we’re running this year, it doesn’t seem like a big thing, but me sprinting the lane, it will collapse the defense and then get my teammates open. It’s just little things that I need to do that will help me with the big picture.”

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Bennett Named Manning Award Quarterback Of The Week

UGA Sports Communications

(Photo by Perry McIntyre)
Georgia junior quarterback Stetson Bennett has been selected as the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week after earning the honor over seven other Manning Award Stars of the Week in the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Facebook contest.

Bennett, making his second career start, directed the No. 3 Dawgs to 431 yards of total offense on 77 plays in a 44-21 SEC win over No. 14 Tennessee. He completed 16-of-27 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding a rushing touchdown, as he led the Dawgs to 27 points in the second half.

Bennett has completed 63 percent of his passes and tallied five touchdown throws, but most importantly, he has no interceptions as Georgia has maintained its ranking among the top teams in the country. Also of note, he has completed 18 of 25 passes (72 percent) on third downs for 239 yards and three scores while only getting sacked once during those snaps.

While the Manning Award selected 30 quarterbacks for its preseason Watch List, additional quarterbacks are expected to be added to the Watch List later in the season. Ten finalists will be selected and the winner is scheduled to be announced following the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wednesday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“We’ve had two good practices and getting ready for a third. The guys are excited. It’s certainly a lot easier, in terms of preparation, for your kids when you have a game of this magnitude. It doesn’t get down to motivation. There is a lot of motivation to play in big games. In the SEC, you are getting the opportunity to do that almost every week. Our kids are excited for the opportunity and to play a really good team. I have a lot of respect for Coach Nick Saban and their program and the job they have done.”

On his opinion of Alabama’s evolution of offensive play since he left...

“I don’t know. I feel like a lot of teams have opened up and done things prior to Alabama doing it. Alabama has always played to their strengths offensively. If the strength was marking Derrick Henry, then they did. Their strength has been wideouts. When you’ve had the core of wideouts they have had, it’s easy to have that philosophy when you have a first-round quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. It is easy to have that philosophy. I feel like it shifted before two years ago. It kind of came about around the time when they beat us in the national championship with the groups of wideouts they had, and the quarterback was an exceptional thrower, in Tua. It was a great combination, and they have run with it. They have gone further and further with it. Steve Sarkisian has been a big part of that too.”

On the success of the Georgia defense so far this season and if the rotation of players helps contribute to that...

“I definitely think that has helped some in the fourth quarter—in terms of depth and keeping guys playing fast. I think a lot of it is good players. Obviously, the challenge this week is unlike any other because they have really good players on the front lines, really good players at running back, really good receivers and a really good quarterback. There is not a lot you can say—I’m going to take this away and make them play kind of lefthanded. That is tough with these guys. Having good players has helped us, and experienced football players is a big key because a lot of our guys have played defensively a lot.”

On if Georgia has a big-time star pass rusher on defense...

“Yeah, it’s usually who gets the best matchups. It’s not like we have one dominant player. Azeez Ojulari has done a good job to put himself in that position. It’s not easy on the guy. There’s one on ones up there that is usually two or three one on ones at each third down or pass rush situation. You have to try and win more of those than you lose so you can get pressure.”

On Matt Landers status and Georgia’s offensive strengths...

“Matt Landers, we think is going to be fine. He has been practicing and been in black jersey. He has improved each day, and I think he is going to be good to go. In terms of strengths offensively, the biggest thing is getting continuity and being able to execute. We feel like we have good backs, and we have good wideouts. Our offensive line is growing and getting better. It’s one of those deals—Stetson Bennett is getting more and more experience. You want to be able to play to his strengths which is just being able to distribute the ball to a lot of people.”

On his theory and opinion as to why Georgia’s defense is one of the only consistent units in the league...

“I think experience. We have guys that have played. But look, we haven’t played anyone the caliber of Alabama. We haven’t played a team that is that powerful on offense yet. We’ve played some good teams, but not what they are. Defense is a lot of times it is trying to play catchup in terms of what the offense is doing. They get dictated to them what’s going on. We have a lot of guys back so that has allowed us to play to a level of consistency in terms of last year and this year, outside of probably the LSU game. Every week is a new battle.”

Kenny McIntosh, Sophomore, Running Back

On how Georgia, as a team, is staying safe and practicing COVID-19 safety measures…

“We have a good team doctor, Mr. Ron Courson. He’s in charge of everything. He has been doing good at keeping us in certain groups and stuff like that so we can have a limited contract trace and stuff like that. Our people, on this side, are doing what we have to do, and it’s keeping us safe.”

On kick returns versus running the ball out of the backfield and how this year is going for him…

“I am going to start off with how it’s going for me. I think it’s going pretty well for me. I know I have a lot to still improve for myself and that is for the team. As far as running the ball and kickoff, I feel like kickoff is a lot more space and I just run with my eyes. I see the hole and I hit. I feel like running between the hedges, you know you got to stay low and drop your knees. You have to expect contact running between the hedges. That is the difference for me.”

On how he sees his role as a running back and if he wants the ball as much as he can…

“I say of course it is what every back wants—you know to get the ball a bunch of times to showcase their talent and go out there and do what they got to do for the team. I am a team player so whenever my name is called I am ready to go out there and perform. It is looking good for me to go out there and show and do what I got to do for the team.”

