Sunday, December 29, 2019

Dawgs Hold First Sugar Bowl Practice

UGA Sports Communications

The Georgia football team practiced for 90 minutes in helmets and shorts at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday. The Dawgs will face Baylor in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Wednesday, January 1st.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl will kick off at 8:45 p.m. EST and will be televised by ESPN.

Following Saturday’s practice, Georgia’s players were scheduled to attend the NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Indiana Pacers.

Also after the practice, several players were made available for interviews.

Eli Wolf, Senior, Tightend

“Baylor’s got a really good football team. We’ve got to keep preparing for them and we know we’ll have to play really well to beat them. We have a lot of respect for their players and coaches. It’s going to be a fight. … Jake Fromm has been super steady all year in an offense with a lot of changes, a lot of injuries. He’s been constant and confident for us. It’s huge having a leader like that who can take control of the offense and get everybody lined up in their assignments. He’s done a great job with that.”

Jake Camarda, Sophomore, Punter

“This is the Sugar Bowl and this is a big game for us. We’re going to come out and play the best we can. It’s still a game for this season, not next season. We’ll look to next year after this game. We have great guys on this team, and we’re looking forward to playing this game.”

Tyson Campbell, Sophomore, Defensive Back

J.R. Reed was a big brother of mine. He taught me a lot and I paid attention to everything he told me. He’s one of those guys who will forever be remembered at UGA, so I’m happy for him. Right now, we’re focusing on the guys who are here trying to win this game. We’ve got a lot of depth in the DB room. The guys here have prepared hard and are ready to play well. I’m not worried at all.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Signing Day Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart talked with media regarding the 2020 early signing period and the upcoming Allstate Sugar Bowl against Baylor during a press conference on Wednesday.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …

“I'll open with excited for an opportunity to play Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. I haven't gotten to address that other than the media teleconferences we had. We're four practices in, and we've got a lot of respect for this team. When you watch them on tape, they really play hard, toughness, competitive. I think Coach Matt Rhule does a tremendous job. The turnaround he's been able to do there is incredible. They've played in a lot of really tough games this year, got a lot of respect for their conference, having played Texas from their conference last year, and they do a fabulous job.

Our guys, we really just kind of started on them specifically today, but we've had three or four practices that were more fundamental based, and the coaches have been working towards getting ready for Baylor. So excited about the opportunity to play those guys, and I know our players are too.

Next thing would be Signing Day today, which is kind of a weird timing for everything because we've still got the February signing date coming up, but we were able to address a lot of our needs today. I really feel like, when you talk about wide receiver and you talk about offensive line, what we've got leaving and what we need on our roster, we were able to attack some of those areas and still have work left to be done hopefully in both those areas.

We've got a really good strong group. We've got some really strong academic kids, which matters a lot to me at this university, and some great competitors. A couple guys, I think four guys played for state championships. Two guys won state championships. I'm really excited about this class. It's not completely done yet, but obviously, a lot of the pieces are in place. With that, I'll open it up.”

On if he had interest in Mike Bobo and thoughts on the offensive coordinator position …

“Yeah, I talk to Mike often, and we're really good friends. But as far as any conversation about coming to coach at the University of Georgia, no. He and I conversed about what he was going to do when he was let go, but that was during the week of the LSU game. As far as any other changes or anything like that, that's decided after the bowl game, after we look back at the whole year. We're working really hard right now on Baylor, on giving our kids an opportunity to play, and that's really where our focus is.”

On the wide receiver signees …

“Yeah. I'm not allowed to comment on anyone but the guys that have the paperwork in, but really excited about those guys. We've been excited about Justin Robinson for a long time. Marcus Rosemy too. They both came to our camp over the summer and were as competitive of kids as you've seen out there in one-on-ones, and both of them had good senior years, and both of them won state championships. Arian's a kid who's got a lot of speed. It's pretty obvious he can run fast. He wants to be able to run track here, which we've been very open to and had success with Mecole doing that, so that was a big selling point for him. We had a lot of other kids join us today that we think are going to help us.”

On wide receiver signees Marcus Rosemy and Arian Smith …

“Yeah, I don't know if Arian would say he's South Florida. He's the Lakeland area, which to those kids is not really all the way down in South Florida. But I think Coach Cortez Hankton did a tremendous job with Marcus and his family. We've got great relationships at that high school. Jason Taylor is a coach there, a guy that I was with at the Dolphins, Coach Harriet and Coach Coley have had great relationships for a long time. Those relationships help, but ultimately Georgia sells those kids on coming here. When they come up on visits, when they come up and see the place, the academics, coming to camp the relationships that are formed have been big on commits. And those wideouts know that we have a need. They know they have an opportunity to play.”

On quarterback signee Carson Beck and conversations with Jake Fromm regarding coming back …

“Yeah, start with Carson. Excited as I can be. This guy's come to camp since maybe his ninth grade year to our place, has grown up and gotten better with each and every year. He came this summer, hung out with our guys. Can't say enough about Carson and his family, the competitive nature that's inside him. He's been a winner. He won a state championship last year at Mandarin, which has probably never been done before, I think at their school. So he led those guys to that and did a great job.

As far as any others, we're looking for all positions. We've got some spots left, and we're looking at every position out there to sign best available players. And at that second signing, quarterback is not out of question, but it's not necessarily something we have to do.

As far as Jake, we do with Jake exactly what we do with every player on our team. We bring him in. We talk to teams. I talk to general managers. I talk to organizations. We get information. We give those kids that information. This is a time when they're able to do that, and then when we get closer to the Bowl game, we put it away, and then we come back and revisit it, and we've done those things for Jake.”

On if he expects D’Andre Swift, James Cook, Brian Herrien and Prather Hudson to play in Sugar Bowl …

“All that is still to be determined. All those guys healthy right now. Swift is recovering from his injury, but he's out there practicing, and he's doing everything we ask.”

On if James Cook will receive any additional punishment and any other news on players not playing in the Sugar Bowl …

“With Cook, it will start with the internal discipline we have, and as far as anybody else, we're still gathering information as far as anything grade-wise, any of the stuff we would have, we're still gathering all of that from school.”

On running back signee Kendall Milton and if Carson Beck will join the team for bowl practice …

“Yeah, we're hoping to get Carson here for Bowl practice as soon as possible. Kendall, on the other hand, I think was attracted to the fact that he knew he had the potential of two guys leaving with Herrien being a graduate and being a senior, and then with the likelihood of Swift possibly coming out, he's sitting there going, you know what, there's an opportunity there. I think any time, when you look at it as a running back and you say they could be losing two guys, very similar to years past when we had Sony and Nick, you're always exploring those options, and we certainly felt that Kendall comes from a really strong family. Dell formed a great relationship with their family, and they came and visited all the schools across the Southeast and really liked what Georgia had to offer.

I'm super pleased to get him. He was one of our leaders in the class, and I'm excited about what he's going to bring to the table.”

On what Matt Luke brings to his staff …

“We were really fortunate and excited to get him. The minute that I found out about Sam Pittman, he's the first guy that came to my mind and wanted to visit with, I've had a lot of respect for the job he's done, everywhere he's been from the years he was at Duke. He kind of came up under Coach David Cutcliffe and played for him and has been a good friend of mine for a long time. Got a lot of respect for what he does, how he does it. I've been in SEC meetings now with him for a while. Very sharp, very intelligent guy. That's kind of come to the realization on the road. When you go into home with him, he's got command. He's got presence. Kids like him. His team there, all the guys on their team loved him as a head coach. To do what he's done in the short amount of time he's done it is pretty remarkable because it was a tough timing situation.

So happy for Sam and Jamie and the opportunity they've gotten. He's come in, Matt's come in and put the Band-Aid on the bleeding and done a tremendous job and turned those three guys around pretty quick. We'll continue to recruit the others.”

On reflecting on the offense and the philosophy and scheme…

“Yes. We've looked at it. But we want to score points. I mean, you guys want a simple answer like it's just going to poof and happen. It's all philosophy. It's all the plays that are called and the play designs. It's not everything. There's a lot of things that go into having a successful offense, and we need to be better. I think everybody acknowledges that. And that's what we're working on really hard.”

On the impact of Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson declaring for the NFL on recruiting and the Sugar Bowl against Baylor… 

“Any time you lose two, one -- probably the first round pick, one potential first round pick, it's tough, right? Those kids have an opportunity to go do something they wanted to do all their lives, and we give them the information, and we let them make the best decision for them.

For us, it's not like this is something new. We've known this was the potential to happen with these two guys all year. We knew it as much as last year. So you're always trying to look ahead, plan ahead, develop players, develop your roster. Those guys have been out games, both of them, in the last two years, so we've had to play without them.

There will be challenges, absolutely, and there will also be opportunity. With opportunity, a lot of times guys get to answer the bell. We're going to get an opportunity to find out some other guys that can play the position. A lot of guys have been working really hard all year to develop that are going to get opportunities in this game.”

On the possibility of pursuing more quarterbacks for this class and the potential of graduate transfers… 

“Yeah, we don't ever take anything out of the realm. I mean, when we have graduate transfers in the past, that's like a constant study. We're looking at that for every position. Guys, it's simple. You want to make your roster as best as you can. That's our job as coaches. So we're in constant pursuit of every opportunity we have. There's nothing that's off limits in regards to recruiting or making your roster better.”

