Sunday, October 28, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Head Coach Kirby Smart

On today’s win …

“They have a physical team, and so do we. I am just really proud of our guys. They have worked so hard and dealt with a lot of criticism. They just kept working and played their tails off today in a very physical game against a good Florida team.”

On if it was hard to have two weeks off and listen to criticism …

“Yeah. It’s tough. You have to sit there and listen to that. Kids have to listen to that. Our guys just kept fighting and played really hard.”

On Florida’s quick strike to start the second half …

“We came out, gave up a good a kick return and gave up two plays and they have the lead. It was tough to come back from that, but it shows the resiliency our team has. We have to come out better to start the second half, and that is something we will work on.”

On playing through injuries …

Andrew Thomas came back in and Cade Mays played through some pain and he was just a warrior for us. Kendall Baker played really hard and played through it. I am so proud of these guys and the resilience they showed today.”

On Isaac Nauta’s performance and the stretch of catches at the end of the first half …

“Well, it helped that he was wide open (laughing). Jake Fromm did a great job getting him the ball. They do a good job in two minute. In practice, it makes it hard on our defense sometimes, so we know how well those guys click. That was a big possession right there before the half.”

On goal-line situations …

“It’s very frustrating and disappointing. We are going to get that fixed. We have to be physical to get a yard when we have to and we did not do that today. It’s absolutely uncalled for and we are going to correct that.”

On WR Jeremiah Holloman …

“He played great made big plays. All that kid does is work . He doesn’t complain, he works hard and does what we ask him. He goes out there and plays on special teams and does what we need to do win. Very proud of his performance.”

Jake Fromm, Soph., Quarterback 

On difference from last year’s win…

“Definitely. It was an actually fourth quarter fight. It feels more special. It paid off at the end. Last year was weird because it seemed like we were never on the field, because it went so quick. We were putting points on the board so you can’t really complain. This year it was a fight. We were able to enjoy it and respect it a lot more."

On Florida’s defense…

“They played both. They put guys in the box and in coverage. They did a really good job mixing it up. However, the guys on the outside made plays when they needed to make plays and the guys up front did as well. Our running backs as well. All around our guys were very focused on their skills and what they needed to do to win the game."

On plays to Isaac Nauta before the half…

“They were playing two-deep zone there there was that match-up on that linebacker and obviously Isaac is a really good player. He was winning that match-up so I kept feeding him. It really worked out for us on that drive.”

Monty Rice, Soph., Inside Linebacker

On changes from last week and if there were changes in the second half…

“We practiced in the bye week after LSU to really stop the run and be more physical than the other team. We were able to do that today. We always makes adjustments in the second half, but we just talked about striking the guy in front of you and don’t go one-on-one and we will be alright.”

On winning the turnover battle…

“Jake Fromm came in here and did what he needed to do. The offense protected the football which is the number one thing. Florida was top in the nation in turnovers so we had an emphasis on protecting the ball. Whenever you win the turnover battle, you usually win the game and that is what we did.”

Terry Godwin, Sr., Wide Receiver

On what the win means…

“It says that we have guys that are twos and threes that can go out there when their number is called. This time of game you never know when your number is going to get called so you have to be ready. So that’s why I went over to the offensive line and told them that they have to be ready, because you never know when you get called upon.”

On quarterback Jake Fromm…

“Fromm is an amazing quarterback. He is like a coach out there on the field. He is going to tell you who to block, what defense they are in and what we are going to check to. It is great to have a quarterback like that, because he is going to put you in the right position to make the right plays.” 

On team’s potential…

“It is what we have been saying all year. The potential is there. We have the talent and the effort, we just have to put it all together like we did tonight.”

Tyrique McGhee, Jr., Defensive Back

On fumble forced and turnovers in general…

“The quarterback really fell into me and I just reached it and plugged it out. Coach Smart always emphasizes turnovers and getting the ball off the man so anytime that we can get a turnover early in the game it is important. Also if you can get one when they are backed up, it gives the offense a great opportunity. That was huge. It doesn’t matter what team you face, you need those turnovers.”

On last two weeks…

“It was really just getting back to work. It wasn’t doing anything different like drawing up new plays or anything, but just getting back to what we do best. We needed to just get back to playing grown man football and physical football and I believe we did that tonight."

Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen

Opening Statement… 

“I don’t think we played very well at all. It probably was our worst execution performance of the year and I am really disappointed in that. We will learn as a team on how to play. You get into some big game situations and we have to execute. If you look at what we did in the game, we turned the ball over, we were minus-three in the turnover ratio with two of them coming inside our own 10 yard line. You can’t do that offensively and you aren’t going to win many games doing that. They scored four touchdowns on third down and two of them we had blown coverages on. We had poor execution and as a team, we have to be much cleaner and execute cleaner. If we can do that, we will have the opportunity to become the team we want to become. 

We have a big challenge ahead of us and we will see how our guys respond. We responded to adversity before and responded in a positive manner. We have homecoming next week and three straight games in The Swamp coming up. A lot of football is still left to play for this team and I want to see our guys attack the week with the right attitude, continue to clean up on the mistakes we made in the course of the game and hopefully continue to execute and grow and be a better football team.”

On secondary depth… 

“Two of the best players on our team are our two corners (C.J. Henderson, Marco Wilson). We like to play man coverage, they were both out, and that’s a struggle. All year, we’ve had guys banged up and injured. Next guy has got to step up and go make plays. There are opportunities for people to go do that. We are extremely thin in the secondary being down six or seven guys on the total roster makes it a challenge. We have to look and find people who are ready to take advantage of that opportunity.”

On the goal-line stand… 

“I told the team that there were a lot of things in the course of this game that showed that we could be an excellent football team. We were executing on offense but then we turn the ball over three times or we have missed assignments and we just cannot do that in some of those situations. There were times in the game that we played like the Florida Gators and how we expect to play. The goal-line stand where they had six opportunities to score inside the one yard line and they don’t; That’s what we expect to be. We made some plays but then in other situations we weren’t as clean as we needed to be.”

On losing control of the game late… 

“We had poor execution on our part, which is a huge deal. They have some good players but if we don’t cover a wide-out or fit the gaps or align on the wrong side of the field it hurts us.”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Georgia - Kentucky Kickoff Set

UGA Sports Communications

The Saturday, November 3rd, Southeastern Conference Eastern Division showdown between Georgia and Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time and be televised by CBS.

This will be the Dawgs’ fifth appearance on CBS this season.

Georgia’s all-time record on CBS is 56-40-1.

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Series History/Ranked Matchup: Georgia’s 36-17 win over No. 9 Florida gave the Dawgs their second straight win in the series and now they are 3-3 all—time when both teams are ranked in the top 10. Today was the first top 10 matchup since 2008. The Dawgs, currently ranked No.7, lead the all-time series 52-43-2.

Responding To Deficit: Florida took a 14-13 lead to start the 2nd half with a three-play, 48-yard drive in 1:14. It was capped by a 36-yard TD pass from Feleipe Franks to Freddie Swain with 13:35 left. Georgia responded with a seven-play, 72-yard TD drive capped by a Jake Fromm-to-Jeremiah Holloman12-yard TD completion. It put Georgia back on top 20-14 with 10:33 left in the 3rd quarter. Then after both teams punted on their next possession, Georgia forced its third turnover and turned it into a field goal and a 23-14 lead with 0:07 left in the 3rd quarter.

Scoring Defense: Georgia carried a 13-7 lead to halftime and finished with a 36-17 win. In the first half, Florida ran 34 plays for 159 yards and was held to seven points. UF’s lone TD drive covered 76 yards on 14 plays in 7:04. The Dawgs forced turnovers on Florida’s first two possessions, and they led to seven points. UF finished the game with 275 yards on 58 plays. Georgia’s leading tackler was sophomore WLB Monty Rice who finished with a career-high 11. Rice already tied his career-high with eight in the first half and had a forced fumble. Coming in, Georgia ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense (16.3 points per game).

Fromm Directs Offense: Sophomore QB Jake Fromm finished 17-for-24 for 240 yards and 3 TDs. In the first half, he went 8-for-11 for 97 yards as Georgia built a 13-7 edge. He converted a 3rd-and-13 with a 16-yard TD pass to Jeremiah Holloman for a 10-0 lead with 6:07 left in the 1st quarter. On the final possession of the first half, Fromm threw four straight completions to junior tight end Issac Nauta for 66 yards. Ultimately on that drive, Fromm was 5-for-6 for 75 yards and culminated with a 22-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship and a 13-7 halftime edge.

