Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday Press Conference

Mark Webb, Senior, Defensive Back

On how he felt the defense, particularly the No. 1 defense, performed during the scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 29…

“I feel like did good. We got better, I would say. Conditioning wise, the stadium is different; it’s the atmosphere and how it feels there. There’s a lot more sun there instead of shade, so I felt like when we were out there, a lot of people got a lot of chances to make plays and stuff like that we probably couldn’t do, or we did it in different spurts. Overall, I feel like we did good as a defense.”

On the secondary unit collectively/how he thinks UGA’s stands against others in the country and what the DBs have done to prepare for the season…

“We don’t really compare ourselves to anybody around the country. I feel like other teams have great DBs, [and] we have great DBs. Every day, we’re just coming in to work. We come in and are just making sure we are working on ourselves and the things we aren’t great at, so basically our weaknesses and stuff like that. I feel like every DB has made a big jump from where he was last year, even the young guys like Jalen Kimber [and] Major Burns. Players like them come to practice every day and work and, consistently, things just get better. All our DBs are learning, learning fast, and I’m learning with them as I try to teach them and give them the ropes. Every day, I have fun just being able to teach them. It’s definitely fun.”

On the ways the senior class has evolved/what the feeling is amongst the seniors heading into their final season…

“I feel like that 2017 group is so special, definitely. I feel like Coach Smart had a lot to do with it by grooming all of us to be leaders, not just one strict leader. He really did groom us all to be leaders, and I feel like to this point now , now that we’re seniors, you can really see the leadership come out. We just gradually went into [leadership roles]. [Smart] didn’t have to put anybody forward to do it, we all just started to gradually own our jobs and our positions, owning their units. [We] just make sure we’re holding everybody to the standard, and I just feel like we’re all leaders now.”

Owen Condon, Redshirt Sophomore, Offensive Lineman

On how successful he thinks the Georgia offense has been thus far in generating explosive plays in practice/during scrimmages…

“I think we had a good day today in terms of getting more explosive. We had a few plays in a couple periods that were explosive, some pass plays. We had a good day running the ball, as well. Being explosive is just required for a good offense, so we’re always working on the every day.”

On what his mindset going into this season is after suffering injuries in the past/where he thinks he has improved the most…

“During quarantine and this whole off-season, I’ve cut three percent of body fat. I’ve gotten a lot leaner, and I think I’m moving a lot better and have gotten stronger, as well. I think that’s really the biggest part of my game, and then I’m always working on my feet. You can never get too good with your foot work being an offensive lineman, so those have been the biggest things I’ve worked on this off-season. I also want to make a shout out to the training staff. Mr. Ron [Courson] and his staff have helped me out a ton, getting my shoulder back and getting healthy.”

On what some of the older players have taught him to help prepare for the season…

“I consider Ben Cleveland someone who has helped me. I just like the way he practices, and I learn from him by watching him. He’s experienced – he’s been here four or five years – and he’s played almost all of them. I just try and learn everything I can from him in practice, and Justin Shaffer, as well, [and] the way he approaches practice every day and just comes out ready to work. You can never learn enough from those two, so I just try to watch them in practice and film, and I try to learn little tops to make me better.”

Jake Camarda, Junior, Punter / Kicker

On what he has seen from the place kickers and how he handles pressure…

“Everyone has been looking good, competing and kicking the ball well. Georgia is going to be in good hands field goal wise. I’m not worried about that at all. There’s always going to be pressure out there. Nobody is putting too much pressure on each other because everyone wants to compete and wants the job, but at the end of the day, we want that guy to do well for the team. There’s pressure out there, but everyone is competing, and we’re all working hard.”

On juggling both place kicking and punting…

“It isn’t extremely difficult, I did it in high school. It was never something I had an issue with.”

On what he has seen from Jared Zirkel has been handling the adjustment to college…

“I think he has been handling it very well. Zirkel is a great guy. He came in and done a good job."

On Scott Cochran and what he thinks of him…

“He works with all of us. Coach Cochran is a really great guy. He’s out there really rooting for us and wants the absolute best for us. Whether he’s getting on us or picking us up, he’s always on our side for us to get better.”

Jermaine Johnson, Senior, Linebacker

On what his perspective, as a black man, is of the social injustices happening across the country and what Georgia Football is doing to take action…

“The last few weeks have been really hard just to see everything that is going on in the news and everything. I think it has struck me, as well as all of my teammates, really hard—white or black because we are united here. We are brothers—those type of issues affect all of us. In terms of what we are doing, we as a team—team and staff—we had a very productive talk in the past couple of days. Coach Smart just let us come up and share how we are feeling. We actually had white boards—I think it was a three hour meeting—just to get a bunch of things off of our chests. Just talking as a team and as a program on what we can do to make not only ourselves feel safe but other people feel safe out in the world and in the community.”

On being back in Minnesota during quarantine and what his mentality and goals were when getting back to Athens...

“Personally, I was very determined. I don’t think I put my best on film last year, personally. Going into this season and especially coming into the spring I was really excited to prove some things and work hard and just get better at some things I need to get better at—be whatever I needed to be for the team. Over quarantine I was just keeping my head down and working hard. I mean, I came from [Junior College] so it wasn’t really anything new. My dad had actually purchased some weights and other things in his garage. So, I keeping my head down and calling Coach Sinclair asking what I can do just to get better in terms of some speed stuff because you know I am a football player at the end of the day, so I can’t just be lifting weights. I don’t know—I was just trying to bounce things off of my coach of what I can do better while I’m not there. I was really focused on not falling behind because I know it’s easy for some guys to fall in that slump over that time. That was really what I was trying not to do.”

On from his perspective of what he brings to the table in a talented outside linebacker group...

“I honestly just try to ask my coaches what I can do better every single day, after practice. I try to be what I can for my team whether that be on special teams—everything like that. At this level, everyone has attributes. It comes down to technique and will and how much passion you give to the game and how committed you are to the program. I just ask my teammates and my coaches what I can do to get better every day. Whatever happens after that, happens.”

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Saturday Scrimmage Report

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart offered the following comments after the scrimmage Saturday afternoon.

On his overall impressions/how the quarterbacks operated with the ones and twos...

“We’re behind. I don’t know that I’ve ever come out of a first scrimmage and felt good. I’m happy we got to scrimmage, to be honest with you, just between the injuries and COVID going on with different teams and different programs, the social injustice issues we’re dealing with in our country, and our players are dealing with the thoughts of all those things. I’m really proud and happy we were able to scrimmage, but just looking at the scrimmage as a whole— we have a long way to go. We looked like a team that didn’t go through spring practice. We looked like a team that is young at a lot of positions. We were really sloppy, to be honest with you. I guess the thing I was most proud of was that it was pretty hot, and they pushed really hard. We’ve been harping on mental toughness and practice effort, and we really haven’t had good practice effort. Then today I thought, ‘You know what? These guys got tired. They pushed through. We conditioned at the end of practice, and they really pushed through that.’ That part made me proud, but the actual execution was poor. Going back to your quarterback question; I’m pretty sure we had every quarterback go with the 1s at one time. I don’t think Stetson Bennett got to go with the 1s. Stetson did a good job in the groups he did go with. Jamie Newman operated with the 1s, and JT Daniels operated with the 1s. D’Wan Mathis got a red area series with the 1s, as well. The reps came out pretty balanced. Stetson had a bit fewer because we had seen his stats a lot more and know more about him because of his time spent with us last year."

On whether any players have indicated if they would like to take any action against the social injustices that have been brought to the forefront recently/how he and his support staff have communicated with the team about these issues...

“First of all, I give a lot of credit to our staff. I rely heavily on the black men on our staff who have done a tremendous job. Dell McGee, Cortez Hankton, Charlton Warren, Tray Scott and Jonas Jennings have been tremendous assets. All our guys are really great assets, but we lean on those guys, and we lean on their experiences, and they've done an unbelievable job. And, yes, our guys are heavily affected. I don't think people realize that. I don't think, as coaches or that our donors, our alumni, our fans— I don’t think people in the country realize how it affects each young man differently. When you show empathy, and you listen, you hear about their experiences. It's not all about just what these young men see on TV. That certainly is what sparks it, but it's the personal experiences each one of them has had in their family or in their community. Sometimes that resonates with them; an experience a young man had with his mom, an experiences a young man had with his brother. When you sit there as a head coach, and you just listen, you realize how it affects each player differently. One of the most important things I've learned in this process is listen twice as much as you talk, and we've done a lot of listening. Our players have been very adamant. They brainstorm. They’ve come up with all kinds of ideas about what we think we can do to take action, because we’re big on action. I’m big on action. That's my big thing— I'm not going to just sit there and issue a statement or words. We want action, and our guys came up with an action list of items— probably 17, 18 things — and we're just taking them on one-by-one. We're going to take them on and try to be very intentional about what we do."

