Monday, November 30, 2020

Monday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …

“I will open with this is our Senior Day, our seniors’ last home game. They have done a tremendous job for our program, and I am excited to see these guys. I would love to see their families, but we do not get to do the traditional Senior Day routine. We will get to bring the players out. Hopefully our fan base will turn out and be there the right way to support these guys because I know it will mean a lot to these guys for our last home game.

“Moving on to Vandy. It was unfortunate to get the news about Derek Mason yesterday. He has become a good friend — a guy that I have a lot of respect for in this profession. The job he’s always done with units while he was at Stanford, and they have always played so hard at Vandy. I have gotten to know him in the offseason and have taken a trip together with some other coaches with he and his wife. I have a lot of respect for Derek, and I know the future will be bright for him. He will have a lot of opportunities moving forward because he is a really good football coach.”

On if he feels validated how well the hiring of Coach Scott Cochran has worked out …

“The job he has done has been tremendous. I think the greatest impact he has on our organization is not through special teams, and I knew that when I wanted to hire him. The greatest impact he has is on the young men that are in the organization in terms of daily impact, life skills, support. During the COVID time, the 2020 time, which is very different — I think it has been an exponentially even better hire because he is tremendous at his relationships with the players. He’s played a large part in our leadership group, which has been a tremendous help to me in terms of being able to spend time with those guys and talk to guys. The special teams skill set is almost like he’s developing in that area, so his energy and his passion is there. He’s always liked to do it, but I didn’t think I was getting a finished product that was going to know everything about special teams. He’s going to grow — he has grown. He’s gone and met and learned and educated himself and has coaches all over our staff who have coached it. He’s done a fantastic job putting the pieces in place to be successful in the units. Now, fortunately, we have a really good punter, a good kicker — and we put our best players out there who help us be good statistically. But, we are not where we need to be. The big emphasis last week was ‘hey, punt return is lagging behind.’ We cranked it up on punt return and did a better job.”

On if any seniors have indicated they are coming back and the transfer of D’Wan Mathis …

“Yeah — we are excited about the Senior Day and just really a big week for them because it’s their last chance to have a home game. As far as those conversations, we don’t really have a lot of those conversations as far as the return. They’ve got the opportunity to do that. Each kid is in a different scenario. Some Senior Bowl invite, some an opportunity to grow and get better, some an opportunity to graduate. So, we do not really get into it right now. We are concerned with Vanderbilt, and we will worry about that when the regular season ends.

“As far as D’Wan goes, like I said the other night, he has handled everything first class. Every conversation he’s had with me has been the right way. He did not want to be a distraction for the team, and he was very hurt and disappointed that things came out before the game. That bothered him because he did not want to be a distraction for the team. He wanted to handle it the right way, and he wanted it to come out today when he entered the portal and that is exactly what he asked and that is what we did. I am excited to see his future. He’s going to be a really good football player. We want him to stay here — there’s no doubt we want him to stay here. We have encouraged him to stay here. But I also respect that is his decision, and we are going to help him every way we can with a transition. I think he’s got a bright future.”

On the impact of sports on women, in reference to Sarah Fuller kicking for Vanderbilt…

“I think they have the opportunity to go compete now, more than ever, but it is still not where it should be. When you see a young woman, like Sarah, do what she did Saturday, so many hopes and dreams of many young girls hang on that. I have a daughter that absolutely loves sports and loves basketball because her mom played basketball. And she got that opportunity because of people like Teresa Edwards and all of the people who came out and played basketball for so long and made it okay to compete hard, to sweat, to dive, to be physical, to be aggressive, to be competitors. I think Sarah carries on that tradition- the way she goes about things and what she’s not afraid to do. You know, not worried about what somebody is going to say. If she has a chance to help the team or contribute, then by all means, go do it.”

On coaching etiquette and not running the score up on opponents as opposed to taking a knee to run out the clock…

“I don’t know that that’s a fair assessment. I didn’t watch the Alabama game. I’ve been on the headphones with Coach Saban and I have a lot of respect for him. There is many a times that he has said, ‘hey, that guy on the other sideline is a coach too and he’s worked for me or I know him’ and he has made a decision to take a kneel. But what you’re not going to do is tell your guys to not go out there and compete and get better. We were able to do that. We had a drive there that took however many minutes off the clock. Daijun Edwards got a lot of work. A lot of- five offensive linemen who have hardly got to play this year got to go out and play. There were a couple wideouts that got to go out and play, and tight ends, and freshmen. I look at it as, we weren’t going down the field not trying to score, we were trying to score. At some point the game can be ended by a kneel and you get an opportunity to do that. It doesn’t matter if that was on the minus one or the plus one. When you can take a kneel to end the clock and not have to run another play and then you move on from it. I do think there are times when you have to try to get your team better and get continuity. We did that. We threw the ball to Arian Smith in a situation when we didn’t have to. We want to continue to grow our team and get better.”

On the chance of seeing Richard LeCounte and Jordan Davis this weekend…

“I’m hopeful on both of those guys. I’m hopeful to get them back. There is a chance that Richard can get back. I don’t know how realistic it is for this week but he’s doing more. He’s running now and he’s with us. He’s back into things. There is a chance that he can get out there and play by this week and I’m hopeful that Jordan can as well.”

On what Richard LeCounte has meant to him since he’s been at Georgia…

“I don’t know if I’m correct in saying this, but I think he was the very first commitment that I received upon getting the job. He was for the next season, he was an early commit. He was one of the first ones. I still remember the day that he was an eighth or ninth grader and he visited Alabama with Raekwon McMillan. He came over and I got to meet him then. His personality was so infectious. The whole time I recruited Raekwon, I got to know Richard. That relationship carried over when I got the head job here and he was one of the first to jump on board. He has been so loyal to Georgia in an era when that’s not normal. It’s normal to decommit, move here, decide late. He committed early, he was a great player, he stayed an extra year for his senior year, and he loves the University of Georgia. That makes somebody special and people will remember that for the rest of his life.

On the conversations with underclassmen regarding the NFL Draft…

“We gather information on these guys based on how they play, what’s going on, how big the pool is at their position. We try to be very honest with them, don’t get emotional about it. We’re not recruiting them like people say. That’s a decision that they have to make. What we want is to arm them with information, and I say the same thing every year, ‘We’re going to give you the information to make the best decision possible.’ Ultimately, you have to make the best decision possible. What value do you put on a degree? What value do you put on preparation, because 100 percent, the higher you get drafted, the longer you’re able to stay. So, ultimately, we want these kids to get drafted as high as possible. There’s value in coming back because they cannot develop in that league. There are no practice reps, there is possibly no Combine, there is no coming to OTAs and getting you better. You’re there, and you’re going to be good enough or you’re not. We can still develop players, and every general manager, scout you talk to says, ‘If you’re going to have someone grow and get better, they’re much better doing it in your organization than ours’ because they don’t have the freedom to get them better. We don’t have a lot of those conversations right now. We’ve had a few, but we don’t have those conversations because we want the kids to focus on being student-athletes and finishing out the season.”

On Arian Smith recovering from injury to score on Saturday…

“He’s worked hard. He’s earned the right. He thought all along he would be ready for Florida. We didn’t know if he would be ready for the Florida game, and he got cleared somewhere along that week. But clearing doesn’t make you ready to play. He had not stopped to come out of a break, caught balls—there was a lot of thing he wasn’t able to do. He’s been working really hard. He stays after practice; he gets extra throwing. We don’t have enough depth to get all the guys the work they want because we can only be on the practice field for so long, so he stays extra and gets extra throwing, learning routes, learning the offense. I’m very pleased with his work ethic and his attitude. He’s just like, ‘I want to do anything I can to help the team, Coach. If it’s special teams, then I’ll do it.’ It was great to see him make a play after coming back from injury like that.”

On the importance of the senior class in this season…

“They’ve been the glue. It’s easy for them to opt out. I guess you could say it’s an avenue to get out, but to me, in life, you can’t opt out of that. You’ve got to go out and compete and work and challenge yourself, and that’s what these kids have done. They’ve done it for each other, stuck together. They’ve done a really good job thus far of maintaining social distancing, washing hands, not having major issues in our organization, and I appreciate the guys that have done that and the people that have helped them. The senior class has been the glue of that. They work really hard each day and I think they want to leave a legacy of being the winningest senior class to ever come out of here—that’s a feather they want to stick in their hat. If they want to do that, they’ve got to finish this thing off right.”

On reflections of the 2020 season…

“I don’t know what else to say about it. It’s just day in, day out. Maybe a more specific question because I can’t even…it seems like it’s been a year or two years within the last eight months. There’s been a lot of stuff going on. Our kids have handled it well, with the support of the organization and the support of the kids. I’m really pleased with how hard these guys have worked and continue to work, and the attitude they have when come in each day because it’s not like that everywhere when you talk to people. If you don’t have a great attitude at work when things aren’t going your way or people are opting out, we haven’t had a lot of those issues.”

On the growth of Ben Cleveland…

“Experience. You can’t put a value on experience. That’s what people don’t understand. Everybody wants the freshman O-lineman to be the best, the five-star to come in. But on the offensive line, the number of times he’s seen games and pass-offs and twists, he knows what they’re going to do before they do it. He’s got great size. I think he’s played more physical this year. He’s had a better attitude and commitment to being a good player. I think he went through some spells last year where he would probably admit that he wasn’t at his best. It’s been more meaningful to him this year. He’s played better. He’s been a really good leader for that unit. He’s been a tremendous leader for our team and he’s got a bright future. He’s a guy that didn’t like the information he got last year and he’s going to like the information he gets this year better, in terms of where he is as an NFL prospect.”

On facing his second interim coach this season, and if he sees wrinkles in situations like this...