On the impact of the bowl performance for recruiting signing in the later signing period… 

“Yeah, maybe. They may look at it as an opportunity. But what's important for our university is that we go play the best football game we can and that we have a really positive attitude and outlook on it and we've had four great practices. Our kids have been tremendous in those four, and we've been really fast, physical, and fundamental, and we've been doing it quick.

But what those guys that you're talking about in the future are going to make their decision based on usually pertains to what opportunity they have to play, what our institution offers from an education standpoint. I don't think it's all based on the outcome of one game.”

On if previous comments of not bringing players to bowl games that are not engaged means if they're not playing in the game, they're not going to travel and if there has been a team-wide sentiment that what happened last year isn't going to happen again…

“No, I think we have good leaders on this team, though. A lot of guys have addressed the attitude and the practice habits and all those things. Like I just said, they've been really great. They've been awesome. They've handled that really well.

As far as going to the Bowl game or not, those two guys have been tremendous. They've been awesome. They let us know what they're going to do. They're working out. They're getting ready and preparing for the draft. We don't really have a decision to be made there.”

On getting a recruit out of California for Georgia for the first time since 2006 and if there’s an emphasis on getting more out-of-state players…

“It hasn't been an emphasis. It's been more of what are our needs and who can we get? We try to go out and evaluate and find the best character, football player, students -- all of those factors for us are important. Kendall certainly checks the box on all those, and he just happens to be from California. That's not a prerequisite. We want to get the best football players we can and student-athletes we can.”

On Ben Cleveland’s status …

“Cannot confirm that, no, because there's still things out there. So nothing's final yet.”

On how the entire signing class will shape out after the signing day in February… 

“Yeah, I can only comment on the ones that have signed today. That's all I'm allowed to comment on. I'm excited about the ones that signed today and looking forward to finishing off the class with another great class. I'm very pleased with what we brought in today, and I'm very pleased with what we've got coming forward in February, but I can't talk about it.”

On how many of Wednesday’s signees are expected to early enroll…

“I think we'll have six or seven mid-year enrollees, but some won't be here for bowl practice. Some have elected to play in the All-Star games. Some have to get their academic paperwork in to be able to enroll mid-year, and some will be here for the practices.”

On the team’s approach to the upcoming Sugar Bowl…

“I thought they approached it serious last year. We didn't play real well, but we had a bunch of young guys that got to play on defense. Offensively, we had turnovers, and when you have turnovers, you don't win football games. We've kind of gotten to that point. We're at a zero turnover margin, and they're at plus 14. So for the last four days, we've been banging that home. We can't have turnovers and win football games. Certainly excited to give our guys an opportunity. They've all embraced the challenge. That's what you do as a leader. You confront and demand and say this is how we're going to do it, and if you don't do it to the standard, then you don't play. All these kids have been great. They've done a good job of that.”

On his evaluation of the signees on the defensive line…

“Excited. I think those three guys, when you start looking across the country, defensive linemen are hard to find, 6 foot, 300-pound plus athletic guys. They don't grow on trees. You don't go pick them and grab them like they do DBs or finding wide receivers. They're hard to find, big, physical presence guys. We needed that. We're losing some core guys, and those three guys to me, they're as good of a group as you'll find in the country with three of them coming in together that we really need.”

On areas the staff still needs to focus on signing student-athletes…

“I would say O-line and receiver were the biggest areas we had to improve our roster, but you can't say that in a class because a class has all the parts, so if it's missing one part, then you could be deficient two years from now, three years from now, maybe next year. So I don't feel like we're going, oh, man, there's a major deficiency here. We've got a good, really balanced class. You could say linebacker, but we felt like it was not a need to have to go take a guy at inside backer because we had some young guys there.”

On having the opportunity to play freshmen in the SEC Championship game…

“I don't know how many of these guys look at that and acknowledge that. I don't know if that's really important to them because it's two fold. Yeah, they play a lot of freshmen. Everybody in the country plays a lot of freshmen because our rosters aren't as deep as they used to be. Also, sometimes they see that as that's another guy in front of me. So I don't know that that has bearing all the time other than we will give good football players opportunities to play. If you're good enough, you're old enough. You don't have to be a certain age. If you're good enough, you're old enough. We've always had that mantra around here. Lewis Cine had done some good things during the year. He played well when given the opportunity, and he did some good things in that game. He's one of our faster players, and he helps matchup-wise, and he's one of our best tacklers. So that was why he got the opportunity.”

On the activities the team will participate in for the Sugar Bowl…

“We don't get to pick the activities for the players. The Bowl picks a lot of that, and having been there a lot, a lot of them carry over their traditional activities.”

On what the team practice schedule will look like leading up to the Sugar Bowl…

“As far as us, we did a quality control last year when we got back of everything that, if we had to do it again, what would we do different? What can we do better? We took those sheets out, and we're looking at that. We made some changes, some subtle, some major, and I'm excited about the opportunity. That's why you do that when it's fresh on your mind right when you get back. We're very detail oriented of, would we stay there? Would we go there? Would we do this? Would we have this game or that game? Would we practice this way or this time? Look at all that and try to find the best available option. At the end of the day, it's really what kind of person are you inside. Like when you look at yourself in the mirror, can you accept that you did your best and you know you did your best, or do you feel like you did less than your best? That's what we're challenging the guys to do. That comes from inside.”

On the changes in the coaching staff and the landscape of coaching…

“I don't know that it's any different. We had somebody last year, right? He was at Colorado, and he was the defensive coordinator. To me, this is part of the profession. When you win football games and you win your division three years in a row, people get opportunities, and I am happy that Sam Pittman gets the opportunity. We've had other coaches on our staff get opportunities that have elected to stay, and that is a good thing. But for me, the next step is getting ready to play Baylor. It was signing the signing class today. Tomorrow it's getting our players ready to go play Baylor. The next step is a Monday practice for Baylor. So we're working on game prep for those guys. I don't really get into where this is compared to last year or the year before. It's next thing up. What's important now.”

Monday, December 16, 2019

Diamond Dawgs Debut At No. 7 In Preseason Ranking

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia makes its debut at No. 7 in Collegiate Baseball’s Fabulous 40 preseason baseball poll presented by Big League Chew bubble gum.

Georgia is in its seventh year under Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. The Bulldogs welcome back 20 returning lettermen and 16 newcomers. Georgia returns seven starting position players including a pair of 2019 draft picks in Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop Cam Shepherd and infielder/outfielder Riley King. Also, several key components of the pitching staff are back including projected first round draft prospects Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox. Georgia’s No. 7 preseason ranking is its best in the preseason since 2009 when it was No. 4.

Louisville was chosen as the preseason No. 1 ranked team for 2020 after going 51-18 and finishing third last year at the College World Series. Five teams from the Southeastern Conference are in the 2020 preseason top 10, the most of any league in the nation. They include No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 Auburn and No. 9 Arkansas while LSU came in at No. 11.

The 2019 Dawgs earned a consensus final top 20 national ranking after going 46-17 including a school record mark of 21-9 in the SEC. Also, Georgia was a national No. 4 seed and for the second straight year played host to an NCAA Regional to cap its finest year in a decade.

The Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll is the oldest college baseball poll. Its birth took place during the 1959 college baseball season. The 2020 Dawg season begins Feb. 14 with a three-game series against Richmond at Foley Field.

Dawgs Featured On More All-America Teams

UGA Sports Communications

Four Georgia players have been named to an assortment of All-America teams during the Dawgs’ drive to their third straight Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title.

Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, a native of Lithonia, has been named to the ESPN, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and CBS Sports All-America First Team. Graduate safety J.R. Reed, a native of Frisco, Texas, was included on the AP All-America First Team while graduate place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, a native of Marietta, was a First Team selection by the USA Today, Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated.

The aforementioned trio had already all garnered First Team honors from the Walter Camp group last week. In addition, Thomas has been named to the USA Today Second Team while Blankenship was an AP Second Team selection. Reed was also a USA Today Second Team selection and he joined junior guard Solomon Kindley as Second Team selections by Sports Illustrated.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Devils Defeat Dawgs In The Desert

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs were defeated by the Arizona State Sun Devils, 79-59, in its first true road game of the 2019-20 campaign on Saturday night in Wells Fargo Arena.

Sophomore Tye Fagan paced Georgia in scoring, recording a career-high 15 points. Freshman Anthony Edwards was the only other Dawg to record a double-digit scoring performance, tallying 13. Junior Rayshaun Hammonds grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

“It was tough to get anything going and we never got into a rhythm,” Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean said. “We did not move very well without the ball early on and we didn’t move the ball as well as we needed to… We have got to get mentally tougher and this was our first true road test… We didn’t handle that as well as we needed to and we have to learn from that.”

Edwards continued his dominance in the opening minutes, scoring eight of Georgia’s first ten points, including a fast-break layup and a made free-throw for a three-point play. These baskets from Edwards knotted the game 10-all with 15 minutes remaining in the opening period.

While the Sun Devils pulled away occasionally in the next five minutes of play, the Dawgs stayed within one until a three-point shot from senior Tyree Crump gave Georgia the 18-16 lead with 8:20 remaining.

Arizona State quickly regained the lead and extended it to four, 26-22, with a little over five minutes remaining. While Georgia was able to get within two multiple times, the Dawgs were not able to cut the deficit any further.

