Thursday, August 29, 2019

Vandy Game Network Change

Georgia’s season-opening football game at Vanderbilt, scheduled for this Saturday in Nashville, will now be carried on ESPN, the network announced Thursday. Kickoff time will remain 7:30 p.m. (EDT).

The game was previously slated for telecast on the SEC Network. Because of Hurricane Dorian’s path toward the state of Florida, the Boise State-Florida State contest — scheduled for a Saturday, 7:00 p.m. kickoff in Jacksonville — has now been moved to Tallahassee, will kick off at 12 Noon on the same day, and will be televised by ESPNEWS. 

 The Georgia Southern-LSU game will now occupy the 7:30 time slot on the SEC Network. All announcing teams will remain as assigned, the network said.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Kirby Smart Media Teleconference

UGA Sports Communications

The third-ranked Dawgs moved one day closer to their season opener with Vanderbilt by holding a two-hour workout Wednesday.

Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference and provided an update on the Dawgs, facing Vanderbilt and his memories from his first game as a student-athlete at Georgia. His comments are listed below:

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

"Like everybody else, we’re excited to kick the season off. It’s very unique for us to have a road SEC opener, which makes things more exciting, makes camp more challenging when you start thinking about an opponent that is very familiar with you and you’re familiar with them. You’re taking a group of players, a lot of them who haven’t played a substantial amount to play for the first time in an SEC road game. It’s going to be an exciting atmosphere, and we’re looking forward to playing up there in Nashville. I have a lot of respect for Derek Mason and his program.”

On How He Thinks the Dawgs Will Perform in the Season Opener

“Most of the time, practice is a good indicator of how they’re going to play. I have seen guys that have some anxiety and make some mistakes and do some things you might not have seen in camp but you rarely see players stand out that haven’t stood out in practice. That’s hard to do, especially with the intensity and the way we practice. Every practice in camp is so intense, you get so few of them that most of the time it makes players show their true colors. If they’re not ready, they’re not ready, and if they are, they are so we try to build them that way. I do think the first game has more jitters than normal.”

Thoughts on Georgia linebacker Monty Rice

“Monty is a leader. He gives exceptional effort. He works really hard in the classroom and in the meeting room. For us, he’s done really well, and we’re really proud of Monty. He works his tail off. It’s really important to him, and he leads others. He had an injury last year and that frustrated him. He’s been pretty healthy, especially for a linebacker.”

On Vanderbilt Coach Derek Mason’s Defense

“Number one, his players play hard and tackle well. He’s done a tremendous job creating both odd and even fronts. They do a really job of pressuring things and have had some good players, great corners, great linebackers. That comes a lot from his NFL background and Stanford background where he’s been able to play in multiple fronts which can create confusion for your offensive teams, and he’s really good at that.”

On What you are Most Excited to See from the Dawgs Saturday night

“A lot. Special Teams, we have a lot of young kids playing on special teams. I want to see those guys flourish, play well. I want to see what kind of habits we’ve created, both offensively and defensively. How are we going to tackle? This is your first chance to go tackle live in a game outside of two or three scrimmages and some practice. Are all our habits, good or bad, going to pay off for us? You find that out.”

On the Georgia Wide Receivers

"I am excited to see those guys play, and hopefully have some success. They know they are targeted, and people are talking about them. They know they’re going to have some one-on-one opportunities with the backs we have and the running game we have. They have to maximize those opportunities and take advantage of them.”

What do you remember in your first game as a Player

“There were jitters (before the game). I mean there was a lot of excitement with it being a home game in front of your fans. I remember a lot more about thinking about it and worrying about it than actually playing in it. Once you get out there, it’s football. It’s kind of the natural instinct takes over once you hit the grass and go play. I don’t remember jitters during the game. I remember looking forward to getting on the field and a lifelong dream of getting to play at home in Sanford Stadium.”

Meanwhile after Wednesday’s practice, Monty Rice along with juniors Solomon Kindley and Andrew Thomas visited with the media. Here’s a few of their comments:

Monty Rice, Junior, Inside Linebacker

On getting hurt at the end of last season

"The guys we did have out on the field last year played to their fullest potential, they played great. We can't look back and say ‘what if?’ There was nothing I could do about getting hurt. Everything happens for a reason. "

On the best part of his game

"I would say the best part of my game is my aggression. I am not afraid of contact at all. That is just me being me. I've always been that way."

On the game against Vanderbilt this week and their players

"They have elite guys on offense. Their running back is very good, he is a hard runner. I look at him like a Holyfield-type running back just a little faster. They have a good tight end; he can go up and get the ball. Their receiver can go and make some plays too."

Andrew Thomas, Junior, Offensive Tackle

On when the fun and excitement starts for him

“I would say Friday when we all get on the bus and fly over there, that’s when it starts to build up. I’m excited to play against somebody else. We’ve been playing a whole bunch of red this whole camp so we’re excited to see somebody else.”

On sophomore Trey Hill’s growth from last year to this year

“Playing offensive line as a freshman is already difficult, but playing center is extremely difficult because you have to make all the calls and make sure the offensive line is all on the same page. His transition from last year to this year is being more of a leader at that spot and being more confident in his calls.”

On what may surprise fans about the defense this season

“I think the biggest thing is the model we’ve been preaching about ‘make it happen;’ sacks, turnovers, things like that. In the scrimmages we’ve had, they’ve forced a lot of turnovers and things like that so that’s a big deal.”

Solomon Kindley, Junior, Offensive Lineman

On offensive coordinator James Coley being on the field this season and its benefits

“Having him on the field is most definitely going to help. If we execute this play badly, or we didn’t execute it the right way, Coach Coley will be on the sideline and he’s going to tell us, ‘this wasn’t right and you need to do this, run this route that way, block that way.’ So that’s definitely going to be a big help.”

On if the team is ready to play ball

“Definitely. It’s go time. The whole team knows that it’s go time. Tomorrow will have to be a good Thursday; come out feeling good, run fast, and get good GPS numbers. Everyone knows it’s about that time for us to hit another opponent.”

On the travel component that comes with college football

“As a matter of fact, traveling and getting on a plane was one of the first times I’ve ever been on a plane so that was a great experience for me. I like the plane rides and bonding with my team and not being on my phone too much. That’s really when you get to know your teammates and know your brothers. When you get to know that type of stuff and what they grind for, what they do, that makes you a better person on the field. … When we go to the hotel and we have a roommate, that’s more time for you to talk to your roommate, talk about the game plan, get to know him and about his family so that’s just a great atmosphere and environment when we travel.”

Georgia opens the season Saturday at Vanderbilt on Aug. 31. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by the SEC Network.

Tuesday Presser

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs continued their preparations for the 2019 season opener at Vanderbilt with a two-hour practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Following Tuesday’s practice, head coach Kirby Smart and defensive back Eric Stokes met with members of the media.

Coach Kirby Smart

On the importance of this game and having an established team…

“It’s the first one, so it kind of is what it is. You always want to establish who you are and create that identity. You do it through camp, really. You do it through scrimmages and practices and meetings. They’ve begun to do that. They’ve begun to take on a personality as a unit on both sides of the ball and special teams. Nobody in the country knows what they have until they go out there and play. There are so many kids that haven’t had to respond to the lights. It’s going to be really fun to see some of these kids grow up and play.”

On how pleased he’s been transitioning from camp mode to game prep…

“They’ve been good. They’ve really been locked in. Like everything, if you start on it too early they get burnt out with it and if you start too late you wish you’d done it earlier and had more prep. Although it’s Tuesday we’re at a Wednesday/Thursday stage and we still have two more practices to try to go back and change some things, tweak some things, and try to figure out what’s going to work best.”

On if James Coley will be on the field or in the press box…

James Coley will probably be on the field. It’s what we’ve done in scrimmages and what he and I have talked about doing. We are open to looking at it different ways, but right now it’s probably what we’re going to do.”

On what the offense will look like with the change in offensive coordinators this season…

“We did a lot of things with Jim Chaney here that we didn’t necessarily always do. You have more offense that you don’t always show. You try to use what you need. What you don’t need, you don’t use. There are things that we had in games that we didn’t use in the past and I’m sure it’ll be that way now. We want to be explosive. We want to score points. I think in college football nowadays you have to be able to score points. When. You look at the best teams in the country, they can do that, so we have to be able to score points. Whatever it takes to do that, whether it’s wearing people down or throwing the ball, we have to be flexible enough to do that.”

On who will be named the punter for the game…

“We really haven’t decided on any of that stuff yet. We are going to see closer to the game. Jake Camarda has done a good job, and a lot of these kids have played well.”

On if there was a specific area that he wanted to improve on during preseason…

“No, we talked about it defensively. We think we have to create some more negative plays. That has to be the focus for us. In the red area, we were not where we need to be in the country. Turnover ratio, we were not. Anywhere where we did not make our goal, was an area of improvement. Our goals are pretty lofty goals when it comes to offensive, defensive, special teams. We didn’t make many of them. So that’s always an area we try to concern ourselves with. To be honest, special teams is always at the forefront because every game you watch, there are critical errors that are made and our intent is to try to put pressure on our opponent in every phase of the game. That’s what special teams is, a chance to put pressure on somebody.”

On recruiting junior college players for the potential play immediately…

“We want those guys to be able to play right away. We’re not always right. Sometimes they have an extra year because they can redshirt and still play two. No one takes a junior college player to not play him. There’s no intent in that. You’re able to see what you’re getting better because they go against better quality competition and also, they can come work out at your camp. When you get a kid to come work out at your camp, you have to be careful because you are comparing him to high school kids, but he has to look like your current players. He has to be able to perform at a high level.”

On the difference Monty Rice would have made if he was healthy down the stretch last season…

“He’s smart, he’s bright. He plays with toughness. He probably plays better in the games than he does in practices because he plays so hard, with such good effort. He’s a difference maker for us because we don’t have a ton of speed at the position. He’s lightning fast when. You compare it to Roquan Smith and some of the guys in the past. He runs well and does a good job for us. His future is bright as a leader for our defense and we need to him to play well.”

On when they start to make sure they have everything in place for this game…

“That was probably three or four days ago when we started on Vanderbilt. Just making sure that we feel good about our ability to manage the clock, our ability to get the signals in, our ability to do the kicking game and do it in an efficient manner. It doesn’t stop, ever. And it doesn’t start anywhere because it’s just a continuum, but I certainly think the closer you get to a game the more you heighten your awareness to it. Especially as a head coach because you’re always trying to see everything and sometimes you try to see too much. You have to be careful.”

On what Brian Herrien has done in preseason…

“Brian, since he’s been here, practices and plays with unbelievable toughness and effort. Every cutup we watch on special teams when we’re doing drills, he’s at the front of the line, he’s competing. He doesn’t play on a lot of special teams but he develops. That’s part of his trade is that he can go do those things. As a running back, he’s picked up pressures this year better than he ever has. He’s running really hard, tough yards. He’s caught the ball well out of the backfield. He’s kind of always done that but he’s never really been the limelight. I think this is a great opportunity for him. For a guy who’s had a really good camp and run the ball tough, he’s just kind of waiting on his opportunity and his opportunity is now.”