Kearis Jackson, Redshirt Sophomore, Wide Receiver 

On how much preparation has gone into this game and not being distracted by outside noise...

“I don’t have any concern about Coach Nick Saban testing positive for COVID-19. I am more so worried about us as a team and how we are going to prepare and be prepared to go play a huge game—a primetime game. We just have to be prepared and be able to execute and just focus on what Georgia has to do.”

On his past two-years at Georgia and finally getting to showcase himself…

“It means a lot. I’ve been through so much, especially with injuries. I never have had so many injuries before in my life until I got here. It was just something that was new to me but I was able to fight through adversity and was able to respond the way I have and just knew that I wanted this opportunity at Georgia. I just wanted to ball and be able to show my skills.”

On his opinion on the recent increases in positive cases throughout the league...

“Yeah, it’s definitely a wakeup call. We have to do the right things, wearing our masks and not being in places where people aren’t wearing theirs and things like that. We just have to continue doing a great job as a team, and staff by just making sure we’re wearing our mask and social distancing when we are out in public.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tuesday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

On COVID-19 positive test results across SEC and his worries…

“There’s really no way to tell. The biggest thing is you’re one day away, one test away, one situation away from a possible situation like Florida’s. We’ve been very fortunate. I think Ron Courson and the medical staff has done a great job for us. Ron sends me an article or an NFL reference and we post for our players to see, but we feel like our players are doing a good job, but I’ll be honest with you—when they’re not here at the facility, I don’t always know what they’re doing. The biggest concern we have is post-game, Sunday, and then they’re back into a routine Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. But you’re one exposure, one outbreak away from losing some guys, so we’ve been very fortunate so far, but we don’t have our test results back even from this week.”

On the evolution of offense in the SEC and what he attributes that to…

“I don’t understand what advanced scouting has to do with it—defense is allowed to scout too. If they have advanced scouting, we have advanced scouting. I don’t know why that would equate to higher scoring, if I’m following you right. By advanced scouting more they should be more successful on offense. We have video tape as well. I think attributing to the scoring is poor tackling, poor fundamentals defensively, up tempo offenses creeping in our league. I will be honest with you— football gets really sloppy when you go really fast. It doesn’t mean it’s not successful. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t score points. I am not saying that. I have been torched by teams that go up tempo. I’m not disgracing that—it gets really sloppy. As things get sloppy, fundamentals go downhill. If fundamentals go downhill, statistics go up.”

On stopping the run and what challenges Alabama’s Najee Harris presents…

“He is fast, physical, receives the ball well out of the backfield—it makes it much harder to defend. It’s not just Najee [Harris], their offensive line is humungous—every guy is 330/340 pounds and they wear on you. They lean on you. It’s like Nick Saban used to say, ‘They have weight classes in boxing and there is a reason.’ If a guy is a heavyweight and he keeps hitting a lightweight, eventually the heavyweight will knock the lightweight out and you have to have enough big guys across the line of scrimmage to withstand that. We feel like we are in a much better position than we have been in terms of depth, but we don’t have guys across the defensive line as big as their offensive line. The difference is we have to be able to substitute guys, play guys and try to stay fresh and try to use our depth to take those punches. Then we have to be able to give some punches by how we play. But Najee creates an issue because he is hard to tackle. They get him in space. If they are successful with Najee, it makes it really easy on the quarterback in terms of play-action game.”

On what he has learned about his team’s makeup from the last three games and how it could help UGA Saturday against Alabama…

“Well, I feel like we are growing up on offense before our eyes. It can be a painful growth process. It’s one of those—you go through some tough times with pups. I remember the last year when Mel [Tucker] was here we were going through that defensively, and that was—it’s easy for me to get impatient. Now, we are reaping the rewards of a lot of those kids that were playing the, and they were young — Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes, Richard LeCounte — all of those guys were young. They have a little more experience now, and we’re going through that a little bit on offense. I am watching the maturation process with that. I am not pleased with where we are, but I am pleased with the progress we have made.”

On the special team’s No. 3 ranking and what he likes about what Coach Scott Cochran is doing with the special teams…

I like Scott Cochran’s energy, his enthusiasm. He does a good job in his meetings. The kids enjoy playing hard for Scott. Scott has a lot of assistance in terms of decision making and scheme. We have good players. The commitment to playing good players on special teams is a big part of being successful at it. We have good specialists. When you are going to rank that, and you have a weapon in Jake Camarda and Jack Podlesny, who has done a great job—it helps your ranking. To be honest with you, it could change in the drop of a hat. I don’t measure—I know everybody loves those statistics, but just like Saturday I was proud of Kearis Jackson. He fielded three balls that would have rolled for 20 more yards, and we lost ground on punt return. What they will never show is he gained 20 yards by fielding the punt on the bounce. He did it three times, and we dropped—no telling how far in punt return rankings, but I was extremely pleased that he did it. The stats can lie. We haven’t played a team the caliber of Alabama in terms of their specialists. They have really good return game, like extremely good, like so good people don’t even kick them the ball.”