On whether any plays or players’ performances standout from the scrimmage...

“It’s hard, because I know as media you want to highlight someone. I want to give you that information, but for every one of those highlights, there’s a low light on the other side. For every sack, someone got beat. I don’t know exactly who got beat, and I don’t know exactly who had the most sacks because I don’t have statistics and I haven’t watched the tape yet. There were several long runs. James Cook and Zamir White both had long runs, mostly against the second team defense, but the defensive guy made a mistake. The guy misfit it, so it wasn’t like they went out there and broke 18 tackles. They went untouched for 50 or 60 yards. To the normal eye, that’s a great run, but to me, it’s a mistake in the same way on some of the pressures some guys made. Really, the One offense kind of dominated the two defense. The one defense dominated the two offense. You’re like, ‘Okay, that’s great.’ Then we went on one-on-ones, and it was a little more balanced. There were a couple three-and-outs, but the one offense also sustained a drive down and made some plays. I thought it was very competitive when it was one-on-one with the 1s. I don’t feel like there are a lot of big plays in the passing game. We’ve had some big vertical plays in the passing game in practice; we didn’t really have that today. The explosives we had today runs and sloppy missed tackles."

On Dominick “Dom” Blaylock’s ACL injury and how UGA’s wide receiver core will be affected...

“We released a statement, but it’s just very unfortunate. Dom worked as hard as anybody I have ever seen. Ron Courson has probably had over 50 ACL’s in his time here, and he’s never seen somebody work as hard as he did. He likened it to what Nick Chubb went through, who did so much work and prepared so hard. Dom has such a great family at home, and it just hurts for a kid like that to get out there— he was on a rep count when he went back out there— on his third or fourth rep. There was no one even around him. It was a weird deal. He just caught the ball and planted and turned. It was a non-contact ACL, and it’s very unfortunate. That's what's so special about Dom. I reached out to him right away, and he said, ‘Coach, I’m going to be back. I’m going to be fine. I’m going to get through this. I’m going to push through it. He's such a fiery competitor, and I'm excited to see him get back. As far as the rest of the guys, we hit a wall a little bit with some of the younger guys. I think they didn't show us much today. We didn't have a lot of great vertical passing game, but Kearis Jackson, Demetris Robertson and George Pickens are pretty consistent. After that, we’re trying to build a depth chart among those guys, the freshmen and the other guys competing like Justin [Robinson], Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Jermaine Burton are all competing in there along with Trey Blount and some of the other guys. Nobody really stood out today. It wasn't like anybody was head and shoulders above the rest.”

On the development of the offense and specifically the quarterbacks…

“I’d like every one of them to be successful and do well. The tough thing is going against our defense day in and day out that we did have a spring to go through. I think offenses traditionally start out a little slower than defense. That’s just always how it’s been in football but the last three or four days there has been ray of light. There’s been more plays made. Certainly today when they went against the twos, which the ones on offense don’t always go up against the twos. There was a lot of ray of light, guys were scoring left and right. I don’t think anyone has separated if that’s what you’re asking. As far as the time table for that, I don’t have a time table for that. It’s got to happen. JT Daniels is not cleared still. You all think he’s cleared or what you think of is cleared. Cleared to me is, I can go out and play a full game of tackle football. He gets to scrimmage but he wouldn’t be cleared for a game in terms of contact yet. That factors into that decision and also the other guys, what they can do with their feet. Sometimes that’s a tough measurement at quarterback unless you go live with those guys. We haven’t had anyone separate yet.”

On whether he has gotten used to the changed calendar…

“It’s very unique. I talked to our team about it today. At this scrimmage point, at this time we’re three weeks away. We’re four weeks away with the scrimmage in our bank. The difference is we don’t have that many practices left. Time is there, but practices aren’t if you know what I mean. We’re monitored by the NCAA and also required to give the players a certain amount of time off so our practice numbers we have left are less than we would traditionally have at this point. We also have a little time to recover and get better. When I say behind, I’m talking about the fact we didn’t have spring. We got guys that, Carson Beck didn’t get to go in the spring. D’Wan Mathis, a kid who really needed those reps in the spring, didn’t get to go. Jamie Newman didn’t get to have spring practice and JT Daniels wasn’t here. When I say behind I mean it from that perspective. I would say that, knock on wood, we’ve done a good job with Ron Courson and his staff and we’ve been able to keep most of our players out there from a health stand point and from a COVID standpoint to be able to practice.”

On the offensive line/who has stepped up and responded to the changes since last season...

“I don’t know what you think, or what you expect or what’s out there. I haven’t seen anything but the spot that is most competitive, both guards are going to be competitive. Trey Hill is playing center. Jamaree Salyer is playing left tackle. Justin Shaffer has done a lot of work with the ones at left guard, Ben Cleveland at right guard but I wouldn’t say that’s a done deal because we’ve got Warren Ericson, Clay Webb. We have some good competition. Netori Johnson has shown some promise there working. So, those guys are really competing at the guard spot. The right tackle spot has been the one, that is probably the most competitive deal. Owen Condon has really stepped up and done some good things. Owen hasn’t been healthy since he’s been here. He’s been a pleasant surprise in terms of competitiveness, intelligence, toughness. We’d like for him to play with a little more power and be able to move people. Then Warren McClendon. He and Warren are probably getting the most reps there. Then Tate Ratledge has come along since the pads came on. Tate Ratledge has come on and played well. So we’re trying to find the best mix and as you always know, it’s not three guys getting one spot, it’s can one of those guys go in and play guard, better than one of our guards. So, we have a little bit of musical chairs going on at this point. Matt Luke is handling it well, Coach Luke. Those guys are competing. We have a good quality depth there. We don’t have the elite players we had last year.”

On whether there has been discussion about ways the team can implement a call for action against social injustices/whether the players have been directed on ways to express their opinions across social platforms...

“Like I mentioned Thursday, was a day off, well, Thursday was a day of meetings and exercise, conditioning. We’re allowed to work them out Thursday. It was not a true practice day. It didn’t artificially happen, we just said, ‘Hey, we want to talk about some things.’ A couple of players reached out to me, I guess it was Wednesday night after practice. I had seen all the issues in Wisconsin. I had seen the social injustice, all the different shots, and all the different camera angles Monday or Tuesday night. Wednesday night, when the NBA boycotted its games, I started getting some stuff from our players reaching out saying, ‘Coach, let’s talk. Let’s revisit this.’ We had talked about it prior, earlier in the summer, but since camp had started, we’ve had a couple speakers come in, but we hadn’t really shared as a team. Dell McGee, Cortez Hankton and Jonas Jennings thought it would be a good time, and we have a tremendous staff here. We let the players share Thursday. What was supposed to be a quick meeting and then go to our football stuff, ended up being three and a half hours of each guy sharing, and it turned into brainstorming and coming up with some ideas. We didn’t do any football that day. Football wasn’t important. They got to voice their opinions. Emotionally, a lot of our guys are in pain. When you hear it, it’s easy to sit back behind a social media site or a social media and post something and have your opinion but until you’ve actually heard guys and the pain they’re going through and the things they feel, you don’t know. That certainly affected me and it affected our players. I’ll say this. They have been very intentional about wanting action. They want the University of Georgia, in terms of the athletic department, to represent them, they want to do things in the community, they want to give back to their communities. They want to make change. They want 100 percent of student-athletes at Georgia to vote. They’re issuing the challenges that need to be done and I’m really proud of them for that.”

On Dominick Blaylock’s ACL injury and how UGA’s wide receiver core will be affected...

"His head's in a great space because he's got the right mindset. We've had some players who have been injured a lot. Thomas Davis— I think Ron Courson said he had been through three ACL injuries throughout his career, so he had him reach out, and also Malcom Mitchell, who's had some experience with that as well. You know it's always good to hear somebody who has had success after these experiences. We all know Zamir White had gone through it from high school to a year in college. Dom's great, he's resilient, he's going to fight, he's a competitor, he's a great kid to be around and we want to keep him around the team. In terms of the other guys, Dom had not been out there much prior to so it wasn't like the reps increased. So the rest of the guys have taken the load and have done a good job of it."