In the fourth quarter, on a 3rd-and-9, he tossed a 24-yard TD pass to senior Terry Godwin. Then it went for a 2-point conversion, and it failed. Georgia led 29-17 with 8:39 left in the contest. The three TD passes by Fromm ties the Dawg mark in the UF series in the modern era, also done by Aaron Murray (2010), Matt Stafford (2007) and Buck Belue (1980). Georgia came in today averaging 39 points a game while UF was allowing just 16.6.

Rushing Leader Gets The Win Again: For the 13th straight year in the series, the team with the most rushing yards got the victory as Georgia out-gained UF 189 to 170. Junior Elijah Holyfield had a career-high 20 carries for 71 yards while sophomore D’Andre Swift finished with a career-high 104 yards on just 12 carries for an 8.7 average. Swift’s 33-yard TD runs put the game out of reach with 4:29 left as the score made it 36-17.

Blankenship’s Day: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship finished 3-for-3 on field goals (good from 19, 21 and 22 yards) and had 3 PATs and six touch-backs on eight kickoffs. He now has 53 touch-backs on the year, trailing only his record 67 set last season. His final kickoff of the first half was a squib as time expired. Blankenship is now 13-for-15 in field goals this year.

All-Purpose Hardman: Junior Mecole Hardman accounted for 87 all-purpose yards with 10 receiving, 26 punt return yards and 51 kickoff return yards. Also, he downed a punt on the one yard line with 4:11 left in the 3rd quarter.

Points off Turnovers: Georgia scored 10 points off 3 Gator turnovers, while the Gators did not force any Dawg miscues.Georgia is now +5 in Turnover Margin, scoring 48 points off 12 turnovers on the year. UF ranked among the national leaders with a +9 turnover margin and did not force any today.

Sophomore WLB Monty Rice caused a fumble on UF’s first possession, and it was recovered by sophomore RS Richard LeConte and returned 32 yards to the UF 13. It led to a TD as Jake Fromm connected with Jeremiah Holloman on a 16-yard TD on 3rd-and 13 for a 10-0 lead. Then on UF’s 2nd possession, junior Tyrique McGhee notched his 1st interception of the year (2nd of his career) at the UGA 29. It led to a punt. Also, McGhee forced a fumble at the UF 1, and it led to an 18-yard field goal and a 23-14 edge.

For Starters: Senior C Lamont Gaillard started his team-leading 36th straight game while on defense, the team leader in starts is senior DB Deandre Baker now with 29 including a streak of 11 with junior RS J.R. Reed the most consecutive on defense with 23. Sophomore WR Jeremiah Holloman made his first career start as did freshman DL Jordan Davis. Holloman had a career-high two TD receptions.

Captains: The captains were junior WR Riley Ridley and seniors DE Jonathan Ledbetter and C Lamont Gaillard.

Dawgs Throttle Gators

UGA Sports Communications

In front of a capacity crowd at TIAA Bank Field and a nationally televised CBS audience, sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm directed 240 Georgia yards through the air and 189 on the ground, guiding the seventh-ranked Dawgs to a 36-17 victory against the sixth-ranked Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon.

With three touchdowns, Fromm completed 17 of 24 passes for 240 yards. While sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman led the Georgia receivers in point production with two touchdown passes for the first time in his career, junior tight end Isaac Nauta assembled a career-tying five completions from Fromm for 73 yards and 14.6 yards per catch.

Sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift registered a touchdown and his first 100-yard rushing performance on his career, while junior tailback Elijah Holyfield assembled his most attempts at 20 for 71 yards.

The defensive corps forced four turnovers on the game, including a fumble and an interception on the first two Florida possessions. Sophomore Monty Rice headlined the attempt, collecting a career-high 11 stops and a forced fumble that led to Georgia points in the first quarter.

With the 36-17 win, the Dawgs (7-1, 5-1) evened the playing field with Florida (6-2, 4-2) when both teams are in the top-10, bringing the mark to 3-3. Georgia leads the all-time match-up 52-43-2.

“The difference was we got kids with character,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “Everybody questioned these kids because we didn’t play our best game, and all we did was work. Everybody questioned and questioned it. They are tough, physical kids. We still have a long way to go. But we got better today…They played their heart out. I’m so proud of the way they played. I’m proud for the University of Georgia.”

The Georgia run game controlled the first drive for the Dawg offense, split between Holyfield and Swift. Through 12 plays and 71 yards, the pair of tailbacks marched the Dawgs to the Florida 4-yard line, where junior place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship drilled a 21-yard field goal for the 3-0 margin.

Three plays later, sophomore linebacker Monty Rice halted a Jordan Scarlett 12-yard run, instigating a fumble that found sophomore defensive back Richard LeCounte, who ran for 32 yards. Set up in the red zone, the Dawg offense produced a 16-yard touchdown from Fromm to sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman. The Blankenship PAT secured the 10-0 lead headed into the second quarter.

At the 9:57 mark in the second frame, the Gators used 14 plays and 76 yards to cut the Dawg advantage to three with a 1-yard leap into the end zone from redshirt sophomore Feleipe Franks.

After each offense traded possessions twice, Georgia received an additional opportunity with 60 seconds remaining in the half. Sophomore defensive lineman Malik Herring ended the final Florida drive before intermission, forcing an Emory Jones fumble. The ball was recovered by Jones, but pushed the Gators back seven yards to the Florida 29-yard line, where Tommy Townsend punted from twice, due to the first punt’s run-in with a camera wire.

Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Dawgs utilized junior tight end Isaac Nauta on four-straight completions from Fromm on the right side. 66 yards later, Fromm switched the script to junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who used nine yards to place Georgia five ticks from the end zone. With six seconds remaining, Blankenship sent the Dawgs into the break with a 13-7 lead.

For the Gators’ first margin of the game, they opened the second half with a touchdown at the 13:35 mark, but the Dawgs returned with seven points of their own the next drive. A trio of Holyfield rushes prefaced a 35-yard tight end connection from Fromm to Charlie Woerner; a second touchdown to Holloman followed, who secured the back-shoulder throw from Fromm to re-gain the lead at 20-14.

Next, the Dawg defense conducted the first stop of the second half by either team. Georgia was forced to punt, but Hardman placed himself at the 1-yard line, where he caught the punt and positioned the Gators inches from their own end zone. There, Franks fumbled the ball on the first play, forced by junior defensive back Tyrique McGhee and recovered by junior linebacker Tae Crowder.

The Florida defense held the Dawgs to a field goal, executed by Blankenship, before the Gators tacked on their own field goal from freshman Evan McPherson.

The following Georgia drive was defined by a collection of extra-yardage plays: a Riley Ridley 15-yard completion, a Holloman 15-yard completion, a Swift 21-yard rush and a 24-yard Terry Godwin touchdown. A failed two-point conversion froze the score at 29-17.

A three-and-out with lost yardage forced by the Georgia defense set up a 6-play, 66-yard drive, highlighted by a 22-yard Ridley completion and a 33-yard Swift touchdown, which sealed the score at 35-17.

The Dawgs head to Lexington, Kentucky next weekend to face off with the Wildcats.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Series History: With today’s 36-16 loss to #12 LSU, the Tigers take a 17-13-1 edge in the series history that dates back to 1928. This was the 11th meeting where both teams were ranked in the top 25 and LSU now leads that 6-5.

Points off Turnovers: The Dawgs came in today+6 in Turnover Margin with only three turnovers on the year that resulted in no points by the opponents. LSU forced four turnovers and turned them into 13 points.

No Points At The Half: For the first time since the 2016 Auburn game on Nov. 12, Georgia was shut out in the first half. Auburn led 7-0 at the half that day, and the Dawgs rallied back for a 13-7 victory. The Dawgs came in today averaging 42.8 points a game, and at the half, the Dawgs trailed LSU 16-0 and ended with their first loss of the year.

A Look At The Defense: In the first half, LSU built a 16-0 lead. The Tigers ran 45 plays for 246 yards. After forcing LSU to punt on its first drive, the Tigers scored on their next four possessions, getting one TD and three field goals. For the game, the Tigers tallied 475 yards on 81 plays with three touchdowns and five field goals.

Georgia’s leading tacklers with career-highs were freshman DB Tyson Campbell with 11 and senior DE Jonathan Ledbetter had 10. The Dawgs had three sacks in the first half as D’Andre Walker got his team-leading fifth while Tyler Clark and Keyon Richardson split a sack and freshman OLB Robert Beal, Jr.,registered his first.

