Thursday, October 14, 2021

Wednesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

"We are excited for a great matchup at home against an undefeated Kentucky team. I have a lot of respect for what Mark Stoops has been able to do there. A tremendous job developing players. Every time we play them it is an extremely physical game. I know our fan base will turn out. We're excited to have another big-time matchup at home."

On Brock Bowers role…

"Same as it's been all year. To execute and perform at a high level, which he has been able to do. Play against some different kinds of defenses. He's done a tremendous job. He's had two of his best games, these last two games in terms of physicality and execution. I'm really pleased with his work ethic and the things he's been able to do."

On preparing for Kentucky's defense…

"It's tough. They have a lot of different looks. They match their fronts with their coverages. They change up their coverages. They have three high looks, quarters looks, and really good disguises. They have some twitchy guys upfront. You have to be physical. It's hard to play-action those guys because more depth in their defense in terms of how deep they play. They prevent a lot of that, and they confuse you. Their looks are very similar. You have to have a smart person to know where to go with the ball, and execute all around."

On preparing for a physical stretch of games…

"They are all physical in the SEC. If a coach tells you it's not physical, he's lying. I can assure you when I say it is going to be physical, there is not a game in our league that's not. That's just the way it is. Tough, physical games. A lot of really good players in our conference that you go up against on the line of scrimmage. In terms of what's looming after this game, it has no outcome on this game. It's not like you sit there and say 'oh we have an off week next week'. That has no bearing whatsoever on how we prepare for this one. It's really all about Kentucky at this point."

On the recruiting impact of having Gameday at back-to-back home games…

"I think we will see. We certainly get more attraction of players wanting to come to the game. They're probably more of an infatuation with saying I want to go to the game because Gameday is there than just I want to go to the game. I think it helps bring attention and kids certainly like that show. In terms of it being on campus, more excitement, those kinds of things. They don't get much direct involvement."

On Will Levis…

"Toughness, a quick decision-maker, the ability to run, and having to defend the 11th man. He's a really good zone-read runner. He does a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the belly and reading it a long time. He's very accurate in his decision-making in terms of pull it. He's a physical runner and puts his shoulder down. There are 10-15 times this year where he's willed himself to a conversion. That is challenging when you have an extra guy that can do that."


Kearis Jackson, Junior, Wide Receiver

On working through injury to return to wide receiver…

"It's been a long four months, especially coming back off knee surgery. I've been getting myself back into the role as playing receiver, getting back to feeling like 100%, and just getting better each and every day. With my teammates, especially with the quarterbacks, getting that chemistry back down. But being able to be back out there with my team, I just missed it so much."

On the play of the wide receiver group…

"Guys have been making plays. You can tell by watching them just trying to score. We've been very explosive at the receiver role, more explosive since I've been here. It's the fact that what we're doing each and every day at practice is translating over to the game. Especially those games that I've missed watching on the sidelines and seeing those guys compete, like I said translating over to the game. It's fun watching. I'm excited what this team has done to this point."

On playing special teams not receiver…

"For one, I didn't feel too comfortable with that brace on, I wasn't 100% yet. The coaches felt confident enough that I could go back there and catch the punts. That's the main thing about punt returns is being able to secure the ball. The coaches felt confident enough for me to be able to do that and that's the main thing as long as it's just securing the ball. Being able to play receiver, my routes weren't what I want them to be at, so I didn't want to put myself out there trying to go play 100% knowing I can't do that. So, it's about more so what can I do and what can I put on film. I didn't want to put any bad stuff on tape, so if it meant to sit out four or five games, then so be it if the next time I do get on the field I could be 100%, that's the most important thing."

Warren Ericson, Junior, Offensive Lineman

On the offensive line this season …

"This season there's been some highs and lows. We've been able to run the ball well these past two games which has been huge for us. That's always a point of emphasis. We try and take every game to be the best we can and play the standard we always try to set."

On Kentucky…

"They are always one of the most physical games that we play. They're hard-nosed, they're tough, just like our defensive and offensive lines. The line of scrimmage is always tough guys that are trying to get down, get dirty and play the physical style football that we try to play."

On being ranked No. 1…

"Obviously seeing that, it's great and it's something we all strive to be but then again this is the seventh game of the season. It's not the national championship. We're not at the end of the season yet. What we have to do is we keep taking every single day, every single week and to continue on with this progression. We must take time and keep getting better. It's the most important part. I don't think anything specific to me has changed except for that fact that I want to continue to work hard and continue to focus on Kentucky."

Tuesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

On James Cook’s reception during the Auburn game…

“Well we thought that I got told from the box that they thought he caught it, but I was trying to ask the official because they typically review those so you don't have to burn your challenge or anything like that because they're reviewing every play and the official just said that he dropped the ball when he landed, he went out of bounds, he never had possession of it but I don't know. On the Coach’s copy it was hard to tell what happened, James Cook thought he caught it but I don't know that he would have had the first down, maybe you know better than me. I thought it would have been right at it or just short, and we'd had a tough call to make because the point differential there was worth the two scores That was the big decision but we'd already decided if Zamir White didn't score on his, we were gonna go for it on the one that he broke loose. Because the point differential was completely different so that three points was big to make a two score game.”

On the defensive front on creating pass rush…

“Well, there are several games that they've gotten a lot of pressure. We haven't pressured a lot this year at all but we really didn't pressure a lot last year, we've gone away from it, there's a lot more move in NFL football with offenses. Offenses have gotten more complicated, they're different, lot of simulated pressures. So, it means you bring somebody and drop somebody which some people would call a fire zone but we call it simulated pressures because it's usually only four guys rushing sometimes three guys rushing and they allow you to play simpler coverages where you don't have to get really complicated and worry about a bust, and the front has helped us do that, but we've changed a little bit philosophically, whether we got a great front seven, an average front seven, or poor front seven we probably would be doing what we're doing. So it's not a matter of them changing us it’s more what we have to do to defend these type of offenses.”

On the captains…

“Well, you have to be accountable, you have to have a voice of leadership. You have to have earned it in the offseason, and we've probably got some, a lot of guys deserving that haven't done it, Because we've got some really good leaders. But we talked about it each week, you know somebody that we think has to positively affect somebody, somebody has to play really well that week, or you know maybe they're from that state a lot of different ways to go about being the captain but ultimately I want them to be able to affect the other players, and have an effect on. We let them share messages and talk, throughout the week and they take a lot of ownership in it, and I'm very happy that we got the guys we've got that can kind of share that role, and share that burden. You want your best ones always out there but sometimes it's hard for us to figure out who the best ones are.”

