Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Practice Report

UGA Sports Communications

The sixth-ranked Dawgs conducted a two-hour workout Wednesday as they get set for their upcoming Southeastern Conference Championship Game against second-ranked Auburn.

After practice, selected players met with the media to discuss their preparations for the rematch with the Tigers. Auburn gave the Dawgs their only loss of the season as they met November 11th in Auburn in the Deep South’s oldest rivalry. Saturday will be the 122nd meeting between the programs as it ranks as the fourth most played active series in the NCAA FBS.

“We’re excited to be playing for a championship, and we know it’s going to be a great atmosphere,” said Georgia sophomore tight end Issac Nauta. “We have to be poised and play physical. It’s going to be half and half for the crowd this time. Home field advantage is a real thing. You can feed off the energy and communication can be easier or it can be harder.

“We wanted to play them again; we left a lot out there the first time, and it’s never a good feeling walking off the field after a loss,” Nauta added. “For the tight ends, we need to block really well, and we need to make plays. We’re excited about the challenge. We want to bring a championship back to Athens.”

“I was thinking back to my freshman year, and we were close to playing in it (SEC Championship Game), and I thought that we’ll go next year or the next and now as a senior, we’ve got that chance and we’re ready to take advantage of it,” said senior tight end Jeb Blazevich. “Our only loss was to Auburn, and it’s a blessing to have a second opportunity to play them.”

The Dawgs are aiming for their 13th SEC title with the most recent one coming in 2005. Georgia is making its sixth appearance in the SEC Championship Game and first since 2012. The SEC Championship Game was first played in 1992 in Birmingham’s Legion Field and remained there for one more season. It moved to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome in 1994 where it was held annually until this season.

The Dawgs (11-1, 7-1 SEC) face the Tigers (10-2, 7-1 SEC) Saturday in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 4:10 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs continued preparations for their upcoming Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Auburn by conducting a two-hour workout in full pads Tuesday.

Following are some excerpts from head coach Kirby Smart's post-practice interview session:

Opening Comments:

‘’We just finished up our Tuesday practice and had a good, physical practice. Gotta have a better one tomorrow. Still putting the parts of the game plan together and were sloppy on some things we’ve got to clean up. But that’s usually the case on Tuesday. Good news is you’ve got Wednesday and Thursday to clean ‘em up, put the parts together and try to piece together the plan. The guys seem really excited and energetic about the opportunity to play in this game. It’s a great venue and it’s a special game, so they’re fired up and ready to go.’’

Did you work inside any today?

‘’Yeah, we did about half and half. We some of the kicking game outside and some of it inside, and tried to use the indoor facility towards the end of practice.’’

In your experience of playing in a dome in this game, does it matter much that guys definitely go faster? Does it change much of the dynamics of the game?

‘’Yeah, it seems faster. I think guys sometimes get a little overheated because there’s a little more temperature in there, with the crowd and atmosphere. Anxiety plays a factor in that. A lot of guys aren’t used to that at this time of year. We’ve got guys that cramp and things like that, so we’ve been really emphasizing hydration. They’ve been good about it. It’s just a little bit warmer in a dome.’’

Does having the indoor facility help simulate that at all?
‘’It probably does, but it’s not the same intensity in there that there will be, simulating the same number of reps and those kinds of things.’’

Michael Barnett and Tae Crowder were a couple of guys that got a lot of reps in the last game. What have they done to put themselves in that position?

‘’Well, the first thing is that they play the option real well. It’s a unique offense that fits both of their skill sets. But they’ve both improved immensely. Michael Barnett gives us a tremendous picture on scout team defensive line each day, and he does it without concern for his playing time. He just works to get the team better and in doing that, I think he’s made himself a lot better. Tae has improved throughout the year. He actually fits better against the option stuff.’’

As someone who came from Alabama to Georgia, you had a sort of front-row seat to Jake Fromm’s recruitment. When you first got the call from Jake that he was coming to Georgia, how did that conversation go and what was going through your mind?

‘’I tried not to get too emotional because these kids can change their minds at any time. When they tell you they’re coming, sometimes you have to keep recruiting them the whole time. Things change, circumstances change. Kids change their minds from time to time. I was very pleased that he decided to come. I think that’s where he wanted to go his whole life. I’m glad he made the decision he made. He’s helped make our team better. He continues to improve and he’s got a lot of areas he can improve on.’’

What do you remember about David Marshall’s recruitment, and how is he figuring into things now?

‘’David’s a kid from Thomaston, that’s close to Auburn. He’s one of those guys that’s kind of in the middle of the two schools. I had a really good relationship with, and still do, with David’s high school coach, Tommy Parks. David had come to Alabama for camp for four years, so I always thought a lot of him as a competitor and a person, and I just thought he was a really good player. When I got the job at Georgia, we just started recruiting him. We thought he was a good player. He decided to come and we’re glad he did. He’s improved each year. He played a good bit for us last year. He’s playing this year. It’s hard to find big guys with some athleticism and he’s one of those guys.’’

You were hired two years ago and you’re playing for a championship Saturday. What have been the most important things to get to this position, in terms of pulling the strings from your position as head coach?

‘’I think patience and just having a plan and executing the plan. Being consistent in your approach, week in and week out, regardless of who the opponent is. Trying to convince the team that playing to a standard is the way to go, and practicing to a standard is the way to go. When they buy into that and realize it, I think they can have success. We haven’t always bought into that. We struggled with that some last year. There have been moments this year, but for the most part they’ve understood that how they practice and how they improve gives them an opportunity in every game.’’

What kind of challenge does Andrew Thomas have in going against Auburn’s pass rushers?

‘’He’s got a great challenge. So does Isaiah Wynn. Ben Cleveland, Solomon Kindley and Kendall Baker have got some tremendous challenges, too, because their inside guys are really good. They’ve got physical guys up front. They’ve got good players. And when you’ve got good pass rushers that stop the run, it’s always a challenge. You’ve got to know where your help is. We’ve got to make sure to help ‘em out, and don’t put ‘em on an island all the time. To be honest with you, you’ve just got to compete and fight because they’re good players. They know they’re going to be in one-on-one situations and you can’t help ‘em every down. So I think the last situation Andrew was in will help him in this one because he had to fight his way through it and play his way through it.’’

What did the first Auburn game do for the character of your team?

‘’I think that’s still to be determined. They’ve improved. We’ve seen them be resilient and respond to adversity because they had some adversity in that game. They had to come back out and play hard. But they haven’t played Auburn again. They haven’t played a team of that caliber just yet. It’s a great opportunity, to go out and play a really good football team with an opportunity to prove that we’ve got a good football team.’’

For things to go differently for your team this time, is there one thing you’re stressing more than any other?

Throughout history, the losing team generally fares better in the second matchup in the same season. Why do you think that is?

‘’I can’t answer that question because I don’t think that’s always true. Games that I’ve been in and played two times in the same year don’t always work out that way. I think that each situation you’re referring to is independent of the previous. Certainly, the team that lost has that extra motivation. But if you use it right, and you won the game, you can convince your team that you’ve got the better team. It’s all about perspective that you take it with. And our guys are taking the perspective that we’ve got an opportunity to go out and prove that we have a good football team.’’