On the performance of special teams/what Scott Cochran brings to the staff and how his transition has been...

"I thought the special teams were behind on where we need to be. That's just like the offense and defense, when you don't get spring practice and you don't get to do that, you're basically taking eight months off, you fall behind. We've got to improve there, we've got to have our best players play on those units. We showed some video of Travon Walker who played on special teams last year and dominated before the scrimmage. We're trying to figure out which freshman is going to be him, which freshman is going to be that guy that really dominates and takes over and plays on special teams and takes ownership of that. A lot of times in these scrimmages they're so exhausted, they don't have the juice for special teams. It's a lot easier to play special teams in a real game when you're not playing every snap, which in the scrimmage we've got more guys playing because we're on both sides of the ball. But Scott has been awesome, he brings great energy in the meetings, he does a tremendous job on the field. The players enjoy being around him, it's a team effort we've got every coach on staff helping with that side of it. The punters, Jake Camarda kicked the ball really well, Bill Rubright hit a couple punts and then field goal kicking is still a competition. We had four guys kick field goals today, but Jarid Zirkel kicked the ball well and is in a heated competition for that job."

On whether he thinks there should be an asterisk by this season's championship winner (to denote COVID-19 effects) or whether the winner will deserve the title regardless…

"I don't know how you would have an asterisk by a conference championship, because that would be as most real as we've ever had, right? That would be 10 games and hopefully a championship, so if you're talking about that, the only asterisk that would be by that would be, ‘This is the toughest team there ever was,' because they went through 10 games in our league and played a championship game. Hats off to them, because they need an asterisk saying they were the national champions, in my opinion, because it's going to be tough in terms of the number of practices we have and fighting COVID. If you told me how many guys had to miss games in a 10-game schedule, because of exposure or because of a positive, they probably would really have an asterisk on the championship. One game you could have your starting quarterback out, and that could play a major factor. As far as the national championship, basically it's the teams that are playing. If the teams that are playing play, I don't see why it would have an asterisk, because it is what it is. It's beyond the kids’ control— they weren't able to go and play those other teams, and all of the teams that were eligible to play, played. I would certainly think people would want to put an asterisk by it, but these teams in the SEC won't do that; not after playing 10 games, a conference championship and possibly two playoffs."

On the story behind Darnell Washington’s choice of jersey number/his nickname 'The Big 0'...

"I don't exactly know when 'O' came about. It may have been after he was committed or signed I'm not sure. It brings a smile to my face because those offensive guys call him 'The Big O,' and he is big, he is very big. When they said 'The Big O' I didn't get it until I realized he's 'The Big O' for wearing zero. He's a big man, and I assume he wanted a single digit and 'The Big O' is another single digit, even though it looks funny."

On whether he spoke with Todd Monken [Offensive Coordinator] after the scrimmage/how they viewed the performance by the offense…

"I talked to Monken after the scrimmage briefly, but he hasn't watched the tape either so the assessment of how the guys did I would reserve judgement on that until we get to watch the tape or analyze it. I don't think we're ready to say where the quarterbacks are in terms of the development and which guys step it up. The biggest issue with the quarterbacks is the number of reps, you can't prepare four, five or even three quarterbacks, so that makes it tough."

On Daran Branch being back and if he is practicing...

"Daran Branch is back with the team. He was with us today. He wasn't allowed to practice because he didn't have on pads yet. He’s going through an acclimation period. He was out there working out, did the individual and did the drills. We're excited to have him back. He had some personal things he had to go home and take care of, and I'm glad he's back with us and taking another shot at it."

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken Press Conference

On where he starts when designing a new offense and combining Coach Smart’s goals and the direction he wants to go to launch his offense…

“First off, being three different places the last five years there’s a number of things that we’ve done in the past, So, you start with what you’ve done recently, and then what you’ve done the last few years that you liked and want to carry over. Obviously, the games are different, the NFL compared to college football, there’s different various or, you know, of what you want to accomplish from a tempo standpoint, from a personnel standpoint. But, we are still in the process of building that. We went through the spring and did that—then the summer and we’re continuing to work on that as we speak.”

On what he and Coach Smart envisioned UGA’s offense to look like once he joined the staff…

“Scoring points and not turning it over. I know that’s really simple, but obviously that’s—when we spoke about his vision of the offense, was certainly what I think every coach wants, which is take advantage of your personnel, the players that you can recruit here at the University of Georgia, doing a great job in terms of utilizing those people, putting them in the best position to be successful. Obviously, as coaches we are paid to maximize our players measurable skill sets, so that’s probably the first and foremost—the talent that we get here is finding a way every day to develop those players, and then utilize their skill set to the best of their ability. Obviously, the most important part is moving the football and scoring points, whether that’s running the football or throwing the football. Being explosive and not turning it over—it’s a pretty simple game.”

On whether he feels he has brought any concepts of NFL offense back to the collegiate level/his thoughts on the changes over time between the two levels…

“Well Seth, you’re right. You definitely see changes in the NFL in terms of spreading the field out, athletic quarterbacks, RPOs—that has changed, dramatically. The bottom line is as high school started doing more of that and then colleges did, then the players you are drafting—when you’re drafting certain players that’s what they’re accustomed to doing at quarterback. They’re more comfortable in [shot] gun—more comfortable with that style of system, trying to keep it as simple as you can. Obviously, it’s very difficult, the NFL level against the best in the world just like in this league. So there’s obviously things that we will take from a number of places I have been over the last 10 years, from Oklahoma State to Southern Miss, to the last couple of stops I’ve been in the NFL. There’s a number of things that I liked—the things I’ve done in the past and things that other people did. So, that’s really what you do. You put together what you think is the best way to move the football and score points.”

On whether there was an “Aha” moment in his offensive philosophy or whether his strategy is more of an adaptive/collective approach…

“Alright, so that’s a great question because there’s different times when you’ve coached as long as I have where you go through systems of, early on, where variety in offenses was going from pro to slot. I mean that was a variety. Like, ‘Holy cow they’re going from pro to slot.’ And differences in coverages might be what their variations were from pro to slot. And then when you go into the early 90s there were a few teams that were going one back and were spreading it out, but really still your quarterbacks were not nearly as athletic. If a quarterback was a runner, you’d play a triple option style offense. If he was a thrower, much of those at that time were throwers not runners. Obviously the game has evolved in terms of the athleticism of the position. So, you evolve as you get going. I try to think back, what would have been 18 years ago when I got with Les Miles, and Les Miles was a ‘run it,’ as an offensive line coach. He thinks, fourth-and-fours toss it Jacob Hester on toss power for a first down as opposed to throwing it. But before then I was at Louisiana Tech, where we were no huddle and throwing it under Gary Crowton, then you go from there. So you develop things you like then you go to Oklahoma State back again, and I learned a little bit of the air raid with the Dana Holgorsen that he had learned through Mike Leach, and that group from previously. You develop the things you like, and then you go to the NFL and, like you said, you bounce around things you like there, ways of identifying how to attack people and again it still comes down to utilizing your personnel to the best of their ability. You have to be able to be balanced. Balance isn’t just run-pass, it’s ball distribution to players. It’s utilizing the whole field. Obviously, being able to comfortably turn around and hand the ball of is a big part of that for your quarterback. You got to be careful how often you put so much on a player’s plate.”

On his assessment of the talent level in the quarterback room/what will ultimately decide who takes the starting position…

“Well, I really like our guys. We have a good number of players at that position. Starting from, you know, a couple of transfers that as we all know about, and then some young players that are on our roster. So, it’s been fun to be in the room because they all vary. They are different in terms of their personalities. They all want to be really, really good players. They all want to work at it. There is never an issue in terms of them understanding what they are trying to get accomplished, offensively. So, you know, obviously the difficulty of not having spring ball, and not going through some of those practices, there’s only so many things you can do in meetings without actually getting out there, and things they can do on their own. Right now, it’s an open competition. We’re looking at all of the players because they all have talent, and we’re excited about getting to scrimmage this Saturday and seeing where we’re at.”