On the injury front…

Yeah, Ameer Speed doesn't look like he's gonna be able to make it back this week. Dominick Blaylock still not back, Marcus Rosemy I think looks good this week, he's taken a lot of reps he's been working like I said I thought he looked good in warm ups the other day as the hope that we had when he was warming up. Jermaine Burton's done well and worked, repped and he hasn't taken the volume that he would normally take but he's hitting his speeds, so feel good about him. There’s so many I can't even think of rest. Chris Smith’s been able to practice, he’s in a black jersey. He’s not contact right now, but he's moving good, and staying in shape. Jamaree Salyer is kinda the same way, he's conditioning and working out and watching the periods and I think he's going to be good but he's not able to take all his reps,

On difference between fire zone, zone blitz and simulated pressure…

“Fire zone is zone blitz. Simulated pressure is not fire zone. Simulated pressure is, you’re simulating, you’re pressuring, but you’re really not because you’re only rushing four. Fire zone is zone blitz and you’re rushing five usually. Simulated pressure is rushing four and there’s a lot more people doing that then there are rushing five and offenses have morphed, you rush five guys or six guys, they’re just gonna throw the ball out to relief. It makes no sense to run it because you’re not gonna be right, they’re not gonna hand the ball off and let you rush five or six guys, they’re gonna throw it out to a flare and then you’re short a man. So, you’re constantly trying to calculate a way to get pressure but not take the risk where they just spit the ball out and it’s on the perimeter and you don’t have anybody to tackle.”

On the offensive line’s performance without Jamaree Salyer…

“Competed well, really physical. It became a different kind of game at that point. I forget exactly when Jamaree went out, I know it was the first half. But in the second half, it really became a physical game, and I thought they played really hard, all those guys played really physical. They’re gonna face a different kind of defense this week than last week. All of them were probably a little bit undersized and really quick and athletic. These guys are big physical guys at Kentucky, they got a lot of size, a lot of different looks defensively. They throw a lot of different looks at you.”

On Tykee Smith…

“He knows the defense, he’s very bright. He’s intelligent. I don’t know that he’s 100%. He’s been out there, he’s been practicing, he’s been competing but you know it’s just tough for him when you come back from that injury. DarnellWashington's a little bit different because the quick twitch and the speed is not as critical with Darnell. He’s able to play with power on a lot of plays and Tykee has to be able to run, cover, and all those things. And again, I thought he had a nice practice last week and we were able to get him in so, he covered three or four kickoffs, he made a nice play on the ball. Hopefully, he’s in better shape this week.”

On Ladd McConkey…

“Yeah, he did it all last year, I mean he was on scout team last year with the whiteouts we had and thought he was a really good player. I mean we take reps, he went against all those really good players we had last year on the secondary and I knew he was gonna be a good player then. A couple times last year that he got in the rotation, and he was working with the twos and threes and I can't remember what happened, he got banged up or I can’t remember what it was, he sent me a text, he was like, what I gotta do to get back where I was and I just told him keep working. In spring, he got a lot of opportunities, he made a lot of plays in the spring, he made plays in the spring game, he made plays in fall camp, and he made plays in the summer. I mean he's a playmaker, and he's done a good job, you can count on Lad to be full speed all the time so I just think he's a good football player and he gives you everything he's got every day.”

On Nakobe Dean…

“Yeah, he's a signal-caller, he makes all the calls, he's a tremendous leader. When he speaks, people listen, plays so hard, practices so hard. You see why he plays well, because of the way he practices. He embodies what we want a great leader to be at the University of Georgia, in terms of academics on the field, off the field, just outstanding young man all the way around. He's gotten so much better and he were able to give him a lot of calls and commands that make us right in the way offenses are. Nakobe’s really smart, he can put us in the right call and a quarterback does a lot of times.”

On Broderick Jones’ performance so far this season…

“Broderick did a nice job. Broderick came in and that was part of the reason we’ve been developing Broderick is because we think he’s a talented player. Jamaree’s played really well at tackle for a long time in the SEC, and we’ll put the best five out there that gives us the best chance to win.”

On stopping Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez…

“Yeah, he is super physical. Dude is one of the hardest runners in our conference. His pad level, his strain, his drive, his power, it’s like hitting a brick, man. People bounce off of him and they have for years. I told our guys, ‘you have to get his cleats out of the ground” because he is not stopping. Yards after contact is why. They don't have a very long second-and-long reel. Their second seven to ten reel is shorter than anyone we have ever faced because they don’t get in them. He’s a really thick, heavy back that you have to be a willing tackler. He gets to the second level quickly.”

On the dynamic of this year’s team compared to previous seasons...

“Not really because I don't really think of the players as stars. I don't see it that way, I see it as a team without an ego. They buy in, and you know, we’ve got good football players, by all means we’ve got good players. We have guys who are going to be draft picks, but I don't feel like we have ever had that guy. Even with Nick and Sony, they shared a lot of that spotlight and I don't get into the ‘star’ part, I sell team values and we do that through the off season. I feel like this team has really bought into that, they don’t really want that. There’s not really anyone out there that’s saying, ‘look at me, look at me, I need more attention’ they deflect it - they don’t want to go do the media, they don’t want to go do those things, they want to win, is what they want to do, and that’s what matters.”

On the Kentucky team compared to last year…

“Yeah, their defense has always been tremendous to me. They had, I don’t know how many guys they had drafted last year. They had an unbelievable defense. They have a lot of those guys back. The biggest difference in their team is the quarterback and the offensive system is different. They have always been physical, their offensive line last year was physical. We lost three or four d-linemen in the game and at one time we were playing three true-freshman out there. It’s just bloody when you go against those guys and its both ways. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way they play. Their last year’s team physicality wise, but they’ve got a lot of weapons starting with their quarterback and Wan’Dale Robinson and they’ve got tremendous talent all around those guys.”

On Chris Rodriguez’s recruitment…

“I remember him coming out, we evaluated him, looked at him. And to be honest, I don't remember which class he was in as in who we signed that year, but we evaluated him, talked about him. He’s a really good back, he really fits what they do in terms of downhill, physicality, punishing runner.”

On JT. Daniels’ practices...

“He got to throw a lot on Monday. I want to say he threw 30-40 balls and he got upwards of 30 yards. He felt pretty good, took some snaps. We didn't do a whole bunch on monday. We didn't do as much as we normally do. And then today, he probably didn't do as much and so he was a little more limited. He did some snaps, threw the ball some. We are kinda going off Ron’s protocol - he has him on a pitch count daily and we are following that and we check and see if he swells or has any soreness after it. The good news is that he hasn't had any soreness the last two days, not extensive soreness and we were able to go back the next day. He hasn't been able to do a whole lot, but a little more than he did the week before.”

Dan Jackson, Redshirt Sophomore, Defensive Back


On his rise to the defensive rotation...


"In terms of my rise, I would say this spring is when I felt like I had the best opportunity. Ever since I got here, I have been wanting to contribute, but I would say this spring."

On his process of deciding to come to Georgia...

"Coming out of high school, I had a really good senior season. Before that, I did not really get many looks or offers. I had some smaller offers my senior year from schools like Mercer and Air Force. They came late. I reached out to Coach Charlton Warren, and he offered me a preferred walk-on spot here, and UGA is where I have always wanted to come, so I could not pass that up."

On the blocked punt against Arkansas...

"It was something that we worked on all week during practice. I feel like that is what really led us to be able to block that punt. We had two shots at it, really, but we were able to execute on the second try, thankfully."

Lewis Cine, Junior, Defensive Back

On limiting Auburn's opportunities...

