Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Practice Report

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs worked out for a little over two hours on Tuesday afternoon on the second day of pre-season camp.

Following are excerpts from head coach Kirby Smart's post-practice press briefing on Tuesday:

Opening Statements

‘’OK, we just finished up Day 2 in shorts.  The fashion show is over.  We get to put pads on tomorrow and find out more about our team.  I’m not fired up about shorts because guys don’t look as good.  But we find out a lot more tomorrow, when start popping a little bit.  I’ve really been pleased with the enthusiasm of the team.  A lot of leaders leading and guys pushing each other.  It was a little hotter today than it was the first day.  First day we had practice backed up due to finals.  Today it was a little bit hotter and I think the players are starting to get a bit more acclimated to that.  We’re trying to keep their yardages down on the GPS, which is tough to have a good practice.  It’s hard sometimes to keep ‘em under 6,000 - 7,000 yards.  So you start worrying about hamstrings and soft-tissue injuries.  But, excited for where they are.  We’ve been able to work a little bit on special teams, punting and a little bit on field goal teams.  Those two special teams units have been at the forefront, and then everything else has been base offense and base defense.’’

With more emphasis on special teams, have you actually put more time into special teams?

‘’Well, it’s hard to put more time into it.  We’ve tried to add another minute to each period than we had last fall, which is actually a lot when you think that it’s 2-3 minutes a day for 27 days.  That’s a lot more time.  We’re also doing some walk-throughs in the morning, which we only did a little bit of that last year. So we’re putting an emphasis on it that way.’’

Kicking situation…how will that be decided on this year?

‘’It will be charted exactly like you said:  everyday competition.  That’s why we started kicking and punting early.  I mean, we always start punting early, but we started kicking early A) because we wanted to work on our protection scheme and B) we also wanted to do some 2-minute situations where a guy had to make a kick to win the game.  So those guys are kinda going head-to-head in kicking, and then the two guys that punt are going head-to-head.  We’ll see how those situations come out over time.  So it’ll be a Day 1, Day 2 cumulative effect.  We won’t kick every day, though.  We don’t want to wear ‘em down, so we’ll go about three days on, take one off, three days on and just put all those stats together and try to make the best decision.’’

On graduate transfer kicker David Marvin:

‘’He was able to come in the summer on his own and do some things.  So he was legal to come in this summer, be around the players and do some stuff with them.  I’ve only seen him two days because I wasn’t able to work with him prior to that.  He did conditioning drills, but I never saw toe meet leather.  He’s done a good job.  So has Rodrigo (Blankenship).  The two guys, for the first two days, have both kicked good.  One kicked better the first day, and the other kicked better the second day.  They’ll keep competing.’’

What type of improvement are you looking for from Lorenzo Carter?

‘’With Lorenzo, it’s always a work in progress, as far as he’s great energy.  The guy gives great effort.  We always have an Extra Effort board and he is almost always on top of that.  The thing we encourage Lorenzo to do is to play more physical on the more dominant run teams.  I think he’s taken ownership in that.  He reported to camp I think around 250 (pounds).  What we’re trying to do is say ‘OK, last year he reported this way and by the end of camp he was this way.  What did he lose?  We’re trying to monitor that closely and keep that weight on him.  He has high yardage, he burns weight really fast, so our goal is to not overwork the guy in camp to the point where he’s 240.  We want him around 250 at the end of camp.  I think he can improve on his pass rush.  He can improve on his knowledge of the defense.  But the best thing he’s improved on is his relationship with the other players, and being a leader.’’

You’ve talked before about the team being more mature.  Are you seeing that in these early days of practice?

‘’We are more mature; there’s no question.  Yes, we have an influx of this freshman group, but we’re no longer, like, 60 percent freshman/sophomore.  It’s a little bit more like 55 percent.  We had two large classes of freshmen and sophomores, but our senior class this time has more guys that are mature.  So, the leadership factor is a lot better.  A guy doesn’t come out to practice taped.  It’s never a senior.  It’s one of the rookies.  A guy’s late to a meeting.  It’s not one of the seniors. It’s one of the young guys getting lost.  So those guys, the mature guys, are helping the young guys along.’’

What has J.R. Reed done during spring, summer and so far this fall to impress you, and what would that mean for Aaron Davis?

‘’J.R. Reed is probably one of the guys I’ve talked about the least, that’s probably the most interesting, I would say.  Here’s a kid that we took as a transfer and we didn’t know a lot about him.  We thought he was a good player.  We knew his family, his dad.  When he first got here, we knew he was fast, but he didn’t know everything.  He really did a good job learning everything last year on scout team and during the spring.  He was one of the surprises of the spring.  I would reserve judgment right now because he’s only got two days’ body of work.  But when we go nickel, which we are a lot, then he’s become a starter.  He’s very intelligent, fast, a good tackler. He’s been one of the surprises in an area where we needed him.  So he’s playing the position that A.D. (Aaron Davis) played and A.D.’s playing the position that Mo (Maurice Smith) played.  If somebody can play that Star better than A.D., then he might go back there with J.R.  But if A.D. can play the safety position better than J.R., he might go back there. But we going to kinda mixing some parts back there, so we can have some injury answers.’’

Does Georgia have a No. 1 “lockdown” cornerback right now?

‘’I don’t know that we’ve developed that.  I’m very confident in Malkom Parrish and Deandre Baker, but when you say No. 1 lockdown, I don’t really know how to define that.  I don’t know if you’re saying first-round pick.  Is he going to stop everybody he plays against?  I mean, our guys complete passes against them out there, and I don’t know if we have a first-round wide receiver.  So I don’t know how to measure that.  I’m confident that they know what to do, and they compete hard.  The freshmen are gonna compete with the older guys.  The older guys are doing a good job, but we still have room for improvement in the secondary.  I keep harping on, It doesn’t matter if you’ve started 100 games.  It matters how you play.  And how have you played in the secondary?  OK, fifth?  I’m not used to being fifth in the conference.  That’s not the standard at the University of Georgia.  I don’t want to be there.  I want to be first in the conference.’’

You’ve talked a lot about what the standards are at Georgia.  Do you feel like that message is getting through to your program?

‘’I know that it’s getting through to our players, and that’s what matters to me.  I mean, the organization understands that, the coaches understand that, and the players are beginning to understand that.  They understand that it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday.  It doesn’t matter what you did last year, and it really doesn’t matter what you do tomorrow.  It only matters what we do each day.  As long as they can focus on that, I’m completely happy and I’m just challenging them day by day to go out and give me all they got, and trust that we’re gonna back off ‘em when they get really exhausted and tired.’’

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