On UGA's execution and how Georgia measures them on a day-to-day basis…

“It’s a measurement, we call it playing clean and taking MA’s, mental assignments, and we miss assignments, and we chart those. You try to count one player. If you have ten one day, and he goes down to nine or eight—typically earlier in the week when we are installing things—they are higher. They go down as the week goes on, that’s the only quantitative measure we have is the ability to chart that and see if we can reduce that. Each game is different because you can’t run the same plays in our conference and expect to be successful. You have to be able to window dress, eye-candy, move people around and try to take advantage of the defense. When you do that you create missed assignments for them and you. If we could just line up static and beat people it would be a lot easier."

On whether Ole Miss’ offensive performance against Alabama encourages him in terms of what UGA’s offense could do against Alabama…

“I am not into comparisons Chip, to be honest with you. We are not Ole Miss. We don’t run the same offense. I think Ole Miss did a tremendous job, and I think if you watch Ole Miss’ tape and you actually watched the previous two games, there is a lot Ole Miss did that other teams did. It’s a copycat profession. It’s a copycat league. Lane Kiffin does a really good job scheming things. He understands what defenses are trying to do especially that defense. He was able to take advantage of those things with a really athletic quarterback. A lot of it had to do with tempo. You create sloppy play when you go tempo. That is no offense to Ole Miss, that’s no offense to Alabama. I see it with us. If somebody goes tempo it gets really sloppy. At times, offensively, we have gone tempo and it gets really sloppy. I think you just have to be aware that that can happen, and you have to what you can do and do what your team and your quarterback allows you do to.”

On whether the changes Alabama’s offense has undergone is something he notices when watching Alabama film…

“I feel like the last two times we’ve played Alabama, they were scoring that many points. The time we played them with Tua Tagovailoa, we went into the game thinking they may score a thousand. They had all those wideouts, and they were really, really good then, and I felt like they scored lots of points then. They also had some really good defensive players along with those teams, which is what made them great. I don’t see this team as being completely different, made up of those teams. Now, it’s different than when I was there, probably. Yeah, I agree with you there. We weren’t as prolific passing it when I was there, but since the two times we’ve played them, I feel like the offense has been pretty similar.”

On an update on Jermaine Johnson and James Cook…

“They’ve both practiced the last two days and have been full go, and we’re expecting them to be able to play.”

On whether Ole Miss’ tempo that was ‘so effective against Alabama’ is something UGA can or would want to try against Alabama this weekend…

“I don’t know that all that’s true. It’s not who we are. It’s not the team that we are. It’s certainly who Lane Kiffin is. He’s done that and has been successful doing that where he’s been even when he was at Alabama, but he’s kind of wholesale and done that. It’s not all tempo; it’s a lot of tempo and keeping you off balance and trying to you, but everybody does that now. It’s not a team that says, ‘Oh, we’re not going to go tempo at a time.’ I would just say that Ole Miss does it more frequently, and they probably did it even more frequently the other night to try to keep Alabama off balance. It helps when you get a couple first downs in a row and wear the defense down. Where you get in trouble with Alabama is when you can’t sustain the dive, and you go three-and-out or four-and-out or five-and-out. You can’t wear them down. If you’re able to drop the ball and convert third downs, which Ole Miss did, your defense gets winded.”

On whether he has seen coaches, like Lane Kiffin, choosing not to sub on offense and the purpose of that…

“Lane doesn’t, that’s exactly right. No, he doesn’t. He goes really fast and tries to not allow the defense to sub to wear them down, and there were a couple points in that game where it was tough. I mean, I’ve been there defensively. You’re like, ‘Man.’ It doesn’t matter what you call; your guys are gassed, and you know what? The other guys are gassed, too. It’s not always pretty football. It can turn sloppy, and it’s not the football I’m used to seeing in the SEC, but it’s the football that I’ve seen in other conferences at times and it does usually produce offensive numbers.”

On how Georgia finds an edge and what the defense needs to do to succeed against Alabama, the nation’s leading-scoring offense…

“Well, I don’t know. I’m excited to go see. I’ve always loved the challenge, and we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got a good offense. The game will come down to a lot more than just those two units, I can assure you that. It’ll boil down to how our offense and their defense play and the special teams, but I’m excited to see it. I know our guys are excited about the challenge. I’m sure, offensively, it’s the same for them. They’ve heard about our defense and our defense has heard about their offense, so it’s a great opportunity for both units to go out and compete and go play, but I’m excited to see it. It’s going to boil down to the line of scrimmage, like it always does. They have success running it, and they’ll have a great play-action game. If they don’t, you try to make them one-dimensional, and that’s hard to do against Alabama.”

On whether there is anything Georgia defense can do to step up and create more havoc plays/get more pressure on the quarterback…

“Oh yeah, there’s a ton we can do better. Our defensive staff has done a great job of harping on the fundamentals. I think that fundamentals are a foregone conclusion, like it’s lost in football now. Everybody’s defenses are just giving up. They’re just like, ‘Okay, let’s get the ball back from the offense. Let’s try to cause turnovers and sacks and give up big plays, and either they score or they don’t.’ We’re trying every day to do something fundamentally, and I'm a big believer in, ‘Alright, let's take this block protection. Let's take this tackling. Let's take this hook and swat.’ We’re trying to take little, small things each day and get better at them for the kids, so they can enjoy them, because they show up in games. We show a clip of a drill, and then it happens in the game, [and] we're like, ‘Hey, I'm glad we did that drill.’ We didn’t just go rep plays. It’s not a magic potion. It’s good players, and it's a playing sound, fundamental defense, but we’ve got to do it this week, and tackling will be the challenge this week, because you're not tackling your average players anymore. You’re tackling some really good ones.”