The Sun Devils grabbed their largest lead of the game, eight, as time elapsed to send Georgia into the locker room trailing, 39-31.

Out of the half, Crump and graduate transfer Donnell Gresham Jr. recorded back-to-back three-point shots. Shortly after, the Sun Devils grabbed their first double-digit lead of the game, 48-37, with 16:33 to play.

With 7:19 remaining, the Dawgs faced their first 20-point deficit of the night, 71-51. Georgia would trail by 20-plus points for a majority of the final minutes to fall to Arizona State, 79-59.

Up next, the Dawgs return home to face Southern Methodist University on Friday, December 20th at 7 p.m. The match-up will be televised on the SEC Network.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Hot Rod - From Walk-on To Best In Nation

UGA Sports Communications

Photo By Danny Bishop
Georgia graduate place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has been named the winner of the 2019 Lou Groza Award, given to nation’s top place-kicker, at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards held at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Thursday night.

In addition, Blankenship and junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, a native of Lithonia and graduate safety J.R. Reed, a native of Frisco, Texas, were named to the Walter Camp All-America First Team during the show on Thursday. This marks the most Dawgs chosen by the sport’s oldest All-America squad in one year since David Pollack, Boss Bailey and Jon Stinchcomb garnered the honors in 2002.

Blankenship topped the other two finalists – Iowa’s Keith Duncan and Washington State’s Blake Mazza – to become the Dawgs’ first winner of the award. Blankenship joined Duncan and Mazza at a finalists banquet on December 9th in West Palm Beach, which was hosted by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

Georgia’s last finalist for the Groza Award before Blankenship was Blair Walsh in 2009. Blankenship was a semifinalist in both 2018 and 2017. He is only the third winner in Southeastern Conference history and the first since Jonathan Nichols of Ole Miss in 2003.

Honors had already begun to roll in for Blankenship this season. The 2019 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American earned one of the National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar Athlete Awards and was a Campbell Trophy finalist earlier this week in New York City. He was also the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football this season and was a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy and a semifinalist for Wuerffel Trophy.

Blankenship, a native of Marietta, is the SEC’s second leading scorer this year, averaging 9.2 points per game, and connecting on 25-of-31 field goal attempts and all 198 of his career PATs, including all 44 this year. He has drilled three 50-yard field goals during his team’s 11-2 mark. Blankenship is the FBS active leader by 16 with a total of 78 made field goals. He is UGA’s all-time leading scorer with 432 points, which ranks second all-time in league history.

The former walk-on’s school record 198 consecutive PATs ranks second in SEC history. Thanks in large part to his contribution, Georgia leads the nation with 289 PATs in a row dating back to 2014.

In addition to honors for the current Dawgs, one of Georgia’s greatest legends was honored in Atlanta as Herschel Walker was presented with the NFCAA Contributions to College Football Award for his accomplishments on the field, as well as his work with mental health awareness and the military. Walker was introduced by teammate and 1980 national championship team captain Frank Ros.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Pickens and Walker Named to Coaches Freshman All-SEC Team

UGA Sports Communications

Two Georgia football players have been selected for the Coaches Freshman All-Southeastern Conference Team, according to a league announcement Thursday morning.

Wide receiver George Pickens and defensive tackle Travon Walker were both named to the team. Pickens tallied 37 receptions for 552 yards and seven touchdowns, including one in each of the Dawgs’ final three games. On the defensive front, Walker notched 12 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, including a division-clinching take down of Auburn quarterback and SEC Freshman of the Year Bo Nix.

Pickens and Walker’s accolades continue a strong awards week for the Dawgs. On Tuesday, nine Dawgs were named to the Coaches and Associated Press All-SEC teams, with junior left tackle Andrew Thomas and senior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship earning First Team honors from both groups. On Wednesday, Thomas received the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, while Blankenship was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Nine Dawgs Named to Coaches, AP All-SEC Football Teams

Nine University of Georgia football players have been named to the Coaches and Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference First and Second Teams, as announced by the AP on Monday afternoon and league on Tuesday morning.

Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas and senior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship were named to the First Team by both voting groups, with Thomas earning his second consecutive First Team designation from the coaches.

The coaches’ First Team also included junior running back D’Andre Swift and graduate safety J.R. Reed, while senior defensive tackle Tyler Clark was named to the Second Team.

On the AP roster, Swift was joined on the Second Team by redshirt-sophomore right tackle Isaiah Wilson, sophomore center Trey Hill, junior linebacker Monty Rice and redshirt-sophomore cornerback Eric Stokes.

The SEC will announce its individual awards on Wednesday, followed by the unveiling of the Freshman All-SEC Team on Thursday.

The No. 5 Dawgs (11-2) will face No. 7 Baylor (11-2) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2020, in New Orleans, La. ESPN will televise the matchup.

Matt Luke Named Offensive Line Coach

Matt Luke, former head coach at Ole Miss, has been named Associate Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach at the University of Georgia according to an announcement Tuesday by UGA head coach Kirby Smart.

Luke has a long history of coaching the offensive line at Ole Miss, Duke, Tennessee, and Murray State in addition to serving as co-offensive coordinator at both Duke and Ole Miss.

“We are extremely excited and fortunate to have Matt join our staff,” said UGA head coach Kirby Smart. “He’s a proven football coach who has a wealth of experience on the offensive side of the ball, especially in the offensive line. He has a great reputation among those who have played for him and it’s obvious watching his teams over many years that players love him and play hard for him.”

A former offensive lineman at Ole miss from 1995-98, Luke began his career as a graduate assistant at Ole Miss in 1999. His previous coaching stops which led to his head coaching position at Ole Miss included Murray State (OL, 2000-2001), Ole Miss (OL/TE, 2002-2005), Tennessee (OL/TE, 2006-07), Duke (Co-OC/OL, 2008-2011), Ole Miss (Co-OC/OL, 2011-2016), and Ole Miss interim head coach (2017). He was named head coach at Ole Miss where he served from 2018-2019.

A native of Gulfport, Miss., Luke was a standout at Gulfport High School before enrolling at Ole Miss. He graduated from Ole Miss in 2000 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Along the way he served under head coaches David Cutcliffe at Ole miss and Duke, Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss, and Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss.

Luke is married to the former Ashley Grantham of Oxford, Mississippi, and the couple has two sons, Harrison (born Feb. 18, 2008) and Cooper (born July 20, 2011). His father, Tommy, was a defensive back at Ole Miss in the 1960s while his brother, Tom, quarterbacked the Rebels from 1989-91.

Dawgs and Bears In Sugar Bowl

No. 5 Georgia, from the Southeastern Conference, and No. 7 Baylor, from the Big 12 Conference, will be featured in the 86th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This will be the 58th Sugar Bowl match-up between teams ranked in the Top 10 and the 32nd match-up of 10-win teams. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:45 p.m. (Central) and will be televised by ESPN.

Tickets are available by visiting

This is the fourth match-up of teams from the SEC and the Big 12 since an agreement was signed by the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the two elite conferences. The Sugar Bowl will host the top available teams from those conferences five times in the next seven years – in the other two seasons (2020 and 2023), the Sugar Bowl will serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal. The agreement runs through the 2025 season.

“The Allstate Sugar Bowl is honored and excited to host two of the best teams in the country,” said Monique Morial, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “For 85 years, the Sugar Bowl has built a tradition of hosting great college football action, and thanks to the SEC and the Big 12 we have the chance to build on that this year. This match-up between the Dawgs and the Bears not only represents great football but also great fun.”

The Allstate Sugar Bowl is the designated destination for the champions of both the SEC and the Big 12. However, with SEC Champion LSU and Big 12 Champion Oklahoma both qualifying for the College Football Playoff (CFP) based on their top-four national rankings, replacement teams were designated by both conferences. The SEC assigned Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) as the Dawgs own the SEC’s second-highest CFP ranking while Baylor (11-2, 8-1 Big 12) is the Big 12’s designee as the conference runner-up.

“This Sugar Bowl match-up is ideal for the Bowl and for New Orleans,” said Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley.  “Not only do we get to welcome two top-seven teams, we get to renew an old friendship with Georgia, who was just here last year, and start a new one with Baylor as the Bears make their first Sugar Bowl trip in over 60 years.  It’s going to be a special week for everyone involved.”

This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Georgia and Baylor – the Dawgs won all four meetings by an average of just 6.8 points and all four were played in Athens. The teams’ first match-up was a 24-14 decision in 1972 while the last meeting was a 15-3 Georgia win in 1989. The Dawgs also won 16-14 in 1978 and 17-14 in 1985.

This will be the 15th Sugar Bowl meeting between teams that now make up the Big 12 and SEC. The first meeting came in the second Sugar Bowl in 1936 when TCU and Hall-of-Famer Sammy Baugh held off LSU and its own Hall-of-Fame quarterback Abe Mickal, 3-2, in a quagmire. Those teams split national championship recognition that season. The last Big 12-SEC meeting in the Sugar Bowl was the 2019 game when Texas posted a 28-21 victory over Georgia. The Big 12 holds a 9-5 advantage entering this year’s game.