A Look At Fromm And The Offense: Sophomore QB Jake Fromm came in ranked fourth nationally in passing efficiency but struggled going 5-for-16 for 47 yards in the first half and finished 16-for-34 for 209 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs. In the opening possession of the second half, Fromm went 4-for-5 for 45 yards as the Dawgs managed a field goal. However, the second possession ended with an interception at the UGA 23, and the Tigers turned into a field goal and a 19-3 lead. Georgia answered with its first TD-drive of the contest, going 75 yards on seven plays capped by a 10-yard run by Elijah Holyfield. A two-point try failed so the Dawgs only cut the deficit to 19-9. Junior Riley Ridley (3 rec., 75 yards, 1 TD) caught a 27-yard TD pass to cut the deficit to 29-16 with six minutes left in the contest. In the first half, Georgia’s offense was limited to 32 plays for 124 yards and no points and for the game finished with 16 points on 64 plays with 322 yards.

Another Early Deficit: For the second straight contest, Georgia fell behind after never trailing in the first five games of the year. Today, LSU capped a nine-play, 65-yard drive with a field goal with 9:32 left in the first quarter for a 3-0 edge and led the whole game. Last week, Vanderbilt went up 3-0 in the first quarter and Georgia responded with a one play, 75-yard TD and led the rest of the way. The deficit against the Commodores lasted 15 seconds. Today on its second drive, Georgia drove to the LSU 14 and then attempted a fake field goal. Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship was stopped for a loss of two yards and fumbled on the play. LSU took over at the Georgia 16 and went 84 yards for a TD and a 10-0 advantage. It was the longest TD drive against Georgia this season. Georgia trailed 13-0 with 11:22 left in the first half after a 36-yard field goal capped a 5-play, 53-yard drive. LSU extended its lead to 16-0 with 5:09 remaining after a 39-yard field goal. The last time Georgia attempted a fake field goal was 2014, and it was successful against Georgia Tech, a 28-yard rush by PK Marshall Morgan.

Running Game: The Dawgs finished with 113 yards on 39 carries. In the first half,Georgia’s rushing attack tallied 77 yards on 16 carries. For the game, sophomore D’Andre Swift tallied 72 yards on 12 carries while junior Elijah Holyfield had 56 yards on seven carries.

Blankenship Provides 1st Points: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship went 1-for-1 on field goals. He made a 40-yarder to put Georgia on the board on its first drive of the second half as the Bulldogs then trailed 16-3. He is 10-for-12 in field goals this year including 6-for-7 from a range of 40-49 yards. He had four kickoffs with three touchbacks and squibbed his final one as the Dawgs looked to rally. Also, he was part of an unsuccessful fake field goal attempt.

For Starters On The Line: Senior center Lamont Gaillard started his team-leading 35th straight game while junior DB J.R. Reed leads the defense as he’s made 22nd consecutive starts. Junior Charlie Woerner made his first start of the year and fourth of his career as the Dawgs opened with a two tight end set.

Captains: Today’s captains were seniors Natrez Patrick (ILB), Terry Godwin (WR) and D’Andre Walker (OLB).

Dawgs Fall To LSU

UGA Sports Communications

The second-ranked Dawgs faltered in Death Valley, suffering a 36-16 upset loss to No. 12 LSU in front of a crowd of 102,321 at Tiger Stadium.

Georgia forced a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, but the momentum didn’t matriculate to the rest of the half or game. Despite the Dawgs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) pulling the game within 10 points at the end of the third quarter, the Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC) did not relinquish control as they sealed the game with 17 fourth quarter points. It marks Georgia’s first 20-point loss since losing at Auburn last season, 40-17.

“We didn’t play our best game,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “You have to give LSU credit. They are a great football team. We didn’t do well against their hurry up offense, which caused us to not be able to play as many guys as we normally do. They did a great job of mixing up their play calls with run and pass. Offensively, we had a drought and they capitalized. We didn’t come out physical today. We just have to execute better and get better overall.”

Defensively, Georgia gave up a season-high 475 total yards and 36 points, however the Dawgs forced five LSU field goals inside the Georgia 25-yard line and were on the field for a season-high 33 minutes and 41 seconds. Freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell had a team-high and career-high 11 tackles, while senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter tallied 10 tackles – also a career high.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm went 16-of-34 for 209 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Riley Ridley led the receiving group with three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, which came late in the fourth quarter. On the ground, D’Andre Swift picked up a team-high 72 yards on a dozen attempts, while Elijah Holyfield added 56 yards on seven carries and touchdown.

Georgia trailed 16-0 at the half, putting the Dawgs in the hole that they didn’t overcome. The Dawgs’ most successful first half drive came on its second possession, which spanned 12 plays for 59 yards – all on the ground – however a failed fake field goal attempt halted the Dawgs. At the half, Fromm was 5 for 16 for just 47 passing yards, while most of the production occurred on the ground with Swift tallying 47 yards on seven carries and Holyfield mustering 33 yards on five attempts.

The Dawgs took the opening possession of the third quarter 52 yards on 12 plays, setting up a 40-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal to make it 16-3. After a Fromm interception that gave the Tigers a short field, the Dawgs defense held LSU to its fourth field goal inside Georgia’s 25-yard line.

Holyfield finished off a seven-play 75-yard drive on the ensuing possession with a 10-yard touchdown run to make it a 19-9 game with the failed two-point try. Two plays earlier on a 3rd-and-6, a scrambling Fromm found Swift for an eight-yard pickup. Holyfield followed that up with a 13-yard run that was aided by a pushing offensive line, which set up the touchdown on the next play.

After each team traded punts to start the fourth quarter, LSU capitalized with a touchdown to move ahead 26-9. The Tigers tacked on another field goal off a Georgia special teams turnover, which put LSU well ahead and able to control the clock until the final whistle.

With today’s 36-16 loss to #12 LSU, the Tigers take a 17-13-1 edge in the series history that dates back to 1928. This was the 11th meeting where both teams were ranked in the top 25 and LSU now leads that 6-5.

Georgia has its open date next weekend before traveling to the annual neutral site game against the Florida Gators in Jacksonville, Florida on October 27th at 3:30 p.m.

Monday, October 8, 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 at LSU.

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments …

“We move onto LSU, going to an extremely tough environment to play in, one that I've both experienced as a player and a lot of times as a coach. They have an incredible environment. Their fanbase is really second to none in their atmosphere they create from the time you pull in on the buses to play in the stadium. It's an awesome opportunity for our team to play on a national stage. It's an opportunity for a lot of our guys to play in a venue that a lot of Georgia players never got a chance to play in and some in the future won't get an opportunity to play in. So that part is good. They have a really good football team. I think Coach Ed Orgeron has instilled a lot of toughness in their program. They play extremely physical. The game, you know, Saturday with Florida was extremely physical, a lot of big hits, a lot of contact. It's just the way the SEC is. And you don't get weeks off in the SEC, and it's extremely tough place to play. I think you saw that last week with the teams that played on the road in our conference, and we're going on the road this week. So good thing is we've been on the road twice in our conference, but we're playing a really, really good football team this week in LSU.

To update you on injuries, I'm sure everybody is wanting to know about Solomon Kindley, he has a mild MCL sprain. We think he's going to be able to practice today. So we're hopeful that he gets to play, but I won't really know until I see how he does today. He's been able to run on the treadmill and do some exercise stuff, but was not as significant as we thought in the beginning. That's really it. Devonte Wyatt will be hopefully able to practice today, but I don't know. We'll see. He was able to run over the weekend. With that I'll open it up.”

On if LSU has more of a spread look now on offense than it did in years past …

“It's hard for me to say traditionally because I don't -- there was a brief, what, two, three years where we didn't play them, I didn't play them here. So I don't really know what they were much when they had Matt Canada. I didn't get to see a lot of that tape. We've seen some of it getting ready for them, but obviously they're a little bit different now. They have some signs of being the old, really physical LSU come downhill, hit you right in the mouth. They run power, counter, lead. They do all the traditional fullback offense. But they also have the spread elements, and I think their quarterback does a tremendous job with that. He's a really good athlete. He runs the ball well. They were able to run quarterback runs with him. You could tell that from his transition from Ohio State. He's been able to run the ball. So they have more spread elements, yes, but they still have the traditional hit-you-in-the-mouth offense.”