“No. You don’t have time. There is only so much you can do in a week. I just found out yesterday. The biggest thing you sometimes see is the jump in energy or enthusiasm because you have a new voice, you have somebody new up there. Maybe you reach a kid that wasn’t being reached before, and he plays harder or better because of maybe a better relationship with that coach. But, you’re not going to see a lot of change in scheme. You may see possibly more enthusiasm, but I don’t know that. I don’t know the relationship they have with their offensive coordinator there.”

On if he is surprised about coaching changes during the financial situations for most schools because of COVID-19...

“I don’t have an opinion on that. That is not my field.”

On what he has seen from JT Daniels the first two games he has played and what he is looking for him to improve on...

“Good decision making—that is the most important thing, to continue to make good decisions. If it’s not there, take off and run with it, throw it away—which he did the other day. He threw it away one time. There are going to be times where you don’t have the perfect call, or maybe they got the perfect defense into a call, and hey, you have to punt, you have to throw it away. That’s what I want to see him do and continue to get better at.”

On an update on Mark Webb not seeing action during the South Carolina game...

Mark Webb was just dinged up a little bit, and he could have played. We weren’t going to play him unless we had to or maybe we had some other injuries because we are thin at the defensive back position. We didn’t have to play him, so we didn’t. We think he’ll back this week.”

On a breakdown of Demetris Robertson’s recruiting process...

“In terms of Demetris Robertson, D-Rob, he is another one that I had recruited a long time and had a good relationship with. Coach Glenn Schumann had a good relationship with him from our time at Alabama. He had been over there. We continued that relationship once we got at Georgia—got to know his family really well. He made a decision to go to Cal, and we were very honest and forthright and said, ‘Congratulations, we’re here for you. Keep in touch. Good luck.’ He went out there and decided he wanted to be closer to home. He reached out to us and decided to come back. He’s done nothing but work hard. He’s a kid that probably came in with unrealistic expectations, which I think is so unfair and causes these kids so much undo, unrest. What happens is all the people around them and all the support elements they have, their family, friends, put this pressure on them. D-Rob did nothing to deserve that. All he does is work really hard for us. He’s a good football players and been really helpful and even more recently started to make some more plays. We are hoping he can continue to do that.”

On what he has seen from the Vanderbilt quarterbacks...

“I think both of those quarterbacks are going to be good players. Mike Wright, we looked at last year, late in the recruiting process and thought a lot of him. He went on an unbelievable run and had one of the best closings of senior seasons that I’ve seen a kid have in a long time, in terms of making plays and big games. I thought he was a really good player. They do a good job developing him by giving him a roll, and getting him in the game. I think they do a tremendous job of that. Then the Ken Seals kid has been tremendous too. He’s great with the RPO game—to be in our league and play as a freshman at that position in and of itself is pretty hard to do. Those guys are doing it and doing it well. They may not have as many weapons around them as some of the other freshman quarterbacks do, but they do a great job offensively of keeping people off balance, using tempo—see how they started the game against Florida. They did a really nice job.”

On how much of an impact Daniels had on the run game decision making during the South Carolina game...

“He had some RPOs that he actually threw and some were complete and some weren’t. Some of the looks were advantageous for the RPO, meaning that they had too much in the box. We don’t have to attach RPOs to all of them just like everybody in college football doesn’t. If you are having success running the ball with an extra hat in, you don’t have to call the RPO. You don’t have to throw the RPO because there are bad things that can happen balls batted and things like that, and you could have had five yards on a run. You have to weigh out what your success ratio is on extra people in the box versus throwing the ball. If you give JT the choice every time, he’s going to probably pull it and throw it. But, if you are having success running the ball, you don’t have to do the other. It wasn’t more that they dictated anything, it was more that, hey this is what was working and that’s what we stuck with. We certainly have confidence in JT to be able to throw the ball.”

Demetris Robertson, Senior, Wide Receiver

On whether he will be taking part in Senior Day and whether he is considering taking the extra year of eligibility…

“I am taking part in Senior Day. I don’t know what the future holds. I really want to graduate, and my family wants me to graduate, so we will sit down and see what happens. 2020 has so many things that come with it. You can’t shut any doors. You just have to weigh every opportunity, every possibility.”

On what it has been like to deal with the high expectations and pressure that accompanied his transfer to Georgia…

“Obviously, people have seen what I did at Cal. Every situation is different. These are two totally different systems in how we run the ball. Clemson has a completely different system. Ohio State has a different system. I’m just doing what I have the opportunity to do and what Coach Smart wants me to do.”

Christopher Smith, Junior, Defensive Back 

On Richard LeCounte and Mark Webb...

"It's definitely a special moment for those guys who have put the work and time in, they have left a mark on the program. It will be sad to see them go."

On the biggest challenge he faces...

"The biggest challenge is getting used to playing football again. Some guys don't play games for a very long time and I haven't. Getting back into the swing of things, up to game speed, knowing when to slow it down and make more plays. I've been getting more comfortable out there and it's going to continue."

On if he was surprised about the response he got...

"No, because I haven't been on the scene for a while and I haven't made a name for myself, but it's something I'm trying to do every time I step out on the field."

Travon Walker, Sophomore, Defensive Lineman

On the plan going forward...

"Coach has been talking about competing the whole game from beginning to end. The emphasis for this week is playing a perfect game."

On his defensive senior teammates...

"I want to thank the seniors because they have been a huge help to me. They helped me deal through a lot of the difficulties I had. For them to have the chance to be the most winning class in Georgia history is huge and I want to thank them for being there."

On Jalen Carter making an impact...

"It always takes time for a freshman to come in and get comfortable with the scheme and playbooks. He did that, and it allowed him to play faster and help the team."

Tre' McKitty, Graduate Student, Tightend

His thoughts on the season and how the time has flown by...

"It feels like yesterday I just got here and was training over the summer. It's been a great experience these last few months and I'm happy to be a part of it."

On his first touchdown as a Dawg...

"It felt like a long time coming, but I was excited to finally get one in there. The rest of the game we were running the ball well, so I was happy."

On what keeps Georgia sticking together...

"Guys have their different reasons for opting out, here we're just trying to finish out the year strong. We're not really in control of our destiny as where or who we'll play. As a team we're keeping our heads down, working hard and controlling what we can control to finish the season strong. We're all bought in right now."

On Sarah Fuller...

"I thought it was awesome, it was a huge milestone in college football. To have a female play in a college football game it created a lot of buzz and I think it's for the better."

Fagan Named SEC Player Of The Week

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia’s Tye Fagan was named the SEC Player of the Week on Monday by the league office in Birmingham, Alabama, a day after the best outing of his collegiate career against Florida A&M.

Fagan, a 6-3, 195-pound junior from Logtown, Georgia, posted career-high tallies of 21 points and 10 rebounds en route to his first career double-double. He connected on 9-of-10 shots from the field against the Rattlers and played a major role in creating distance on the scoreboard. Fagan scored eight points in a span of 76 seconds as Georgia pushed a two-point lead (49-47) to double figures (59-49).

“I don’t take credit for that,” Fagan said when asked about his performance after the game. “A lot of that has to do with Sahvir Wheeler. He is a great ball-handler, and he finds guys. I’m pretty sure he had 12 assists, so that is what I mean how he found guys. I give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches to put me in the right places.”

Interestingly, Wheeler also had his first career double-double on Sunday, with 12 points and 12 assists.

Fagan’s performance topped his previous highs of 15 points and six rebounds. For his career, Fagan has now recorded four double-digit scoring outputs. In those four games, he has connected on an almost unfathomable 83.9 percent (26-of-31) of his field goal attempts.

Fagan is the 28th different Dawg to be named SEC Player of the Week since the award’s inception in 1985. Those players have combined to earn 38 SEC Player of the Week certificates.

Georgia will host two games at Stegeman Coliseum this week. The Dawgs will face North Georgia on Wednesday night and Jacksonville on Friday evening. Both games will tipoff at 7:00. Both games will be available online on SEC Network +, while Friday’s also will air on the SEC Network.

Georgia AD Greg McGarity Announces Retirement

University of Georgia J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity will retire on December 31, 2020, following 10 years of service as the UGA Athletic Association’s top administrator.

“First and foremost, on behalf of the entire Dawg Nation, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Greg for his outstanding service to the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “While I had hoped Greg would continue to serve as our Athletic Director for a few more years, I understand and appreciate his and Sheryl’s decision to begin a new chapter in their lives. Greg will leave behind a strong legacy of leadership and devotion to his alma mater, having further elevated our athletic program on the national stage. I have particularly appreciated the extraordinary leadership Greg has provided during the pandemic. His calm and steady voice will be missed here and in SEC meetings.”

McGarity was a letterman on the 1973 Dawg tennis team and began his career in athletics administration at UGA in 1977. He rose through the ranks to become Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Event Management in 1988. In 1992, McGarity joined the University of Florida, where he held several senior leadership roles in athletics before returning to UGA in 2010 as Athletic Director.

“I want to thank President Morehead for all of his support and guidance over the years,” said McGarity. “I step down knowing that our Athletic Association is in great hands under his strong leadership. To our coaches, athletic staff, and student-athletes—you have made the last decade the very best of my career, and I thank you for your dedication to excellence in athletics. You are the heart and soul of our program, and it has truly been an honor to serve alongside you as athletic director. Finally, my thanks to our alumni, donors, and fans for your unyielding support of Georgia athletics. There is no better fan base in college sports than the Dawg Nation.”

Under McGarity’s tenure, the visibility and operations of UGA’s 21-sport athletic program have grown significantly. The annual budget of the Athletic Association has increased from $89 million in 2010 to $153 million today, and McGarity has overseen more than $200 million in facility improvements.

“Greg McGarity is one the most respected athletic directors in the Southeastern Conference,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, “and I have relied on him regularly for advice and counsel over the years. I wish Greg and Sheryl the very best on this exciting next step. Given President Morehead’s leadership roles and deep engagement in the SEC and NCAA, I am confident he will select a highly-qualified successor to lead UGA’s athletic program forward.”