On how much the coaches manage D’Andre Swift in games and if they’d like to give him more opportunities this year…

“In his time here he’s been in the backfield with some good players. There may not be an opportunity for one guy to get 25-30 carries. The game is not built like it used to be, for the guys to carry that. The people hitting guys are bigger, faster, stronger. There are a lot more licks. It just may not happen that way. I know that should it be that way, that he has to carry the ball 25-30 times a game to win, I have no doubt that D’Andre Swift can do that. It all goes back to is that necessary. You do what you have to do to win. Sometimes have good skillsets, sometimes other guys are fresher. Sometimes it’s a rotation pattern. Some of our games have been lopsided where you don’t have a chance to get guys that many carries.”

On the luxury of having depth and talent at running back…

“The biggest benefit is at our practices because everybody is going against a good back at all times. When. You have one good back, that’s great and all, but you’re not actually wanting to hit him. You’re not actually wanting to practice against him because you’re scared to death and then your whole defense suffers. I’d like to think if you have five or six good backs and you send a couple of them down to defense for periods, then your defensive players get to thud and play on good backs. Plus, your special teams take a huge jolt because you have good football players playing on those. There are a lot of advantages. The tough thing is the management of it because everybody wants the ball. Let’s be honest, you guys want every guy to get 1000 yards and 1000 carries. I don’t have enough balls to go around to do that. I’m trying to keep them happy because you keep telling them how many of them are going to have 1000 yards.”

Eric Stokes, Red-shirt Sophomore, Defensive Back

On the speed of the secondary…

“I feel like we are all at the same speed. We all are pretty even when it comes to our speed right now.”

On the Missouri game last year…

“That game boosted me a lot. It was my first game out there and I knew I had to show that I was able to play and compete on this team. I’m just trying to build off of last year and keep it moving forward this year.”

On DJ Daniel…

“We knew coming in that DJ Daniel would be a tremendous player and I knew in the spring that him and Tyrique Stevenson would all be really good competition for each other. And I know day in and day out that we are all still fighting for our spots on this team.”

Vandy Week Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. The Dawgs and Commodores kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT in Nashville, Tenn.

On Monday, Coach Smart, junior quarterback Jake Fromm, senior tight end Charlie Woerner and senior defensive back J.R. Reed offered the following comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …

“Welcome guys. We are excited to get prepared for Vanderbilt. We started Friday on Vanderbilt, and we have a lot of respect for Derek Mason and the program that he has put together. He and I got to spend some time together in the offseason and I really enjoy the time spent with him. He is a defensive-minded guy like myself. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way he runs his program.

They have some really elite players returning offensively. When you look at what they’ve got coming back, the tight end that leads the country in returning receptions; a back that has as many or more 10-yard carries as D’Andre Swift and is also the SEC leading returner in yards. They have a receiver — Kalija Lipscomb — that seems like he has been playing there forever. Every time we have had to play them, I thought he was a very good wideout. So, they have a really good player at every level. You look at what they have been able to do defensively. Derek prides himself on being able to stop the run and control the run. You look at last year’s game — and I don’t think a lot of people really realized how close a ball game that was, especially early. They held us to our lowest rushing total in the first half of the season. They out rushed us 90-something to 50-something in the first half and did a really good job doing so by creating a lot of issues for the run game. I have a lot of respect for the way their players play and the program he runs. We are looking forward to opening up in Nashville.”

On the challenge of Vanderbilt’s quarterback situation and scouting Riley Neal and Deuce Wallace …

“Well, both. We have seen him (Neal) be able to play there (at Ball State). We have cutups there. Some of our coaches here recruited him out of high school and are aware of him. We have a little bit of footage of each one, really. I have been there before on the quarterback situation, so I know how it goes and being able to manage it. We expect to be able to see both of those guys. If one of those plays the whole game, it probably means he is playing well, and if we see both of them — they might be telling both of them they can play — but we have to prepare for both, be ready to face both. It’s not going to be as much about those guys as it is the guys around them because the guys around them are really good players. They will be as good as we face at those three positions this season.”

On havoc rate …

“I would not ever say you feel good about it. I don’t sit before the first game and feel certain about anything. You watch openers and you just realize there are so many things that you can prepare for but you are not prepared for. Havoc rate has been a really big deal for us, and that comes in a lot of forms. I think a lot of people expect to see more people coming. That is not necessarily the case. We are trying to create tackles for a loss, pass breakups and interceptions. That does not necessarily mean more pressure. Havoc does not equal pressure. Havoc equals having an ability to get a hand on the ball, to bat a ball, to cause a turnover — to do those things. Our guys have really emphasized it, but we haven’t done it. Until you have actually gone out there and done it, I don’t feel comfortable saying we are going to have a higher havoc rate until we do it. So, we have to go out and execute it and play with really quick explosiveness upfront — not just catch blocks, but try to disrupt. That is what we are trying to do.”

On the challenge of opening a game on the road and how well Georgia fans travel …

“Our fans do a wonderful job traveling. When you get an opportunity for a three-day weekend and it involves Nashville — their fans will be the same way ours are — it’s a tough ticket right now because people want to go. People want to go to Nashville. It’s a place they enjoy going. Their fans are the same way. It’s a limited number of seats all together compared to most SEC stadiums, so it will be a tough ticket to get, and it should be that way. Our players are excited about playing in that kind of atmosphere against a really good football team. I think it is very different when you open with a conference team because of the enormous amount of pressure that comes. Are you going to execute in the moment because your margin of error is reduced drastically compared to opening with a school that might not be a Power-5 program or something. You have to be organized, you have to be detailed, you have to focus and you have to be unselfish. We talk a lot about that with our players that only 70 guys are going. There are going to be some guys sitting at home that are really good football players for us.”

On opening on the road against a SEC team compared to the last few seasons at home …

“The preparation of being on the road for us is we are always worried about crowd noise regardless of where we play. That happens to us defensively at home. So, we go against each other and we just put crowd noise on so everybody is preparing the same. As far as traveling, the biggest thing is the new guys — the freshmen who have not gone on a road trip with a college program and may not know the demeanor with which we travel, the demeanor with which we do walk-throughs, how we handle ourselves at the hotel. A lot of our leaders have to handle that. You find out a lot about guys. We have a lot of guys who haven’t had their feet in the fire that will get to have that. You try to simulate that in scrimmages, but there’s only so much you can do. We try to make scrimmages as tense as possible to create that feeling, but ultimately we will find out a lot about our team.”

On the first game being a tone-setter for the season …

“It’s been both ways. I do not think at all that you can take the first game and say that it defines you. It doesn’t define you. Win or lose, it is not going to define you. What’s going to define you is how you respond. I do think the narrative is set a lot of times off the first game, especially if it is a nationally-televised game and you are out there playing a quality conference opponent who we think is a really good program and a really good team. The narrative can be spun afterwards — ‘well the expectation was this and this happened.’ Like you said, either way — positive or negative — they are going to try to spin it. For us it is about the facts and being really technical. We try to improve on the things that we don’t do well and try to get better every where we can — get a lot of guys experience. That, unfortunately, is the downfall of playing a road conference game is you don’t get to take players so they get that experience of traveling on the road because you only get 70.”

On player personnel matters after the weekend…

Bill Norton unfortunately made a very poor decision, poor choice in judgement and he’ll suffer the consequences for that; very disappointed in him. He knows we don’t accept that behavior here at the University of Georgia. He’ll be punished accordingly. As far as injuries, Nakobe Dean has practiced, he’s been back, he’s not a 100 percent, but he has practiced, which is promising. They had a day off yesterday, so I’ll know a lot more today with him coming out there, whether he’s 80, 90, or a hundred, I don’t know where he is but he’s going to need a lot of rehab. Jameree Salyer is still fighting his way back. He’s probably behind where Nakobe is but still expecting to get him back.”

On the plans for right guard on the offensive line and the return game…

“No decision is final, just exactly what you expect to hear and that guys are competing for the jobs. Cade Mays and Ben Cleveland are still rolling at right guard. Both of them are doing a great job. Cade has been playing multiple positions besides there. Ben’s been playing primarily there and a little left guard. Long snapper will probably be decided this week. Returners will be a lot of the same guys. It’s James Cook, Demetris Robertson back there at kickoff return. Punt return will be Tyler Simmons, Kearis Jackson, Dominick Blaylock, and D’Andre Swift. We’ve got four good practices still left that we’re evaluating guys and making final decisions on who’s going to be where.”

On who he thinks will be a defensive ‘game changer’ this season…

“You know, I don’t know. It’s really hard on defense. If you’re not a rusher affecting the passer, which neither (Roquan Smith or Deandre Baker) were. There’s ways, probably harder to negate Roquan and his talents because he’s in the middle of the field; Deandre had an unbelievable year for us and a special year the way he played but at the end of the day, they can avoid not using the other side of the field. In a way, it’s hard to find a guy who just affects the game outside a dominate pass rusher and it’s still yet to be determined if we have that and I don’t see one right now that I say, ‘that guy’s just unblockable on third down.’ If it was that way, it makes things a little simpler to call the game as opposed to having create pressures or do things to create plays. … Right now, I don’t know that we have that but we’ve got good depth, we’ve got some good young players.”

On embracing the high expectations…

“It’s reality. I don’t think that you run from that. I don’t really know a team in the SEC that doesn’t have high expectations; I don’t know a team in the country that doesn’t have high expectations. I think embracing them faces the fact that you have a standard that we have here of excellence and you want everyone to attain that. So, from the redshirt-freshmen to the walk-ons to the graduate transfer seniors, you embrace the fact that our intent, our drive is to be the best. Every day we go out to practice, every meeting we go in, every walk through we do, our intent is to go out and be the best we can. And if we have those expectations upon ourselves, it really doesn’t matter what the outside world says. We’re not going to be affected by what someone else says or what someone else says we should do and all the people that rank teams; they really don’t know. There’s no team hasn’t deserved any ranking they’ve gotten at this point. So, for us, those expectations are sometimes unwarranted but we inside believe we have a certain standard of excellence that we have to recognize and we have to perform to it day in and day out and that starts this week. It’s our first chance to say, ‘are we going to perform to our standard,’ and that’s what we’re going to measure ourselves on in this game and this game alone. The things we don’t do well, we’re going to work on and the things we do well, we’re going to continue to improve on.”

On Zamir White and how he has handled practice and expectations coming off his ACL injury…

“Zamir’s worked really hard. Conditioning-wise, he’s one of the hardest workers on our team. He’s played in a lot of our special teams in roles. He’s done a good job in the scrimmages. I think he’s very confident with his knee and his health so he’s rip-roaring to go. I don’t have expectations for him per say, to say, ‘you’re going to do this in the second quarter at this time and this play.’ He’s just going to go with the flow of the game and sometimes that changes and I can’t tell you how that will be for him or what that will be from him but I can tell you is that he’s an unselfish kid that has worked his tail off to get back. Some of the expectations for him are probably unwarranted but for him, it’s a matter of he’s got his health and he wants to support his teammates.”

On the defense facing a team with the caliber of Vanderbilt to start the season…

“Well you like a challenge. We’ll certainly love and embrace the challenge. These guys are really talented and it seems like they’ve had superb players in our league and you look at what they’ve been able to do offensively, it’s pretty special to have the three guys they’ve had back. For three players that chose to not come out of the draft to come back, it gets your attention. When you look up there and see Ke’Shawn Vaughn, same number of 10-plus runs as D’Andre Swift has, that’s pretty special. … Each one of those guys has done a lot to earn the respect of our players. If you can do it in our league, it grabs the attention of the room.”

