Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vandy Kickoff Time Set

UGA Sports Communications

The Saturday, October 6, football game between Georgia and Vanderbilt in Athens will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET and be televised by the SEC Network.

This will be Georgia's first appearance on the SEC Network in 2018.

The Dawgs' all-time record on the SEC Network is 15-3.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart 

On Saturday's win over Tennessee… 

"Our guys played hard; we just didn't always play smart. We had too many undisciplined penalties. We picked up a fumble for a touchdown. It bounced up lucky. If not for that, it would've been an even tighter game. ... You can't make excuses. We need to execute. Lack of execution gets you beat. We've worked hard in practice the last two weeks. There were no practices where we took time off. We just want better execution in game moments. ... We struggled at times. We didn't hit some of the plays we thought we could have. We must execute at a higher level to be successful. There were times when we didn't have much movement up front. But when we had to play well in the second half, we challenged them and they did so. It's big when you answer a challenge, but it shouldn't have to come to that. We preach good habits, competitiveness, physicality."

On Vanderbilt… 

"Vanderbilt is well coached, they have a good defensive coach, they have a physical football team. I have respect for Vanderbilt. Their kids play hard. We need to prepare, but it's not about Vanderbilt, it's about us. We need to go out and improve."

On the fans… 

"The fans helped us on third down. They had great energy. Early on, they were loud and proud. They helped us get off to a good start."

Monty Rice, Sophomore, Linebacker 

On what was said among the defense after Tennessee cut the lead to 24-12... 

“Keep choppin'. They made a play, but there’s nothing you can do about it once it already happened. You can just go ahead and play the next snap. We did, and Juwan Taylor recovered the fumble.” 

On the offense’s 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive over a span of 7:39 in the fourth quarter … 

“They (the offense) did what they’re supposed to do. Even if they didn’t do that, we just had to go back out there and stop them.” 

Jake Fromm, Sophomore, Quarterback 

On whether he liked the balance of production offensively among Georgia’s playmakers… 

“It just depends on the game. Today was just a more ‘ground and pound’ kind of game. That’s what we needed from up front. The outside guys, you won’t ever necessarily see this on the stat sheet, but they were working hard on the outside with blocks and transitioning to get in front of somebody and blocking somebody. I thought they did a really good job today, and when we were throwing the ball, they were there. Just needed to make a couple more plays.” 

On Isaac Nauta’s 31-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown... 

“I had no idea. I got hit, I think I fell down. I stood up and heard the crowd cheer and was like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ He broke a tackle and I still couldn’t believe it when I was coming off the sideline. I had to look up at the board and see what the heck happened. Really thankful the ball fell our way on that one … No, we didn’t practice that one.” 

Isaac Nauta, Junior, Tightend

On his fumble recovery for a touchdown… 

“As fun of a play as it ended up being, it’s probably going to be a minus on the old grade sheet.” 

On whether that is the longest rush he’s ever had… 

“Yeah, that’s the longest rush. Might need to let me get the ball a little bit more in the backfield. Actually, let’s not do that … I’ve never seen a play like that happen before. It was kind of fun to be a part of something like that, but not the way you want it to happen.”

Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt 

Opening statement … 

“To start with, Georgia’s got a really good football team. They’re very sound. They’re good on both sides of the line of scrimmage. They have speed, skilled positions on both sides, have a very good quarterback, two really good quarterbacks, good runners, their tight ends are physical, they can also get out on the perimeter, got good linebackers, got guys that can rush the quarterback, got guys that can play man-to-man in the backend. So, when you take the culmination of those types of athletes, it makes you good on special teams. 

They’ve got good returners, Mecole Hardman’s a good returner, Terry Godwin’s a good returner. I thought our guys did a fantastic job today, kicking the ball away from them. Then you talk about how they’re well coached. They have an experienced team, you know. Coming off the field, there’s so many guys, my last year was 2015, some of these guys I got to see for the first time in a long time. But I’ll say this about our football team. I said it last week, there were a lot of guys who played their best game last week for us and it was hard to tell that because we turned the football over. I said I thought I saw the right look in some of the guys’ eyes and I wasn’t wrong. Those same guys came out here today, they practiced this week hard and they didn’t let up.”

On what he learned about his team today… 

“I learned we’ve got fight in us, that we’re not going to quit, it kind of gets me excited. … I’m proud of them and the way they fought. … It isn’t easy. That team in red today tried to change the way we fought. That’s the way they’re coached, that’s the way they play. They play the right way. Our guys kept fighting which means we’re headed in the right direction and that excites me. That’s why I’m getting a little bit emotional.” 

On Tennessee’s performance in the second half… 

“I thought offensively we finally got going and made some plays. We converted a couple of third downs and created some explosive plays. We made three first downs the first half, you can’t do that. You can’t put the defense out there that much. We’ve got to make some first downs, you may not score, these guys have a good football team. What’s the difference in the second half from the first half? We put some scoring drives together and had a couple other ones going. Defensively, we’ve got to find a way to get some stops. I don’t think we were good today on third down.”

Ty Chandler, Sophomore, Running Back

On the game... 

"Second half I think we came out better than we did in the first half. Our first half we did not move the ball well. Second half I feel like we did that better. It comes down to execution. We just have to sustain jobs and execute and we just weren't able to do that in the first half. Credit to them.”

On halftime motivation... 

"No specific [message] it's just all about us. Going out and doing our job and doing the work. Like I said, execute. It comes down to the little things and details, just doing your assignment."

Darrell Taylor, Red-shirt Junior, Linebacker  

On the fumbles... 

"I think it was maybe a little bit of bad luck but I think we just have to be more aware when the ball is out and the ball is on the ground. We have to be more aware calling it out and where we are on the field."

Uga Whipped Smokey Again

UGA Sports Communications

After entering the contest averaging 205 yards on the ground each game this season, the Tennessee Volunteers were limited to 66 rushing yards by the Dawgs, who produced five rushing touchdowns on their way to a 38-12 victory in Sanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Dawg (5-0, 3-0) defense was led by junior J.R. Reed, senior D’Andre Walker and sophomore Monty Rice, with six and five tackles apiece. Walker registered a forced fumble, his third on the year, and tacked on another sack, one of four for the team leader in both categories.

While six different Georgia receivers tallied 190 yards, the Dawg backfield balanced the attack with a total of 251 yards, led by junior tailback Elijah Holyfield with 78 yards on 16 carries. Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm directed the air attack, finishing 16-for-22 with 185 yards. Sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift and freshman quarterback Justin Fields ran for two touchdowns apiece as the Dawgs brought its average point production per game to 43.2.

“When we had to play well in the second half, we challenged (Tennessee),” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “It's big when you answer a challenge, but it shouldn't have to come to that. We preach good habits, competitiveness, physicality."

On 3rd-and-9 in the first quarter, Tennessee (2-3, 0-2) redshirt junior linebacker Darrell Taylor forced the ball out of Fromm’s hands, but the fumble found junior tight end Isaac Nauta, who ran for a 31-yard touchdown. The score marked the third straight conference contest the Dawgs have opened the game with points from a fumble recovery.

Of the Volunteers’ three offensive drives in the first quarter, they were limited to two three-and-outs by the Georgia defense.

At the 11: 57 mark in the second quarter, junior place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship drilled a 43-yard field goal for the 10-0 lead.

With a little over seven minutes remaining the half, the Dawg defense stuffed the Tennessee offensive attack with back-to-back tackles for a loss from Walker and senior inside linebacker Keyon Richardson, returning possession to the Dawg offense, who produced a 12-play, 70-yard drive to wind down the opening half.

Fields jump-started the drive, contributing a 13-yard run, and Fromm continued it, connecting with senior wide receiver Riley Ridley and sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman for 12 yards apiece. Swift finalized the 17-0 margin headed into halftime with a 1-yard run pitched from Fromm, sealed by a Blankenship PAT.

Back from intermission, Georgia resumed on offense with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, executed with Fromm completions to four different receivers and tight ends: senior wide receiver Terry Godwin, Nauta, junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman and junior tight end Charlie Woerner. Fields sealed the drive with an elevated horizontal dive into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. A Blankenship chip for the extra point totaled 24 points for the Dawgs.

The next drive, Tennessee tacked on a 37-yard touchdown from redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to Josh Palmer, but a defensive stand in the end zone from senior defensive back Deandre Baker prevented the two-point conversion.

The Volunteers added one more trip to the end zone with a 11:10 remaining in the game on a Guarantano pass to Ty Chandler but failed to complete a second attempt at a two-point conversion for the 24-12 margin.

The Dawg offense responded by eating 7:39 off the clock on 13 plays for 75 yards. Thirty yards from senior tailback Brian Herrien presented Swift with 14 yards to break several Volunteers tackles on his way to a touchdown and the 31-12 advantage.

Walker forced his third fumble of the season with 3:24 remaining in the game. Senior linebacker Juwan Taylor recovered the fumble, setting up a 2-play, 31-yard offensive surge from the Dawgs with Fields in the pocket. First, a Fields block opened a 16-yard run for Swift. The next play, Fields took the ball himself for his second rushing touchdown of the game and third of the season for the 38-12 final, complete with a Blankenship PAT.

Dawgs - Tennessee Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Piling Up The Points: After averaging 44.5 points per contest coming in today, the Dawgs scored 38 in their latest win over Tennessee to improve to 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the SEC. Georgia has tallied 216 points for the year, for an average of 43.2. Georgia’s point total through five games is the most since 2014 (225 and that squad was 4-1).

Georgia’s first points today came in an unorthodox fashion. Junior TE Isaac Nauta scooped up a Jake Fromm fumble and ran it 31 yards for a touchdown on a fumble advance to give Georgia a 7-0 edge at the 8:52 mark in the first period. This marks the third consecutive SEC game that the Dawgs have scored their first touchdown on a return following a fumble (Juwan Taylor@ South Carolina; Tyson Campbell @ Missouri).

The Dawgs’ second touchdown came on a 12-play, 70-yard drive that took 5:07 at the end of the second quarter. Sophomore TB D’Andre Swift capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown, which was his team-leading third touchdown of 2018. Georgia also converted a 4th-and-1 on the scoring drive. Georgia had 238 total yards on 39 plays in the first half and finished the day with 441 yards on 74 plays. Junior TB Elijah Holyfield led the Dawgs with 16 carries for 78 yards. Georgia’s final TD drive covered 75 yards on a season-high 13 plays and took a season-long 7:39.