Morehead serves as Vice President of the SEC and is a member of the NCAA Board of Governors and the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

Morehead has named Josh Brooks, currently serving as Senior Deputy Director of Athletics, as the Interim Director of Athletics, effective January 1. Morehead also has tapped Darrice Griffin, currently serving as a Deputy Director of Athletics, to serve as the Interim Senior Deputy Director of Athletics, effective January 1. “I have great confidence in the abilities and skills of Josh and Darrice to provide effective leadership for our athletic program while this search process is underway,” Morehead stated. “Both individuals are highly respected within the Georgia Athletic Association and throughout intercollegiate athletics.”

Morehead has appointed an advisory committee to assist him in identifying UGA’s next athletic director. Kessel Stelling, who serves as Chairman and CEO of Synovus and a member of both the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents and the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors, will chair the committee. 

Other committee members include:
  • Paige Carmichael, Meigs Professor of Veterinary Pathology and member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors;
  • Darrice Griffin, UGA Athletic Association Deputy Athletic Director for Administration;
  • Mack Guest, Co-founder and President of LAD Truck Lines, President of the UGA Football Lettermen’s Club, and Emeritus Member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors;
  • Sam Holmes, Vice Chairman of CBRE, Inc., member of the USG Board of Regents, and former Chairman of both the UGA Foundation and the UGA Real Estate Foundation;
  • Kearis Jackson, UGA football student-athlete and member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors;
  • Steve Jones, United States District Court Judge, member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors, a UGA Foundation Trustee, and former President of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors;
  • Swann Seiler, Manager of External Affairs, Southeast Region, at Georgia Power, Emeritus Trustee of the UGA Foundation, Emeritus Member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors, and former President of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors;
  • David Shipley, Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Law, Faculty Athletics Representative and Secretary of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors, and Chair of the Executive Committee of University Council;
  • Bonney Shuman, Co-founder and retired CEO of Stratix Corporation, UGA Foundation Treasurer, former member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors, and former President of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors; and
  • Bill Young, Partner at General Wholesale Company, member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors, and former Chairman of the UGA Foundation.
“We have some highly qualified administrators at UGA who are ready and able to take on this role,” said Morehead, “and the advisory committee knows that to be true. However, the committee also will be free to consider sitting athletic directors at other major universities who have significant experience managing college athletic programs. I have asked the committee to move with deliberate speed to ensure a successor is in place and ready to lead in the near future.”

Morehead noted that the role of the athletic director at a major university has evolved substantially in recent years: “Hiring outstanding coaches—while important—is just one part of the role today,” Morehead said. “In this day and age, an AD at a place like UGA must be able to negotiate media rights and complex contracts; raise private support; finance and lead major capital projects; promote the health, wellness, and academic success of our student-athletes; and work closely with the NCAA and SEC on a variety of difficult issues, such as name, image, and likeness. These responsibilities require someone with a broad skill set and background to effectively partner with me in continuing to advance our athletic program.”

McGarity’s Career Achievements

McGarity reflected on his long career in athletics administration: “What a life in college athletics it has been,” McGarity said. “It has been a magical journey that borders on the unimaginable. But after this 43-year ride, it is time for Sheryl and me to move forward into the future. We are forever grateful to have been surrounded by so many wonderful people during our 25 years at Georgia and our 18 years at Florida. Life is full of chapters, and I feel like this chapter is complete.”

During his time as Athletic Director at UGA, McGarity has led numerous facility expansion and renovation projects—ranging from the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility and the Sanford Stadium West End Zone project to major renovations at Foley Field, Stegeman Coliseum, Henry Feild Tennis Stadium, Turner Soccer Complex, Boyd Golf Center, and the Equestrian Complex. A major $80 million expansion of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall is now underway with expected completion in Spring 2021.

In addition, under McGarity’s leadership athletics fundraising has reached unprecedented heights. During the 2019 fiscal year, the Georgia Bulldog Club raised a record $64.9 million in gifts and pledges to support UGA athletics.

McGarity launched a new philanthropic initiative in 2015, called the Magill Society, which currently includes more than 1,255 members who have contributed over $153 million to support athletic facility projects. McGarity has grown the scholarship endowment to more than $40 million and raised funds to endow five coaching and administrative positions.

Over the past ten years, UGA sports teams have won multiple national and conference championships. Recent national championships include women’s indoor tennis (2019), women’s indoor track and field (2018), men’s outdoor track and field (2018), women’s swimming and diving (2013, 2014, and 2016), and equestrian (2014). The 2017 football team won the SEC championship and the Rose Bowl and competed in the College Football Playoff national title game. Since 2010, the football team has won five SEC eastern division titles (2011, 2012, 2017, 2018, and 2019).

McGarity also has focused on elevating academic support for student-athletes. Since he arrived, UGA student-athletes have received 22 NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships, 36 CoSIDA Academic All-American Awards (including 16 first team awards), three Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year, and two SEC Brad Davis Community Service Awards.

McGarity is married to the former Sheryl Holland, a 1976 graduate from UGA. They have one son, Alex, who is a graduate of UGA and the University of Florida.

Information on Brooks and Griffin

Brooks joined the Georgia staff in December 2016 as Executive Associate Director of Athletics after serving as Deputy Athletics Director at the University of Louisiana Monroe from 2015-2016. He was promoted to UGA Deputy Athletic Director in May 2018 and Senior Deputy Athletic Director in January 2020. A native of Hammond, La., he previously held positions as Director of Athletics at Millsaps College (2014-2015) and Assistant and Associate Director of Athletics for Internal Operations at UGA during his first tenure in Athens (2012-2014).

A native of Seagraves, Texas, Griffin joined the Georgia athletics staff in December 2017 as Deputy Director of Administration. She previously held administrative roles at the University of Massachusetts, where she was Senior Woman Administrator from 2015-2017, and at Columbia University, where she was Associate Athletics Director for Intercollegiate Sports Programs from 2012-2015.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Basketball Post Game Quotes

Coach Tom Crean

On the first game...

"I liked our start. I don't think there was any question about that. This morning at our walkthrough, everyone was energized and ready to play. Certainly, there was apprehension even yesterday about if we were really doing this for nothing again, in the sense that were we actually going to play today. I don't mean for nothing but in the sense of are we actually going to play a game. They were ready to go. They were excited to play. We tried to play a lot of people, which was something that I really wanted to do. 

It quickly became a game of who is going to make some defensive stops by guarding their man, where is our help defense going to get better and who can help it get better, and who can be on the glass. I wasn't as concerned about the offense today because I knew if we got stops, we were going to get out and run. there were too many times, and this is just going to have to work out with experience, where we were too slow against their press, first half and second half, where we just didn't get out and attack it like we wanted to. There were too many times where we didn't stay behind the defense because they really lifted up. Tye Fagan obviously knew what he was doing in that area getting back and cutting and the other guys, now that they have this game experience, and they continue to see it they will get better too. It thought there were a lot of positives. 

I thought we beat a team that was very comfortable playing college basketball. Maybe they weren't as much when they lost on the road the other night, but today they were. Robert McCullum is an excellent coach. We competed against each other in Conference USA when he was at South Florida and I was at Marquette, so I knew he was going to come in. 

I'm glad that we worked, even if we didn't attack it really well, on their zone press to zone because we really felt that once they saw our speed that we would get a real dose of that. That gives us something to study now instead of watching last year's film or watching other guys that we've had over a period of time. Now we get to watch ourselves. I think that will be really helpful."

On Sahvir Wheeler...

"He and I are starting to think a lot alike. He had some ideas today inside of the game that he may not have had a year ago, in the sense of looking at actions that would work and where we could put certain people. I think that's a growth thing for him. He really wants to be a leader. He really wants to be a floor general. At the same time, he's incredibly fast. He played more minutes today than I would have liked to have had happen knowing that we have a game Wednesday and again on Friday. It is what it is, and we have to win the game. The only thing that I really wanted to do was play everybody. I played Jaxon Etter late, and I didn't take him out for any reason other than they were fowling and I didn't want to put a kid who hadn't shot the ball automatic at the foul line in that situation. We have to become a team that has strength in numbers. at the end of the day, if you want to play, you have to keep up with Savir Wheeler's speed. 

Tye Fagan is a great example of that with 21 points and how much cutting and working he did tonight. I love what Sahvir Wheeler is about, and I love the leadership and the fact that he can improve a lot right now.”

On the pace of the game...

"It has to get faster. There is no question about that. We're going to see zone pressure all year. Once people see the speed, we're going to see a press. I thought we learned a lot. They came after Sahvir Wheeler with the ball screen, and I probably should have started slipping the screens earlier than what we did, but I never get fearful that he won't be able to make a play out of a trap. They did some things to slow our pace down. That's why we have to be really good defensively. The fact that they made shots and were able to set their press makes it a little harder to get your speed game going in that, but we have to learn how to.”

On P.J. Horne...

"I think he was like a lot of guys. He was pressing a lot. I think if that three goes down early, it's another story. It's different. We have him guarding on the perimeter more and things like that. I reminded him in a timeout that he played the five in 31 games last year. You were guarding Vernon Carey last year and everyone else in that league. Just relax and play. But they didn't really have anyone like that, so he has to get better at guarding on the perimeter. He's going to be a driver for us. He has to be a guy that is going to post and get fouled. When he lines it up and he steps into his shot, which I thought he rushed a little bit early, he's going to be a big factor for us. He changes the energy level of the team when he's making threes."

On the new players on the team...