On how Georgia plans to score more points than the team scored last season…

“I’m not going to compare to last year because, even though I’ve looked at the tape, I wasn’t here. It’s hard for me to assess what they did last year, other than watching the tape. The important thing is consistency. In my mind, it’s not about last year. I’m not comparing anything to last year— that isn’t what I’m talking about. It’s about how [we can] constantly score against the opponents we play each week because an average is only worth its salt if you consistently do it. You can’t carry over points, so in one week if you score 60 and the next you score 10, you’re averaging 35 points a game but you’re not very good offensively. You’re very inconsistent. So [the question is] how do you score each week to put yourself in the best chance to be successful? Obviously, you’ve got to find a way to be explosive consistently. You’ve got to be able to score touchdowns in the red zone. It’s really pretty simple that way, is to be explosive offensive and then, once you get down there, find a way to score touchdowns. Taking advantage of those opportunities and how you go about that— every team is a little bit different in that regard. That’s probably the most important thing. I’m bot comparing this year’s offense to last year’s, I’m not doing that. I’m just saying that the history of us scoring points is having explosive plays and scoring touchdowns in the red zone."

On his overall impression of UGA’s receiver group, specifically from a pass-catcher standpoint…

"This is a group of talented guys who have truly been a joy to work with. They’re excited about the opportunities they have in front of them, with a couple of guys leaving last year. We’re still relatively young with certain guys we’re counting on, like George [Pickens] and some of the incoming freshmen, and even some of the older guys who still have work to do as developmental players who need the reps; guys like Matt Landers, Demetris Robertson. I know [Robertson] is one of our older players, but from a developmental standpoint. [I think] players like Tommy Bush and some of our older guys will push for playing time. Kearis Jackson has been a relative surprise in terms of his consistency and the ways he has played and developed. That’s what we’re paid to do. We’re paid to recruit really talented players and then develop them and maximize their measurable skill sets. That’s what coaching is, and utilizing what they bring to the table."

On the ways he has been able to build a rapport with the entire offensive unit and if it has been difficult/ways he has worked with the players on getting them to buy in to his philosophy...

"It's been hard because of the situation we've been dealt in terms of spring ball, in terms of all of our players have had to deal with; the virus, school and other things they’ve dealt with on personal levels. It affects everybody a little bit differently, so that's been difficult. [It’s also difficult] when you lose a number of players to the NFL Draft off last year's team. You’ve got a number of players who are talented players, but they just haven't played probably as much football as you'd like, but that doesn't matter. No one cares. This is a 'get it done’ business, and the good news is we have talent. We’re better today than we were yesterday, and we were better yesterday than we were Saturday. That's what you do. Everybody asks what you do about the future and about the games and about the virus, but I don’t know. I know about today. Today is Tuesday, and we have meetings today. Then we will practice tomorrow. We'll work. We'll work hard to get our guys better and figure out what they can do, and that's probably the biggest thing. What can they do? How can they take the field and show what they're capable of doing and one thing about going against our defense, our players and our coaches is. It's great in one respect because you go against some really, really good players and outstanding schemes and it really challenges you as a young player and a coach, the negative is it's very difficult to develop confidence? We're constantly trying to develop that part of it. That allows your players to be successful on a daily basis and figure out what [they] can do, knowing that you're going against really good players [opponents] on the other side and really good coaches. The fact is, for where we want to be, we're going to see some really good defenses that are very similar to ours."

On the running back situation/who will step up behind Zamir White and get a lot of carries...

“It’s hard to say. We really haven't had a scrimmage yet. We've hit a little bit. The first day of pads was yesterday. Zamir[White] I think has had a tremendous off-season, as has James Cook. Then you take into account Kenny McIntosh who came in last year and had a really good start to his career. [He is a] very versatile player who can do a lot of things running and catching the ball in the backfield, and then Kendall Milton who showed up in the spring and, like a lot of true freshman, you're excited to see. But, again, with that position, until you put on the pads, it's hard to really tell. I really like our guys. Daijun [Edwards], as well— I think those five guys are an impressive group.”

On what skills set JT Daniels and Jamie Newman apart…

“It's hard because it was only basically five days ago that, as coaches, we've been on the field with them throwing a football. I know it's hard to envision, when you really think about it, that [the coaches] have not been on the field with our players, throwing a football, until we started camp without having spring ball. Everything else is on your own when you have a football on the field, so that made it a little bit difficult. The one thing I would say about Jamie [Newman] is that, [while] everybody talks about his athleticism, he's a better thrower than people think. I think JT [Daniels] is a better athlete. Obviously, there's film on both of those guys. Obviously, JT is a young player at USC throwing the football. There's film of Jamie, obviously running Wake Forest his offense, very efficiently. Like I said, I think from the first five days that JT is a better athlete than we would have thought, and Jamie's a much better thrower."

On the extent players have been able to take advantage of the practice sessions compared to the typical spring camp/how the team is maximizing the time it does have…

"First of all, our players have been great through this whole situation, coming back after leaving for approximately three months and then coming back I believe early June I think our players have handled it unbelievably well and have worked awfully hard to get to this point, as have the quarterbacks to get here. Obviously, when you're doing meetings and the walkthrough stuff on the field, there's a lot of mental work [and] a lot of mental sweat that goes into it to try and do it better than [opponents] do it because that's ultimately how you get it done— doing it better than [your opponent’s] do it. There are very few new schemes. There are sometimes, but a lot of [teams] run the same thing; it’s just how to do it better than they do it. How do you maximize your players' measurable skill sets to do it better than [opponents] do it? That’s probably the biggest thing during that time, is trying to make sure that you're able to stack plays, as many plays as you can stack, where it looks like you want it to look like. We’re doing that now, but there is nothing like getting out there and actually able to practice."

On his philosophy of the front offensive line…

“Well, Mark you're exactly right. Getting here, we got big guys. I mean, the good news is they're big and athletic. I guess every position likes to be big, fast, physical, smart and tough. It's everybody's looking for the same guys obviously in this league, you have to guys that are able to move people up front, and still be able to move their feet and be able to pass protect. It's a really, really good group. Obviously, we lost a number of players that either came out early or transferred, but it's not for a lack of talent, it's just a matter of reps, getting our guys in the right spots. But you're right. We have good looking players as good as anywhere I've been in college, it's impressive and I'm excited to see our players to continue to develop.”

On what he has seen from D'Wan Mathis and Carson Beck…

“I’ve been impressed with both of them. Both of them are very talented young players. Obviously, D'Wan last year missed part of the season, but with Carson coming in the spring, and being here [and] obviously was here for the bowl game, you can see a lot of things that that you like from Carson's end of it, from his throwing and his athleticism. D’Wan, [with] his athleticism and his arm talent, as he continues to develop, and they've been rotating like the other guys in terms of giving them an opportunity to compete for the job. So, their future is really bright.”

On how this coaching staff compares to his NFL stops in terms of high energy…

“I think it's a little bit hard to compare, because you're dealing with practices that are different, [and] the number of players that you have are different. I've been around high energy coaches at every level. There's high energy coaches in the NFL, there's high energy coaches in college. Obviously, everybody has to be themselves and [coaches] are paid to get the best out of their players. We all have our own way of getting that done. I have to remind myself at times that the bottom line is to try and get the best out of your players, and that isn't always screaming [and] yelling. I have to remind myself of that. The bottom line is to teach and to develop and to build confidence, as opposed to tearing that down. A lot of times, my frustration and getting on the players is because I didn't do a good enough job of getting them to do it the way I'd like to do it. I did a poor job of that. The bottom line is—I'm excited. I do like our staff's energy, [and] we have a lot of it. Obviously, it comes from our head coach, Coach [Kirby] Smart. He's very energetic, very detailed, and it's been fun. It's been fun the first five days.”

On whether he sees the potential of an explosive offense from the offensive group he has this season…

“Well I hope so. It's a lot more fun that way when your explosive. It's funny how it works. How do you get explosive plays? First off, your ability to run the football, put the defense and run past conflicts, is the number one way to gain explosives. Either hitting open space in the intermediate levels or over the top, and then the next part is, how do you get skilled players in space? How do you get really good skill players in [a] space that can make people miss? So, that's at every level. That's what we're trying to accomplish, and I think we have those guys to do it. Again, the proof will be in the pudding once we get to playing games but I do like what I see.”

