Saturday, November 30, 2019

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening remarks

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

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

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

On turnovers in the second quarter

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

On the play of the receiver group

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

On your defense on third down

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

On Charlie Woerner’s first career touchdown

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

On Jake Fromm’s performance

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

Jake Fromm, Junior, Quarterback

On using the quick score in the third quarter

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

On being in sync with Tyler Simmons

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

On his level of trust in the receivers

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

Charlie Woerner, Senior, Tight End

On celebrating his first career touchdown

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

On finally getting his first career touchdown

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

James Cook, Sophomore, Running Back

On the win over Georgia Tech

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

On the message from the coaching staff after the game

“Just getting everybody motivated and into the game.”

Georgia Tech Head Coach Geoff Collins 

Opening Statement

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

On what happened in the third quarter

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

On not being able to capitalize on the three forced fumbles

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

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dawgs Put 52 On Jackets

UGA Sports Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tuesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

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

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

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

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

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

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

On the future of D’Wan Mathis…

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

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

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

On handling outside pressure…

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

On Dan Lanning being named a Broyles Award Semifinalist…

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

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

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

On the status of Eric Stokes…

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

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

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

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

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

 Andrew Thomas, Senior, Offensive Tackle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jake Camarda, Sophomore, Punter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monty Rice, Junior, Inside Linebacker

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

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

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

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

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

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

J.R. Reed, Senior, Defensive Back

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

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

On what his job entails…

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

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

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

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

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …

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

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

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

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

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

On if he has seen Georgia Tech progress this season …

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

On if Fromm’s arm health is ok …

“Yeah, his arm's fine.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On what Sam Pittmann does well on the recruiting trail… 

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

On where the defense needs to continue to improve… 

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

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

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

On Jordan Mason as a running back… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tae Crowder, Senior, Inside Linebacker

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

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

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

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

Charlie Woerner, Senior, Tight End

On the defense affecting the way the offense plays…

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

On where the offense needs to improve…

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

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

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

Steven Nixon, Senior, Long Snapper

On his thoughts about playing at Georgia Tech this weekend…

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

On the importance Coach Smart places on special teams…

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

Hot Rod Earns Eighth Player Of The Week Award

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia graduate place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has earned his sixth weekly Southeastern Conference honor of the year, according to a league announcement.

Blankenship, a native of Marietta, was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the sixth time this season and for the eighth time in his career. So far this year, Georgia has had 12 weekly league awards.

Blankenship connected on all four of his field goal attempts (41, 49, 37, 31 yards) and drilled his only PAT during the Dawgs’ 19-13 win over No. 24 Texas A&M in the rain. With his 13 points, Blankenship became Georgia’s all-time leading scorer with 418 points, which stands second in league history. His school record 190th consecutive PAT ranks second in SEC history.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Post Game Quotes

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart 

On today’s game … 

“We make things so complicated. If we had cashed in on a touchdown, the game’s over. We just couldn’t put them away. Give them credit, they had us on our heels. It was like Auburn when we were tired. We’ve got to clean things up offensively. We need to run the ball and score some points.”

On holding A&M to minus-1 rushing … 

“That’s awesome, but they threw for a ton. When you can’t run, you can’t win the game. That prevailed, but barely.”

On Rodrigo Blankenship … 

“He’s incredible. What a great kid, what a great story. He’s given so much to our university. He’s methodical in what he does and he’s so trustworthy.”

On Jake Camarda … 

“Jake flipped the field two or three times. They were huge flips. He’s booming them with hang time and finding corners.”

On the passing game … 

“We struggled to be explosive. When we threw it, we threw it well in non-third down plays. On third down, we were very poor. But we did some good things on first and second down.”

On tailbacks D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien … 

“Doesn’t it seem like they sometimes just will themselves to 5-yard gains?”

On the fans … 

 “The fans were tremendous, especially in the second half. The atmosphere was awesome. The noise affected their communications and was a factor in their delay of games.”

Jordan Davis, Sophomore, Defensive Lineman

On the offense... 

“I always have confidence in my offense. It’s a team, we’re a team. If the offense is slacking, we’ll pick it up on defense. We just always encourage them and motivate them. We just want to have one more point than the other team and that’s all that matters.”

On the fourth down stop… 

“It was just an instinct play. They gave us a call. I played the call. I saw the ball and I just went and tackled it. Somebody was there to clean it up. It’s not my play to make, it was everybody’s play to make.”

Tyler Simmons, Senior, Wide Receiver

On the mindset of the offense... 

“Offensive coordinator James Coley, he comes in on Mondays and we put our goals with what we want to get better with each week. We really emphasize those each day and every way. It’s all about getting better. Coley’s done a great job of just showing us the places we need to get better.”

J.R. Reed, Senior, Defensive Back

On the pregame ceremony... 

“My mom and sister were here; my auntie, my dad and my brother. They were all out there happy for me. My mom probably cried afterwards. It was just really exciting. It was a special moment … It’s just pure joy to be a part of this and to be a part of a program like this.”