On which receivers are standing out right now and if he’s seen Mecole Hardman play during NFL preseason…

“I haven’t seen much. I saw the one touchdown run he had on the jet sweep where they tossed it to him and he looked explosive and fast. Outside of that I have not seen a lot of his offensive plays. We all knew what he could become and he’s really done that.”

As far as our guys, it’s been by committee. Tyler (Simmons) has had a good camp, but every one of those wide outs at one time or another has made really good plays, so there’s a body of eight or nine of them there that I think they need to get confidence. They need to get catches, catch and run with the ball, make people miss. They need to use the skillsets that so many of them used to get them here. Getting the opportunity to do that and the next step for these guys is to go do that in a game. They haven’t had many opportunities to do it in a game. I’ve seen them for the last two or three years, some of them, make catches and make plays, but nobody else has been able to. This is their opportunity to go out there and make plays.”

On quarterback Jake Fromm’s comfort level without a five-star quarterback behind him…

“Jake has always been comfortable. He is a comfortable quarterback. He believes in who he is. He trusts in his offense and understands the offense. He has a really good grasp of what plays want to be run versus what looks. It’s like having an extra coach on the field. His level of confidence continues to grow because you see him impart that on the younger players and on the offensive line, running backs, and receivers. He leads. He is in a better spot than he’s ever been in, just from the standpoint of having more experience. It has nothing to do about who is behind him, it has everything to do with who he is.”

On what makes Jake Fromm different and if there’s a different curiosity that he has...

“I don’t know if that’s the case. He has a passion about the scheme card and the X’s and O’s. He has a really good special awareness of the field, understanding where people are, and where his people are. He trusts the system and believes in the system and knows that he has options. He knows before the play whether he’s going to do this, this, or this. He’s not having to process that information slowly, it comes natural to him through the number of reps he’s gotten. That probably makes him most different, than most other quarterbacks, is just his experience and his exposure to offensive football started at a younger age.”

On the media not seeing freshman running back Kenny McIntosh at practice on Friday…

“He’s there. You guys just missed him.”

On the deciding factors to determine which 70 players will travel…

“Who helps us win. That’s what we’re trying to do. We will take the guys who give us an opportunity to win and who can affect the game. This week might not be the same as the next week. It’s not set in stone. It’s not set in stone for us. We play a heavy run team, a heavy pass team, if we’re going to run heavy, if we’re going to throw heavy, and special teams- there are a lot of things that factor into that. Nothing is final.”

On the dimensions with the new offensive coordinator, Gerry Gdowksi, at Vanderbilt…

“I think it makes it a little more unknown, but he’s in the system. Cortez Hankton worked with him and he was with him. He’s a good part of their system and done a fabulous job as their coordinator, along with Andy Ludwig for a long time. He does a great job. They have a system that has some similarities to ours and they do a good job of playing the pro-style system.”

On his thoughts on Week 0 and the potential to open early…

“I don’t have a stance. The players have to report earlier to do that so you’re cutting their time down. And you may say, well they’re getting it back this week, they do, but they don’t really get a break because they’re in school. They don’t get to do other things. The way I look at it, if a player has six weeks during the summer and you make it five, that makes it a little tougher for the kid. To each its own, I think it’s one of those things that spreads out the season a little longer, maybe gives you more recovery within it, but it’s really what each coach prefers. What’s the option? What’s the situation? Are you going to get to play in an environment or game that is nationally televised and you get to have that exposure, that might make it worth it for the players to give up some of their time away. I think each situation is different.”

Jake Fromm, Junior, Quarterback

On the challenges of opening the season with a conference opponent…

“It is going to be tough. Anytime you play a game here in the SEC it is going to be a tough, physical game. We are just trying to get our bodies and minds ready to go play a tough opponent.”

On if, now that it is game week, it feels weird opening with an SEC opponent on the road…

“It is a little bit different. You don’t have the normal feel of practicing, going to the stadium and playing in front of a home crowd. It is what it is, this is what we signed up for and we are going to go there and play our best game.”

On the advantages of opening with a conference opponent…
“You set the tone early. That is what we want to do as a team. We want to get tested early and be able to set the tone early as a team.”

On how this year’s training camp has been different for him personally…

“More experience. To be able to go through all the different scenarios we have during camp, to understand the grind of it, to understand how to take care of my body is a big one. Learning how to take care of my arm has been a big one to be able to sustain throughout camp. It really has been a good opportunity for me to be able to reach out and help the younger guys, too.”

Charlie Woerner, Senior, Tightend

On who will catch the ball this year…

"For me, I’ve just been trying to do what I’ve done the entire time I’ve been here and that’s work hard and be a selfless player while I try to help the other guys. I think we’re going to have a great receiving group and tight end group this year.”

On how special it is to play four years at Georgia, being from the state of Georgia…

"I’m from just an hour up the road in Rabun County, Georgia, so it’s awesome to play for your hometown team. It’s meant a lot to me and my time here. Now, being a senior, it’s really special."

On how valuable he thinks he can be, given his experience as receiver…

"I’ve really tried to be there for the young players as much as possible throughout this whole training process. So, I’m super excited for this game, to bring some older experience, and to show some of these younger guys the emotions of what it’s like to play a DI football game.”

On whether playing an SEC game on the road to open is a different feel than past openers...

"Yes and no. We always preach, 'Next game,' and to treat every game like it’s the most important game on the schedule. Being that it is the SEC opener, it’s going to be really hard, but it’s going to be a lot of fun."

J.R. Reed, Senior, Defensive Back

On the challenge of opening on the road against a SEC team …

“Definitely. When you go against great guys in the SEC you just love it. That is part of the reason that I came here — to go against this great talent week-in and week-out.”

On how much opening against an opponent like Vanderbilt could help the defense for the remainder of the season…

“It is definitely a challenge up front and it is a challenge that we are excited to take on. We will learn from it, move on and get better each week.”

On his description of the level of talent on this team since first arriving in Athens…

“Really, really high. We have lots of depth and competition for each spot brings the best out of everyone. There is a lot of pressure to get that playing time early, which makes everyone inspired to play at their highest level.”

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Dawgs Hold Mostly Indoor Practice Thursday

UGA Sports Communications

The third-ranked University of Georgia football team held a two-hour, mostly-indoor practice Thursday afternoon at the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility.

Following Thursday’s practice, select members of the Dawgs offense including Solomon Kindley, Lawrence Cager, and Prather Hudson met with members of the media.

Lawrence Cager, Graduate Student, Wide Receiver

On adjusting to the University of Georgia from Miami…

“I love it here. Obviously, it’s two different sides of totem pole, Miami and Athens, but I love Athens; it's a great place and the team welcomed me with open arms; Coach Smart welcomed me with open arms and I'm just happy to be here.”

On being in the receiver room the first few times…

“From a receiver room aspect, we came in with the mindset, myself, Tyler Simmons, all the receivers, especially me and Tyler being seniors, that it’s on us. Whether it’s making plays on the perimeter or special teams, as long as we have that mindset that it’s on us and we come with that mindset that it’s on us then we can attack every day like it’s a game.”

On looking at the receiver situation when deciding to come to Georgia…

“Honestly, I didn’t even look at the receiver situation, Coach James Coley and Coach Smart called me as soon as I put my name in the portal. I put my trust in those guys 10 times out of 10. Coach Coley when he coached me at Miami and Coach Smart recruiting me heavy when I was being recruited by Alabama, so I just trusted them and we’ll see how it goes.”

Prather Hudson, Redshirt-Sophomore, Tailback

On the competition in the backfield during the preparations for the season opener at Vanderbilt…

“It’s definitely RBU, for sure. We’ve got so many talented people from Zamir White, James Cook, Brian Herrien, everybody’s ballin’ for a spot for a chance to play on Saturday. Everybody’s making each other better each and every day and that's a competition right now.”

On making sure he’s on the bus come Saturday…

“Special teams is huge, obviously, that's how I get on the bus and that's how I'm going to play this year. I'm always willing to play running back but whenever my time comes, I'll be ready. If I shy away from competition now, there's no expectation that I can make it in the league if I do that now. This is the best of the best and this is how it's going to be in the league so I'll be prepared for that.”

On what the team is focusing on during practice now…
“You’ve got to get better at the little things. On special teams, you're getting the right depth in your drop backs, getting the right depth in your route running, just little things that make the difference in the game on game day. So that's kind of what we're focusing on right now.”

Solomon Kindley, Redshirt-Sophomore, Offensive Lineman

On the chemistry of the offensive line…

“That’s the number one thing that Coach Sam Pittman, and not only Coach Pittman but the team, is trying to do. If we have a good offensive line, we can beat anybody in the world. Our chemistry is coming along very, very solid, not just on the football field. We’re a brotherhood. We commit to looking out for each other on the field and off the field so that’s going to tie into the field so we can be the best that we can be.”

On looking at the Vanderbilt defense…

“Vanderbilt is one of the SEC teams that’s very slept on. They’re very fast, very smart, they try and scheme you in different ways where they can come in from a cat blitz or a marker blitz or stuff like that. We’ve got to pay attention to those type of things. … Vanderbilt will try and out-power you and be smarter than you.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Coach Smart Provides Latest Update On The Dawgs

UGA Sports Communications

The third-ranked Dawgs continued preparations Wednesday for their season opener with a two-hour workout in full pads.

Below are comments from Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s session with the media after Wednesday’s practice.

Kirby Smart

Opening statement

"We finished up practice yesterday and it was warm outside, it was after two days kind of off. We had a walk-through Monday. Sunday was off, Monday was walk-through and Tuesday was probably not the kind of caliber practice we needed to have. I thought it was one of our worst practices, which is typical because they come off the scrimmage, they come off the two days off and they've been in school, and also they think it's going to be easy, but it's not. We didn't practice very good Tuesday but we had a better practice today. The leaders stepped up and challenged them to have a better practice. I thought they had a better practice today."

On the leadership role of the players with how the team practices

"Sometimes, I would call on the leadership group and talk about it. I didn't in this case. I just talked about it in the team meeting and just said we didn't practice very good yesterday. They saw it, and they knew it. We had clips and we had a lot of busts. That's what happens when you take two days away. It's almost like some of the information just evaporates. So the young players struggled. Nobody really hit anybody. I think that they're game-ready and they're not. So, we went out and had a more physical practice yesterday and today."

On Eric Stokes

"He's done a nice job developing. He came in last year in kind of a backup role, and he ended up winning the starting job by the way he played, made some big plays in some big games and did a nice job. He's in competition right now. There are three or four guys out there at corner that will compete, and he knows it. He's got to step it up and play well every day, because we're only judged based on our last play. He's challenging to win a starting position."

On Stokes providing leadership in the secondary

"Eric is a bright, conscientious guy. He's very different than Deandre Baker because they're just two different kind of players. Eric's been an asset for us. I think he understands our defensive concepts, and the best thing he does is lead by communicating."

On injury status of Jamaree Salyer and Nakobe Dean

"They were both out there at practice halfway through. They worked with the trainers early on and they've both been dinged up, but both of them I expect a full recovery."