A Look At Fromm And Fields: Sophomore QB Jake Fromm completed the game 16-for-22 for 185 yards and got his 19th consecutive start at QB. Freshman QB Justin Fields also took some snaps and finished 1-for-2 for 5 yards and ran the ball five times for 45 yards, including scoring runs of 12 and 15 yards. Juniors Mecole Hardman (4 for 43 yards) and Riley Ridley (4 for 36 yards) led the Dawgs in receiving.

Series History: With today’s 38-12 victory, Georgia now evens the all-time series with UT at 23-23-2.

Getting Defensive: For the second time this year, Georgia held a team scoreless in the first half after also blanking Austin Peay and the defense now has a total of 11 scoreless quarters this season. Tennessee came in averaging 205 yards on the ground each game and finished with 66 today. Last week, the Dawgs gave up 172 rushing yards during the win at Missouri. In the first half, the Dawgs limited the Volunteers to 68 yards (30 rushing, 38 passing) on 22 plays and only three first downs with no Red Zone appearances. Overall, UT had 209 yards (66-rush, 143-pass) on 46 plays. Junior J.R. Reed led the Dawgs with six stops.

Senior OLB D’Andre Walker also had five stops, including a sack and forced fumble. In fact, Walker has 13 tackles on the year with five tackles for loss and four sacks. Juwan Taylor recovered a fumble forced by Walker to give the Dawgs the ball on the UT 31 with 3:24 left. It led to a TD, capped by a 15-yard run by Justin Fields for a 38-12 advantage. Georgia is +6 in Turnover Margin and scored 38 points off nine turnovers this season.

Blankenship Boots It: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship connected on 43-yard field goal to put Georgia up 10-0. He is 5-for-6 from 40+ this year (more makes from that distance this season than any other in his career) and 13-of-19 from that distance in his career. All seven of Blankenship’s kickoffs on Saturday were also touchbacks. He was 5-for-5 in PATs and has drilled 116 straight PATs. Georgia’s record is 119 (Blair Walsh, 2008-10).

For Starters: Junior DB Tyrique McGhee made his third career start and first since the 2017 Tennessee game. Freshman Cade Mays started at RG in place of the injured Ben Cleveland. This was his second career start after getting the nod at LT versus Middle Tennessee State while sophomore Andrew Thomas sat out with an injury. Also of note, senior TE and Tennessee native Jackson Harris played for the first time since recovering from a leg injury.

Up Next: Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) hosts Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-1) for Homecoming next Saturday in Sanford Stadium. The game time (either 7 pm or 7:30 pm) and network will be decided on Monday.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Murray, Bailey selected for Ga.-Fla. Hall of Fame

UGA Sports Communications

Another star studded class is set for induction into the 2018 Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Luncheon presented by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on Friday, October 26th, as part of the Georgia-Florida Weekend.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and linebacker Boss Bailey will join Florida defensive end Alex Brown and wide receiver Percy Harvin in being inducted at the 23rd annual luncheon at the Daily’s Place Flex Field at TIAA Bank Field.

“For decades, the Georgia-Florida game has brought our community together unlike any other event,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “The legendary rivalry, spirit and tradition the game generates each year are driven by these two prestigious schools, their loyal fans, and some of the most talented student-athletes and coaches ever to take the field. It is an honor to recognize this year’s Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame inductees.”

One of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the SEC, Aaron Murray set numerous records during his career at Georgia. Murray set 27 Georgia records, including twelve career, nine season and six game records including three in a bowl. The Tampa, Fla., native also established four SEC records during his four seasons at UGA. He finished with 13,562 yards of total offense (13th in the overall NCAA record books at the time), 13,166 yards passing (10th overall in the NCAA record books at the time), 121 touchdown passes (tied for sixth in the NCAA record books at the time) and 921 completions. In addition, Murray became the first player in SEC history to have at least 3,000 yards passing in four consecutive seasons. He also finished his career with a 3-1 record as a starter in the Georgia-Florida game.

As a linebacker at the University of Georgia from 1998 to 2002, Boss Bailey helped lead Georgia to victories in three post-season bowl games and win the 2002 SEC Championship. Bailey was part of the 2002 Bulldog defense that finished first in the SEC and fourth nationally in scoring defense while leading the Dawgs to a 13-1 record, the SEC and Sugar Bowl championships. He led the team in tackles with 114, in addition to six quarterback sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. He was also named a First-team All-American, All-SEC for the second time and a semi-finalist for the Butkus and the Lombardi Awards. Bailey was drafted 34th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

Table sponsorships and tickets for the event are on sale through the City of Jacksonville Sports & Entertainment Office.

Previous UGA inductees:
1996: Vince Dooley, Herschel Walker, Frank Sinkwich, Buck Belue; 1997: Lindsay Scott, Terry Hoage; 1998: Charley Trippi, Wally Butts, Jake Scott, Bill Stanfill, Tommy Thurson; 1999: Richard Appleby, Matt Robinson; 2000: Mike Cavan, John Rauch; 2001: Robert Edwards, Charlie Britt; 2002: Ray Goff, Bob Etter; 2003: George Patton, Kevin Butler; 2004: Erk Russell, Larry Munson; 2005: Cy Grant, Kevin McLee; 2006: Willie McClendon, Rodney Hampton; 2007: Dan Magill, Tim Worley; 2008: Gene Washington, Eric Zeier; 2009: Garrison Hearst, David Pollock; 2010: Knox Culpepper, Zeke Bratkowski; 2011: Bill Saye, John Brantley; 2012: David Greene, Charley Whittemore; 2013: Peter Anderson, Matt Stinchcomb; 2014: Ben Zambiasi, Pat Dye; 2015: Richard Seymour, Rex Robinson; 2016: Scott Woerner, Marcus Stroud; 2017: Randall Godfrey, Knowshon Moreno.

About the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Luncheon presented by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Created in 1995, the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame honors and recognizes the memorable players, coaches, and administrators involved in the long-standing rivalry. Over the 23-year history of the Hall of Fame there have been 100 people inducted including legendary Gators Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Tebow and Jevon Kearse, as well as Dawg legends Vince Dooley, Herschel Walker, David Pollack and Knowshon Moreno. 

For information, please visit

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

After opening up Southeastern Conference play with two road games, second-ranked Georgia continued preparations Wednesday for its upcoming SEC home opener with Tennessee.

The Dawgs conducted a two-hour workout in full pads at the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking on the SEC Head Coaches Weekly teleconference before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said the Dawgs are excited to be playing between the hedges Saturday. Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) began SEC action with a 41-17 road victory over No. 24 South Carolina on Sept. 8 and then last Saturday posted a 43-29 win over Missouri in Columbia. Up next, Georgia faces the Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC).

“It’s a big rivalry game for us, a big SEC East challenge,” said Smart. “Traditionally over the last 15-20 years, it has been some really classic battles that usually resulted in a lot of close games. Our kids have practiced well and hopefully getting prepared for a good Tennessee football team.”

Smart was asked about the coaching connections between his staff and Tennessee, and if it impacts the game.

“It seems to happen a lot in the SEC (coaching connections); there’s a lot of guys that have bounced around, been together on the same staff, I think competitively, when you recruit and coach at this level, when you go to hire people, you want people that have been in the conference,” said Smart. “It’s an advantage to have somebody who was recruited or coached in the conference because they know more about it. So what you end up having is guys that have worked together before. Certainly, we have a lot of good friendships and relationships with people on their staff and people that have been here at Georgia. I don’t think it changes the way you prepare, what you do, I think all that is overrated. What happens between the lines is between the players.”

Tennessee is averaging 205 rushing yards a game, and Smart was asked about the Volunteers ground game including their group of tailbacks.

“We’ve talked about it; they run with a purpose; they run with an attitude,” said Smart. “We didn’t tackle very well last week. We didn’t knock guys back, the yards after contact, a lot of times the pile got driven. With these guys, you better strap it up because they run hard. They have good SEC backs. Jeremy Banks comes in and brings added juice. He runs with the intent to create contact and run over you. He’s a physical back, a good SEC player. They’re committed to the run and do a good job with it.”

Georgia blanked the Volunteers 41-0 in Knoxville last season although Tennessee still holds a slim 23-22-2 edge in the series history. The Dawgs will face the Volunteers Saturday with kickoff slated for 3:36 p.m. ET on CBS.

D’Andre Swift, Sophomore, Tailback 

On his evaluation of his play this point in the season…

“I believe there’s more things I can do better but I think I’ve played pretty well in the games that I’ve played. There’s always things to get better on though.”

On adjusting to take the most carries this season…

“Definitely in the treatment room, making sure I’m healthy because I know I’ve gotten more carries than last year so just making sure I’m ready and healthy physically. … My work load is more this year than last year so that comes with it.”

On Tennessee’s defense defending the run…

“Tennessee is a really physical, really fast team so we’ve got to bring our A-game.”

On getting 16 carries, the most of the season, in the Missouri game and looking for that workload regularly…

“If that’s what the coaches give me, I’m ready for whatever. But it felt good to get those carries.”

Solomon Kindley, Soph., Offensive Lineman

On evaluating his play through four games this season…

“I’m playing pretty good, but you know, everybody can always do better, come to practice and work harder. But yea, I’m playing pretty good.”

On what the off-season workload included…

“It wasn’t too much what I’m working on, it was just ‘keep working.’ Don’t stop working, just keep working. Don’t get complacent, just keep doing.”

On coaches giving signs of student-athletes getting complacent…

“When you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do, not practicing the same from week one then going into week seven, they see the type of stuff you’re doing different… they’re going to try and give you signs of what’s going on and after that if you don’t change, it’s on you.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How the Bulldogs in the NFL fared in Week 3

UGA Sports Communications

Lions 26, Patriots 10:

Matthew Stafford: Stafford went 27-for-36 for 262 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions.

Sony Michel: Michel had 50 yards on 14 rushing attempts for the Patriots.