Georgia will be making its 11th Sugar Bowl appearance and is the 20th team to make back-to-back appearances in the game – the Dawgs played in three straight Sugar Bowls from 1981-83. Georgia has a 4-6 all-time mark, including a 1981 victory over Notre Dame which capped an undefeated national championship season for head coach Vince Dooley’s squad. Baylor will be making its second Sugar Bowl appearance – the Bears upended Tennessee in the 1957 Sugar Bowl as Baylor legend Del Shofner earned Most Outstanding Player recognition.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is making his second Sugar Bowl trip as a head coach while Baylor’s Matt Rhule will become the 98th different coach to lead a team to the game.

Schools that are currently in the SEC have registered an all-time mark of 36-43-1 (.456) in the Sugar Bowl, while this will be the 23rd appearance in the game by a current member of the Big 12, with an overall record of 14-8 (.636).

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 93 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 85-year history. The 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring top teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2020. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit

Post Game Notes

Note: Post Game Notes and other articles delayed due to a torn quad and surgery to repair, but we'll be good to go by the bowl game.

UGA Sports Communications

Another SEC Championship Game Appearance: Georgia dropped to 3-5 all-time in SEC Championship Games after falling 37-10 to undefeated LSU. The Dawgs (11-2) are now 1-3 versus LSU when the teams have met with a league title on the line. LSU (13-0) leads the all-time series over Georgia 18-13-1. Georgia was making its third straight appearance in the SEC Championship Game under Kirby Smart.

A Look At The Defense: Before today, the Dawgs and Clemson were the only two teams in the FBS not to allow more than 20 points. LSU registered a 37-10 win as the Tigers came in ranked second nationally in Scoring Offense (48.7 ppg). Georgia was rankedsecond nationally in Scoring Defense, allowing just 10.4 ppg. LSU claimed a 17-3 edge at the half with 255 yards of total offense (51-rush, 204-passing). The Tigers finished with 481 total yards (132-rushing, 349-passing).

Georgia’s leading tacklers today were graduate J.R. Reed, junior Richard LeCounte, freshman Lewis Cine, all with six apiece. Sophomore Jordan Davis registered a sack of minus seven yards in the second half with LSU in the Red Zone that forced a field goal. DeVonte Wyatt also collected his first sack of the year. A Georgia interception gave LSU the ball at the 13, and it led to a TD and a 34-3 lead.

A Look At The Offense: The Dawgs tallied a season-low 10 points on 286 yards (61-rushing, 225-passing). Georgia trailed 17-3 at the half, posting 138 yards of offense (21-rush, 117-passing). Junior QB Jake Fromm (20-for-42, 225 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) finished the first half 10-for-20 for 117 yards. He was injured on a sack with 7:23 left in the 2nd quarter. At that point, Georgia trailed 14-3, and he was 8-for-15 for 82 yards. Redshirt sophomore Stetson Bennett inherited a 3rd-and-17 and his pass attempt was incomplete. Fromm returned on the next possession and finished the half and the remainder of the game.

Georgia faced its largest deficit of the year today. The Dawgs had not trailed in their past six games since an overtime loss to South Carolina. Sophomore wideout/punt returner Dominick Blaylock went down with a knee injury late in the first quarter following an 11-yard catch for a first down. He did not return. Also, Kearis Jackson was limited in the first half due to an ankle injury.

The Bulldogs did convert three fourth down attempts. On a 4th-and-8 at LSU 35, freshman George Pickens caught an 18-yard pass. Brian Herrien caught a 3-yard pass on a 4th-and-three for a first down. Also, Pickens had a 15-yarder on 4th-and-10. Coming in today, the Dawgs were just 2-for-6 on the year on 4th down.

Blankenship Supplies A Field Goal And PAT: Graduate PK Rodrigo Blankenship had four points (FG, PAT) to give him 432 for his career. He already owns the school record for career points and ranks second in SEC history. Today, he finished1-for-3 (missed 52; made 39, missed 37) in field goals. He is now 25-for-31 on the season in field goals. He has tied the SEC record for consecutive PATs as he now has 198 (also Daniel Carlson, Auburn 2014-17).

Reviewing The Receivers: At the half,senior Tyler Simmons led the Dawgs with three catches for 40 yards while junior tailback D’Ande Swift had three catches for 18 yards. In the first half, Georgia lost wideout Dominick Blaylock (knee) and Kearis Jackson was limited with an ankle injury. The Dawgs were already without leading receivers Lawrence Cager (ankle) and freshman George Pickens who missed the first half due to suspension for fighting in the Ga. Tech game. Pickens returned in the 2nd half and had a team-best four catches for 54 yards and one TD. He leads the team with seven TD receptions.

Big First Half For Camarda: Sophomore punter Jake Camarda (4 for 48.4 average) punted three times for a 54.0 average in the first half and only punted once in the second half (a pooch for 33 downed at the LSU 12) as Georgia went 3-for-3 on 4th down.He boomed a 65- and a career-tying 66-yarder, today which gives him nine punts of 60+ yards in his career and the longest ever by a Dawg in an SEC Championship Game. Earlier this year, he also had 66-yarders at Auburn and versus South Carolina.

Rushing Summary: Senior Brian Herrien had a team-best 24 yards on eight attempts. D’Andre Swift, who was injured in the Ga. Tech game last week, only had one carry for 0 yards in the first half, and then he got the first carry in the second half and gained 13 yards. Those were Swift’s only carries on the day. With Georgia trailing, the Dawgs turned to the passing game mostly in the second half.

Points off Turnovers: Georgia did not force any turnovers while LSU scored 7 points off two Dawg miscues (2 Jake Fromm interceptions; both made by Derek Stingley, Jr.)

For Starters & Game Captains: Graduate DB J. R. Reed now has a team-high 42 consecutive starts for the defense while junior QB Jake Fromm leads the offense with 41 consecutive starts. Graduate Eli Wolf made his first career start for the Dawgs as they started two tight ends while senior Brian Herrien (TB) made his second career start, both this year (season opener versus Vanderbilt). Wolf made seven starts at Tennessee in his career. Also on defense, freshmen Lewis Cine (DB) and Tyrique Stevenson (DB) both made their first career starts as the team employed seven DB/Safeties.

Fromm, Reed and Andrew Thomas (LT) started their third straight SEC Championship game.

Today’s game captains were Reed, Fromm and junior D’Andre Swift.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening remarks

“I want to give a big thanks to our fans. I thought they turned out and took over the stadium as they’ve done so many times when we’ve played on the road. There was a lot of red in the stands today, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of our seniors. The senior class that’s going out of here, somebody told me, may be tied for the second-most wins of any senior class to ever leave Georgia. They got the benefit of some extra games with the format we’re playing now, but the second-most wins in the history of our school, which is pretty incredible when you think about what the seniors have been able to do.

“I’ll address the George Pickens situation. He was suspended for the first half today for violation of team rules, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Then, unfortunately, he got an undisciplined penalty, and when you make undisciplined decisions, regardless of what’s done first, you pay a penalty for that. So he won’t be able to play the first half of next week. When you make emotional decisions, that’s what happens. We’re going to help George, help him grow up and make better decisions so that he can help our team. But that’s unfortunate.

DeAndre Swift … I think he’s going to be fine, he’s got a shoulder contusion, and we think he’ll be fine, he should be back.”

On turnovers in the second quarter

“I didn’t address it at halftime. The kids understand. When you turn the ball over, it’s hard to be successful. The defense went out and had a sudden change and made some big stops. They didn’t make a stop once and cost us one score. Then we had the surprise onside that we work on all the time. He had it, but he just lost it. He didn’t possess the ball and we turned the ball over. Our kids are resilient. They like to play, so when you have a sudden change, our defense is fired up. They want another opportunity to go out there and play, and I thought they did a good job of that.”

On the play of the receiver group

“We did some good things, and we did some things we need to do better. We’ve got to put them in a position to be successful. We need to run the ball to create play-action, and do more in that mentality. A lot of our scores were set up, either by punt returns, or one fumble in the end zone by those guys. We’ve just got to keep improving. I’m proud of the way the receivers have worked. They’ve had a ton of reps this week, and a lot of work through low volume of guys. We’ve got less receivers than we’ve ever had. They did a good job. I thought Tyler Simmons really stepped up during the week and had a good game.

On your defense on third down

“They continued to play really well. I mean, I thought our defensive guys played super hard. They’ve got an unbelievable challenge in front of us this week. It’ll be a whole lot different than the team we just played, I can promise you that. They have passion, energy, juice. They love just playing football. They love to get in those situations, and I think they were 3-of-17 or something. Our guys really enjoy that.”

On Charlie Woerner’s first career touchdown

“Awesome. Think about how many blocks that guy’s had, and one touchdown. He told me before the game, he asked and said ‘what was your record against Tech?’ I told him 3-1, or really 4-1 if you count a redshirt year. He just said, ‘I want to go out on top so bad.’ For a kid who’s meant so much to our program, golly, the blocking value that he has had, and not getting as many catches as he deserved, for him to get that play was huge.”

On Jake Fromm’s performance

“We put a lot on him. You start talking about checks, making decisions, doing things. He did a good job adjusting. Geoff’s defense has always been good at disguising things, give you different looks. They did some good things. Jake made some good decisions when they got us. He threw the ball away a couple times and made good decisions. He’s got to continue to improve and play better. Jake gets us in and out of a lot of situations.”

Jake Fromm, Junior, Quarterback

On using the quick score in the third quarter

“For us on offense, it was up to us. We were kind of stopping ourselves most of the time and I think we committed to say, ‘let’s go out and play football, have a little fun, and score some points.’”