Texas A&M Head Coach Jimbo Fisher 

Opening statement… 

“It was a typical, great SEC football game. Georgia has a very good football team. Hats off to them. They do a really good job in all phases of the game, and they’ve got a really good team. Coach Kirby Smart does a really good job coaching them. I think our guys played extremely competitive. I think they played physical and played hard. We had some opportunities. I thought, early in the game, defensively, we did a good job adjusting. On offense, I think movements and some things got us early, until we got so down. Then, late in the second half, we really started picking up things in the passing game with what we did… It was a hard fought game and a back-and-forth game. It got down to a one-play game. I think we showed a lot of gut in the game as far as how we competed, how we made adjustments. 

We made adjustments at halftime with some things we wanted to do offensively and defensively. The guys did it well in the game, executed and competed in the game very well, and they never gave up… Unfortunately, there are no moral victories, and we’re not here for moral victories. We played a great football team very well, but we’ve got to find that last two inches at the top of the mountain— that last two percent— that gets you over the top. That’s always hard, but we’ll keep grinding and keep getting there. I’m very proud of the kids, and the coaches did a great job in the game. I’ll do a better job of getting our guys to find that next play, or two extra plays, because my job is to coach.”

On whether he is more frustrated about this game’s outcome more than others… 

“There were opportunities that could’ve gone a different way, but that’s a ballgame. You make your own breaks in life. I don’t make them for you— you’ve got to make them for yourself. You’ve got to handle your own business and do what you’ve got to do. We’ll grow from this and hopefully get better."

On what this loss says about his team’s growth and development... 

"I’m proud of this team. I know wins is where you’ve ultimately got to get [your program] to, but we’re growing. We’re on pace to go where we want to go and get over that hump. I’ve got to find a way to get us over that, because that’s my job. I’m not distracted at all. I’m encouraged like crazy."

Buddy Johnson, Junior, Linebacker

On balancing the emotions of playing so well against the No. 4 team in the country with the loss... 

"At the end of the day, we have to keep this team together. I think this team came out and fought hard. We didn't come out on top like we wanted to, but I think we fought hard and you could tell. This team is tough and we will keep fighting till the end. It is like battling everyday with those guys. It hurt me the most because no one has outworked us in the country. It hurt, but we just have to continue to keep working and move forward."

On if it was frustrating to not get the stop on that last drive to have one more shot at the win... 

"It is very frustrating, because in the big moments, that is when it is most important. That is when guys have to step up the most and make big plays. I think there is just something we didn't do. We have to look ourselves in the mirror and make the corrections and move forward."

Anthony Hines III, Sophomore, Linebacker

On how tough this one is to swallow... 

"When you play your heart out like that in an SEC battle it is extremely tough. We just have to bounce back."

On if a game like this, in a hostile environment, gets you ready for next week's game... 

"This was definitely a hostile environment, very physical. Like I said, against an SEC opponent, No. 4 in the country. We are definitely looking forward to next week."

Dawgs Defeat Aggies 19-13

UGA Sports Communications

The fourth-ranked Dawgs defeated No. 24-ranked Texas A&M, 19-13, Saturday afternoon at a rain-soaked Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.

Senior Rodrigo Blankenship etched his name as Georgia’s career points leader Saturday, concluding the game with four field goals. He also extended his school record PATs-made streak to 190.

Freshman wide receiver George Pickens led the receiving corps with 57 yards on two completions, including a touchdown. Junior running back D’Andre Swift rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

Defensively, Georgia held the Aggies to -1 rushing yards and 274 total yards on 62 plays. Junior defensive back Richard LeCounte led the Dawgs with seven tackles.

“We make things so complicated,” coach Kirby Smart said. “If we had cashed in on a touchdown, the game’s over. We just couldn’t put them away. Give them credit, they had us on our heels. It was like Auburn when we were tired. We’ve got to clean things up offensively. We need to run the ball and score some points.”

Blankenship put the Dawgs on the board with 8:22 left in the opening quarter, connecting on a 41-yard field goal. The field goal was Blankenship’s sixth from 40-or-longer on the season and 20th overall this season, tying his career-best in a season (2017, 20-of-23).

The Aggies knotted the contest on a 37-yard field goal from Seth Small just a minute and 31 seconds into the second quarter.

The following drive resulted in a 49-yard field goal from Blankenship with 11:38 left in the half, giving the Dawgs the three-point advantage back, 6-3.

Fromm connected with Pickens on a 16-yard touchdown pass, lengthening Georgia’s lead to 13-3 with 6:44 remaining in the opening half. It was Pickens’ fifth touchdown of his rookie season. The scoring drive spanned seven plays over 65 yards highlighted by pass completions to Tyler Simmons (27 yards) and Kearis Jackson (22).

The Dawgs went to the locker room at halftime holding on to a 13-3 lead over the Aggies. The Georgia defense held Texas A&M to 73 total yards in the opening half including -9 yards on the ground.

LeCounte forced a turnover on the Aggies’ opening drive of the second half, giving Georgia the ball on the Texas A&M 21-yard line. Georgia’s resulting drive ended on a 37-yard field goal by Blankenship, breaking Georgia’s all-time points record, previously 412 held by Blair Walsh (2008-11), and widening the lead to 16-3.