On playing at LSU in 1998 and his experiences there …

“Atmosphere. Quincy and Champ both playing well and great atmosphere, incredible atmosphere. Of course, I got to coach there a year, so I got to experience that atmosphere there at home. And they have a great fanbase.”

On the upcoming tests …

“Absolutely. I mean I think the tests are coming up. We've got some tough games. We have a bye week after this one, and that's probably coming at a good time because we have a football team that's beat up, dinged up, just like every team in the conference is. You don't get through this conference without being a little sore and a little beat up. But I think that our tests are upcoming. I think we play some good football teams starting this week with what's an extremely physical, well-coached football team, in a tough place to play.”

On LSU QB Joe Burrow and his ability to run …

“It depends on what calls you're calling, what plays you're calling defensively. We certainly have some ways to break the pocket and get guys out of the pocket and make them run. And other guys you want to keep them in the pocket and make them throw the ball from the pocket. But ultimately a lot of that's controlled by how well are they able to run the ball, how much are they throwing it, how are they protecting it. And they've got a lot of different protections; they've got a lot of different run game, probably the most run game we've seen. When you look at the volume on insides, on outsides, on counter power, they've got it all. They've got a lot of different runs, toss, perimeter runs. They do a good job of mixing up the run game. That affects how you're able to play the quarterback. So we'll have to see what all they come with for this game.”

On how hard it is to prepare for the upcoming stretch of games …

“I don't look at it like you guys do. Everybody is talking about this stretch, and I'm looking at it as we've played some good football teams, what I think are good football teams. I think anytime you go on the road in the SEC, it's an adventure, tough environment. We're going to play some good teams coming up, absolutely. It's tough everywhere in the SEC. Go talk to Tennessee and ask them the road they're dealing with. Go talk to LSU; they just played Florida. I mean, there's no time to cry about it. Nobody wants to hear that. You gotta get ready to go play. And that's why you come to the SEC is you want to run the gauntlet of challenging teams, unbelievable atmospheres on the road, and that's what the SEC football is all about. So our team's gotta prepare for that.”

On LSU LB Devin White …

“He's an incredible player. I mean my first experience was recruiting him as a running back and as a linebacker when I was at University of Alabama. We knew how special he was then. And then he flashed several times. I can remember watching the Mississippi State tape last year as we prepared for them. You know, I told Roquan Smith, I said this guy is probably 10 pounds heavier than you but just as fast. And he's an elite player, very good player, arguably one of the best in the conference at all positions. And I don't think people know how dynamic this guy really is, but I think people will find out on Sundays real soon.”

On LSU being one of the most physical teams Georgia has seen this season, in terms of running the ball and the front seven is prepared to take on that challenge …

“They better knuckle up, because it's going to be a physical, tough, hard-nosed football game. They have a big offensive line. They have big fullbacks. They have big tight ends. They have big backs. They have big people, and that's the way LSU is built. They're a physical, tough -- I mean across the board, now, when you look at their wide-outs, their wide-outs are huge. They have big, athletic wide-outs. They have always been that way. That's the tradition of LSU- to have really good wide-outs and be physical and tough, and that's really who they are. So as far as the questions that our defensive line and our defense had, they'll be answered this week for sure when we go out there to play these guys.”

On his memories of being an assistant coach at LSU in 2004 …

“It was an incredible place to coach and recruit. I can remember going to my areas within the state and being very well received. You're really the only major university there in the state within the SEC. So when you go out recruiting, it's not really recruiting as much as it is figuring out who the best players are and go get them.

The atmosphere, like I talked about, I think all their sports teams are incredible, and Baton Rouge is a great place. At the time when I was living there, it was a great place to be, enjoyed it a lot, and have really good memories of a great staff. Being a young coach on that staff was very influential on me to get to be around guys like Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp and obviously Coach Saban and Derek Dooley. There were a lot of good coaches on that staff. So it was a good experience for me.”

On the emotions of coaching against a team you have previous coached for …

“I wouldn't say that there are extra emotions about it. I mean the emotions come from you want your team to play as well as they can for us. It's a game, and regardless of who it's against, that never factors in. For me it doesn't. I'm personally trying to get our team ready to play. None of these kids care that I coached there. It has no effect on them, so I don't think that has a bearing on the game.”

On the Georgia fan base showing up at LSU and leveling out the atmosphere…

"I don't know if level out is the right word. I mean, they're not going to be giving away home tickets, I can promise you that. So our fanbase travels. They've been very passionate. I'm sure we'll have a lot of fans there that may not have tickets that are trying to go, and I think that shows the passion and energy we have within our fanbase, and that's incredible. But when you line up out there between the lines, at the end of the day, it's 11 on 11, and that's what we have to keep it about. They've got tremendous fans. It's one of the loudest places in the country to play. But I don't think our fans will be able to help us when we get inside those lines."

On limiting freshman quarterback Justin Fields’ snaps because of different road environments…

"No. I don't think that has anything to do with it. Justin handles the offense and the communication really well. I think that’ss been more the fact the last two weeks we've been at home. So it's more recent memory than anything else. And he's the right guy to play and he's the right guy to get in there in situations. He continues to grow as a player, he gives us an element we don't have, and certainly has done a good job with the snaps he's gotten."

On how tight ends affect total offense…

"Sometimes it's based on protection, because when the tight ends are out in the passing game, they're not in the protection, and a lot of it has to do with our ability to protect the passer and our ability to run the ball in play action. A lot of the catches the tight ends get come off play action. There are a lot of factors that go into that, that I don't think some people acknowledge. I think it's just about throwing the ball to the tight ends. There's a lot more to it than that."

On LSU sophomore cornerback Greedy Williams’ play and similarities to Georgia senior defensive back Deandre Baker …

“He's a really talented player. He's long, he's athletic. He's able to twist and contort, play the ball in the air really well. I'd say there probably are some similarities between him and our guys and D-Bake. He's been a really good player already and done a great job for them. He kind of takes care of one side of the ball and shuts down a wideout each game. He’s a talented guy. They've traditionally had really good secondary players."

On freshman quarterback Justin Fields taking hits in recent games…

"I think if you look closely, so has Jake Fromm. Jake took some shots in the last game. They both did. So number one, we have to protect better, but they also both have to know when they're in vulnerable positions, meaning when they're getting pressured and they're not protected, they have to be ready to get rid of the ball. So that goes on both kids to try and not take the shots, and then ultimately in this game sometimes you're protected and you still get shot, because the offensive line doesn't win for you in front of you. As far as Justin, I thought he did a good job in the last game. That was something he really did on his own, made a decision to slide. He made a good run, and it was a good decision, so it shows that he's learning and maturing when it comes to that. We still want him to be a weapon for us, and he can do that when he runs, but he has to protect himself as well, which he's done a good job with."

Isaac Nauta, Junior, Tightend

On playing in an environment like Tiger Stadium…

“From everything I’ve heard, it’s supposed to be an electric place to play in and they’ve really got the home field advantage. They’ve got a great fan base and I’ve heard it’s a crazy environment. I’m ready to see what it’s like.”

On preparing to play in that type of environment…

“I tell myself to stay composed. You can’t let the crowd get to you in those moments and you’ve got to stay on top of your assignments and know what you’ve got to do throughout the week in preparation to make sure when you can’t hear when you’re in there, you still know how to communicate. We work on it in practice throughout the week, making crowd noise on the speakers and try to get used to being in that environment.”

On preparing for a stretch ahead of four-straight ranked SEC opponents…

“Every week, the team gets better, they get more experience. Obviously, we’ve got a tough stretch up ahead with a lot of good opponents, but our preparation’s not going to change. If anything, we’re going to push harder because we know the competition’s going to get better. It’s exciting knowing you’re going to go into some of these big games and that’s what you want to be a part of being a football player.”

On being tested up to this point…

“I think we’ve been tested. We believe that some of the best competition we’re going to play is in practice. We’ve got some big games coming up, they’re teams we’ve played before. Being an older guy, I’ve played a lot of these guys so I know what to expect and I know a lot of these teams are ready to get another shot at us, especially. I think we’re going to prepare well and we’re excited to get after some of these teams.”

Terry Godwin, Senior, Wide Receiver

On significance of this game…

“To us it is a big game, because it is the next game. We don’t look at it like how it is going to help us or hurt us down the road. We look at it as we have to go out there and play Georgia football regardless.”

On how the crowd can help especially looking back at Notre Dame…

“The game at Notre Dame was a great atmosphere. It was awesome that our fan base traveled all the way out there. It means a lot. It goes to show how much dedication they put in and how much they mean to us. It was an amazing atmosphere.”

