Saturday, November 24, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

On the win to go to 11-1.... 

"It's a rivalry game. They have a good program and a good team, and our guys take a lot of pride in doing things the right way and competing. I thought we played really hard today. ... This is a credit to our seniors, to our entire team, for buying in. We're getting better each week." 

On defending Tech's offense.... 

"The kids played hard and practiced hard. Our defensive coaching staff put a lot of effort in and it paid off. The look from the scouts all week was tremendous. They gave us a good picture and a lot of credit goes to those kids. ... It's an eyes football game. You've got to look at your keys the whole time and we did that." 

On Georgia's offense....

"Our offense is functioning at a high level. We're efficient and we're getting positive plays. The offense is getting better." 

On playing in the SEC Championship Game....

"It's where this program should be. It feels like a game we should be going to every year. Our guys will lay it on the line and they're excited about the opportunity. It will be a great atmosphere, one of the best in college football. It will be another game week for us. We'll prepare for our opponent and treat it like every other week." 

Malik Herring, Soph, Defensive Lineman

On the defensive performance.... 

“I want to give credit to our scout team because they really helped us prepare for this game and practice was actually harder than the game.” 

On the challenge of facing Georgia Tech’s offense....

“It was a challenge. We had to change our minds and get prepared for the game because their offense is so different. We just had to prep really hard and stay focused throughout the week, even though we’re getting cut (blocked) in practice and stuff like that, we just had to change our minds.” 

D’Andre Swift, Soph, Tailback

On what the “We Run This State” mantra means to the running backs group... 

 “It means a lot. The last time they [Georgia Tech] came here, the senior class lost so it’s real big for us just to send our seniors out with this win today.” 

On out-gaining Georgia Tech, the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation coming into the game, 285-128 on the ground… 

“Hats off to our scout team. Our scout team did a great job of giving our defense a look because they run a real complicated offense to stop. Our defense did a great job of stopping them today … On offense, we’re clicking right now. I think we’re starting to peak at the right time.” 

D’Andre Walker, Senior, Outside Linebacker

On snapping Georgia Tech’s two-game winning streak in Sanford Stadium… 

“I feel like after this year, there will be no more years where Georgia Tech will come into the University of Georgia and beat us in our own stadium.” 

On the defensive performance… 

“I feel like our scout team gave us a better look than they [Georgia Tech] could, and we just went out there and executed.”

Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson 

Opening Statement....

“We played against a really good football team and we played really poorly. We got ourselves dug in a hole and we never could put together anything consistently on offense. The first drive, we make a couple first downs then got 4th and-1 then jump off-sides. I think the first half, we got the ball a few times and didn’t do much with it. In the second half, we got the block below-the-waist call which I talked to them about. … The game was over by then. We just could never get anything going offensively at all. The offense needs to possess the ball for us to have a chance to score. We didn’t do that today. Credit to Georgia, they did what they had to do to win.” 

On the struggles of the defense in the first half....

“It gets masked sometimes in a game with limited possession as long as you can hold the ball and score, but we struggled mightily on the backend. We missed a ton of tackles.” 

On the offensive struggles in the first half....

“We had a hard time blocking. We never could get anything going. We’d get a first down or two. We missed reads. In a game like that, when you miss the read and you miss your target, you keep getting buried and there’s not much margin for error. You can’t go four possessions without scoring and expect to be in the game.”

Juanyeh Thomas, Freshman, Punt Returner 

On catching the ball on the goal line... 

"I was just thinking if I can return it I can go. I thought to myself if I can I can run it out and I did, That was it. I followed the Georgia kick off team crashing and I just read the kick off team, hit it, and scored." 

On the kicks going over his head... 

"Every game if they ball goes into the end zone I'll get mad because I want to return the ball. That's just me honestly."

On the rivalry... 

"Honestly the hype about it was everything that I thought it was but we didn't get the results we wanted so now we have to focus on the bowl. We're throwing this behind us and wanting to finish strong."

Tre Swilling, Freshman, Quarterback  

On Georgia's receivers... 

"Like you just said they're really good receivers, very talented across the board. For every play they were out there they were very physical and they're good at what they do." 

On being confident with the score... 

"Me personally I think you just have to have conference throughout the whole game and in every game the momentum is going to go the other way at some point. That's when you have to dig deep, remember where you started, and not really scratch what you're doing but focus on that and continue going. Being able to go out there and get a stop." 

On Jake Fromm... 

"He's a really good passer I think there's no secret about that. He's a great quarterback, very smart. He knows where the routes are going to be and most of the time you see that the receivers haven't left their cuts yet but the ball has left his hand. He has great placement and great timing. He's a really good quarterback."

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

42nd Win For Seniors And 11thThis Year: With today’s 45-21 victory, the Dawg senior class improves to 42-11 and that tally ranks tied for third in school history with the 2004 class that went 42-10. Georgia went a perfect 7-0 at home this year. ​For the fourth time in school history since a 12th-game was added to the season in 2002, Georgia has won at least 11 games in the regular season. Georgia has gone 11-1 during the regular season in 2002, 2012, 2017 and now 2018. In the series history with Tech, Georgia improves to 67-39-5 all-time and retains the Governor’s Cup Trophy. It was presented to Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the Dawgs at midfield after the game by Governor Nathan Deal.

Dawgs Strike First & Often: Georgia scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and six out of its nine times with the ball and added a field goal during its 11th win of the year. This comes after the Dawgs scored touchdowns on all seven possessions in the first half last week versus Massachusetts and then scored on four of five drives during the second half against the Minutemen. Georgia’s first punt came in the 4th quarter, a span of seven quarters dating back to the Auburn game after not punting last week against UMass.

Fromm Directing The Rout: Junior QB Jake Fromm started the game 7-for-7 (12-for-12 counting the UMass game) and hit seven different receivers and went 13-for-16 for 175 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in a little more than a half. He hit junior WR Riley Ridley for a 5-yard touchdown to cap the opening nine-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:37. Fromm then directed an 88-yard drive (second longest drive this season) that lasted 6:07 and was 11 plays. Junior TB D’Andre Swift scored on a 1-yard plunge on the second drive and had 20 yards on the ground. Fellow TB Elijah Holyfield jump started the drive with a 39-yard rush.

On Georgia’s third and fourth possessions, Fromm sent scoring strikes to sophomore Jeremiah Holloman for 12 yards and to junior Mecole Hardman for 44 yards. Holyfield returned to the Sanford Stadium end zone for the second time in as many weeks for Georgia’s fifth touchdown on an 8-yard scamper. Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship completed the scoring with a 25-yard field goal as time ran out in the second quarter. In the second half, Ridley snagged his career high second touchdown grab of the game with a 4-yard catch.

Another Productive Day: Georgia featured a balanced attack with 448 yards of total offense including 286 yards rushing and 162 yards through the air. The Dawgs had four receiving touchdowns and two scoring runs.

Junior TE Isaac Nauta led the receivers with four catches for 36 yards while Swift led the charge on the ground with 105 yards on 14 carries (7.5 avg.) and a touchdown. This marks his fourth 100-yard rushing game in the last five contests after he played a minimal number of snaps during the 66-27 victory over UMass.

Getting Defensive: Matched up versus the nation’s top rushing offense, the Dawgs held Georgia Tech to 66 total yards (all rushing) and only seven points in the first half off a kickoff return. Tech finished with 219 total yards (128 rushing) and 21 points in the game. Tech was averaging 353.7 yards per game on the ground and 437.5 total yards. The Yellow Jackets completed the game with 12 first downs to Georgia’s 25. Tech went 3-for-6 on fourth downs.

Senior DL Jonathan Ledbetter led the Dawgs with a nine stops and Georgia had three sacks. Senior ILB D’Andre Walker (7 tackles) and Jordan Davis (3 tackles) each had a sack. Tae Crowder and Malik Herring split a sack in the first half. Walker’s previous high was six tackles against GT last year.

Giving Up A 100-Yarder: After the Dawgs jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the Yellow Jackets’ Juanyeh Thomas returned Rodrigo Blankenship’s kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. This was the first KOR for a TD since North Carolina’s T.J. Logan went 95 yards to the end zone in 2016. Tennessee’s Leonard Scott was the last player to go 100 yards for a touchdown on a KOR against the Dawgs in 1999. Also on special teams, freshman P Jake Camarda had his first punt since the third quarter of the Auburn game on Nov. 10. He had a 45 yarder at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and it was the only one of the contest.

Protecting The Pigskin: With one fumble today, Georgia is now +3 in turnover margin. The Dawgs have forced 15 turnovers that have led to 51 points. Their opponents have forced 12 turnovers that have resulted in 30 points. Freshman TB James Cook fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter and Tech converted it into a touchdown.

For Starters: Georgia had a pair of first-time starters on defense. Sophomore defensive lineman Malik Herring and junior defensive lineman Michael Barnett got the nod for the Dawgs. Senior C Lamont Gaillard started his team-leading 40th consecutive game while on defense, junior J.R. Reed started his unit-leading 27th straight time.

Dawgs Swat Jackets

UGA Sports Communications

With a 45-21 victory against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium, the fifth-ranked Dawgs retained the Governor’s Cup in Athens for the second consecutive season.

With the win, the Dawgs remain perfect at home with an 11-1 regular-season record in back-to-back years.

A balanced attack with 447 total yards of offense – 285 on the ground and 162 through the air – was paired with a Dawg defense that held the nation’s top rushing offense to 66 total yards (all rushing), four first downs and one touchdown in the first half.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm opened the contest with seven-straight completions, matching up with seven different receivers for a 13-for-16 final clip with 175 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift registered his fourth 100-yard rushing contest of the season with 105, complete with a touchdown.

With nine tackles, the Georgia defense was paced by senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, a member of a senior class that improved to 42-11, the third-best mark in school history.

"It's a rivalry game,” coach Kirby Smart said. “They have a good program and a good team, and our guys take a lot of pride in doing things the right way and competing. I thought we played really hard today…This is a credit to our seniors, to our entire team, for buying in. We're getting better each week."

After scoring seven-straight touchdowns in the first half against Massachusetts last week, the Dawgs’ first five drives resulted in a touchdown.

The first Georgia possession, a 9-play, 75-yard drive, was finalized by a 5-yard touchdown from Fromm to junior wide receiver Riley Ridley. After the first Georgia defensive stop, the Dawgs used an 11-play, 88-yard march – featuring a 39-yard rush from junior Elijah Holyfield and receptions from tight ends senior Charlie Woerner and junior Isaac Nauta – to reach the 1-yard line, where Swift fought for the touchdown and the 14-0 margin.

After the Yellow Jackets’ Juanyeh Thomas returned the first 100-yard kickoff return against the Dawgs since 1999, Georgia’s distanced itself yet again with a 6-play, 63-yard drive, highlighted by a 26-yard Jayson Stanley rush. At the 12:56 mark, the 21-7 lead was sealed by a 12-yard touchdown from Fromm to sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman.