On being in sync with Tyler Simmons

Tyler Simmons is an awesome guy who has been with it all season. It’s really awesome. I’m really proud of him to have a big moment here and to play Georgia Tech and to have a really big game. I know it means a lot to him and I’m really thankful he’s kind of come on here.”

On his level of trust in the receivers

“I’m with them one hundred percent. I think every single guy that we put on the field is able to make a great play at any given time. We’re ready and I’m behind them one hundred percent. Let’s go play football.”

Charlie Woerner, Senior, Tight End

On celebrating his first career touchdown

“It was special. The first person I celebrated with on my touchdown was Tyler Simmons and then when Tyler scored, I was the first one there to celebrate with him. It was definitely cool. For the last regular season game, I think it was the first time Tyler scored this year and the first time I scored in my career here, it was awesome.”

On finally getting his first career touchdown

“It was so cool to finally score. It wasn’t a million monkeys on my back it was more of a, I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it or let it try and bother me. Now I finally caught that touchdown, I celebrated with Tyler and I remember I just fell to my knees and took in that moment and praised God for that moment. It’s been a long time coming.”

James Cook, Sophomore, Running Back

On the win over Georgia Tech

“It feels great to help my team in a great rivalry, a classic rivalry. I’m honored to be a part of my team and get a win.”

On the message from the coaching staff after the game

“Just getting everybody motivated and into the game.”

Georgia Tech Head Coach Geoff Collins 

Opening Statement

“Obviously have to give hats off to the team that we just played. I still remember three years ago I was the defensive coordinator at Florida, first year in the development of that program, and just to see the impact they’ve made through recruiting, through development. That’s the way it should be. So we’re actively engaged in that part of the process right now but the part that was promising is you go into halftime being ready to go one score down against the No. 4 team in the country with an absolutely depleted roster of guys that are just fighting and battling and giving us a chance to be in that game. It bodes well for what’s going to happen with this program going forward.”

On what happened in the third quarter

“The level of attrition does catch up to you, but there are some things, the first sky kick to open up the second half, we did it because the sun was right down exactly where we were going to kick it. The kick was 15 yards shorter than it was supposed to be, and the guy was able to get it out to the 50 and get field position. And then the entire third quarter was completely a game of field position. I thought Pressley Harvin, Nathan Cottrell did a great job. Jaytlin Askew before he got hurt. We’re changing the field, but once field position gets tipped in the other way, that was hard to overcome. Our guys kept battling but it got away from us there in the third quarter, and you can’t let that happen against the No. 4 team in the country. But it did, and the whole thing this year has been completely learning experiences, and one of the big parts of our offseason program is we do tug-of-war all the time, and one of the cardinal sins of the program is letting go of the rope, and I thought at times in the third quarter we let it slip and couldn’t find a way to get it back. We’ll make sure that we continue to build on that when we get back in the offseason.”

On not being able to capitalize on the three forced fumbles

“They’re really good. I thought we had some good momentum going into halftime, 17-7, thought we had a chance to get a little chip shot to make it a one-score game. Obviously that didn’t happen and we’ve still got to rally and find ways to get stops and move the ball.”

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Defense Dominates: Coming in today, Georgia ranked 2nd nationally in Scoring Defense, allowing just 10.7 points per game and third nationally in rushing defense (68.5 yards per game) and fifth in Total Defense (267.8 ypg). Tech was held to seven points (courtesy of a 17-yard drive after a fumble) and 139 yards of total offense (99-rush, 40-pass) on 58 plays and was blanked in the second half. The Dawg defense has posted 31 scoreless quarters. Georgia (Clemson) is one of two FBS teams not to allow an opponent more than 20 points in a game this year. Also, Georgia has surrendered just one rushing TD all year (to Auburn on Nov. 16).

In the first half, Georgia led 17-7, and the Jackets had just 75 yards of total offense (66-rushing, 9-passing) on 32 plays. In the first quarter, Tech did not score and had 22 yards of total offense (19-rush, 3-pass). Tech recovered a fumble on a punt at the Tech 17. It led to a touchdown to cut the deficit to 17-7 with 10:58 left in the first half. It marked Georgia’s first turnover in six games dating back to the South Carolina contest on Oct. 12. Following the score, Tech recovered an onside kick at the UGA 47. They would gain just two yards on three plays before punting. Tech forced a fumble on the ensuing possession and took over at UGA 42. It led to a missed field goal from 27 yards.

Georgia’s leading tackler was junior Monty Rice with eight, and he now has a team-best 79 stops on the year. Tech was forced to punt 13 times a school record for them.

Governor’s Cup Retained With Record Win In Atlanta: With today’s 52-7 victory, Georgia finishes the regular season 11-1 for the third straight year and fifth time since 2002. This year’s squad is the 12th in school history to tally at least 11 wins in a season. Georgia extends its advantage in the Tech series to 70-39-5 and retains the Governor’s Cup Trophy. The victory here was Georgia’s 10th straight over Tech in Atlanta.

The 52 points and the 45-point margin of victory was the largest in the series that dates back to 1893. This year’s senior class improves to 43-11, which is tied for the second most wins in school history (1983 squad went 43-4-1). The 2005 class has the most wins with a 44-9 mark.

Fromm Ties Career High With 4 TD Passes: In just three quarters of action, junior Jake Fromm tied his career high with four TD passes, the second time he’s done that, both against Tech. Today, he finished 14-for-29 for 254 yards and 4 TDs. Last year against Tech, he was 13-for-16 for 175 yards and 4 TDs.

Today, Fromm moved into second place in school history for TD Passes now with 75, passing David Greene’s 72 (2001-04). The school and SEC record holder is Aaron Murray (121 from 2010-13). Fromm’s TD passes today went to four different Dawgs, senior Charlie Woerner (20-yarder), senior Tyler Simmons (17-yarder), freshman George Pickens (41-yarder) and freshman Dominick Blaylock (9-yarder).

Blaylock had a career-best 29-yard punt return to set the Dawgs up at the Tech 36 with 11:29 left in the first quarter. The Dawgs would manage a field goal on the drive for a 3-0 lead. Later in the first half, he had a minus 16-yard punt return due to a fumble that led to an eventual Tech score. In the second half, Blaylock came back with a new career-best, taking a punt back 32 yards to set the Dawgs up at the Tech 34. It led to another TD as Blaylock completed the drive with a nine-yard catch. Simmons led all receivers with 52 yards on three catches. Redshirt sophomore Stetson Bennett directed a 12 play, 90-yard TD drive in 6:54 that ended with a Kenny McIntosh 2-yard score. Bennett finished 2-for-3 for 27 yards.

Blankenship Adds To Record Total: Graduate PK Rodrigo Blankenship had 10 points (one FG, 7 PATs) today to give him 428 for his career. He became Georgia’s career scoring leader last Saturday in the win over No. 24 Texas AM with 418 and that is second in SEC history.

Blankenship drilled a 49-yarder for a 3-0 edge with 10:00 left in the first quarter and then missed a 42-yarder as time expired in the first half. He is now 24-for-28 this season including 8-for-11 from 40-49 yards. It was his 77th successful field goal of his career, moving him into a tie for second in school history with Kevin Butler (1981-84). Billy Bennett (2000-03) owns the record with 87 in 110 attempts. Also today, he had seven kickoffs with five touchbacks.

Rushing Leaders: Junior D’Andre Swift registered 73 yards on 10 carries yards to lead the running attack as the Dawgs finished with 219 yards. Senior Brian Herrien had 46 yards on eight carries including a two-yard TD run, his 6th rushing score of the year. Freshman Zamir White (6 carries for 30 yards) had a 22-yard kickoff return, the first of his career, to start the second half, and it gave the Dawgs the ball at their own 47. It led to a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

Points off Turnovers: Georgia got a touchdown when Tech fumbled a punt in the endzone (recovered by Tyson Campbell) while Tech scored seven points off three Dawg miscues. It was the first turnovers for Georgia since the South Carolina game on Oct. 12, after being turnover-free the past five games. Georgia now has 13 scores by the defense or special teams in the Kirby Smart era. It was Campbell’s second career TD as he had a 64-yard fumble recover for a TD at Missouri in 2018.

For Starters & Game Captains: Graduate DB J. R. Reed now has a team-high 41 consecutive starts for the defense while junior QB Jake Fromm leads the offense with 40 consecutive starts. Today’s game captains were juniors D’Andre Swift, Andrew Thomas and graduate Michael Barnett. Tech won the toss and elected to receive. Both teams went three-and-out on their first possession.

Up Next: Fourth-ranked Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC) faces second-ranked LSU in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta Saturday, Dec. 7. Kickoff at Mercedes Benz Stadium will be at 4:10 p.m. on CBS.

Dawgs Put 52 On Jackets

UGA Sports Communications

The fourth-ranked Dawgs defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, 52-7.

Georgia shutout the Yellow Jackets in the second half, outscoring Georgia Tech 35-0.

Offensively, junior quarterback Jake Fromm completed 14 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns. His four touchdown passes tied a career best set last season against Georgia Tech.

On the ground, junior D’Andre Swift had 10 carries, accumulating 73 yards, leading the team in both categories. Senior Brian Herrien had eight carries for 46 yards and a touchdown.