David Andrews: Andrews started at center for the Patriots, who gained 209 total yards.

Rams 35, Chargers 23:

Todd Gurley: Gurley rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts for the undefeated Rams. Gurley also caught five passes for 51 yards.

Ramik Wilson: Wilson had nine tackles, including one for loss, and defended one pass.

Chiefs 38, 49ers 27:

Chris Conley: Conley caught two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown for the unbeaten Chiefs.

Justin Houston: Houston had five tackles, including two sacks, and forced two fumbles.

Dolphins 28, Raiders 20:

Maurice Smith: Smith entered the game as a reserve for undefeated Miami but did not record any stats.

Reshad Jones: Jones was inactive due to a shoulder injury for the Dolphins.

Saints 43, Falcons 37 (OT):

Benjamin Watson: Watson caught five passes for 71 yards for the Saints.

Titans 9, Jaguars 6:

Abry Jones: Jones had one tackle for the Jaguars.

Ben Jones: Jones started at center for the Titans, who posted 233 total yards.

Carolina 31, Cincinnati 21:

Geno Atkins: Atkins totaled five tackles for the Bengals.

Clint Boling and Cordy Glenn: Boling and Glenn started at left guard and left tackle, respectively, helping the Cincinnati offense roll up 418 total yards.

A.J. Green: Green hauled in five passes for 58 yards for the Bengals before leaving in the third quarter with a groin injury.

Shawn Williams: Williams had five tackles for Cincinnati.

Eagles 20, Colts 16:

Corey Moore: Moore had one special teams tackle for the Colts.

Giants 27, Houston 22:

Lorenzo Carter: Carter had two tackles, including a sack, and two quarterback hits for New York.

Alec Ogletree: Ogletree had five tackles and an interception for the Giants.

John Jenkins: Jenkins had one quarterback hit for the Giants.

Bears 16, Cardinals 14:

Leonard Floyd: Floyd had a tackle for the Bears.

Roquan Smith: Smith had four tackles, including one for loss.

Javon Wims: Wims was on the Bears’ inactive list for the third straight game.

Browns 21, Jets 17:

Nick Chubb: Chubb had two carries for six yards for Cleveland.

Orson Charles: Charles did not record any stats for the Browns.

Jordan Jenkins: Jenkins had two tackles, including a sack, two quarterback hits and one forced fumble for the Jets.

Practice Squads:

John Atkins (Lions)
Davin Bellamy (Texans)
Tavarres King (Vikings)
Isaiah McKenzie (Broncos)

Injured Reserve:

Marlon Brown (Bears)
Tyler Catalina (Redskins)
Isaiah Wynn (Patriots)

Reserve/Suspended by Commissioner:

Thomas Davis (Panthers)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, met with media members on Monday to preview Saturday’s game against Tennessee.

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments …

“We move on to Tennessee. I think this is one of the exciting rivalries in college football. When you look over the last six, seven years, there have been some really tight ball games, some really exciting ball games, and some I watched from afar and some I've been a part of. I have a lot of respect for their program. I think Jeremy Pruitt is doing a good job there, and certainly being a physical football team you can see that identity created and what they're trying to create and how they run the ball and what they do. I think that's important in building a good program, and they're certainly on the right track when it comes to the physicality they're trying to do things with on both sides of the ball.

As far as before I take questions, injury reports, I know you guys want to know all that stuff. Jackson Harris should be back this week, ready to practice and play. Ben Cleveland will be out with the left fibula fracture. Not sure how long that'll be. He'll be on crutches for a week, and then he'll be back weight bearing after that. Monty Rice is expected back from, you know, he had the MCL in spring. He practiced last week. He just didn't feel like he could go in the game. We're hoping to get him back, hoping he's recovered some. Not sure how long Tyler Simmons will be out with his shoulder. May be a week, may be two weeks. It may be less. We don't know. We're going to see what he can do today. We'll find a lot more out about that. And then Andrew Thomas was no worse off with the ankle. Felt like he probably could have gone back in if he had to in an emergency. But he's no worse off, so he should be able to practice today. I think that's all the major injury guys. With that I'll open it up.”

On Jeremy Pruitt building an identity at Tennessee and what you say to a team as a first-year head coach …

“I don't know what he says to them. That's really his department. We're really concerned about us. We've got enough issues and holes and things we gotta fix. We didn't play with the right kind of physicality in the last game and we're certainly concerned with us. I think anytime you turn the all over six times he'll be the first to tell you it doesn't take a rocket science to figure it out you're not going to win many games when you do that. And that's what football starts with, protecting the ball and attacking the ball, and without those turnovers it's probably a different game.”

On follow up to question about Tennessee’s identity …

“Yeah, I see the physicality they're trying to run the ball with and stop the run. There's no question they're creating identity, and you can tell the way they're committed to the run, and each game they've gone up with the number of runs they've had. I think that's an important part of football. You gotta be able to do that. And we didn't exactly do what we needed to do to stop the run last week or run the ball. So our concern is us. My concern is not Tennessee's identity.”

On the Tyson Campbell injury and first-down run production against the Georgia defense …

“I’ll go back to the second one because I'm not sure I understand it. But the first one, Tyson should be fine. Tyson had a subluxed shoulder, but he was fine after that. He ended up getting dehydrated and started throwing up and got sick and we had to IV him. And he was able to come back in the game. It just didn't happen where he came back in the game, except for the play that Bake was injured. But Tyson should be fine.As far as the other one, first-down -- talking about number of first downs converted by the run? I don't understand what you're asking.”

On opponents getting yardage on first-down runs …

“Last week — it certainly — I felt that way. But I don't think overall it's that way. We didn't play the run game real good last week, and that's what we pride ourselves on. And we gotta do a better job of attacking the run and play the run. At the end of the day stopping the run is an attitude and a disposition you create within your team. And we didn't have that. In the previous games I didn't think it was a major problem. We weren't trying to stop the run a lot of times on Middle Tennessee it was a different kind of game. We didn't stop the run very well against Missouri. I'll be the first to admit that.”

On D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield having career highs for carries and their ability to handle bigger work loads…

"I think we're still learning that. I think they're both good backs, they're tough backs. I think all the guys, Brian Herrien and James Cook included all have a really important role on our team, including our receivers being able to handle some carries and get some carries to help spread that weight out. But what D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield have done, I think both of those kids have been productive, tough, physical, and good pass protectors. They've protected the ball well. They've had explosive runs. We have to continue to help them. I mean we have to try to get them in favorable situations to run the ball, and they've done a good job of that."

On D'Andre Walker’s play overall, his ability to put pressure on the passer, his progress and contribution to the defense…

"I think D’Andre Walker has grown into this role. I thought he had his best game of the four he's played last week. I would have expected nothing less because he's a leader on our team. He's a very motivated kid. He plays so hard. It's important to him. He still has room for improvement, he'll be the first to tell you he had some missed assignments in the game, that he didn't do what he was supposed to do, he didn't play with discipline. But overall he had a very productive game, mainly because of how hard he plays. And he's a tough, good football player, that probably a lot of people overlooked throughout his career because he's behind other guys. But he had a good game the other day, certainly appreciate the production he had in the game because he's hard to block."

On his plan to fix the discipline, specifically regarding dropping the ball before reaching the end zone…

"I think we'll address it at practice. We'll handle it internally and it's not really for public consumption. I think that's important. I think the important thing is that we get it fixed. How many times does something have to happen? But it's not something that you don't talk about. You talk about it, you confront it, you demand. A lot of times I'm a big believer that leadership on the team has to do that. It doesn't just come from me. It comes from every player on the team buying in that that's important. I can assure you that neither kid that, that was their thought process as they were running down the field, I'm going to drop this ball near the goal line. It's just a lack of respect for the ball and a lack of respect for your teammates, which you can't have."

On who will replace Tyler Simmons if he has to miss a game due to injury…

"Trey Blount, Jeremiah Holloman, Jayson Stanley, Demetris Robertson - all the guys that are playing. We're playing a lot of guys at wide out. There are a lot of guys playing there. So you just take the first three games and say, look at all these guys that have played. Could be one of any of those nine, ten- Matt Landers. There's a lot of guys that can go in there and play and we'll certainly be looking at all those guys if Tyler Simmons is unavailable.”

On the options at right guard…

"We're going to evaluate that through two, three days of work. The good thing is we get to get a lot of good-on-good work in this week. We'll explore all those options. I thought that Ben Cleveland was playing really well. He was playing fast. He was finally comfortable. He was moving around. He had gotten player of the week there one week for Coach Sam Pittman, was doing a good job and was picking things up. He was very confident. You can kind of see the maturation process of the last two years of what all he's been through to get to the point he was. So you hate to see that injury, especially from a continuity part of him and Isaiah Wilson being there together with him. But to tell you who will be there, it will come out in competition. Justin Shaffer was the guy that went in because he had practiced, and he was ready to go at that position. Kendall Baker will get an opportunity there. We'll also look at the possibility of Cade Mays working there with Andrew Thomas being back at left tackle if that comes to be. So we'll look to get our best five in, and to be honest, you've got to have seven or eight ready, just like we've had to play multiple guys in every game, Andrew, Ben. So we'll have to have seven, eight guys ready."

On Jake Fromm improving his completion percentage since last season…

"I think he's able to make quicker, smarter decisions. He processes information really quick. He understands what defenses are trying to do. He's in the second year in our system. He’s got more experience to wide out. We had good wide outs last year, but the kids this year, there's a bigger body of work. So they've made some plays for him, too. You look at last year, I know early, Mecole Hardman had a couple of drops. He had a couple things, and they're catching the ball better now. I don't think it was that he was less accurate last year. Some of them were caught, and he understands where the checkdown is. He knows how to use the tools that are around him."

On the importance of Lamont Gaillard being the constant of the offensive line…

"I think he's the rock, you know. You got one guy in there, and that's always one of the toughest positions to replace, is that position. That's the voice, that's the leader. That's the guy that handles it all. And Lamont has done a good job of that communicating across the board, different fronts, different movements, different looks. He's the guy that leads that room through vocal and through kind of being the guy that's done it the most. So it's important to have him part of it, but all that stuff factors in. Continuity is really important in the offensive line and whether Andrew is beside Solly (Solomon Kindley) or Cade is beside Solly. That guy in the middle is one of the centre pieces, and he's done a good job leading that group.”