Next, Georgia took over on downs as the Dawg defense held Georgia Tech at its own 44-yard line, highlighted by a tackle from Ledbetter for a 3-yard loss and a sack from freshman defensive lineman Jordan Davis for a 4-yard loss. On the following play, Georgia took control on offense, and Fromm found junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman feet from the end zone for the 44-yard touchdown and the 28-7 lead.

After another Dawg stop, Georgia needed just four plays, split between freshman tailback James Cook and Swift, before Holyfield leaped into the end zone, extending the ball across the plane for the 8-yard touchdown.

With 48 seconds remaining in the half, the Dawgs marched 40 yards between a 13-yard Swift rush and three-straight Nauta receptions to set up a Rodrigo Blankenship 25-yard field goal. Georgia headed into the half with a 38-7 advantage.

After the Dawgs forced a three-and-out to open the second half, six plays and 53 yards later, Georgia produced a 45-7 score. Swift checked in with 39 yards on two carries, setting up a 4-yard Ridley touchdown, his career-topping second of the day, from Fromm between a pair of Georgia Tech defenders.

The Yellow Jackets tacked on a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter, but the Dawgs’ 45 points held till the 45-21 final.

Next up, the Dawgs head to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the SEC Championship in Atlanta against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, December 1st.

"It's where this program should be,” Smart said. “It feels like a game we should be going to every year. Our guys will lay it on the line and they're excited about the opportunity. It will be a great atmosphere, one of the best in college football. It will be another game week for us. We'll prepare for our opponent and treat it like every other week."

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wednesday Practice Report

UGA Sports Communications

Fifth-ranked Georgia held a two-hour workout Wednesday in preparation for its upcoming home finale against Georgia Tech.

Saturday’s contest will close out the regular season for the Dawgs (10-1) as Tech comes to town with a 7-4 mark. Both teams are riding four-game winning streaks. Speaking on the SEC head coaches weekly teleconference before practice, Coach Kirby Smart said the Dawgs are ready to honor their 25-member senior class.

“We’re excited to have our third home game in a row and looking forward to getting an opportunity to thank our senior class on Senior Day and their families for how much they’ve meant to the UGA program and what they’ve given back,” said Smart. “We want to honor them by playing one of our best games at home. I know our guys are excited about the opportunity to play Georgia Tech. We always look forward to this game. It’s a big rivalry in state, and I know both sets of fans are looking forward to it.”

Georgia enters Saturday’s game averaging 39.6 points a game while Tech checks in at 36.9 points a game. The Dawgs scoring defense ranks 12th nationally, allowing just 16.8 points a game while Tech surrenders 27.5 points a game. The Dawgs are 10th nationally in rushing with an SEC-best 257.5 yards a game. Tech’s triple-option offense averages 353.7 rushing yards a game, which leads the nation.

Tech’s leading rushers are quarterbacks TaQuon Marshall (857 yards on 174 attempts with 11 touchdowns) and Tobias Oliver (808 yards on 142 attempts with 12 touchdowns) while the top running back is Jordan Mason (637 yards on 102 attempts with 7 touchdowns).

“They are definitely running the quarterback, when you combined the fact that most times they’ve got one quarterback and they have two quarterbacks rushing at the clip they have been rushing at, it’s pretty obvious that they think very highly of those guys as runners,” said Smart. “You have to be smart on how you play them. They’re doing a good job of getting those guys on the perimeter, and they’re running the ball well.”

Smart was asked how the leadership on this year’s Georgia team has been, and how it has managed to follow up last season’s success.

“They’ve done a good job,” said Smart. “They have taken on their own roles. Each one has been different. Some guys have larger roles on the field and lesser off, and some have larger leadership roles and maybe lesser on the field. They take on their own personality. They’ve done a good job of kind of distinguishing themselves from last year because last year was last year. There were a lot of good leaders on last year’s team. They are some of the same leaders on this team, but a lot of the primary leaders on this team are younger players.”

Georgia’s senior class is 41-11 overall, winning SEC Eastern Division titles in 2017 and 2018, the 2017 SEC title, the 2018 Rose Bowl Game and an appearance in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game.

Following practice, the Dawgs will have a 24-hour window to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. Kickoff at Sanford Stadium Saturday is slated for noon ET on the SEC Network.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Dawgs Mash Mass

UGA Sports Communications

Behind 701 yards of offense – just 12 yards shy of the school record – the fifth-ranked Dawgs defeated the University of Massachusetts Minutemen 66-27 at Sanford Stadium on Saturday evening.

Georgia starting sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm produced a 4-for-4 clip with 97 yards and a touchdown before freshman Justin Fields entered the contest to accumulate 100 yards on the ground and 121 through the air with three touchdowns.

Five other members of the Dawg's backfield joined Fields on the ground with nearly 50-plus yards apiece and five combined touchdowns. Freshman tailback James Cook totaled 76 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the second half. In the first half, junior wide receiver Tyler Simmons guided the Dawgs to 14 points with two trips to the end zone – one rushing, one receiving – which made him the first Dawg to register one of each in the same contest since Mecole Hardman in the 2018 CFP National Championship Game.

The offense did not send freshman punter Jake Camarda to the field; all but two possessions resulted in points, due to a fumbled punt return and the end of regulation. Georgia played to the third down only six times. 66 points marked the most for Georgia (10-1) since its 70 against Northeast Louisiana in 1994.

“I’m proud of the guys,” coach Kirby Smart said. “We challenged them to play hard, to start fast and not mosey around. We got things rolling and did some big things. I was really proud of the focus. The guys played hard…We’ve gotten a little better offensively and we’ll keep working on it. We need to get the playmakers the ball and peak at the right time.”

After the defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, Georgia needed just three plays to run for 66 yards, fueled by a career-high 49-yard rushing touchdown from Simmons for the 7-0 lead, capped by a Rodrigo Blankenship extra point.

A second consecutive Massachusetts (4-8) three-and-out sent the Dawg offense back to the field for a 10-play, 68-yard march. Three-straight Fromm completions were paired with a rushing attack from sophomore D’Andre Swift and junior Elijah Holyfield, who sealed the two-touchdown margin with a 5-yard trip to the end zone.

After a fair-catch squib from Georgia, Massachusetts acquired the ball on the Dawg's 16-yard line. Four plays later, the Minutemen cut the Georgia margin to 14-7 with a 5-yard rushing touchdown.

In response, Fields directed a 7-play, 80-yard scoring drive, featuring a 47-yard rush from the first-year Dawg. Under pressure in the pocket at the 11-yard line, Fields found junior wide receiver Riley Ridley for the touchdown and the 21-7 advantage.

After another defensive stop, Georgia used two plays to reach the end zone for the 28-7 lead. Following a 2-yard Swift run, Fromm connected with Simmons through the air for a 71-yard touchdown.

Massachusetts tacked on a 34-yard field goal with 7:19 remaining in the half, but Georgia reciprocated on the next drive. A 54-yard Isaac Nauta reception from Fields placed the Dawgs at the 3-yard line, where Fields used an elusive dash to the end zone for the 35-10 score.

Before the end of the half, Fields was presented another chance for point production: the freshman placed the ball in the hands of a sprinting Mecole Hardman downfield for the 57-yard touchdown. A second Massachusetts field goal secured a 42-13 score headed into intermission.

Cook opened and closed the first drive of the second half with a 34-yard kickoff return and a 26-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career. A Blankenship PAT sealed the 52-13 score.

After another Dawg defensive stop, senior tailback Brian Herrien pushed his way into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown to conclude a 9-play, 80 yard drive. Massachusetts senior wide receiver Andy Isabella added his first of two touchdowns in the second half, but Cook returned to the end zone in the fourth quarter, evading several Minutemen defenders to finalize a 6-play, 75-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown.

Isabella checked in with his second touchdown for the Minutemen on the night with 8:55 remaining, but the Dawgs remained in possession to seal the final at 66-27.

Up next, the regular season comes to a close at Sanford Stadium on Saturday against Georgia Tech. Senior day is slated for a noon start time on SEC Network.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dawgs Schedule Clemson & Texas

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia has scheduled two home-and-home series with Clemson and Texas over a three-year period from 2028-2030.

Georgia will travel to Austin to take on the Longhorns on September 2, 2028, and will host Texas on September 1, 2029. The Dawgs will play at Clemson on September 15, 2029, and the Tigers will come to Athens on August 31, 2030. The schedule will result in Georgia playing both Clemson and Texas in 2029.

Georgia and Clemson first played in 1897 and have played 64 times since with the Dawgs holding a 42-18-4 advantage. The two teams last played in 2013 in Clemson and 2014 in Athens with each team winning the home game.

Georgia and Texas first played in the 1949 Orange Bowl with the Longhorns winning 41-28 but have only played three times since: 1957 in Atlanta (Texas 26-7), 1958 in Austin (Texas 13-8), and the 1984 Cotton Bowl which ended in a 10-9 Dawg victory.

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications
University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against UMass. They offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments …
“Onto UMass. Our guys came in yesterday and were able to get some treatment and do some things, and looking forward to moving on to UMass and getting another chance to come play at home. It’s another home game for our seniors, one of the last two they'll have at home. I know we have a really good senior class that has a chance to do some special things in terms of the number of wins in their career, and that's been exciting for them, as well as the win last Saturday night. So with that we'll open it up for questions.”

On the success of two-minute offense at the end of a half…

“I think the tempo of play sometimes speeds up. I also think defenses, a couple of the games you're referencing, they played us differently. Sometimes defenses change during that time because they know the pass is imminent. When you have the threat of run and pass, especially against us, it makes it a lot tougher to defend, and Jake (Fromm) has done a good job managing the clock.

Our offense does that every week. They do it against us. We practice it really hard, but I mean so does everybody else. So it's one of those things that I think we've been efficient at because of how much we work on it, but also because that's Jake's strength is being able to operate quickly and make good decisions with the ball, and he's not afraid to hit check-downs.”

On playing non-Power 5 conference teams, especially after playing several games with a lot riding on them the past few weeks…

“I've spoken on this before as far as playing non-Power 5 teams. I think there's two ways to look at it, you know. If attendance becomes a problem or continues to be a problem, which we haven't had a problem here at the University of Georgia, but across the nation, sometimes people are saying attendance is on the decline. I think it's important that you play quality opponents, but I also think, having coached at lower division levels, it's important to their programs to be able to finance their programs.

I'm a big believer in the sport of football, and that's at all levels. I think football teaches you lifelong lessons. I think football is very good for young people to be involved in, to feel like they are part of a team, to feel the failure, to feel the success. And you don't get that at some of the levels without these games. Some of these programs financially can't sustain without it. So there's good and bad with that.”

On Ben Cleveland playing in punt shield and if he will return to the offensive line if other injuries arise…

“Yeah. Ben played in the game the other night when Kendall Baker came out, so Ben was able to get in the game and play. He feels better each and every day. We feel like he's a really good shield protector, and with our coverage unit he hasn't had to cover a lot, so that's one of the safer things he's been able to do for us. I'm not sure yet on Kendall when he'll be back, same thing on Cade Mays. He's going to be day to day as well. So we may be looking at both those guys having work to do to get back.”