How, if at all, does Auburn’s offense change when they go from Kerryon Johnson to Cam Martin?

‘’They run a lot of the same plays. They’ve run the quarterback more the last couple of games. They’ve got other backs, they’ve got another quarterback that can run. Malik Willis is a great athlete. They have other ways to share the carries if the burden is not on Kerryon.’’

What are you guys emphasizing to help ‘set the edge’ better on defense in this game?

‘’There are a lot of runs that bounce out. He (Johnson) is a really good outside runner. They’ve got a lot of guys that can bounce out. When you talk about the edge, you’re talking about reverses, you’re talking about perimeter run game. They do a tremendous job stretching the field, but they also have the power run game to run it right at you with the O-line. That’s a lethal combination, thrown in with some really fast wideouts and a quarterback that can throw it vertically. It’s a really good combination of things, which is why they’ve had success against some pretty good defenses.’’

There are six teams in the SEC that are working on new head coaches. How does that land on you and what does that say about the league?
‘’I’m worried about Auburn. That’s my focus. That’s our concentration. We’ve got an opportunity to play in a big game and that’s really all I can think about right now. We’re still focused on recruiting and that’ll continue after the game and really become the focus point. But up until then, it’s really about Auburn.’’

On the defensive side of the ball, Auburn was the first team this season to get the better of your team at the line of scrimmage. Is that a technique issue or was an attitude or mentality issue?

‘’A little bit of both. Physicality is an attitude. Physicality is a size. It’s a physics matter, too. It’s an attitude with which you approach the game and how you approach contact. We didn’t do as good a job as they did at that.’’

Monday, November 27, 2017

Auburn Preview

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed the upcoming SEC Championship game against Auburn with media on Monday. The Dawgs take on the Tigers at 4:10 p.m. ET Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. 

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments on Monday. 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments…

“We will begin today on a little more of our mental and physical prep for Auburn. As you know, we are playing in the Dome so we hope to be able to go inside some this week. Maybe not everyday, just a couple days to practice inside to prepare for it. I got a lot of respect for Gus and his team. I have a lot of respect for Coach Steele and the job he’s done defensively. They’re playing at a really high level, probably one of the hottest teams in college football, if not the hottest team in college football. They have good players on both sides of the ball. They have really good specialists, one that may be the best in the country. They’re playing at a high level and they’re a good football team. We’ll take on those challenges this week and prepare our team to play. We are going to get our guys ready to go out and be at our best when our best is needed. It’s certainly needed this week.”

On Auburn’s offensive front being able to dominate in the previous game played this season..

“Yeah anytime you play an SEC game the line of scrimmage is straight warfare. Warfare is what we call it. It’s big, physical guys going after it. I think the line of scrimmage is really critical in this game for both sides. You can say our offensive line being physical is just as important as our defensive line being physical. We have to go a good job against the knock back. They have a really big, physical offensive line and they’re really patient in the way they block. And the guy they have behind that offensive line is pretty good running the ball as well. I don’t know that it’s our defensive line having to play better, honestly it’s everybody as a team. We have to tackle better. We have to keep our edges better. We have to be able to run the ball better on offense. At the end of the day it’s a lot of parts that have to be better than just our defensive line.”

On sending some potentially missed calls into the league…

“No comment.”

On how avenging a loss can be a motivating factor and his experiences with it at Alabama…

“You can watch the tape of the game, but I think it’s great. It fires you up pre-game and gets you all excited, but when the toe meet leather it’s about striking people, it’s about speed, it’s about blocking, tackling, it’s about having composure. It’s about having discipline. It really doesn’t revert back to who won the previous game. It matters a lot more about what you do in that game because the other game is past history. Now whether or not you say that it helps mentally with your preparation, that somebody is more focused than the other, I don’t know. I certainly think Auburn was more focused down the stretch because their backs were against the wall. They had two losses. Now everybody’s backs against the wall. I think you should prepare the same, regardless of your record, regardless of a revenge factor and be real consistent in your approach so that the players are able to understand that it’s important to prepare right for every game. We don’t say that this game is more important than the other because it’s the next game. The next game is always the most important.

We didn’t use the game (at Alabama). There wasn’t a whole lot from the game. It was, like, 9-6. It was an extremely physical game so the next game was going to be extremely physical. It was in the break down and we used it to make decisions, but this is completely different circumstances. LSU’s offense was unique then to LSU. Auburn’s offense is not unique to just Auburn. There are teams that run similar offenses to Auburn. They don’t run as efficiently, they don’t run them as good. That was a two-back run team at LSU then and that was the only team we played all year that did that.” 

On what Jake Fromm needs to do to play better in this game against Auburn…

"Just need to play the quarterback position, make good decisions, put us in the right plays. It's really important he plays with poise. He's under duress in every game that I've seen. The quarterback position in this league, you're going to be under duress. It's one of those that he has to execute the plan, not try to be superhuman, allow his play makers around him to help make plays and play within the system. A big part of this game is not making turnovers, and we've got to try to force some on them and not turn it over ourselves."

On D'Andre Walker getting more playing time and the effect he could have in the game on Saturday…

"He's done a good job. A very athletic, hard-to-block guy, plays with great toughness, great effort. He played really well, looking back at the Tech game, he was able to help us. It was a situation where it fit what he does well too. So he's improving, and he's very conscientious about his special teams work and his defensive end work."

On motivations from Nick Chubb and Sony Michel entering this game and keys to preparation for the run game…

"Yeah, run game is all about movement. You've got to get movement. When they run the ball well at Auburn, they get movement. When we run the ball well at Georgia we usually get movement. When you don't get movement up front, it's tough. It's tough sledding, especially in our league. I think Sony and Nick, they understood going into that game it was going to be tough. Certainly didn't expect it to be that tough. But it's one of the things that we've moved on past that. We're focused on this opportunity, and those two guys will be at their best, I know that, because they're competitors and they'll give us everything they've got.

On if this is when he thought Georgia would be playing for a championship….

"I've repeatedly said the same thing, there is no schedule for winning championships. Our job at the University of Georgia is to educate, get degrees, make sure we make the student-athlete a better person, and to win championships. So the objective is to get the most out of every team that we can, and that's what we tell our coaching staff every week. Our job is to prepare them to be the best they can in the game to get the most out of them. At the end of the season, we look back and say did we get the most out of this unit, this team, that we possibly could withstanding injuries, withstanding circumstances that you can't control. That's what we'll do at the end of this year and we'll do the same thing the following year.

But I think everybody wants to say that this is the schedule. There is no schedule. The only thing there is is what you have and what you do with what you have. So I'm going to leave it to you guys to decide what the schedule is or what the term is, because that's what you guys do. That's not really for us internally -- we want to do the best we can with what we've got, and that's what we're trying to do this year."