On the difference in Tennessee’s offense with quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and Keller Chryst…

"Not a whole lot different. I think the other kid has the ability to take off running. Now, Chryst has had some runs as well. And he's done some whether it's by design or by accident, a couple of times he's had to run it. They're both capable of doing that. We don't see a whole lot of difference in the two of those guys and what they'll do with those guys, but again, a lot of that's out of our hands."

On whether having all tight ends healthy will affect the run game…

"I think it depends on Jackson Harris’s health and how much he can handle stamina wise and what he can do and how caught up he is on the offensive service. He has a good understanding of it having played in it for a couple of years, and I’m looking forward to him and John FitzPatrick both continuing to grow. So we're trying to grow those guys, and a lot of these young players on our team we feel like are getting better week by week and getting closer and closer to an opportunity to go in and compete. As they get a little experience on special teams, a little more experience, good-on-good in practice they're getting closer to helping us as well."

On the impact of non-offensive touchdowns…

"I think Coach Tucker would be the first to tell you it's like some stat, 89 percent of the teams that have a non-offensive touchdown they usually win the game. And those are very impactful, t’s hard to overcome those emotionally because they're sometimes a shock. But at the end of the day they happen. They happen on special teams. They happen on defense. And whether they happen to you or for you, it's the next play that matters. It's not that play. So a lot of it is overcoming adversity and how you're built within your program to overcome things like that."

On Tyrique McGhee coming back from injury…

"He's able to sustain longer. Thought that this last game he played more snaps than he has in the past. I still think he's getting some of the rush calls. He'll be the first to tell you he didn't play his best game the other day. But he understands what to do. He's a good leader. This kid practices really hard, really tough. We have to be smart with him because volume affects him, and we gotta be smart about the amount of volume he takes.”

On the key component of the upcoming game…

"The biggest thing for us is us. And we've gotta really concern ourselves with that. I mean I think perception out there is some people look at Tennessee and say certain things. I look at Tennessee and say that's a really well-coached, hard-nosed fundamental football team that's coming in here off a situation where they had however many turnovers they had. So the focus for our players is this is always a tough physical game. It's always this kind of way. It's been close for years, and we gotta worry about us. We gotta go correct our mistakes and our problems and make sure that we got our stuff tightened up so we can play the best we can play.”

On Smart’s assessment of the defensive line stopping the run at Missouri…

"The run is never -- you don't ever say, well, the defensive line is no good, they rushed for 180 yards. There's a coordinated fit. But we didn't do well, we didn't close, we didn't strike. We didn't knock off blockers, we didn't tackle well. So that secondary, linebackers, a lot of the D-linemen aren't in on the tackles. They're the glue that holds things together on the inside. We didn't play the way we were capable of playing, and we also put our guys on some tough run positions because we knew we had to not give up the big play in the pass game. So you play games certain ways. You change things up. You change your strategy so the other team doesn't know what you're doing all the time. And a lot of those rushing yards had to do with that, a lot of them had to do with unwillingness to strike people. If you don't strike people, you won't stop the run in our league. You will not stop the run in our league. So you’ve got to strike people and be physical up front in order to do it.”

Juwan Taylor, Senior, Linebacker

On playing to a 100 percent standard and was that standard met against Missouri…

“I can’t really give you a percentage, but I can say we didn’t play to the standard of the University of Georgia. I feel like things weren’t going right and this week we’ve just got to do our best and practice well and step it up to another level.”

On what the goal is right now for Georgia…

“The goal every game is to play with physicality, discipline, and composure. I feel like we weren’t as physical as we were supposed to be and we didn’t have quite as much discipline with our assignments and getting different kind of penalties and stuff like that.”

On the mindset of stopping the run game at practice starting today…

“This is practice. You practice how you play. Preparation is everything. You just have to come out today and start the day off physical. Just hit everything, work on tackling better, stuff like that.”

Michael Barnett, Junior, Defensive Tackle

On the play of the defensive line so far this year…

“I think we have played pretty solid so far. I feel like we could be better and there is always room for improvement.”

On Coach Smart’s comment about it being all about the mindset and whether instilling that mindset is on the players or coaches…

“I feel like that is more on the players. The coaches could tell us to do it but we are the ones out there actually doing it. It is a mindset and we need to go out there and execute our jobs.”

On what the toughest roadblock in his career has been…

“Injuries. Just staying away from injuries and getting into the rotations. When I start to get into the rotation something will come up in terms of injuries. Staying injury free has been a really big goal for me.”

On difference for a defense if it is 2nd and 10 versus 2nd and 5…

“It is definitely different, especially considering a run heavy team versus a passing team. Depending on the team we play that week we have to adjust our mindsets going into that down and distance.”

On the state of Georgia’s run defense…

“I think we are doing pretty good, but I think we also need to get better. We need to work on our fundamentals and technique.”

Jake Fromm, Sophomore, Quarterback

On benefits of non-offensive touchdowns…

“It is a testament to the program that we have. The special teams and all the work that pays off. The week before Mecole (Hardman) had a punt return. It is cumulative work during fall camp and practice that pays off for us. It certainly helps out the offense. We weren’t necessarily playing our best, but I looked up at the scoreboard and we were still in the positive, so that helps and is awesome to see.”

On injuries and depth at offensive line…

“For the whole team it is a ‘next man up’ mentality and that is the foundation that we have built. The depth we have is that it doesn’t matter who is out, the next guy is up and that’s how we play it. As far as the guys up front, coach Sam Pittman gets those guys ready. Any guy in that offensive line room is fully capable of playing at this level, so my full confidence is in them.”

On Lamont Gaillard’s role among the offensive front…

“Lamont is huge. To have those interchangeable parts along the offensive line, he gets those guys moving in the same direction. As far as the offense, if we are doing that then we are going to be successful.”

On Tennessee rivalry…

“Tennessee is a tough opponent. Anybody in the SEC week-in and week-out deserves respect. It really doesn’t matter who is coming into town or where we are going. In the SEC, it is a tough decision. We come in and we take it week-to-week basis. We have our system and we do that.”

Lamont Gaillard, Senior, Center

On increase in leadership with the injuries along the offensive line and the depth’s importance…

“Some people went down of course, but we have more people that can come off the bench and are ready to play. That is just the preparation that our coaches have given us. The depth is important. For us in the SEC, you have to have depth. We have good depth and people ready to come off the bench when it’s needed, and that is what they are going to do.”

On offensive line coach Sam Pittman’s style that enables young guys to be ready…

“His preparation. He does what he does as a coach when he comes in he’s on us through practice, through meetings. He is always ready for that next step. He doesn’t miss a beat in anything he does.”

On halftime adjustments and taking on some adversity…

“We just adjust to the game. We didn’t do so well during the first half so we knew we had to come back in the second half and put points on the board, because the defense was playing well…We needed a little adversity to be honest. We haven’t played a full game yet so it was a good game to play a full course through.”

Georgia - Vanderbilt Will Be Night Game

UGA Sports Communications
The Saturday, October 6th, SEC football between Georgia and Vanderbilt in Athens will kick off at either 7:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. ET and be televised by either the SEC Network, ESPN, or ESPN2.

The time and network will be determined following games of September 29th.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Scoring/Series History: For the fourth straight game this year, Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) scored at least 40 points marking the first time since 2012 the Dawgs have done that. In 2012, Georgia opened the year with five straight games of scoring at least 40 apiece. This season, Georgia now is averaging 44.5 points a game. The school record is 37.8 set in 2012. With today’s 43-29 win, Georgia improves to 7-1 in the all-time series including 4-0 in Columbia.

Defense: In the first half, Missouri ran 38 plays for 159 yards and was held to one touchdown after coming in today averaging 43.7 points a game. In the 2nd half, Missouri tallied 22 points and finished the game with 393 yards of total offense on 85 plays, that’s four more than No. 2 Oklahoma ran in the Rose Bowl game double-overtime game, the previous high against a Kirby Smart team.

Georgia notched its second defensive TD of the year today, this latest by freshman Tyson Campbell, a forced fumble and recovery as he raced 68 yards for a TD. It’s the ninth defensive/special teams score in the Kirby Smart era. Before today, the last fumble return for a TD came by J.R. Reed in the 2017 win over Florida in Jacksonville. Junior Tae Crowder’s first career interception was returned to the Tiger 7 and led to FG and 13-7 edge.

Georgia’s leading tacklers were J.R. Reed(8) and Deandre Baker and Richard LeCounte had seven apiece. Also, D’Andre Walker had 2 forced fumbles and 2 sacks in the first half. Georgia had one sack coming in.

2nd Half TD Bombs From Fromm: In the 1st half, sophomore QB Jake Fromm was 6-for-14 for 66 yards, no TDs and an INT. However in 2nd half,Fromm went 7-for-9 for 194 yards and 3 TDs with the scoring strikes covering 33 (Riley Ridley), 61 (Jeremiah Holloman) and 54 (Mecole Hardman) yards to finish 13-for-23 for 260 yards, 3 TDs.

Stokes With A Special Teams Score: Redshirt freshman Eric Stokes blocked his first career punt and returned it eight yards for a touchdown to put Georgia in front 20-7 with 5:45 left in the first half. It was the first blocked punt return for a TD since 2006 when CJ Byrd did it against UAB. It marked the 10th special teams/defensive score in the Kirby Smart era and second today to go with a 68-yard fumble return by freshman Tyson Campbell. Today marked the first time since the 2015 road game at Tennessee that Georgia has scored a defensive TD and special teams TD in the same game. That year, Leonard Floyd had a 96-yard fumble return and Reggie Davis had a 70-yard punt return.

Busy Day For Blankenship: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship went 3-for-5 on field goals (made 44, 21 and 40, missed 49, 36-yarder blocked). His first kickoff today was not a touchback for the first time this year as there was a strong wind, ending a streak of 23 that led the nation. Blankenship’s 44-yard FG put Georgia in front 10-7 with 13:51 left in the 2nd quarter and a 21-yarder made it 13-7 early in the 2nd quarter. He missed a 49-yarder with 7:17 left. He added a pair of PATs in the second half. For the year, he is 6-for-8 on the year in field goals and 30-for-32 in touchbacks. A 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked in the 4th quarter, the first by an opponent since TCU in the 2016 Liberty Bowl.