On traveling to LSU…

“Of the guys that have been there on our staff, they’ve said that it is just going to be a great environment. It will be a hard-nosed game and this is what you come to the SEC for. It is games like this. It will be a great game.”

On upcoming tough schedule…

“We just know that from this point going forward we need to be on our ‘A’ game, because this is our meat of our schedule. We just have to be Georgia football and be who we are…We haven’t played our best yet.”

Jonathan Ledbetter, Senior, Defensive End

On Coach Smart’s challenge to the defensive front for the upcoming game…

“Personally, I like that. He essentially is putting the game in our hands. We just have to come out and be physical. It is going to be a tough game. It will definitely be a fourth quarter game. They have a great football team. We are excited to tackle the challenge like always…This is my kind of football game. It is tough, it is physical. That is what you love to see in SEC football and it will be like that on Saturday.”

On LSU’s downhill offense …

“That is just what you are seeing anywhere in the SEC. The SEC is always about running the football, but they are trying to spread out the offense to have more abilities and more plays. It spreads defenses out and creates more running holes. However, it always gets back to running the ball though.”

On differences in preparation in tough stretch in schedule…

“Honestly, it is just making sure everyone is healthy. We are getting into the point in the season when everyone is a little banged up, not necessarily hurt, but just bruised up. The bodies are just getting some wear and tear, so we just have to make sure that we are getting treatment, getting into the cold tub and getting your legs back. These are tough games and sometimes it means playing more snaps. We don’t know how the ball possession will be so you just have to stay ready. The practices are still physical, you aren’t changing anything there. Outside of that the preparation stays the same, because you want to continue playing the same way.”

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart 

Thoughts on the game… 

“We played sloppy and I was disappointed with the way we played. It’s sad when you have undisciplined penalties. We’re trying to teach our team a lesson – you don’t beat good football teams having those errors. We did a few good things, too, and I don’t want to overshadow that. We ran the ball against a team that said, ‘You’re not going to run on us.’ But we’ve got to continue to improve.”

On how to fix penalties … 

“It starts with discipline. It starts with tying your shoes before practice, being on time for practice, being dressed properly, following the rules and regulations. When you do those things, you don’t have penalties.” 

On quarterbacks Jake Fromm and Justin Fields… 

“Both kids continue to grow. For our offense, they add dimensions that we need. They’re both good players.” 

On LSU … 

“LSU has a great program and a physical team. They are coming off a tough loss to Florida, so they will be ready to bounce back. Their season will be at stake. We’ll have to bow our back and be ready to play a good football team. It’s always physical when you play LSU.” 

On performing better in the second half … 

“They were a little more tired. When you start the game, their cleats are buried in the dirt and they’re harder to move. We also didn’t execute as well, so were they stopping us or were we stopping us?”

Terry Godwin, Senior, Wide Receiver

On the offensive performance, which included his first touchdown catch of 2018, a 75-yard strike from Jake Fromm in the first quarter... 

“As a receiver it felt good to get your first touchdown, especially being in Sanford Stadium. It wasn’t our best game, but we got more things to improve on.” 

On offensive tempo, particularly the two-minute drill to score at the end of the first half... 

“That drive was big because that was our first chance tonight that we got to work on our two-minute drill, and it paid off. We practice that every day after practice, and we finally got it tonight. Every guy was on their p’s and q’s. That helped us out.” 

Jonathan Ledbetter, Senior, Defensive End

On the excitement for the LSU game... 

“We just talked about that, too. I’m really excited. I’ve never been down there and I don’t think anybody on this team has had the opportunity to go in their stadium and play a good game of football. We’re going to go in tomorrow, break down the film, start on them and just keep putting our feet in the right direction.” 

Riley Ridley, Junior, Wide Receiver 

On the keys for preparing to play Vanderbilt… 

“It was composure. It was discipline. It was toughness. That’s what this team is made of: those three things. We’ve got a lot of things to work on and we just look forward to doing it.” 

On the emphasis on passing with 341 net yards through the air… 

“As a receiver, it’s always good to have the passing game going, but you’ve got to have the run game to be balanced and beat the teams down the trail. We’ve got a lot to work on.”

Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason 

Opening statement … 

“First I want to congratulate Georgia. They’re a strong team in all phases. They play hard, they don’t make a lot of mistakes. I thought tonight, things really had more to do with us than with Georgia. I thought we did a solid job in the first half. … 

For us, we knew the margin for error was slim. … 

I told some people, I believe that this football team has got some good players. We’ve got some ones and some threes but right now, we don’t quite have a two unit. That shows at times. 

As I looked at the first half, I thought we allowed Jake Fromm to get hot just before half. I thought we played a good quarter and 12 minutes of football and then we take maybe three minutes and allow him to get hot. I thought our defense just wore down in the second half. I think we started it right, but we just didn’t have enough juice or enough energy. As I look at it, I learned a lot about this football team. They came out and competed the right way. It’s not what we wanted. We know where we have to go from here. 

Really sloppy football on both sides tonight. 14 penalties by us, 15 penalties by them. That’s not the type of football we want to play and it’s not winning football when you’re on the road. The winning team can do that, the losing team cannot do that so with that being the case, we have to fix that. 

Overall, I’m not worried or deterred. I’ve been here before. What I do know, is I’ve got something to work with. I just have to make sure I can fine-tune it as we get ready to move past this game and move on to Florida. 

Again, my hat off to Georgia. They’re a really good football team. They made plays when they needed to. … 

I told them in the locker room, we’ve got to turn around fast and clean it up and not let this one affect us next week. We’ve got to play our best ball next week."

On QB Kyle Shurmur’s play on the night… 

“A bright spot is he didn’t turn the ball over. Obviously, you think you have a chance to stay in the game if you don’t turn the ball over and that’s partially why we were in the game for the first half because we didn’t turn the ball over. A lot is on his plate, he’s got to get it right. … I thought Kyle handled himself the right way. I know frustration set in late but for the most part, he did exactly what we needed.”

Kyle Shurmur, Senior, Quarterback 

On not finishing in the end zone... 

"You know I think there were some times where we moved the ball pretty well. But we have to finish and it doesn't mean anything unless you finish with points. Seven is better than three but we have to do a better job of finishing there. That definitely impacted the game.”

On the game... 

"I think there's a lot of good and we're going to take the good and move forward. Bottom line we have the privilege to be out here and play the game and compete and go out and try and win. We're not going to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves that we lost. The fact of the matter is we have six games guaranteed left to play football. We're going to get back work and move forward."

Jordan Griffin, Senior, Linebacker 

On the defensive injuries... 

"We never talk about injuries as a defense. It's always 'next person step up' mentality. Those guys get the same amount of reps so we're not using injuries as any type of excuse for this game."

LaDarius Wiley, Graduate, Safety 

On the defensive injury concerns... 

"We recruit guys so they can play and we believe in our guys on defense. If we put them on the field we know that they're prepared to play. That's our mentality."

On having half the season over... 

"It's a new season, that's all there is to it. Next week we start the season over."

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Dawgs Dominate Dores

UGA Sports Communications

The second-ranked Dawgs remained perfect with a 41-13 rout of the Vanderbilt Commodores at Sanford Stadium on Saturday night.

Five different Dawgs (6-0, 3-0) produced touchdowns, three through the air from sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm (17-for-23, 276 yards) and two on the ground from sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift and senior tailback Brian Herrien.

Junior wide receiver Riley Ridley led eight different Georgia targets with five receptions, 57 yards and a touchdown, while junior Elijah Holyfield paced the Dawg rushers – who collected a total of 219 yards as a group – with six carries on 64 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore defensive back Richard LeCounte supplied six solo stops for the Dawg defense, who limited the Commodores to two field goals until the final seconds of the game. Freshman inside linebacker Channing Tindall also provided five tackles on the night.

“We ran the ball against a team that said, ‘You’re not going to run on us,’” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “But we’ve got to continue to improve…It starts with discipline. It starts with tying your shoes before practice, being on time for practice, being dressed properly, following the rules and regulations.”

At the 10:30 mark in the opening period, Vanderbilt became the first team to lead against the Dawgs this season, using a 25-yard field goal to cap a five-play, 50-yard scoring drive.

Following a Rodrigo Blankenship touchback, the Dawgs used one play to respond: Fromm found Godwin for a 75-yard touchdown, finalized with a five-yard shake-off of two Commodore defenders. A Blankenship PAT ensured a 7-3 margin.