Small capped a six-play, 39-yard drive for Texas A&M with 4:14 left in the third, making a 35-yard field goal and bringing Georgia’s lead back to 10, 16-6.

Blankenship began the fourth quarter hitting a 31-yard field goal, bringing the Dawg advantage back to 13 at 19-6.

The Aggies sliced the lead to six with 11:16 left in game on a touchdown pass to Jhamon Ausbon, 19-13.

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Stingy Defense Leads They Way: Coming in today, Georgia led the SEC and ranked 2nd nationally in Scoring Defense, allowing just 10.5 points per game and third nationally in rushing defense (75.5 yards per game). After today’s 19-13 win, Georgia improves to 10-1 (7-1 SEC) and held the Aggies to 274 yards of total offense (-1 rushing, 275 passing) on 62 plays. It was the first time since 2011 when a team facing the Dawgs was held to negative yards rushing. Florida finished with minus 19 in Georgia’s 24-20 win in Jacksonville in 2011. Georgia is one of three FBS teams (Clemson, Ohio State) to not allow more than 21 points in a game this season.

The Aggies came in averaging 34 points a game and 434.3 yards a game of total offense (175 on the ground). Georgia led 3-0 after the first quarter. It was the 28th scoreless quarter by the Dawg defense this year. On the opening drive of the 2nd half, Georgia forced a turnover on a strip by junior safety Richard LeCounte who also recovered the fumble at the TAMU 18. It led to a 37-yard field goal and a 16-3 edge. Later in the 3rd quarter, the Aggies went for it on 4th-and-1 from the UGA26 and were stopped. Opponents are 6-for-20 (30%) against the Dawgs on 4th down this year. The Aggies cut it to 16-6 with a 35-yard field goal at the 4:14 mark in the 3rd quarter after having it 1st and 10 at the UGA12. TAMU got its first touchdown with 11:16 left in the contest to close the gap to 19-13, going 10 plays and 75 yards in 3:40.

Georgia’s leading tacklers today were LeCounte with seven along with Monty Rice and Tyson Campbell with five stops apiece. Senior Tyler Clark and sophomore Jordan Davis collected sacks.

Blankenship Sets School Career Points Record: Graduate PK Rodrigo Blankenship had 13 points and now owns the school record for Career Points with 418 and that ranks second in SEC history (480 by PK Daniel Carlson, Auburn 2014-17). The field goals today covered 41,49,37 and 31 yards. This season, Blankenship is 23-for-26 in field goals including 7 for-9 from the 40-49 range. Also today, he had four touchbacks on five kickoffs. He made a 41-yard field goal for a 3-0 edge with 8:22 left in the first quarter. He added a 49-yarder with 11:36 left in the first half to make it 6-3 and then a PAT with 6:44 left in the half. He set the record with a 37-yarder early in the 3rd quarter for a 16-3 edge. To begin the fourth quarter, he hit a 31-yarder to make it 19-6. He tied his career high with four field goals in a game, the fourth time he’s done that.

Fromm Directs Offense On Another Rainy Day: Junior QB Jake Fromm improved to 33-6 as a starter including 12-5 versus Top 25 teams in this his 39th consecutive start. Georgia tallied 260 yards of offense on 59 plays. At the half, he was 4-for-13 for 72 yards and one touchdown and finished the day 11-for-23 for 163 yards and one TD. He directed the game clinching drive, running out the final 4:26.

In the first quarter, the Aggies had outgained Georgia 39-11, but the Dawgs led 3-0. Fromm was 1-for-7 until midway through the 2nd quarter when he completed a 27-yarder to Tyler Simmons on a 3rd-and-9 in the 2nd quarter. Then, he followed it up with a 22-yard completion to Kearis Jackson. On the same drive on 3rd-and-11, he connected for a 16-yard TD to George Pickens, and after the PAT it was 13-3. Fromm now has 71 career TD passes, which ranks third in school history. Pickens has a team-high five TD catches on the year. The Dawgs have won their last five games and have no turnovers in that span. 

Swift Rushing Up The Record Book: Junior D’Andre Swift tallied 103 yards on 19 carries for his ninth career game of 100+ yards. He moved up to seventh in Dawg history for career rushing yards after a 27-yard run in the 2nd quarter. After today, he has 2,797 yards. Swift added four receptions for 29 yards. Senior Brian Herrien had a season-high 41-yard kickoff return that led to a go-ahead field goal in the first half. He finished the game with 30 ushing yards on 10 carries.

Salute to the Seniors: The senior class closed out their Sanford Stadium career with a 19-13 win today over No. 24 Texas A&M to improve to 42-11. The 42 wins is tied for third most in school history with the 2004 (42-10) and 2018 (4213) classes.

A Look At Camarda: Sophomore Jake Camarda boomed punts of 54 and 52 yards in a rainy first quarter. He hast 18 punts of 50+ yards on the year. His fourth punt was a pooch of 27 yards, downed at the TAMU 9. He finished today with six punts for an 44.7 average with two going for 50+ and three Inside the 20. Coming in, he ranked second in SEC action with a 49.4 average.