"Well, it's both. P.J. Horne is a phenomenal shooter. Andrew Garcia is getting better as a shooter. He made 25 threes last year at Stony Brook High School, and P.J. made 45 at Virginia Tech. They will at least double those numbers for us this year. But, I am thinking what I am learning when you have grad transfers like this is as much as we want them to learn how we want to play. They know they are getting better; they know they are getting pushed in different areas and have different skills that they might not have had before. I think the most important thing and I think Andrew showed this that you have to let them play the way they are most comfortable playing. They had 22/23 years of life before us. I thought Andrew did a great job of just playing to his strengths. That is what we have to do with Justin Kier, P.J., Ty McMillin to a degree."

On veteran leadership on the team...

"It is going to be very important. I have said it so many times; and this is the definition of it, the game is always giving you something. And today, Tye Fagan and Andrew Garcia figured out what the game was giving them. We knew that they were going to get extended in their zone. We worked hard yesterday and reviewed it this morning on how much we wanted to attack their zone press, and we didn't do a great job of that. It stagnated just a little bit. But, when the ball is moving and your cutting or you’re going into a post-up, like Andrew, and you’re on the glass—we’re a big corner team. Right? We don’t just want to live in the corner shooting threes. We want to live in the corner for getting drop-offs and for cutting. We will drive out of the corners. We are trying to use every bit of the half-court. We’re trying to use the full-court. Tye Fagan did a really good job of that today. 

I said this on the radio show last night, the last film we showed them was our cutting tape. There was probably 25 clips in there. At one point, l said in the tape, ’This is basically the Tye Fagan clinic video—how to move without the basketball.’ Anthony Edwards was in it. He learned so much about moving without the ball last year. Jordan Harris, Toumani Camara, Rayshaun Hammonds making passes—it’s all last year’s stuff. Sahvir Wheeler finding people, Jordan Harris, Christian Brown. But at the end of the day, Tye Fagan dominates the film because he does a great job of moving without that basketball. Tonight ,whenever everybody looks at it and says, ‘Oh wow! Tye Fagan had 21.’ That stands out because how he got them and how he didn’t need things done for him because we’re not a lets just go call the play for a guy type of team. Sometimes out of timeouts we will, but the majority we want five people moving. With a kid like Sahvir in the game, and Mikal Starks and Jaykwon Walton as they get better at this—it’s going to make it that much easier.”

On the status of K.D. Johnson…

K.D. Johnson, right now, here’s what we have, he did not play because we’re dealing with some NCAA certification issues, academically. He’s been involved in every basketball-related activities since he arrived on campus, so it’s not of that. He is with us at practice, at workouts. He is probably, not only, do I look at him as one of the best freshman in the league, he is our most competitive guy, and we have some competitors. But, he is our most competitive guy. Right now we are working with our compliance staff and Will Lawler and Steve Flippen to revisit his eligibility status with the NCAA, and we remain hopeful that he will be able to play this season. It’s not an amateurism issue, it’s a certification-eligibility issue that we are working with. 

The most important thing he can do is control what he can control just like everybody else. I appreciate his attitude. He has worked very, very hard in this, and if he was able to play you would see him from the beginning or real early because he is one competitive—he changes the energies of our practices many, many times because of his competitive level. Frankly, it was a little different for everybody not having him out there, too. We are just going to have to get used to it, but at the same time we’re working with compliance and see how it turns out.”

Tye Fagan, Junior

On his performance today and play with Sahvir Wheeler… 

“I don’t take credit for that. A lot of that has to do with Sahvir. He is a great ball-handler, and he finds guys. I’m pretty sure he had 12 assists, so that is what I mean how he found guys. I give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches to put me in the right places.”

On the differences between the first and second half…

“We came out in the first half—it was our first game of course—we rushed a few shots. We passed up a few shots, and those things are what our coaches are on us daily at practice and when we scrimmage. As a team, we rush shots sometimes and pass up shots. But in the second half, we talked about it, and we seen what he was talking about because it was actually live game action. In the second half, we tried to take better shots and be more efficient with it.”

On how it felt to start the season as an offensive leader…
“It feels great. I’ve had chances in the past and when I get them, I just try to see the opportunity. I don’t really think about playing much or not playing much. I just try to do what they need me to do. In the past I had a smaller role—now I have a bigger role. That’s just what it is, I’m just trying to win the game. So, whatever the team needs from me, that is what I am going to try and do.”

On the experience make-up of the team with graduate transfers and new additions… 

“No, I don’t think it will be a problem because these pieces that we have now fit as well. The pieces we had last year fit as how we wanted them to fit. Things just didn’t turn out how we wanted them to—that’s just the game, that’s life, that’s just how it is. For this year with the new guys, we have a lot of leaders. Like the graduates, they’re doing well, they’re leaders. Like Justin Kier, P.J. Horne, all those guys they help lead. And that’s one of my roles too, on the team. I always wanted to be a leader. To help the guys who don’t understand something, understand it. And we are starting to understand it very well. I know we didn’t show it in the first half, but in the second half, we showed it better. And that’s why it helps to have older guys: leadership.”

On rebounding and pride, he takes in defense… 

“I take a lot of pride in it. For one we work on it a lot in practice. Coach always tells us, ‘If we want to get on the court and play, we got to rebound.' I take pride in rebounding, I just happened to get 10 rebounds. I didn’t have a number in mind or anything like that.”

On emphasis on the second half and how it felt to start opposed to coming off the bench… 

“No, it didn’t have a different feeling because my goal is to lead and bring energy like I said. I just want to lead and bring energy. Whether that’s coming off the bench or starting, whatever the case is, I just want to bring something to the team. I felt like in the second half we could play faster but play in control. I just tried to get on a roll and Sahvir and Justin and a couple of guys found me with the brick a few times.”

On Andrew’s performance and what he expects from him this season… 

“That was very big. It didn’t surprise us at all because there had been a few times at practice where different guys went for spurts or just scoring buckets and he’s one of the guys. He can shoot it; he didn’t get to make any threes tonight but he can shoot the three ball pretty good. He’s a post person because he’s strong and physical, and he’s very athletic. I expect that from him all season guarding stronger guys, guarding guards because he can move his feet really well. I expect him to chip in on the defensive end, and I expect him to chip in on the offensive end just like he did tonight.”

Andrew Garcia, Graduate-Transfer

On having little to no expectations coming into today and coming off the bench… 
“Coach Crean really emphasized that we have a lot of players at every position coming in and out and just giving it our all. He just wants us to play hard and execute as a team. ”

On if something changed at halftime to spark his second-half outburst… 

“I feel like in the first half we got all our jitters out. We wanted to stay true to being strong, getting it into the post, and using our strength and athleticism down low. We were able to use Tye Fagan's ability to cut without the basketball and utilize one of their weaknesses of looking at the ball. He wanted us to keep moving the ball and get better shots, that was kind of the main emphasis for the second half.”

On the atmosphere of the game in the Covid-era… 
“Obviously, we don’t have full capacity fans due to COVID-19, but I felt that that energy was there, especially from my team. We knew from the jump that we had to bring our own energy, be loud on the court, and support each other. Obviously, we have the social distancing on the bench as well, but we have to find ways to keep that energy because that’s our M.O. of supporting each other and being a high-energy team.”

On trying to prepare for a season on a new team with games being uncertain… 
“It’s been pretty crazy, but Coach talks every day about how we don’t know what is going to happen the next day, like with the last game just being canceled on Wednesday. Sahvir Wheeler, Toumani Camara and the rest of the team are just trying to keep everybody focused, prepared, and ready to go. We’ve been trying to bring that same approach every day and if something like last game happens, we’ve got to try to find a way, internally, to bring that same energy and be prepared for the next game.”

On the pride that he takes with being the physical enforcer on both ends of the floor… 
“I take it 100% to the heart. Wherever coach puts me, I’m going to use 100% of my effort and definitely use my strength and athleticism to guard bigger guys or if I’m in a mismatch. Wherever I’m at, I just want to help this team and I want to win. The more we win, the more exposure we get, and good things happen for everyone.”

On adjusting as a team to P.J. Horn’s slow start… 
“I feel like it’s our first game and we're trying to know each other’s spots. PJ’s a knockdown shooter and he’s going to be a big mismatch when those bigger big men have to come out of position and guard him out on the wing. I feel like we’re going to go cut the tape up, go to practice tomorrow and figure it out because he’s not afraid to shoot that ball and that’s what we want him to do. Coach emphasizes every day for him to shoot the ball because that’s what he did at his previous school. So, we’re going to get him going for sure and find a way to incorporate him.”

Florida A&M Head Coach Robert McCullum

On his thoughts on the game…

“I thought our guys played well, I thought we fought hard. We did a lot of things well. Overall, I thought Georgia’s size and athleticism was a big difference over the course of the game.”

On Georgia’s athleticism…

“They’re very athletic. They’re athletic throughout their roster. Which is what you expect a SEC team to be. Their point guard, Sahvir Wheeler, is really good. He’s tough to contain and his penetration really hurt us because he got into the paint time and time again. We had a stretch there in the first half where we went to a zone defense and I thought that slowed them down a little bit. We contained them more. Overall, him breaking us down, getting in the paint and creating looks. All those things were the biggest difference.”

On what he told his guys after the under-16 time out…

“I knew we were okay. We weathered that stretch. We play the game in four-minute increments. We came out of that first media timeout, I think we went to the free throw line. We expected that. Slowly but surely we’d get back into the game. We did and led for different segments of the first half and were only down by one at half-time.”

Dribble Dawgs Open With A Win

UGA Sports Communications

Led by a pair of double-doubles, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team opened its 2020-21 season with an 85-75 win over Florida A&M Sunday afternoon before 1,638 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum. The Dawgs (1-0) were able to pull away late from the Rattlers (0-2) on the strength of 58 percent shooting in the second half, as well as a stout showing from their bench.

Stony Brook transfer Andrew Garcia led all scorers with 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting, along with four rebounds and two steals. Junior Tye Fagan posted a career-high 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting, picking up his first career double-double with a team-best 10 rebounds.