On the announcement of future home-and-home games with Texas and Clemson… 

“We’re excited. I mean I think when you come to the University of Georgia you want to play against the best. I've always believed in playing Power 5 opponents. Our fanbase will follow us anywhere. They want to go. We proved that last year. We've proven that over the history of time that the Georgia people will travel. They want great games. They want home-and-homes. And as a coach, I know going out recruiting, it helps.

The College Football Playoff has proven that they want strength of schedule. They want you to play good opponents. Who knows what the system will be 10 years from now. It certainly could all change, but I would argue that the better schedule you play and the better teams you play against, the more rewarding it'll be 10 years from now.

I know 10 years ago from today nobody thought we'd be where we were. And there are some teams that probably could have benefited themselves by playing a tougher schedule. To go out and get these two teams in the same year, you know, you want to come to Georgia, you want to play against the best, and that's what we want to build. We want kids that want to play against the best. So I'm excited for it and been looking at a lot of other opportunities as well.”

On why Brenton Cox did not play against Auburn…

“He has a little minor ankle sprain, should be back this week. He probably could have played the other day. It's more a situation I didn't think he was 100 percent.”

On the opportunity to evaluate players who haven't had as much playing time this year if Georgia gets an early lead against UMass...

“Well, I think that's a large assumption, first off, because I got respect for Coach Whipple, and I have seen him coach for a long time. There is probably an assumption in that they have a really good wideout. They have good personnel. We have to get better, and that's what our focus is this week, on us getting better, our ability to grow young players. I put just as much emphasis in practice as I do in the game. So we'll see how the game goes. If guys get to play, they get to play. I'm really focused on our practice today and how we can get better and get the younger players better so they can help us down the road.”

On his growing confidence in the run defense…

“I feel better. I think we have really worked on it. I think when you try to emphasize something, you get what you demand a lot of times, so we've certainly worked really hard to sure up those areas through technique, fundamentals, going against a pretty good run team in our offense.

We have gotten a couple guys back from injury. But at the end of the day I don't think you've ever arrived when it comes to any statistic. I don't know where we are now in the country in run defense, but we certainly know that coming down the road with UMass, Georgia Tech, and SEC Championship game, we have physical teams to play. So we have to continue to get better at our run defense, and that comes by how we practice.”

On if D’Andre Swift is now completely healthy after his groin injury and able to make big plays for Georgia…

“I mean, he may tell you that. I don't know. He had the surgery over the spring, and that was something that he recovered from over the summer. He really came to fall camp and was moving around well. He had a setback in fall camp a couple times that it bothered him, and I think it bothered him early in the season some, but D’Andre has always been a competitor and works hard. He plays for the big moment, does a really good job. But I think the surgery was during the spring.”

On Massachusetts’ senior WR Sadiq Palmer…

"He's talented. He's got really good quickness. He separates. He double moves a lot. They get the ball to him a lot. I think he's got a really good rapport with their quarterback. He's a good football player. He's one of those guys that is quick in and out of breaks, but he runs by people vertically. So I think it's pretty easy to see when you turn the tape on why they've scored the points they've scored. Scored a lot of points in a lot of situations, and he's a big reason why."

On which positions have new competition within the team and potential new personnel emerging on Saturday…

"All of them. Every position on our team – every week, inside backer, every week, outside backer, probably more the second and third at the outside backer than the first. But defensive line. We've had changes in defensive line, and you all don't write about who starts there, but we've had a lot of changes there. Secondary – we've had a lot of battles at safety, and rotating the dime, nickel and star.

Look at the offensive line. I think it's changed every week, not necessarily out of competition, but out of health reasons. Wide receiver, it's been that way. It's changed throughout the year at wide receiver probably three times as to who started, based on who practiced well during the week. That's been pretty consistent. I mean Elijah Holyfield started some games at running back. So that comes about through the work ethic you have during the week and putting a priority on how your practice matters, and that's every position."

On the rotation at safety between sophomore DB Richard LeCounte and freshman DB Otis Reese…

“It's really not a rotation as much as it is personnel based. So depending on what the other team's in, we play one or the other of the safeties. Otis is getting better. Richard is actually getting better. The best thing for Richard has been Otis's growth. So I think that the motivation and the competition has made Richard better."

On what redshirt sophomore DB Eric Stokes offers and his comparison to freshman DB Tyson Campbell…

"Very similar. They're both young guys. They're both really fast guys. They're both track guys. They're both pretty good tacklers. Eric's played well in the moments he's gotten to play in the game. And a lot of getting to play in our games is based on how you practice, so we see 2,000 snaps and you guys see 20 snaps. He’s done a really good job in the snaps he's been in the game, and he continues to improve, and we're really fired up about the way he's been able to play. He's one of the brightest kids. You teach him something, he knows it and he applies it to the game. And the moment he's been in the games, the two big games have not been too big for him."

On Smart’s assessment of freshman QB Justin Fields’ performance against Auburn…

"I see him growing. I see him getting opportunities to manage the game a little more. You got to see him do it probably a little more this time than he has before. And he had some freshman deals. He had the shot clock run out on him, and he had the scramble play that he'll be the first to tell you he should have thrown it away. Those are the things that we see him do right in practice. We put time constraints on him, and he manages it well. And he's made a lot of really good decisions in practice to throw the ball away; he didn't in the game. So I mean, those are things he has to grow from, and he will and he continues to get better."

On staying sharp against both inclement weather and a non conference opponent…

"I think that's leadership. I think we'll find out a lot about our team this week because it's never about who we're playing. I mean for you guys it's about who we're playing. But I've told you all every week that it's not about Florida, it's not about Kentucky. It's not really about them. It's just about how we work, because we worry about us. And that way when you get to this week, it's not different. And we focus on us. As far as being inside, it's not harder to have intensity inside. As a matter of fact, sometimes I think we're faster when we're inside, and the collisions may be greater. Space is probably the toughest thing, having everybody in a limited space. We have to do a good job of rotating where we do things."

On how Smart evaluates special teams…

"We work really hard on it. And I think (special teams coordinator) Coach Scott Fountain and his staff of guys that help him with special teams have done a tremendous job. Our kids are committed to special teams. I try to make it the most important thing of the game, because I really think it's a selfless part of the game where guys don't get a lot of credit. I mean Mecole Hardman gets credit, but the guys that are doing all the work up there don't get a lot of credit. So we say it's not for yourself but for others when it comes to special teams. And they've bought into that.

Now, statistically – we're not really where we need to be, like on kickoff coverage, but it's very misleading because of Rodrigo Blankenship’s leg strength and his ability to get touchbacks, and the same way with punt coverage. We haven't hit a lot of great punts, but we haven't had a lot of return yards against us because our gunners are good. We're good in both return units, and that's thankful to Mecole as well as some guys that are committed to it. We do a composite at the end of the year that tells us where we rank across the board. We don't do it throughout the season, but we do expose our players to where they are in the SEC and where they are in the country in terms of special teams.

And the other thing we do is we talk about momentum plays, and I thought the other night we had some huge momentum plays. A momentum play is a big play on special teams. Scott has a criteria for what that is, a tackle inside the 20 on kickoff, a downing the ball inside the 10, which Mecole did a great job and Jake Camarda hit a great punt. And then the thing that goes unnoticed is what Terry Godwin does to make a decision to get the ball in the end zone and be a decoy or fair catch the ball and get a 15-yard penalty. He did a really good job, and that's something that changes field position, which I thought in this game was really big."

On improving the run defense…

"Like I said earlier when she asked, I think it's just work. I think going against our offense creates a more competitive run environment. I mean our guys are physical up front and can run the ball. So when we go against them in good-on-good, we really try to crank it up and challenge our defensive line and don't shy away from practicing hard. The other thing is we've tackled better. We try to play with better technique. We've been healthier. I mean there was some time in there where we didn't have as many 300-pound guys healthy, and we've got a couple more guys now that helped build a wall for us. Jordan (Davis) has been a big part of that. Although he was present at LSU and we didn't tackle well, he's been present since and we've tackled better."

On an update for David Marshall and DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle…

“They both will not be available this week."

On Smart’s assessment of the defense affecting the quarterback…

"I thought that was a big difference in the game this past week. I thought we were able to disrupt him. We didn't always sack him, but we moved him out of the pocket, made him think a little bit, did some things that we hadn't been doing, changed him up from the SEC Championship game. I think anytime you can give the quarterback a different picture or picture he's not clear on, you have a chance to rattle him a little bit. We just have to do a better job of finishing on him when we can get to him to get the sacks and not hurries in pressures. Thanks."

Jake Fromm, Soph, Quarterback

On what’s been working well since the bye week…

“Execution. Everyone’s been playing off each other, everyone’s been in that groove right now. Hopefully we can keep it and keep rolling with it. It’s working out really well for us right now.”

On the offensive line working really well and keeping that confidence high…

“Those guys are doing an incredible job. Just keep doing what they’re doing, keep being physical, keep grinding on these guys. Auburn had a Sunday-caliber defensive line and our guys did a really good job with those guys and moving them. D’Andre [Swift] and Elijah [Holyfield] had really good performances so those guys are doing a really good job of playing at a high level and I hope they can continue to do that.”

On Fromm’s personal motivation during defining moments…

“I keep thinking about the reason I play football. God put me here to play football and glorify Him. So I think I best glorify Him when I’m playing at a high level. I’m working to be the best football player I can be. Just trying to serve my God, serve my teammates, serve my family, and be the best I can be.”

Juwan Taylor, Senior, Linebacker

On preparing for the UMass game after coming off wins against teams like Auburn, Florida, and other ranked opponents…

“It isn’t tough at all. It is the next game for us, the next opponent. We approach every week the same so there is nothing different about preparing for this game. Every week is the same for us, we prepare the same way for every opponent, no matter who we play.”

On what has been the key in the improvement of Georgia’s run defense…

“I think it has a lot to do with the bye week that we had. Coming off the bye week, I think we have continued to improve over the last three weeks on our run defense. We just went to work on the bye week, focusing on what we need to focus on and worked on us. We are going to continue to improve each week and continue to practice hard these last couple of weeks of the season.”

On how much hitting goes on in practice and if that helps…

“Going good on good is what helps the team and what helps everyone with their craft. We try to make everything perfect. Everything isn’t always going to be perfect, but we try to keep everything groomed up. Going one-on-one helps a lot with that.”

On the development of Tae Crowder at linebacker…

“Man, Tae has come a long way. Honestly, I can say he works hard. We came in together and he is like my brother. He came in as a running back, which unfortunately didn’t work out for him at running back, but then he moved to linebacker. We had to toughen him up a little bit but he is a great player. He is very athletic and he has grown so much.”

Rodrigo Blankenship, Junior, Placekicker

On playing a non-power five opponent…

“We are just going into this week with the same mindset that we had last week against Auburn. We don’t want to take anybody on our schedule for granted on any given Saturday. Anything can happen in this country. We are going in with a mindset of being as serious as we can be and we need to have the same level of focus and concentration on details that we had last week. Hopefully, that will allow us to perform our best if not better than we did last week.”