For Starters & Game Captains: Graduate DB Jake Reed now has a team-high 40 consecutive starts for the defense while junior QB Jake Fromm leads the offense with 39 consecutive starts. Today’s game captains were Reed and juniors Solomon Kindley and Monty Rice.

Up Next: Fourth-ranked Georgia (10-1) concludes the regular season against Georgia Tech (3-8) in Atlanta Saturday, November 30th at Noon on ABC.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Game Day Reminders

UGA Sports Communications

Texas A&M Game, Saturday, November 23

7:00 a.m. – Tailgate locations open on campus

1:15 p.m. – Dawg Walk

3:39 p.m. – Kickoff

Radio: WTGA FM 101.1 Pregame Show At 10:00 a.m.

Television: CBS

CBS announcers: Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, Jamie Erdahl

National Radio: Westwood One

Westwood One announcers: Ryan Radtke, Derek Rackley

Satellite Radio: Sirius 134; XM 191; Internet 962

Georgia Radio Network announcers: Scott Howard Eric Zeier, Chuck Dowdle

Bulldogs Game Day: 10:00 a.m. ET on WSB TV Atlanta

Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall: Closed on Saturday

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Andrew Thomas Finalist For Outland Trophy

Six semifinalists for the 2019 Outland Trophy – five offensive linemen and one defensive tackle – were announced Wednesday by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. The six semifinalists are players from six schools at four different positions representing four different conferences.

The 2019 Outland Trophy, presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), is awarded annually to the nation's best college interior lineman on offense or defense.

NFID is presenting the trophy to help increase awareness about the importance of annual influenza (flu) prevention. Getting vaccinated each year is your best line of defense against the flu. The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the semifinalists.

The field for the 2019 Outland Trophy is as follows, listed in alphabetical order: Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, Clemson guard John Simpson, Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.

Former University of Pittsburgh tackle Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy winner, is serving as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador on behalf of NFID. May is making media appearances on behalf of the #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind everyone six months and older to get an annual flu vaccine.

The six semifinalists will be paired to three finalists next Monday. The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN's The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Outland Trophy Award Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises on Jan. 15, 2020 in Omaha, Neb.

Here is a closer look at each of the semifinalists:

Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin (6-3, 321, Jr., Amherst, Wis.): Biadasz is the latest of outstanding Wisconsin linemen paving the way for record-setting running backs, as Jonathan Taylor is the nation's leading scorer (21 TD's) and needs just 20 more yards to break Donnel Pumphrey's FBS record for most rushing yards in a three-year span (5,653), which is also Biadasz's tenure of 37 consecutive starts. Also in Biadasz's favor is pass protection, where the line has helped the Badgers complete 72.2 percent of their passes, fourth nationally. Biadasz is Wisconsin's second consecutive semifinalist (offensive guard Michael Deiter last year). Offensive tackles Gabe Carimi (2010) and Joe Thomas (2006) are previous Outland winners.

Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (6-5, 318, Sr., Sugar Hill, Ga.): Brown is the rare playmaker tucked in the middle of Auburn's line. Consistently double-teamed, Brown has still produced 43 tackles that are fourth on the Tigers' defense along with 9.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, both second on the team. The team captain's best games have come in November, with seven tackles each against second-ranked LSU and Ole Miss and most recently six against fifth-ranked Georgia. The Ole Miss game was one of three times he earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award. He was also the Trophy's Defensive Player of the Month for October. Brown has 157 career tackles, 30.0 TFL's and 13.0 sacks. Auburn claims two previous Outland Trophy winners, defensive tackle Tracy Rocker in 1988 and offensive lineman Zeke Smith in 1958.

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (6-6, 325, So., Malaeimi, American Samoa/St. George, Utah): Sewell is regarded as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 and, in short, he's the best lineman on the nation's best offensive line. As such, an Oregon lineman has taken seven of the Pac-12's 10 Offensive Lineman of the Week awards, and Sewell has three of those. Head coach Mario Christobal says he's the best lineman he's ever coached. Sewell was the Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month for September and leads the team with 45 knockdowns, blocking for an offense that is 22nd nationally at 460.4 yards per game. He has five or more knockdowns in five of 10 games. Run-blocking is his specialty but he has yielded only six quarterback pressures this season on 364 pass-blocking snaps and has not allowed a sack.

John Simpson, G, Clemson (6-4, 330, Sr., North Charleston, S.C.): Simpson has been a regular in the ACC weekly honor roll with three Offensive Lineman of the Week awards, the latest coming Nov. 11 after grading at 90 percent with four knockdowns in a 55-10 win over N.C. State. Simpson lines up inside a line that has Clemson's offense still ascending with record-setting numbers, averaging 543.1 yards per game, third nationally. It has reached 50 points in a fourth straight game for the first time in program history (and 45-plus in six straight) and has posted 500 or more yards in six straight games. As for pass protection, Simpson is part of a line that has allowed only 12 sacks in its last 19 games. He became the first Clemson offensive lineman to score a touchdown since 2011 with a one-yard plunge against N.C. State. His senior class at Clemson is 52-3 overall the past four seasons. The Tigers have never had an Outland winner but had two semifinalists last year (defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt).

Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia (6-5, 320, Jr., Lithonia, Ga.): October's Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month has been the eldest stalwart on Georgia's left side protecting quarterback Jake Fromm, continually grading at 90 percent or above, and it has yielded plenty of results. Georgia is fourth in the SEC at 208.6 rushing yards per game and 24th nationally. The Bulldogs are tied for fourth in the SEC at 32.4 points per game and are tied for second in the nation with yielding only 0.6 sacks per game this season. Thomas has been the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice this season, helping running back D'Andre Swift post a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. Georgia boasts the 1968 Outland Trophy winner, defensive tackle Bill Stanfill.

Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa (6-5, 322, Jr., Mount Vernon, Iowa): Wirfs starts primarily on the right side and has paced the protection for quarterback Nate Stanley, who is third in the Big Ten in passing yards (2,331) and passing yards per game (233.1). His 66 passing touchdowns (14 this season) are second all-time at Iowa and he needs nine more in three games to pass the leader, Chuck Long. Wirfs has 30 career starts at both tackle spots – he started three games at left tackle earlier this season and the last six (and seven total) on the right. He was the first true freshman under coach Kirk Ferentz to start at offensive tackle. Iowa has four all-time Outland Trophy winners, most recently 2014 with offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, along with offensive tackle Robert Gallery (2003), defensive tackle Alex Karras (1957) and offensive guard Calvin Jones (1955).

The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit to learn more about our story.

Wednesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

The fourth-ranked Dawgs conducted a two-hour practice Wednesday with the Southeastern Conference game against No. 24 Texas A&M on the horizon.

Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC) plays host to the Aggies (7-3, 4-2 SEC) Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., ET, on CBS. Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference and provided an update on the Dawgs. After practice, junior offensive lineman Solomon Kindley, redshirt-freshman wide receiver Kearis Jackson, and junior outside linebacker Walter Grant met with the media to discuss the upcoming contest with the Aggies.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement:

“We’ve got Texas A&M coming to Athens for the first time since they moved into the conference. We’re anticipating an unbelievable atmosphere. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has got a good football team. If you watch them on tape, they have gotten better and better throughout the year. They have as much talent as anybody in our conference. They’ve done a great job recruiting. It’s going to be a big challenge facing them and a quarterback like Kellen Mond who is extremely versatile and athletic.”

On the first things that jump out at you when you watch Texas A&M...

“First thing is the multiple formations, the personnel groupings they use offensively. They have a lot of offense to defend. The athleticism on defense would be the biggest thing overall, team speed. They’ve very consistent on special teams. When it comes to special teams, you see all the starters on there. It’s like you’re playing in the SEC, and you go to turn the tape on, and you’re like oh gosh they got good really players at every position and you realize you’re going to be in for a war.”

On the Aggies offense being different compared to other SEC teams...

“It’s different when you see the two-back runs. That’s not a thing that everybody uses anymore. A lot of people create two-back runs with their tight end. These guys are almost like three-back runs because they have the two backs and the tight end they use. They move the pocket really. Jimbo Fisher does a good job, he changes it up, he keeps you off balance. They’ve got a lot of passing game that they’re able to run in a lot of situations.”

On development of Georgia’s wide receivers...

“We’re fighting for number one experience. We’ve got two really young receivers out there that are playing a lot of snaps in George Pickens and Dom Blaylock. We’ve got a lot of inexperienced guys having lost predominately all of our pass catchers. We’d like to see some more consistency, more physical blocking, see some separation. We’re trying to do a good job of helping them whether it’s scheme or opportunities off play action. We’re trying to help them and they’re trying to help us. What I love about them is that every day they go to work they really fight to get better. It’s been a group that’s really been beat up and banged up the whole year. Every guy has almost missed a game or missed an opportunity. We’re trying to gel at the right time and bring these guys along and make some plays.”

On linebacker Monty Rice’s development...

“I think number one his confidence in the system is at an all-time high. Early on, he was talented and didn’t really know the stuff. Last year, he knew it better, and he was banged up some. This year, he’s been healthy and been really confident. He understands things. He knows checks. Things are happening for the 100th time instead of the 40th or 50th. He understands how to use the tools of the defense. He is playing with confidence. He’s one step ahead and sometimes one step in football, is the ability to make a lot of plays.”

On the Aggies defense this season...

“They’ve gotten better. They’ve done a really good job of improving throughout the year. They’re fast, they’re athletic. They’ve got good experience on the back end. I can’t say enough about the job the defensive coordinator (Mike Elko) has done. He was at Notre Dame. They’ve always created havoc and caused turnovers. They create another tough matchup which seems to be the norm in our conference.”