Through the second quarter, the defense supplied a consistent source of pressure with two forced fumbles from junior inside linebacker Tae Crowder and LeCounte, despite both finding Commodores for the recoveries. The Dawg defense culminated at the 10:35 mark in the second quarter, when a 12-play, 81-yard Vanderbilt drive was halted at the Georgia 14-yard line on a failed fourth-down attempt.

With the Dawg offense back in possession, Holyfield settled an 8-play, 86-yard drive with an airborne, horizontal dive into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown run and the 14-3 lead.

The Commodores tacked on another field goal with 2:18 remaining in the first half, but the Dawg defense held the Vanderbilt offensive unit scoreless until the final seven seconds of the game.

Before the Dawgs headed into the half, Fromm used junior tight end Isaac Nauta, junior wide receivers Mecole Hardman and Ridley to march to the Vanderbilt 10-yard line. Ridley reined in a 10-yard touchdown, keeping one foot in, to send Georgia into intermission with a 21-6 advantage.

Receiving the ball in the second half, the Dawgs opened the frame with an 8-play, 75-yard trudge to the Vanderbilt end zone, finalized by a 35-yard D’Andre Swift explosion past Commodore defenders for the touchdown and 28-6 score.

Blankenship used his 53-yarder to make the game 31-6, before Herrien, flanked by the Georgia offensive line, fought for the touchdown after dropping and recovering the ball for the 38-6 clip, complete with a Blankenship extra point.

Blankenship added his second field goal of the day for added insurance before the Commodores produced a final touchdown as the final seconds on the clock winded down.

Next, the Dawgs head to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a matchup with LSU. The contest is slated for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Quick Strike Tonight: Georgia posted a 41-13 win to run its record to 6-0 (4-0 SEC). It marks the 12th time in school history that Georgia has raced out to a 6-0 start, and it’s the first time the Dawgs have done it in back-to-back seasons. The 2017 team started out 9-0. Tonight, the Dawgs had touchdown drives of 0:15 (one play, 75 yards), 2:46 (eight plays, 86 yards), 1:04 (six plays, 75 yards), 3:15 (eight plays, 75 yards) and 1:30 (three plays, 56 yards). Vanderbilt ran 59 plays for 321 yards while Georgia had 65 plays for 560 yards. The Dawgs have scored at least 38 points in five of their six wins this year. Georgia’s defense came in allowing just 13.0 points a game.

Efficient Fromm: Sophomore QB Jake Fromm finished 17-for-23 for 276 yards and tied his career high with three touchdown passes to three different players in three quarters of play. Fromm completed passes to seven different Dawgs and had touchdowns to senior WR Terry Godwin (75-yarder), junior WR Riley Ridley (10-yarder) and sophomore TB D’Andre Swift (35-yarder). Swift had four catches for 49 yards. His score was the second receiving touchdown of his career and the first since a 5-yard reception at Vanderbilt in 2017. Ridley finished with a team-high five catches for 57 yards while Godwin had two catches for 95 yards. True freshman QB Justin Fields completed the game 3-for-6 for 53 yards and rushed for 18 yards on four carries. True freshman QB Matthew Downing saw action in the fourth quarter, going 1-for-2 for 12 yards

Trailing…Briefly: Vanderbilt kicked a 25-yard field goal at the 10:30 mark in the opening period to take a 3-0 lead on a five-play, 50-yard scoring drive. This marked the first time the Dawgs had trailed all year. Following a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Fromm connected with Terry Godwin for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive, which marked the longest passing play of the 2018 season thus far. This was a career-long catch for Godwin and the longest for the Dawgs since Fromm connected with Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard score in the 2018 CFP National Championship versus Alabama. Georgia outscored Vanderbilt 17-0 in the third quarter and the Commodores final TD came with two seconds left in the contest.

Series History and Homecoming: With tonight’s 41-6 victory, Georgia now leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt 57-20-2 including 21-4 when it’s Homecoming. Overall, Georgia is 77-18-2 in Homecoming contests.

Red Zone Stop Turns Into Points: While the Commodores made the best out of their first trip to the Red Zone, Georgia’s defense held Vanderbilt scoreless on their second trip to the Red Zone. The Dawgs stalled a drive that started on Vanderbilt’s 5-yard line by stopping the Commodores on the Georgia 14-yard line during a 4th-and-1 situation. This was the Dawgs’ third Red Zone stop of the year. Following that stop, Georgia marched 86 yards down the field and capped the eight-play drive with a 24-yard touchdown run from junior TB Elijah Holyfield. Sophomore Richard LeCounte led the Dawgs with six tackles and a forced fumble, freshman ILB Channing Tindall had a career-high five stops. Senior ILB Natrez Patrick had four stops, including a tackle for loss.

Blankenship Sets PAT Record, Connects From Deep: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship connected on five extra points to make him 32-for-32 on the year and to give him 121 straight. This topped Blair Walsh’s school record of 119. Blankenship also had touchbacks on seven of eight kickoffs, giving him 44 on the year and 132 in his career. In the second half, Blankenship drilled a 53-yard field goal to put Georgia up 31-6. He is now 3-for-4 from 50+ in his career. This kick was the longest for Blankenship since he sent a career-long 55 yarder through the uprights versus Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game. He added a 28-yarder in the fourth quarter. He is 9-for-11 on field goals.

Group Effort In The Ground Game: Georgia gained 219 yards on the ground in 34 carries for a 6.4 average. Junior Elijah Holyfield led the group with 64 yards on six carries (10.7 avg.) with one TD while freshman James Cook had seven carries for 56 yards (8.0 avg.) while sophomore D’Andre Swift had seven for 50 yards (7.1 avg.).

Penalties: Georgia had 13 penalties for 115 yards while Vanderbilt was flagged nine times for 69 yards.

Injuries: Redshirt sophomore LG Solomon Kindley went down in the first quarter with a right knee injury. True freshman Trey Hill came in for Kindley. This is the third starting offensive lineman for the Dawgs that has gone down at some point this year (sophomore LT Andrew Thomas, redshirt sophomore RG Ben Cleveland. Thomas has returned to the lineup while Cleveland is still out.

Homecoming King & Queen: Senior Avalon Kandrac who is from Roswell and majoring in Biological Engineering was crowned the 2018 Homecoming queen. Senior Chip Chambers who is from Watkinsville and majoring in Biology and Economics was crowned this year’s Homecoming king.

Captains: Tonight’s captains were juniors Elijah Holyfield and David Marshall and sophomore Andrew Thomas.

Monday, October 1, 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 Vanderbilt.

Smart and the Dawgs offered the following comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments …

“We're excited to move on to Vandy, to a homecoming opportunity in Athens. It's always a big deal to have your fanbase, your alumni base, former players, alumni coming back to homecoming. I know it's special to a lot of people, and we need our fanbase to turn out. Looks like we're finally going to get an opportunity at a night game. So we certainly expect the atmosphere in our stadium to be really good. We should get some cooler weather, I hope, by that time as well.

As far as the injury front goes, the only guy of note I would think would be Tyler Simmons. We're hopeful to get him back. He ran all last week. He's going to practice today. Probably going to have to have a harness for his shoulder, which may limit him some, but we hope to get him back for this week.

With that I'll open it up if there's anything else anybody wants to ask about."

On how they have handled the quarterback situation differently in each SEC game…

"I think the most important thing is that each quarterback is developing and getting better, because people forget that Jake Fromm is a sophomore, and he's played in a lot of football games. He has a lot of experience with the extra games he was able to play last year, but both of these guys are developing and need work, and we get them tons of reps in practice. I think that's the most important thing- that we grow. And you have to understand that the plan is there is no plan means that we don't have a plan going into the game. You can't have a plan, because we don't know how the game is going to go. That doesn't mean we don't have a plan in practice and it doesn't mean we don't get certain reps for certain guys. If you sit here and think that we know exactly when Justin Fields is going to go in or when Jake Fromm is going to go in going into the game or the third series of the fourth snap in the second quarter, the game doesn't work like that. It just doesn't work like that. We don't know how they're going to play us, what front they're going to play us in, what pressures they're going to run. So a lot of that is determined in game, and that's why we practice."

On goals of having Jake Fromm become more mobile in the pocket…
"Yeah, the goal is to protect the ball. Jake is one of the best I've seen at management in the pocket, movement in the pocket. There have been a couple of times this year where he's had nowhere to go, and one of those caused fumbles the other day. There was a free guy coming right up the middle; he couldn't step up real well. But we work really hard on that. We actually do more than any place I've ever been where we have pass rush in practice so that the quarterback has to move in the pocket. Both quarterbacks are working hard on that.