On how important Jordan Davis will be this week considering the size of Alabama’s offensive line…

“It’s extremely important. It’s huge, because the movement in the middle. If I had about three Jordan Davises, I’d feel a lot better, because we need to be able to match up with Alabama players like Evan Neal and Alex Leatherwood and all the big guys they’ve got. But we’ve got some guys who will go in there and fight, and we’ve got some depth, so going to try and use those guys all we can.”

On updates about Tommy Bush and Owen Condon...

“Tommy is going to be out for a little bit and had some surgeries—some dental work—he’s had to get done. Owen is practicing, but we’re fighting to get him back. He’s hopeful for the game.”

On how he balances not overloading players while running different plays…

“There are only so many snaps during a game. So offensively or defensively, we’ve ranged from 65 to 85 snaps in a game. You can’t carry so many, some of those plays, you can’t run them. You have to do a good job with that balance. Basically, we’ll carry as much as we can that they can handle. Defensively right now we can handle a little more because of the experience and offensively we can handle a little less because of the lack of experience. That’s just where we are. Hopefully the cumulative effect of each game, each week, it grows where something carries over for a kid. Maybe you put something in and you don’t use it. You keep it in on the menu and you keep adding stuff. We’re doing the best job we can to get these guys ready to play. It’s just a matter of how much they can handle and how much they can execute. I want them to play fast and not have to think.”

Richard LeCounte, Senior, Defensive Back

On if there is an awareness that teams will try and take shots at the secondary…

“That’s what any team in football, with the defense, there are opposing teams that are looking at your previous games and trying to figure out a flaw to capitalize on the game. I think there will be a few things that the opponents that we’re going up against in the next few weeks will try to exploit. That’s something that we’re preparing for. We practice for all those things. We come in and make corrections for them the week before and we move on to the next game.”

On facing up-tempo teams…

“In practice, we’ve been practicing very fast. Making sure that we don’t lose our fundamentals in fast ball periods being able to tackle and wrap up. Just doing the little things good so we don’t have to be one of those teams that experience that type of breakdown.”

On taking pride in playing in a good fundamental defense…

“That’s something we’ve started to emphasize since we’ve been back. Starting up everything back up, there’s nothing that our defense is going to change. We’re going to keep things basic. We’re going to check all the boxes off and be the defense of Georgia that’s been known for plenty of years, the last four, five years. Just bolting our feet down and making teams do it the long and hard way. That’s something we pride ourselves on. 11 guys to the ball, 11 guys playing together. That’s something that you can always count on coming from that Georgia defense. We practice like there isn’t going to be a tomorrow. We hit each other, we thud each other. That’s just the way football is meant to be played, keeping the defined principles, defined.”

Rice Named Bednarik Award Player Of The Week

Georgia senior linebacker Monty Rice has been named the Chuck Bednarik Award Player of the Week, according to an announcement from the Maxwell Football Club.

The Bednarik Award has been given to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player each year since 1995. David Pollack earned the honor for the Dawgs in 2004. Current Chicago Bear Roquan Smith was Georgia’s last finalist for the accolade in 2017.

Rice, a native of Huntsville, Alabama, led the Dawgs in tackles for the second straight game and scored his first career touchdown during Georgia’s 44-21 rout of No. 14 Tennessee. He tallied eight stops, including a pair of tackles for loss. One of Rice’s TFL was a strip-sack that he recovered and returned 20 yards for the Dawgs’ final touchdown. Rice directed a defense that held the Vols to minus-1 yards rushing and without a point in the second half.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Kentucky Kickoff Will Be At Night

The Saturday, October 24th, Southeastern Conference football game between Georgia and Kentucky in Lexington will kick off at either 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. ET according to an announcement Monday by the SEC office.

Kick off time will be finalized following games on October 17th. The 7:00 p.m. kick time will be televised by ESPN while the 7:30 kick will be on the SEC Network.

Georgia’s all time record on ESPN is 52-34-1. The Dawg's record when televised by the SEC Network is 19-3.

Azeez Ojulari Named SEC Defensive Lineman Of The Week

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia redshirt sophomore Azeez Ojulari has been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week, according to a league announcement.

This marks the first SEC weekly honor for Ojulari in his career. This is also the Dawgs’ third weekly honor this season (Sept. 28, P Jake Camarda – Special Teams; Oct. 5, OG Ben Cleveland, Offensive Lineman).

Ojulari, a native of Marietta, finished with five stops, including two sacks, two forced fumbles and one recovered fumble during the Dawgs’ third straight win. He had a strip-sack and recovery, which gave Tennessee its first turnover on the year, on the opening series of the second half that came with Georgia trailing 21-17.

Ojulari followed that up three series later with another sack that forced the Vols to punt. Georgia scored on the ensuing series to distance themselves at 30-21. Ojulari led the attack against Tennessee in the second half as the Vols were held to 71 yards on 39 plays and only 214 total yards on offense during the game.

The No. 3 Dawgs (3-0 SEC) travel to Tuscaloosa to face No. 2 Alabama (3-0 SEC) on Saturday. CBS will televise the matchup at 8 p.m.