Points off Turnovers: Georgia scored 10 points off three Missouri turnovers, all in the first half, while the Tigers got no points off 1Dawg miscue. For the year, Georgia is +5 in Turnover Margin, scoring 31 points off eight turnovers on the year. Opponents now have forced three turnovers and turned them into no points.

On Georgia’s first possession, Missouri picked off Jake Fromm, and it led to a turnover/forced fumble and recovery by freshman Tyson Campbell who returned it 68 yards for a TD and a 7-0 lead. Georgia junior LB Tae Crowder picked off his first career pass and returned it 43 yards to the Tiger 7. It led to a field goal. With 2:18 left in the half, D’Andre Walker forced a sack/fumble and recovered by Deandre Baker at the Georgia 45. It led to a failed fourth down conversion attempt at the Tiger 31.

Points To Ponder: Georgia led 20-7 in the first half as both teams came in entering 40+ points a game, and the lone offensive touchdown came by Missouri. Georgia leads the SEC in scoring defense, allowing just eight points a game. Missouri came in averaging 43.7 points a game. In the 1st half, Georgia had 148 yards of total offense while the Tigers had 159. Georgia had a defensive TD and a special teams TD plus a pair of field goals to gain the early advantage. The Tigers first TD drive covered 55 yards on nine plays to tie the game at 7-all with 2:03 left in the first.

For Starters On The Line: ​Sophomore LT Andrew Thomas returned to the starting lineup after missing the MTSU game. Senior C Lamont Gaillard started his team-leading 32nd straight game. Thomas went out in the first half and freshman Cade Mays filled in for the remainder of the game. In the third quarter, right guard Ben Cleveland went out with a left leg injury and was replaced by sophomore Justin Shaffer.

Captains: Today’s captains were juniors Issac Nauta, Tyler Clark and sophomore Ben Cleveland.

Dawgs Win Ugly On The Road

UGA Sports Communications

A defensive first half and offensive onslaught in the second half pushed the second-ranked Dawgs past the Missouri Tigers, 43-29, Saturday afternoon at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.

A fumble recovery touchdown in addition to a blocked punt scoop-and-score highlighted Georgia’s scoring in the first half. Meanwhile the fast-paced offensive second half consisted of seven total scores with Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) using three touchdowns and a field goal to seal the win. With its first loss of the season Missouri falls to 3-1 and 0-1 in the Southeastern Conference.

“The flow of the game was about what I thought it was be, there was a lot of emotional big plays,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “I didn’t see us having the big plays in the turnover game with the fumble recovery and blocked punt, but they were really big plays. We struggled some to stop the run today, which is not indicative of defense we want to have, and we struggled to run the ball. When you have that combination then you are going struggle some and we did. Give Missouri credit, they have a good football team. We knew that coming in. I’ve always respected them. They’ve won nine of the last 10 games and you don’t do that by accident.”

Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm finished 13-for-23 with 260 yards and three touchdowns and one interception despite finishing the first half with only 66 yards in the air. Fromm’s main target was junior wide receiver Riley Ridley who hauled in five catches for 87 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, junior back Elijah Holyfield piled up 90 yards on 14 carries and sophomore D’Andre Swift added 71 yards on 16 attempts.

Defensively, junior J.R. Reed led the team in tackles with eight with fellow defensive backs Deandre Baker and Richard LeCounte tallying seven apiece. D’Andre Walker created havoc in the backfield with two sacks including two forced fumbles. Freshman defensive back Tyson Campbell returned a fumble for a touchdown, while redshirt freshman Eric Stokes blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.

The Dawgs headed into the half with a 20-7 lead after defense and special teams dominated the pace of the game. On third-and-nine, Campbell stripped Missouri’s Al Okwuegbunam and scoop-scored for a 64-yard fumble return to put the first points on the board.

After the Tigers evened the score, junior place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship connected on a 44-yard field goal to move Georgia back in front 10-7. On the ensuing drive, the Georgia defense produced another turnover – this time a 43-yard interception return by linebacker Tae Crowder. The takeaway turned into another Blankenship try, a 21-yard field goal, for the 13-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Special teams then made its splash later in the second to put the Dawgs up 20-7. Georgia bombarded Mizzou punter Corey Fatony with Stokes blocking the kick and scooping the football for an 8-yard touchdown.

A back-and-forth third quarter saw both teams trade touchdowns. First, Georgia with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Fromm to Ridley capped the five-play, 59-yard drive.

Mizzou responded with a long drive and score, but the Dawgs struck on their second play from scrimmage. Fromm threw a jump ball to sophomore receiver Jeremiah Holloman who eluded the sideline to run free for a 61-yard touchdown.

The Tigers got the last touchdown in the third to put the score at 33-22, and the scoring commenced immediately in the fourth quarter. On the first play, Fromm connected with a wide-open Mecole Hardman for a 54-yard touchdown pass to finish the Dawgs’ longest drive of the game that spanned 77 yards in just five plays.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock pulled the game to a 40-29 margin on an 11-yard run with 10:47 left in the game. However, Georgia took the reins in terms of time of possession to seal the game.

The Dawgs ate nearly five minutes off the clock before Mizzou blocked a field goal, but the Georgia defense forced a turnover on downs to mitigate the loss. Another drive taking up 3:17 ended with a 40-yard Blankenship field goal, putting the game at 43-29 with less than two minutes remaining.

For the fourth straight game this year, Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) scored at least 40 points marking the first time since 2012 the Dawgs have done that.

The Dawgs return home for a two-game home stand starting with Tennessee next Saturday at 3:30 p.m., which will be aired on CBS.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

The second-ranked Dawgs continued their preparations for their SEC match-up at Missouri with a 2-hour practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Following are excerpts from head coach Kirby Smart’s post-practice press briefing, as well as comments from players who were available after practice:

Opening Comments:

‘’Hot. It’s been really hot, but our guys continue to work. I thought we had good tempo today. I thought we got tired quick. The temperature was up and we did about three-fourths of it outside and the last part we came in. We were able to get some wet ball work for the potential of rain up there, with the quarterbacks and receivers having to handle a wet ball. I thought that was good. Guys continue to work hard.’’

How does Missouri QB Drew Lock compare to anybody else you’ve seen?

‘’You know, I hate to compare guys like that. I mean, his arm strength is Stafford-like. Cutler. Those are the guys I’ve coached against that were elite arm talent like him. He’s a really good athlete as well. He’s one of the better ones. Hard to compare him to somebody. He’s in a league of his own.’’

You’ve mentioned the success of Missouri’s run game. How have they improved this season?

‘’They’re more committed to it. I mean, they’re running more traditional run plays, and they still have a lot of the same run plays that all of America is running now, especially with ‘fastball.’ They have similar run plays to what we have. But they run power, they run counter, they run a lot of plays that you’ve got to be physical to run, and they’re creating that brand of football. It’s been a commitment to play in the SEC. You’ve got to run the ball. They’ve done that in the last three games and their commitment to that allows them to get one-on-one match-ups outside.’’

How would you gauge Cade Mays’ confidence level so far, given the status of Andrew Thomas this week?

‘’Cade’s a very mature kid. He comes from a family that’s raised him to be that way, to prepare hard, to work hard. He was a confident kid in high school. He likes competition. Good athlete. He’s in a good place, probably the most difficult position to play, in all of football, as a freshman, maybe outside of quarterback. It’s tough because there are some elite players in this league. He’s come in and taken the brunt of that pressure on his shoulders and done a good job with it. It’s a tough position to play.’’

Was Andrew Thomas able to practice today?

‘’He was out there. He was able to do a little bit. He wasn’t able to do a lot of physical, pushing work, but he was able to move around, be in pads, get the assignments, pick up on the mental aspect of the game. But he didn’t take a lot of what I would call ‘live’ reps.’’

What kind of progress have you seen in Richard LeCounte?

‘’Richard had a really good game against South Carolina. He played an OK game last week. He continues to grow. I think he’s gaining confidence in the system. Our defense requires a lot of calls for the safeties to make and he’s gotten command of that better. I see him in here a lot, meeting and watching some tape. He’s grown up. That’s what we need for this defense to function smoothly is the communication skills between linebackers, safeties and corners have to be a really good triangle, and he’s filling that triangle out much better. I’m really pleased with him.’’

What’s the thinking behind getting Kearis Jackson carries on offense?

‘’He’s just a good athlete. I mean, it’s no different than handing the ball off to Demetris RobertsonMecole HardmanTyler Simmons. Touches. I mean, that’s really it. You want your play-makers to touch the ball, and we think he’s a good player.’’

How important is Brenton Cox in his role on defense?

‘’Brenton has grown and progressed. He probably hasn’t shown up in games as much as he has in practice. I just don’t think he’s had many opportunities to get out there and flash and do what I think he can do. He’s played really hard. He’s played physical. He’s very conscientious about his assignments and learning those. Brenton just has to continue to grow up and mature. I’m hoping that a lot of these freshmen, who have played in three games now, can start to have a little confidence where they get over the butterflies and anxiety, so they can go play. He’s getting better with each and every game.’’

Will you bring up the game at Missouri from two years ago to the team this week?

‘’I don’t think so. I thought last year’s game they scored on us and got really hot two or three times. It’s a tough place to play. I’ve played there other times besides two years ago. They’ve got a great environment there. Their fan base is very passionate. But I don’t think this game has anything to do with the one two years ago. Not a lot of the same names and faces are present.’’

Does it feel like Justin Fields is settling into his role on this team?

‘’He’s a pretty calm kid. He’s a calm character. He doesn’t get real anxious about things. He’s excited. He likes to celebrate when he does well. Each time somebody else has scored, he runs down there and celebrates with them. But I definitely think he gets into a rhythm when he plays, the more he gets to play. He’s patient. He’s been good.’’

You’ve talked before in pre-season camp about freshmen hitting a wall. Is there a point in the season when freshman hit a wall?