"Auburn is a good team too. They are going to get plays. They game plan like we game plan. They are going to get some here and there too. Coach Smart tries to change some things up and fix some things up, so they do not get yardage, but Auburn is a real good team too."

On the Kentucky game last year and the physicality that they bring...

"The whole Kentucky team is a very strong team. They are strong up front. They have a good run game. Chris Rodriguez is a very strong back. He runs very hard. He refuses to go down, so it is definitely a challenge, but it is a challenge that we are looking forward to."

On the adjustment after Chris Smith was injured...

"It was unfortunate that Chris went down from the game, but we prepare for everything in practice. Everybody gets reps to make sure that everyone is locked in just in case a guy gets hurt. Give credit to Dan Jackson for coming in when he did and keying in and making the calls."

Monday, October 11, 2021

GameDay & SEC Nation In Athens Saturday

College GameDay Built by The Home Depot
and SEC Nation Presented by Johnsonville meet in Athens on Saturday, October 16th, for Week 7 to preview the showdown of undefeated SEC teams –Kentucky vs. Georgia. College GameDay will be located in Myers Quad from 9 a.m. – noon ET on ESPN, while SEC Nation will originate from the Special Collections Library from 10 a.m. – noon on SEC Network.

This is just the third time that GameDay and SEC Nation are visiting the same location in the regular season, following LSU vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2019 and Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville in 2018.

Rece Davis hosts College GameDay, the 12-time Emmy Award-winning show, with analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and former Georgia All-American David Pollack, research producer and sports betting analyst Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica, and reporters Jen Lada and Gene Wojciechowski.

This is the second visit to Athens in the past three weeks for GameDay. On October 2nd, the show originated from Meyers Quad before the Dawgs’ top-10 matchup against Arkansas. This is GameDay’s seventh visit all-time to Athens.

Laura Rutledge hosts SEC Nation, her fifth season in the host’s chair and her sixth on the show overall, joined by Paul Finebaum, Roman Harper, Jordan Rodgers and Tim Tebow for a weekly breakdown of the SEC football action to come.

Additionally, Marty & McGee Presented by Old Trapper will be live on Saturday morning from 9-10 a.m. on SEC Network, as Marty Smith and Ryan McGee meet at the intersection of southern lifestyle and college football to bring viewers the latest headlines, Hillbilly and otherwise, across the SEC landscape. Marty & McGee will be live on the road with SEC Nation every Saturday this fall.

The Special Collections Library will also be home to The Paul Finebaum Show Presented by Johnsonville, with #FinebaumFriday live from 3-7 p.m. ET.

Monday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

"I would like to say a quick hello to Coach Dooley. I appreciate him coming over. It's always great to see him in the audience and also at practice from time to time. Good to have you Coach. I got a text from Derek Dooley the other day. It's good to hear from him as well. I appreciate you being here."

"We are on to Kentucky. I think when you look at what Coach Stoops has been able to do, it's pretty remarkable. First off, he's a really good football coach. I've known him a long time. Recruited against him. We went head-to-head on a lot of recruits back when he was Florida State's defensive coordinator and I was at Alabama. He is a tremendous coach. A tremendous builder of men. To see what he's done with the consistency which they perform at such a high level. I say it all the time, to be a good football coach you have to have all of the phases. The recruiting phase, the organizational phase, the development phase, the three phases – offense, defense, and special teams, and they are really incredible at all three. They have a great system set up that they recruit to. They develop guys. It seems like every year you are talking about their defense, and they are doing a tremendous job offensively this year, as well. The quarterback and transfers they have gotten have really added juice to their offense, and they have a great special teams unit as well."

"The challenge ahead is for us. I think our kids embrace that. It seems like each week, the last three, four, five weeks, we've had big games and we have another opportunity. That's why you come to the SEC. To play in big games."

On being ranked No. 1…

"It's just a number, right? I don't see a plateau. The goal is to be number one at the end of the season. You always know that. Everybody's goal is there, but to have an opportunity to do that you have to be in the top four. That's the most critical part. We won't get caught up in that and let you guys write about it. That's not a burden we carry. The burden we carry is how we play."

On the QB situation…

"You know how I feel about hypotheticals. It's just hypothetical. We are trying to get JT Daniels back. He is much improved this last week, at the end of the week. He had a really productive throwing session Thursday. For the game, he was able to throw more than the previous week. We are going to let him try and throw more today, although today will be a lighter practice. Our guys have gone really six consecutive heavy, heavy weeks. Heavy even on Mondays we've gotten after it on games that didn't go into the fourth quarter. We practice pretty hard on Mondays. Today that won't be the case. We've had a really physical two games in a row with the Arkansas game and the Auburn game. There will only be so much we're able to get done today, but we'll look and see how he is and where he is. See what he can do. That's always the case. I'm not getting into that. Right now I'm making sure that we have a healthy quarterback and keeping our quarterbacks healthy, by keeping them upright and protected."

On the Kentucky offense…

"The biggest difference is they have a really great supporting cast. They have a quarterback that is really wise, really bright. A great system in the play-action boots they do. The quarterback is a really good athlete, and he throws the ball really well. He has weapons. They have always been one of the most physical games, if not the most physical game we've played in. I don't think the rest of the world understands the physicality that their offensive line has played with. Their run game. Their defensive line has been enormous in terms of size. Just a different type than maybe when you play against Arkansas or even Auburn. They strike blockers. They are very similar to us defensively in the front mechanics they play and how they play blockers. They have always been really great at stopping the run and running the ball. The added dimension now is the quarterback with the vertical pass game. The weapons they have outside are obviously different, and the back run so physical and downhill."

On areas of improvement…

"There's so many things we can do better. People look at the game and think of it as a blowout. The game wasn't indicative of the score; it was a physical, tough, hard-fought game that if a couple plays in the red zone go different, it's a different ball game. We've got a lot of places we can improve on."

On team injuries…

"I don't know because all we've done since then is rehab. Today is a lighter practice, so the hope is we're going to get those guys back. Christopher Smith had a shoulder that came out of place, put it back in, he didn't feel like he had gained 100% strength back. Ron Courson has said he's seen guys back in a week from that, we'll find out where he is. He is one of the toughest people I've been around so if Chris can play, he'll play. Jamaree Salyer had a slight ankle, but it didn't swell. He thought he could have gone back, but he didn't feel like he was at 100%. I'm hopeful to get him back and he'll be ready to go. Some of the other ones are soft tissue. We're hoping to get Arian Smith and Jermaine Burton back. Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint looked good in warm-ups on Saturday to me and probably could have played in an emergency, so we're thinking we'll get him back. Not sure on Dominick Blaylock, nothing on George Pickens. I'll know a lot more on Tuesday based on how they practice."

On Kenny McIntosh and Ameer Speed…

"Kenny McIntosh had a hamstring, it never pulled but it was tight and bothering him, so we've been treading lightly. He warmed up and thought he was going to be able to go but didn't think he was at 100%. He covered a couple punts and he'll be out there today repping, but I won't be able to tell you until we're full throttle. Ameer Speed still has an ankle. He had an ankle last week in practice. It's unfortunate because he's been playing well for us, especially on special teams units and don't know if he'll be back."