Monday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …

“We are moving forward and have been getting prepared for this game since really yesterday morning. We will have our first practice today. I’ve got a lot of respect for these guys, having worked there for a long time. They’ve got a really good program. They’ve got really good football players, physical at both the offensive and defensive lines, extremely physical and extremely big. They do a really good job in special teams. They are always well coached, play the best players on special teams, similar to the way we do. This is what college football is all about, so we are looking forward to the matchup.”

On the prolific offenses in college football and how Alabama has succeeded so well on offense …

“What’s made them succeed well is players. They’ve got really good players. Sark [Steve Sarkisian] does a great job of implementing the system that the kids can execute. It’s based on really hard guys to cover outside. They’ve got one of, probably the best backs in the country if not one of the best backs in the country. Najee Harris runs the ball really hard, and they are massive upfront. So, offensively, they are not built like some of these teams that go tempo the whole time and go hurry-up the whole time. They can go up-tempo and they do tempo well, but they are really big, they can take shots down the field with explosive wideouts they have. They make you defend the entire field.

“I think college football as a whole is more offensive because the rules lend it to be that way in terms of allowing — you can have linemen a little further down field in college, so the RPO game gets to be big. You can do tempo in college football at a lot higher rate. Tempo hasn’t been successful in the NFL because you get your quarterback hit and, to be honest with you, a lot of those NFL teams their linemen aren’t built to go tempo. They are not built to go 70, I mean 100 plays a game, and go really fast. A lot of the teams that have the most success statistically are tempo teams in college football. I think that has a lot to do with the success and the numbers you are seeing. Alabama capitalizes on a great system with a really good scheme and really good players.”

On the 2007 overtime game in Tuscaloosa…

“I thought we played a pretty good game defensively. I don’t remember a lot of it. It was not really high scoring for you to have some of the weapons they had at the time. Knowshon Moreno was a first-round pick. Matt Stafford was a first-round pick. I am sure they probably had another one, maybe a wideout somewhere in there what was a really good player, too. So, it was a good game. Went into overtime, and then they won the game on a really good throw and catch first play.”

On going to Tuscaloosa for the first time as a head coach and memories at Alabama …

“The challenges to going back are playing a really good football team in a tough atmosphere. They will have as many as they can have and it will be as loud as they can possibly make it. In terms of going back, I don’t think I’ve been back since I’ve been the head coach at Georgia. I don’t think I’ve been back any. I don’t really remember.”

On how Tommy Bush is doing and other injury updates …

“Yeah, I think Warren Ericson and Ben Cleveland are going to be fine. A lot of their’s was fatigue. It was humid, and they wore down a little bit. We tried to sub in for them, but no injuries.

“Tommy was in a minor accident. Thankfully, his health, he is safe. He’s got a little bit of a concussion. He’s got some injuries, but we are thankful that Tommy is ok because it was a dangerous situation.”

On what he’s learned about the Georgia offense through three games and the priorities for this week…

“The biggest thing is that when we execute, we are hard to stop. When we don’t execute, we go backwards. It’s that simple. Everyone wants to make it about this or that. But if the guy has the right split and if the guy does the motion right, and we block it right and not cut one free, Stetson’s accurate and he finds people, we block it the correct way up front, we move people- we have success. If we don’t move people, then we don’t. It’s not really complicated. It’s more a matter of can we execute at a high level and are our players good enough to move their players.”

On if the magnitude of this game is lessened because it’s a regular season game, compared to the last two times his teams have faced Alabama and the roster turnover since those games…

“The magnitude of every game, as you well know, is huge. It’s the next game. And probably in a season where you’re not playing out of conference games, every game is really important because we are playing all SEC opponents. Obviously, the magnitude of those last two, we all know what they were and what they were for, so I can’t weigh the magnitude. It’s hard for me to compare those things because there’s not a game that I’ve played in where the magnitude wasn’t great.”

On the resiliency of the Dawgs after taking decisive wins in two games when trailing at halftime…

“It shows me what we can be if we do that the whole time. My focus is on why are we not doing that from the start. Why are we not executing better from the start and dominating the opponent instead of keeping people in the game. We have to do a better job of dominating from start to finish. That’s the focus, is how we can do that better. I am proud of how they have responded. They responded by coming out and playing physical. And we still didn’t execute with certainty in the second half of those games. Not the way that we’re capable of.”

On mistakes and penalties in the first half and how the players deal with that and make corrections …

“You have to try to prepare and get guys to execute at a higher level. You can’t say do less with them. You have to do what you have to do to give yourself a chance to win. As a coach, you can’t be afraid to challenge your players in terms of execution and asking them to understand what it is the scheme is you want to do. You can’t sit there and say I’m not going to move anybody, I’m not going to shift anybody. I have to be able to go play. We have to get better at that. We have to grow up on offense, defense, and special teams. And grow up faster. There’s no time to be patient in a schedule like we’ve got.”

On if he can motivate his players in the same way for this game against Alabama, compared to the championship games…

“I don’t think players need motivating. I really don’t. Not for this game in any scenario. They don’t need motivating. It’s No. 2 versus No. 3. It’s Alabama versus Georgia. They realize what’s at stake. I don’t think it’s about the motivation. I don’t get into comparing the matchup, this one to the other games, those teams have almost completely turned over. When you look at their team and our team- there’s not many guys who played in those games.”