On how the team his progressed to where they are now

"I'm never satisfied with where we are. I get that question a lot and I never know how to answer it. I really don't. Are we where we need to be? I don't know that. I think we could have done better at the practice before that and the practice before that. I want every practice to be good. When we're not good, I get frustrated with it, but I'm not disappointed with the way our team has practiced or where we are as a team. We've got a lot of work to do and we've still got time to do it. We're not working on Vandy yet. We as coaches are, but as the team and the players we're trying to sharpen iron. Iron sharpens iron. We're trying to go good on good and be competitive today."

On D'Andre Swift practicing in a non-contact jersey

"That was just so y'all would focus on that. I see that it obviously worked. Y'all missed, at least I haven't seen it written yet, what I didn't want you to see. You've got that good. I'm glad y'all got that."

On Quay Walker and Channing Tindall compared to freshman Nakobe Dean

“I can tell you how Channing and Quay are doing, but it really has nothing to do with Nakobe. Channing's doing really well. He's explosive, he's valuable for us on third downs. He's one of our top special teams players on the whole team. Quay has improved immensely. He's in competition to play or start. He's very instinctive and a good blitzer. Quay has improved a lot from last year, but both of those are separate from Nakobe because whether Nakobe's there or not, they're practicing the same number of reps."

On Jermaine Johnson

"I don't know that Jermaine's been full speed. Early in camp, he sprained his ankle a couple times. In practice, he'd hit everything but I don't think he was 100 percent. I thought in the scrimmage the other day, there were some plays where he showed burst and acceleration in kicking situations and edge situations. He did a really nice job. We were really pleased with his jump from scrimmage one to scrimmage two, but he's not where he needs to be. He has to continue to improve to be able to say, 'This guy is going to help us down into that.' Now, we do think that he can help us on special teams. He's fighting for opportunities to get reps and he's fighting with Azeez Ojulari, Walter Grant, Nolan Smith, Robert Beal Jr. and Adam Anderson There's some dudes over there."

On Saturday

"We won't have a scrimmage Saturday. We'll be moving to Vanderbilt, but we won't have a scrimmage. We'll have a good physical practice, but it won't be a scrimmage. The focus for Saturday will be Vanderbilt, but right now it's on us."

On watching the Florida-Miami game

"I don't know what time it is. [7:00]... If we're done. We'll practice that day, but we'll have some work to do on Vandy, some game-planning. If I get home, I'll certainly watch it, but if I'm not at home, I'm back here working."

On learning more about your team by playing a game versus practice

“I do agree at some point you have to go play somebody to get better. We need practice, we need to improve but we need to play somebody else to do that because you get to a point, you want to go play somebody to grow and get better. We have to get some experience in some spots. I’m looking forward to that, and I know our players are too and they’re the same way at Vanderbilt. He’s not worried about us right now, but he’s also ready to go play somebody else other than himself. The kids are the same way.”

On his relationship with Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason

“We’ve always had mutual respect for each other. He was a defensive coach at Stanford when we went out there and visited and talked ball with Coach Shaw. He goes on the Nike trip with some of the coaches that are Nike schools. I got to meet his wife and hear about his family. He met my wife. We got to experience some down time together. I got a lot of respect for Derek, and the way he runs his program.’”

On competition on the offensive line and at wide receiver

“They are some tight battles on the offensive line and there are some that aren’t tight. There are some guys that deserve to play that we hope to play. {At wide receiver} Tyler Simmons is a starter for us assuming he’s healthy and ready to go but outside of him, there’s battles at every one of those positions.”

The battle at the “Star” position between Mark Webb and Divaad Wilson

“They’ve both done a good job and both are competitive. Both kids deserve to play. They have worked really hard. They are different but similar in body types. We hope to keep guys fresh and play the best guy. Sometimes you go with the hot hand. Sometimes you go with the guy that had the best week of practice. The good thing is you can’t relax because the guy behind you is just as good as you and is trying to win the job too. They both play “Money,” they both can play “Star.” We’re going to get a lot of guys experience.”

On how Tyrique McGhee fits in the defense

“He’s played a lot in the last couple of years especially last year. This year he hasn’t played as much “Star” for us. We had to get a little bigger and more physical at that position. He’s very similar to Aaron Davis. He can go play corner, he can play “Star,” he can play “Money,” he can play safety. Aaron played a lot for us because we didn’t have the depth when he was here. I expect Tyrique to play a lot. He is a very dominant special teams player. He is a very unique player, a utility guy that can play a little bit of everything, and we expect him to do that.”

After having a pair of 1,000 yard rushers the last two season, do you think the carries will be split up again in 2019

“In a perfect world, I want success, and I want success for each one of those players. If each one of those backs has success, you could end up with nobody getting 1,000 yards and have three or four guys get really close. The defense dictates sometimes what we do offensively. I’d love to have two 1,000 yards rushers again. I think it helps you recruit. It helps you have the guys that are the bell cows. But I’m not past playing four backs.”

Georgia opens the season against Vanderbilt on August 31st. 
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by the SEC Network.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Linemen Discuss Preseason

UGA Sports Communications

The No. 3-ranked Dawgs conducted a two-hour practice in shoulder pads and shorts on Tuesday afternoon.

The Dawgs are now 11 days from their season opener at Vanderbilt on Saturday, Aug. 31. Georgia will open the season against an SEC foe for the first time since hosting South Carolina in 1995 and versus a conference foe on the road since facing South Carolina in Columbia in 1994.

Following Tuesday’s practice, selected linemen visited with the media including Cade Mays from the offense and Tyler Clark from the defense.

Cade Mays

On the competition on the offensive line…

“We’re real deep on the o-line, and we’re just out there competing every day and making the most of our reps. We’re just doing everything we can.”

On the best compliment someone could pay him as a football player…

“I would say the best thing that someone could say about me is just that I play hard and that I love the game and that I just want to finish people.”

On playing multiple positions on the offensive line…

“I like being that useful. If anything happens, I’m the guy that can be plugged in. Anything that happens, I’m the guy. It’s definitely helped me to learn the center spot. It’s helped me learn the offense better knowing what everybody else is doing. I don’t think it’s slowed me down. I think it’s picked my game up and elevated it to a new level.”

On how playing multiple positions (and center) happened…

“It just came about. Coach Sam Pittman just moved me there one day and saw that I could play. Since then, it’s just kind of been the deal.”

On playing both the left and right sides of the line…

“I kind of played everything my whole life, starting in youth ball. My dad (Kevin Mays), when we were playing youth ball, any time we were running to the left, he put me on the left side. Any time we were running to the right, he put me on the right side. It’s kind of been that way my whole life. I’ve played both sides.”

Tyler Clark

On last season…

“I didn’t do as well as I thought and as I knew I could. I just started feeling myself too much and it got in my head and it took me out, but I’m going to be back this year. I feel like I’ve come back this year bigger, better and stronger.”

On the difficulty of young players trying to make an impact on defense…

“It can get a little overwhelming with all the plays, but once you learn the plays, you’ll be fine and everything will be smooth. I think I’m good with the play book, actually. I feel like I can teach it to the young guys. This is the best feeling I’ve had in all my four years here.”

On the “havoc rate” the defense is trying to create this season…

“We’re looking for more sacks and more TFLs. I’ve got a different kind of move for each down.”

On the relay race between players and coaches/sprinter Matthew Boling on social media…

“I was shocked. I knew it wasn’t Coach Smart running like that so I had to look twice. After I saw it was Matthew I was like ‘oh wow!’”

On Richard LeCounte’s reaction to losing in the final leg of the relay…

“He was mad at first because he thought it was Coach Smart. He had to look back, and I think he knew ‘oh wow, that’s not Coach Smart.’ I think he just took it on the chin after that. We told him ‘It’s alright Rich."

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Dawgs Hold Second Scrimmage of Preseason in Sanford Stadium

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia football team held its second scrimmage in Sanford Stadium on Saturday with temperatures in the 90s.

The Dawgs will have a day off on Sunday before starting preparation for Vanderbilt later in the week.

Following Saturday’s scrimmage, head coach Kirby Smart met with the media in the Butts-Mehre Building.

Opening Statement

“I thought we had a much more spirited scrimmage. It was still hot out there but probably not as humid as it was last time. We didn’t have the lightning delay this time. They started out a lot better, started out a lot faster. We got more competitive. I thought both 1’s units played better, which meant the 2’s probably didn’t play as well. There were some explosive plays in the scrimmage. I was proud of the competitive toughness. We had a lot of snaps out there. I think we had 135 snaps, which is basically two football games. We had a lot of special teams snaps mixed in too. The guys really pushed hard, they were hurting at the end. There were some really competitive goal line periods, red area periods, competitive 2nd and 10, third down- everything was pretty even across the board when we did 1’s on 1’s. So I thought that was good. We were able to get some of the playmakers the ball on the perimeter and made more plays in our passing game.”

On the overall progression of the team with the season two weeks away…

“We have a lot to work on. I am pleased with the effort. The effort that our kids are playing with, I’m proud of that. We’ve had some tough, physical practices and this group has not backed away from that. Our worst practice, by far, was last Saturday. I’m not saying today was our best, but it was to par with the other good practices.”

On how the team is holding physically…

“Pretty good. We have some guys beat up. We had a couple guys that couldn’t really go today. Knock on wood, no major, major injuries. We are going to have tomorrow off. Monday is going to be a light, light walk thru. This is where we say, ‘okay, we have to start getting them back.’ We have to get recovery. We have to get fluids. When you have 48 hours you feel like you can almost recover to the full extent. We are hoping to get everyone’s legs back. They’re hurting a little bit. Part of that is mental toughness and the grit, and they’ve been able to handle that.”

On the status of Julian Rochester, David Marshall, and Nakobe Dean

Nakobe Dean is banged up. He was not able to scrimmage today, but he is going to be fine. Julian Rochester is coming off the ACL repair. He’s practiced every day. He does some periods with us and he does others with a trainer where he runs and gets his mileage up, but not as much contact stuff. He’s doing a little bit of both. David Marshall does about 50 percent with us, 50 percent with the trainers. Julian and David are both older players who are not 100 percent so we’re trying to control their volume of reps, and also giving some of the other guys reps. They’ve practiced each day.”

On which group had the most explosive plays…

“The receivers did. Last scrimmage it seemed like some of the backs out of the backfield had some big plays but it was the wideouts as a group. Lawrence Cager had one, George Pickens had one, Tyler Simmons had one, Trey Blount had one. We had several guys have explosive plays. Explosive to me is well over 12/13 yards. Kearis Jackson had big one. We’ve seen great balance on the explosive plays.”

On the progress of the receiving corps…

“There has been progress, yeah. I think you can always do more and that is what we’re trying to do. I am very pleased with that group’s effort, toughness, resiliency, pushing through contact toughness. There are some balls that should have been caught that weren’t today, but that’s probably always going to be the case.”

On the progress on D’Andre Swift…

“D’Andre’s been good. He is a good leader in that group. He is very bright. Brian Herrien is probably the most experienced because he’s been here longer. Brian does not have as much volume of carries as D’Andre does, but Brian has practice experience and probably more reps just because he went to a whole spring when D’Andre was still in high school. Dandre’s been good.”