On the Kentucky offensive line…

"They've got four draftable prospects, guys that will go high. Their tackles are really good players and they've always had a good offensive line, but they had a good offensive line last year. Four, or three, of the five are back and the transfer from LSU is really good. Darian Kinnard is one of the most physical players we've played against. He's huge, long arms, they're committed to the run game and what they do. Very physical and a good team, people don't understand that because they look at them last year because they didn't have a lot of the same weapons in the pass game, the quarterback wasn't a thrower like this guy is and they're a really good team. I have a lot of respect for how they play."

On addressing the team…

"The focus is on us like it always is, it's about what we do. It has nothing to do without the outside world or the noise about the rankings. They're going to hear it regardless, so it's really what you control your thoughts on and what your priorities are. I'm very honest with our team and they way they've handled things to this point. They've handled practice and leadership well. They bought into the DNA traits of our team and they've got to continue to do that because there's two ways you can lose that. You can lose it through failure and people not buying in, or you can lose it to success through people seeing themselves through a different lens and seeing themselves in a different way or being comfortable, or not comfortable, with what their role is. We've been able to avoid both of those things, we've got to continue to."

On the quick passes vs Auburn…
 
"Auburn attacked us in a lot of ways. I thought they had a really good game plan in terms of keeping us off balance. Looking at the first drive, the drives they would've had without for a couple of red area stops. I don't think there is anything in particular about quick passes to the outside. The games not that simple – there's a lot more to it than that involved with coverages, scrambling quarterbacks. We have to play better on defense. We were not lined up. We don't have our hands in the dirt, and we are not in great shape. Teams are going to try and tempo us, and sometimes that is going to hurt them as much as it hurts us. We have to do a much better job of executing our assignments. Fatigue makes you make mistakes, and we had mistakes on offense and defense on Saturday that were not reflective of us. Things you guys might not notice that we notice. It was warm Saturday; I didn't think either team was in great shape in terms of being able to play in those conditions."

On the freshmen success at wideout…
 
"Spring practice, number one, was a big help because the guys who have contributed were here in the spring, and they got a lot of experience in the spring. Year two in the system for a lot of the other guys. Guys that are playing, obviously, Kearis is a vet now. He's been in Monken's system. Ladd's been in the system, it's his second year. AD's been in the system for Spring and Fall, which allows him to be successful. And the run game allows them to be successful because some of the plays that we are hitting are play actions plays. As long as they are able to honor that and be successful in the run game, that – our goal is 5.5 at rush. That doesn't mean we are going to rush the ball for 5 and a half yards every time, but if we can be effective and stay ahead of the chains, it allows us to be effective in the play actions pass game. I think the play action pass game has helped our lack of depth at receiver succeed, along with our depth at running-back and tight-end. There were 20%, 30%, 40% of snaps that we had 13 in the game the other day, and that's three tight ends. We are fortunate to be able to get guys back there and be a little more healthy to be able to take some of the burden off of wide receiver."

On Dan Jackson…
 
"Dan practices very well. He's a guy you can count on because you are going to get from Dan in practice what you are going to get in the game because he puts everything into every practice. That is what allows him to be successful because Dan is a really tough, hard nose player. He understands our defense, and he can play multiple positions. I was really proud of the way he went in and played on Saturday. He plays better than the people in front of him play. It puts a lot more burden on our front seven to play at a high level to make sure that Dan plays well."

On Zamir White and James Cook…
 
"He Zamir is extremely physical runner. He is 100% for probably the first time where he feels really good. He had an incredible off-season after the interruption of COVID, coming off a knee. You feel like he is hitting stride where his acceleration, his burst, his pass protection, his breaking of tackles, his yard after contact have been rally good. I feel the same way about James. Those two guys are the heart and soul of at least our offense. How they go is sometimes how we go, and there's not always a bunch of big holes. They manufacture runs and keep us on schedule. Their leadership, more than their play, has been a key component to this team."

On being ranked No.1 against USC …

"I don't remember really anything about that week. You telling me is the first reminder I've had of it. I didn't know when or if that happened, it's not relevant. You guys need a story, write it all you want. But it doesn't have any relevance whatsoever for us because it's all about how we practice and how we do. If you worry about the psyche of guys reading and looking at it like it's discussed, yes you have to do a good job of talking to your guys and keeping them grounded. That's part of what we've been working on for 10 months around here."

On recruiting wideouts …

"I don't think it's changed much. You want to be explosive, so you need fast, size and speed guys. Unfortunately, there's not but a handful of 6-4 really fast, physical, explosive players so you have to have sometimes exceptions. Is his exception his character? Is his exception his work ethic? Is his exception that he's bulk? I mean there's all these criteria and we have them listed for every position but size is important. You know, Todd Monken really believes in the ability to go vertical and stretch people vertical. And that might not be just speed, that might be your ability to win 50/50 balls. Your intelligence and ability to play multiple positions. There's a lot that goes into playing receiver at Georgia. We don't want all cookie cutter guys. We don't want every guy to fit the same mold. We have a definition of an 'x', definition of an 'z' and a definition of an 'f', and we want to be able to be three deep in each one of those. That requires nine guys being capable to play, and right now we don't have that. We're below those numbers without any injuries. Just sheer numbers, we're down. We've got some guys that are going to compete to play which is what we challenge people to do. That 'next man up' mentality is there but it's also our resiliency. We have this word in our core trait and that's resiliency. Well, that's what we show when the next guys got to go out and play, because we're resilient."

On the importance of Georgia fans at the game …

"This game speaks for itself. What it means, who we are playing, what the rankings are, what's at stake. I think our fans are educated enough to know the importance of this one. Their impact could be the difference in the game. I don't think sometimes they acknowledge that because they think that everything's going to be easy and it's going to be home. You can't think that way. You can't be apathetic as a fan and think 'well, we're Georgia.' That's not the case because this is a high-quality football team. We need the extra advantage of playing at home just like we had to go up against it last going to Auburn. We need that same advantage this week."

On getting Tykee Smith back…

"Well he's a starter that we rep at safety when we go regular and there's no nickel on the field, so he knows some of the safety stuff, but it wouldn't be fair to say coming off injury 'you'll learn this new position.' Latavious Brini is cross-trained and Brini works at safety, so both Brini and Javon Bullard give us flexibility because we think Javon Bullard is a really good football player, and he's growing up day by day. He was playing a good bit, and we're going to be able to work Brini and Bullard both at safety with Tykee Smith repping and starting as well. But that doesn't mean that Tykee's going to be the only star, because right now Dan Jackson is playing safety. So we have to cross-train. We got four safeties who we feel like can go in the game and play, and we feel like we got two or three stars."