On how Stetson Bennett has taken command of the team…

“I honestly think he’s just himself. He doesn’t try to be someone else. He doesn’t try to artificially lead or fake it. He never did that while he was trying to compete for the job and he hasn’t done it since he got the job. Stetson is who he is, and I think the skill players on offense, the offensive line, they all trust him and rally around him because they know he understands what we’re trying to do offensively and he can put them in good situations. The defensive players have all seen him play and see what Stetson’s about, so he does it his own way, which is doing very little in terms of trying to vocally lead. He leads by example and he encourages guys and helps guys a lot.”

On lessons learned from Nick Saban that have carried into his career…

“Focus on the task at hand. I thought he was always a master of that, of not really having the highs and lows, the emotional spells of a coach, and was focused on what’s important now.”

On the defensive performances in the second half…

“I’ve seen some energy. I thought in all three games they became more energized in the most important moments of the game in the second half. They’ve increased the intensity and played really hard. I think some of that is we play a lot of players. So, when you boil down to it, hopefully, we’re fresher than the opponent. I know in the first couple of games, it was very warm in two of them where you wear somebody down and you can take advantage of your depth in the second half and see yourself playing faster than the opponent. It’s something we’ve got to continue to work on and get better at because we always haven’t been that way in the first half. We certainly had a second half against Auburn that was a lackluster couple drives where they converted a lot of third downs. You can’t be a good team consistently and do that, and we’ve got to help our offense by getting the ball back.”

On the running back situation…

“I’ve been really pleased with the backs. I think protecting the ball is really key for us and having great ball security, which it always is. They run hard after contact and break tackles. Each one is a little different than the other, and James Cook certainly brings an exciting quality to our offense and brings a different flair than some of the other guys. We expect to have him back. To be honest, we thought he could’ve gone emergency Saturday. We felt good about him being able to go should we have needed him Saturday. We have good depth there right now, so we’re hoping he’ll be 100 percent healthy and ready to go.”

On the Alabama offensive line against Georgia’s defensive line…

“They’re just massive. Even as good of offensive lines as we’ve had, and you throw Andrew Thomas, Isaiah Wilson, and Solomon Kindley for us, those guys were big people, but these guys. They have a guard bigger than Soli. They’ve got tackles that are bigger than Andrew and Isaiah in a lot of ways. It’s just a big group. They can swallow you up. They can move you; they can mash you. Alex Leatherwood played against us in the National Championship Game. He came in and played, and I thought he played really well in that game for a freshman. They’ve got experience. It’s certainly a really good group of veteran offensive line guys that help them be successful offensively.”

On encouraging the team …

“Yeah, you know I don’t think the psyche or the disposition of most of these kids is that way. Our kids all got recruited by Alabama. They know Alabama’s players. They played in all-star games with Alabama’s players. All of these kids know each other, now. It is just so different. They don’t necessarily see it by wins and losses and just championships. Our guys have played LSU two years in a row. They played Alabama two years in a row before that. There’s enough of our players that have played Alabama two games that know it’s a physical brand of football. It’s a physical game. We played them twice, and it wasn’t like they didn’t feel like they couldn’t beat them.”

On finishing the game better against Alabama...

“I think it’s a confidence level. It’s an execution level. At the end of the day most games come down to the fourth quarter when you have two talented football teams. In both cases, we have to finish better. A lot of that comes through maturity, execution—all of the little things you have to do right at the end of the game to give yourself a chance to win.”

On Jaylen Waddle and the challenges he brings as a wide receiver and his contribution to special teams...

“He is as dynamic and electric as I have seen. He touches the ball—you can see it on tape—it pops off and it’s really not just special teams. They find ways all over the field to get him the ball. They move him around. They motion him. They give him touches, every way you can. Shame on them if they don’t because he is electric when he touches the ball. He is just a really, really good football player. He is tough. He runs the ball tough. He is physical. There are a lot of challenges there for us with him. He creates a lot of issues.”

On his mentality of treating all games the same and for a game with this high of expectations does he coach or go into the game any different...

“No. I don’t think so. You coach every game to win, and that is what we will always do here. If you make this one bigger than the rest the one the next week won’t be. I know for you guys it’s not that way, but for us it has to be because every team we play on our schedule is capable of beating us. You have to prepare the same and be very consistent in your message and preparation for your players.”

On what contributed to the split safety looks, high looks and Stetson Bennett being able to check the runs in the middle of the field during the Tennessee game...

“I think it’s just how Tennessee plays. Every team is different. Every team has a different philosophy. Some believe in closing the middle field. Some believe in leaving it open. Some believe in 8 man. Some believe in zone. Some believe in pressure. Some believe in drops. That’s Tennessee’s philosophy—they believe in protecting the secondary and not giving up big plays, and that is just the way they played us.”

On what he makes of Lane Kiffin discussing the group text between him, Kiffin, Will Muschamp and Jeremy Pruitt/his thoughts on the hype around Nick Saban’s record against former assistants...

“Lane Kiffin revealed the text messages, not me. That’s Lane being Lane. I’m not interested in that. He can do whatever he wants to do. He did it all last week—that’s Lane’s personality. As far as the record, I mean what’s everybody’s record against Coach Saban? Everybody always makes it about the assistants, and I always laugh because I don’t think anybody in the last 10 years that has a really good record against him in terms of that. It is not something I try to focus on. I focus on what’s going to allow us to play good.”