The receiving corps was led by three completions by senior Tyler Simmons, who scored his first touchdown of the season. Sophomore James Cook completed two passes for 34 total yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, junior Monty Rice totaled eight tackles and a pass breakup.

Graduate place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship made one of two field goal attempts and extended his PAT-made streak to 197.

After being forced to punt on its first drive, Georgia then scored on three-straight drives, all of which were completed prior to the end of the first quarter.

Blankenship put the Dawgs on the board first with 10 minutes left in the first quarter, connecting on a 49-yard field goal, his eighth from 40 or longer this season, 3-0 Georgia.

Georgia’s next scoring drive was punctuated with a two-yard Herrien rushing touchdown, 10-0 Dawgs. It was Herrien’s sixth score of the season. The seven-play, 64-yard drive was highlighted by a 25-yard pass from Fromm to Simmons to the two-yard line, setting up Herrien’s touchdown.

On its next drive, senior Charlie Woerner caught a 20-yard pass from Fromm for his first career touchdown reception, widening the lead to 17-0 with 3:40 left in the first. D’Andre Swift rattled off an 18-yard rush on Georgia’s scoring drive, followed by a 12-yard rush by Simmons.

A fumble by Dominick Blaylock on a punt return was recovered by the Yellow Jackets on the Georgia 17-yard line at the 13:19 mark in the second quarter. The fumble set up the first Georgia Tech first down of the contest followed by a six-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Davis, breaking up the shutout, 17-7.

The fumble was the first turnover committed by the Dawgs since the South Carolina game on October 12th.

Another Georgia fumble recovered by Georgia Tech put the Yellow Jackets on the 42-yard line. The drive resulted in a 27-yard field goal attempt which was wide right, keeping the Dawgs’ lead at 17-7 with 3:33 left in the first half.

The first half came to a close on a missed 42-yard field goal attempt by Blankenship. The teams entered the locker room at half with Georgia leading 17-7.

Fromm completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Simmons, his first touchdown catch of the season, on the opening drive of the second half, reopening a 17-point lead for Georgia, 24-7.

Following a Georgia Tech punt that allowed Georgia to begin its drove on the Yellow Jacket 41-yard line, Fromm immediately connected with George Pickens on a 41-yard touchdown pass with 7:44 left in the third, 31-7 Georgia. The catch was Pickens’ sixth touchdown of the season.

The lead was widened on a Fromm touchdown pass to Blaylock with 4:28 left in the third, 38-7. The touchdown pass was Fromm’s fourth of the game, tying his career best set last season against Georgia Tech.

Redshirt-sophomore Stetson Bennett handed off to sophomore Otis Reese who punched in a two-yard touchdown with 11:19 left in the game, lengthening the lead to 45-7.

A Georgia Tech fumble in the endzone was picked up by sophomore Tyson Campbell with three minutes left in the game, finalizing Georgia’s lead at 52-7.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tuesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

The 4th ranked Dawgs conducted a two-hour practice on Tuesday in anticipation of the rivalry game against Georgia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta.

Coach Kirby Smart, along with offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, punter Jake Camarda, inside linebacker Monty Rice, and defensive back J.R. Reed, fielded questions from the media after practice.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

“Practices have been good. Spirits have been good. they practice really hard. We did a lot of good on good periods today, and a little bit light work yesterday a lot of special teams work. Players are doing a good job. I'm excited about where they are and it’s different defending some option elements that they have so it brings back memories last year but just not as extreme, so we got a good scout team. Some guys have been working on their place during extra periods last couple weeks, just to get used to. Some of the things that Georgia Tech guys offensively and they got some similarities to us defensively so it's easy to give them a good picture.”

On his favorite Thanksgiving side and spending it with his family…

“Oh, my mom's stuffing is probably the best. She does a great job with that. So, I enjoy the turkey and dressing and that's kind of my favorite part is traditional and it's, it's my mom's go to, so I enjoy it. My favorite part of Thursday is just being with my family and being thankful for all the blessings we have and my brother lives in town now so you can share it with his family as well. We have players come over from time to time- maybe the ones that couldn't go (home) or have too far to go and get and enjoy just mainly eat. I usually would nap but I eat so late because we have to practice in the mid day, so by time I get home to eat there's no nap it's just bed. So we eat and then go to bed. Back in the day I was a napper.

On the future of D’Wan Mathis…

“He's been cleared to do more. He's been cleared to do practice, not take hits, so that prevents them from being able to play but he's able to do more in practice. He's been scout team quarterback to last couple weeks now and done a tremendous job. He helped with the Bo Nix scout team stuff. You know even last week with the scout team stuff because he's able to simulate some of these guys we've played. So that's been a big bonus for us. But as far as when is he going to be completely cleared, I'm not sure but it was a step up in clearance when he could go 11-on-11 and throw the ball in, and give us a look.

On what Jake Camarda has done to hone in on his powerful leg…

“I can't say that he's done anything to hone it in. He's always had a powerful leg I mean that's why we signed him. He was a tremendous kicker in high school and a great partner. He's got great lift, I mean he lifts the ball on kicks really well too, as well as punts. I can't pinpoint. He might be able to tell you better what exactly the trigger points have been. I think he's just more comfortable in the moment. And he's more experienced. He's done a really good job making some big punts. I know the mindset side of things, the sports psychology side of things, he's met with people and done stuff there and I think that’s helped him too.

On handling outside pressure…

“We have no consideration of anything outside of here. I mean we really don't. We don't have any control over it, so that the thought of those things never even cross my mind. I don't look at them as punches. I don't look at them as jabs because I don't really listen to them. So that's not motivation for me because if I need that for motivation then I'm not going to go where we need to go. You have to motivate because you want to be great. You have to motivate because you want to be better. It's not about what people are saying or criticizing and they have a right to do that. I understand it and we're critical of ourselves. We have a lot that we need to improve on and some of the things they're saying they're dead on. But that doesn’t motivate us. It's just things we got to get better at.”

On Dan Lanning being named a Broyles Award Semifinalist…

“I think all our defensive coaches do a tremendous job. He'd be the first to tell you that what he's been able to do is, number one, because of the players but number two because of the defensive staff. All those guys pulled together to do that. He just has to be the leader and the guy in charge of it all. He does a really nice job of motivating the players, he relates well to the players, the players believe in him, and he's done a tremendous job, but all those defensive coaches have. Glenn Schumann is one of our co-defensive coordinators and he does just so much game planning as Dan does. He deserve just as much credit as Dan gets. Dan is just the guy that calls it on game day, and he's done a good job.”

On if there are one or two things that could be done different and better for the team to play at a much higher level offensively…

“Yeah, you can always say that. You can say that about anything. We're close to not playing well on defense, you know, we give up a bomb, if we give up plays, we have penalties. It doesn't work that way. Certainly, we have games with flashes of red area, flashes of third down, flashes of being able to run the ball, but we haven't put that that collective product together. I'll tell you this, the offensive staff is working extremely hard on it, and there's no stone unturned and the players are working really hard on it. They push each other every day in practice to do better, to get more. And it's not a lack of effort in that department.”

On the status of Eric Stokes…

“He's practiced. He has had a lot of contact but he's done everything in practice just non- contact for a couple days. He'll be contact tomorrow.

On the defense not giving up a play of more than 30-yards since South Carolina…

“It’s both scheme and execution. I mean we're definitely not bend but don't break. We've been aggressive. Ask the teams we’ve played, they'll tell you, we've been really aggressive. You're going to give up some plays when you do that but you play at a really high level when you don't. If you can be aggressive and not give up plays, who wouldn't take that. For a couple games we’ve been able to do that. That's a credit to the backends, credit to communication, it's a credit to the signal caller. So a lot of things involved in that. But if you could take away some of those big plays, especially earlier in the year, it would certainly put us in a much better place.”

On J.R. Reed being a finalist for the Thorpe Award…

“He's a leader of one of the best defenses in the country. I mean, statistically, he's the quarterback. He makes all the checks, he makes all the calls. You guys know the stats better than me, but he's the one that sits back there and makes the decisions for a defense that’s played really well this year. I'm proud of the way he's played and I think part of getting awards is based on how your team does. I tell people all the time, you want national awards? Win football games. Together- Everyone- Achieves- More- Team. And when we do that, we have several guys out there for different awards. You get those things when you have team success and J.R. is no doubt a product of that team success and his hard work.”

 Andrew Thomas, Senior, Offensive Tackle

On the feelings of the team heading into the Georgia Tech game this weekend...

"It’s still a big rivalry. I remember back in 2016 — I wasn’t a part of the team yet, but I was at the game — when [Georgia Tech] beat us here at home. That stuck with a lot of guys here, so we just want to go out and play our best. I remember [Georgia Tech] tearing up the field and their guys having the Hedges in their mouths. [Georgia’s staff] actually put some some of those pictures [of Georgia Tech’s players] up in the weight room for when we’re working out.”

On whether he was upset that he wasn’t named a finalist for the Outland Trophy...

“I was upset about it, but it’s just motivation to keep working because there are still things I have to improve on, so that’s what I’m trying to do."

On what he attributes the offensive line’s failure to operate to Georgia’s standard...

"It’s the small things. It’s leverage, things of that nature. It’s the fundamentals where we seem to just be breaking down and we’ve got to focus on the basics of what we need to do.”