Solomon Kindley, Junior, Offensive Lineman 

On his first meeting and impressions of Sam Pittmann…

“My first impression is kind of funny. I think I’ve told the media before, but my first impression, when I first saw Coach Pittmann, he came to my school and I was playing basketball. My first time seeing him, I talked to him before on the phone, he came to my school … The next day, I go for a layup and I missed the layup, I was like, oh man, my first impression for Coach Pittmann is ‘Solomon Kindley is not an athlete, he missed a wide open layup with nobody on him, just missed it.’ But other than that, it showed that Coach Pittmann is a father figure to you, not just on the field but off the field, he is going to push you to be great as a player and a man every day.”

On the criticism of the offense being a weak link…

“We don’t listen to the outside, we keep what we can keep inside, that’s our family, our brotherhood. We come to work every day no matter what anyone says, because like you said, when we’re up, they say we’re the best, when we’re down, they say we’re the worst. So that’s what a team is, we come together every day and fight and we try and get better every day, we don’t worry about what anybody says because the only thing that matters is what’s in front of us and what we’ve got going on today.”

On giving Lawrence Cager advice as a player who has come back from injury this season…

“Lawrence is a vet anyway, coming from Miami, all I do is tell him to get treatment and try and get the healthiest that he can. Lawrence stays in treatment, he gets here every morning with Mr. Ron Courson and gets treatment every day to try and be better every day. That’s all I pretty much tell him is take it slow but do as much as you can to get treatment, stay in the training room. So that’s my main thing that I can give him tips on about getting healthy.”

Kearis Jackson, Redshirt Freshman Wide Receiver

On whether his near-touchdown catch at Auburn was his best...

"I think I haven't had one better than that, but that's up to me. I've got to have more room on the sideline. I need to make those catches, keep my feet in bounds and I'll make that catch next time."

On his emotions during that play...

"I've just got to come back and make the next play. That's when my number was called and whenever that play gets called, I've just got to come back because that [previous] play is out the window. Like I said, I've just got to come back and be ready for the next play."

On the vibe among the team currently after the Auburn game...

"It was a dog fight. I mean, Auburn has a good team and Auburn has a great defense. They're physical, they're big and we had to be ready. After that game, I promise my whole upper body was sore because it was so physical by blocking. After that, that game is out of the way and we're focused on Texas A&M. We've got a big game this weekend."

Walter Grant, Junior, Outside Linebacker 

On Tyler Clark...

“Tyler is an animal. He brings energy whether it is in practice or in the game. If his guys aren't doing anything, he is going to get on them and push them. Tyler is a guy that brings energy.”

On prepping for Texas A&M's offense...

“We always look forward to finding something new. We watch film for it so I feel like it will be like any other game in the way we prep for it.”

On if Texas A&M's offense will increase his role...

“I wouldn't say it will be more of an increased role. I would just say that it gives more of an opportunity for different players in different spots to switch up the defense a little bit.”

On Texas A&M's quarterback Kellen Mond...

“He is a great athlete. He is a runner and a great passer too. He is an all-around good player.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Playoff Committee Teleconference Transcript

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, and welcome, everybody, to this evening's College Football Playoff Selection Committee teleconference. Joining us tonight is Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, and Rob Mullens, College Football Playoff Selection Committee chair.

ROB MULLENS: Good evening. The college football Selection Committee has completed our third week of rankings. They are as follows: LSU is ranked the No. 1 team in the nation; Ohio State is No. 2; Clemson is No. 3; and Georgia is No. 4.

Here's what the committee was thinking: 

LSU remains impressive with its powerful offense. They have three wins against teams in the top 25.

Ohio State is strong on both sides of the ball. They've made a statement all year long.

Clemson, too, has been dominant all season.

Georgia beat a tough Auburn team on the road, and they also have wins against both Florida and Notre Dame. They're ranked No. 4.

The committee spent a lot of time talking about Alabama and Oregon. Members talked about how dominant Alabama has been all season. They also said Oregon is explosive and they were impressed by Oregon's quarterback, but Oregon's only loss came to No. 15 Auburn at a neutral site, while Alabama's only loss was to No. 1 LSU. Alabama is ranked No. 5 and Oregon No. 6. Thank you to all the members who work so hard and take this so seriously. It's an honor to do this on behalf of everyone who loves college football. I'll be happy to take your questions.

What were the discussions about Oklahoma in terms of how high they should jump after beating an unbeaten team? And I'm not sure you can answer this, but how much were they compared to the two Pac-12 teams in Utah and Oregon? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, we don't look at it on how far they're jumping. Remember, we start with a clean sheet of paper every week, and we do these in rounds. So I don't recall exactly when Oklahoma was on the board, but they would have been compared to a number of the one-loss teams for sure, and when we look at Oklahoma, we see obviously the second half and the win against No. 14 Baylor, only loss to K-State, and the committee felt that Oklahoma deserved to be No. 9.

BILL HANCOCK: About the Pac-12 teams, the committee discussion about Oregon was their consistent play all season, won nine in a row. Also Utah's strengths, strong on both sides of the ball, outstanding defense. So the committee ranked those teams where they did.