On implementing George Pickens more in different areas of the field similar to what Alabama does with Jaylen Waddle...

“I don’t think George Pickens is like Jaylen Waddle. They are different type players. Both are really good players, but they are different types of guys. Waddle is a big return guy, George is not really in our return game. George does a really good job, and we certainly have to find ways to get George the ball. I couldn’t agree with you more. Some of it is dictated by what the other team does and some of it is dictated by what we have to do. They certainly do a good job of doing that—getting Waddle the ball.”

Tre’ McKitty, Senior, Tightend

On whether he remembers watching previous Georgia-Alabama National Championship game and whether he ever imagined he would play for UGA against Alabama one day...

“Yeah, for sure. I sat on my couch and watched it, actually. I never thought about playing for Georgia in the Alabama game but I’m just glad to be here. I know those UGA-Alabama games were extremely competitive and exciting to watch, and I can only imagine what it is going to be like playing in it.”

On his transfer to UGA/how his injury during fall camp has affected him this season…

“I was just in the middle of camp and fell on my knee, and I took a somewhat minor knee injury and had to be sidelined for a few weeks. It was definitely hard to sit on the sidelines and watch my guys out there working, especially for the first two games, but definitely super blessed and exciting to be out there this last week and continue to play the rest of the season with my guys."

On the reason he chose to transfer to Georgia...

“I always liked Georgia growing up and took an official here coming out of high school and just wasn’t the time then, but everything happens for a reason. I came into the portal at the beginning of this year and had some great conversations with Coach Smart and Coach Hartley, and I knew Coach Monken was coming in with the NFL style offense, and it was something I wanted to be a part of."

Jamaree Salyer, Junior, Offensive Lineman

On what Alabama's defensive style up front is like…

“Big, athletic guys just like us. They play a physical brand of football. Georgia and Alabama are two very similar programs. They get after it, we get after it, so it’ll be fun to see that competition.”

On the environment he expects to encounter Saturday night in Tuscaloosa/what his primary mindset is going to be...

“I think it’ll be a wild environment, even with the stadium restrictions and fan restrictions. I think it’ll still be a wild environment. At Sanford, it’s been a wild environment, so I can only imagine what it’s going to be like at Bryant-Denny, but it’s going to be a fun game. I’m excited for the challenge, to be able to compete against a program like Alabama that’s been notoriously good for so long. It’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be a fun environment. I know our guys are hype, they’re ready to go, and we’re ready to compete."

On what Stetson Bennett is like…

“Stetson is confident. He’s confident in himself, and he’s a competitor. Stets goes out there and gives it everything he’s got every day. He doesn’t like to lose. You can just see that on the job when he came in at Arkansas. He was out there having fun, completing third downs, getting first downs. He was having fun, and he has fun competing. For me, being able to protect a guy like that and to listen to to a guy like that, and look up to a guy like that — there’s nothing more you could want from a quarterback. He’s a guy who doesn’t like to lose. Jake Fromm was very similar in that way. They’re both just guys who don’t like to lose. That’s Stetson all day. Stets is going to go out there and compete, and he’s going to give you everything he’s got on every play, and he’s not going to fold on you when things get tough."

Eric Stokes, Junior, Defensive Back

On if the game against Alabama being a regular season makes it easier...

"We are going to treat this like any other game. If it's the SEC Championship or a regular season game, we just want to go 1-0 every week."

On how he gets the talk about Alabama out of his head and how they improve...

"We have coach Dan Lanning every Monday show us what we can work on. Like today, there's still a lot of things that we need to do to get better at and improve. We gave up touchdowns and plays throughout the whole game. There are still a lot of little things to work on to be the best team that we can be."

On if the team he is on now eclipses teams from the past...

"We have a deep unit this year that I absolutely love. I can say that I'm a leader now because last year I always looked to J.R. Reed. To be one of the leaders it's tremendous. Seeing the younger buy into what I do, it just feels different."

Jordan Davis, Junior, Defensive Lineman

On if he carries any previous moments or memories from the last few meetings with Alabama...

"Alabama is always a tough, challenging game. I always take into consideration on how well they're coached, how they push and it's an amazing challenge. Every game is a business trip, so I want to focus on us this week, going to Alabama and doing our thing."

On his objective every game...

"It's definitely a 'do my job' type thing. I play for the linebackers, I know they're going to make more plays than I am, so if I can hold up the offensive line the linebackers can eat off me."

On the feeling in the huddle when the team starts to dominate...

"The last game at halftime we told ourselves to stay positive, because we've been in this position before. We never waivered, we never fault ourselves, we just wanted to come out strong and make sure we stop them. Obviously, their offense made a lot of plays, but at the end of the day we just wanted to have one more point than they did."

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Post Game Quotes

Coach Kirby Smart 

Opening Statement … 

“I certainly didn’t expect it to go that way. We didn’t start the way we needed to. We’ve got to show a lot of improvement in a lot of areas and just disappointed in our start to the game. Anytime you spot somebody seven points, that’s not good. We gave up some explosive plays on defense. But the positives were we didn’t blink, we’ve got a very emotional team and I thought in the locker room, there were a lot of emotions shown. 