‘’Oh yeah. I mean, some of these kids have daily walls. Every day it’s a struggle because of the focus and concentration, the intensity of practice. There are a lot of high school practices that aren’t like ours, from the standpoint of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, the intensity, the amount of pressure you put on a kid to make decisions and make calls. They’re not used to that. We have a high-tempo practice. So a lot of these kids struggle with it and you hope they acclimate. And the older players have to bring the younger players along because a lot of the older players weren’t used to it their first year.’’

Sophomore DB Richard LeCounte:

On preparations for Missouri, after their success passing vs. UGA last season:

"I’ve watched that a few times, reviewing last year’s tape and watching this year’s tape on Missouri. Emanuel Hall is a real fast guy. We’re playing a great team this week and I’m all in on focusing on everything we need to do. Definitely staying deep, protecting the defense in front of you, because I’m the last line of defense back there. So whenever I can stay deep and chase the ball down, that’s something I take pride in."

Is Missouri the toughest test so far? 

"You could say that. Every week we come in with the mindset of making us better, as far as the team, so the game plan is still going to be executed to a ’T’, but this team is definitely a real good team. We never take any opponent lightly, but we’re really focused this week."

On preparing for Missouri’s offense: 

"Definitely just make sure we get back to our fundamentals and basics, getting everything back to what we’re used to doing.’’

Sophomore LB Monty Rice

Keys to defending Missouri’s offense: 

"We’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback so he doesn’t have all day to sit back there and go through his progressions and make good throws, which he can do."

On improving the pressure on QB:

"It’s not about getting sacks because sacks don’t win games. It’s about getting pressure on the quarterback and making sure he’s not comfortable, getting him to move on his feet."

Evaluate Georgia’s run defense so far:

"I think it can be better. We just need to be better at staying in gaps."

On importance of stopping on first and second downs:
"It’s big because we’ve got some good stuff on third down that we can go to that people won’t be able to block. But if it’s third-and-two, we can’t run that. I just want to stop the other team. It doesn’t matter what call we’re in.’’

2019 Schedule Released

UGA Sports Communications

Games with Notre Dame and Texas A&M highlight the 2019 University of Georgia home football schedule announced Tuesday by the Southeastern Conference.

Notre Dame will be visiting Athens for the first time in history while the Aggies will be making their first appearance between the hedges since 1980. The Dawgs have seven home games on the schedule which also includes SEC contests with South Carolina, Kentucky, and Missouri along with non-conference teams Murray State and Arkansas State.

The schedule also includes two open dates on Sept. 28 and Oct. 26. The Dawgs will travel to Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, and Georgia Tech along with the annual game against Florida in Jacksonville.

2019 Georgia Schedule

Aug. 31                  at Vanderbilt
Sept. 7                   MURRAY STATE
Sept. 14                 ARKANSAS STATE
Sept. 21                 NOTRE DAME
Sept. 28                 Open Date
Oct. 5                     at Tennessee
Oct. 12                   SOUTH CAROLINA
Oct. 19                   KENTUCKY
Oct. 26                   Open Date
Nov. 2                    vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
Nov. 9                    MISSOURI
Nov. 16                  at Auburn
Nov. 23                  TEXAS A&M
Nov. 30                  at Georgia Tech

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart

Thoughts on the game… 

"We started off a little rough with some penalties and organizational stuff that we'll clean up. But I thought we came out physical and played hard. ... I like the toughness we show during the week. We've created a standard the last couple of years, and now we're owning it with players holding other players accountable.”

On reserves getting playing time… 

"Every player who goes in needs to perform like a starter. There's no room for error because we're one play away from those guys. At times, I thought we did that really well. ... We've been able to play a lot of players the first three games. But we know a fourth quarter kind of game is coming. ... The only way to get better is to play. We coach them during the week and they think they've got it, but it's different in a game. They can grow from that and they'll be ready when their time comes."

On Missouri… 

"Missouri is really talented. And they're big. They have big offensive linemen, quarterback, tight end, wide receivers ... they're built like an SEC team should be. Playing at their place is never easy. We'll have our work cut out for us."

Jeremiah Holloman, Sophomore, Wide Reciever  

On his breakout performance, with his first career touchdown catch and a team-high 90 yards receiving... 

“It feels good. I mean, competition in the room definitely has brought out the best of me, so that’s really what has gotten me to the level of what I’m at right now, but definitely it feels good.” 

On the chemistry with quarterback Jake Fromm... 

“It’s just the fact that we trust him. He was definitely commanding the offense. He knows what’s going on at all times, and he’s able to relay the messages to us just in case we’re off of it or something like that. All in all, we all just trust him. That’s what it is.” 

 Richard LeCounte, Sophomore, Safety

On the way the defense is solidifying together after three games… 

“I see our defense really making a stand, doing everything we’ve practiced and setting the tone early. Guys are doing their assignments and getting the job done early. It’s a great picture of what our defense is about.” 

On playing alongside veteran DBs Deandre Baker and J.R. Reed... 

“Playing with those guys, they’re very experienced and keep me on my toes. They’re getting me to my spots, us helping each other. Maturing in that secondary, that’s a great thing for us to do.” 

Mecole Hardman, Junior, Wide Receiver 

On how special this season has been for him… 

“It’s been fun. Really, I’m just going out there trying to help our team as much as I can, and make plays when my number is called and go from there. But definitely, I’ve been having fun this season and it can shape out to be a great season." 

On his comfort with the receiver position… 

“It feels good getting the hang of things, but definitely right now I feel more comfortable than I ever have. I’m just trying to keep my confidence level high and just be the best receiver I can be.”

Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill 

Opening Statement 

“I’d like to start off by congratulating Kirby and Georgia. They’re an excellent football team that played really good today. I have a lot of respect for Kirby; he’s one of the good guys in this profession.

As far as us, it’s tough sledding out there. The swallowed us up. They’re bigger than us, faster than us. We couldn’t create any separation at receiver. There were no openings, they just swallowed us up. That’s why they’re ranked where they’re ranked. I’m proud of our team. I told them that in there. Losing stinks. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Georgia or the 130th team in the country, it doesn’t matter, losing stinks. When they hurt, I hurt and I’m proud of that team in there because it was tough sledding today.” 
On the Blue Raiders’ first three games in 2018… 

“Two stinkers and one lover. I loved one of them, I hated the other two. When you play SEC teams, it’s tough, it’s hard and physical. We matched up a hair better with Vanderbilt than with Georgia. When you see their corner, his speed, he comes in there, he’s 6-4, and he barely played till the end of the game. They just swallowed us up. … We’ve got to find a way to get our guys back and to get healthy, so we can get ready for conference play starting up.” 

On what his team got out of Saturday’s game with Georgia… 

“Not a whole lot. We did some good things. We moved the ball at times offensively against their ones. At times defensively, we stopped them and made them punt. So, we did some good things. These games, the overall depth eventually takes its toll on you.” 
Darius Harris, Red-shirt Senior, Linebacker 

On tackling... 

"We made some good tackles and we gave up some big plays and missed tackles. We still can improve on that. There were too many missed tackles and that's a major part especially when you're playing a good team like them."

On playing Georgia... 

"Execution, perfect execution. You go out there, you have to be sound especially when you're at a disadvantage at speed and size. You want to go out there and do everything right. Going into conference you have to practice and do everything right. Everything perfect. I feel like if we do that we have a good chance to win."

Patrick Smith, Red-shirt Senior, Wide Receiver  

On playing one of the top teams in the country... 

"It let us know we have a lot of room for improvement and that we can compete with anybody that we want to. We just have to want to."

Brent Stockstill, Senior, Quarterback  

 On how he thinks they competed... 

"I thought we fought hard and competed. Obviously we hate to lose [but] we kind of knew we were outmatched coming into it. We had to play a perfect game and we got a nice little field position early but we weren't able to capitalize. We did some good things, we moved it a little bit, and we ran it pretty good but that's a really good defense we just played."

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Lighting Up The Scoreboard:
The Dawgs topped Middle Tennessee 49-7 on Saturday, giving Georgia three consecutive wins with at least 40 points. The Dawgs last did that when they started the 2012 season with five straight 40+ point games. Georgia tallied 45 points in the first half, marking the Dawgs’ highest output since scoring 45 versus Troy through the first two quarters in 2014. Georgia won that contest 66-0. Through their first three wins of 2018, the Dawgs are averaging 45.3 ppg. Georgia is now 2-0 all-time against MTSU.

Pounding The Rock: The Dawgs churned up 382 yards (217 rushing, 165 receiving) by halftime as they jumped out to a 42-7 lead. For the game, Georgia finished with 484 total yards (261 rushing, 223 receiving) with a performance that featured a 100-yard rusher during its latest victory. Junior TB Elijah Holyfield had a career-long 66-yard run on the Dawgs’ first possession to set up a touchdown three plays later. Holyfield completed the half with eight carries for a career-high 100 yards. The last back to hit the century mark was Sony Michel (181) and Nick Chubb (145) in the Rose Bowl Game win over Oklahoma last year. Today, sophomore QB Jake Fromm connected with junior receiver Mecole Hardman for a 5-yard touchdown after Holyfield’s longest run. This was Hardman’s team-leading third touchdown catch of the year. Hardman later returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown. He last scored two different ways when he caught a touchdown pass and ran for a touchdown in the CFP National Championship Game against Alabama.

The Dawgs’ seven-play scoring drive went 87 yards. Fromm finished the first half 10-for-12 for 128 yards and three touchdowns, which matches his career high, and completed the game 10-for-12 for 128 yards and 3 TDs. Junior WR Tyler Simmons took a handoff at the beginning of the second quarter a career long 56 yards for his first career touchdown of any kind. This capped a season-long scoring drive of 94 yards, which was six plays and lasted 2:40, and was Georgia’s longest scoring drive since the Dawgs went 98 yards on 11 plays in 6:34 versus Auburn in 2014. Freshman QB Justin Fields led this scoring drive after Fromm played the first two series. Fields finished 6-for-8 for 71 yards and 1 TD passing and 1 TD rushing (15-yarder).