On importance of future games schedule like Texas and Clemson…

“I think it is awesome just to take different teams. You get to play some incredible talents and incredible teams across the country and from different conferences. It brings new challenges that we might not normally be preparing for, so I think it is going to be awesome to have such big historic programs like Georgia, Texas and Clemson to meet and cross paths. It will be an awesome opportunity for all the programs.”

On percentage of times he converted the fake field goal pass in practice…

“I don’t really remember, but I know I completed it a lot more in practice than I did on Saturday. We repped it three out of four days in the week. I just threw it a lot better Monday through Thursday then I did on Saturday. It was a similar situation to LSU that coach did a lot of film work and saw that if they line up a certain way that they are giving us a look that we can make a play on. They lined up for it like we envisioned and decided to run it.”

On team’s confidence of special teams…

“I think we definitely have confidence every week with the amount of talent that we contain on all of our special teams that we have the ability no matter who we play to have the advantage on special teams. That only comes with hard work week-in and week-out we have to grind. We have to focus and pay attention to as much detail as we can to every phase of special teams. As long as we do that Monday through Friday then we are going to have a chance to win that phase of the game on Saturday.”

Tyler Simmons, Junior, Wide Receiver

On acknowledgement of receivers blocking…

“Last year, we called them KOs. This year, we aren’t really giving out awards for them, but we still track them…I don’t think I’m leading in the category, but I know I’m up there.”

On competition in the receiver room…

“Our room is very competitive. We have a lot of players that can go out there and can play at any given time in the game. If one man goes down, it’s next man up, so it can get a little chippy in the room. The blocking is right up there too with the catches and yards.”

On red zone offense struggles…

“That is something that we have been practicing a lot, because we know we have been struggling on that phase of the game. We are emphasizing it at practice and we hope to get better at it this week.”

On timing of facing a non-power five school…

“We take every game like any other one. Like Auburn, Alabama, we are going to take UMass the same way.”

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

On the win over Auburn… 

“We didn’t play a perfect game. It was physical and we shot ourselves in the foot too much. We’re a work in progress. We’re fighting tooth and nail and we don’t panic. … It was a physical game. We played a ton of guys on defense. I’m proud of the way the guys competed.” 

On D’Andre Swift… 

“If we feed him, he does well. He’s got a great offensive line in front of him, he’s explosive and he makes guys miss on the second level. The wideouts deserve credit for some big-time downfield blocking too.” 

On the team…

“We’re working hard and getting better. The guys are buying into what we’re selling. If we can keep improving as a team, if the guys keep buying in, we’ve got a good shot.” 

On next week’s game… 

“UMass presents a good offensive unit. We’ve got to get better this week and work on us.” 

On Georgia’s fans… 

“The fans were awesome. The students were packed in there. The fans represented well and impacted the game. We love that, and the recruits fall in love with it.”

Eric Stokes, RS-Freshman, Defensive Back 

On what changed with the defensive effort in the second half … 

“It was just figuring out what they we’re going to do and then how we were going to finally adjust to adjust to it.” 

On his pass breakup on a critical third down inside the red zone... 

“We had our call and basically I knew I had him man-to-man, so I just had to lock on him. Luckily, I was able to break it up and just keep him out of the end zone.” 

Jonathan Ledbetter, Senior, Defensive Lineman 

On the defensive goals for this game…

“We wanted to hold them to under 100 yards rushing, whether that’s any running back or anybody rushing, no 100-yard rushers. We wanted to hold them to 3 points, so technically we didn’t meet our goal, but they didn’t score in the second half. We’ve still got some work to do. We set a standard and we go get it, and we didn’t do that but we played well. Not saying we that we didn’t have a good win, but you don’t want to celebrate too much. We’re going to enjoy it tonight with our friends, family and our teammates. We’re going to come to the drawing board and start working again.” 

On Georgia’s third-straight top 25 win… 

“It feels great right now. I’m excited to look at the tape and see what I can correct and what the team can correct. Everybody has a job to do, and if we’re doing it to the best of our ability then we can’t be stopped.” 

Tyler Simmons, Junior, Wide Receiver 

On Jake Fromm’s performance on third downs, with 8 conversions on third down… 

“That’s something we really emphasize at practice. We have a day of the week where we emphasize third down and it shows on the field … We always put ourselves in that situation in practice, so when we get to the game it’s easy.” 

On his first career touchdown reception, a 14-yarder with 2:47 to go in the first half… 

“It just gave us a lot of momentum going forward in the game. Of course it feels good for me to get into the end zone, but it felt for the team to get some momentum going.

Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn 

Opening Statement 

“Disappointing loss. First of all, give credit to Georgia. They’ve got a complete team. They outplayed us in all three phases. You know, we really wanted to get off to a solid start, and I thought we did a good job of that. Right before the half, I think the momentum of the game changed. The offense went three and out. I think it was two minutes left and they went down and scored and it was kind of uphill after that. Second half we still had a couple of opportunities, got across midfield a couple of times. Needed to really put points on the board and we didn’t. And then the fourth quarter got away from us. Third downs, we weren’t very good on offense, weren’t very good on defense. They were able to run the football. Disappointing loss. I really thought we’d play better and we didn’t. Give Georgia credit. They’ve got a good football team.”

On the dropoff of Stidham’s performance as game went on … 

“I think it was the entire offense kind of tailed off in the second half. The disappointing thing is, we got across midfield a couple of times and needed to put points on the board and weren’t able to convert third downs. I think a couple of them were third down-and-three, and they weren’t capable of picking up.”

On the running game… 

“That’s disappointing. What’d we run it, 20 times? We’ve gotta run the football better. Really felt like, starting out, our plan was to get some 10 personnel. We thought we had some possession throws to get us in pace. That was the plan early on. Sometimes maybe we should have kept the same personnel in there. You get certain plays, certain things you like versus certain personnel. But obviously, anytime you come up short, especially in the fourth quarter, and you’re not putting any points on the board, that’s disappointing.”

On defense allowing 200-yard rushing games vs. SEC teams … 

“Tonight, like I said, you’ve got to give them credit. They did a good job, and we didn’t do a very good job. They had that long run and had some other runs. We just didn’t play well in all three phases. We didn’t get off the field on third downs. I think that’s really the key to the deal.” 

On Ryan Davis’ breaking Auburn reception record… 

“Ryan Davis is a special player. He has meant so much to us during his time here. That is a big record. He deserves it. He is a great player and great person. He is electric with the ball in his hands."

Jarrett Stidham, Junior, Quarterback 

On the start of the game... 

"I thought we had a really good game plan going in getting the ball in a space for our guys. I thought we did a really good job of that for the most part all night. We didn't capitalize on some things and made some questionable plays."

On getting in the play call... 

"Whenever you're backed up on your one yard line and you end up having to change the play and there's two seconds on the clock, we have to do a better job of getting into the play and getting it called. It's not on anybody, just trying to make some plays."

Deshaun Davis, Senior, Linebacker 

On the zone... 

"They stuck with their game plan and did what they've been doing all year. We just had some mistakes and we had some guys not in the right spot. Sometimes we were in the right spot but they have some great backs and they busted our side and picked up about eight yards."

On the fourth and two play... 

"We were in the pressure, we manned up in that situation and made the play. If we don't make it we need to at least get the guy on the ground. We did neither."

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Dawgs With Another Win In the Series: With tonight’s 27-10 victory over Auburn, the Dawgs close out the SEC part of the regular season with a 7-1 league mark and improve to 9-1 overall. Georgia extends its series advantage over the Tigers to 59-56-8 in this the 123rd meeting in the Deep South’s oldest rivalry. Georgia blanked Auburn in the second half, the third time the defense has done that this year (also Austin Peay & Middle Tennessee). Sophomore WLB Monty Rice led the team with eight tackles. The Tigers were limited to 274 yards of offense on 57 plays.

300+ On The Ground Again: The Dawgs, who lead the SEC in rushing at 233.8 yards per game, finished with 303 on the ground today after getting a season-high 331 yards in the road win over UK last Saturday. Overall, Georgia churned out 516 yards of total offense, the most since 560 against Vanderbilt this year. Sophomore TB D’Andre Swift went over 100 yards for the third straight game to highlight the Dawgs’ rushing game. Swift went for a career high 186 yards on 17 carries after going for 156 at #9 Kentucky last week. This is the most yards for a Dawgs’ running back since Nick Chubb exploded for 222 versus North Carolina in the 2016 season opener. Swift also had a team-high four catches for 43 yards. Junior TB Elijah Holyfield also carried the ball 15 times for 93 yards.

Cashing In: Georgia had the ball for 20:02 in the first half and out-gained Auburn 266 to 149 in total yards as the Dawgs surged ahead 20-10. After starting with two field goals, Georgia had a pair of touchdown passes, including one in the second period’s final minute. On their second touchdown drive, the Dawgs went for it on 4th-and-2 from the Auburn 38-yard line and sophomore QB Jake Fromm delivered a scoring strike to senior WR Terry Godwin. Georgia is now 3-for-5 on fourth downs this season. This five-play, 69-yard drive took 1:39.

This is the Dawgs’ fourth score at the end of a first half this year with less than two minutes to go. Versus Austin Peay, Georgia scored a touchdown in 1:10 on a four-play, 70-yard drive to end the half. Against South Carolina, the Dawgs managed a field goal in 43 seconds on a five-play, 40-yard drive. Versus Florida, Georgia connected on a field goal at the end of a seven-play, 75-yard during a drive that took 50 seconds.

Fromm finished13-for-20 for 193 yards and two touchdowns with one INT. The Dawgs were 5-for-8 on third downs in the opening half and finished 8-for-14. He is now 21-3 as a starter and 8-3 against teams ranked in the top 25. Freshman QB Justin Fields was 2-for-2 for 20 yards passing.

Blankenship Puts Georgia On The Board: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship connected on a 25-yard field goal on Georgia’s opening drive to give the Dawgs a 3-0 edge. Blankenship returned to hit a 20-yard chip shot at the 11:13 mark of the second period to cut Georgia’s deficit to 7-6. He is 17-of-19 on FGs this year. Blankenship also launched touchbacks on four kickoffs of the game to give him 58 on the year, which is ranked second nationally.

The first drive started at the Georgia 12-yard line and the Dawgs advanced to the Auburn 2-yard line before the Dawgs settled for a field goal. On the second drive, Georgia drove to the Tiger 1-yard line and then kicked four plays later. Late in the fourth quarter, the Dawgs tried a fake field goal at the AU 14 and Blankenship overthrew Issac Nauta in the endzone. The drive did consume 8:44 as Georgia led 27-10 with 3:20.

Special Specialist: Junior Mecole Hardman took his first kickoff return of the game from the goal line a season long 41 yards in the second quarter. He came in averaging 25.7 each KOR this season. The Dawgs capitalized on the return by scoring their first touchdown of the game. Fromm connected with junior WR Tyler Simmons for a 14-yard touchdown catch. This marked Simmons first scoring catch of his career. This put Georgia up 13-10 at the 2:47 mark in the second quarter. Freshman punter Jake Camarda had his first punt of the game on the Dawgs’ opening drive of the third quarter. On his second punt, Camarda hit his second 38 yarder of the game. However, Hardman downed this one at the Auburn 1-yard line. Camarda only punted twice tonight.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia is +4 in turnover margin. The Dawgs have forced 14 turnovers that have led to 48 points and have 10 turnovers that have resulted in 16 points. Fromm threw his fifth interception of the year in the third quarter on the Auburn 19-yard line. The Tigers were forced to punt on the ensuring drive.