Sophomore Sahvir Wheeler also tallied a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 12 assists, becoming the first Dawg to amass 12 assists since G.G. Smith against Vanderbilt on February 3rd, 1999. Led by Garcia, the Georgia bench outscored Florida A&M, 37-2, while also dominating in the paint with a 50-32 points in the paint advantage.

“We had no idea what to expect, and I know that sounds cliché, but it just totally is,” said head coach Tom Crean following the game. “We hadn’t played a game against somebody else since March 10. That’s why Wednesday night was so important, with no exhibitions or scrimmages, but we didn’t get it. I’m proud of the way they came out and started the game.”

The Dawgs opened quickly, moving out to a 13-2 lead before the first media timeout, with four starters contributing buckets and Fagan grabbing six fast rebounds. The Rattlers responded with a 7-3 run as both teams continued to struggle from beyond the arc in the early going, shooting for a combined 1-for-11 through the under-12 break.

“We want to be a quick-starting team – that was a very quick start for us,” said Crean. “We were locked in. We had a great walkthrough this morning. They were lively and energetic and ready to play against somebody else, but then reality sets in, and you are actually playing against someone else. In practice, you can stop things, you can do X amount of possessions and then change over, and we had to keep going and these guys learned.”

FAMU continued to eat into the advantage, eventually taking the lead for the first time with under six minutes to play in the half on a jumper from junior guard MJ Randolph. The Rattlers continued to ride sharp shooting to a five-point lead until sophomore Christian Brown converted on a four-point play at the 2:31 mark to regain the lead. Brown and Garcia would combine to score the Dawgs’ final 15 points of the half, with Brown’s jumper with one second remaining setting the score at 38-37 Georgia heading into the locker room.

As the second half opened, Fagan asserted himself, scoring Georgia’s first six points of the half. Yet, Florida A&M stayed hot itself, connecting on its first three field goals of the half to maintain the tie score through the first break, but four straight Fagan baskets punctuated a 10-0 Georgia run comprised entirely of fast break points. Nonetheless, Randolph’s scoring kept the Rattlers in the contest, narrowing the margin back down to four midway through the half. He would eventually finish with 21 points of 9-of-13 shooting to lead FAMU in scoring for the afternoon.

Following a short scoring drought, graduate transfer P.J. Horne’s 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining brought the Dawgs’ lead to a game-high 12 points. Fellow graduate Justin Kier would also add to the tally with a three of his own, combining with solid shooting from the foul line to help Georgia finally seal control of the contest with just over two minutes to play. FAMU would tack on an 8-2 run in the final minutes to close out the scoring as the Dawgs notched a season-opening victory.

Georgia will remain home this week as it plays host to the Jacksonville Dolphins on Friday, December 4th at Stegeman Coliseum. The non-conference matchup is set for a 7 p.m. tip time and will be broadcast on SEC Network.

Georgia - Vanderbilt Kickoff Set

The Saturday, December 5th, Southeastern Conference football game between Georgia and Vanderbilt in Athens will kick off at 4:00 p.m. ET and be televised by the SEC Network according to an announcement Sunday by the SEC office.

Georgia’s all-time record on the SEC Network is 21-3.

Lady Dawgs Beat Tech For Taylor's 100th Win

UGA Sports Communications

Led by 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks from senior center Jenna Staiti, the Georgia Lady Dawg basketball team downed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 75-69, Sunday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion.

Staiti’s effort marked the 10th time in 11 games she has scored in double figures. It was also her fourth double-double and her sixth 20-point effort during that span.

Georgia improves to 2-0 this season and 36-7 all time against Georgia Tech. The victory also marked Joni Taylor’s 100th win as head coach at Georgia and the 999th in program history.

“This was a rivalry game between two good teams, so we knew it was going to be a great game,” Taylor said. “They made runs, we made runs — and that is what really good teams do. We obviously have a few things to work on and improve, but I am happy for our team and excited to leave here with a win.”

With the score tied at 63-63 in overtime, freshman Sarah Ashlee Barker knocked in a short jump shot to give the Lady Dawgs a 65-63 lead. Then, with 1:13 left, senior Que Morrison nailed a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to extend the Georgia advantage to 68-64. From there, Georgia knocked in free-throws and hung on for the win in overtime.

In the first quarter, Lorela Cubaj stopped an early Georgia Tech scoring drought with a 3-pointer to put her team ahead 7-6. The Lady Dawgs shot 50 percent from the floor and committed just two turnovers in the first 10 minutes, but still trailed 18-17.

Javyn Nicholson gave the Lady Dawgs valuable minutes off the bench, scoring six early points to help Georgia build a 27-24 advantage with 5:22 remaining in the second quarter.

An 8-0 run by the Lady Dawgs forced Tech to take a timeout, trailing 33-24 with 3:34 left before the half. Eight different Georgia players scored in the opening 20 minutes, as a balanced effort helped the Lady Dawgs build a 39-32 lead at the break.

Tech scored the first three baskets of the third quarter, but was quieted down by a pair of Georgia 3-pointers — one from Morrison and the other from Staiti. Georgia’s lead was slim at 45-41 midway through the third.

The Yellow Jackets hit five of their final seven field goals and forced too many Georgia miscues to lead 53-49 going into the fourth.

Tech then missed nine-straight field goals and Staiti went to work in the fourth quarter, scoring six quick points to give Georgia the 60-57 advantage. Down 63-61, Cubaj knocked in a hook shot to knot the score at 63-all. Morrison’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short and the two teams went to overtime, where Barker and Morrison sealed the win.

Next up, Georgia travels to East Carolina this Thursday to take on East Carolina at 4 p.m. ET.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Post Game Quotes

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement... 

“I’m really proud of our guys. I don’t know if really anybody understands the college football environment this year. It is just so different, 2020 has been so different in terms of motivation. These kids sacrifice a lot to have this season. They don’t get to go and do things they normally do. The season has really been long and all across college football with the injuries, COVID converns and cancellations it has been a really unique year. I just want to give our kids a lot of credit for sticking through it, staying together and continuing to fight. You talk to coaches across the country and they are having trouble trying to keep kids playing football. This group has really stuck together, and I want to give them a lot of credit for that.” 

On how they were effective offensively against South Carolina... 

“Let’s be honest, a lot of it has a lot to do with the other team and what they do. So we didn’t call a lot of different runs, we didn’t go out and reinvent the wheel to run the ball. We played a team that had three or four guys out. They had some COVID issues and a couple other injuries that probably hurt their depth. They are a very beat-up football team, and they are probably just not as stout as Mississippi State is up front. With that said, our guys came out from the very beginning and they knew that South Carolina had some guys out and they didn’t play down to that level. They played physical and they knocked people off the ball.” 

On playing some other players late in the game... 

“It’s so unfortunate that you don’t get a chance to do that but that’s the world we live in. The conference schedule has made it tough and our inability to get a big lead has made it tough. I was proud of those guys; I certainly wish we could play them more. That’s what kids do, they come to Georgia to play in the games. The games we’ve been in, we haven’t been able to do that. 

On J.T. Daniels overall performance... 

“I thought he did a good job. He took the things that the defense gave to him. He made some good throws, and he understands protections. He knows what coverage they are in and he did what we asked him to do. I thought the one ball on the wheel route down our sideline was the one I wish he could have back because he underthrew it a little bit, but I thought he played well. He understands what we are trying to do, and he did a good job handling the offense. 

James Cook, Junior, Running Back

On why they were able to run the ball effectively tonight... 

“My offensive line gave me a lane to run tonight. They play with great physicality. Heads up to my offensive line, they just did a great job.” 

On how many carries he gets each game... 

“Every opportunity that I get, I take advantage of it. I just want to make the most of it.” 

On if last week’s passing performance opened the running game this week... 

“We got after it in the passing game [last week] and they probably thought we were just going to pass it today. Then our offensive line came with that physicality today and our receivers blocked on the perimeter and we got the job done.”

Lewis Cine, Sophomore, Defensive Back

On his thoughts on the defensive performance... 

“We knew what they were going to try and do from watching film on them. What they do well is run and their running backs are really good. They have some really good backs. The goal was to stop them and try and make them one dimensional. Yeah, we missed some opportunities, but I feel like we did make them one dimensional towards the end.” 

On giving up points in the second quarter... 

“I feel like on the touchdown drive we didn’t play to our standard, not one bit. I think it was a 90-yard drive. We weren’t tackling well and not covering the way we were supposed to. We can’t let that happen in the future.” 

On Luke Doty and his performance... 

“We knew what he brought for their offense. He’s a fast guy and he can throw. Yeah, he is a freshman, but he can also play. We watched a lot of film on him and we found ways we could disrupt him and make him feel uncomfortable. I feel like for his second game, he did really good.”

Coach Mike Bobo

Opening Statement 

“Hats off to Georgia. They came in and dominated the game in all three phases. More physical than us at the line of scrimmage and it showed. Too many lost yardage plays offensively to get us behind the chains and not enough explosive plays offensively. Defensively the number one thing is we couldn’t stop the run. Inability to get off the field on third down. Just a long night. Hats off to them. We got one more week against Kentucky and we’ll challenge the guys with one more opportunity to go fight. We’re going to find out who wants to fight. If you want to fight they’ll be on the plane going to Lexington.” 

On the effort shown by Luke Doty and Kevin Harris tonight... 

“It was good to see Luke, I’m looking at his numbers, he completed a high percentage of passes. Obviously the two turnovers are not good but sometimes you’re going to make mistakes as a young player. But his competition and the way he competes is something that can be built around. We just finished talking in the locker room and Luke was the one that broke it down, which was good to see. Taking ownership of his play and this team, that’s what this team needs, leadership. For a freshman to step up and be vocal was good to see. Kevin Harris, it was a tough 53 yards that he gained. I know he had four catches for 30 yards. I wish we could have gave him a little more space, but that’s a tough defense to run against. I thought it wasn’t his best game statistically but it was he best game for yards after contact. Really good game by him.” 