You were asked a question last week about the importance of final score versus what happens in a game. I'm just curious, Ohio State was up I think 42-0 on Maryland at halftime and pulled its starters. They were up 42-7 early in the 3rd and pulled the starters against Rutgers. When the committee is evaluating those games, does the evaluation kind of end there? Is that sort of a punctuation mark? How do you look at those? 

ROB MULLENS: We watch the entire games. We certainly do not incent margin of victory, but we understand those were all convincing wins for Ohio State.

I think they're winning by an average of 40 something to 6 or something over the first three quarters of games this year. How much is a statistic like that factoring in to where the committee sees Ohio State right now? 

ROB MULLENS: We don't evaluate that statistic, but again, we watch the games and we're very aware of the flow of the game and the score.

When you're discussing Baylor, you mentioned their weak non-conference schedule. I've noticed this with the basketball committee, as well. You also say that you don't really look at conferences, but I've seen the basketball committee reference non-conference schedule. How do you balance the fact that you are looking at their non-conference schedule but there's never a reference to their conference schedule or their conference record? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, I mean, in short, we're looking at all the games. You know, the difference is the nonconference schedule they control and the conference schedule they don't control.

That would appear to be a sign that you're actually penalizing Baylor -- I'm not saying you shouldn't, but you're penalizing them for attempting a weak non-conference schedule no matter how it plays out. 

ROB MULLENS: No, the committee doesn't approach it like that. We just look at all the games, and when you look at Baylor's three non-conference opponents, they have a combined seven wins.

What did the committee have to say about the injury to Tua? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, obviously we spent considerable time talking about it. Glad he's on his way to recovering. But Alabama had a convincing win at the end of the day. Understanding that he went out at the end of the second quarter, but it still was a convincing win, so it didn't impact the rankings this week.

How much if at all did committee members look back at the Arkansas game to look at what Alabama looks like with Mac Jones in the lineup? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, the committee would have watched that in the week that it occurred, so they were aware of it, and we're aware that the backup quarterback had played for Alabama in previous games.

In terms of game control, I don't know if that's an actual metric or not, but just the way you watch the games, curious how the committee looks at Oklahoma. They fall behind by 25 at Kansas State, then they get to within an onside kick at the end. Three games in a row now. They go up 21 in the fourth quarter against Iowa State and that thing comes down to a two-point conversion at the end. And then Saturday night we know how the Baylor game went. When the committee sees Alabama win by 31, Oregon win by 28 and Utah win by 46, those are all against teams with losing records. How does the committee see Oklahoma having to fight it out while those other teams -- against teams that are ranked when you compare with those other teams? 

ROB MULLENS: To the first part of your question, that is not a metric and not something that the committee uses. Second, that's why we watch the games, and that's why the staff gives us the resources and the tools to be able to watch all of these games, so that when you come in fully prepared, we know who they're playing, we know the records of who they're playing, and we get to watch the games and see how they play out.

Is it safe to assume then that based on all the metrics that we're looking at and the way we watch the games that beating a ranked team gives you impresses the committee more than beating a team with a losing record? Is it safe to assume that's the way it operates, right? 

ROB MULLENS: Yes, obviously the committee is aware when you beat a ranked team, for sure.

Kind of following up on the question regarding Tua, this is a relatively unique situation. I get Cardale Jones is the only comparable situation like this before. Has there been any talk in the committee room or was there any talk about how Alabama will be evaluated moving forward knowing that Tua Tagovailoa is not going to be there? 

ROB MULLENS: No, we do not project, we do not look forward. Our charge is to rank the teams based on their body of work through week 12, and that's what we did. Obviously we'll watch the games moving forward and evaluate them after that.

But my next question would then be when you evaluate Alabama as a whole, how do you sort of balance Alabama pre-Tua -- both pre-injury with what they've done, and how do you reconcile that with what potentially they would do the final two games? How do you balance those two sort of different teams, if you will, out? 

ROB MULLENS: Just like we would any team that has key injuries. We are aware of who's available in what games, and we make an evaluation based on watching the games and the results.

Two of Florida's wins were against FCS opponents. How much has that factored into the conversations and how you view the Gators? 

ROB MULLENS: It's certainly a part of the conversation. We're aware of the two FCS games, but we're also aware that they beat No. 15 Auburn and their two losses are to the No. 1 and No. 4 ranked teams.

I wondered if you could provide some insight in terms of the gap between the three unbeaten teams at the top and maybe just 1 through 3 and between 4, 5 and 6 and beyond, is there a big gap in your mind between those groups? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, we're very thorough in our conversations 1 through 25 and even beyond, and so the committee does spend considerable time on 1 through 3. Obviously those are the three undefeated teams, and after last week, with LSU's win, Ohio State's win and Clemson's win, the committee felt that was the order. LSU 1, Ohio State 2 and Clemson 3 through week 12.

It seems every week that there are certain markers within the rankings of where there are big gaps between teams even though they're only separated by a spot or two. Would you say there's a big gap between 3 and the teams ranked below 3? 