Tennessee’s got a good football team; I’ve got a lot of respect for Jeremy Pruitt and his staff, how hard his kids play, how physical they play. They play a really good brand of football, as we do too. We’ve got to improve our ability to execute and play with discipline and composure, and we didn’t do that at all times today. A couple costly decisions there, 4th-and-1, didn’t get it, they turn around and score the very next play and then right before the half, leaving one out there, could’ve been a huge back-breaker for them, instead gives them huge momentum.” 

On the team answering adversity after halftime… 

“I think we’re a well-conditioned team and our team has taken pride in the conditioning level. I think we’ve got a team that adjusts well, so if somebody’s giving us trouble with something, we have answers, we don’t just continue to do the same thing if we’re struggling with things. I’m proud of the effort they came out with in the second half with the momentum the defense created. We’re not executing at a high level and that can cause problems; that’s special teams, that’s defensive execution on fastball exchanges, that’s offensively getting lined up, getting in a formation and getting a call. That can be costly if you play a team that can capitalize on them.” 

Stetson Bennett, Junior, Quarterback

On the second half of the game... 

"You feel so bad going into halftime getting stopped on a first and one on the goal line and the points that we spotted them… We had to keep our head up. Coach Todd Monken, reminded us, ‘hey man they haven't stopped us yet.’ We just have to keep going and get that train rolling. " 

On his job quarterbacking the team against another top team... 

"Tennessee was a really good football team. They are physical. They knew what their strengths and weaknesses were, and they played to them. They are a really good football team. The first run was just a scramble. I got a good block from George Pickens on that side. The second play, Coach Monken was feeling my legs. My o-line blocked it up well. I guess I got in the end-zone? It was pretty close on the pylon. But, just two back-to-back runs and I got good blocks." 

On the chemistry between him and WR Kearis Jackson...

"He plays the game hard. He gets open. It is easy to throw him the ball because he catches it. I don't go looking for him, I don't go really looking for anybody because I just like to use everyone. But he is open a lot. And he catches my eye and I trust him." 

Azeez Ojulari, Redshirt Sophomore, Outside Linebacker

On the momentum switch in the second half… 

“We know we are a second-half team. We had to come out and just play our game and continue to execute—follow the plan, get the job done.” 

On his sack, strip and fumble… 

“It was pretty big, man! We needed that coming back from halftime. We definitely needed that switch in momentum in the game. We put the offense in great field position to get some points on the board. It was a big moment. It was great.” 

On how much the Georgia players play off the momentum of each other… 

“Definitely. We feed off of each other’s energy, definitely. Once anyone makes a big play it boosts the other teammates and all of our plays. It gets everyone going—everyone is hype and ready to go out there and execute. It’s huge to go big play after big play after big play.”

Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt 

Opening statement… 

“First of all, I would just like to give credit to Georgia. I thought they really outplayed us there in the second half. When you look at the game, of course you learn a lot when you look at the tape, but you can’t turn the ball over three times against anybody and expect to win. We turned the ball over three times in the second half, once for a defensive score and twice, I don’t think they got any first downs and kicked field goals. So, there’s 13 points there that really changed the game. We made a lot of mistakes on the defensive side, especially on third down. That’s on me. That’s not on anyone else, that’s on me. I learned a long time ago that you have to be able to do what your players can do. If they can’t do it then you got to do a better job of coaching them up, and I have to do a better job of that. 

Offensively, we created a couple of explosive plays in the first half, but in the second half we didn’t control the line of scrimmage, played behind the sticks and we have to be more explosive, got to be able to run the ball. We also didn’t really create any plays in the special teams.” 

On whether Georgia did anything in the second half that gave them trouble on offense… 

“They got pressure on the quarterback. I don’t know exactly what pressures they ran. I know a couple of times we had people blocking them and they beat us in one-on-ones. Then we threw a pick, which was an ill-advised throw. You just can’t do stuff like that. It’s pretty simple. We turned the ball over three times and didn’t get any turnovers in the second half. That’s the difference in the ball game.” 

On whether he thought he would be able to run the ball better this game than they did… 

“Yeah we didn’t run the ball very well at all. We didn’t seem to get in rhythm offensively, we created a couple of big throws there, but to win in this league you have to be able to run the ball. We didn’t run the ball tonight. It’s tough to win that way when you become one-dimensional.” 

Josh Palmer, Senior, Wide Receiver

On the difference in the second half of the game... 

"They just came out better in the second half. Honestly, we just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot by making dumb mistakes. But they were just a better team in the second half." 

On Georgia's defense... 

"They are strong upper guys. They hit you on all cylinders. They just came out better in the second half. They just took over." 

Jarrett Guarantano, Redshirt Senior, Quarterback

On what Georgia's defense did well... 

"I thought they stopped the run pretty well the whole day. In the first half we were able to take advantage of them in the pass game. In the second half they made some good adjustments and they came in and played a lot of cloud defense, some cover 2 and they were able to stop the run and the pass." 

On how his turnovers affected the game... 

"Turnovers are a big part of any game. For them to create turnovers, that is one of the reasons why they won. Props go to them. I thought they were a really good defense. They are probably the best defense in the SEC and that we have seen in a long time. They were able to create turnovers and get the job done when we didn't."