On the characteristics and skills he looks for when evaluating quarterbacks…

“Well, first of all, accuracy is number one because if you're going to throw the football, you have to be accurate with the football. That would be number one. How are they accurate in terms of throwing the football? Mental toughness. I think that's up there—that's got to be a big part of it, how they handle [it]. Because quarterbacks are closely aligned with winning and losing as coaches, they're the closest you're going to get in terms of your players being aligned with winning and losing. So, those guys have to handle the ups and downs of the position. So the mental toughness part of it, the ability to sustain through the ups and downs of playing the position and the media scrutiny. The next part is athleticism, the ability to move and extend plays the game has become that so much more in terms of your athleticism. So when you're talking about accuracy, mental toughness and the athletic ability to escape and make plays are probably the top three. I'm probably missing some but off the top of my head, those are pretty important characteristics. It’s hard to be a statue anymore and be consistently explosive and be able to move the football.”

On his definition of an explosive offensive play…

“Well, it's interesting to me. It's a 12-yard run or a 16-yard throw, and you're always trying to be in the top 10 in the country in everything that you do. That's obviously going to change this year. From a numbers standpoint, I think it's going to be basically in terms of where you finished in the league with explosives points all of your statistics because of the games you're playing. I mean this is very similar to a NFL schedule. I've been through that before. You have 16 tough games, 16 quality opponents. So statistically, to me, it's going to be in terms of where we rank amongst the teams and not really in terms of numbers, because the numbers [are] going to be a little bit different this year. The bottom line is you want to be explosive one out of every eight plays and that's approximately—you're looking at about 10 a game, and that's going to put you somewhere in the neighborhood in the top third, top quarter in the country. Then if you're getting 12 to 14 a game, then you're really hitting on all cylinders and you're going to be in the top 10.”

On whether his experience with Oklahoma State, specifically in 2011, still influences or applies to his approach today…

“Sure it does. We had really good players. I was very fortunate to fall into a great situation of an established offense. We had a high number of returning players who early on, when I learned that system, carried me. It was a lot of fun because we had a lot of really good players; upfront, quarterback, receivers, running backs. That’s usually the sign of a really good offense, is that you have good players. It's a sign that, on either side of the ball, you have good players and good coaches. I thought we took advantage of the fact we had really good coaches who have gone on to do great things at other places or are still there. I was very fortunate to be around a great staff and some really good players. Unfortunately, when you talk about that year, there were some really good things but obviously a very disappointing loss at Iowa State that is very hard to really go beyond even 10 years later.”

On what he sees and looks for from the walk-ons, specifically the quarterbacks/Jackson Muschamp…

“Well, first off, it's with all of our walk-ons, including the quarterbacks, there's a number of things that we do from a practice standpoint, from a teaching standpoint, that we need those guys to give us looks. They're invaluable to what we do. I tell our scholarship guys all the time [to] think about what these guys sacrificed to be here. They go through everything you go through. They lift, they run, to just be a part of it. They don't get paid a dime, [but do it] to just be a part of the Bulldog family. I mean, it's unbelievable. These guys just want to be a part of it and be able to run out of that tunnel and represent the University of Georgia. I played Division III football [and] didn't get paid to play. [It was] an awesome experience. For these guys to be a part of it, it's exciting for them. It’s something they've decided they want to be a part of it. For the quarterbacks, they'll do some of the signaling; they have in practice. They've been a part of the signaling. They're a part of the meetings-- everybody's involved in terms of when we ask questions – and they have a chance to be involved. Having Jackson [Muschamp] here, being a coach's son, it'll be interesting down the road. You know, it's a little bit early now. With Jackson just getting here, some of the other guys having to compare where else they've seen or where they've been. Those guys do a number of things for us quarterback wise when we need them in other areas for drill work.”

Friday, August 21, 2020

Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning Press Conference

Opening Statement

“I hope everybody is having a great day. Excited to be talking about football this time of the year. Obviously, I am very appreciative to our staff, our players, our medical staff, our coaches—coordinating in a unique time. Coach Smart talks about it all the time—having mental agility—is kind of the new phrase in our program. Our guys have handled adjustment extremely well, and really attacked everything that we’re trying to get accomplished in our program.”

On starting his third season with Georgia and the roots he has put down in the program and the community...

“Yeah, absolutely, and really excited to be. You are always talking about being in a place—I’ve got three kids, my wife Sophia and I. You talk about being in a place you would love to raise your family, and Athens [has] truly been that place. Three years, for me in college football, this will be the longest I’ve been anywhere. Sometimes it takes that progression to get you there in your career, and I am very fortunate to be in a place where I could see myself for a long time.”

On what areas in particular he is looking to attack in the preseason...

“The biggest thing I think we’ve emphasized so far this offseason is the finish. You know, we’ve talked about havoc plays on here a lot in the past, and that is still definitely a big focus for us, but we want to get the ball out. We want to finish. We want to impact the game by having some game-changing plays that we can create, and our players have really embraced that so far.”

On finishing statistically-well last season and how the defense continues to get better...

“Ultimately for us it’s about wins. That was 2019. This is 2020. It really has no correlation, and we have to start from scratch. By no means are we the ’85 [Chicago] Bears. We got a lot of work to do, but our guys are embracing the challenge of getting better and focusing on that. It starts with the details, right? It starts with today, not tomorrow, not the first game. We got to really focus on today first.”

On what he means by “finish” and if that a part of the havoc-rate...

“Yeah, it’s really a combination of everything. You know, football is such a unique sport and a standpoint in that you can win 90% of the play, and if the last 10% of the play the wide receiver catches the ball—you didn’t do your part. If you don’t get to the quarterback, you might have a great pass-rush move, but if you don’t finish on the quarterback—it doesn’t matter. If you cover somebody perfectly or fit a gap perfectly, but you don’t make the tackle or get the ball out—it doesn’t matter. So, the key to us is we are finishing 100% of the play, and even if we are behind in the first 80%, how we finish that play can be a key to success.”

On if the offseason analysis pinpointed areas that were weak-points last year...

“I don’t know about weak-link, but I think something that Coach Smart’s done for a very long time, and what we have done for a very long time is go back and say, ‘What can we do better?’ And that is something that I think we all wanted to focus on when we do our self-scout and analyze ourself.”

On what he thinks Coach Smart has learned from him during his time coaching at Georgia...

“I have no clue. I have learned a lot from Coach Smart. I know we have a lot of fun on our side of the ball. I love coaching with the guys that we coach with. I know Coach Smart really enjoys coaching with our staff and our players. This is a really fun group of players to coach. So, I think we have a great time. We work really hard and push our guys to excel, but I’ve learned a whole more from Coach Smart than he’s learned from me. I can promise you that.”

On what challenges he has seen defending Todd Monken’s style of offense...

“Yeah, absolutely. One think I think that’s unique about Todd Monken—I’m not going to tell you what plays we’re running, right? But what’s really fun is he’s the definition of a coach that’s—he obviously has a lot of experience, knows exactly what he wants from his product. He is very demanding of his guys and what right execution looks like, but he is also very adaptable to change. The game has changed over the years, and I think you see a lot of pieces of that in his offensive game plan.”

On what dynamic he has seen with the peer-intervention method they are using to keep everyone on track with social-distancing and mask-wearing...

“I think there is a realization with our guys, and what’s required for us to be able to play like we want to play this year, and our guys have really bought into that. Every meeting we are giving reminders. We’re being very diligent and transparent as a program, and the safety precautions we’re taking for our guys. They have embraced that because ultimately we all have the same goal and what we want to achieve.”

On how the team is adapting to new safety measures...

“I think our guys have taken it very serious from the beginning. I think a lot of credit goes to Ron Courson and our medical staff really educating them from day one. So, I think everybody is taking it serious, and they’re trying to fall in line. Our strength staff has done a great job of protecting our guys. So, I think our guys have done a good job there.”

On having to do more cross training…

“The way we practice gives a lot of guys opportunities. We get a ton of reps in for our guys at practice, so I think those opportunities have been created through the way we structured it. We’ve always had, whether it be two spot drills, how we’re practicing with our players, guys getting a lot of reps. It’s definitely challenged our guys, but we’ve handled it really well.”

On Tyrique Stevenson and Eric Stokes…

“I think Eric Stokes and Tyrique Stevenson have both done a good job. Tyrique is not the only person who gets multiple positions, we work with almost all of our guys when we cross train. There is going to be change, this is where the mental agility is going to come in. We have to be prepared to work in several different spots.”