To The House:
Mecole Hardman, who led the SEC in punt returns/yards/avg. last year, returned a punt 70 yards in the second quarter for his first career PR for a touchdown. This gave the Dawgs a 28-0 edge. Isaiah McKenzie was the last Georgia player to return a punt for a score after he went 82 yards versus UL-Lafayette in 2016. Hardman finished with 111 all-purpose yards in the game (90 PR yards, 21 receiving).

Back To Back Picks:
Senior DB Deandre Baker snagged his second interception of the year and in as many games on a 4th-and-9th situation in the opening period. He returned it 26 yards a week after he had a 55-yard return in the win at #24 South Carolina. Baker’s seventh career pick led to a Georgia touchdown. In the second half, Baker forced a fumble that Richard LeCounte scooped up and returned seven yards. Baker finished with 3 tackles, 1 FF and 1 INT.

Firsts: Sophomore WR Jeremiah Holloman hauled in an 11-yard touchdown catch from Fromm to put Georgia up 14-0. This marked Holloman’s first career touchdown and Fromm’s second scoring pass of the half. Holloman later caught a 65-yard pass from Fromm and ended the day with a career-high three catches for 90 yards and a TD. Justin Fields also registered his first TD run on a 15-yard rushing score near the end of the first half. Also of note, senior WR Jayson Stanley caught his first career touchdown on a 9-yard strike from Fields in the third quarter.

Defense Flexes:
Georgia held MTSU to a touchdown through the first two periods and to 169 yards on 34 plays and just six first downs. The Blue Raiders’ score came on a 41-yard receiving touchdown. MTSU was shut out in the second half and finished with 288 total yards on 68 plays. Senior ILB Juwan Taylor led the Dawgs with six stops while sophomore LB Monty Rice had five stops.

Points off Turnovers: Georgia is +3 in Turnover Margin, scoring 21 points off five turnovers on the year. Opponents have forced two turnovers and turned them into no points. Deandre Baker had his second interception of the year and returned it to the MTSU 49. Five plays later, Jeremiah Holloman caught his first career touchdown. In the second half, Baker stripped an MTSU receiver and Richard LeCounte recovered it but Georgia had to eventually punt.

Starters: Freshman Cade Mays started at LT for his first career start. He started in place of sophomore Andrew Thomas who injured his left ankle at South Carolina last week. On defense, sophomores Mark Webb and William Poole both got their first starts at DB.

Captains: Today’s captains were senior Deandre Baker and juniors Riley Ridley and Rodrigo Blankenship.

Dawgs Roll Over Raiders

UGA Sports Communications

Forty-nine Dawg points and a definitive Georgia defense backed a resounding 49-7 victory against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Sanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Dawg offense completed the contest with 484 total yards, including 382 in the first half.

Averaging 45.3 points per game this season, the Dawgs have scored 40-plus points through three consecutive matchups.

Junior tailback Elijah Holyfield led the Dawg run game, becoming the first Georgia running back to record a 100-yard game this season, reaching the mark in the first half.

He was joined by sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm, who threw for an efficient 10-for-12 clip with three touchdowns and 128 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman paced the pass game with 90 yards on three catches, becoming the third different Dawg receiver to do so in as many games.

Senior inside linebacker Juwan Taylor and sophomore inside linebacker Monty Rice led the Georgia defense with six and five tackles apiece. The Blue Raiders were held to 288 yards on 68 plays with one touchdown.

"We started off a little rough with some penalties and organizational stuff that we'll clean up” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “But I thought we came out physical and played hard. ... I like the toughness we show during the week. We've created a standard the last couple of years, and now we're owning it with players holding other players accountable.”

The Dawgs opened Saturday’s contest with a seven-play, 87-yard drive, highlighted by Holyfield’s career-long 66-yard rush, which set Georgia up at the Blue Raiders’ 17-yard line. Three plays later, tight end Charlie Woerner provided a timely block to set up the Fromm-Hardman five-yard connection. Junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman leads the receivers with three touchdowns this season.

At the 6:02 mark, senior defensive back Deandre Baker stepped in front of the intended Blue Raider receiver to snag his second interception of the season, which he returned for 26 yards. The following drive featured 35 yards from junior tailback Brian Herrien on three carries, including a 21-yard rush. To cement the 14-0 lead, Fromm found Holloman in the end zone for his first career touchdown.

To usher in the second quarter, junior wide receiver Tyler Simmons broke free for a career-long 56-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career.

At the 12:23 mark in the second frame, Stockstill connected with Brad Anderson, but an incoming Baker stripped the ball from Anderson’s hands, sending it to sophomore defensive back Richard LeCounte, who returned it for seven yards to the Georgia 29-yard line.

With 7:19 remaining in the second quarter Hardman widened the Georgia lead to 28 on a 70-yard punt return, the first since Isaiah McKenzie in 2016. The Bowman, Georgia native finished the game with 111 all-purpose yards.

Georgia allowed its first points in Sanford Stadium this season in the second quarter with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Stockstill to Patrick Smith.

With 2:14 left in the half, senior wide receiver Riley Ridley capped a 4-play, 74-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown, sneaking in a foot at the edge of the end zone on a pass from Fromm for the 35-7 advantage.

Freshman quarterback Justin Fields sent the Dawgs into intermission with his first rushing touchdown of his career, a 15-yard dash to the end zone. Georgia’s 42 first-half points were the highest output since Troy through the first two quarters in 2014.

With 6:33 left in the third quarter, Georgia tacked on another career-first touchdown with a nine-yard pass from Fromm to senior wide receiver Jayson Stanley in the middle of the end zone.

Up next, the Dawgs head to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Tigers. The matchup is slated for 12 p.m.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, met with media members on Monday to preview the upcoming game against Middle Tennessee. The game is scheduled for Saturday at 7:15 ET on ESPN2.

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

(Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)
Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statements…

"We usually talk about our team in these sessions, but I'd like to take a minute to congratulate the university and President Morehead on the latest U.S. News and World Report of the 13th ranking in public institutions. I think that's pretty special. We sell that hard in recruiting. And anytime you've got a top-15 university, public institution, it sells itself. And that's something that we've been really proud of and I know the university's proud of that stat and continue to climb in those rankings each year.

So really proud of that and with that, I'll move on to MTSU, Middle Tennessee. I've got a lot of respect for their coach, a guy I've known for a long time in this profession. He helped me at a very young age, learning how to recruit on the road. I traveled and recruited some when I was working for Coach Chris Hatcher with Coach Rick Stockstill.

He does a great job. Always had just tremendous respect for the job he's done. He's one of the longest tenured coaches at his school, in the country, having been there, I think, since either '06 or '07. And he does a tremendous job. A lot of respect for him. His son's a quarterback. He's a really good football player. They beat three Power 5 schools in the last six or seven years. And they've got really good athletes, a really good football team and our focus kind of turns to them."

On playing games outside the SEC…

"I've got a lot of respect for these programs. I've got a lot of respect for student-athletes that play at these programs. I think games like these, a lot of times, are an opportunity for their programs to survive and stay alive and financially they're important to some of these programs.

So I have mixed emotions about it when it comes to that. Because I think when you look at the NFL and week in, week out, playing the caliber of opponents they're forced to play it forces parity on more people. And I've said before I've been in favor of, whether it's a nine-game SEC schedule, doesn't matter to me. It's not something that we shy away from.

I think it's good for the fan base to have better games, the home-and-home. I think those things are good for college football. But you have to look at it through two people's perspective and sometimes these programs wouldn't survive. I'm a big advocate for football in general and I think that they need these games to survive financially. Without them, some of these programs may not be able to survive."

On Smart’s evaluation of the pass rush performance…

"We're always looking to improve the pass rush. I think that you're never where you need to be, but that's an area we want to improve. Two things have to happen in pass rush: You have to cover him long enough to rush him; and you also have to stop the run to force them to pass the ball. And we're a run/stop team first. That's what we pride ourselves on, which probably takes a little bit away from the pass rush, to be honest with you. So it's an area that I know since we've arrived we've been pretty good on defense here.

But if you'd say one thing you'd say we've been insufficient in pass rush. You don't get both worlds because you could be good at pass rush and not real good at run defense. So we pride ourselves on that, but it's something we really work on. I think it's really important for these guys not to give the quarterback a lot of time to sit back there because he's really good at it. They also on the other hand know it's hard for them to block some of their guys every down in, down out so they get rid of the ball quick. You have to be careful how many times you overdo the rush because they have an incredible screen game, and the quarterback is a very good decision-maker. He knows where he's going with the ball. And they have really good skill players to get the ball to."

On inserting Cade Mays into the game when Andrew Thomas’ exited due to injury…

"Andrew Thomas's is still an ankle sprain. He'll be out for the day, hopefully be back for the game, but we still don't know, we'll see tomorrow. Today is rehab on it. I know he's been doing some stuff on the treadmill. Hopefully getting back.

Cade, I was excited for Cade as much as I was disappointed for Andrew because Cade's worked hard. He came in mid-year and worked really hard. Biggest reaction I had was I'm glad we practiced the way we did. I'm glad that he has to go against really good players day in, day out so it's not unusual for him. And he did some good things when he went in. I think the overwhelming consent was when he went in that, like, just like took over. A lot had to do with the body blows that occurred before that. But he had some mistakes. He did some things that weren't real good but he did some good things, found positive in it, but also find area for improvement."

On if there was any element of surprise to Cade Mays’ entry when Andrew Thomas left the game…

"Was I surprised? Was I surprised that he went in?…You don't think we talked about that? Don't think we met about that? There's no surprises when you're prepared. So for us that's been talked about long before things happen in the game. Sometimes in the game you make rash decisions and you don't make, in the heat of the moment, the right decision.

So we talk about that every game: This is the first; what happens if he moves, two go down, who is third? You have to do it at every position because in a game things can happen fast. And no surprise that he went in. That was a decision we all made as coaches based on how we practiced. You can't make that decision in the game. You gotta practice the players where they have an opportunity to play."

On Tyler Simmons evolving into a blocker at wide receiver…

"I think physicality is a learned trait that he's learned over the course of time. First of all, he has stature and a body that's 200 pounds. He's physical. He's tough. I mean, basically we're not going to play you if you don't do that. So the reward is I get to play in the game, catch the ball if I block. And he had two -- two really good blocks. Everybody saw the one, but he knocked the guy to the ground early in the game early as well. So he's proven to be a physical blocker. He catches the ball well. He's got good speed. Built like a running back. And if he continues to get better and practice better, he can be a really good player for us."