On the 98-yard fourth quarter drive and the character the team showed executing it... 

“I’ve been proud of these guys the last couple weeks. When things haven’t gone well there’s been a continuation of fight and effort and strain. Offensively they’ve been led by Sadarius Hutcherson up there. We got it on the two and said ‘let’s go 98.’ The guys played for 60 minutes. They didn’t look at the scoreboard, obviously it wasn’t in our favor. To do that at the end of the game with some young players in there, Luke Doty and Rashad Amos busting a run, and I can’t say enough about Nick Muse and the way he played. Nick Muse is made of the right stuff, he really is. He’s what you want as a Gamecock because he cares. It’s important to him and it shows in his play.“ 

On how the seniors approached Senior Night and their final home game... 

“I think it starts with all those guys. You want to look at your legacy as ‘how many wins’ or ‘what you left he program with’ but the legacy of these seniors is showing the young guys how you don’t quit. When you’re not dealt the hand that you want you continue to fight. I’m proud of those guys, especially number 50 on the offensive line, Sadarius Hutcherson. I think it showed a lot when he ran on the field and all those lineman ran out just to take a picture with him. He’s played really well this year and it’s been about the team, it’s not been about him. That’s what these seniors will leave these guys with. That thought of we’re going to continue to fight and play out butts off no matter the circumstances.

Dawgs Maul South Carolina

UGA Sports Communications

The ninth-ranked Dawgs (6-2, 6-2 SEC) rode their stout run game to a decisive 45-16 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-7, 2-7 SEC) Saturday evening in front of 16,444 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium and an SEC Network primetime television audience.

The Georgia offense posted a season-high 471 yards, including a season-high 332 rushing yards for an average of 7.2 yards per rush. Junior tailback James Cook led the Dawgs’ runners with a career-high 104 yards on six carries and two touchdowns, while redshirt sophomore Zamir White tallied 84 yards on 13 rushes with a pair of touchdowns.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels finished 10-for-16 passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman wide receiver Jermaine Burton led for the second-consecutive week with three receptions for 33 yards.

On the defensive front, the Dawgs held the Gamecocks to just 273 yards of total offense, including only 83 on the ground. The Dawgs also racked up four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Sophomore free safety Lewis Cine led all tacklers with a career-high 12 solo stops, while junior linebacker Quay Walker tied his personal best with seven tackles.

“They did what we asked them to do,” said coach Kirby Smart following the game. “They played really physical. They came out with an opening drive and ran it down their throats. I was very pleased with the play of the offensive line, in terms of getting movement. It’s what you’ve got to be able to do in this league.”

After receiving the opening kickoff, Georgia broke into the South Carolina red zone with a 40-yard completion from Daniels to graduate tight end Tre’ McKitty on third-and-1, leading to McKitty reaching for the pylon on a 6-yard catch-and-run touchdown three plays later. The score was McKitty’s first as a Dawg and capped off a 7-play, 65-yard drive.

Following a Gamecock punt, the Dawgs once again used explosive plays to cross midfield as Cook rushed for 44 yards on the second play of the possession and Daniels found sophomore wideout George Pickens for a 17-yard catch. Cook then closed out the 9-play, 82-yard scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown rush. On the ensuing Georgia drive, White extended the early lead to 21-0 with a 22-yard touchdown run, set up by a 32-yard rush by sophomore tailback Kenny McIntosh.

South Carolina finally broke onto the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown carry by running back Kevin Harris, before adding a 39-yard field goal on its next drive, narrowing the margin to 21-10 midway through the second quarter. Unfazed by the scoring burst, the Dawgs remained strong on the ground, culminating in Cook busting straight through the line for a 29-yard touchdown that wrapped a 7-play, 65-yard sequence.

In need of a score before halftime, the Gamecocks methodically moved into Dawg territory, highlighted by a fourth down conversion at their own 34-yard line, but they were unable to capitalize as placekicker Parker White missed from 53 yards out with 25 seconds remaining in the half. Georgia attempted to quickly add an extra score before heading to the locker room, but Daniels was intercepted for the first time in his Dawg career.

After South Carolina went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half, redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson returned a punt 52 yards to the Gamecock 13-yard line, leading to a quick 3-yard touchdown run from White two plays later. On their next drive, the Dawgs appeared to add another touchdown from freshman tailback Daijun Edwards, but a penalty negated the score and they would have to settle for a 32-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore placekicker Jack Podlesny.

Following junior cornerback Tyson Campbell’s first career interception and subsequent 40-yard return, Georgia opened the fourth quarter impressively as Daniels connected with freshman wideout Arian Smith on a 31-yard touchdown, the first of Smith’s career.

South Carolina responded with its longest drive of the night, closing out with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Luke Doty to Nick Muse, but the ensuing extra point was blocked by freshman lineman Jalen Carter, bringing the score to its final tally of 45-16. The Dawgs would run out the last nine minutes of the game with a 13-play drive to the Gamecock 1-yard line, including 11 rushes from Edwards.

Georgia returns home next weekend to Athens for its final home contest of the 2020 season. The Dawgs will play host to the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-8, 0-8 SEC) on Saturday, December 5th at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The start time and television network will be announced by the SEC on Monday.

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Piling Up The Points: Georgia posted a 45-16 victory, and that was the most the Dawgs have ever scored in Columbia, eclipsing the 41 in a win in 2018. The Dawgs finished with 471 yards of total offense including 332 on the ground. The leading rusher was junior James Cook with a career-high 104 yards and 2 TDs.
Georgia utilized their ground game to build a 28-10 halftime lead. Georgia scored 21 points in the first quarter, tallying 225 yards of total offense including 151 on the ground. The 28 points in the first half was the most in a first half since scoring 34 against Arkansas State last year. The Dawgs finished the first half with 295 total yards. Redshirt sophomore QB JT Daniels finished the game 10-for-16 for 139 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. He led Georgia to touchdowns on its first three possession and four of the first five in the contest.

Huge Night In The Running Game: The Dawgs tallied a season-high 332 yards on the ground on 46 attempts for a 7.2 average and four TDs. It was the first 300+ yard rushing attack since going for 323 against Vanderbilt last year and the most since getting 426 against UMASS in 2018.
Georgia churned out 208 rushing yards on 23 attempts in the first half alone. Junior James Cook had a career-long 44-yard scamper in the first quarter and a five-yard TD, his first score on the ground. He picked up his second score in the second quarter, a 29-yarder. Cook finished the game with a career-high 104 yards on just six carries. Redshirt sophomore Zamir White ended up with 84 yards on 13 carries and two TDs.

A Look At The Defense: Coming in tonight, Georgia ranked second in the SEC in Scoring Defense (21.3 points per game). In the first half, USC tallied 10 points on 156 yards of total offense and then managed just six points in the second half and finished with 273 total yards. Georgia’s leading tackler was sophomore DB Lewis Cine with a career-high 12, all solo stops! Junior Azeez Ojulari ended the first half with a sack as he leads the squad and ranks second in the SEC now with 5.5.
In the second half, Jermaine Johnson collected his fifth sack of the year while junior Channing Tindall got his third and junior Adam Anderson picked up one to give him 4.5 this season. Coming in tonight, Georgia ranked second in the SEC with 20 sacks and had four tonight. Junior Tyson Campbell got his first career interception and returned it 40 yards. It was the team’s eighth INT, which matched last year’s total.

Receiving Leaders: Graduate TE Tré McKitty had two catches for 46 yards, the first covered 40 yards, a career-long at Georgia, and his next resulted in his first TD as a Dawg, a six-yarder on 3rd-and goal. Freshman Arian Smith had a 31-yard TD reception for his first career catch. He is the first Dawg to score on his first touch since Demetris Robertson scored on a 72-yard run against Austin Peay in 2018. The leading receiver tonight was freshman Jermaine Burton with three for 33 yards.

Special Teams Summary: Redshirt sophomore PK Jack Podlesny went 6-for-6 in PATs plus made a 32-yard field goal. Georgia has made an NCAA record 322 consecutive PATs as the streak includes six kickers dating back to 2014. For the season, Podlesny is 10-for-12 in field goals.
Junior punter Jake Camarda finished with one punt for 50 yards. Coming in, he ranked third in the country with a 47.7 avg. Also, he handled the kickoffs. Redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson had two kickoff returns for 62 yards plus two punt returns for 55 yards. One of the punt returns covered 52 yards and gave the Dawgs the ball at the 13 and an eventual TD. Freshman Jalen Carter blocked a PAT, the first Dawg to do that since 2015 when Sterling Bailey did it against Florida.

Series History: With the 45-16 win, Georgia now leads the all-time series 52-19-2 including winning five of the last six. Tonight, Kirby Smart won his 50th game as the Dawgs coach. He is 50-14 in this his fifth season including 4-1 against the Gamecocks.

For Starters: The longest active starting streak on offense belongs to center Trey Hill now with 26 while the longest streak on defense belongs to junior DB Eric Stokes at 23.

The Captains: Redshirt sophomores Azeez Ojulari, and Zamir White along with junior Channing Tindall (a native of Columbia, S.C.) served as the captains. It was the second straight week that Ojulari was a captain, a first for the Dawgs this year. Ojulari, senior Monty Rice and junior Jamaree Salyer each have been a game captain a team-high three times this year. USC won the toss and elected to defer the ball until the second half.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Lady Dawgs Win Opener

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia Lady Dawg basketball team used a 60-percent shooting effort to defeat Mercer on the road, 83-64, Wednesday evening at Hawkins Arena.

The Lady Dawgs hit 32-of-53 from the field, marking their best shooting performance since 2009 against Kentucky.

Sophomore forward Javyn Nicholson led her team with 15 points off a 5-of-7 shooting effort from the field. Senior guard Gabby Connally scored 14 points and needs just two more to reach 1,000 career points for her career.