On Richard LeCounte and his development over his career…

“Richard LeCounte is a player that plays with instincts and that shows up. What he has learned over the years is to play with those same instincts within the framework of our defense and our system. I think every single one of our players still needs to be coached, but Richard’s production, a lot of it comes from those instincts. He’s done a good job of honing that in to fit the system where he’s able to make plays. That’s what we’ve focused on with him and he’s done a really good job with that.”

On what part of the LSU offense people may try to “copycat” off of, and how they’re going to prepare for it…

“That was a big study piece for us this offseason. I think we’re going to see more and more of that in our league, the SEC has always been on the front end of development when it comes to the game. I think there’s a lot of pieces that are going to be carried over, we’re going to see a lot of ‘copycat’ plays and we have put a lot of focus on how we defend that the best moving forward.”

On younger guys who are showing leadership on the team…

“It’s been three days of practice, but ultimately we have a really mature group of young guys who are eager. I think the mental prep, while it was unique this year, the walkthroughs, the additional zoom meetings, all of that created an opportunity for them to come in and be able to compete. I wouldn’t pick out a guy in particular, but we have a really solid defensive group of young quality players that can come in and contribute.”

On adjustments they are making for an SEC only schedule…

“Ultimately that is what’s unique and special about the SEC, you’re going to play a real team. With that being said, every game we go into we prepare as if we have to utilize our best players, we have to have our best plan to execute regardless of the opponent. That’s one thing Coach Smart has done a great job of, so it really doesn’t matter who we play. So the preparation required is the same, the one key we all know is that we have to be ready quick. We’ve got to be ready to play this first game and it starts at the very beginning. We have a lot of adjustments we’ve made throughout the program this year, just because the uniqueness of the pandemic.”

On who’s the one guy on defense you don’t want to get in the MMA cage with…

“That’s a great question, I’m trying to think of who I don’t want to fight on defense. I think I’d fight just about any of these guys. But we’ve got a good group, we have a bunch of dogs. A comment that was made last year was the ‘no name’ defense and might have been taken the wrong way. A lot of times when I say that, I mean we have a lot of unselfish players. A lot of guys want the ball in their hands at the end of the game, they want to be on the field on fourth down. There’s a lot of guys on our defense I would go to war with right now, I don’t know if I would pick one alpha dog, but we’ve got a really good group of guys.”

On Jordan Davis…

“I have really high expectations for Jordan Davis. He has worked really hard, Tray Scott and Coach Williams have done a great job with his development. I think Jordan is really hungry and there’s just not a lot of people born in this world that look like him. So when you look like him, there’s an expectation and I expect him to really achieve the highest level this year, have a phenomenal season and to really help our team and our defense.

On Richard LeCounte and how he has grown at Georgia…

“In the past you had a guy like J.R. Reid that Richard LeCounte felt very comfortable in the back end with, and now you look and J.R. isn’t out there. Richard has really embraced the opportunity to learn more, communicate more, be more vocal on the defense and that’s certainly what we’re looking for from him this year.

On what he saw in MJ Sherman, why he was a top recruit and what he expects from him…

“MJ Sherman is a tremendous person, he’s got a great mindset, he’s hungry, comes from a really good family, works really hard and he’s conscientious. He’s got all of those things and then he’s got strength, power and agility which we think can be a good asset for him moving forward. I’m excited about his development and to see what he can do.”

On the three Tennessee defensive linemen and Jalen Carter…

“Yeah, absolutely, the Tennessee crew, you know their development, it's always fun to see year one year two, and when I when I give Coach Tray Scott credit, you know he's done a good job with their development from a standpoint of technique it’s a lot cleaner. We actually did a player development piece yesterday in our defensive meeting where we're kind of highlighting where guys have improved, and we're able to show some film of time and early in practice and how he's doing something wrong, something fixed and adjusted and then really a perfect rep in a team run setting. So, it’s fun seeing those guys come along. Jalen Carter, has play to learn, but he's very strong, he's an explosive athlete. We definitely think he can make an impact for us. It's good to see his technique continuing to get better day in and day out. He definitely makes the guys across the ball better.”

On how Lewis Cine’s experience last season will translate to this season…

“Yeah, ultimately, one of our goals on defense is to play the game as many times as we can before you actually play a game, whether that be through a walkthrough rep, a practice rep, whatever it is. I think Lewis did a phenomenal job of taking all those reps leading into last year, and then when he hit the field, he was ready for his opportunity and did a great job with it. So, I think you can't put a value on game reps because that's completely different, but I think, you know, Lewis is a guy that comes up in studies, he does extra, and I think that's paid off for him in creating opportunities for him moving forward.”

On when he first felt comfortable in his role at Georgia…

“I don't I don't remember one particular moment. I just know that people coach their entire career dreaming to coach in a place like Georgia, and that was certainly the case for me. So, getting the opportunity just to be here with the staff that we have, and the players that we have is just really unique. I certainly don't take that for granted.”

On what it’s been like having more time to spend with his family…

“It's a blessing and a curse at the same time we, the amount of time that we were at home, rather than on the road recruiting or some of the other things that you'll do within coaching has been really rewarding from a family standpoint. You know, my wife and kids they make it work for me, and it's, it's great getting to spend a lot of quality time with them. This summer, I know my wife was ready for school to start. Our boys are all back in school and excited for that and they are not, for what it's worth, virtual learning this fall, she was ready to send them back and we're ready to roll. But yeah it's been great.”

On what it’s been like on zoom meetings over the offseason…

“I'll say this, we figured out how to mute and unmute our zooms a lot quicker than you guys (the media). No offense, but we had that the zoom meetings, they never stopped, and it was a lot of fun as a staff to be able to connect with somebody that might be on the other side of the world, whether it be the San Diego Chargers or a high school coach in Florida. We spent a lot of time, you know, and I think the key to all this is when you have more time you want to make sure that you're careful not to do too much, because ultimately it still comes down to tackling, block destruction and finishing on plays. It was definitely very rewarding from a development standpoint as a staff for us to get with some other people.”

On the mental standpoint of where the players are…

“Our mental prep, you know, that we've been able to create through either walk through zoom meetings is actually far further along probably than our physical prep, as far as the technique that's required to execute something properly. Getting more of those practice reps is going to be really valuable, but the mental prep is definitely probably ahead of the curve.”

On what he wants to see from second year players Nolan Smith and Trayvon Walker…

“You know, I just want to see them maximize the opportunities they get on the field. Both of them are dynamic players. Both of them are very explosive and do a great job there. I think they create issues for the offense with their suddenness, but probably more importantly they finish. Those guys run to the ball. They finish twice, they work really hard on their craft. So just seeing them expand their role as they move forward, I’m excited to see what they do.”

On how much of LSU’s offense last year was player versus execution in the SEC Championship game…

“You know, obviously they have phenomenal players and you don't want to discredit you know anything they did as a team last year they did a really good job. I think there's elements of both. Ultimately, we didn't finish on plays. We were in the right place at times and didn't capitalize. On the same note they do a lot of unique things with empty. You see more empty in our league now than you ever have before. You see a lot of things from motion standpoint, shifts that they create and it was unique to face but moving forward I don't know how much of that we'll see but I know we'll be more prepared for it.”

On what block destruction means…

“Now a lot of people call it block protection, and I just don't think that's a defensive term, you know block destruction we destroy blocks. That's kind of our mindset on defense here at Georgia. So that's why we focus on that.”

On what NFL teams the staff spoke with during the offseason…

“I mean I don't know we talked to a lot of teams. When you think about it, when it was locked down the amount of time, and there was a lot of it. I couldn't tell you one team, and the fact that I might speak to one, and Coach Glenn Schumann might speak to another group, and Coach Charlton Warren and Coach Kirby Smart. So, we spoke with several teams. I wouldn't pick one out specifically.”

On Jalen Kimber…

“Jalen has done a really good job you know, from an agility standpoint. He's still got a build some bulk and get in the weight room and work hard, but he is conscientious, he's really pays attention to detail. In fact, he's also on that list of guys we talked about player improvement he did something wrong early in camp, we identified it, Coach Warren worked on it in drills. Then the next day he makes a phenomenal play by executing the proper technique. So, I’m excited to see what he does moving forward.”