ROB MULLENS: No, I don't think there's a way to evaluate that. Again, we debate all of these teams, and I don't know that there's a measurement that could reference the gap. There's a lot of debate, a lot of conversations amongst those pools, so I don't have a -- I don't think there's a way to measure that.

No unranked team has ever participated in a New Year's Six bowl before, but if you look at the Orange Bowl, which gets an automatic ACC bid this year, Clemson goes to the playoff, the Orange Bowl will have to fill that with an ACC team. Have you had discussions about the possibility of placing an unranked team in a New Year's Six bowl, and if so, have any discussions arose about possibly changing the system when a potential top-12 team could be left home in favor of an unranked team? 

BILL HANCOCK: I'll take that one. The matter of the Orange Bowl pairing is up to the Orange Bowl, and it's not a part of CFP. Orange Bowl is a contract bowl with both sides filled by one side ACC and the other side Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. That will not be in the committee's purview. The Orange Bowl will just tell everyone who they have chosen.

Did the committee reward Oklahoma even more so by the fact that they did not have CeeDee Lamb at Baylor Saturday and still came back and won that game? 

ROB MULLENS: CeeDee is a great player and a key part of their team. We were aware that he was not in the game and that they beat a ranked team on the road for sure.

A follow-up if I might. A quick comparison with regard to Oklahoma's resume and Utah and Oregon from the Pac. I'm going to assume that Oklahoma's win at Baylor is the best of those three one-loss teams to this date. How does that balance with Oklahoma's loss coming against Kansas State compared to say Oregon's loss to a higher ranked Auburn team? Does one balance the other out, or does one weigh more heavily on the committee's mind than the other? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, probably depends by committee member, but remember, again, we're looking at full resumes, so we're looking at every win, every loss, and how those games played out and unfolded.

When you mentioned LSU you said, "remains impressive with a powerful offense," so there was a lot of concern locally, even among their fans, about the defense. How much parsing do you do in terms of, well, this team played is a more complete team or that team looked good in these two areas but not in the third? How much does that factor in, or do you just end up looking at the whole game and how impressive the win might have been given who they were playing? 

ROB MULLENS: In the committee room we do talk about the different phases of the game for sure. But again, we're watching the games, looking at exactly how it happens. But we are talking about phases.

I just have a similar question to the last one. Do you guys look at teams and say and evaluate and credit them when they are complete and they do seem balanced offensively and defensively compared to teams that are stronger on one side of the ball? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, results are the most important thing. Let's start with that. But sure, when you dig beyond the results, we're looking at the how, and so we are looking at offense, defense and special teams.

What is the committee's view of Penn State right now, and how do you feel like they stack up against the four one-loss teams that are above them? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, the committee is impressed with Penn State. They've beat a No. 13 Michigan, won a tough road game at Iowa. Their only loss is to the team ranked No. 10, and as I mentioned on the show, a nonconference win over a 7-3 Pittsburgh team. Those are all quality wins.

What is that gap like in the committee's eyes right now between 4 and 8? 

ROB MULLENS: Again, there's no measurement for that. What I can tell you is 4 through 8, there's plenty of discussion and a lot of debate about each of those teams. Their strengths, their weaknesses and where they should be ranked, and this week you can see how the committee voted in their rankings.

Regardless of Tua's injury at quarterback for Alabama, is there still -- how close is that between Oregon's resume and Alabama's resume, and is Utah a factor at all in that discussion between those two? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, sure. I mean, teams 5 through 7 -- obviously when you look at Alabama, outstanding play. Their only loss is to the No. 1 team in the country, and in every other game they've had convincing wins. Oregon is a team that's won nine in a row, good road wins against ranked Southern Cal, at Washington, quality quarterback play, undefeated in the conference, only loss on a neutral field to Auburn. And then Utah, really strong defense, only loss is to No. 23 USC, and that's what separated them from Oregon, and when they lost to USC, Zack Moss, their elite running back, missed most of that game.

Following up on that, I wanted to ask you more about USC and what the committee liked about them this week. 

ROB MULLENS: Well, they beat No. 7 Utah, which is impressive, and when you look at the opponents that they've lost to, those opponents have a record of 29- 11. So they've challenged themselves in the nonconference with Notre Dame and BYU, so that impressed the committee.

Beyond the USC common opponent, what are some of the other differences the committee sees between Utah and Oregon? 

BILL HANCOCK: I'll take that one. I think the committee felt like they're both excellent football teams. I think the USC thing was probably got the most discussion when they analyzed those two. Oregon obviously defeated USC handily, and Utah lost. And Oregon's resume, including the loss to a good Auburn team in the last seconds of the game, and Utah really doesn't have anything like that. So that was the difference.

You were talking about what is and isn't metrics. Georgia, I think five of their last six teams were coming off a bye. Is that taken into consideration and could you elaborate more on where Georgia is involved in the debate with the other teams in the top eight? 

ROB MULLENS: Well, again, all I can say is that we see the schedules. I don't know that we're specific looking at when byes fall, but when we're comparing opponents we see the sequence of the games by date for sure. And again, Georgia is in that conversation. They're in the pool in the first two rounds, which is 1 through 6, so they're a part of that debate.