Starters: Freshman DB Otis Reese started his first game for the Dawgs. After leaving the Kentucky game with a knee injury last week, senior C Lamont Gaillard returned to start his team-leading 38th consecutive game. Redshirt sophomore OL Ben Cleveland returned on special teams after missing the last five games with a leg injury.

Dawgs Beat Auburn.....Again

UGA Sports Commuications

Behind 303 yards on the ground and a scoreless second half, the fifth-ranked University of Georgia football team defeated the 24th-ranked Tigers 27-10 in front of a capacity crowd at Sanford Stadium on Saturday night.

For the third consecutive contest, sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift ran for over 100 yards, leading the Dawgs (9-1, 7-1) with a career-high 186 yards on 17 carries. Swift also paced Georgia through the air, reeling in a team-high four receptions for 43 yards. Senior tailback Elijah Holyfield also registered 15 carries for 93 yards. The pair of tailbacks combined for 32 carries and 279 yards.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm directed the offense, producing a 13-for-20 clip for 193 yards, helped by senior wide receiver Terry Godwin, who added a team-high 84 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Auburn scored for the final time in the second quarter at the 7:46 mark, halted by a Georgia defense led by sophomore linebacker Monty Rice with eight total tackles and sophomore defensive backs Richard LeCounte and Mark Webb with six apiece.

“We’re a work in progress,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “We’re fighting tooth and nail and we don’t panic…It was a physical game. We played a ton of guys on defense. I’m proud of the way the guys competed.”

After sending the Auburn (6-4, 3-4) offense to the sideline after its first five plays, the Dawgs took the field to conduct a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive. A 25-yard Godwin reception and a 22-yard Holyfield rush preceded a Rodrigo Blankenship 25-yard field goal for the 3-0 Dawg advantage.

The Tigers responded on the next drive, using a 9-yard pass from Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham to John Shenker to establish the 7-3 lead. A 15-play, 73-yard Georgia drive followed, finalized with another Blankenship field goal to cut the Tiger margin to one.

The back-and-forth battle continued into the next Auburn possession, as the Tigers marched to the Georgia 5-yard line. A stout defensive stand – complete with an Eric Stokes pass breakup on a touchdown pass in the end zone – held the Tigers to a field goal for the 10-6 score.

With a kickoff return from the goal line, junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman placed the Dawgs on their own 41-yard line, and the footwork of Georgia tailbacks Holyfield, Swift and Brian Herrien guided the Dawgs to the Auburn 20-yard line. Fromm completed a 7-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ahkil Crumpton before connecting with junior Tyler Simmons in the end zone on the next play. Simmons’ first-career 14-yard touchdown claimed a Dawg lead Auburn could not overcome in the remaining 32:47.

Three plays and 47 seconds after the Blankenship PAT, the Georgia defense sent its offense back onto the field with two minutes remaining in the half. Fromm connected with Godwin for a 38-yard touchdown, sending the Dawgs into intermission with the 20-10 lead. The touchdown marked the fourth time this season Georgia has scored with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

Hardman guided the Dawgs to favorable field position once again in the second half – this time for the defense – halting a Jake Camarda punt at the 1-yard line to place the Tigers’ offense inches from their own goal line. Auburn was forced to punt, and on the next Dawg drive, Swift ran for a 75-yard touchdown, sealed with a Jeremiah Holloman block downfield. The Blankenship extra kick sealed the 27-10 final.

The Dawgs return to Sanford Stadium on Saturday, November 17 for a matchup with the University of Massachusetts. The contest is slated for 4 p.m. ET on SEC Network.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tuesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

Fifth-ranked Georgia continued its preparations for their SEC matchup against Auburn 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 junior defensive lineman Michael Barnett:

Opening Comments

"I thought we had a good one today. We got a little bit forced inside. It was nice outside, but we had wet grass, wet fields, so we practiced about half in and half out. The guys are fired up. There’s definitely a little more pep in their step when you’re playing Auburn. The pads are popping, so it’s good. Got to carry that into tomorrow.’’

On Jake Fromm practicing with a wrap on his right leg and the seriousness (or lack thereof) of it:

"I think he got a bruise or something. He got hit on one of those plays late in the half maybe. But he’s fine. He took all of his reps. He’s just got a wrap on it.’’

On the status of offensive linemen Lamont Gaillard and Cade Mays:

"They’re both limited. Did a little bit of stuff today. Couldn’t do everything. They did some of it, so they’re day to day.’’

How close is Divaad Wilson (freshman DB who was injured in spring practice) to getting some playing time late this season?

"He moved to start practicing more with us and not with the scouts, but that just means he’s cleared to play. It doesn’t mean he’s going to play. He’s got a lot to learn. He’s smart, he’s bright, he’s a good football player. But it’s not that easy. You don’t just take however long that’s been for him off. So we’re kind of trying to develop him and get him into position where he could play. So he’s repping at Star. He’s working with the Twos and taking a lot of reps. And the sooner he learns it, and he’s able to play, then hopefully he’ll get into that competition and mix it up.’’

What type of conditioning goes into preventing the players from getting injuries?

"Off season, the strength and conditioning program, Scott and his staff, do a ton. Nutrition, everything you can think of. We try to put it together to try to keep them from getting injured. Obviously, it’s a contact sport. There are going to be injuries with it. But we do a lot of stretch & stride, they get a lot of recovery on Thursdays. We do everything we possibly can to try to take care of them. Soft-tissue injuries, meaning pulls, we’ve been really (knocks on wood) fortunate with those and we do a good job of not giving guys too many yards. Unfortunately, it seems like we’ve had a lot of shoulders, knees, ankles, those things that are just football injuries.’’

What types of challenges does Auburn’s defensive front pose to your offensive line?

"They’re big, they’re physical, they’re quick, they’re athletic. A lot of them are gonna be high draft picks. We’ve been against them before. It seems like they’ve bene there forever. They’re talented, and they do a good job up front. I think the biggest thing is being consistent. You’ve got to keep chopping wood. You can’t expect to get a lot of movement early on those guys. They’re heavy and they strike. We’re gonna strike. Two guys striking each other, two stubborn teams. They wanna stop the run and we want to run the ball. We’ll see how it goes.’’

There are reports that (def. coordinator) Mel Tucker is under consideration for the Maryland job. How do you deal with that in midseason?

"I don’t. I mean, you don’t deal with it. Mel’s one of the most professional people I’ve ever met. He’s worried about these guys and this team. He’s worried about coaching his tail off for them, leading the defensive unit and making the calls. I’ve been there and done that. I know what that’s like, to have your name mentioned in a lot of jobs. I know that Mel’s focus is on getting our guys ready to play.’’

How does this weekend help your recruiting?

"We’re going to have a lot of prospects here. We’ve always had a lot of prospects here, but I think this one, it seems like we’ve gone forever without a home game, so it’s kind of, everybody’s ready to come back. The fact that we’ve got a night game probably makes it to where more people can make the travel. But it will help us being at night. It’ll help us being a big game. The fact that we haven’t had a home game in awhile will help us, so we’re expecting a lot of prospects and it’s a chance to showcase our new facility again and show them a good time.’’

How much does losing a home game (because of the neutral-site game) affect your recruiting?

"It absolutely costs you a recruiting weekend. You don’t get to have anybody, but they don’t get to have anybody. So our version of our LSU-Alabama game is held in Jacksonville and we don’t have prospects. So that’s not conducive to recruiting, absolutely it’s not. It’s just the way it’s been done here before. It’s not great for recruiting because you lose a home game every other year and just comes with it. But certainly it helps to have more home games.’’

You’ve seen a lot of good running backs in your career. Do you ever see (D’Andre) Swift make a move and go, ‘Whoa’?

"Yeah. The two moves he made on the same play last week were pretty incredible. They were explosive cuts, you know, going one way really fast, going from being a one-cut runner to planting and going the other way. That was definitely a ‘wow’ run. He’s had quite a bit of those since he’s been here. He puts them together back-to-back. He’s really explosive and fast. When you look for one cut, short quickness, he certainly defines that.’’

How much does external talk about your team serve as motivation for the team?

"I think the players get into it. They like to look at it. They like to see it and they use it as motivation. I think the strength coaches sometimes use it as motivation. But I’m a big intrinsic motivation person. I think you’ve got to do it from within. You’ve got to do it because it’s the right thing to do. You’ve got to do it because you want to do it for your teammates. Because what happens when you play good and they don’t say that? Then you have no motivation. You’re always looking for the naysayers. I don’t think that’s big. Obviously, if those kids said that, they may think it’s important to them. I think we had a great challenge last week. We issued a challenge to them. The challenge was, ‘Here’s a team that’s running the ball really well. Here’s a running back who’s running the ball really well. You have an opportunity to go out and make a mark for yourself. But I don’t think it’s really about what other people say.’’

Is there any validity to the talk of wearing black jerseys? What’s your stance on doing that kind of thing?

"We did it a couple of years ago against somebody. I think it was one of the ‘buy’ teams or something and did it for energy and enthusiasm. I don’t think you need energy and enthusiasm for Auburn. If you can’t get up for Auburn, then we’ve got some other problems. We’ve got to be excited to play, and I don’t think that (black jerseys) is relevant to me. I’m not saying that we’re not ever going to do it. I’m not saying that we are. That’s just not really what’s important to me. That’s just me. I believe in the guys going out and playing physical and playing hard, and you don’t have to do things like that to get ‘em fired up to do it. I really think they should want to do it. It’s great for recruiting."

Surprised that fans want to make a big deal out of that kind of thing?

"No, it doesn’t surprise me about anything that fans do. It doesn’t surprise me at all.’’

So, to be clear, traditional red on game day?

"I guess, yeah. I mean, I’m not really concerned with that. I’ll let you guys get the hits and the likes on that. I just want to get the team ready to play.’’

Michael Barnett, Junior, Defensive Lineman

On the defense’s performance last week and the challenge of Auburn.. 

"I think we played pretty good. I mean, we were working on it and trying to get better because obviously against LSU we didn’t play very well. So we just try to focus on our fundamentals and technique. Towards Auburn, we just hope to stop the run better."

On getting to play at home for the first time in five weeks...

"It’s always good when we play at home. We love the home crowd and it’s a great experience to get to play in front of the home fans. I honestly wish it were an earlier game, but anytime in the day is great being at home. You just wait all day before you play the game.’’

Monday, November 5, 2018

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications
University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against Auburn. They offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening comments …

“I'd like to also congratulate Matt Stinchcomb, who is a close friend, played together with Matt here, and what a great honor bestowed to him and certainly deserves it. He's having a bright career with the SEC Network, and what a great honor it is to have him representing the University of Georgia Hall of Fame. So appreciate that, and honor to him.