On Jarvis Jones assisting the outside linebackers…

“Running Backs coach Dell McGee brought him about. I was not aware that he was done with football and Dell said he was going to be back here in school. It was an awesome opportunity. I’ve had the fortunate of Kevin Butler, Chris Samuels- some really special players who have come back to work as undergrads. Jarvis is here every day. A lot of times you get those guys that can’t be all in, but Jarvis is all in. He is in there to learn. He helps set the tempo, set the standard in the outside linebacker room. He demands excellence. He played the position; he knows what it takes to play it. We have talented players at that position group, but a lot of those guys don’t have any experience. Here’s a guy that did it in the NFL and did it here at a high level. He’s from our state and played for one of our coaches. It’s a blessing.”

On making the decision on the 70 players who will travel to Vanderbilt…

It’s always tough. It’s tough at 80, 85, it’s tough when you travel 100. We know that what we decide there is not final. It changes week to week. There’s not a week that I think was exactly the same last year. Number one because of injury, but number two because of effort in practice. Michael Barnett didn’t travel, didn’t play, and then went on the scout team of defensive line, to starting on the defensive line against Georgia Tech. It can come full circle. We are going to have some tough decisions to make. We’re not going to make them right now. We have two weeks to finalize those choices.

On how much longer “camp mode” will last…

“Probably until Thursday. We’re going to start to work on Vanderbilt early, but not too early. We have a lot of games to play besides them. We are focused, as coaches, on a game plan for them, but with the players we are focused on getting better. You have to be careful when you have an opponent that you’re going to play- if you start too early, they’re just going to get tired of preparing for that. They want something new, new energy. We’ll probably introduce Vandy on Thursday or Friday.

On the competition at punter…

“Both guys Jake Camarda and Bill Rubright have played well. It’s been a good competition. Camarda punted well today, and Rubright punted a couple times as well. To be honest, I’d have to watch the tape. I’m a lot more worried about the hold up and the coverage, right now. We will judge the rest on tape.

On how much the receivers making explosive plays is because of quarterback Jake Fromm…

“I think all colleges that can pass the ball are explosive now. I’m not telling you guys they went out there and made 100 explosive plays, that’s not the case. I’d be worried about the defense. We have some explosive playmakers and we have a quarterback that throws the deep ball well. It’s really one of his better passes.”

On the progress of the defensive line…

”There’s a lot of guy rolling, there’s no one dominant player on that defensive front or defensive line. There’s a lot of good solid players. We may roll out there with six seniors that have played football- Michail Carter, Justin Young, Tyler Clark, Julian Rochester, David Marshall. It just seems like we have guys that have played a lot of football that are out there. As far as the younger guys, they are where the older guys are yet. You can’t be. That’s unrealistic to think that some of those guys are going to be where the older players are. They just can’t physically jump into that mold yet. Devonte Wyatt has done a good job, who I count as a middle player. Jordan Davis is one of those who is not a freshman and he’s not a senior, but he’s done some good things. Travon Walker is the one who has a chance to help us the most this year because he’s not really an interior defensive lineman. He’s more athletic, he plays on the edge. He can do more things in a sub situation.”

On wearing a shirt from current New England Patriot Isaiah Wynn’s camp…

“He sent it to me and I told him I would wear it at one of my press conferences. I saw the video of what he did with the kids before school started. He took a group of kids from his hometown community and bought them all back-to-school supplies and just did an unbelievable job. It’s indicative of what he did, that I asked him for one of his shirts. We read his quotes on #WinWithWynnWednesday to the team. He doesn’t a really good job with that.”

On who displaying toughness, defensively…

“I probably saw a little more toughness on the front, on the offensive line knocking us off the ball. There were some pops made, a couple goal line stops. Our backs are good players, they were able to make some space. Kenny McIntosh did some good things today. He continues to improve. He has really good balance and he’s been a good blessing. Lewis Cine shows up, he makes plays, he hits people. J.R. Reed had a couple good tackles. We just have to get our players on defense to play within the system. We still have some guys that want to play Rat Trap and do what they want to do instead of what they’re supposed to do. When do the Rat Trap stuff it hurts us.”

On the team responding to the heat…

“It’s been hot. Our guys haven’t complained about it. There have been a couple practices where we went inside at the end of practice, but start every day outside and do about 75 percent of practice outside. We did all of the scrimmages out there. I talked to some of the coaches that have been at our practices and some other practices and they say the same thing, it’s hot. Mentally, what are you going to do? It’s hot. Our guys pushed through it and I thought they did a good job today.”

On his assessment of Andrew Thomas…

“He’s been a leader. I think he has more stamina. He’s ability to lead and play hard longer has been good. His first two practices in camp I thought he played really physical. He has to continue to do that. He has to really be physical and be that right tackle that we need him to be. I’m pleased with him as a leader. He’s played with more consistently, I think, because he’s in better shape. He doesn’t get tired or winded and give up cheap sacks. He plays more consistently. He has bought into the whole culture of ‘I have to be a great player’. If he wants to be a great player he has to eat, sleep, get off his phone at night. He has to do all of the things that require him to be a great player. We are trying to get a little bit better at everything and he is a guy that has bought into that.”

On Stetson Bennett and who is behind him on the depth chart…

D’Wan Mathis is not able to go a whole lot. Nathan Priestley has been in there and he goes a good bit. He has been a blessing in disguise for us. He’s very bright, very athletic, really good arm talent. Coach Coley will tell you, he takes the best notes I’ve ever seen in the quarterback room. Within our system that’s important. You don’t get the volume of reps you want at the three. In camp he has, but his reps are going to start to dwindle. Stetson didn’t have as good of a day as he had last scrimmage. It’s not that he was bad today, he just wasn’t quite as efficient.”

On Kenny McIntosh and the number of running backs that travel…

“I didn’t see him today on special teams. He has reps on special teams, but I don’t know how he did on those. We don’t know how many backs travel. If we have seven backs that are really good, we’ll travel seven. If we have ten, we’ll travel ten. If they can help on special teams, they’ll be out there. We have traveled as few as four and as many as seven. Prather Hudson makes that number vary because he’s a really good special teams player. Those decisions that we have to make are going to be tough, but someone like McIntosh is a key to that decision because his value right now is going to be special teams.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

Dawgs Balance School and Practice in Fall Camp

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia football team went through its second practice since staring classes earlier in the week. The Dawgs worked out for nearly two hours at the Woodruff Practice Fields on Thursday.

Temperatures in the low 90s and mostly sunny skies greeted the team for its 12th practice session of this year’s fall camp.

Graduate defensive back J.R. Reed and junior outside linebacker Walter Grant met with media members on Thursday to discuss the team’s progression.

J.R. Reed, Senior, Defensive Back

On practicing in the heat and going indoors from time to time …

“They let us inside yesterday. We had a really good practice yesterday — very fast practice. Today was not that bad as far as the weather, so we went outside.”

On starting school this week and preparing for the season …

“I am excited. Personally, I am really excited. I am glad everyone is here, glad to get out of the hotel and get used to everything — getting used to school, to the new practice schedule and those kinds of things.”

On what advice he gives to freshmen on balancing their schedules …

“I tell them to just enjoy class and go to your classes and don’t let it clutter you up. When it is time for football, it is time for football, but when it is time for school, just focus on school. Don’t try to do too much at once because then you will just mess up everywhere.”

On if the energy of practice changes when school is back in session …

“Sometimes it’s harder for the young guys to adjust because they have gone through the whole day of class and now they have to come to practice. So, it is kind of hard for them to switch their brains over to football. Sometimes they are tired, so it’s going to be a little tough for those guys, but for the guys who have been here it is really easy.”

On the secondary …

“I feel a lot better about if one guy goes down we have someone to plug in. Anyone can really play anywhere on that field. It’s not only depth, but we have people who know what to do, even the freshmen.”

Walter Grant, Junior, Outside Linebacker

On getting after the quarterback in practice...

"It is another way to get everyone after it every day. It is just something small to push us a little bit more. It gives us that extra push. I feel like we try and make a better effort at getting to the quarterback and getting after it a little more. Not much has changed as far as the standard. However, the bar has been raised, everyone else is now held at a higher standard. We have to push ourselves, your teammates have to push you. That is the standard set now. "

On the outside linebackers getting to the quarterback...

"It depends on what the play is. You just do your job. Sometimes you get to rest, sometimes you have to set the edge, sometimes you have to run with the running back, or drop coverage, it is all different."

On his position journey from offense to defense...

"It is just another way to go out there and get a better look. Nothing has changed that much. It is always fun. Any way I can help my team, I am always looking at it as a way to get me better. It helps me help someone else get better. There is nothing negative about it."

On Jarvis Jones helping the linebackers in practice...

"His tips are always good. You can benefit so much from a veteran. He has already been in the game, already been in the league a couple years. Whatever he can give back I am willing to take and everyone else is to take it in too."

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dawgs Mark Ninth Practice Of Camp

UGA Sports Communications

The Georgia football team returned to the Woodruff Practice Fields on Monday, logging two hours in full pads as temperatures remained in the 90s.

This marked the ninth preseason session for the Dawgs. Georgia will return to practice on Tuesday, then have the day off on Wednesday as fall semester classes begin.

The Dawgs will open the 2019 season August 31st at Vanderbilt.

Representatives from both sides of the ball spoke to media members after practice. The players included tight end Charlie Woerner, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, defensive back Mark Webb, and outside linebacker Walter Grant.

Webb, a junior from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, arrived at Georgia as a receiver, then switched early his freshman year to the defensive backfield. He has seen action in 27 games for Georgia, primarily on special teams, though he did start against Middle Tennessee State in 2018. Webb now has himself in line for even more significant snaps in 2019.

“It was kind of rough from the start, but it’s gotten smoother as time has gone on,” Webb said. “I understand the journey that I’m on and I see what Coach Smart has in store for me. It was rough, but I’m getting to the right place. … I wasn’t used to the defense, especially our defense. It’s very complicated and that was a big change for me, but I never second guess the move. Coach Smart has a plan for me.”

Woerner, a senior from Tiger, was reminded that Smart used terms like “a little lethargic” and “not the temperament or enthusiasm that I expected” to describe Saturday’s scrimmage. Asked for his take on that, Woerner said, “I think we let the heat get to us a little bit. It was pretty hot out there, but we should be used to that. We’ll have to pick it up for the scrimmage this Saturday. … It’s all mental. A big part of beating the heat is getting your mind right. You can’t succumb to the heat. You put on the pads and the helmet and add 15 pounds, and you’ve got to fight through it.”

Woerner also was asked about being the elder statesmen in the tight ends room.

“I’ve been leading the guys and helping them do what they need to do like learning the playbook,” Woerner said. “They’ve all done a great job. It really is a good group.”

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Dawgs Scrimmage At Sanford Stadium As Preseason Continues

UGA Sports Communications

The Georgia football team scrimmaged in Sanford Stadium for more than two and a half hours on Saturday with temperatures hovering in the 90s.

This marked the eighth session for the Dawgs. The team will get a break from the practice field on Sunday before having six straight sessions. UGA begins its fall semester on Wednesday.

Following Saturday’s scrimmage, head coach Kirby Smart met with the media back in the Butts-Mehre Building.