“First of all, I want to say that I am so grateful we got to play today,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “There were a lot of games cancelled, and our hearts go out to everyone during this time.

“As far as the game, it was great to see us score in transition like that. We had a few more turnovers than we would have liked, but we will get that corrected. It was just a great effort from our team tonight.”

A pair of free-throws from Jenna Staiti followed by back-to-back buckets by Connally and Maya Caldwell helped the Lady Dawgs jump out to a quick 7-0 lead.

Georgia shot 63 percent, hitting 10-of-16 from the field in the opening quarter. Mercer stayed within striking distance thanks to its shooting from behind the arc. The Bears hit four 3-pointers through the first 15 minutes, but still trailed 36-20 with 4:58 remaining in the second period.

While the Bears did most of their work behind the arc, Georgia went to work in the paint, scoring 24 points in the post through two quarters of play. Caldwell led all scorers in the first half with nine as her team went to the locker room up, 43-29.

Mercer cut the score to 10 in the third quarter, but an 8-0 run extended the Lady Dawgs’ advantage to 56-40 with 3:43 left in the period.

Amoria Neal-Tysor kept Mercer in the game, knocking in nine points through the first 15 minutes of the second half, but still the Bears trailed 68-54. She led the Bears with 22 points for the night.

Next up, Georgia faces Georgia Tech in Atlanta at 2 p.m. ET Sunday. That game will be aired on ACC Network.

For more information on the Georgia Lady Dawgs, follow the team on Instagram (@uga_wbb), Twitter (@UGA_WBB) and Facebook (Georgia Women’s Basketball).

Wednesday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“Our guys have been getting after it this week. We are hoping to get a break for Thanksgiving in the next couple of days. Then, get back together and head over to Columbia, and go over and play the Gamecocks over at their place.”

On his relationship with Mike Bobo...

“He and I obviously go way back. We lived together in college and really grew up not far apart. Our families and fathers were good friends. I know Mike well. I have always been close to him throughout the profession. We’ve worked together a couple of times, and have always remained close. Our immediate families, our kids are friends. We haven’t had a lot of communication this week, obviously. It’s a different kind of week because you are extremely busy. Thanksgiving week is harder because your preparation time shrinks, in terms of not practicing at normal times, moving things up. School is not going on. It’s a little tougher prep time. He and I really haven’t had a time to visit or do anything.”

On who is the better golfer between him and Bobo...

“You know, I don’t really answer questions like that with guys that are above 25 or 30 handicap. I don’t discuss that... Basically, he’s terrible.”

On where the team has improved the most this season...

“Well, different areas. I really feel like—if you look compared to last year you would say, in terms of special teams units, they have outperformed from last year. We had a punter come back which was helpful. Our kickoff returner team has been better. From a standpoint of offensively, I think being explosive in the pass game. We have made some more plays with the receivers downfield. We’ve protected the quarterback well, but we did that as well last year. Defensively, we haven’t probably done as good as some things we had done last year. We didn’t play as well obviously in the Florida game and playing Alabama. So, the level of competition we have played in a lot of instances. We have played some better quarterbacks this year than we did last year. Also, some weather conditions we played in last year weren’t conducive for offense at all. Overall, I am pleased with the effort of the guys. We’ve had really good leadership from those guys.”

On where injuries stand heading into Saturday...

“Pretty similar to what we have been. I don’t know if anything else is different this game than it was for last week’s Mississippi State’s game. I don’t know if there is somebody specific you are asking about, but I don’t see it as a big difference. We are trying to get Jordan [Davis] back. We are still hopeful to get him back. He has been able to do more this week, but we still don’t know if he is ready to go.”

On whether JT Daniels played like they’ve seen him in practice or if he played better on Saturday…

“Again, in practice you get as real reps as you do on Saturdays. There’s no substitution for Saturday reps in terms of functioning on third-downs. During the week you can see the run checks, the organization, the motions, the shifts, the hard counts. A lot of that stuff you can evaluate during the week. The timing of things is just so much more realistic in a game, so to see him do that well was very promising and we want him to continue to improve and continue to make decisions and not force things.”

On how legitimate he feels Georgia’s No. 9 CFP ranking is…

“Well, it’s great to be in the conversation all the time, but I think you said it best. I don’t really get into those and we have to let our play speak for itself. I welcome anybody that wants to jump in our conference and play 10 games, they’re more than welcome to. They can come right on over here with us and play 10 games if they want to play our conference schedule. I’d be more than happy to let them.”

On if the attrition they’ve faced is because of the SEC only…

“I don’t feel like the attrition happened because of the SEC only schedule, I feel like it had to do a lot with the offseason and maybe not, some of it is just luck. Good luck, bad luck and we’ve probably had more injuries. We’ve avoided more COVID-19 issues than some other guys. That’s probably the biggest thing. Going back to the Kentucky game, that’s probably the thing you can point at, is it was a physical, grind you out game on both sides and that probably had a bigger effect on us from an injury standpoint, but that’s the case each and every year. Those injuries didn’t have anything to do with why we didn’t cover a back out of the back field against Florida, that shouldn’t have an effect on that. It’s just not a big part of it to me.”

Basketball Game Cancelled

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia’s basketball game with Columbus State this evening has been cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Cougars’ team.

The Dawgs were slated to play Columbus State at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening but learned mid-afternoon about positive COVID-19 results within the Cougars’ program.

“This is obviously a situation unlike any other I’ve had to deal with in my 31 seasons of coaching college basketball,” head coach Tom Crean said. “I said just yesterday how this season already was a surreal experience all around. This is truly that. We’re extremely disappointed for our players and for our fans. We were so excited to play today. To all our fans, bear with us. It’s going to be this kind of year in college basketball. We certainly hope for the best for Columbus State’s program, both health wise and during the season.“

Georgia is now scheduled to begin its 2020-21 season on Sunday when the Dawgs host Florida A&M at 2:00 p.m. That game was only finalized yesterday after Gardner-Webb, Georgia’s initial opponent for Sunday, discovered positive COVID-19 tests within its team.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tuesday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

On whether he has Thanksgiving traditions or if that is hard as a college coach...

"It’s tough to do in coaching. We have traditions a little bit for my family and for players and things like that in terms of eating. We try to always have a good meal on Thanksgiving Day, kind of after the practice in the morning, Then we also have a meal when we come back, because traditionally we would go to Georgia Tech or Georgia Tech would come to us, and we would have a big team meal Friday upon the return of all the players. So, that’s what we’ve always done.”

On whether Stetson Bennett is prepared to step in at QB if something were to happen to JT Daniels…

"It would depend on the health of Stetson, obviously. We would hope that he would be healthy enough."

On the performance of Jamaree Salyer this season and his significance now that JT Daniels is more of a ‘pocket guy...'

"It’s important either way, because when it’s your blind side you don’t see them coming all the time. In terms of the importance of him is probably just as important, regardless of who the quarterback is, but you know, it’s not his natural position. It may not project as his next position at the next level, but he certainly has been a leader for us. He’s worked tremendously hard. He fought to lose a lot of weight in the off-season. He lost weight and cut his weight down. He’s been really competitive out there, fought and battled for us out on the edge in what’s a tough league to do it in. You know, our league is a tough league to play tackle, and he’s held his own out there and done a good job.”

On what he would like his team’s offensive personality to be the final games of the season, given he says he wants his offense to take what the defense gives it…

“Exactly what you just said— take what the defense gives us. I felt a little bit bullheaded the other night— not me, since I wasn’t running the plays— as far as trying to run into some of the looks. It was tough. We’re committed to running the ball, because if you don’t attempt to run the ball, you’ll really have trouble protecting the passer. So, the threat of the run keeps guys from pinning their ears back and just rushing the passer, but the goal would be to take advantage of what the opposing team gives us. And if they want to load up and stop the run, then we need to be able to have intermediate and explosive passing game. If they’re going to defend that, then you’ve got to be able to block people and get the ball through the inside up the middle and outside the run game. We want to take what they give us. I think anybody would tell you that. It’s like the textbook answer. I want to take what they give us, but what is that? That’s balance. That’s being able to do a little bit of both, and we didn’t have that the other night, but a a lot of that was dictated by the way they played us.”

On the passing game against Mississippi State last Saturday and how much of that could be credited to George Pickens…

"I think you’re looking at a combination of factors. Number one, they’re a risk-reward defense. Their strength is in their front and in their linebackers, but really in their secondary. JT Daniels made some really good throws. We won some 50/50 balls. We got some PIs. We got a hard count free play. I mean, a lot of those things you saw, you’ve seen all year. The hard count bombs we’ve hit in the past, we didn’t hit them. You know what I mean? I go back to Matt Landers’ one game, and I thought he got PI’d; we had the exact same situation, but we hit Jermaine Johnson's. We had guys open behind people we missed, so I think a combination of who we played, how we played, George being in the game. Part of Jermaine’s progression has been, ‘Hey, we knew we were going to go through some growing pains with Jermaine and Darnell Washington and the linemen.’ I go back to some of the early games where I got so frustrated because Jermaine, he might mess up or didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t sure. He got a holding, and he didn’t line up on the ball. There are just all these things, and JT Daniels was a beneficiary of some of that growth, so he got the good end where Jermaine is at his best and his best is still ahead.”

On the progress of Kelee Ringo…

“He’s actually been out there in a black shirt, doing I guess you could say about 70 percent of the work. He doesn’t hit anybody, and he doesn’t get to do a lot of drills, but he does individual things. I’ve been really pleased with him trying and fighting to get back out there. Guys get injured, and they kind of lose focus, and it’s like they get lost in the shuffle, but he’s been in every meeting. He’s very attentive. He takes notes. It’s very promising to see that out of him, but I don’t think he’s going to be back any time soon or anything."