Open up, we're moving on to Auburn, who we have tremendous respect for. Gus Malzahn does a great job with them in practice. Obviously, it's the first time in a long time, probably ever, that we've played them three times, in what really amounts to a calendar year. And these guys have a good football team. When you look at them defensively, they're loaded up front. They've got a lot of big guys. They've got a lot of players who play a lot of snaps. I mean they're experienced across the board.

On their defensive unit, it seems like every guy has been there for three years and played a significant role. And then offensively, I think every time you play one of Gus's offenses, it's time consuming. It's frustrating. He does a lot of misdirections. They come right at you and hit you in the mouth like they did last year. They've got really good skill players to take shots with, and they do a great job on special teams, always have. So it'll be a tremendous challenge for our guys, as they move on from the Kentucky game into this game, and I know our players and our coaches have a lot of respect for the way Auburn plays the game.

I'll open it up with a couple of the injury stuff. Mecole Hardman, I think, will be fine. He had an ankle. Probably could have come back in the game. He should be fine today to practice. Lamont Gaillard had a hyperextension. He's going to be limited today, but we think he'll be fine. We'll see how he progresses the next couple of days. Ben Cleveland continues to progress. Thought he could have played if he had to in the last game. So we hope he continues to get better. I think that's all of them. If not, I'm sure you guys will ask.”

On if there is still motivation from last year’s regular season game against Auburn …

“It's a rivalry game. I mean so many of our kids were recruited by them and so many vice versa. It's always a rivalry game, and I think that a big part of that is being at your best when your best is needed. And that's the challenge for our guys. We're playing at home, at night, in our stadium, which I think is really important to our fans, important to our players to protect our home turf, and we want to put our best effort forward. And certainly going to have to with the challenge they present, because they've got a lot of good football players.”

On the play calling in goal-line situations …

“I really don't think it's that. I think we worked really hard on it last week and that's probably the most frustrating thing is that we didn't overcome the obstacles we had previously. And it has nothing to really do with play calling. It's not the maddest I've ever been. I was more disappointed in some of the organizational things, not necessarily what we did. Just the way we went about it, and we'll continue to work on it and get better at it.”

On the extent of celebration for winning the SEC East …

“Yeah, that's not a case for us. I mean obviously the locker room, guys were fired up. Guys were excited. I mean I think anytime you play another top-10 team and you have a big win, it's something to get excited about. These guys worked really hard for a long time. So being able to enjoy that moment and that big game for the trip home, and then Sunday we move on. And it's onto Auburn, who's got a really good football team. They get your attention the minute you turn the tape on because they've got an experienced quarterback. He's got an elite arm. They've got a lot of really good wideouts. They're talented, fast, extremely fast. And they've got a defense that's been there forever. So I mean there's not anybody on our team that's going to be worrying about anything but Auburn because that's the next task at hand. That's what we have to be focused on. Our goal is to play the next team, whoever the next team is, and we don't try to have real big highs and no real lows. We want to stay right neutral in the middle.”

On if experience with winning the East last year helps with motivation this season …

“I don't know if that helps. What helps is playing well, and your play is reflected by your behaviors, which are your actions in practice. And it all boils back down to that. We can make it psychological all we want, but at the end of the day it's how you work during the week, what are your behaviors in practice, and your behaviors lead to playing better, and that's what we're trying to do right now is play better.”

On what was done during the bye week to improve the Georgia running game …

“We just worked on things we were not doing well. That was a big part of it. I didn't think we were running the ball well before that either. I mean we had some success before that and we had to improve. We've had a lot of young players that are trying to grow up, and they still need to grow up, and we got some guys out there that have played a lot of football that they have to continue to play better. But there was no magic potion. The off week we just work and we tried to work on points of emphasis for each unit.”

On the rhythm between Justin Fields and Jake Fromm …

“Justin doesn't have to come in just to run the ball. He's a talented quarterback. He's growing as a player. He's getting better. The more roles we give him to benefit our team, I think it helps us. He's also 230 pounds, too. So he presents a lot of issues for a defensive unit, and I know that from having to coach against guys like Justin. But he's a talented player that doesn't just have to come in the game and run the ball. And I think he and Jake work well together, and if they continue to do that, we'll use both of them where we see it beneficial.”

On Isaiah Wilson and the job he has done on the offensive line …

“He's grown. He's getting better. I thought last year he got frustrated early and just kept working. Spent some time on the scout team, got better. He still is a work in progress, just like our team is. I mean there's things that he didn't do right Saturday. He plays physical. He's a big man. He's worked hard to get better. He's held up against some tough guys in pass pro. I think he takes pride in that. But he'll be the first to tell you that he didn't do some things right Saturday in the run game that he's gotta improve on and that he's going to play against some really good front guys this week, and when you don't step with the right foot, you don't take the right angle, you don't approach things the right way, these guys can expose you. So he'll keep working, and hopefully he'll keep getting better.”

On what’s allowed Elijah Holyfield to mature as a runner throughout the season…

“Probably carries. He's always been mature. He's a very mature kid that has worked his tail off when nobody knew him because of the feature backs we had, and we all knew what a workhorse he was. He came down to the scout team and got to see him do it against some really good defense last year. So opportunity is probably what's presented itself to him.”

On Jeremiah Holloman exceeding expectations and having a prominent role… 

“He works. I've said it before, he works really hard. He blocks really physical. Everything is important to him, all the details. He's on the punt return unit that's one of the better ones in the country. He takes pride in that. He's a backup on kickoff coverage, backup on punt team. He just works. So the guys that work and play physical and catch the ball when they get the opportunity. He's taken advantage of some opportunities he's been presented, like in the Florida game. He took advantage of the opportunities he got last week. But he's not the only one in that room. There's a group of young men in that room that do a great job for our run game, for our special teams and then when we get an opportunity to throw it they're able to take advantage of it.”

On an injury update for Cade Mays and young players that contributed at Kentucky… 

“Cade had a little bit of a stinger. He's probably going to be limited today. And we don't know how much further it will go. But we expect to get him back. And I know he's a tough kid and he'll push through it. But medically Ron Courson and them are going to keep him out of some contact today. But, again, he's tough, competitive, a lot like the rest of our freshman class. He's working really hard, and those guys as a unit are getting better. It's not just the freshmen. I say freshmen. I'm talking about redshirt freshmen. But all those guys.

So don't think of it as last year's signing class. Look at it as a two-year span of guys that haven't had significant roles. I think those guys are growing up, getting better, and I said it after the game last week, some guys got in the game that hadn't been getting in the game, because we have had to use them. They have some attributes that we need, and I'm pleased with those guys' growth. I just hope the maturity allows them to handle, whether it's a little success, in the case of Channing Tindall or Adam Anderson or Brenton Cox, or a little frustration in the case of somebody that's not playing as much as they want to. They just have to keep getting better.”

On the legacy of Georgia running backs and their continued success in the NFL, like Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, and Sony Miche,l and how that contributes to recruiting…

“Yeah. I think it helps tremendously to have the guys, even the history of Robert Edwards, Garrison Hearst, Terrell Davis, I mean Herschel Walker, just back after back after back after back. Now it's probably more prominent than it's ever been because of the stage that Todd is on and what he's been able to do and Nick and Sony's exposure last year through the National Championship game.

I think if you're a premier back in the country and you say I want to go somewhere that I can learn to play in a pro style, catch the ball in the backfield. I also want to be able to protect so that I can increase my value, and I also want to have durability where I'm not going to be beat up when I come out of there, there's nowhere better to go. These guys recognize that, and that's why Dell McGee has been able to recruit at a high level.”

On the importance of winning time of possession against Auburn…

"I think it goes back and forth. I think it's a lot about what kind of team you are. If you have depth defensively, and you think you can withstand those drives, the most important thing becomes ‘Can I get off the field on third down?’ And the Auburn teams have been different over the years, too. They've had really fast-scoring ones. They've had some long, methodical teams that go on long drives. It's a lot more important what we do, than what they do, and we have to go execute regardless of what they do. They've got some up-tempo stuff, and they do a really good job of it, and you have to go out execute them. You have to go out and be able to play fast, and your kids have to be able to line up. It's what everybody in college football works on now in the offseason to get ready for."

On how many underclassmen are playing this year compared to others in Smart’s experience…

"I don't know statistically. I can't tell you what the most I've ever had play and what the least I've ever had play. We've got a lot of them in our two-deep, and it's mainly because I think eight or nine of them came early, so that helped them get acclimated. That certainly had an effect with Cade Mays and maybe Trey Hill and those guys that came early. They got to get to work earlier. But I can't tell you. I just know these guys are working hard, and you want to bring good players in your program, but it's not just getting them here. It's getting them bought into the principles and values and doing what the seniors want and then buying in and also learning and dealing with the frustration of being away from home. This group is starting to overcome a lot of that and get better as they get more and more experience."

On how freshman CB Tyson Campbell can develop…

"He's got a lot to work on. Tyson is a benefactor of a little bit of lack of depth. He's a benefactor of playing a position that's not quite as complicated as some of the other freshmen are at. And he's talented. But he's grown up. He'll continue to grow up. When you play opposite Deandre Baker, you're going to get a lot of attention. And he continues to get a lot of those. And he has to continue to improve and work on a lot of things, whether it's tackling, eye control, doing his job, knowing the assignment of every play. Because out there sometimes you get away with maybe a wrong technique because you've got a guy manned. You can't get away with that when you're the linebacker that has to make the call, when you're the quarterback or the running back that has to protect. You can't do those things. And he can, and he's been able to grow, and he has to continue to improve, though."

On the principles that Auburn has consistently done well under head coach Gus Malzahn…

"Physical. Being able to run the ball. I mean people think it's all sideways, and when they've had elite backs, they've really run it well. When they've had elite quarterbacks, they've really run it well. They've got more wideouts now than I remember them having as far as vertical threats and guys that can run and throw the ball down the field and a quarterback that can get the ball to them. I’ve got a lot of respect for the job he does, and they've always created a lot of problems because of the tempo and because of the window dressing, and they do all that, but they still run the ball at you."

On the difference for junior TE Isaac Nauta the past few weeks…

"I really think it's just opportunities. It's just his number. It's not like we call a play and say this play is going to Nauta. I really think the two-minute drive at Florida opened up for him, and they played some coverages that made it easy for him. It wasn't that he was out there beating somebody in coverage man to man. They didn't cover him on some. And then they played a soft zone where he got the ball. And he did a good job the other day. He beat a guy across the space that was man-to-man. And I know Jake Fromm is very comfortable with those tight ends. And I think Isaac at the end of the day knows the offensive system better. He understands where coverages are. He knows what leverage to take, and he's taken advantage of some good opportunities."

Elijah Holyfield, Junior, Tailback

On already clinching the SEC East, knowing how much more you have to play for and still concentrating on the rest of the schedule…

“It gives us a lot of motivation, but we have a really good team that we are about to play on Saturday and we are looking forward to that.”