Opening statement:

We caught a little weather delay and had to go in for about 30 minutes because of lightning so it set us back a little. It probably wasn’t the type scrimmage I was expecting to have. There wasn’t the temperament or enthusiasm that I expected. We’ve gotten after it pretty good over the last seven practices or so but I didn’t think we had the same juice today. Both starting units were a little lethargic and didn’t have their timing. We had some busts on defense. There are some things to clean up and the good news is we have time to clean them up. The No. 2 units didn’t dominate the scrimmage, but they did some really good things. I thought the second offense and second defense had some positive things done. We have to make sure everyone is cleaning up things the right way and we have to create an identity.

What units matched up with each other and how did they do?

We go all ways with the ones versus the ones, twos versus the twos and the ones versus the twos on both offense and defense. The (second units) came out with a chip on their shoulders. The No. 2 offense had about a 13-play drive. They took the whole set and drove down and scored a touchdown. They did some good things versus the No. 1 defense and same thing for the No. 2 defense versus the No. 1 offense.

How many total plays did you get in?
We almost got our quota. We almost got our 140 or 150, I think we ended up with 115 or so because of the weather delay. We cut a couple of the kicking plays shorter and a little bit of the kicking and threes on threes short.

How has camp gone thus far?
I think at this point in camp it has gone great. Today wasn’t great. But up to his point we have had some really competitive, spirited practices. I have been very pleased but I wasn’t pleased today.

Are there concerns when a guy like Brenton Cox several days into camp ends up at an SEC East rival?
I don’t know if there are concerns. Brenton chose to withdraw from the University of Georgia, go into the transfer portal and he’s now at another SEC institution and we wish him nothing but the best and appreciate his contributions while he was here.

How did Zamir White handle the live tackling during the scrimmage?
He’s had some live tackling before today, we just haven’t had a live scrimmage. I thought he was really contact tough. He was running behind his pads, had a couple crucial short yardage runs and was able to churn it out for first downs. He did have some big catches. But he had a good overall day. He’s got to protect the ball and he’s got to protect the quarterback. Everyone judges him with how he does when the ball is in his hands but there is a lot more to being a good running back than that.

How did the wide receivers do?
It was up and down. There were some guys that made some plays, especially with the No. 2 group. With the No. 1 group, we probably didn’t have as many plays. There were a couple drops out there. But I have been pleased with the receivers work ethic and what they have done leading up to today. We’ve got to do a good job of getting the balls in their hands and giving them an opportunity to make some plays.

How is the defensive backfield developing?

D.J. Daniel has been a pleasant surprise. He has done a good job, he’s gone with the ones quite a bit. Tyson Campbell got dinged up a little bit today and hopefully he’ll be back. Eric Stokes has been going with the ones, Tyson with the ones, D.J. with the ones, Tyrique Stevenson with the ones, so they are all getting good work in.

How do you feel your offensive line performed today?
If you are not scoring points on offense, there are probably not going to be a lot of our lineman up for awards. And we didn’t score a lot of points today. At the end of the day, how well did we perform, what is our identity, what are you trying to create. There are some good players on that offensive line but good players have to play good.

How have the newcomers adjusted to starting practice?

I think mid-year freshmen, I don’t even see them as freshmen anymore. Lewis Cine made some plays, Nolan Smith, Nakobe Dean, all of those guys y’all have known about since last spring, they are kind of comfortable out there playing. The newest guys also made some nice plays. Those guys are kind of getting to be the guys who are like, ‘wow, this is my first scrimmage.’ The defensive lineman, linebackers got a lot of snaps today. Those linebackers are going to be ones we need to make plays on special teams, we are going to need them to be able to ‘make the bus’ on special teams. They are picking things up well. They aren’t ahead of the guys who are older than them, but they are making progress.

What about the excitement about Zamir White coming back from his injuries?
That’s human nature. When you see a guy go through what he’s been through, who’s not pulling for Zamir White? Every guy on our staff and every guy on our team has seen his ups and downs and the rehab he’s done. He’s been on the sideline for the whole year just working out and running. When he gets an opportunity to go out there and have an opportunity for some success, I think everyone is pulling for him. Defensive players, it’s not easy to pull for him because you have to tackle him. And it’s not easy tackling him because he’s a full grown man when he’s running the ball.

How has Brian Herrien done?

Brian had a good scrimmage. He’s out there working hard every day, he’s a lunch pail guy. He caught the ball out of the backfield, he protected, he had one long explosive run. Brian is a guy who loves football.

How is Stetson doing so far as the No. 2 quarterback?
Stetson had a good day today. He executed the offense. He was behind what seemed like the longest drive ever when the No. 2 offense scored against the No. 1 defense. He was really steady, consistent and that drive just kept going and going. He moved about the pocket well. He converted a lot of third downs. I am proud of Stetson for that because he has worked really hard. He still has some areas he can improve on, making his checks, two-minute situations.

What does it say about Cade Mayes that you are moving him around and trying him at a lot of positions?

First of all, Cade is versatile, he’s an athlete and we can’t let that be a detriment to him. If he needs to be in the starting five, we need to put him in the starting five. But his value is that he can snap, he’s an athletic center and if you can play center, left tackle and guard, you are pretty talented and bright. He’s really tough and plays physical.

Has anything jumped out about your defensive line?
I wouldn’t say anything has jumped out. The freshmen are all brand new so they are all a little overwhelmed. They are not out there knowing everything to do. And for the seniors, you have David Marshall coming off his injury and he doesn’t get all of his reps. Julian Rochester is coming off an ACL injury and he doesn’t get all of his reps. Those guys are kind of spot players. Tyler Clark and Mike Barnett gets a lot of the work and Jordan Davis has done some good work and Devonte Wyatt has played really physical and done some good things. Tramel Walthour is coming along as well. We have to cause more havoc with the guys up front.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Dawgs Complete Practice Number Six

UGA Sports Communications

Following a day off, Georgia held a two-hour preseason practice Thursday in helmets and pads at Woodruff Practice Field, it was the sixth practice of fall camp.

Representatives of the Georgia defense spoke to media after practice. The players included: junior defensive backs Richard LeCounte and Eric Stokes, as well as redshirt freshman outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari.

Richard LeCounte, Junior, Defensive Back

On how he is trying to accomplish excellence, not perfection...

“It’s all about the little things. I’ve definitely focused on the things I need to improve on in the offseason. Coach Smart definitely pushed me a lot to bulk up and made me pay attention to details I’ll need to see for my playing level to be where it needs to be. It’s all about getting to the next level to be able to help the team. So, now that it clicked, I feel like I can go play ball now.”

On what ‘details’ means to him...

“Details for me is the angle— the angle of the ball. Also details like being able to rely more on the safety to help me and make easier tackles, and also being able to rely on my teammates more to read by passes."

On how his body/athleticism is different in year three...

“It definitely feels better, I feel, you know, a lot stronger now. You know, I’m down with those big guys down there.So, I have a, you know, a lot of confidence in my tackling ability now. Also, I'm ready to attack the ball more."

Eric Stokes, Junior, Defensive Back

On Coach Dan Lanning and mentality of havoc…

“Coach Lanning during the spring kept saying he wanted, ‘Havoc! Havoc! Havoc!’ He kept grilling it in since the spring has started.”

On aggression at the DB position…

"We are pretty aggressive—I know that. We going to get out there and regardless especially with the havoc—that is something to build on."

On Zamir White and excitement surrounding his debut…

“I am just happy that he is really out there. I literally remember the first play of this year during camp and he burst through a hole and me, William Poole, all looked at each other like ‘Dang, he was really moving on them.’ So I am really excited to see what he is going to bring.”

Azeez Ojulari, Redshirt Freshman, Outside Linebacker

On what he’s seen so far out of the linebackers...

“We’ve got multiple guys who are just like ‘Go!’ They’re out there to play and will do whatever to make the play, and they’re all very valuable."

On what he’s had to do to improve his game/body...

“I’ve just been coming in every day, working hard every day to stay focused. I just keep pushing every day."

On the importance of getting play time during Sugar Bowl...

“It was a great experience for me to go out there and play a big game. It gave me the opportunity to show what I could do and just get better from that game to head into this season."

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Dawgs Complete Day Five of Fall Camp

UGA Sports Communications

The Dawgs conducted two hours of preseason practice Tuesday in helmets and pads at the Woodruff Practice Fields under temperatures as high as 90-degrees with a heat index that made if feel like 97-degrees.

Preseason practice made its 2019 debut on Friday, followed by Fan Day in the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility on Saturday. The first practice in pads and helmets took place on Sunday, before the Dawgs' fourth outing on Monday.

Representatives of the Georgia offense spoke to the media after practice on Tuesday. Nearly the entire offensive line unit from 2018 will be back, including both junior guards Solomon Kindley, and Ben Cleveland. Georgia’s top returning wide receiver Tyler Simmons, a senior, provides experience in the revamped receiving core.

Kindley, who started every game on the left side in 2018, attributed the competition with the defensive line as a key determinant in readying the offensive line for gamedays.

“That is just the brain that we have at Georgia – physical, dominant offensive and defensive line,” Kindley said. "If you have that you can win championships. Apparently we are called ‘The Great Wall’, but we don’t pay any attention to that. The defensive line feels like they are going against the best offensive line, so they come out with a chip on their shoulders out there.”

Cleveland, a four-game starter on the right side in 2018, highlighted the competition within the talented offensive line that features returners and newcomers to the group that helped pave over 6,000 total yards last season.

"It is phenomenal," Cleveland said. "Competition drives everybody, not only to get better, but also to perfect what we are trying to do. It is a good thing for everybody to have that common goal to compete everyday and to push each other. The guy coming up behind you is trying to push you out of your spot, which makes you progress and keep moving.”

Simmons, of Powder Springs, understands the role he has as one of the most tenured receivers on the roster and the job of passing on knowledge to the group.

"It means a lot that my quarterback trusts me and trusts me to be one of his main guys," Simmons said. "In being in that position, I have to take a bigger leadership role in getting the young guys ready and prepared. We talk to Jake Fromm a lot. We meet a lot, watching film and trying to figure out ways we can better ourselves as a quarterback-receiver duo. I just pass what he teaches me down to the younger guys, so everybody can be ready to step up and be ready to play.”

The Dawgs enjoy an off day on Wednesday, before returning to the field on Thursday for the sixth day of preseason camp. Georgia's first game of the 2019 campaign is slotted for August 31st at Vanderbilt.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Coordinators Meet With Media Monday

UGA Sports Communications
University of Georgia Fain and Billy Slaughter defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach James Coley met with media members on Monday. They offered the following comments.

Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning

Opening statement…

“We’re excited; I think this is every coach's favorite time of year. You know, we really enjoyed the opportunity to work for our guys and this is really why you get in the profession, the opportunity to teach. Obviously extremely grateful to coach Smart for the opportunity to be here at the University of Georgia and work with the collective unit of coaches that we get to work with. We’ve got a phenomenal staff who do a really good job, and we're really fortunate to get to coach some really, really good players.”