Jake Camarda, Sophomore, Punter

On what he would attribute for his ‘breakthrough’ the last few games...

“I guess I’m feeling good. I just try to keep everything the same as it was at the beginning of the season… I go into every game knowing I’m probably going to have to punt at some time during the game. No matter what happens is what happens, so I try to focus on what I can control. If I end up punting, then I focus on doing the best job I can.”

On the importance of LS Steven Nixon for Camarda this season…

"Steven is awesome. He’s definitely important, and it’s been awesome having Steven. He’s done an unbelievable job the year, and I’m very thankful to have him.”

On the ways he’s managed his confidence this season, particularly post-Notre Dame…

“My confidence never really went down. I probably had a couple bad punts in the Notre Dame game, but I also shot a couple good balls in that game. One thing I’ve tried to do is just stay positive all year, no matter what happens. I think that’s kept my confidence level at a good place."

Monty Rice, Junior, Inside Linebacker

On what the focus has been for Georgia in this week leading up to Georgia Tech…

“A lot of focus has been on getting better as a team. We’re focused on what Georgia Tech does and on knowing their tendencies.”

On what he knows about this rivalry/what the excitement is like to beat Georgia Tech…

“Coach Smart talked about it a little bit. I remember, when I was younger, watching former Georgia Tech player Joshua Nesbitt who was really good. Georgia Tech had Deck McGuire, too, and I remember watching them… It’s an in-state rivalry. You want to win the state and be state champs this week. It’s always good to beat Georgia Tech just because they have a lot of guys over there who take it personally when they play Georgia. It’s the last game of the season, so we want to go out with a bang… Winning is always good, but some wins are more exciting than others.”

On whether Georgia is balancing its focus on Georgia Tech and LSU at the same time…

“Our focus is on Georgia Tech. They’re a good team, and we can’t overlook them. They’ve got a lot of good players, too. Georgia Tech can make a bunch of plays, and their quarterback is very fast. They’ve got some good running backs who are some tough runners. They’ve even got receivers and guys in the slot. They make a lot of plays for them— the deep ball and other moves they make— so we’ve got to focus in on them."

J.R. Reed, Senior, Defensive Back

On his personal experiences with the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivals/what it means…

“I learned about the rivalry when I first got here and the first time I actually had a practice for it and getting cut. That’s when I really, really started to grow a hate for Georgia Tech. Winning this game means you run the state. It’s bragging rights. We've just got to go out there and do what we’ve got to do.”

On what his job entails…

"Most of my job that people don’t see is that I get people lined up all the time. That’s what I spend the majority of my game doing and the majority of my practice doing. I get guys lined up and just alert them of little things that are going to happen before the ball is snapped— pre-snap motions and things like that.”

On his memories of the Smart family from his time at Georgia…

“I’ve just enjoyed seeing the kids grow up, especially when I first got here and we first went to the lake. I love seeing that family and those kids. It’s always nice to see them and to be nice to them, because they’re good kids."

Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech. The Dawgs and Yellow Jackets kick off at noon ET.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …

“Looking forward to those two visits, those are always great events. I can remember doing those events as a player here before we played in Atlanta. So I know our players will be looking forward to it as well.

Our guys are good to go and ready to move on to Georgia Tech. I know they're excited for this week of practice. It's kind of a different schedule for us with Thanksgiving being involved. And a lot of the guys get to go home, that live within a close enough radius, to share time with their family and return here and travel over to Atlanta as a team, as we prepare for Georgia Tech.”

On Jake Fromm’s ability to throw the ball and if there is a common thread over the last few games …

“You know, it's hard to put a finger on it. Auburn they play really tight coverage. There's no really easy throws. I thought these guys -- guys had just played Texas A&M. Their pass efficiency defense is really stellar. They do some good things defensively. Their coordinator was at Notre Dame; he's done some really good things. Makes it tough at times but at times you've got to hit the open guy.

I think Jake would be the first to tell you that. We missed a couple, made a couple. There's no easy throws. When you start looking at it there's not like a "gimmee" here or there. You try to get high-percentage throws and we had a couple of those to the back in the flat and to Charlie and to the swing passes. But we've got to do a better job helping him out and he's got to do a better job hitting the ones when they're open.”

On if he has seen Georgia Tech progress this season …

“Yeah, I think their offense has grown and they got better and better from the beginning of the year towards the end of the year it's like two different teams. I think they were learning a new system. And any time you're learning a new system and you have growing pains and you push through those. Their quarterback's done a tremendous job. We know him well, recruited him out of high school. James has been extremely athletic and he's gotten better throwing the ball. He threw the ball with a lot of confidence Thursday night and their team is growing.”

On if Fromm’s arm health is ok …

“Yeah, his arm's fine.”

On what is different now not having to prepare for Georgia Tech’s triple option …

“Yeah, they still have a lot of elements of the options. So obviously when I say a lot, I don't mean as much as what they had previously, because they were -- they were all in when they were triple options. They have elements of the triple. They still -- you can't just flip it over and just go completely to a non- -- when that's what your roster is made. They have dive pitch keys, they have reads. They have perimeter runs, inside runs. They've got elements of the option. So it is different from a perspective of not having to do everything we used to do, which was completely different. So where it was a 100 percent different defense, it might be 50 percent difference now with some of the things they're doing.”

On injury updates on Eric Stokes, Cade Mays, Tyrique McGhee and Lawrence Cager …
“Tyrique cleared out last week. Was able to practice -- Tyrique McGee was able to practice a couple days and thought we could use him. He made a good play on special teams and got real involved with the special teams units. And he helped provide depth in the secondary. So, it was great to get him back great to get him back for his last game because he's a kid who has had a lot of injuries and been in and out of the roster.

Cade was, just like we said last week, was cleared to go. He was going to be able to go if we needed him to. We wanted to try to avoid it if we could. And we were able to get through the game without having to use him.

We talked about Cager after the game. He didn't feel like that he was able to go and was going to be 100 percent. But there's nothing new on those two as far as we're moving forward. They should be cleared to practice this week and we're hopeful they'll play.

Stokes got dinged in the game. I think it was on the offensive pass interference play where he and the receiver kind of ran together. He took a jolt. But we think he's going to be fine. Think he'll be fine to go today.”

On how he now uses the time he used to have to spend preparing for Tech’s triple option …

“I didn't know if it was an unknown. Geoff hires an offensive coordinator, an offensive staff; you know what they do. So you try to plan based on that. We get to watch -- we have a person that scouts ahead. It's advanced scouting. They watched teams that we're going to play. And we try to look down the road and say what's going to be really difficult. What's different? Not necessarily, though they've got really good players, you look at teams and say, what is it based on that's so different they do that we can't handle.

So we said, hey, Georgia Tech's got a very different offensive system than what we faced week-to-week. Even now they're different. So during the off week, we took some periods and worked on some different things they were doing.

So it's never based on who you play in the future, what their record is. It's what they're doing offensively or defensively that's different than what you see.”

On how this year’s Georgia team compares to his last team at Alabama …

“Like I said, it's hard for me to compare that because I didn't look at that team through the glasses of a head coach. I looked at that team through the glasses of a defensive coordinator where I was really focused on that. Obviously this team has some really good traits. I don't know how they compare to that team. I can't even remember that team. I do know to be successful we've got to play better in every facet of our team -- special teams, defense and offense. But certainly we have to improve offensively the most in order to get where we want to go.”

On his relationships with coaches on Georgia Tech’s staff, specifically Geoff Collins and Brent Key…

“Geoff and I have worked on the same staff at Alabama, have a lot of respect for Geoff. He has a ton of energy. Does a tremendous job. He leaves no stone unturned. He's looking for every competitive advantage he can get, whether it's through recruiting, whether it's through innovation, whether it's through scheme, whether it's through motivation. He's a high-energy guy.

And Brent's the same way. Brent's a Georgia Tech guy. He played there. He played there while I was playing here. And he and I have never been on a staff together but we've always crossed paths and been friends in recruiting. We go to the same schools as assistant coaches. And I see Brent in the offseason a lot. I have a lot of respect for those guys and the job they do.”

On how he sees the matchup of Georgia’s offensive line with Georgia Tech’s defensive front…

“When you look across the board they've got guys that play quite a bit of snaps. They rotate a lot of guys in there. They play a ton of players. Geoff's always done that. He had that philosophy when he was at Mississippi State, when he was at Florida.

I think that helps build morale and self-worth within your team. You have more kids bought into the organization when they know they're going to get an opportunity to contribute. So they play a lot of guys and they move and they've got athletic guys up there.

We've got to worry about ourselves more than we have to worry about Tech. And that's the case every week. You have to get better at you, and it's not really about the other team. And that's what we focus on regardless of who we are playing.”

On how adding more marquee non-conference games going forward will affect the significance of this game…

“I don't worry about -- no, I think this is one of the most traditional rivalries in all of college football. And I don't know that our scheduling is going to change the fact that -- it's not going to move the proximity of their university and ours.

We're always going to have interstate rivals, whether it's through recruiting, whether it's through recruiting students, whether it's through anything. So I think the history and tradition is there that this game is always going to be a big factor.”

On his memories of the Georgia Tech rivalry and if Georgia coaches cross paths with Georgia Tech coaches on the recruiting trail… 

“The second one, we do run into them a lot. We ran into them before because nobody's not going to recruit in our state. Let's be honest. There's good football players in our state.