On being motivated by last year’s loss to Auburn…

“We have enough motivation with what we have going this year. We have a chance to play for many more things down the road and we are just looking forward to playing the game Saturday against a good team, executing and playing our best.”

On playing a team like Auburn that you have so much familiarity with…

“It helps a lot, you know we are very familiar with them. We play them every year and we played them twice last year. We are very familiar with the team and we are looking forward to a good game.”

On how much Georgia’s running back legacy played into your decision to attend UGA…

“It was a very big deal to me. I have watched Georgia football for a long time and I have always loved all the Georgia backs, starting with Knowshon Moreno and watching Todd and Sony and Nick and then playing with them as well. It had a lot to do with my decision.”

On how much competition within the team figures into Georgia producing good backs…

“I definitely think that it helps. When you have somebody there that is just as good as you, playing right next to you, it pushes you every single day. I know I can’t take a day off because he isn’t going to take a day off. I think it motivates us.”

Jonathan Ledbetter, Senior, Defensive End

On facing Auburn’s high-tempo offense and controlling time of possession…

“If you control the ball, you control the game. They’ve got a really fast team and when they get going in the groove, it can hurt a lot of teams, people get tired. They’ve got a lot of defenses that aren’t lined up. You have to be able to stay ready and sustain during times like that. Time of possession is definitely crucial. If our offense can stay on the field longer, control the ballgame, they have less time with the ball and we can limit that. If we’re getting three-and-out’s, that means the game is flowing how it needs to be.”

On focusing on the next game knowing the team is playing in the SEC Championship …

“Our main goal this week is to focus on Auburn. We clinched the East, that’s great, now it’s back to work, it’s now Monday, and we’re back to the drawing board ready for this week. We’re not worried about anything down the line except Auburn.”

On the familiarity of facing Auburn for the third time in a calendar year…

“You’ve got two good football teams playing against each other, competing and playing their hearts out. It’s a physical game, always. It’s one of my favorite games of the season so I’m looking forward to it. I’m always looking forward to a challenge.”

Andrew Thomas, Soph, Offensive Tackle

On earning SEC Co-Offensive Lineman Player of the Week…

“It is a good accomplishment, but I give that to the offensive line as a unit. We rushed for 331 yards and I don’t even think we gave up a sack, so I think it was a good team effort.”

On young guys stepping up on offensive line…

“We knew Trey Hill was a talented kid. He has been working hard. When he came into the game, he had a small mishap with the snap, but after that he played very well for a freshman coming in that hasn’t played that much coming in. It is very important that the young guys are able to step up. That is a good thing when we are trying to compete for a National Championship.”

On challenges of Auburn defensive line…

“I know for a fact every year that their front seven is very talented, very physical, and we have to run the ball to win the game, so we’ll be working on that.”

On avoiding a slip-up game …

“Every week we have to come with the same approach. When you become lackadaisical that is when you slip-up as a team. We are working to get better, because we have to win out the rest of the way to be where we want to be.”

JR Reed, Junior, Defensive Back

On Auburn’s offense and importance of tempo…

“There will be a big emphasis this week to handle the tempo on first and second down, because when those guys get third-and-short that is when they like to go really fast…It will be very important this week to communicate well and also watch a lot of film to understand what types of movements and shifts that they do and what our checks will be in and out of those shifts.”

On celebration of SEC East Championship…

“There was a little celebration but we know that winning the East doesn’t mean that much. Winning the East two times in a row is nice, but it is now on to Auburn and the next team after that. We just have to be where our feet are.”

On Jeremiah Holloman’s progression …

“I’m not surprised at all. He has been very good for us even in his freshman year. He is improving. He is a big body receiver. He had a few guys in front of him, but when the opportunity knocked he hit it out of the park and he is shining right now…He and Javon Wims are real close friends and he is a big physical guy just like Javon. He might be a little faster too, but I’ll let those two guys handle that.”

Kickoff Times Set

UGA Sports Communications

The Saturday, November 17th, football game between Georgia and UMASS in Athens will kick off at 4:00 p.m. ET and be televised by the SEC Network. The Saturday, November 24th game between Georgia and Georgia Tech in Athens will kick off at noon also on the SEC Network.

These will be Georgia’s second and third appearances on the SEC Network this season. The Dawgs’ all-time record on the SEC Network is 16-3.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Auburn Kickoff Set

UGA Sports Communications

The Saturday, November 10th, SEC football game between Georgia and Auburn in Athens will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET and be televised by ESPN.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

“Well, first off I want to give a lot of credit to Mark Stoops and his program. What he’s done here to create this kind of atmosphere and to have a game of this magnitude in Lexington, Kentucky says that the SEC is a tough place to play. There are some good coaches in this league and I have gotten to know Mark over the years and this group of seniors he has is really tremendous and they play really hard. 

Our kids continue to be resilient, I will say again as I have said many times we are a work in progress. We make things extremely difficult at times but they just keep playing physical. A lot of credit goes to our offensive line today. To rush for 331 yards against any team in the SEC is pretty tremendous. Our backs and tight ends are a big part of that as well as the receivers blocking. Defensively, we felt like we had to stop the run early and we did just that. We probably didn’t finish the game like we wanted to and got a little conservative but give them credit they made some plays. Our kids played hard, but we played really hard on special teams. Special teams are always a big part of the game but when you lose players within a game and you’re able to answer the bell and put other guys in it’s tremendous. Trey Hill grew up today and Kendall Baker played a lot and we continue to play guys and it’s shown that depth is critical to our success on the offensive line.”

On what it means to him to win another SEC East title …

“It’s huge. It hasn’t been easy and it’s never easy. Sometimes I think people get spoiled when you win and these are good programs and teams. I give our kids a lot of credit because their backs were against the wall two weeks in a row and they came out fighting, scratching and crawling. I thought that the play by Mecole Hardman to start the punt return was a huge momentum play in the game and set the tone for the rest of the game.”

On establishing the run game …

“We always want to establish the run. I think every team wants to establish the run and sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t. We didn’t know how well we would be able to block them. They are massive up front and have good outside backers but we were able to lean on them and our backs really ran well. Trey, I mean to be honest with you, there were times during fall camp that we thought Trey was going to be a starter, at least I did. We kind of tossed the idea around a couple of times but he has just continued to work. A lot of these freshmen on our team are highly regarded, talented players that just keep working and take on their roles just like Justin, just like all the other guys. Adam Anderson played more tonight, Channing Tindall played, Otis Reese played, I mean these guys are taking on their roles and growing as players. Trey really did that and the unique thing about him is that he took snaps of defense a lot this week but ended up playing all offensive line.”

On D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield’s future careers after tonight’s performance…

“I mean, they have always been good players. They had good open holes, they ran hard, receivers blocked well, they continued to run hard and are very confident in the group in front of them. I think Coach Jim Chaney had a good plan against what was a really good defense. I mean teams struggle to score against them mainly because of their experience, they have veterans in the back end, and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. You gotta grind out points and we know we grind out a lot of threes where we should be scoring touchdowns.”

Jake Fromm, Sophomore, Quarterback

On what this win meant to the team …

“Great feeling. Praise God for this win. It was tough fought. Hard, physical game, and I think it just goes back to the way we practiced during camp. The grind that we have been going through all season. You kinda saw it play out here today.”

On winning the SEC East …

“This one has been more of a battle, so to speak. A lot of people kind of doubted us a little bit and that hasn't phased us one bit in the locker room. We’re still coming out swinging and that’s what I love about this team. That’s what I love about my teammates.”

Jeremiah Holloman, Soph, Wide Receiver

On the team mindset going in …

“Score as many as we can. Whatever we’ve gotta do to be successful. It could have been 10-9 and we would have been happy. Just going out there and doing what we had to do. It just opened up and we were able to make plays and get points on the board.”

On predictions prior to big match-ups like today …

“Inside the building, we’re all good. We know what we've gotta take care of to be successful. That’s what it comes down to. People on the outside are going to say what they want to say, but we just do what we've gotta do.”

Elijah Holyfield, Junior, Running Back

On how winning the title this year was different than last year …

“This time we had to come up here and come into hostile territory and win it ourselves. It feels really special and we just look forward to finishing out the season the right way and getting to Atlanta.”

On Georgia’s work ethic …

“I do put in a lot of work and I think as it starts to pay off towards the end of the season, I feel like whenever other people start to die down we keep going because of our work ethic here at Georgia. I look forward to the next game and the next game after that.”

Monty Rice, Soph, Linebacker

On stopping Benny Snell …

“It was big for me and the whole defense. It was the emphasis for the whole week. It was big to slow him down and not let him get those big runs that he’s used to. I watched a lot of tape and he ripped off some big teams and falling forward for two extra yards and getting five yards a carry—it was nice to slow him down.”

On having a lot of white jerseys surrounding the ball in the middle …

“It was big running to the ball. Tuesday and Wednesday those are our full pad days. Against a scout team, we had to get 11 guys to the ball every play—just gang tackling the guy with the ball and just play fast.”

On if this defense is rounding into form with their young guys …

“We got a lot of players that can come in and make plays. That was like, Channing Tindall's second play in the game coming in and making a big stop in the red zone that’s huge. When they get down to the red zone you want to hold them to a field goal so that was big on Channing.” 

Jonathan Ledbetter, Senior, Defensive End

On how he’s feeling right now …

“I mean I feel like I’m a winner. I’m on fire inside right now. I’m ready to go back to my team and congratulate everyone that worked hard and you know everyone played their heart out today. Like I said, our backs against the wall and we’re gonna answer the call every time. I’m proud of everybody.”

On the celebration …

“We just celebrated that was it. I held up the little poster that sad SEC East Champs on it and that’s it. We’re gonna get on the plane watch the tape and go over it as soon as we get on the plane. It’s on to the next game. It’s important to us, we know this is a stepping stone, but this is not where we put our pads up. We stay relevant in the moment. You keep working. No one cares that we’re the SEC Champs except for the SEC East, but we’re on to the next thing. The SEC is over with and now it’s time for the SEC Championship.”

On stopping Snell …

“We knew what it was going to take. We knew we had to wrap him up, take him down and put him on the ground. He’s a powerful running back and gets a lot of carries every game but we wanted to use that to our advantage and knock him around a little bit and take him off of his game. He played well—he played okay, but he’s a great player, but we executed and played like a defense.”

D’Andrew Swift, Soph, Running Back

On his run today…

“That’s my favorite one now.”

On having 100 yards back-to-back game …

“Coming back from an injury it’s hard to do what I want to do, so just going out there and being able to do it, I’m thankful. I’m definitely happy.”

On being patient offensively …

“We just try to wear teams down as the game goes. We’re a fourth quarter team that’s how we practice so just trying to wear them down as the game goes is our mindset.”

Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops

Really you have to give credit to Georgia. They beat us in all phases. Really played a good football game. There's many things we will take from this. We can learn an awful lot.

Definitely was not our best effort. Not for lack of trying, but our team really had a good week of preparation and were excited to play. We did not execute at times. At times we got out-manned. We missed more tackles than I could remember. Didn't execute a few things.