On Stetson's confidence…

"I don't think the team has ever lacked confidence in Stetson Bennett IV and there's no question mark there. I think, to each his own, everybody has their own opinion of what Stetson is or isn't. Within this team, there's a belief that Stetson is a really good football player and he's a winner. He's done nothing to show us otherwise in terms of his toughness, his competitive nature, the embracing of the offense, the embracing of the role to stay here and compete, when for a while there, he was a three and not getting as many reps, so very pleased with the way he's handled things. I think him playing well at Auburn really has more to do with the outside circumstance because he went on the road last year and played in some tough places, but he didn't play in that kind of crowd noise. He should be given kudos in managing and effectively managing the offense to no penalties. To go in that environment, play, and not have penalties—number one—you give Matt Luke, Todd Monken, Dell McGee, Cortez Hankton and Todd Hartley a lot of credit because that's hard, you go watch all these other teams play on the road, it's tough. That, to me, is incredible, but Stetson had something to do with that because he's got to function, he's got to manage. It's not to say we didn't have mistakes, we did, but it should give him confidence, because he already had confidence in his ability to play. He played in a tough environment and handled it really well."

On Jalen Carter…

"Yeah, he's a tremendous athlete, he's one of the best athletes of that size that I've seen. And obviously, we talk about Jordan Davis' size, his extreme exception. Jordan's huge, and Jalen Carter is not. He's big, he's just not overly freakish big—he's a really good athlete. He has extreme quickness, suddenness, change of direction. He can finish, make plays like an athlete—just a really good combination of Devonte Wyatt and Jordan is Jalen, and he has played well, and he's got to continue to work to get better. Those guys are at another level when it comes to getting him to execute and understanding how to play the game. Jalen's still learning, and he's making plays because he's talented. We've got to continue to grow him because he can make us a better football team."

John Fitzpatrick, Junior, Tight End

On the team's new ranking…

"Yeah, it is not going to really affect us. It is not going to change our practice plan. We are not paying a lot of attention to it; we are just focused on Kentucky right now."

On Ladd McConkey…

"We saw that in fall camp, Ladd was making plays. He was running with the ones, he was out there catching deep balls, catching everything. So, I was not surprised at all, I know that Ladd has that in him. I know that he will continue to make plays like that."

On Kentucky's defense…

"They definitely have a strong defensive line. They bring back a lot of experience which is going to be a challenge for us. Today the first two hours of meetings will be on Auburn and then we will switch gears to Kentucky. Last year's game was physical. I think I saw that on my first drive, I think it was a 10-play drive match down the field, running the ball probably eight or nine times. It is going to be another physical one come Saturday."


Adam Anderson, Senior, Outside Linebacker

On Jalen Carter…

"That is just another Jordan Davis on the field for us. If you have seen Jalen Carter already you have seen that he is athletic. He played basketball in high school; he can dunk. He is that big and can move like that…you can't stop him. He is strong too."

On players like Dan Jackson earning their spot…

"Honestly, I have so much respect for him. The fact of him coming in and just walking on. Any walk on that comes here I just have a huge amount of respect. It is not as much of a role just playing on special teams or you have been a scout player. He put himself in a position where he is playing on Saturdays. He is taking the notes, he is getting to do more not just as a scout player but with the team."

On the new team ranking…

"That drives for me to keep it neutral, to keep it the same. Don't try and change it up, don't try and be someone you're not. Don't let being no.1 influence how you play them. A lot of people get over their head a little, we don't need to start playing different or play like someone you have never played before. When you come to the University of Georgia you are always targeted."

McConkey Garners Weekly Conference Honor

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia redshirt freshman receiver Ladd McConkey has been named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week following the Dawgs’ 34-10 win at No. 18 Auburn, according to a league announcement.

This marks the eighth weekly honor for the Dawgs this season and the first for McConkey in his career. Other winners include: senior Devonte Wyatt (Defensive Lineman, Arkansas), freshman Brock Bowers (Freshman, Vanderbilt), junior Nolan Smith (Defensive Player, South Carolina), freshman Adonai Mitchell (Freshman, South Carolina), senior Stetson Bennett (Offensive Player, UAB), senior Christopher Smith (Defensive Player, Clemson) and senior Jordan Davis (Defensive Lineman, Clemson).

McConkey, a native of Chatsworth, posted career highs of five catches for 135 yards and a touchdown to pace the Dawgs’ offense during their sixth win of the year. His performance included a career-long 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put the game out of reach for the Tigers at 24-3.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Mailman Delivers On The Plains

UGA Sports Communications

The second-ranked Dawgs traveled down to the plains of Auburn and left with a 34-10 victory over the 18th-ranked Tigers in front of 87,451 fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium and a CBS television audience.

The Dawgs' victory was their fifth straight over the Tigers and gave them a 62-56-8 all-time advantage in the 126th rendition of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Georgia has prevailed in 10 of their last 12 meetings with Auburn.

Georgia (6-0, 4-0 SEC) tallied 432 yards of offense: 231 passing and 201 rushing. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennet went 14-for-21 with 231 yards and two touchdowns, while junior tailback Zamir White led the team with 80 yards rushing on 18 carries. Bennett’s go-to receiver was freshman Ladd McConkey, who tallied career-best five catches for 135 yards, and a touchdown.

The Dawgs defense held Auburn (4-2, 1-1 SEC) to 318 total yards, 46 rushing and 272 passing. Georgia also racked up five tackles for loss, four sacks, and an interception. Redshirt sophomore Dan Jackson led all tacklers with six stops, five solo, while a slew of Dawgs totaled five tackles.

“What a tough environment to play in,” said coach Kirby Smart. “I give a lot of credit to Auburn and their fans. They created an electric environment. For a lot of our players, probably over 50 percent or more, they have never played in a road environment. Two of our DNA traits are composure and toughness, and I thought that has never been more evident than it was today. Composure and toughness. The men in that locker room never doubt and never questioned each other.”

“Stetson played a hell of a game. He made plays with his feet. If you go back to that game, there are one, two, three, four really big plays in the game that he made with his athleticism. That’s a dynamic that he brings. it’s forces teams to defend us in other ways... I don’t think people give him enough credit for that. This was his first opportunity to come into this environment and play Georgia brand football. He made a lot of plays. He hit the guys who were open and helped us in the second half by doing a lot of run checks. I’m really proud of the way Stetson has led the team,” Smart said.

Georgia won the coin toss and deferred the choice to the second half. The Tigers came out fast covering 68 yards on 17 plays, and Auburn’s Anders Carlson hit a 24-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. This marked the first time Georgia has trailed this season, as well as the first points the Georgia defense has given up on the opening drive. After a quick three-and-out by the offense, junior linebacker Nakobe Dean stepped up and intercepted Bo Nix in Auburn territory. Six plays later junior placekicker Jack Podlesny hit a 23-yard field to tie things up at 3-3.

The defense settled down and forced the Tigers to a three-and-out. Georgia responded with a touchdown on a nine-play 70-yard drive that was sparked by a 33-yard catch by freshman tight end Brock Bowers. Auburn safety Smoke Monday was ejected for a targeting call in the red zone, and one play later White went over the top for the touchdown. Note, Monday was also ejected in the first half of last year’s game in Athens.

On the next Georgia drive, Bennett unloaded on a pass and hit a wide-open McConkey for a 45-yard gain. Three plays later, Bennett found freshman receiver AD Mitchell for a three-yard touchdown to give the Dawgs a 17-3 lead.