They probably recruited different type players in a lot of situations. Like tight end, obviously they weren't recruiting a lot of tight ends during their last staff. And you can tell that Geoff and his staff have made it a priority through their transfers and through who they're recruiting.

So you come across those guys much more. As far as the rivalry, I mean, it's always -- when I came to school here as a player, it was one of the biggest rivalries there was. It was what you talked about as a freshman. It's what was engrained in you to have the hate and build that up.

I think because of the conferences and because of the importance of winning your conference, that may have diminished some in regards to over the time. But the game, the rivalry is usually based on wins and losses and who is winning those games.

Georgia has so many rivalries that you can't say one's more important than the other. You don't think it's important, then lose it and then it will be really important. And I know the importance of this game and I know the significance it has to so many of our fans, especially the crowd that may be older that traditionally Georgia Tech was a national powerhouse year in, year out. It means so much to them.”

On the challenge and focus this week knowing there is a big game the week after…

“The challenge is about the rivalry. So when you think about this game, records are thrown out. None of that matters. They finished Thursday. This is a huge opportunity and stage for them. We acknowledge that.

A lot of our kids will be playing in front of their home crowd where they're from, their community because of so many kids being from the Atlanta area. That's the focus and that's the concentration, and our guys understand that.

We have a mature team and we said the other day that most important step is the next step. Georgia Tech is the next step. And they've got a football team that's peaking at the right time. Played a really good game Thursday night. So we've got to go out and play a good football game.”

On if there is anything extra they do as a team to help with injury prevention and rehabilitation at this point in the season…

“Yeah, we drive recovery home. Recovery is so critical to your soft tissue muscles, and part of recovery is rest. So we talk about sleep, making sure you're getting proper sleep, extra treatment. We've cut time out of practice, whether it's five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, that you hate doing as a coach, but you're trying to get return on investment and say, okay, you've got to spend this time in the cold tub. You've got to spend this time in the training room.

Instead of walking through on Friday and going straight to dinner, we took 20 more minutes and got everybody some extra recovery because we think that can be the difference at the end of the year if you're out recovering a team than you've got an opportunity to have a competitive advantage and we're trying that.”

On memories of playing in the rivalry with Georgia Tech as a student-athlete…

“The memory I have is probably the worst. It's what you always do; you don't remember the positives sometimes, you remember the bad. It was my last home game at Sanford Stadium and lost on a game-winning field goal with Joe Hamilton's drive. So that was my last memory of Sanford Stadium. Thank God I got into coaching; I got to fix that. But otherwise that would have been the last time that I was in there. That was a tough loss that if Georgia had won at that time, I think maybe three or four, I'm not sure how many in a row they had won, and our senior class lost to a well-coached, really good football team.”

On if he will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with family…

“The actual Thanksgiving day, I wouldn't say -- the week is a work week for us, game week. So Thursday we get to finish a little bit earlier, move some things up. It makes for an awkward scheduling. But I say awkward because it's different than a normal game week but it's not awkward for Thanksgiving. It's what everybody does. Your goal in high school football is to be playing on Thanksgiving and your goal in college football is to be relevant and still have an importance to the game. For our kids, I know they're fired up to get see their family but they like this game, it's an exciting game.”

On what Sam Pittmann does well on the recruiting trail… 

“It's Sam's personality. He kind of just oozes with confidence, and the offensive linemen appreciate that. He's very genuine. You don't get a sales pitch; you get his natural instinctive self. A lot of you guys have seen his personality through social media. That's the same way he is with the kids. And the kids -- the players gravitate to that. And I think that's a very natural for him, and he's done a tremendous job recruiting for us.”

On where the defense needs to continue to improve… 

“Turnovers. We've got to force turnovers. We've got to be better in the red area. We've slipped in the red area the last couple of weeks. We don't sustain at the end of games. Meaning we give up a pace drive or a rhythmic drive where somebody gets on rhythm and we've got to be able to stomp on people's throats when you get them down. And what they've done well is a lot of things. But what they can improve on is several specific things that we try to work on each week and we try to demand it of them. The great thing about this defense is they take criticism well. They handle criticism well. They realize we want to be the best. To be the best means you never arrive. So you have to keep driving to get better and they've really accepted that.”

On Travon Walker’s role in the Texas A&M game… 

“We met as a staff and just felt he was one of our best 20 football players and we weren't getting the most out of him. I just forced upon them to say he's got to be on the field. So we'll figure out a way. Some of that was dictated by what Texas A&M did. He has a unique skill set. He's 270 pounds. He's different than some of our other guys. He's done a really good job. We're just trying to find ways to use his athleticism. So when they're in open sets, it allows him to play a little more. And Texas A&M chose to do that some. So it helped us.”

On Jordan Mason as a running back… 

“Jordan Mason is an unbelievable back. First of all, seen him play several Thursday night games where I've got to watch him. He's physical. Low to the ground. He runs mad. And he's thick. He's heavier than the backs that we've faced and has great strength in his lower body. I just respect his running passion and his energy. I love watching him run, and he does it the right way.”

On being prepared for this weekend’s rivalry game despite Georgia Tech’s record… 
“I don't think you have to worry about that because we don't look at the record. We look at the team on the tape. That's more important than their record. We're not scoreboard watching. We're not record watching. We're looking at the guy across from us and we're really, as simple as it sounds, I know you think people don't do this, but we're trying to take the next step, which is Georgia Tech.”

On Richard LeCounte and what he has brought to the defense this season…

“Richard’s playing with a lot of energy and passion. He's practicing better. He takes a lot more pride in making his calls and learning the game plan, that he can make good decisions on the field in the heat of the moment. I think he's taken a nice step forward in regards to that and he plays really hard. He doesn't always play with great eye control or great discipline, but he plays really hard, gets after the ball, attacks the ball.”

On Georgia’s recent success on kickoff and punt returns… 

“Kickoff return is different than punt return. I think kickoff return, Brian Herrien’s provided us a major spark. Wish we had done it earlier. He was the off guy for so long, such a good blocker and good decision-maker, that he's been good as the primary returner. He's done a good job. It's not like all of a sudden he's gotten better. He's gotten opportunities. We don't get a lot of opportunities when the ball is kicked into the end zone.

“And then punt return, I thought Dominick Blaylock took what was there and got what was there, but I thought our hold-up unit did a much better job the last two weeks of giving him opportunities to make plays and we've still got to make more out of what we're getting him.”

Tae Crowder, Senior, Inside Linebacker

On what Jordan Davis brings to this team both in the locker room and on the field…

“Off the field he is very funny, someone you love to be around. On the field, he works hard and is a threat. We need Jordan. We try to stay on him because he is young, to get him to keep working.”

On how it has been preparing for Georgia Tech this year compared to previous years without having to prepare for cut blocking…

“We haven’t really started practicing for Tech yet, so I am not sure how it is going to be different. But, we will see today. It has been nice to not have deal with the cut blocking in spring practice and the beginning of the season. Everyone who has played in this game knows it was crazy when we had to prepare for that.”

Charlie Woerner, Senior, Tight End

On the defense affecting the way the offense plays…

“It’s awesome to have our defense as good as they are. It really takes a lot of pressure off us to always have to score every drive … They can win us games but also during the week, we’ve got to match their intensity every practice and help them out more. We need to put more points on the board as an offense to help them out.”

On where the offense needs to improve…

“We need to execute more, a little better in the red zone. When we get down to that red zone area, we’ve got to get touchdowns, not just field goals. (Rodrigo Blankenship) is a tremendous weapon for us but we need six points, not just three all the time.”

On if he talks Georgia football with his uncle and former Bulldog Scott Woerner…

“We talk about it, but nothing too much. We really don’t talk a whole lot of football. We kind of just talk about hunting and fishing and stuff.”

Steven Nixon, Senior, Long Snapper

On his thoughts about playing at Georgia Tech this weekend…

“It’s going to be fun. It’s one of those deep southern rivalries. I think that [Georgia] Tech is going to come out prepared, but I think we’ve got a really great game plan set in place. We’re going to take this week just like we take every other week. Come in, prepare another game plan, and go out there and execute… I grew up a Georgia fan, but I actually played at [Georgia] Tech back in 2016 whenever I played at Mercer. This isn't my first time playing there, but I know this game is just different. I know we prepare differently here for Tech than we do a lot of other teams because it’s just different. It’s more of a pride thing. It'll be really interesting to see how Georgia Tech comes out with their new offense and new coaching staff. They've had some ups and downs this year, but they just beat NC State. It’s going to be really cool and really fun. We’re excited."

On the importance Coach Smart places on special teams…

"He's in every special teams meeting every single day. I think that says a lot about him as a coach and a lot about the coaching staff. A lot of schools don't put a lot of emphasis on special teams, but Coach Smart is in every meeting. He's at every walkthrough, and he knows exactly what everyone's doing, on every position on the field, on all four phases of special teams. They love special teams here. We take a lot of pride in it— I know I do. All the snappers, kickers and punters take a lot of pride in it, and even offensive and defensive players that are on the special teams in the shield in the punt on kickoff return, because everyone wants to score. Everyone wants to have an effect, because we know that's a third of the game. If everyone kind of does his one part, then the 11 guys on the field are going to be alright.”