On how his relationship with Coach Schumann has evolved during the offseason…

“Glenn and I've been close, you know really since 2015 when we both work together at Alabama, and he's a guy I really lean on a lot with everything we do. He’s really critical to our organization, as well as the rest of our defensive coaches, but I'm very fortunate to get to coach with Glenn, as well as Coach Charlton Warren, Coach Tray Scott and our crew. We mend really well together, we know each other well just because the amount of time. We have some familiarity. Keeping that group together on our side of the ball was really big for us.”

On Warren Brinson…

“You know, the biggest thing that I was looking for early in Warren was effort, and he has done a really good job. The other day we're able to point out in practice him finishing twice. The balls thrown down the field and he's hauling butt from the line of scrimmage to finish and get in position to make a play on a wide receiver down the field. His technique still has some cleaning up to do, we'd love to see him strike with those hands and continue to develop them from a target standpoint, but he is definitely working hard to do that.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Georgia Football Ticket Allocation For 2020

The University of Georgia 2020 football ticket plan, which reflects a Sanford Stadium capacity of 20-25%, was announced Wednesday by the UGA Athletic Association in documents sent to season ticket holders.

Key points in the documents include:

  • Top priority is maintaining safe and healthy campus atmosphere.
  • Provide as many season ticket holders as possible the opportunity to attend, at minimum, one of the four home games.
  • Specifics of the ticket distribution plan.
  • Donors who have to opt out for this year, will not be penalized and will keep their seat location for 2021.
  • Away game tickets will not be available except for the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville.
Following is detailed information on the ticketing plan as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions in the FAQ link.

2020 UGA Football Modified Ticket Allocation Process

The 2020 football season has been altered to a 10-game conference-only schedule including 4 home games vs Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt operating at a reduced capacity for each game. As a result, we are offering single game tickets to provide as many opportunities to current Hartman Fund donors who are season ticket holders, the ability to enjoy Georgia Football home games this fall.

Should you decide to not attend games this fall, your status as a season ticket holder will remain unchanged, and there will be an opportunity for refunds on previously paid Hartman Fund contributions, season tickets, and/or seatback purchases. You will be eligible to renew your previously established season ticket locations for the 2021 season regardless of your ticket buying decision for the modified 2020 season.

Single tickets will cost $150/ticket per-game. This includes a $75 ticket price and a $75 contribution requirement. These costs will be deducted from any previously paid 2020 football season ticket payments and Hartman Fund contributions. All tickets allocated will include a seatback on each seat to help facilitate social distancing and enhance the experience for all attendees. All tickets will be delivered via mobile delivery. Ticket holders will be required to download their ticket(s) onto their smartphone for scanned entry on gameday. Masks will be required to be worn when entering Sanford Stadium and while moving throughout the concourse.

The number of games in which you are eligible to qualify for will be based on your 2020 Hartman Fund annual giving level and/or involvement in the Magill Society. All donors who opt-in will be prompted to fill out an application to request a 4-ticket block to each and every game they would want to attend. In order to maximize capacity, the socially distanced model only allots for blocks of 4 seats. All 4 seats must be purchased by the same account. 

Upon completion of the individual game ticket application process, the UGA Ticket Office will be allocating tickets to each individual game based on cumulative TGBC priority points and availability. Ticket allocations for the 2020 modified football season will differ from one's existing seat location, and are subject to change on a game-by-game basis based on demand, priority and availability. Seat allocations will be socially distanced throughout Sanford Stadium in the 100, 200, 300 and 600 levels. Requesting tickets does not guarantee assignment.

UGAAA will provide refund opportunities for 2020 Hartman Fund contributions, football season tickets and/or seatback costs before the end of the calendar year. You will have the ability to convert any of these balances to a charitable contribution benefiting the COVID-19 UGA Athletics Fund. In return, you will receive triple priority points (3 priority points per $1 converted) and a gift receipt for tax filing purposes. Any refunded Hartman Fund contributions will be deducted from your cumulative TGBC priority point total.

Season ticket payments and/or Hartman Fund contributions are not eligible to be rolled over to the 2021 season. For more information about the modified season and ticket request process, visit our FAQ page here.

We ask that you please indicate your intentions for the 2020 Georgia Football home season below no later than Wednesday, August 26th, 2020 @ 5pm. Those who opt-in will be prompted to login to your online account to submit your individual game ticket requests, whereas those who wish to opt-out will be directed to an online form to indicate how you’d like to handle your previously paid season ticket payments, Hartman Fund contributions, and/or seatback purchases.

If a response is not received by August 26th you will automatically be opted-out of the single game ticket request process, and contacted at a later date about your account balance. Should you have any questions or need assistance completing your request, please call (706) 542-1231 or email

Tuesday's Comments From Players

Azeez Ojulari, Redshirt Sophomore, Outside Linebacker

On who has taken the responsibility of keeping the team accountable to properly social distance…

“Yeah, definitely the leadership group has been preaching to the team to make sure they are wearing their mask at all times, in the building and everywhere you go—just keep that mask on for your protection—not just for you but the people around you. So, it’s been a big deal around here.”

On having the opportunity to have a more SEC opponents this season with the 10-game, conference only play…

“The SEC is a competition every week, definitely. That will be great for us—going to battle every week no matter what team it is. It is going to be a battle for sure. We have to bring our ‘A’ game every week.”

On what people should expect from a Todd Monken-style offense...

“Man, that offense is going to be good, man! We should come here working hard every day—we are following the coaches’ lead and doing whatever the coaches want us to do. So, they are going to go out there and execute and do what they have to do.”

Nakobe Dean, Sophomore, Linebacker

On how good it feels to go into fall camp this season at 100% after suffering an ankle sprain going into last season’s…

“It feels great. I’m definitely way further ahead. After going through last season, getting a whole year behind me, I think I have really learned the playbook and everything like that. It’s a great feeling."

On his thoughts about the order of opponents Georgia will face this season/whether that changes how Georgia prepares...

“I’m grateful to be playing all the teams we are playing, but our focus is on us right now. No matter what the order of the games are, we’re going to prepare the same each week. As a team, we will practice hard. That’s what we do.”

On his responsibilities as inside linebacker and whether he feels comfortable taking those on/being the guy who calls the defense…

“I for sure feel comfortable— you've got to be comfortable. If you’re not and can’t be, [the coaches] will find someone who can. You have to be comfortable in telling everybody what to do. You’ve got to be able to be there vocally on defense.”

On the students returning to campus/if he has any anxiety about that and the effects others could have on the season regarding COVID-19 concerns…

“There are definitely concerns, just like there have been with everyone else returning to campus. I just want to challenge the student body and challenge my peers to wear their face mask, just like we all will be wearing ours in class and everything like that.”

Sunday, August 16, 2020

SEC To Announce Football Schedule

The Southeastern Conference will announce its 2020 football schedule on Monday at 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT on a special show on the SEC Network.

SEC Now: Football Schedule Release Show Presented by Regions will air live on SEC Network at 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT on Monday. Hosted by Dari Nowkhah with analysis by Greg McElroy, Roman Harper, Laura Rutledge, Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis and more, the show will break down the 2020 SEC football schedule in its entirety. Week 1 of the 2020 SEC football schedule will be revealed at 3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT on The Paul Finebaum Show.

Last month, the SEC established September 26 as the new kickoff for its 2020 football season to allow its universities to focus on the healthy return of their campus communities and the gradual re-introduction of athletics, as the 14 members of the SEC continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19.

The 2020 SEC football season will be comprised of a 10-game Conference-only schedule and the SEC Football Championship Game is scheduled to be played December 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, rescheduled from the original date of December 5. The schedule will include one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools.

The decision to limit competition to Conference-only opponents and rescheduling the SEC Championship Game is based on the need for maximum flexibility in making any necessary scheduling adjustments while reacting to developments around the pandemic and continued advice from medical professionals.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

College Football Playoff Selection Committee Prepares for 2020-21 Season

The College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Committee met virtually this week in preparation for the upcoming season.

“We don’t know right now what the season will bring, but as a committee, we are ready to use the protocol and the expertise of the 13 people who have been charged with selecting the teams,” said Gary Barta, Athletics Director at the University of Iowa who is beginning his first year as committee chair.

“The committee’s task is to rank the teams based on what happens on the field. This week gave us a great chance to catch up with the familiar faces and welcome our three new members to the process. If the board and management committee say we are having a CFP, we will be ready.”

The selection committee reviewed its weekly ranking announcements, went over its protocol and finalized its list of members who will be recused from voting or discussions regarding selected teams.