The number one thing Jake has to do is protect the ball. What we can't have is the ball on the ground. But the number one thing we have to do is protect the quarterback, and that comes from a lot of people. What Jake's good at is keeping his eyes down field and making sure that he's looking at the coverage and knowing where to go with the ball. It's hard to look at two things sometimes. But we do think he has to protect it well, and he'll be the first to recognize that if he gets an opportunity to run. Jake is a viable runner. He ran for a lot of things last year. He hasn't had that opportunity and instinctively hasn't taken off yet."

On the team being where he thought they would be heading into October….

"I get that question a lot. Each week I answer it the same. It's extremely hypothetical because I don't think you can say where I thought they would be. We're a work in progress. We're a child trying to learn to walk and then run, then sprint. And we're not sprinting. I don't know if we're jogging yet. I don't know where we are on the continuum. But we have to improve. And I don't think any coach in the country could tell you right now that they don't need to improve. We certainly have some areas to work on and get better at. We had those same concerns and same areas for me last year. It's just a different team, different spots, and we have to continue to work and get better."

On what Justin Fields brings to the offense with his ability to make plays with his feet…

“He brings the dynamic of being able to run and pass that is very valuable. He's a big physical runner, good passer. He's a good football player."

On the camaraderie between the quarterbacks… 

"I think it's a bigger deal made by you guys than by them. I think when you talk about Jake Fromm and Justin Fields, you're talking about two huge Georgia fans that love Georgia and love the University of Georgia. They love their teammates. They want what's best for the team, and they're both competitors. The one quality that they both have is, number one, they're both good leaders, but they're really good competitors, and I don't think they would be where they are in their careers if they were not great competitors. What do great competitors want? Number one, they want to win. Number two, they want to do well. But when you're in a team format, sometimes doing well may mean the combination of those two guys, and Jake continues to improve and do good things, and so does Justin. That's our goal. That's our goal for our right tackle and our left tackle. That's our goal for whoever our "Mike" linebacker is going to be on third down. We have to get better. Both of those guys are working at that, and they're doing it with a team goal in mind."

On his thoughts of Cade Mays’ ability to play two types of positions on both the left and right side…

"I think Cade is a very intelligent football player. He's very instinctive. He's able to go from the left to the right side without being left-hand dominant or right-hand dominant. He picks things up. I thought after watching the tape he played probably more physical in the game than I thought he was playing in the game. When you watch the tape, he had some movement, did some good things. We have to continue to sure up our pass protection. Those kids played hard up front, and they had more movement early in the game than I thought they did and did some good things early in the game."

On the progress of Brian Herrien this season and using him in 3rd-and-1, 4th-and-1- short yardage situations…

"I don't know that it would be a progression for Brian Herrien, because Brian's been really consistent since being here, in my opinion. You guys only get to see the finished product on the field, and you go off of results and stats, where I'm going off the body of work for two springs where I've seen this guy. The run he made where he spun off a tackler, that's a common occurrence in spring practice. He makes guys miss in the hole. He's quick. Brian's a good runner. I don't think it's been a progression. I think it's been since he's got here, he's a good football player. He's really been an asset for our team on special teams. He made the plays that counted the other day. He provided a spark and juice that sometimes he doesn't get an opportunity to because he's on the sideline. And when he's out there, he did a good job, and I thought he took advantage of his opportunities. I wish he had got to cash that touchdown in, but he had run the ball several times in a row and we wanted to change it up, and it probably paid off to get a fresh runner in there."

On the impact of transfers Jay Hayes and Demetris Robertson…

“They are both good players, both growing, getting better. Both competing. I think both of them are good football players. I think they continue to get better and continue to work hard. They’re part of a team that's bigger than their individual goals and they're both improving. "D Rob” (Demetris Robertson) is a little different where he came in kind of late, didn't get the summer practices, didn't get to work out with the team, and he's still learning a lot of things.

You don't see them as contributors. I do. I see them as, in my opinion, major contributors, because what they do in special teams and what they do in practice helps develop our team. I don't know what the expectation would be. For me it is to get the best we can out of those guys and for them to help us and also achieve their goals. I think both of those guys are working really hard, doing good things for us."

On the defensive front and the physicality against Tennessee…

"I thought they played hard, didn't get moved around as much. It probably wasn't as big of offensive line as they faced the previous week, didn't run the same type plays. It was a very different style of game than the previous week. But they answered the call as far as physicality and played hard, had some more tackles for loss and played with more toughness and effort. Those are the things that we want to do."

On the opponent’s ability to test Georgia deep…

"Yeah, I think anybody can do it. It's a choice that their offensive coordinator has to make, shots that they want to take down the field. I don't think it's a matter that Tennessee couldn't do it or South Carolina couldn't. All of them can do it. They can match protect and throw the ball deep; they can free release and throw the ball deep. Kyle (Shurmur) does a great job of doing that. He has a tremendous receiving corps. He's very intelligent. He understands the system he plays in. He's able to know what coverage you're in. He knows where to go with the ball. He knows what matchups are right. He's a really good quarterback that understands the game and one of the many in the SEC now that are grown up. Two years ago all these guys we were playing against were freshmen. Now they're all older and better players, but certainly he'll be able to test us deep because they have the capability of doing that.”

On what senior OLB D’Andre Walker, who has three forced fumbles this season, brings to the team…

"D'Andre has been really consistent during games, playing with effort and toughness. He plays really hard. And I think the sacks turning into fumbles are critical because the most vulnerable position there is, is when you're getting sacked. Just like we see with our guys, you don't see them coming all the time. You have to keep your eyes down field. If you're looking at the rusher to protect the ball, then you're probably not going to be a very good passer, and D'Andre is taking advantage of quarterbacks' eyes down field and being very disruptive and causing problems. We have to get more guys to produce like D'Andre has. He's played really well so far."

On the 17-16 Vanderbilt win at Sanford in Smart’s first year…

"I don't think it has any effect on this game being two years ago. They've got some of the same players. We've got some of the same players. The biggest thing looking back was out-gain – I mean, special teams killed us. We had a lot of special teams errors. We stepped out on the one- or two- yard line at the kickoff return to open the game to – I don't know – inside the five. We just did not play well, especially on special teams. We out-gained them, but didn't score points, didn't give up many yards on defense and gave up points. And it was a great indicator of why special teams matter, because when you give up over I think 250 maybe yards special teams, you've got a chance of losing the game. Every 100 yards is usually seven points, and we didn't play really well."

On senior defensive back Deandre Baker…

"He's a very experienced player, played a lot of football around here. And he's a competitor. He rises to the moment, probably plays better in games than he does in practice. And plays really hard. He understands our system. He understands offensive football. And he's playing really hard right now. He's tackling better than he has in the past. We gotta continue to get that out of him, and we need him to be a bigger influence on some of the other DBs, a positive influence on them, whether it's Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes, Mark Webb or Ameer Speed. He can help affect those guys."

On sophomore Monty Rice’s effect at inside linebacker, after a game under his belt following injury…

"He seemed great. I thought he practiced well last week, and he got better as the week went along and played hard in the game. He played really physical, like he always does. And he runs hard to the ball. He's very intelligent. I think more than anything the boost he gave us was, number one, a confidence that I don't have to play as many snaps if I'm not him, and also, the confidence for the defensive line that I know Monty is going to make the right call and put us in the right defense when he gets an opportunity to. And he's a knock-back tackler, which Missouri, right, wrong or indifferent, I don't know if it had anything to do with Monty not being out there, we didn't have any knock-back tackles. We had more knock-back tackles in this game."

On sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Thomas returning post-injury…

"I thought Andrew was good. He was physical at the point of attack. He was able to push off that ankle for the first time and felt good about pushing off. I think he's still getting back comfortable into his pass (protection). I think he had maybe one time that a guy – he tried to jump him and the guy got him inside. But he recovers well. He plays hard. He's one of our best leaders. I thought he was as close to himself as he could have been, and hopefully he continues to improve this week and getting back to his old self.