With just under two minutes left, Auburn drove the ball down the field to the Georgia seven-yard line. The Tigers drew the Dawgs offsides and opted to bring the offense back out. The ensuing pass was broken up in the end zone by senior defensive back Latavious Brini resulting in a turnover on downs and a 17-3 halftime lead.

Georgia opened the second half with a 10-play drive but failed to score when Podlesny’s 43-yard kick hit the upright. The Dawg defense forced Auburn to turn the ball over on downs, for the second time of the night. On the next play from scrimmage, Bennett hit McConkey for a 66-yard bomb, giving Georgia a 24-3 lead.

Auburn responded with a seven-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown run by Tank Bigsby. This marked only the second touchdown given up by the Georgia defense this season — the first rushing. The third quarter concluded with the Dawgs up 24-7 and in scoring position.

The Dawgs tacked on 10 more points on a 21-yard field goal and a 10-yard rushing touchdown by White en route to a 34-10 victory.

“Any time you come over here and play this team it’s a war,” said Bennett. “I think our offensive line and defensive line won the battle at the line of scrimmage. It was so much fun. I had a blast.”

“I love going on the road,” said senior defensive lineman Jordan Davis. “Auburn is always a great place to play. We just had that juice. Auburn gave us their best shot, but you know the defense, we stuck to our training… We have a mindset on defense: Nobody gets in our end zone. We preach it every week. Auburn caught us slipping for one touchdown with Tank Bigsby. Hats off to them, but we hold ourselves to a high standard. When we get in that red zone... The offense wants to score, so we want to hold them to zero points or at least a field goal. We don’t want them to get a touchdown. That is our mindset on defense.”

Next up, Georgia returns to Athens to host No. 16 Kentucky (5-0, 3-0 SEC) next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The game will broadcast on CBS.

Post Game Notes

Another Dominating Day For The Defense: Georgia posted a 34-10 road win over No. 18 Auburn who came in averaging 40 points a game. Georgia came in leading the nation in Scoring Defense. The Dawgs now have given up just 33 points on the year, the lowest six-game total since 1935 when they allowed 24.

The leading tackler today was redshirt sophomore Dan Jackson with six. Auburn became the first team to hold a lead on Georgia this season when it made a 24-yard field goal on its opening drive. Auburn failed to score on its next six drives of the first half as they ended with an INT, four punts and turned it over on downs. Redshirt sophomore Zion Logue collected his first career sack, a loss of nine while junior Travon Walker had the other sack in the first half to give him two for the year. Junior Quay Walker picked up his first sack of the year in the second half while Robert Beal and Jalen Carter split a sack as well as the Bulldogs had four total today. Auburn scored only the 2nd TD allowed by the Dawgs this season as Tank Bigsby ran in from four yards out to make it 24-10 in the 3rd. It was the first points the Dawgs have allowed in the third quarter this year.

Bennett Leads Bulldogs To Another Win: Georgia QB senior Stetson Bennett improved to 7-2 as a starter including 3-0 this season. He got the nod in place of the injured JT Daniels (lat) and finished 14-for-21 for 231 yards and 2 TDs. He went 9-for-13 for 144 yards and 1 TD in the first half to build a 17-3 edge. In the second half, Bennett fired a 60-yard TD strike to Ladd McConkey for a 24-3 lead in the 3rd. Bennett also rushed for a career-high 41 yards today including a career-high 30-yard scamper.

Latest Big Road Win In The Series: With the 34-10 win over No. 18 Auburn, Georgia is now 22-11 versus top 25 teams under Kirby Smart including 3-0 this year. The Dawgs have outscored their opponents 239-33 this season including 133-10 in their last three SEC games.

Georgia now has a 62-56-8 edge in the series history including winning 10 out of the past 12 meetings and 17 of the past 21. Today’s 126th meeting makes the series the second most played active one in the NCAA FBS. The Dawgs are 6-1 against Auburn under Kirby Smart. Georgia (6-0, 4-0 SEC) returns to action Saturday at home against No. 16 Kentucky. Kickoff will be at 3:30 pm ET (CBS). Tonight, the Wildcats (5-0, 3-0 SEC) play host to LSU.

Rushing Attack Picks Up Steam In the 2nd Half: Georgia finished with 201 rushing yards today after tallying just 36 in the first half. Senior Zamir White led the team with 18 carries for 79 yards and 2 TDs. He had a one-yard rushing score and then added another on a 10-yard run to give him a team-leading six rushing scores and 20 for his career.

McConkey Headlines Receivers: Redshirt freshman Ladd McConkey had a career-long 60-yard TD reception and finished with five catches for 135 yards, both career highs. True freshman Adonai Mitchell (2 rec., 10 yards) got his 2nd receiving TD, a three-yarder for a 17-3 edge in the second quarter. Sophomore TE Darnell Washington, who missed the first four games due to a foot injury, notched his first catch of the season, a 25-yarder.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia scored 3 points off one INT while the Tigers did not force any turnovers. Junior Nakobe Dean notched his first career interception, getting it at the AU 26. It was the eighth for the Dawgs. It led to a 23-yard field goal and a 3-3 game with 2:55 left in the first quarter.

Special Teams Summary: Senior punter Jake Camarda finished with three punts for a 45.7 average.
Junior Jack Podlesny was 4-for-4 on PATs plus was 2-for-3 on field goals (made 21 & 23, missed 43). He is 9-for-12 on FG attempts this season and 30-for-30 in PATs.

For Starters & Game Captains:
Georgia had one first-time starter in senior Adam Anderson (OLB). The captains were senior Quay Walker (LB), junior Warren Ericson (C) and senior Devonte Wyatt (DL). Georgia won the toss and elected to defer the football until the second half.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Georgia - Kentucky Kickoff Set

The Saturday, October 16th, Southeastern Conference football game between Georgia and Kentucky in Athens will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET and be televised by CBS according to an announcement Monday by the SEC office.

Georgia’s all-time record on CBS is 62-44-1 prior to this week’s game at Auburn which is also CBS.

Monday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

"First, want to thank the fans again for an incredible job—I noticed a lot of stuff on social media—they did an awesome job last weekend. I can't thank them enough and I wouldn't expect anything less from our fan base. 

We moved on. Yesterday morning we had some recruits in town and pushed on to the focus on Auburn—they did a tremendous job to go on the road, which is very difficult in our conference to do, and go to Baton Rouge and get a win. 

So, decided to move on with these guys, I think, Coach Bryan Harsin does a really great job. He's got a really good staff. Those kids have bought into their staff and done a tremendous job—they've got one loss from a Top 10 team on the road. And other than that, they played really good football. That game was tough and physical, and that was a tough environment to go into. We know our guys are getting ready to go into a very tough environment—which playing at Auburn is probably one of the toughest places to play in the SEC—their crowd fan base does a tremendous job with those elements. We keep our guys to keep calm the storm, keep your composure, and play our best football against what I think is a very talented Auburn football team."