On the difficulty for linebackers and corners to avoid taking on blocks and going against an offense like Auburn… 

"Yeah, I don't know exactly what you're asking about there. The fakes, I mean, they're very good at perimeter runs, and they also are very good exposing your edges. A lot of that is based on the guys with the ball in their hands. Eli Stove, he's an unbelievable, great athlete that runs rocket sweeps really well. When you say every time Stove comes in motion, they run a rocket sweep, no, they compliment that really well with the power run game inside. So with those two combinations, you're having to defend two things all the time. They've got a really good power run game. People think they don't. I've played them for a long time, they do. They have physical players. They can run gap plays, they can run zone plays and they can run on the perimeter. Then when you add the dimension of a quarterback who can throw the ball and be elusive enough to create with his feet, you hit the perfect storm. Right now they're playing at a high level because they've got all those factors. So it's important for us to keep our edges, but we can't give up movement at the same time. When you start giving up movement on these guys, they'll crease you and gas you and do a good job. And Kerryon (Johnson) is incredible at being here one second and the next second he's out there on the perimeter and can bounce out on you."

On disrupting Jarrett Stidham's passing game to keep him from being as accurate as he's been these last five games…

"Well, I think you've got to do things. You've got to mix coverages. You've got to be able to get pressure. A lot of their passes sometimes are seven-man protections. So everybody's screaming and yelling about not getting pressure. When they're protecting with seven, unless you bring eight, you're going to have trouble getting there. So they do a good job with mixing up their protections. They do a good job of putting him in situations to be successful and to be honest, he's a really good quarterback who, I think, has gotten the greatest amount of improvement during the year of any player that I've seen from early in the year, which we've got games we played early in the year until now. I think he's got confidence in the system. He's gotten used to the SEC. I think he's playing at a high level."

On the injuries of Trenton Thompson and Christian Payne…

“We expect both of them to be fine. We haven't practiced yesterday, so we don't really know. Trenton actually played in the game. He came back in and played. He should be fine. Christian I'll know more on today.

On how the noise and environment at Auburn played a factor in the outcome of the game…

"I actually thought that we handled that part pretty well from an offensive standpoint of functioning, snap count, timing, that kind of thing. The atmosphere in this weekend is going to be probably just as loud in a lot of ways, because you could make a case that we'll have more fans there. But from what we've been told, it's an extremely loud place. So crowd noise will always be a factor when you play indoors. We'll prepare for that. I don't think that the crowd noise there had an impact on the timing or any plays. Jake (Fromm) did a good job handling that. I think their defense had a lot to do with the struggles that we had because they've got a really good defensive front."

On the development of the senior class… 

"I think you're always developing. I mean, I think culture is created, and culture is taught. The one thing we tried to do as an organization since they got here is put them in situations -- whether it's meeting with certain people that we bring in from outside organizations, meeting with speakers, we try to put them in leadership positions. Throughout the summer, we try to put them in leadership positions. The culture is created by what situations you put them in and they grow in those situations. They learn. They learn how to handle situations, and over the course of two years, they've gotten better.

Now, were they good kids and good players when we got here? Absolutely. This senior class is a good class. It's got some good players in it. So I think that's important to have that foundation of talent, but you develop the leaders. They develop their leadership qualities throughout their course of being here. Each one of them has experienced things throughout their time here that's made a better leader. I'm a firm believer that Sony Michel and Nick Chubb are the leaders they are because of the hard times they've been through. I mean, each one of them has been out with significant injuries during their career. That's helped them be a stronger leader. Same way with Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy, they've become leaders because Jordan Jenkins was a good leader. Leonard Floyd was a good leader. We've had people come in and meet with them and talk to them about the ways we want to lead. I meet with them. We try to teach that and coach that so that they can be the right person in the clutch, and it's not always perfect. But we certainly aspire for them to be better men because they have played here."

On the dominance of the SEC West teams in the SEC Championship in recent years and some characteristics he wanted the team to have in terms of physical play…

"Yeah, I mean, the most physical team usually wins whatever the game is. Doesn't matter if it's SEC East, West, crossover, championship, physicality is the part of the game. Who controls the line of scrimmage? It just so happens the teams from the West have controlled the line of scrimmage more often than the teams from the east. So that's an objective in every game. That probably won't ever change in the game of football. So, I mean, that's an objective for this game, but it's not about East or West. It's about the game of football.

On that status of Kerryon Johnson effecting Georgia’s game plan…

"Well, I think you've got to be smart. You've got to understand where a team's strengths and weaknesses are. They've got a lot of strengths. They've got other backs that are good, probably not near as good as Kerryon. But they've got quality backs and they're SEC backs. They've also got ways of creating a running game that Gus has done outside of Kerryon. He does a good job of sharing those carries. They've got a quarterback, who don't mistake him for a runner, because he can run the ball when you least expect it. They have several designed runs for him against Alabama. When you start running the quarterback, it creates a really tough dynamic. So they've got other ways to get carries. I fully expect him to play, and we'll have to deal with it either way.

On the recruiting advantages and disadvantages of playing in this game…

"I always believe there are a lot more advantages than disadvantages because you can show what's on paper. The publicity you get and just the amount of exposure you get from playing in this game, CBS, and everybody in the country will be tuned in. There is no price tag you can put on that. The only disadvantage is somebody sitting in your kid's home this week and they're doing an in-home visit, and they're getting to sell their program while you're preparing for a game. But most of the people that we're recruiting, they understand that we can't be there right now, and they recognize that we'll be there as soon as we can. That begins after this game.”

Senior Tailback Sony Michel

On the difference between championship week and any other week…

“It feels the same. For the past three years that I’ve been here this is one of our weeks off so it just feels like another game. It is another week of preparation. But our guys are excited that we have another game and to be on the big stage at the SEC Championship. At the end of the day though it is just another game."

On changes to make in second go-around with Auburn…

“We get another chance to prepare for this game. We have to try to eliminate some our mistakes we made in the game and try to capitalize on them."

On adjustments in the running game from the past Auburn meeting…

“I think it is just the execution level. Everyone has to do their job and be on the same page. That will help us be successful."

On preparation walk-thrus…

“Those walk-thrus are big. They are essential to this team. It helps guys focus – not physically, but mentally. You have to lock-in. It is tough for a college football team, because there are a lot of guys that probably aren’t going to play that will be out there  So everyone just has to lock in and be on the same page. I think our team manages to handle that well.”

On discipline…

“Discipline always has been one of our mottos. We have to follow it, because Auburn is a team that capitalizes on mistakes. We have to stay poised and do what we do. We can’t act out of character. We just need to go out there and play our ball game."
Graduate Safety Aaron Davis 

On moving on from the last Auburn game…

“You can’t get caught up in the results from last week or two weeks ago. It will do you a disservice in terms of preparing for the next team. If you get caught up on if it was a big win or a big loss last week then that could deter your mind from the team that is in front of you.”

On mistakes to fix from previous Auburn loss…

“Discipline. They hit us with a couple reverses, outside leverage type things as far as set and containing. For the defensive backs, we have to crack and replace. I know I missed that a couple times when my man came in to crack and I didn’t fill out on the outside to make sure the ball doesn’t get out there. Being disciplined on both sides and communication. We can correct those things and limit those big plays.”

On stadium atmospheres…

“Auburn is a tough place to play. They have the new big jumbo-tron which keeps the fans up and rocking throughout the game. I remember playing in the Georgia Dome for the North Carolina game so I know it is exciting. I’m sure the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is going to just the same.”