On the hiring process as the defensive coordinator…

“I think one thing that's great about Coach Smart, anybody that works for him puts himself in a position every day where he's training you for opportunities moving forward. He wants you to think outside the box. So, I think the interview process for me started the day that I got here and probably back to my time when I was at Alabama with Coach. But I think that's for every one of our coaches on staff, as he puts you in situations where you have to think. Try to be ahead of the curve and prepare yourself for a situation if something changes and an opportunity presents itself.”

On continuing to work with the outside linebackers…

“You know I have a real passion for this game, it’s something I really love to do, and I always tell our guys whenever football is over with, make sure you do something you're passionate about. But I think your players take on your mentality. If I coach really casually, and just kind of cruise on cruise control out there, then I expect my players to play that way. So I want to coach with passion so my players play with passion. On a young guy stepping up, we’ve got a ton of competition in that room I'm really, really excited about it. In fact, yesterday we were joking around when we started fitting some runs, the pads came on yesterday, I don't know if you guys know it's Shark Week, but Nolan Smith, we’re calling him Hammerhead now, the way he likes collision runs. There's some really good competition, we’ve got some guys in there that are working really hard but at this point, you know that it's still wide open.”

On depth of the edge players…

“Every year, we do a self-scout, and we try to evaluate what things can we do better, what issues can be created for the offense, and what can we change schematically. And then I think every Fall when you start, you say ‘okay what are the points of emphasis, what are we really going to hammer home,’ because if you try to do everything, you're going to be an expert at nothing, right? So, we want to really focus on how do we coach it and how do we create it. If we emphasize it in that team meeting room, show examples of it every single day. Then I think that more of it's going to show up on the field. In correlation with also what we're doing different schematically, I think that's going to help as well.”

On which of the outside linebackers have the opportunity to take the next step in productivity…

“It'd be hard to single out one or two but there's some guys that have had a really good camp so far and obviously we're only three days in. Walter Grant’s a guy that moved around a lot in the Spring and has done some really good stuff coming back; he’ll work with us more full time this Fall. Azeez Ojulari's a guy that finished off the year last year really strong and is doing really well, but I don't think you could put aside the work that Robert Beal’s put in. It's hard to just sit here and say this guy, that guy, and obviously we have some newcomers we're really excited about.”

On freshman linebacker Nolan Smith…

“One thing coming in with guys, you want to make sure that it's not just about stars. I think coming to college is a humbling experience for any person, so Nolan handled that the right way. He's really eager to learn, he's extremely bright and smart. He's one of those guys that signed the signing day papers and then the next day is like, ‘coach, where's my playbook at?’ That's Nolan, and he's great for our room, he motivates our guys, he plays really hard, and you can overcome a lot of young mistakes when you play hard. And that's what's exciting probably about Nolan.”

On lessons and takeaways from coordinating the Sugar Bowl…

“Obviously a great learning experience and a great opportunity but we didn't take advantage of it. I think it left a sour taste in our mouth but that was last year and this is 2019. The 2019 team’s a completely different team than our 2018 team. That's the focus around our very first day, we talked about the guys who were there before and the guys that are there now and it's a different group. I wouldn’t say that we put that game behind us because we like to acknowledge what happened but we've moved on from that. We know that this is a completely different team at this point.”

On the Sugar Bowl being a glimpse of what the defense looked like without Deandre Baker and D’Andre Walker…

“They were big keys to our defense but I'll say this, especially going into this year, we're not going to play 11 players on defense. We're going to play a lot of guys. We’ve got a lot of experience returning. I'm looking to play as many guys as we can that are ready to play. So now the expectation is to find the guys that can go in there, put themselves in position to go play and then who's going to take advantage of those opportunities. We’ll play as many as we can.”

On his role during the Sugar Bowl and his role now…

“It was a team effort then and it’s a team effort now. Right now, I'm in charge of being the head coach of the defense. My job is to make Coach Smart’s job easier. But I don't do that alone, I do that with every one of the coaches we have on defense with Coach Glenn Schumann, Coach Tray Scott, Coach Charlton Warren, and it's going to be a collective unit from today, all the way to the end of season and that's the way we're always going to operate. On game day, will there be a little bit of an executive committee? At times. But it all starts with our head coach and lucky for me, every day where I'm having to question, ‘how would I operate as a defensive coordinator in that room,’ I can just look to my left and look at the guy that was the best defensive coordinator in the nation for nine years and ask him a question. As long as I'm here, we’ll always be committed, you know we’ll always work together to get what we need to get accomplished but there's some things I'm going to be charged with that requires some more decisions to be made.”

On it being a dream to be a defensive coordinator…

“Yeah, absolutely. I've always had the goal to be able to be in a position I'm in now and honestly realize how fortunate I am to be in that spot because I know how many good coaches don't get this opportunity. It’s something I've absolutely worked for, and obviously extremely grateful to Coach Smart for that opportunity.”

On secondary coach Charlton Warren and what he brings to the meeting room…

Anytime you're able to bring in a coach that’s been some other places, it's always exciting to get some fresh ideas, some new stuff and Coach Warren's an extremely bright coach. He does a really good job and has a lot of experience in the SEC and just across the nation. We're able to sit back and ask him questions about how they've done it different somewhere else to see if it's something we can improve on defensively. And then I think he brings a great discipline to that room with his players, he holds those guys accountable and does a really good job with that. He’s been great for us.”

On the expectation of sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Davis…

“To whoop the guy across from him’s butt, that's what I'm expecting, so I hope he gets a chance to watch that because that's what I want to see him do every snap. Obviously, he has to be in great condition to do that, great shape to do that, but Jordan has the potential to be a great player. He has to put that together every single day when he comes to work, and he's one of those guys.”

On the ceiling for the defensive line and impressions of freshman Travon Walker…

“It’s hard to measure a ceiling three days in, it's still relatively early in fall camp, especially with yesterday being just the first day of pads. But am I excited about the guys we have in that room? Absolutely. Travon is extremely athletic, is strong, he's really an athletic guy for his size; obviously has the basketball history as a high school player, so I'm definitely excited to see what he can do. He's a guy that's good moving but he's also strong enough to hold the point. So, I don't think I would put a ceiling on Travon and I also wouldn't put a ceiling on our D line at this time.”

On freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean and his recruitment process…

“Anytime that you're recruiting guy you always go beyond football, beyond turning on the film and saying, ‘can this guy play for us.’ We do character evaluations. We're going to get into the school and see what the janitor’s going to say about him, see what the secretary says about him. When you go to Horn Lake, Mississippi, there's not a person that's going to say a bad thing about Nakobe Dean. Obviously, he's over a 4.0 student. We knew he was a good student; we knew he was a high-character guy before he ever got here and I think that's just carried over to this time of year.”

On evaluating a player in the Spring…

“Lucky for us, I think we had 14 mid-years. That's huge. Spring means getting an extra 15 practices in and then walk-throughs some days in between and meetings. For what we ask our guys to do, I think it's really, really important that they get that extra time and that was obviously a benefit to Travon Walker.

On the rigors of academics and someone like Nakobe Dean being an engineering student…

“It's hard for me to talk about the rigors because I was a P.E. major. It was a little bit different. But Nakobe, he's an engineering student, so is Nolan Smith as well as a few other guys on our team that are, and takes his academics extremely serious. I think the very first week he was here, his academic advisor the next day said, ‘I was getting an email from Nakobe after midnight, asking about where's this assignment at.’ He takes pride in it. So, yeah, Georgia’s a great academic school. When you come here you have to perform not only on the field but in the classroom and that's what we ask our guys to do not just, ‘I don't want you to be number one just on the field, you’ve got to be number one in the classroom,’ and he’s of those guys that does that.”

On junior linebacker Jermaine Johnson and bringing him to Georgia…

“Obviously Jermaine’s somebody we're really, really excited about. But at the end of the day, regardless of who you're recruiting, recruiting is about relationships. Jermaine’s a guy when I was at Memphis, I went and watched a junior college football game and I got to see Jermaine Johnson perform that year. And I said, ‘Man, I wish I could recruit that guy,’ but I couldn't. Well now this year I can. When I got here that was one of the early guys that I identified as a target that we could look at and was able to build a relationship with him and we had for a long time and whenever you have a relationship that gives you an opportunity.”

On Jermaine Johnson’s time at Independence (Kansas) CC that would fit into the SEC…

“Football is football, right? Football is football in Missouri. Football is football in Kansas. Football is football in Georgia. Obviously, the SEC, though, is a different animal. So, I think it's always hard to compare and contrast but the field still 100 yards, I mean that stuff doesn't change, but the difference in the way you prepare there and the way you prepare here, there's a difference.”

On what excites him about the secondary…

“We’ve got a lot of young talent, and I think if you look at just across our entire defense, it'd be really hard for you to say, ‘this guy's number one, this guy's number two.’ We've got a ton of depth right now across the entire defense, so that's exciting to me. Concern’s always in the secondary. You’re concerned about not giving up explosive plays, having a great discipline, staying on top of the defense and the way you do that is just continue to practice it every single day. But it's the more we get the experience, the communication in the back end is really important. We’re looking for some guys to take on some leadership roles back there. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of experience returning with J.R. Reed; guys like Richard LeCounte. Then some great experience on the outside with Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, but there's also a lot of newcomers that we're really, really excited about too. But as long as they continue to communicate, make sure they're in position defend the explosive plays, we’ve got a great chance.”

On teaching younger student-athletes who maybe dominated in high school but have to learn in college…

“You put them in a competition scenario. So what do we do, we try to create competition every day; and like you said, a lot of these guys were coming from a situation at 13 where they're the best player on their team, and maybe that competition didn't exist, but when you walk on that field at Georgia, you better get ready to strap it on and go to work or somebody else is going to move ahead. So, competition almost creates itself at our practice because we've got a lot of great players.”

On mixing and matching at the linebacker position…

“At the end of the day, you find roles for guys that are ready and that have prepared for their role. So like I said I don't want to play 11, and we won't, but there's definitely certain packages you look, you want to take a guy’s skill set, similar to my background as a high school coach, you want to make sure you put your guys in the best position to be successful and some guys do some things better than other guys. So, within that, we obviously have packages that match that. And they need to become experts at their position. And then, obviously, after that it goes to, how many positions can you execute. If you're able to play multiple positions, now your value just went up for the team and what you can do for the defense.”

On Kirby Smart not sweating the small stuff anymore…

“Coach Smart’s extremely detailed. Maybe the most detailed and efficient man I've ever been around. Every day he reminds me not to waste a minute. So, I don't know if I'd say he's not sweating the details or not. I'll say this, the guy's detailed.”

On Divaad Wilson’s return from an ACL injury…

“Again, still early, but Divaad’s a really, really sharp football player; very smart, can adjust on the fly, understands the mechanics of the secondary, and can play multiple positions. He's one of those guys, we're talking about when you can do stuff with somebody, what can they do. He’s one of those guys that can play multiple positions. But he's very smooth in transition, He has a cover background. I think we're continuing to challenge him to continue to get more physical and run. And that's something I think that we're going to see here in the next few days of practice and the next few weeks leading up. Divaad’s a very sharp player that adjusts really well which is required for our defense.”