“This was the time when we normally review all aspects of the committee’s operation,” Barta said. “We accomplished a great deal even though we met by video conference. We will have another opportunity to review the procedures—particularly with the three new committee members—this fall.”

The final selection committee rankings of the 2020 season will be released on selection day, Sunday, December 20. The committee will also announce the matchups for the Playoff Semifinals at the Rose Bowl Game and Allstate Sugar Bowl, as well as the other New Year’s Six bowl pairings.

The selection committee recusal policy remains consistent with the first six years of the College Football Playoff, stating that “a recused member shall not participate in any votes involving the team from which the individual is recused.

“A recused member is permitted to answer only factual questions about the institution from which the member is recused but shall not be present during any deliberations regarding that team’s selection or seeding. Recused members shall not participate in discussions regarding the placement of the recused team into a bowl game.

“If a committee member or an immediate family member, e.g., spouse, sibling or child, (a) is compensated by a school, (b) provides professional services for a school, or (c) is on the coaching staff or administrative staff at a school or is a football student-athlete at a school, that member will be recused. Such compensation shall include not only direct employment, but also current paid consulting arrangements, deferred compensation (e.g., contract payments continuing after employment has ended, or other benefits. The committee will have the option to add other recusals if special circumstances arise.”

Recusals for the 2020-21 football season are as follows:

Team                                             Selection Committee Member

Arizona State*                               Paola Boivin and R.C. Slocum

Arkansas State                              Terry Mohajir

Colorado*                                      Rick George

Florida                                           Scott Stricklin

Georgia Tech                                  Todd Stansbury

Iowa*                                            Gary Barta

North Carolina State                       Ray Odierno

Oklahoma                                      Joe Castiglione

Texas A&M                                     R.C. Slocum

Wyoming*                                     Tom Burman

*Teams whose conferences have announced that they will not be playing football this fall.

Each member of the Selection Committee is traditionally slated to serve a three-year term. CFP executive director Bill Hancock announced that one additional year has been added to the term of Paola Boivin’s service. Boivin was originally scheduled to rotate off the committee following the 2021 championship. She will now remain a committee member through the 2022 championship.

Terms for the CFP Selection Committee members are now as follows:

Terms Expire February 2021 

Joe Castiglione 

Ken Hatfield 

Ronnie Lott 

Todd Stansbury 

Scott Stricklin

Terms Expire February 2022

Gary Barta

Paola Boivin

Terry Mohajir

Ray Odierno

R.C. Slocum 

Terms Expire February 2023

Tom Burman 

Rick George 

John Urschel 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Statement Today From SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey

I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take these actions today. I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes. We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day.

Friday, August 7, 2020

SEC Schedule Information Released

Dawgs will travel to Arkansas to face Sam Pittman and the Hogs, Mississippi State will come to Athens to round out the 10 game SEC schedule just released by the conference.

The other two teams in the west will be Alabama and Auburn.

The east games will be as normal with Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Missouri.

Game dates will be announced later.


The Southeastern Conference has announced its initial COVID-19 management requirements for the fall athletics season as recommended by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

The Task Force has been meeting frequently since April to review and discuss information associated with the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on developing policies and protocols to guide membership decisions related to the healthy return of athletics activities, including team gatherings, practices, conditioning and competition, for SEC student-athletes and others associated with SEC athletics programs.

“Our Medical Task Force is producing an effective strategy for testing and monitoring, which complements the vigilant day-to-day efforts of our campuses to establish and maintain healthy environments in which our student-athletes can train and compete,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “Our health experts have guided us though each stage of preparation for the safe return of activity and, together with the medical staffs embedded within our athletics programs, we will continue to monitor developments around the virus and evolve our plan to meet the health needs of our student-athletes.”

The Task Force’s initial requirements for fall SEC sports include testing requirements, procedures for infections and contact tracing, and protocols for quarantine and isolation. Similar requirements will be developed for other SEC sports before their competition seasons begin.

Due to the constantly changing realities around the pandemic, the requirements and testing strategies developed by the Task Force will continue to be reviewed and updated as new information becomes available. The requirements are being developed as minimum standards for SEC programs to enact and serve to build on recommendations of the Autonomy 5 Medical Advisory Group and the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines. The SEC anticipates an additional pre-season report from the SEC’s Task Force by August 31.


The SEC will coordinate centralized testing through a third-party provider to ensure consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the current standard testing method for the COVID-19 virus. Alternative testing methods may be considered if sufficient data develops to support those methods.

In the sport of football, student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least twice weekly during competition, typically six days and three days prior to competition. The Task Force recommends exploring alternative testing methods that will accommodate a third test, in addition to the two required PCR tests, that will provide for the reliability and rapid response necessary for diagnostic testing in a timeframe closer to competition.

In the sports of volleyball and soccer, student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least twice weekly during competition, with one to occur three days prior to the first competition of the week. The Task Force recommends exploring alternative testing methods that will accommodate a third test, in addition to the two required PCR tests, that will provide for the reliability and rapid response necessary for diagnostic testing in a timeframe closer to the first competition of the week.

In the sport of cross country, student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least once per week during competition, with that test to occur three days prior to each competition.


In football, volleyball and soccer, all coaches, staff and non-competing personnel will be required to wear face coverings on the sideline and physical distancing will be employed to the extent possible.

In cross country, competing student-athletes are required to wear a face covering at the starting line, which may be removed when proper distancing has been achieved. Coaches and staff associated with cross country competition are expected to utilize social distancing to the extent possible and will be required to wear a face covering during pre- and post-competition.


Each institution is required to designate a COVID-19 Protocol Oversight Officer who will be responsible for education and ensuring compliance with the SEC’s COVID-19 management requirements.

The SEC announced in July that student-athletes in all sports who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.

The full SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Requirements for COVID-19 Management of Fall Sports can be found at

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


The College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee will release its final rankings of the 2020-21 season Sunday, December 20, executive director Bill Hancock announced. The top four teams will participate in the Playoff Semifinals Friday, January 1, in the Rose Bowl Game and Sugar Bowl. The national championship game will be played Monday, January 11, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The final rankings were originally scheduled to be released Sunday, December 6. The CFP Management Committee made the change as a result of several conferences having moved their championship games to December 12, 18 or 19.

The committee’s final meeting of the season will be December 18-19-20 in Grapevine, Texas. The CFP will announce the full schedule of this fall’s selection committee meetings at a later date.

“With recent schedule changes for the regular season, it makes sense for the committee to make its final rankings after the conference championship games, when it can get a complete picture of the season,” Hancock said. “The selection committee members understand the need to be flexible as we all navigate uncharted waters this season, and this move will allow them to evaluate all the available information.”

The Management Committee also shortened the post-season travel time for teams. The two teams participating in the CFP National Championship will arrive in Miami on Saturday afternoon, January 9, 2021 instead of the usual Friday evening arrival. With this change, media day, typically held on Saturday morning in the host city, will not take place this year. Details on virtual media availabilities will be announced at a later date. The Rose Bowl Game, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl and Peach Bowl will follow a similar three-day schedule.

“In this unprecedented time, the Management Committee believes it is in the best interest for the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and staffs to complete their game-week preparation on campus, under the familiar protocols they will have used all season,” said Hancock. “This is an unfortunate consequence of the pandemic, but it is the right thing to do.”

For additional information on the selection committee and its weekly rankings, and to view the selection committee protocol in its entirety, please visit

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

SEC Announces New Fall Pre-Season Football Practice Schedule

The Southeastern Conference today announced adjusted dates for preseason football activities for SEC schools with the first allowable practice now scheduled for August 17th. The new SEC calendar provides student-athletes with more days off than required by the NCAA and fewer practices than permitted by current NCAA rules.

The new preseason calendar was developed based on recommendations of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

Last week the SEC announced its intention to begin the 2020 season on September 26th as it continues to monitor developments around COVID-19. The original start date of September 5 would have allowed for preseason football practice to begin August 7th.

In the revised SEC preseason football calendar, from August 7-16 schools are permitted to conduct up to 14 hours per week of strength and conditioning, meetings and walkthroughs.

Beginning August 17th and until the opening game, schools are allowed 25 practices with a limit of 20 hours per week of practice time. A five-day acclimatization period is required, with two days in helmets only, two days in shells and the fifth day in full pads.

Schools will be required to provide student-athletes a minimum of two days off each week until the week before the first game of the season.