On playing in the SEC Championship Game…

“The last time we have been here was the year before I got here. We are used to having this week off, but it is definitely exciting. It is what you work for. We’ve been working hard the past 11 months to get to this point. All the guys are super eager to get out there to put on our best performance.”
Junior WR Terry Godwin

On facing Auburn for a second time…

“It helps a lot. We know what kind of game it’s going to be, and what they’re going to try to throw at us. We’re going to have to take this week to prepare for. This game means a lot because I get to go out there and try to prove myself for these seniors and send them out on top. To get revenge for them. I hate for them to go out with a loss like this. For this team, I think we kind of needed that to wake us up. For these seniors, we’re going to go out there and put it all on the line.”

On the last time Georgia faced Auburn this season…

“We went out there and didn’t play Georgia ball. We went away from what we’ve been doing the whole season, and it showed on the scoreboard. That’s not something we normally do, so we’re going to go out there and fix it this week. Being more focused and being more disciplined. Not causing the self-inflicted wounds or the self-inflicted penalties. Just being the Georgia team, being clean and physical.”

On if the pass game should be utilized more…

“If that’s what the coaches want to do, that’s what we’re going to do."

Senior OLB Lorenzo Carter

On what linebacker D’Andre Walker brings to the defense…

“D’Andre is energetic. He brings a lot of energy to the games. He’s a playmaker. So, we plan on having him in there to make some plays and keep the momentum in our favor.”

On the last time Georgia faced Auburn this season…

“It was tough, because they were winning, so there’s not that much you can say when somebody’s beating you. It’s just another chance. There’s not many chances when you get a chance to redeem yourself, and I feel like we have to go out there and be ready to redeem ourselves on Saturday.”

On learning of Georgia's opponent in the championship…

“It was excitement. It was a lot of excitement just realizing we get a chance to play in the championship in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It really didn’t matter who we played, but getting the chance to play Auburn again, it was big, because they’re the one blemish on our record.”

On coming back for his senior season…

"We came back, the seniors came back, and we really wanted the chance to play for a championship, and now everything’s on the table. We know what we have to do, but we’ve got to keep working and keep grinding.” 

On facing a team twice in one season…

“It’s always better playing somebody twice. You get a feel for the players, you get a chance to see their offense again, and you’re a lot more comfortable. We’ll be in the lab, just watching film, getting more comfortable and watching the game we played.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dawgs Down St. Mary’s In Overtime

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs men’s basketball team overtook the No. 21 St. Mary’s Gaels with an 83-81 overtime defeat in the Wooden Legacy at the Titan Gymnasium on Sunday.

The win captured head coach Mark Fox’s 150th victory at Georgia. The Dawgs improve to 5-1, which is Fox’s best start since the 2010-11 season.

Trailing by two with 16 seconds in regulation, Georgia returned from a timeout with a contested William Jackson II layup off the glass to knot the game at 71. After an empty Gaels possession, the game was forced into overtime.

For the final go-ahead points in the extra period, redshirt senior Juwan Parker pieced together a three-point play for the 76-75 lead with a jumper and a free throw. Sophomore Tyree Crump drained both a baseline pull-up and a three-pointer, topping his career-high in points and stretching the Georgia edge to four.

After St. Mary’s brought it back to a one-score game, Jackson hit a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left to strengthen the lead back to four. A late Gaels’ jumper at the buzzer wasn’t enough, and the Dawgs sealed the 83-81 victory.

“It was a team win,” Fox said. “I’m very proud of our young people. We’ve had a tough couple days. We’ve had 10 guys get the stomach flu up to tip time today. To battle through that the last couple days and compete today like a unit and beat a very good St. Mary’s team — I’m extremely proud of our players.”

The Dawgs’ balanced offensive attack featured Crump, senior Yante Maten, Jackson, Parker and junior Derek Ogbeide, who each posted double-digit scoring performances at 17, 16, 15, 14, and 10, respectively. The last time Georgia recorded five double-digit scorers was against Oakland on December 1, 2015.

Maten notched his sixth-consecutive double-digit performance on the season with seven rebounds. Jackson’s 15 points also marked his third-straight double-digit scoring output, and fifth in six games. Ogbeidge complimented his season-high in points with a season-best nine rebounds.

“They ended the game with only four three’s, and all by the other power forward (Evan Fitzner),” Fox said. “We wanted to take the wing players’ threes away and we were able to do that too. (Jock) Landale is a great player and he had a big night, but Derek’s (Ogbeide) physicality, I thought was a really important part of the game.”

Georgia and St. Mary’s battled back-and-forth throughout the game, exchanging the lead 25 times with 11 tied scores. In the close affair, Georgia led by as many as six points in the opening frame. With just under two minutes left in the half, Maten and Mike Edwards put up back-to-back buckets to reestablish the Georgia lead, which held at intermission, 35-34.

Tied at 45 in the second half, Crump produced consecutive three-pointers – including a four-point play on the second basket for the 49-45 lead. With his third three-pointer of the game a few minutes later at the 11:35 mark, the sophomore matched his career-high from behind the arc and provided Georgia an eight-point lead.

St. Mary’s led by two at 69-67 with three minutes left in regulation, before Parker hit an equalizer with 43 seconds left. After Landale moved the Gaels back on top, Jackson’s layup forced the extra period.

The Dawgs posted a season-low nine turnovers, despite the extra period. In the second half and overtime, Georgia turned the ball over only three times. Georgia also bested the Gael’s in free throws, as the Dawgs notched 10 to St. Mary’s three.

Georgia returns to the road to face Marquette on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Dawgs Post Notch 11th Win: 

With today’s 38-7 victory, seventh-ranked Georgia completes the regular season with a 11-1 record, marking the 10th team in school history to win at least 11 games in a season and the first since 2012. The seniors improves their record to 39-12. Also, Georgia has reclaimed the Governor’s Cup Trophy and extended its advantage in the series to 66-39-5. Georgia’s 38 points was the most against Tech since 2013 (41-34 OT win).
Stout Defensive Performance: 

The Dawgs came in ranked fourth nationally in Scoring Defense, allowing only 14.4 points a game and held Tech’s option attack to just seven points and 226 total yards (188 rushing). Tech was averaging 30.2 points/game and 319.3 rushing yards a game. Today’s leading tackler for the Dawgs was junior Roquan Smith with eight stops, 3 TFL and one sack. He has a team-best 99 tackles on the year.

Tech was blanked in the 1st quarter, tallying 57 yards on 13 plays. For the year, Georgia has outscored its opponents in the first quarter, 118 to 29. Tech became the eighth team this season to be held scoreless in the first quarter. In the 2nd quarter, Georgia stopped a 12-play Tech drive that lasted 6:23 on a fourth down attempt at the Dawg 34. Georgia’s offense responded with a touchdown drive and a 14-0 lead. Tech scored a touchdown with 48 seconds left to make it 14-7, driving 75 yards on 12 plays in 6:17. It gave them 161 yards of total offense in the first half on 35 plays. Tech failed to score in the second half.
Points to Ponder: 

Georgia tallied 38 points and 471 yards of total offense (247-rushing, 224-passing) on 60 plays. The Dawgs came in today averaging 35.3 points a game including leading the nation in Red Zone Offense, going 40-for-41 with 30 touchdowns. Today, Georgia went 4-for-4 in the Red Zone (3 TDs, 1 FG).