On freshman Tyrique Stevenson and his projection for the season…

Tyrique Stevenson’s a playmaker and one of the things, you go back to talk about havoc, when you put guys out in the field, there's guys that do their assignments and then there's guys who create production. What we want are guys to do is both. Tyrique Stevenson is a guy that was extremely productive this Spring and as he continues to become more disciplined with his eyes and more disciplined with his play, he's going to be a guy that can do both for us and we're very excited to see the plays he can make. You go watch practice, you watch that guy for a little bit, you’re saying, ‘holy moly, we got a ballplayer,’ and that's what he is so we’ve got to do a good job of coaches and getting them ready to go out there and play.”

On talking with Kirby Smart about the ins and outs of being a defensive coordinator…

“Not that much because guess what, when Kirby was the defensive coordinator, what did I do, I watched him and watched how he operated and I understand the requirements of the position. Getting to be here with Coach Mel Tucker, phenomenal football coach, for a year, getting to see how he operates as defensive coordinator. So, I understand what the position requires.”

Offensive coordinator James Coley

On what “bring the juice” means…

“It's the energy, you know, we expect them to have energy and we feel like as a coaching staff, we have to reflect that and inspire that. It’s loud, energetic, moving fast, constantly questioning them on the field. When you’re walking by in the hallway if their heads down and they're slumping, occasionally yelling at them, ‘do you have any juice?’ They'll jump and get started but that's it. It’s about being happy to be here. Right? You know, this is a this is a great thing we're all doing- the players, coaches, the whole works.”

On the excitement that comes with being back in a coordinating role, calling plays…

“I’m definitely excited. I think I never lost my excitement. Every challenge is new, every coordinator job is new, every position job is new. The people that you're around cause that to be new- the environment the time that you're in currently. When you get the opportunity, you're excited, but then you jump into it and then the excitement kind of it is what it is, It's what you do. So being that's what you do, you do work, you don't really sit down at night going, ‘wow, how great’. No, I'm down there at night going through scripts.”

On taking an offense that was productive last year to a new level…

“That's what we do every day. That's kind of the theme. That's what Coach Smart expects from us as coaches, as players. So, it's not that we weren't taking it to the next level, it's the demand. That's how we work here. So, there are some good players [returning] and we play against really good players. We all understand that the challenge is to be better- to always be better the day before, more so than just ‘hey, we have to be better next week’. It's really not it, we have to be better the next drill. So, going into this job, you know what's ahead of, you know what you have. Right now, we're getting in this training camp mode. We're figuring out little by little where we're at with some of the guys, how much they have to improve. The benchmark is not there yet, we're still in jerseys.

On being able to work with a quarterback like Jake Fromm, who is very detailed…

“Jake's a grinder. That’s part of his greatness. We say in our room, ‘what’s your greatness today?, What are you going to be great at?’. He’s a constant grinder. So, it's always inspiring to go in there when it really matters to that person. Being with really great quarterbacks and really good quarterbacks- the good ones do have that they have that passion for the game. And he's passionate. The constant strive for him is to bring it every day, which he does, and to get better every day so that one day become great.”

On weighing the simplification of the scheme to get freshmen like George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock on the field…

“First of all, I don't think you simplify it for them early. I think you figure out how much they can retain, what they are bringing to the table. And then at some point, you sit back and say, ‘Okay, this guy has exceptional skill, we're going to feature him doing this and that because this might be too much.’ But ultimately, the goal is not to be so complicated that you can't execute. You want to be complicated enough so that you're not predictable. Those kids have been thrown in the fire a little bit this early in this camp. We want to see what they know, what they can pick up, and what they can do.”

On what Lawrence Cager brings to UGA...

“I think the biggest thing, and again, still in jerseys, but coming to work every day and enjoying the atmosphere of what we have and being positive with learning and the learning curve, because it's definitely different every place you go. He's a veteran and he's learning our culture. The big thing, also, that he brings, he brings experience. So where you sit back and you say, ‘well, I wonder if this guy's going to make this play in a particular time’. Veteran guys, you've seen it happen and you know that they've been those spotlights.”

On if crossing paths with Lawrence Cager for one year at Miami persuaded the decision to recruit him to Georgia…

“He was good player. I think a lot of us recruited him out of high school I did, obviously ,we signed him at Miami. I know at Alabama, that crew when Coach Smart was there recruited him. So, we all had some sort of relationship with Cager. His skill set when he became available, also made it a very intriguing thing to go after. But knowing a little bit further, working with him for a full year you knew what type of character kid he is. So, yes.”

On if he has previously worked with an offensive line this deep and with these many expectations heading into the season…

“I’ve been very fortunate to be around some really good offensive lines. And this group, when you're saying it on paper, they have that potential. We're still in jerseys and in our game, it is a constant improvement on the field. The paperwork is kind of out the door, and I'm not saying paperwork regarding you guys and what you guys do. But I’m saying that now it's competition and the depth chart, when you have depth with no injuries, now you start seeing the level of competition which helps you out within your periods. So this is probably a deep group going into training camp and in training camp and there are heated competitions is going on. It's good. It helps you and makes people better and that's where that's where it stands out.”

On if he has to adjust the things he does as a coordinator to meet the philosophy of the head coach…

“I think in the pro-style game, you coordinate to your players. Players, not plays. It’s a little cliché in the coaching profession, but it's the truth. Players, not plays. Coach Smart is all about players, not plays. He definitely preaches that to us. And sometimes as coaches you forget, you're like, ‘man, this scheme is really intriguing’. But are your players touching the ball within this game. So, I don't know that there's been an adjustment. I've been here several years. I think I think that the philosophy that we have here at Georgia is that- who's touching the ball and are they the guys are going to give us the biggest impact. But you definitely have to play towards your strength. I've always been a part of that where I've been.”

On the similarities he’ll have as the play caller at Miami versus at Georgia…

“I think your personnel changes you. Your personnel changes you completely. Whatever you had, wherever you're going, wherever you’ve been. When I was the coordinator at Florida State, we had different personnel than when I was at Miami. And that’s different personnel than we are here. So I think that changes you as a coordinator when you're a pro-style guy. If you come in here with the system and you're running one of these spread systems- the system is what it is. I think when you’re pro-style you really feature on who's touching the ball, how we're going to format it for that person to touch the ball, how we're going to attack structure for those people to touch the ball. It changes, is what I'm basically saying, with your jobs. Obviously coming here, working under Coach Smart, it's football one-on-one every day. It’s constant situations. He really pushes his coaches, develops his players, develops his coaches. I feel like the last three years have been great for me as a coach, position coach, learning everything I've learned under him and his philosophy.”

On senior tight end Charlie Woerner’s potential and impact on the offense…

“I think the potential part is hard for us right now because we're not in a potential mode in camp. We're in the grind mode. I have to think back and say, ‘where's Charlie?’. Whereas right now we have Charlie in different situations, wearing multiple hats and just seeing how much he can do. I think Charlie has a really good skill set. I think who he is as a person makes him a better competitor because he wants to be that good.

Comparing him to the other guys, he's a little different from a lot of these other guys and all those other guys are very different. David Njoku is very different from Chris Herndon. It’s very different from Clive Walford, is very different from Nick O'Leary. Those are all guys that are different and Charlie is probably a bigger guy than most of those guys. I think Charlie has the right mindset after day three. We are going to see where he's at towards the end of camp. We know who he is as a person and we know how he competes. He's probably the highest percentage catcher for us last year at 90 percent, so we’ll see.”

On his observations of Demetris Robertson…

“On day three and coming out of spring, D. Rob [Demetris Robertson] has continued to improve within our system He's definitely a guy who has a great skill set. He's fast, he's quick. We just have to continue to develop him into the type of player we need him to be. Right now he's playing multiple spots. As a player he's growing. I think that was the biggest part for him to continue to grow within our system. Coming out of high school was a really good athlete. And now when he went to college, he’s learning to be a wide receiver. Coach Cortez Hankton has done a good job with him. I like what I see right now, I just want to see it continue with consistency from these guys.”

On Eli Wolf’s strength and speed fitting into his scheme…

“Well, certain guys can do certain things. So if you sit there and you say you're the best five offensively, philosophically, how are you going to use their skill set? We’re just tapping into his skill set because we're probably just going into pads today. We’re going to figure out some more about their skill sets. He does move well, he was a wide receiver coming out of high school. He has the ability to run routes. He has good hands. So, we'll see. We'll see where he goes. But yes, that that was very intriguing for us after seeing Isaac Nauta go to the NFL. It opens the opportunity for a lot of catches for whatever five guys can fit those roles to get that. But he's definitely in competition.”

On Zamir White…

“We’re still in jerseys. But love seeing the kid play. We all we love this kid. It’s very unfortunate his injuries so just seeing them out there getting plays, running the ball, catching, swing passes and picking up protections. It’s fun coaching him because you know how grateful he is to be back out there. Just love the kid though. He’s a moose, he’s a big dude.

On how his history in south Florida gives him an asset to build relationships…

“It helps. It definitely helps. The relationships that I have down there are lifelong relationships with guys that I grew up with. It definitely helps in recruiting.”

On if he’ll be in the press box calling plays…

“We haven't decided that yet.”

On the dynamic last season with former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney…

“We definitely consulted in between series but Jim called all the plays. Jim headed the whole deal and I was kind of his right hand up in the press box. He’d turn around say look at these different scenarios and tell me what you think. And then he’d choose what he liked. So that was our dynamic.”

On what makes Jake Fromm different from other great quarterbacks he’s been around in the past…

“Again, when you talk about all these other guys, they all have their greatness to them. Every single one of them. The guys I’ve been around, it's hard to find guys that are carbon copies of each other. One thing I do know about Jake is I'm not walking in a meeting room without him not being in there. He’s already watched film, he's already sitting there in there going, ‘okay, what do you got for me? I watched it. You have anything new?’. It challenges you as a coach, you have to go in there and make sure that you are maximizing his potential in the meeting room so he can go maximize it on the field because he does so much work on his own. I think that's it- all the actual work he does. And I've been around some guys that do a lot of extra work. He probably does a little bit more.”

On what he saw from Kenny McIntosh in high school that made him target him to come to UGA…

“He’s a bigger back. He has to be able to move in the backfield. He showed that and really great hands out of the backfield. He played in a fast league down in South Florida. I got to see him play against fast people. Sometimes that transition from high school to college, take the plays and learning the system out of it, the physical part of it, when guys play against fast competition it’s a plus because there’s not a learning curve for it. There’s just a mental learning curve.”

On how he feels about the guys that he has…

“I’m excited about the guys that we have. I’m excited that they’re competing as hard as they’re competing- day three, going into day four. I love the fact that they’re grinding. There are a lot of things we require from them, coming in and out of meetings and the challenge is on. There is big opportunity for them.”

On if James Cook is comparable to Dalvin Cook…

“Dalvin Cook is a great player. James is little brother. I think James is moving towards that. I they’re both different players, though. You don’t see Dalvin Cook and James Cook in the same light. They’re just different and if you watch they’re games you know they’re different.”

On what it takes for the wideouts to get to the point they need to be for the beginning of the season…

“It’s on me, it’s on Jake Fromm, and it’s on them. It’s on them winning spots to get in position to be playmakers. And it’s on Jake for knowing the situation of who he is going to go to and it’s on me to put them out there. I have to say, ‘we’re going to feature this guy because he can do this really well’. We are all tied to a string. Everyday it’s fun because every day we evaluate our talent.”