But you've got to give them credit. You've heard me talk for many times and they are sitting there, if they rush for 300-yards plus, you're not going to win very games. Obviously we have to get back and fundamentally get better.

I thought they moved us. They made us miss. They did a nice job with their pinch sets, bouncing it. Our run support, a lot of things we can do better, and again, a lot of that has to do with them. That's why they do that to a lot of people. What they do is complicated and it's difficult to defend with some athletes that they have in space. We'll get better. Our team will get back on track and we'll be excited to get back to work on Monday.

Does this loss hurt a little bit more than the other one, compared to what was at stake for this game and all the hype leading up to it?

Of course. Any time you invest as much as we do into these games and put ourselves in that position, it's going to hurt. You know, that's what I told the team. We invested a lot, and I understand that. But we can't, one, make this loss turn into two.

So we have to get back to work and regroup and be committed on Monday.

After Darius West was ejected, I noticed that you took him around your arms you and were talking to him and you want to mention what you were saying to him?

No, I mean, that's -- I don't even recall all of it to be honest with you. Darius is a great kid and he's poured his heart into it, and he's an emotional guy. Just wanted to put my arm around him and make sure he regrouped himself, and you know, go the to the locker room and got everything under control. Don't remember exactly what I said.

How encouraging to see the team continue to fight when they went down 28-3?

That doesn't surprise me. The fight is there. We've got to do some things better. The long run, really, that one really broke it open, and there are some things -- they do a nice job with their cracking and we were filling off that. Just give them a little space. You know, they are difficult. They are very physical and all those yards just don't come from that. They get the movement and then they did a nice job with cracks and then they are so fast. There's a little bit of room there and they are ripping off some big runs. It's not just pushing you around inside. What they do and how they scheme it, it's good. You have to be very precise.

I'm looking at the video of the ejection right now and it looked like the ref initiated contact. Did you say something to him?

I really don't think it's wise for me to comment on that. Again, I don't know. I didn't see anything. I have no idea. But you know, I'll put it this way, I know Bunchy's heart and I know he's an emotional guy and I don't think he was trying to be disrespectful. But if he put his hand and tried to grab for whatever reason, you can't do that.

Again, if he did that, if he touched him in any way, even if he's emotional, I don't think he meant it in a disrespectful way, let's put it that way. I know Bunchy and I know where his heart's at, and the rule is the rule.

This is the first time your team had been in this position on this stage, do you think that played any factor at all?

I don't know. I think our team, you know, all week had great preparation. I thought we stayed in our routine against a very, very good team like that, you have to execute extremely precise along with being athletic, physical, all the things that they do and they have done. They have explosive guys on both sides of the line of scrimmage. You know, both sides. You have to play better.

So I think our team is very experienced and we put ourselves to play in games and we will continue to learn.

Regarding the team's miss tackles

You've got to give them credit. There's a lot of one-on-one situations that happened out there and the speed with which they have definitely is difficult to defend. It's one of the reasons why they have been Top-5 team the past two years.

You said you can't turn this into two losses. How do you make sure there's not a letdown?

You let them lean on the leaders of this football team. The guys, they are good in there. We got beat tonight, and we have to regroup and go about our business. We have strong leaders in there and I anticipate that we'll be ready to go.
The missed tackles, do you think the guys in casts -- do you think that played any role?

It doesn't help. It doesn't help. You know, late in the game, we're basically in four-minute defense and you notice, that's what I was walking with Coach House about. We had Chris and DeAndre in there, I think both in there on the long run, on the long touchdown run.

So as experienced as we are, when you take those guys out of the middle, you go to very inexperienced. But I thought they did some good things and it doesn't help with two guys in there trying to tackle with those on.

Regarding the atmosphere at Kroger Field

It was a great atmosphere. Wish we had given them a few more things to cheer about but really appreciate it. That was a fantastic atmosphere, and again, that's what it's like playing in an SEC venue. I'd like to create it where it's like that every week.

Did you think coming into the game that their running game and offensive line could be a match up problem, or did that surprise you a little bit?
Well, I don't think we ever go into the game thinking we're going to give up those kind of yards. Again, it's a combination of things. It's not just physically, you know, moving you. They do do that well. They definitely create space. They are very well-coached on the offensive line and the sets that they give you create issues with their pinch sets. They make, you know, some smaller guys, some of our corners come up and aren't quite used to it and they create some edges. There was some things we need to do better.

Anything going on on your side with the running game?

They are pretty darned good. You've got to give them credit.

You know, we'll continue to look at all options. You know, we had some good drives early in the game, and then we Pete erred out and we stalled, and got to look at it and see why. I'd like to see us, you know, punch some of those in to give us some -- make it closer there at the half.

We need to be more balanced, and this time, it's Terry throwing for more yards; we need to run it some more. But I thought Terry was, again, taking another step today. I thought he really did a good job of hanging in the pocket and distributing the ball against a very talented defense. We need to build off that and be physical and run the ball more effectively.

How much did it hurt not being able to cash in on some of those early drives?

It's definitely a factor. Definitely hurts the energy and the confident. Again, I thought we had some good drives. We've just got to finish them.

You said you could learn things from this. What types of things do you want the team to learn?

Well, many things. Like the execution from a top three, four, five team, the execution that they have and they are obviously very talented. They are well-coached. But you have to be very precise and we have to win some of those one-on-one matchups. We have to do a better job with coaching starting with me and everybody on down. We'll all accept it together and we'll keep on fighting to get back in that position.

The offense had some success the last two weeks when you were forced to go fast late in the games. Can you use that in other situations or is that because the defense --

Yeah, I think we may. We may. I mean, we have to look at that. I mean, Terry certainly looks comfortable right now, just straight drop-back and he's doing some good things. The receivers are working hard, and be nice to build off that.

How much was Benny held back by his ankle in the second half?

I think a bit. I don't know, I didn't get an update from Jim, but definitely I would think a little bit. I don't know. I have to get caught up with Jim.

It was such a great atmosphere, everybody in their seats. How big was that?

Yeah, it was big. We start the game, get great punt return, get great field position -- and that obviously is not good. We need to do a better job. We had worked hard with their punt return. We know how electric he was, and we really wanted to put that -- we wanted to place that better. Max has done a super job, but one thing you can't do is out-kick your coverage right down the middle of the field against that return guy. That was not in our game plan, so we've got to do a better job.

Benny Snell Jr., Running Back

On what the mood was after the game …

“Some of the young guys had their head down. The leaders were telling us that we were up, me, Josh (Allen), Terry (Wilson), Kash (Daniel). Telling guys to pick their head up, we still got more games to play. It’s fresh, we’re fresh off the loss, but we still got a good Tennessee team to play. We still got games we got to win. I feel them being down, but we gotta get up, we gotta get up.”

On if the veteran guys have a different perspective on the loss, knowing where the program has come from …

“That’s what I was trying to explain to some of the guys, like you see the fans, how long some of the good, loyal fans stayed? Even when it was going down south they were still out there, they were still supporting us. That just explains how far we came, how we came as a program, how better we’ve gotten throughout the season. I just tell the guys that we got more games ahead of us. This is the best we’ve ever been. We’re doing great things, so I don’t tell the guys to dwell their head.”

On if there’s a reason the offense is more successful when they move faster …
“We try to catch the defense off guard a lot. We try to hit them with trick plays, we wear them out with the run, the pass is starting to come a long way now. Lynn (Bowden Jr.) is doing a great job at catching the ball, as well as C.J. (Conrad). Things are looking good, so we’re gonna keep have the defense guessing. That’s what we do.”

Josh Allen, Linebacker 

On how he avoids letting this loss linger …

“We know where our heads are at. We know what we have to do next week. This game is in the past, we just gotta learn from our corrections and just move on and hopefully start Monday we can get back to practice and get a win next week.”

On what Georgia’s offense did to have so much success …

“They were just making good plays. Backs made a lot of good cuts, as you can tell. I feel like our front, defensive line, handled the job pretty well. They were just finding holes, and they found a weakness in the defense and they were just going with it and made a lot of explosive plays.”

On the two fumble recoveries …

“I saw a loose ball and I had to go get it for my team. It just happened to be me. I was in the situation and I had to make a play.”

C.J. Conrad, Tightend

On the biggest take away from the game …

“You just have to play better in big moments. They’re a really good football team, credit to them. When you play a really good football team, you have to play as close to perfect as you can, and we weren’t close to that tonight.”

On catching the screen …

“It was a fumble. It was a really bad play by myself. It’s something that you can’t do as a leader on this team. Luckily, the defense had my back and got a fumble themselves a few plays later. It’s obviously disappointing and I need to do better.”

On Terry Wilson …

“I thought Terry played really well tonight. I’m proud of him, and I think he’s growing really well as a quarterback. Good for him. We’re going to need that down the stretch. We have a lot of football games left and we’re going to need him”

 A.J. Rose, Running Back

On rushing the ball …

“Georgia has a great run defense. They came in with a great game plan. We could have executed better on our side. It’s a football game, it goes both ways. I give them credit for that. They came out more hungry than us the first half. In the second half, we didn’t have that much time to catch up, and you can’t play catch up in the SEC.”

On his touchdown …

“We thought it was going to be a back-shoulder pass, but I ended up tipping it. The defender didn’t catch it and I did, and I just made a play. It was all just weird to me. To feel it come back in my hands was weird, it was weird to take it in the end zone. I was just happy to be in the end zone.

On how this loss will affect the team …

“We aren’t going to let this loss turn into two. Tomorrow is Sunday, we’re going to Tennessee, preparing for that week. We can’t let this happen again. We have a goal and we came short of that goal, but we still want to finish the SEC strong.”

Davonte Robinson, Safety

On how Georgia played …

“They came out, they wanted it more. They played hard and hungry. You know, we have to keep getting better and move on to Tennessee. Can’t turn one loss into two.”

On Georgia’s success getting to the edge …

“I just think we weren’t in the right position at the right time. We weren’t gap sound, we’ll get better at that as we practice for Tennessee.

On his performance …

“I feel like I can do better, it wasn’t a great day, I had eight tackles, but it wasn’t the best.”

Terry Wilson, Quarterback

On the loss today …

“It’s just a mindset, we’ll get back and watch the film and then approach practice with a full head of steam – go out there and have fun with practice. We can’t get our head down or anything, we got to stay close as a team and know what we need to do to fix it.”

On comfort level as quarterback …

“I felt comfortable out there, I feel like I was moving the ball pretty well down the field. I didn’t have any turnovers so that was a plus. I feel like when we have the tempo that’s when we’re able to move the ball fast and get the ball down the field. Who knows, we’ll probably do more of that.”

On Kentucky’s mood after the game …

“This team is special. I know we’ll win out. The thing about this team is that we’re not going to give up. We have to continue to play hard and just keep getting after it. Keep working, we’re deep in SEC games. We can’t get complacent and don’t get lazy and just stay united as a team and we’ll be fine.”

On Kentucky’s yardage and points … 

“There is a difference with both, I feel like we were moving the ball pretty well, but sometimes we get penalties, but we’ll correct it. I started to trust my arm talent so I feel more confident.”