Georgia built a 17-7 edge in the first half. On its opening drive, the Dawgs put together a 12 play, 61-yard TD drive in 5:29, going 2-for-2 on 3rd down conversions for a 7-0 lead. The drive was capped by a 1-yard plunge by senior Nick Chubb for his 46th career touchdown including 42nd rushing. Georgia made it 14-0 on a 21-yard TD pass from freshman Jake Fromm to senior Javon Wims with 7:05 left in the first half. It was a team-leading sixth TD catch for Wims and the 18th of the season by Fromm. The drive was five plays for 65 yards in 2:11. Wims now has 13 catches of 20+ yards this year. Fromm was 8-for-10 for 91 yards in the first half and finished 12-for-16 for 224 yards, 2 TDs. He had a career-long 78-yard TD pass to junior Ahkil Crumpton to make it 38-7 with 11:21 left. It was Crumpton’s first TD as a Dawg. Wims finished with five catches for 77 yards.
Rushing Into History: 

Senior Sony Michel tallied 85 rushing yards on 13 attempts to move up to third place in school history for career rushing yards with 3,314, trailing only Herschel Walker (5,259) and Nick Chubb (4,522). Michel had a four-yard TD to make it 24-7 with 9:08 left in the third to cap a six play, 77-yard drive. Freshman D’Andre Swift had a two-yard TD run for a 31-7 lead with 1:23 left in the third as it finished off an 11 play, 67-yard drive in 5:44. It was Swift’s second career rushing TD.
Blankenship Booming Kicks: 

With his first touchback on the opening kickoff, redshirt sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship set a school record for touchbacks in a season as that was his 52nd, passing the mark of Hall of Famer Kevin Butler who had 51 during the 1981 season. Today, Blankenship had six kickoffs with four touchbacks. For the year, Blankenship now has 76 kickoffs with 55 touchbacks. Blankenship added a 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half for a 17-7 edge. He is 13-for-15 in field goal attempts this year.
Points off Turnovers: 

Georgia is +3 in Turnover Margin, scoring 62 points off 16 turnovers. Opponents have forced 13 turnovers and turned them into 41 points. Dawg junior DB Deandre Baker notched an interception in the endzone and returned it 15 yards with 12:52 left in the game. It was his second of the year, the other coming versus Miss. State. Georgia turned today’s turnover into a TD and a 38-7 advantage.
For Starters: 

Senior strong safety Dominick Sanders made his 50th career start which ranks in a tie for fourth most in school history and the most by a defensive player. For the second straight week, redshirt freshman Ben Cleveland got the start at right guard. Senior tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both started. It was the 37th career start for Chubb and 10th for Michel, but first of the year for Sony.


Today’s captains were seniors Sony Michel and Dominick Sanders plus junior Roquan Smith.

Uga Swats The Bugs 38-7

UGA Sports Communications

The seventh-ranked Dawgs over-matched the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 38-7 in the battle for the Governor’s Cup Trophy Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC) win marks its ninth-straight win over the instate rival in Atlanta dating back to 2001. Georgia Tech’s season concludes with a 5-7 overall mark, a win shy of bowl eligibility.

"They've got a good football team,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “It's a very hard offense to prepare for. Our kids took the challenge head-on and did a good job preparing for it. Thought we controlled the ball offensively in the second half. Those are some good things."

The Dawgs used a balance attack offensively with 224 passing yards and 247 rushing yards. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm went 12-for-16 in the air for 224 yards and two touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Javon Wims led the team in receiving with 77 yards on five catches and a score.

Six Dawgs recorded rushing yards, five of which had more than 20 yards. Senior tailback Sony Michel had a team-high 85 yards, senior back Nick Chubb tallied 53 yards and freshman running back D’Andre Swift notched 37 yards – each with a score. Sophomore running backs Elijah Holyfield (35) and Brian Herrien (17) along with Fromm (20) rounded it out.

Defensively, junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith collected team-high nine tackles including three for a loss and one sack. Fellow linebackers D’Andre Walker and Natrez Patrick chipped in six and five tackles, respectively, while Deandre Baker recorded the only takeaway with a second-half interception in the GT end zone.

"Our kids have played really hard,” Smart added. “They've gotten better throughout the year. They've bought into what we're trying to do as a program. We're really excited about where we are, and we've got a challenge next week."

After forcing a Yellow Jacket punt on the game’s opening possession, the Dawgs coordinated a 12-play, 61-yard touchdown drive. Chubb scored from one yard out, while Michel compiled 25 yards on the drive including a critical 3rd down pickup where he shed two tackles.

Georgia Tech put together a 12-play, 56-yard drive that started in the first quarter and spilled into the second quarter, but boiled over with a failed fourth-down attempt. The Dawgs turned it into a touchdown quickly with six-straight run plays for 44 yards and then a 21-yard pass from Fromm to Wims for the score.

The Yellow Jackets got on the scoreboard in the final minute of the first half on a 10-yard touchdown pass from TaQuan Marshall to Ricky Jeune. The Dawgs offense moved efficiently with 42 seconds left setting up a Rodrigo Blankenship 37-yard field goal to head into the half with a 17-7 lead.

At the half, Fromm was 8-for-10 for 91 yards, while Wims had four catches for 61 yards and his team-leading 6th receiving touchdown of the year. Michel tallied 67 yards on the ground on eight carries to move up to third all-time in rushing yards behind Chubb.

Georgia scored on three of its five possessions in the second half to seal the victory. The only non-score drives consisted of a punt and the final possession in which Georgia controlled the ball for 7:19 leaving GT the ball with only seven seconds left.

Michel tallied the first touchdown on a four-yard run after a 39-yard catch by sophomore receiver Mecole Hardman set it up. In the subsequent drive, Georgia marched down the field 67 yards, all but five yards on the ground. Swift highlighted the last two plays with a 31-yard run on a 3rd-and-9 and an over-the-top 2-yard score.

The final score came on three plays as Fromm connected with junior college transfer receiver Ahkil Crumpton for a 78-yard touchdown strike, Georgia’s longest of the season.

Georgia competes for the program’s 13th SEC title next Saturday against either Auburn or Alabama at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will air on CBS.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tucker Included As Semifinalist For Broyles Award

UGA Sports Communications

Dawg defensive coordinator and secondary coach Mel Tucker has been included as one of 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding assistant coach.

Tucker, who is in second year directing Georgia’s defense, is one of four coaches from the Southeastern Conference who was on the list. Head coach Kirby Smart was the 2009 winner while serving as Alabama’s defensive coordinator while Brian VanGorder garnered the honor as Georgia’s defensive coordinator in 2003.

From the list of 15, five finalists will be selected and invited to travel to Little Rock, Ark., where the 2017 Broyles Award winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 5th at the Marriott Hotel.