On what the competition for playing time is like in the secondary…

"There’s really three or four safeties. Latavious Brini and Major Burns are both competing with Chris Smith and Lewis Cine for playing time at safety. DJ Daniel is competing and playing more and more with Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes at the corner position. Then, of course, Mark Webb and Tyrique Stevenson and William Poole all work in the star position."

On whether it was gratifying that his team was able to take what Mississippi State’s defense gave them last Saturday in terms of UGA improving the passing game…

"I wish I'd seen it. Like I told you, I'd seen it in so many practices. You guys have asked if we have confidence throwing it, and yeah. I've seen those same plays. I’d seen Stetson Bennett and D’wan Mathis make some of those plays against us in practice, so I knew it was there. We were fortunate, too, guys. We converted two 3rd and really long, and then had a red area play before the half that was huge, too. You're not going to win the percentages when you're in 3rd and 20 or 30, whatever the other touchdown was, I don't remember where it was. Those are not favorable offensive positions to be in, and we were kind of rewarded by the risk they took, and that goes back to pass bro and all the work we do. We do a lot of work during the week on picking up things in protection, and our offensive line has been really good for two years at picking those kinds of things up, and you can expose people on that. But if you don't play better on first and second down, you're not going to have that kind of success, and that's my concern, folks.”

On how much defensive focus these days is on not allowing explosive plays…

“You know, I don’t know. I am torn between being the aggressor and—you’re going to give up explosive in flighting for negatives, and the whole havoc rate because the guys with havoc rates are going to give up explosives. You’re trying to find a balance. You can look at the Kentucky game and the game the other night against Mississippi State, and we didn’t give up the explosives. We avoided the explosives for the most part. We gave up the big pass on Kentucky that was the touchdown. Outside of that, we didn’t give up the explosives, but we still had long, extended drives. If you don’t put people down behind the sticks, it’s hard to win. It’s hard to win on third and two and three consistently. I would much rather be the team that is the aggressor, and plays aggressively, gets people behind the sticks. I think at one time, I don’t know if it is still true, but we were No. 1 in the country, in terms of giving up explosive runs—we were the best at not doing it. We had like one explosive run in the entire season or something. We were doing a good job of that in the run game, but not so much in the pass game. That’s probably my biggest regret that, not the 50-50 balls we lost—we are going to lose some of those and we’re going to win some of those. But, when you gift them, when you literally do not cover a guy that’s unacceptable.”

On whether JT Daniel’s emergence spurred excitement from the offense…

“Well, I think the verdict is still out on that. The sample size we have is small, but the sample size we have, meaning coaches in practice, we get to see him each and every day. You have to remember we have seen this guy go with the ones for longer than anybody else has because he practiced the Missouri week the whole time there. I have seen him make some good plays. I have seen him make good decisions. He had some really good plays today. We go good-on-good, and compete on third down. He moved in the pocket, made some plays. The biggest improvement that he has made is in the pocket-awareness, and that’s where his best decisions have to come. As far as transformation or anything like that, I don’t know. We have to find ways to run the ball, and that’s probably the most important thing to me so we can be explosive in both ways.”

On the development of the team’s freshman players (Devin Willock, Tate Ratledge, Broderick Jones, Austin Blaske, Chad Linberg, Sedrick Van Pran, Ladd McConkey, Daran Branch)…

“Yeah, if you give me those names, I’ll do it. Devon Willock, I have been extremely impressed with, recently. So, he’s climbing up the charts in my opinion. He’s really smart. He’s really conscientious—it’s important to him. But, he missed, I mean I forget how long it was. I don’t even know if y’all knew, but he had an MCL sprain the last scrimmage of camp, it was three or four weeks, or something that he didn’t even practice. It was like, ‘Gah-lee, this guy is going to be behind.’ Now, he’s come back, he’s cut. He had to lose a lot of weight. I think he’s lost 30 pounds. He’s in the 330-range, and he is a massive guard that—he struggles in pass-pro right now, but he’s going to be able to move people and that’s what you want at the guard position. You want a massive, big man that is hard to run through. I am excited about him. He’s just so bright—such a good kid.

Tate Ratledge was making really good progress, was getting some reps at two right tackle—I guess it was when Owen Condon was out. Tate had an injury, and he missed about two or three weeks, and he’s just come back. He’s behind a little bit, but we were really pleased with Tate in camp. He’s just missed some time with injury.

Broderick Jones missed time early. Broderick has been playing left and right tackle and been kind of the—probably would be our fourth right tackle in the game the last couple of weeks. Now that Owen is back, because Owen had some illness and sickness stuff, so Owen has come back. Owen and Broderick are kind of fighting for that spot behind Xavier Truss, Warren Ericson, and Jemaree Salyer. I am very pleased with Broderick. Broderick needs a year in the weight room. But, Broderick is a good athlete. He is just going to have to get stronger and more physical in the run game. He can pass-pro and stay in front of people. The beauty is these guys get to go against our outside-backers one-on-one in pass-rush every day, and I love it. I mean there isn’t a day on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday where we don’t make them go good-on-good, and have to go block really good people because that’s the only way to get better.

Austin Blaske continues to improve. I hadn’t seen a guy as tough and hard working as he is. He really works hard. Chad Linberg has been there throughout working at guard—with us on the scout team. When we look across the scout team and you have Cameron Kinnie, Linberg, Devin Willock, Blaske and Tate across the scout team, it’s good. We get really good work with those guys.

Sedrick Van Pran, he runs with the twos. He reps with the twos, so Warren Ericson can flip at the guards. Warren Ericson goes back and forth at guard. Van Pran works at center—been really consistent. He’s getting better at being fast, really smart—felt like if something happened to Trey Hill, it would still be close with Ericson and Van Pran who would go in. Van Pran is closing that gap so Warren can play the two guards spots.

Ladd McConkey is another guy that was coming on—it was really exciting because he goes on the scout team and does so many good things. Man, he’s tough. He’s physical. He blocks well. He had a contact-trace that he had to miss 14 days, so it crushed him because when we were down receivers we thought we were going to bring him up and really work him, and then he got 14 days and just got back. We have been limited on what we could do with him. Daran Branch has worked on the scout team. He missed a little time in fall camp, but he has worked with the scout team and been really competitive. Hopefully he grows into a good player. He’s just not ready right now.”

On what it is about Smart's and Mike Bobo’s family history in coaching that makes them effective at what they do…

“Obviously, you grow up around it. It’s in your DNA. Every coach doesn’t want his son to be a coach, he wants him to be something better—then they end up being a coach anyway because that’s all they have grown up around. My dad never discouraged me from coaching, but he never encouraged it either. Mike’s Bobo dad would probably say the same thing. When you see it in your parents like it was in our two dads who grew up—Highway 84, south Georgia football, a lot of great matchups and Friday night being the most important thing in the town—it’s just kind of in your DNA. So, it was that way for both of us, and we are both competitive people because of our parents.”

On what UGA’s defense misses the most without Richard LeCounte…

“I just really think confidence. I don’t want to call it play-making ability because he always made plays---that’s the one thing about Richard LeCounte, you cannot find a game that he did not have some crazy breakout in the middle or run down a reverse or just make an acrobatic interception. Just that moxie and play-making abilities is probably one of the biggest things and confidence. He breeds confidence and it trickles down into the other players, with Richard. You probably miss some of that, that play-making ability.”

On where Lewis Cine is in his maturation as a player…

Lewis Cine is talented. He’s getting more and more instinctive. He’s a really good tackler—challenge him in something in the leadership department. It’s not something that he has had to do. He hasn’t been natural and comfortable with that, but he certainly can do it. Lewis is one of those kinds of people that leads by example. He works extremely hard. Academics, he never misses anything. He works really hard on the practice field, but he’s not extremely vocal either. He sets a great example for the players.”

On whether George Pickens is 100 percent…

“Yeah, I think so. I thought he was—he’s moving all the way back. He was really close for a couple of weeks. Then, the Missouri-week, which we didn’t get to play, but he was ready to go that week. I thought he has been good in practice. He is hard to cover—that’s for sure. I don’t think anything is wrong with him.”

On how many times he had “picked Mike Bobo off through the years” when they were players…

“You would have to ask Mike Bobo that. He never admits to it much, but I have a few fond memories of flipping some balls to him. He probably won’t admit that much.”

George Pickens, Sophomore, Wide Receiver 

On his assessment of the season so far…

“I think I helped a lot of other people grow at the beginning of the season such as like Jermaine Burton, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. A lot of the young guys. I felt like I helped them grow a lot when we knew it was going to be a tough season with COVID-19.”

On how he handles outside noise during the season…

“I wasn’t really paying too much attention to that. When I wasn’t on the field, like I said, I was just encouraging the young guys. Tell them what happens because I was a freshman last year. So, when I was seeing them while I was out or if I was just texting them, ‘always put your best foot forward at practice and it’ll payoff in the game.’”

On how good it felt for him to get back out and play…

“It was good. It felt good to get back and play with the guys. That’s what I like doing the most is just hanging out there and being out there with my friends. It felt good to see that the defense really showed up and came to play and everybody collectively doing their job to get the win.”

Lewis Cine, Sophomore, Defensive Back

On how he’s grown into a bigger leadership role this season…

“I’ve grown in communication more. Just constantly talking with my teammates, making checks before the ball is snapped telling this guy or that guy ‘hey this is coming up, that is coming up.’ Just making sure that we all play faster and that’s where I think I’ve grown.”

On how, as a player, he balances being aggressive and keeping teams in check against explosive offenses…

“I feel for one, you have to know what they’re trying to do. That’s really what is important, you have to know what they are trying to do because a lot of teams do a lot of trickery and show you something so you can bite and expose you in the back end. I feel like you can never go wrong protecting back there and rallying forward to everything.”

On whether the game this weekend is a revenge game…

“Revenge? I wouldn’t use the word revenge but I would say redemption of course. Our goal is to, of course, win but play to our standard and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”