On Auburn's offense…

"A lot of similarities to the things that I've seen, obviously Mike Bobo has done a tremendous job in our conference and in his career of taking his best players and finding ways to highlight their positives. I think he's done that with this unit—he's got a couple really good backs and he's got a quarterback who has a lot of experience. And I think them playing at Findley Lake and Georgia State game gave them a lot of confidence where both quarterbacks can play. I thought Bo Nix played a tremendous game against LSU. He's a tremendous athlete. He's got great feet, both quarterbacks are elusive and athletic in their own rights. I think Mike's done a really good job. Again, I don't know how much of it is him, how much of it's Bryan Harsin, that's not really what's important to me. To me, it's like you see traits of physicality—they can run the ball, they've got good backs, and they do a good job of getting the ball to their playmakers."

On the depth at running back…

"Nope, I feel good about our backs. I think we've got good depth there, I got a lot of trust in all those guys, including Daijun Edwards, he does a tremendous job, he gets to work. Sometimes against our defense, and sometimes with our offense, but I got a lot of trust and faith in all five of those guys. I think Dell McGee's done a tremendous job keeping those guys balanced, keeping them fresh. We've been able to avoid most significant injuries, outside of Kendall Milton's and Zamir White's been banged up some of the time, but those guys have done a good job of staying healthy."

On preparing for the next opponent…

"No formula, I mean it's our workweek, no different than you guys. You guys have a ritual and routine you go through, we have a ritual routine we go through where we come in Sunday and do our work. Coaches are moved on as early as Sunday morning, Saturday night even, playing an early game because you get to watch the opponent on TV when you play the early game, and you grade your tape, so that game was put to bed by about Saturday at 7:00 or 8:00 and on to the next. As far as the players, for them psychologically moving on probably happens today, and they come over and we do corrections and clean things up, but a big part of today is introducing Auburn, so it's never been a secret recipe or formula—it's what we do on Mondays to move on."

On playing to a standard…

"It is what you have to do to be successful, right? It doesn't matter what line of work you are in, what career field you are in. To be successful you can't do it to the level of your opponent or your opportunity. You have to do it to the standard of excellence. That is true in every business facet in the world, every competition facet in the world. A standard of excellence you should go to and compete for, and we strive for that. We don't always reach it, and we certainly have had some practices that weren't to the standard that I would like for it to be. These kids have responded to the challenges they have had and the ones we ask them to."

On the defensive culture…

"They are definitely going to read them press clippings. There is no stopping what they see on their phones, so they are going to read that. Is it going to affect them? Is it going to poison them? I hope not. I certainly hope not. I think that the standard of being elite is what keeps them from becoming poisoned. When you compare yourself against greatness, there is a certain standard you have to reach and it supersedes the opponent. When you say, I want to be great. What does great look like, and want to see pictures of that and stats that reflect that. That is what you are trying to emulate and you are not trying to make it about who you are playing. Now it's always about who you are playing because you have to talk about their personnel and what they do, but the buy in by this group has been good. The cohesion… Who is the superstar? I don't think you could name one superstar really on this whole team. When you have that, you have a lot of guys that buy in. I think personalities outside of our world and our family want there to be a superstar. Want there to be one guy, but there's not. Not on this team. It's done by committee across the board. Special team, defense, and offense. It's done by a group of guys that are connected and care about each other."

On Stetson Bennett…

"I know he was frustrated. He was more frustrated with his reps and volume of reps. For him it was more about competition, getting an opportunity. It wasn't necessarily about one's reps, it was about him getting two's reps because he wasn't getting a lot of those. The way we practice, he was able to get work in. probably not as much as he likes."

On JT Daniels…

"He's not going to do anything today. He'll be out there practicing. He's doing everything but throwing, and then we will see how it goes day to day. The biggest thing is that he has to rest, recover, and try to heal. We are very hopeful that he will be able to go Tuesday-Wednesday and be able to throw like last week, but he's not going to do much today in terms of throwing. There is a lot more to quarterback than just throwing the ball. He does a lot of that stuff well and he will do all of those things today."

On the development of Bo Nix…
 
"His ability to extend plays is elite. The play he had last week is basically all you need to show for the scout report. To do what he did against a really good SEC defense with a lot of tremendous athletes on it, to avoid and escape, and keep your eyes downfield – it puts a lot of pressure on a defense to be able to cover people that long. I've seen him now; it seems like forever he's been there. I've gone against him now, I guess twice… it seems like he's been there forever. He's a really good athlete, and he comes from a coaching family background. I've known his dad for a really long time, and I've got a lot of respect for him as a competitor and leader. And I think he's gotten a lot better. He's doing a much better job of keeping his eyes downfield and making decisions."

On the offensive line…
 
"I think it meant a lot to them because there's a lot of pride in offensive lineman as a whole, and the pride is not usually do I pass pro, which they've done a good job of, but it's usually how well do I run the ball? And for some reason the measure of an offensive line is off of that. A lot of times, they don't control that – that's not within their control how many people are put on the front. If you watch college football today and you really do your homework, and you actually study and count it – I know you guys are really smart defensive coaches, and if you count the number of people that are at the defensive line, it will tell you maybe how you should play them. When you watch teams across our league that play teams with 6 and 7 DBs on the field, it allows you to have an opportunity to do things differently that maybe you would if they have 5 defensive linemen across the front. I think that's part of being a good coach, and our offensive line took a lot of pride in getting an opportunity to show that identity, to show that they can play bully ball if they have to. But it stills boils down a lot of times to what the defense is giving you."

On Tykee Smith…
 
"Tykee was not in the same boat as Darnell Washington. He was not able to go as much. You have to practice to play. One thing we don't do here is if you don't practice, you can't play. So, Tykee was at practice, and he tried to go in practice, but it's tougher on him with the movements he has to have. He's reacting to movement as opposed to going in a direction, so it's different for him. And he'll be the first to tell you that he is not 100%, but he'll be the first to tell you that he is truing his hardest to get back and push through. So, we will continue to work with him on that, and hopefully he'll be able to go."

On other team injuries…
 
"As far as the other guys, we are hopeful with Dom; it's been a hamstring, he's got a nagging hamstring. He's going to warm-up, loosen up today early, and then hopefully be able to get some reps. Whether he's 100% of not, I don't know. Arian Smith is the same way, and the Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint is the same way. Their all three much closer this week than they were last week. But none of them are for definite in."

On treatment for a Lat injury…

"As there is everything in the medical field, there's these people that think they can fix it really fast but that's not necessarily the case and I know that wasn't the case in Dak's Prescott. Dak's was much more extreme than what JT Daniels is going through. We did some more scans on JT just to confirm what we thought it was and what we thought it was all along. We did scans even after Vanderbilt, so it is what it is. I think it's going to be a time thing. It's really number one, pain tolerance. Number two, can he get it to heal so it's not a nagging, reoccurring long-term injury. It's unfortunate because it's a tough injury."

On how the defense can improve…

"One thing is we can force turnovers. We didn't force any turnovers and that's what elite defenses do. So, we were not elite in that category. The other thing is play tempo and continue to work on it. We spend more time all week on our weaknesses and less time really on what our opponents do sometimes because we know what's coming down the road and we also know to be elite you got to have to tackle well, especially in space. We didn't do that on Saturday. We had some really, really bad tackling situations. Run after contact. So, we basically take the things we do the weakest and we continue to work really hard on those so that we can be better prepared."