Tucker has led a defensive unit that is ranked as one of the country’s best in Scoring Defense (14.4 points/game, fourth nationally), Total Defense (276.1 yards/game, fifth nationally), Rushing Defense (105.6 yards/game, sixth nationally) and Pass Defense (170.5 yards/game, 10th nationally). 

Georgia’s defense held six of its eight SEC opponents to 14 points or less as the team finished a perfect 6-0 in the SEC East for the first time since divisions were created in 1992. The Dawgs posted a 41-0 shutout of Tennessee earlier in the regular season, which snapped the nation’s fourth-longest active scoring streak and sixth-longest streak in college football history.

Roquan Smith Named 2017 Butkus Award Finalist

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith has been named one of five finalists for the 2017 Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker.

Smith, a native of Montezuma, joins Michigan’s Devin Bush, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Wisconsin’s T.J. Edwards and Clemson’s Dorian O’Daniel as finalists. 

The winner of the Butkus Award will be announced on or before December 6th.  Smith has already been named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award.

Smith, a midseason All-American, is on pace to lead the Dawgs in tackles for the second consecutive season with 91 stops through 11 games (8.3 tackles/game) and has one of the team’s eight forced fumbles. He has directed a defense that is ranked as one of the country’s best in Scoring Defense (14.4 pts./game, fourth nationally), Total Defense (276.1 yds./game, fifth nationally), Rushing Defense (105.6 yds./game, sixth nationally) and Pass Defense (170.5 yds./game, 10th nationally).

Offensive Line Named Joe Moore Award Semifinalist

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia’s offensive line has been included as one of seven semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award, given to the country’s most outstanding offensive line unit.

The Dawgs are one of three units from the Southeastern Conference named to the award that is based on six criteria: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique and finishing. Three finalists for the honor will be announced on Monday, November 27.

Led by offensive line coach Sam Pittman, Georgia is anchored by senior left tackle Isaiah Wynn, junior center Lamont Gaillard and true freshman right tackle Andrew Thomas.  Wynn and Gaillard have combined for 60 career starts at different spots across the line while Thomas became the first true freshman offensive lineman to start for the Dawgs since John Theus in 2012.  Junior left guard Kendall Baker has also made 10 starts while redshirt freshman Solomon Kindley and senior Dyshon Sims have shared time at right guard.

Completing their schedule versus the SEC East with a perfect 6-0 record for the only time since the divisional split in 1992, the Dawgs lead the SEC in Red Zone Offense and are tied for the national lead (98 percent), are tops in the league and ranked fifth nationally in Third Down Conversions (48 percent) and are second in the SEC and 10th nationally in Rushing Offense (267.4 yards/game). Georgia has posted 36 rushes of at least 20 yards, which leads the conference and is ranked fourth nationally, and only given up 14 sacks, which ranks third in the SEC.

Practice Report

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs worked out for a little over two hours on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their matchup this Saturday at Georgia Tech.

Following are comments from head coach Kirby Smart:

On concentrating on this week’s game before the SEC Championship…

“We’re doing exactly what we do every week. We don’t prepare for the next game till we’re through with this game, trust me. Georgia Tech has got our undivided attention. They’re very hard to prepare for. It’s hard to simulate what we do. It’s not normal for us, so we’re having to play a lot of calls that we don’t typically play. It’s tough, but it is what it is. They do what they do for a reason. They run the ball well, but as far as the SEC Championship, we have to worry about that come Saturday night and Sunday.”

On the advantages Auburn and Alabama have preparing for Georgia in the SEC Championship…

“We already have everything on Auburn except the one they just played. Our graduate assistants and quality control have broken down that game, plus every game they’ve played. And Alabama, we’ve already broken down. So we have to prepare for both. We have the same information they have. And I assure you, they’re worried about each other. They’re not stressing about us.”

On the differences between Georgia Tech quarterbacks Justin Thomas and TaQuon Marshall…

“They’re similar. I’d say TaQuon likes to run the ball a little more. He enjoys keeping it, and he’s a tough guy. He’s a really good passer. I thought Justin was a good passer. TaQuon’s a really good passer. I knew TaQuon for a really long time. He came to camp at Alabama for four straight years, and came over as an eight grader, ninth grader, tenth grader. He came, and he worked so hard. I always thought he was a special athlete, but I didn’t know he had the toughness he had this year. He’s taken a lot of shots, and he runs that ball with a purpose."

On the tight ends’ blocking enabling the run game…

“They’ve improved, a lot. One of the most overlooked things in college football is tight ends that can block. Ours have improved throughout the year. They’ve gotten beat, like everybody has. They take pride in blocking. We do a lot of drill work. They block big men because they’re going to have to do it in games. I thought the other night Charlie [Woerner] and Jeb Blazevich, and even Isaac Nauta on two touchdown runs, they did a tremendous job blocking at the point of attack. It’s hard to find guys that can do that in college football, block the defensive linemen they have to block.”

On time of possession influencing each game…

“It certainly helps. The issue with Tech is you’ve got to score. Because they’re going to score. It’s not like anybody’s going to shut them out. They do a good job with what they do. So you’ve got to score. Time of possession is critical for getting reps and keeping the ball away from them. But more important than time of possession is points. I remember last year, I think we had a missed field goal and a couple field goals we had to kick, and didn’t get seven. That really hurts you on these guys. You have to score when you get a chance to put points on the board because they’re hard to stop. They do a good job with their time of possession. Some games it’s been overrated."

On the success of both running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel…

“It’s pretty impressive. I think it says a lot about our offensive line. It says a lot about our ability to consistently run the ball and block on the perimeter. It says a lot about those two guys. They’re talented guys, so to put two in the top-10 is hard to do, and keep both healthy.”

On the starting slot between linebackers Natrez Patrick and Reggie Carter…

“What personnel they’re in, who practices best during the week. It’s very similar to Solomon Kindley and Ben Cleveland. they’re both going to play, so it’s not really about the ego. It’s kind of like Sony and Nick. Who’s going to start, it doesn’t really matter. They’re both going to play, and there’s no ego about it. And those guys roll with Roquan Smith and get him rest, so it’s good to have them both.”

On playing both Ben Cleveland and Solomon Kindley on the offensive line…

“I think it has a lot to do with who you’re playing. Would we have played better against Auburn if they both played? I don’t know that. I think we’re watching both. We watch them both hard in the box and see who’s playing better. If they’re both playing good, getting movement, then they both play. I think they both deserve to play. There’s not a lot of drop-off when you go to one from another. I think those two guys probably get a little more tired than the other guys, so they compliment each other by keeping each other fresh, but I am a big believer in the rhythm of the game. When you’ve got to bring a guy in cold, it’s not like he has the rhythm of the game, so sometimes you might get an offsides penalty, or a knucklehead penalty, that the other guy might not have gotten."

On simulating the triple-option offense at practice…

“Three or four different guys. We’ve got some guys that have been doing a good job. We’ve got some guys, some really quick guys, that a couple of them ran it in high school. They’ve done a good job of simulating that.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Chubb Named SEC Offensive Player Of The Week

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia senior tailback Nick Chubb has been named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week following the 42-13 rout of Kentucky, according to a league announcement.