On the need for improvement in pass protection…

"I don't know that it's an individual problem. I think it's a total effect. I mean we had a couple good pressures against us against Middle Tennessee. Again, we saw Isaac Nauta in a one-on-one situation that he lost, and then Isaiah Wilson gave up one on the other side. And we just have to win our one-on-one battles. It's no different than a corner getting beat by a receiver. So what do you do? You go back to the drawing board and you go get better. You don't scheme up some thing, because at the end of the day there's going to be four or five one-on-one opportunities. You gotta win your one-on-ones, and our guys, we're going to challenge them to do that. And we know that when we protect the passer, we're really efficient. We're an efficient team. We can make big plays. We've got explosive players; we have to win our one-on-one battles, because if we're good in the run game, good in play action and we can convert on third down, you're hard to stop. But at the end of the day a lot of the times we've stopped ourselves more than somebody's stopped us. And we'll work hard on it and try to get better at it.

On the secondary and ‘coverage sacks’…

"I don't know if I would call it that. I think we got beat in protection several times (against Tennessee). I don't know that it was as much coverage as it was the protection. We just have to do a good job blocking them up front. But we're focused on Vandy and getting better right now. That's what we're really worried about."

On punting…

"I wouldn't say that there are a lot of issues there. I think that we're better than we were two years ago, and we've got a guy (Jake Camarda) that I think is a talented punter, who's being broken in, and he's also been in a lot of intermediate sky positions where he hits a 60-yarder, but the net is not there. And I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I think comparing it to last year is probably unfair from the perspective of Cam (Nizialek), who had situations where he was able to pen them in. And Jake hasn't had a lot of those. He's had a lot of these boom -- that he wasn't in sky territory that he boomed into the end zone. But he has to punt more consistently, and he has to hit his spot more consistently. But I'm very pleased, and our coverage unit had three guys that were drafted in the first two rounds on it, and those guys are gone. So as much as anything, you gotta cover the punt as good as you gotta kick it.

On who’s at fault for the first Tennessee touchdown, and if freshman defensive back Campbell was having a ’trial by fire’ year…
"I don't really blame that on anybody. That was not Tyson Campbell's fault, no. It was more of a breakdown in assignment more than anything. But nobody really got beat because nobody had the guy. That's why he was wide open. So it was more of a lack of execution of assignment, not one guy getting beat. But I'm not into blaming people. It's on us as coaches. We gotta do a better job of getting them lined up and helping them. But as far as him being at the other corner, trial-by-fire, whatever you call it. Some teams throw at Bake (Deandre Baker). I mean Bake's probably been targeted almost as much as Tyson has. I think coverage dictates where the ball goes more than who is there. I think you guys look at it as Deandre Baker is here, they can't throw it there. That's not the case. I think it's if you're in this coverage, they're going to throw the ball here; if you're in this coverage, they're going to throw the ball here, so the quarterback gets dictated where he's going to throw the ball by coverage, not by person more than anything."

On sharing and limiting carries in the Georgia backfield…

"I've got ultimate confidence in all those backs. I mean if they need to carry it 30, they could each do it. I don't know if they could do it for a whole year, but they could do it for a game. That's why you have the backs you have. That's why you have the ability to use different backs. That's why we hand the ball off to the receivers. We're sharing the workload when it comes to rushing because we want to be able to spread the ball out. It's a long season. You want to be able to be hard to defend. And I'm pleased with the backs we've got, certainly would like some more bulk at the position in our league, but we've got two guys that are 210-plus, two guys that are a little bit smaller than that. But they run bigger than they are. They've got a big group of guys blocking for them. And we certainly want to be able to sustain for the long haul. I think that's the most important thing that those guys continue to do good in protection, protect the ball and get yards after contact, which they've been able to do. Thanks, guys."

Elijah Holyfield, Jr., TB

On hitting the midway mark of the regular season and how his body is holding up…

“I feel pretty good and pretty healthy. I am a little sore today but I will work through it, get some ice on me and I will be ready for Saturday. We are all very capable and very much in shape and our bodies are ready for the games to come.”

On Coach Smart talking about grinding down teams and if he can tell when a team is wearing down…

“You can kind of see it when we switch and the line of scrimmage starts to move and you can tell they are starting to break down a little bit. SEC teams are tough, everyone is, so it takes a while to wear them down.”

On how much of en emphasis pass protection has been for the offense and running backs in particular…
“It is a big emphasis. Everyone knew that we could all run the ball but the question was about our pass protection because they had never really seen us do that. This year we have been asked to pass protect a lot and it is something that we are all trying to improve on every week and I feel like we have done a pretty good job so far.”

On if that emphasis has helped him improve in that area…

“Definitely. We are not allowed to cut in practice, so we take everything head on. Our linebackers have gotten us ready for that so I give a lot of credit to them for how we practice and that translates to how well we do in the game.”

Andrew Thomas, So., OL

On Cade Mays filling in on the offensive line…

“He did pretty well playing at both spots, left tackle and now playing at right guard, he’s been doing pretty well.”

On the rhythm of the offensive line this season…
“I think we have a lot of guys that can play, a lot of guys that can contribute but as far as the game, we have to start a little bit faster. It takes us too long to get started.”

On the energy Justin Fields brings to the offense…

“I wouldn’t say it’s a different energy from Jake [Fromm], but obviously he can run the ball and that’s the thing he brings when he comes on the field.”

On the comparison from last year’s mind set to this season…

“I think right now we’re still trying to find our identity on the offensive side of the ball and that’s the only difference.”

Rodrigo Blankenship, Jr., PK

On the no-step point after attempt in the Tennessee game…

“The first thing we (kickers) do in practice after our team flex is that we go up to our top field and we hit some no-steps. That is what that kick was, you don’t get to take any steps and you are already planted next to the ball, and you just have to kick it. Since we start all the practices like that, I felt comfortable with at least kicking it far enough to get it through the goal. The no-steps drill focuses on a couple aspects of your swing. It focuses on discipline draw back, and focuses on your follow through, because you don’t have any momentum from a running start like you would in a normal field goal or kickoff. Also if that situation occurs then you know that you have reps doing it and you have muscle memory so you can execute it.”

On staying composed in the no-step point after…

“Coach Smart was preaching to us all week to stay disciplined, physicality and composure. If we had those three things then we would have a good chance to win the game, so all week I was thinking about being composed as much as I could and do handle any situation that would arise. In that situation in particular I was just trying to stay composed and trust the process and trust that Jake would get it back on the spot and he did.”

On crowd cheering during starting lineup announcements…

“I love Dawg Nation and I love that the fans are so supportive of not just myself, but the entire team. I really want there to come a day that every single player in the starting lineup is getting the full cheers of the crowd, because every one of these players on this team – not just the starting line – has a role to play. A lot of players don’t get noticed on game day but there is a lot that goes into the team.”

On different vibe of night game…

“It brings me back to Friday night lights and Sprayberry High School. I always loved playing at night. You get a sense of calm and peace when it is a night game so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Michael Barnett, Jr., DT

On how going up against two different style quarterbacks (Jake Fromm and Justin Fields) helps defense during practice…

“As long as we focus on fundamentals, technique and working on what we need to work on then anybody that we go against, we can face. We expect the worst and pray for the best. If the quarterback knows how to throw the ball well then we’ll go in pass rush situations, whereas if a quarterback knows how to run the ball well then we’ll key on funneling him in to keep him from scrambling around.”

On advantage of Georgia’s offense with the two different style quarterbacks (Jake Fromm and Justin Fields)…

“It is a good thing. It is sort of like last year when we had Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, you know fire and ice or thunder and lightning. You never know when you have a gun-slinger type or a mobile quarterback back there. Both of them can run the ball very well and both can throw the ball very well. I think having that trait in both of them helps our team and puts ourselves in good situations. For instance, if a team is a run-stop heavy team then we can pass it on them whereas if they are a pass-coverage team then we can run it more.”

On depth and rotation of defensive line…

“It is good, because there is always somebody ready to go. If one man is banged up, it’s like next man up. Everybody has to be ready. I think everybody on that defensive line can really contribute and help us out a lot. We also won’t be as tired, because if we get a little winded then we just bring somebody else in. We are big so we try not to run so much.”

On game plan and preparation for Vanderbilt…

“That’s up for the coaches. I know they are a very good team. We are focused on things that we need to work on such as staying focused, and eliminating penalties. We will hone in on fundamentals and technique. Coach Smart and coach Scott says it all the time, it is all about the basics. Do what you know how to do. It will get you a long way.”

LSU Kickoff Set

UGA Sports Communications

The Saturday, Oct. 13, SEC football game between Georgia and LSU in Baton Rouge will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET and be televised by CBS.

This will be Georgia’s third appearance on CBS this season.

The Dawgs’ all-time record on CBS is 55-39-1.