On educating players on tackling and if it has changed in the last year…

"No. We really haven't. We've never taught them to lead with their head or aim or target for someone else's head. We certainly don't teach that.
We practice a lot thudding, which I call thud, when you wrap up without taking them to the ground. Coach Tucker says it all the time to the defensive guys; it's harder to thud than it is to tackle. When you can go tackle a guy during the game, it's usually easier than thudding. Thudding you have to hit him properly. You gotta wrap up without going to the ground, which is a safer, more practiced way to tackle. It's sometimes harder on our guys in a practice to do the thud than it is to go physically tackle someone to the ground. We always talk about aiming for midsection, aiming for the lower spot and not ever leading with the head. And those are things I know we've always taught, everywhere I've been, we've taught. We didn't teach guys to target. That's important for the game so you don't lose guys."

On the competition at each position…

"As much as ever. I mean, I've got my message set with the team today and it's really about that alone. It's not anything about who we play nor any disrespect for Middle Tennessee. It's totally about us and competing within practice. We've got some really good competitions going on where guys are battling for playing time, guys battling for spots. And the best way to measure that is not against the scout team player, but a good-on-good situation, which every day, including today, we'll do good-on-good situations and try and find out where guys are and continue to earn playing time. I think the only way you develop your team towards the end goal, which is to be as good as you can possibly be by the end of the season is to improve during the season. And that's where I think we can separate ourselves because we can improve during the season. We have enough depth to go against each other and continue to improve and that's the end goal for us.

On the inclement weather this weekend impacting practice…

"First one with the weather, I've seen what's coming. Certainly my thoughts and prayers go out to the people in the South Carolina community and the area that may be hit by it. But right now we don't think it's going to affect us a lot other than wind possibly. And there's not a lot we can do to control that. We'll continue to work on Middle Tennessee and get ready for it."

On Deandre Baker’s interception in the South Carolina game and his ball placement inches before the end zone…

“Obviously I was disappointed that he would do that prior to crossing the goal line. I think it's an effect of not having many opportunities to do that. He had almost the exact same situation in the spring game. And we went back and showed him that and said, hey, you're across the goal line and went across and handled the ball the right way, and he did. He'll get some extra practice doing it today."

On Rodrigo Blankenship as a weapon on special teams…

“He's been incredible, to be honest with you. I think our special teams staff does a tremendous job of making sure he's fresh. He does a tremendous job of taking care of his body. It's shown in the last two games with the power and drive consistently. Most guys wear out as the game goes on, maybe have to kick another kicker, or maybe don't kick him at all, he just continues to pound the ball and does a great job doing it. He's a leader on our team. And he's awesome to work with. I mean, he's become a weapon. And we have to use him as such."

On the heat at the South Carolina game, on the sideline in the sun and how the oxygen tank surfaced…

“I probably wouldn't be the best to talk about that, because I don't really even notice the heat as a coach because I'm not in pads and we're out there in it every day.

I certainly know some of our players, when we go visit with them on the sideline, are using the oxygen tanks. And I think Ron Courson could talk to you more about that. I've been told it's more of a placebo effect -- it's mental more than anything. But we'll supply our players with everything we can to help them be at their best.”

On having a different message or approach last year as opposed to this year… 

“I don't think so. I really think the approach and the deal is that the pats on the back sometimes are not real. The pats on the back are all conditional. And we're not into conditional love, conditional improvement. We want to improve unconditionally; we want to be loved unconditionally. And the way you do that is by trusting and believing in your teammates and getting better. And we're going to try to sell this team today, this week, and every week on getting better, because we can't control all these outside forces. We can't control what other teams do. We can't control what people say. All we can control is how we work; and if the leaders buy into that message and understand that we have to get better to get where we want to go, then we usually can do that.”

On playing two quarterbacks being a trend in college football…

“Yes, I think it's very important to have three quarterbacks on any roster, because when you don't have three, you're a play away all the time. And I think that's no better evidence than in the NFL because those guys usually carry three on the roster and they have emergency guys. But it's become more and more of a trend because I think, A. guys have left more often now. And, B. guys get injured, because they're spread and they're running more. So you've got to have to protect the quarterback and have the ability to have two quarterbacks that can play.

On if the message changes when expectations are met…

“I don't think so. I certainly coach from the beginning whistle to the end whistle exactly the same all the time. I don't think the scoreboard matters. So if the scoreboard doesn't matter, why, if we're down 25, 30, whatever like we were down at Ole' Miss (in 2016), should I be coaching different than if we're up 25, 30 against somebody at home. I just don't see the difference in that, because I believe in what we tell the players, which is playing to that standard, and playing like the scoreboard is not there. So if you coach the same way, then the expectation for the player that goes in, whether you're up or down, is exactly the same.”

On the improvements he would like to see in Demetris Robertson…

“I don't know that Demetris Robertson didn't get on the field earlier. I thought Demetris played a good bit and will continue to. He's going to have to compete in practice. And we'll all want to play the best players here. And those guys are at the top of their game. We'll have a good rotation going. I think right now the wide-out position, we have good depth because we have guys that can do different things- a lot of guys that are really physical, maybe a fast guy, maybe a vertical threat guy. But at the end of the day, when you turn the tape on, the guys that get open are going to be the guys that play.

And South Carolina did a good job in pressing some of our guys. It was a good thing we could run the ball because they had hands on a lot of our wide-outs and creating separation was really important.”

Do you hope to get Justin Fields' work on the game balance...

“I think the important thing for Justin Fields is that he continues to improve. He's worked hard, and we want him to continue to improve as a player. And that's what's going to make our team better. And that's what is important for his future to continue to do that. I would love to get him an opportunity to get into this game.”

Juwan Taylor, Senior, Inside Linebacker

On the heat in the South Carolina game and how prepared the team is to play in those conditions…

“It really starts in our off season workouts. The whole offseason we practice outside, workout outside and run outside. We have been ready for that game.”

On Baker dropping the ball and his reaction…

“It was an immediate reaction. It looked like he dropped the ball behind the goal line, so I just scooped it up just incase.”

On how he has improved through the first two games…

“I would say that the whole defense has improved. Everybody has bought in to what Coach Smart wants us to do. Flying around the field, being relentless and playing really physical.”

On what he knows about Middle Tennessee's offense…

“They have a really good quarterback. He has a really strong arm and he likes to get the ball down the field. They have a lot of offensive weapons.”

Rodrigo Blankenship, Junior, Kicker

On being SEC Special Teams Player of the Week…

“I actually hadn’t found out about that until about 10 minutes ago. It is a great honor to be recognized this week and I just hope that I can continue to perform at a high level for my team.”

On the first time putting on a Georgia uniform and the feelings associated with that moment…

“I think the first time I put on a uniform in practice was 2015 on the first day of camp. I just thought about how I needed to go out and learn as much as I could from Marshall Morgan because he had kicked here before me and had done a phenomenal job. I just wanted to take in everything that I could and try and learn from him.”

On how he's grown and how things have evolved over the past two years…

“I think that everything that has transpired over the past two years has been a result of me working as hard as I can and doing everything in my power to be the best teammate and asset to the team, day in and day out. I think wanting to be the best kicker I can be for my team is what has driven me from the moment I stepped on campus. It has been amazing to be with this team each and every year and to continue to grow.”

On Kevin Butler’s impact…

“He’s awesome. It was incredible to have him with us and to be able to learn from one of the best kickers in college and NFL history. It can never be a bad thing to have the opportunity to learn from someone like that. Having him out there at practice and at games to pick his brain and talk shop with him was an incredible opportunity that all the specialists have had. Some of the things he has imparted on us in terms of technique and mentally training and preparing us for games each week is something we are going to hold onto for a long time.”

Julian Rochester, Junior, Defensive Lineman

On the defensive line’s approach with balance of run and pass…

“We have to be able to be two-way players, because we have to be able to turn it on when we have to play teams that like to pass the ball, but also have to hold the point to stop the run. It is a challenge from the coaches to us to go ahead and make those changes each play so we can get the right pass rush.

On how the pass rush can improve against Middle Tennessee …

“It is a great opportunity to get better since they are a spread offense that passes a lot. And then we play Missouri next week so we have plenty of opportunities to show our pass rush abilities and two weeks to get better at it. They are both air-rated attacks with Drew Lock of Missouri and Brent Stockstill of Middle Tennessee. They can both throw the ball really well so it is a great opportunity and challenge for us.”

On confidence and depth in the offensive line when a player goes down like Andrew Thomas did Saturday…

“Yes, a lot of confidence. No look back, next man up. Andrew (Thomas) is a great player and will get back the best way he can. However, we have no issues when someone else steps in. Cade Mays did really well stepping up. He is a young guy that works really hard, is consistent and is a grinder.”

On improvement in the defense through two games…

“I would say the consistency. We are flying around to the ball, all the young guys are flying around to the ball. I think as a total team defensively, we have been really consistent. That has been the best part.”

Tyler Simmons, Junior, Wide Receiver

On the expected focus on blocking as a wide receiver at Georgia…

“You definitely know. Especially playing in the SEC, with all the short runs that the running backs have, it’s going for six and blocking downfield. It’s definitely something you know you have to do…that’s emphasized around being a receiver at UGA. You know you’re going to come in and make the plays when you’ve got to make the plays, whether it’s catching the ball or blocking. It’s really emphasized.”

On redshirt sophomore Cal transfer Demetris Robertson…
“He's just watched and picked up on everything. We haven’t had to say much to him. He’s silently coming in and coming along. That’s what we like."

On the competition in the wide receivers group…

“It’s going to be a competition everyday in the SEC with any position, especially receiver right now, with how many we have and how much depth we have. When it comes down to who travels, it’s all about who contributes the most on the team as far as special teams, offense and how you’re doing on and off the field.”

On Terry Godwin’s skill set…

“For Terry, of course he has wonderful hands and catches the ball well in traffic. He’s very versatile. I like him in the slot and out wide. A lot of us are just wide-outs, and some are in the slot, but he can go both ways.”