This is the Dawgs’ seventh SEC weekly honor of the season.  Senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter was named the Defensive Player of the Week after the win at #24 Notre Dame; freshman quarterback Jake Fromm garnered Freshman of the Week honors in the victories over #17 Mississippi State and Missouri; Chubb was also named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week at Tennessee; senior left tackle Isaiah Wynn was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Vanderbilt victory; and J.R. Reed earned Defensive Player of the Week honors following the Florida win.

Chubb, a native of Cedartown, posted a season-best performance of 151 yards rushing on 15 carries (10.1 average) and scored two touchdowns, including a season-long 55-yard run, to push the #7 Dawgs past the Wildcats. Chubb joined Herschel Walker as the only Dawgs in history to rush for 1,000 yards or more in three different seasons after hitting the 1,045 mark last Saturday. Chubb currently ranks fourth on the all-time SEC list with 4,469 yards and is fourth on the NCAA FBS active list with six fewer games played than anyone above him.

Georgia Tech Preview

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed the upcoming game against Georgia Tech with media on Monday. The Dawgs take on the Yellow Jackets at 12:00 p.m. ET Saturday in Atlanta. 

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments on Monday. 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments…

“We'll start preparing today for Georgia Tech and the team. With Thanksgiving break going on they have a little more time, which is good this week, especially, because they get to come in and watch a little extra tape against a unique offense that we don't get to face every week. I know our kids and our seniors will be excited to go play in Atlanta and also play a team that the last three years has beaten us twice, so it gives us an opportunity to send these seniors out the right way. And a great rivalry game that’s been in this state for a long time, I think they have got a really good offensive football team and a very good defensive football team that is doing a really good job on third downs. I think Coach Roof does a good job executing and they're very sound in what they do, and obviously Coach Johnson is one of the best in the business at what he does. He knows the answers to it, he knows the problems with it, and you're not going to trick him. You got to be very disciplined and you got to do a great job of getting off blocks and tackling the man with the ball. So that will be the objective this week as we prepare for Georgia Tech.

On the elements of Georgia Tech’s defense that has been described as “dangerous”…

“There's cut blocks, but there's cut blocks in all of football. They're just really good at what they do. They're probably better at it than most people because they work really hard at it and it's what they specialize in. Everybody's got what they're good at, that's what they're best at is running the football. And they do it on the perimeter, inside, outside, they mix it up, they wait and see what you do and they have got answers for what you do. So at the end of the day it is your job to stop it and that's what we got to do. That's the challenge ahead.
There's danger in all of football, isn't there? So you got to do a good job of executing, playing the blocks. And we're allowed to cut them, too.”

On preparing for an offense you only see once a season…

“It's a challenge. It's why they're really effective offensively, because they're not the norm any more. People don't prepare to play that. When you think about high school football, it used to be that people ran the triple in high school offenses and a lot of the most successful programs in this state had been a part of that. It's slowly gone the other way, where teams, it's almost like a dinosaur, people don't do it any more, so people don't know how to defend it. So it's challenging. The kids on your defense didn't come from high school programs that had to play against it, where, back in the day, they might have done that more often. So that's the game within the game. That's the motivating factor for our players to go out and -- they're trying to win one for the seniors, trying to win one for the University of Georgia and they're playing a unique style of offense and they got to buy into that, they got to embrace it. I think our seniors will. As a matter of fact I know they will, they have already talked to me about some ways we're going to practice and things we're going to do to help with that. So I'm excited about that part and they're ready to take the challenge on.”

On the preparations for playing Georgia Tech prior to this week…

“A lot more than we did last year. We have taken every Monday in the season and we have targeted certain amount of time each Monday, depending upon who our opponent was, towards Tech periods. I felt like you have to familiarize yourself, really the players, if nothing more than your scout team, scout team can only be so efficient doing something they don't do all the time, but they can be as efficient as possible. So those Mondays have been really critical for them, those Mondays have been critical for our young players who haven't been exposed to it. We have worked really hard on that. And then we spent some time in the off week, but the off week we spend time on all of our upcoming opponents but Georgia Tech being one of those, we did work on them.”

On Georgia’s success of playing in Atlanta although it’s difficult to play on the road…

“I think it's been more to do with the fact that Georgia has played well there. I think a lot of the kids are at home, a lot of kids are from that area. I don't really know what to attribute that to. Usually has something to do with the X's and O's and the players involved in the game. I haven't really been part of that series for a long time, so I can't attribute it to anything.”

On the importance of proving Georgia’s red zone defense against Georgia Tech…

“Well it's important, but you got to take all your stats and all your numbers and just throw them out because what we have done in the red zone has zero to do with Georgia Tech. So Georgia Tech will not be concerned with what we do in the red zone because nothing that we have done is indicative of what they will do. You know what I mean? Their offense is completely different. So we have got to play good red zone defense in this game and we did not do that last year, but what we have done up to this point has nothing to do with what's going to transpire on Saturday.”

On his philosophy of the pass rush…

“My philosophy is to get after the quarterback, to affect the quarterback, to make it hard on him to execute. But it's easier in football to hand the ball off to someone and run it than it is to throw it to someone and catch it. So if you don't stop the run, you don't control the run game, you will not be able to stop anything. So, the important thing for us is always to affect the quarterback. This game's completely unique, playing Georgia Tech has nothing to do with that, I'm assuming you're talking about a base philosophy, but the philosophy is to get after the quarterback, the philosophy is to make it difficult on him through coverage, through rush, through everything. But first and second down you have to be able to convert to a pass rush, because you got to be able to stop the run. Our defensive front is built to stop the run, it's not built to rush the passer with a 300-pound man that's playing nose guard. That's not what they're build to do. They have to be able to convert, they got to be able to push the pocket, you got to affect them with disguise, bat balls, and then when you get a chance to get after them, you got to get after them, but that's not really this week.

You always want to, when they pass it, they have got to get after the quarterback, everybody's got to be able to get after the quarterback, ultimately. You want to be able to get sacks, get lost yardage plays, but we have had more TFL's this year than we have been having, so we have changed some in regard to that because a tackle for a loss essentially is a sack, even though it's a run play.”

On Georgia’s run/pass ratio and if the run game will carry the Bulldogs to a championship…

“I think that each game is different. I think each opponent is different. I think that you have a base foundation of balance and balance is what we want. Some of our imbalance this year has been indicated by the games, the scores. If you take one-score games and you do the ratio run-to-pass it's not going to be the same as the games that we have had leads and we're running the clock out. There's a distinct difference in those. So to be able to win a championship you got to have balance. We continue to improve on our balance- our ability to throw the ball down the field, our ability to open things up. But if we open things up and threw the ball down the field, I would beg to question what we're doing with #27 and #1 the rest of the time. So it's a Catch-22 to be balanced, but at the end of the day to win you got to be able to do both and you play really good teams you got to be able to do both. But we have also had some statistics this year that are probably not exactly accurate when you talk about leads in the games.”

On the discipline needed in rivalry games…

“Well you said the word. The word's discipline. It's not about what they do, it's not about anything they say or anything they do before the game. That controls nothing of the outcome of the game. Our focus and concentration is on playing our best football game. Our job is to go over there and get ready to play at noon, get ready to go and get after it and have the best possible plan we can put together to allow our players to be successful. Their focus has to be on executing the plan, not on all the drama with the rivalry.

The leaders have to control the message throughout the week. You've already made a decision on Monday what you're going to do on Saturday when a guy shoves you. And you either make the decision to do the wrong thing or you make the decision to do the right thing. We talk to our players all the time about that. It's something they have to be able to control. They have to have discipline; they have to make good decisions in the heat of the moment. A rivalry is a rivalry, I'll be honest with you, our guys want to win every game. We have a lot of rivalries and this is one of the biggest ones. But our guys have to make good decisions in the heat of the moment, because the heat of the moment's going to happen.”

On Malik Herring’s increasing role on the D-line…

“He's very conscientious about his job. He's very prideful in knowing what to do. He's increased his role throughout the year because he's continued to get better. He works kind of half the day on our scout team and does a good job working down there. He gives good effort and we tell him he earns reps with us by how he performs on the scout team and he's done a good job of that. He had a little more role last week, so he was able to go in and play some. He'll continue to grow that role this week. He's extremely athletic; I think he's a talented young man that's got to continue to get bigger and more physical.”

On the contributions to the program of the seniors who returned for this season…

“I go into each off-season with a plan to talk to the third year guys. I'll be honest with you, you know, that's not, you really shouldn't be leaving after your third year unless you're going to be a first, maybe a second round pick, depending upon the positions. So I think that every year you go into that with that approach and if they understand what's best for them, then they usually handle that the right way. So I'm really proud of these guys that decided to stay, because I think it was the right decision for each one of them individually. That's the most important thing. The next thing is, what have they done for this team? They have been great leaders off the field. I know you see it on the field, but you don't get to see it in the meeting room, you don't get to see it when a guy's late, you don't see it when a guy does some undisciplined penalty out of bounds and they grab the guy. That part is what they bring of setting a standard, the standard that we want to play to, they help set that standard. So the guys that are younger in the room, they will then try to emulate the older guys. And when you have that, you have what you want. To have seniors, usually the best teams in the country, they have seniors, because the seniors have been there the most, they make the least mistakes, they have been through it, they're very calm and that's what our group has been, good leaders for this team.”

On the eye discipline needed for the secondary to avoid deep passes down field…

“Yeah, that's exactly what you just said, eye discipline. It's what got us last year. You don't have good eye discipline, you don't have good eye transfer, they can get you. And they watch every play. They know when you mess one up. It doesn't take them long to figure out, whoops, he's not looking at the right thing, and then they expose you. And you say, well the alternative is don't be so aggressive with them, but you have to stop the run and they do a good job with what they do. It's one of the focuses of this week- is doing my job, executing my job, having great eye discipline, eye transfer. Everybody you talk to that plays them that's one thing they come back to is not giving up the cheap, easy touchdowns. When you watch them play throughout the year, they have hit bomb after bomb after bomb, people have the same problem. So it's an eye discipline thing and you have to play really well on the back end.”

On Lorenzo Carter’s improvements this season…

“Well, biggest thing he's become an every down player. He's gotten a little bigger, gotten more physical, he's been able to play some in nickel packages. We moved him around so that he could play field boundary. He can do different things, he can stand up, match patterns. He's improved that part of his game and that's the part that he probably needed to improve the most and I'm glad he came back to do it.”

On the relationship between Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and their ability to share plays without ego getting involved…

“Well, it gives you a confident coaching staff. Certainly you feel good about either guy being in. They don't have egos, that's the beauty of those two guys. Sony probably could have gone anywhere in the country, just like Nick probably could have. They chose to come together and what started as a really good rivalry has become one of the best friendships in college football. Those two guys deserve every accolade they get if not more and they are what college football's all about. They're unselfish, they're program guys, they represent the university the right way. I mean, when you start talking about ambassadors for this program, they will be ambassadors for a long time.”

On Roquan Smith being named one of the five finalists for the Butkus Award…

“Well I think it says a lot to his overall leadership, the way he's played, the passion and energy he plays with. It says a lot about the defensive front in front of him who have been able to hold people and keep people off of him to allow him to make the plays. He'll be the first to tell you that when he goes unblocked, he's a really good player. Those guys up front deserve a lot of that for taking on 600, 700 pounds a lot of times so that Roquan gets to run free and he's done a tremendous job of leading this defense. He is the signal caller, bell cow, spokesperson, he does a great job of that and no greater honor than to be considered among the best in the country at your position and he's very deserving of that.”

Senior NT John Atkins

One facing the Georgia Tech triple-option offense…

“You have to be disciplined. You have to be eye disciplined. You have to be technique sound.”

On the remaining games this season…

“That’s what a lot of guys came back for. We’re not really thinking about the SEC Championship game, we just have to go out there and play hard.”

On improving Georgia’s red zone defense this year…

“Last year, our whole red zone defense wasn’t that good. That’s been the main objective the whole year, is to get better on our red zone defense.”

On finishing out the season strong…

“It’s all about how you attack the week. You have to come out and be ready to practice.”

Senior OT Isaiah Wynn

On the success of running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb…

“It means a lot. We take pride in that. I’m glad they’re getting to that point, and as an offensive linemen, you couldn’t ask for a better running back duo.”

On motivation for this week’s game…

“Beating Georgia Tech. Just because those are the guys we don’t want to lose to. Of course it’s a big rivalry, it’s rivalry weekend. Definitely not a game you want to lose, whether you’re going to the championship or not.”

On playing his last game in Sanford Stadium against Kentucky…

“It was definitely a good way for me and the senior class to go out and do something we’ve never done, being undefeated in Sanford Stadium and also going undefeated in the East. It was a great feeling."

On sophomore Mecole Hardman flipping field position as a returner…

“It’s awesome. He gives not just the offensive line, but the whole offense in general a good starting point, as opposed to being back by the 20. He’s a dangerous weapon, and any time he gets back there, you know he’s going to make something happen.”

Senior OLB Lorenzo Carter

On the high stakes of each game…

“Every game this season has been important. We just have to make sure we don’t look too far ahead. We need to keep taking it one game at a time. That is what got us here so we are going to keep doing the same thing. The most important team is Georgia Tech this week.”

On improving as a senior…

"I just wanted to be a complete player and an all-around player. I think i’ve done that. I also wanted to become a better leader and I’ve done that too. I’ve been just working on myself as a player.”

On facing the triple-option offense…

“It’s tough. In the triple option, you have to stay focused. You have to read your cues and make sure your eyes are disciplined. We are going to do a good job, because we’ve put emphasis on it. We’ve worked on having eye discipline no matter who we play. We are going to focus on Tech and focus on the triple option.”

On coming back for his senior season…

“There are no regrets. Everyday I come to the locker room and get dressed for practice, I sit back and am thankful that I have the chance to be with my teammates and be in the program. I’m excited.”

On senior leadership…

“It’s all about experience. We all have it and we just want to shine the light onto the younger players. We’ve made mistakes, but we just want to make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes.”