On potentially facing four straight ranked opponents…

"There is no week off in our conference so those teams could be higher ranked by the time we play them, they could be lower ranked but they're going to be the same team regardless of what they're ranked. And they're really good SEC teams. I think it's more about how do you write the chapters in your book where all the chapters are good chapters. We're trying to write a really good book and we don't want a bad chapter in our book. So, we're trying to write each individual chapter, and it has a history and life of it's own, and you do that by focusing on what's present now. And that, for us right now, is Auburn."

On how the offense can improve…

"It's different every week. It depends a lot on what they do and what we're able to do. One of our biggest 'Achilles Heels' is perimeter blocking. I think our guys gave much better effort in that so we can be explosive in not only the run game, but also in the perimeter throw game. We've had times where we've thrown the ball down the field, but you're never going to be 100%. We haven't done it consistently; I would argue that stopping us from being that on offense is ourselves. How can we create enough depth? The one thing that worries you and is beyond anyone's control is depth at wideout. I've never had six, maybe seven, healthy receivers when you're playing three receivers down. That part is not anyone's job other than getting guys healthy."

On Coach Jahmile Addae…

"He's done a great job. He's got great players, a lot of energy on the field. I think the players respect his point of view and his ability to help them. He's also morphed into our defense and absorbed a lot of information. We have a lot of history when you walk in a room with Dan Lanning, Glenn Schumann, myself and Tray Scott who have been together for a long time. The conversation can go really fast, he's very intelligent and has picked up on that."

On Stetson's scrambling…

"Every offense has a scramble plan, it's a lot more calculated than you might think. Every offense, from Coach Bobo to Coach Todd Monken to everyone in the country they have a scramble plan. It's going to happen regardless of your quarterback. You go through those steps, and you explain it. It's not something you control or manipulate; it just naturally happens. So, it isn't like we're telling Stetson Bennett to not scramble and take off, it's an instinctive trait that some people do better than others. Some people are better athletes that can extend plays and pull a lot of stress off people. Those guys are all good athletes."

On special teams…

"Special teams are critical on the road because usually that's a momentum play, we call them. If you're trying to get the crowd out of it, we need a momentum play. If you don't, then you're going to bring the crowd right back into it. So, dominating special teams sometimes controls the momentum of the crowd. That's important on the road anytime. There's no bigger play than having a kickoff return on the road because they just scored on you. And that's important that you gain field position back. As far as our guys, I've loved the effort and energy of our units. We haven't always played with the most intelligence in terms of undisciplined penalties. I'm very frustrated with that side of it but I'd much rather have the penalties fighting and trying than not being in position to make those blocks. And we got to do a better job of not shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties."

On Julian Rochester and Devonte Wyatt…

Julian Rochester's back out practicing with us. He's been down on the scout team getting work, trying to get confidence in his knee and feel good about it. I'm hopeful that he's able to contribute and help us. It's really tough at this point as far down the road as we are but he's a battler and great kid and he didn't gripe one bit about trying to get confidence. He's one of those guys that gave us a great look at Arkansas' defensive line last week. And then Devonte Wyatt just, one of his better performances. He's worked so hard in the off-season to trim weight. He slimmed down. He's much more athletic, and I'm just excited to see him get that opportunity."

On Demetris Robertson transferring to Auburn…

"He wanted an opportunity to get more reps and an opportunity to play more and he felt like the opportunity was probably better there than it was here. We didn't want to see D-Rob go. I've always thought a lot of D-Rob. He'd gotten better and the situation we're in now is because some guys decided to leave. That's why we're so thin along with injuries. But, I've wished D-Rob nothing but the best. Great young man, respected a lot. He's been able to make a lot of good plays for them, lot of big plays. Mike Bobo does a great job of using the skill set of the player he has and D-Rob's been able to make a lot of plays for them because of that."

Payne Walker, Junior, Snapper

On Dan Jackson…

"Well Dan is one of the hardest working guys I know. He is also one of the best guys I know. Ever since he has gotten here he has gotten his work done. He kind of keeps his head down and down and doesn't say a lot. I think that speaks volumes for his performance and how he has played so well this year. He is very focused, focused on his athletics and his academics. His overall aurora of just being an everyday guy that is going to show up and show out."

On the development of the team…

"This offseason we focused a lot on connection, physicality, toughness and resiliency. I think over the last couple of games that you have seen that all of those have been very present in the way we play. As far as going forward, we are always focused on the next game. Eager to have this opportunity to play Auburn on the road and we are excited for it.

Sedrick Van Pran, Redshirt Freshman, Offensive Lineman

On playing at Auburn…

"I have heard a lot about the Auburn experience, the atmosphere. That is something I am personally looking forward to because it will be my first time. I look forward to taking on the challenge."

On having a veteran quarterback like Stetson Bennett…

"Well, I think the great thing that our quarterbacks do is that they definitely add a calming effect into the game. They stay calm, they lead in the right way and in a positive manner. I think just having that veteran experience from all of our quarterbacks just helps calm guys down and keep a level head throughout the game."

Christopher Smith, Senior, Defensive Back

On next week's matchup with Auburn…
 
"I'm stepping out on the field and giving my all every play. Demetris Robertson used to be on our team, but once we get in between those lines, it's time to do what I do best."

On the Arkansas game…
 
"It was a challenge. A lot of new receivers running pretty good routes and things like that. But we prepared a lot for the kind of offense that they have. They have a great offensive coordinator, a very mobile quarterback with a good deep threat going, pretty good receivers – 16 is pretty good. We knew we were going to have to clamp him to win the game. So, it took a lot of preparation. There is definitely a lot more going on in the back end then y'all probably saw just because of the front end doing their job. There are a bunch of pieces back there, and everything has to be perfect for us to be able to execute."

Wyatt Named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia senior Devonte Wyatt has been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week following the Dawgs’ 37-0 shutout of No. 8 Arkansas, according to a league announcement.

This marks the seventh weekly honor for the Dawgs this season and the first for Wyatt. Freshman TE Brock Bowers (Freshman) garnered an award after the Vanderbilt win while junior ILB Nolan Smith (Defensive Player) and WR Adonai Mitchell (Freshman) earned honors following the victory over South Carolina.

In the win over UAB, senior QB Stetson Bennett (Offensive Player) garnered an SEC honor. Senior S Christopher Smith (Defensive Player) and senior N Jordan Davis (Defensive Lineman) collected a pair of conference accolades after the season-opening victory over No. 3 Clemson.

Wyatt, a native of Decatur, posted a team-high six stops, including 1.5 sacks, and forced a fumble during Georgia’s top-10 win over the Razorbacks. His forced fumble came on an Arkansas drive that finished with a missed field goal. Wyatt was the centerpiece of a defensive front that allowed only 162 total yards and just nine first downs as the Dawgs pushed their start to 5-0.

The No. 2 Dawgs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) travel to Auburn, Alabama to play No. 18 Auburn (4-1, 1-0) on Saturday. CBS will televise the matchup at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Defense Dominates Again With Historic Shutout Of Top 10 Team: For only the third time in school history and the first time since 1976, Georgia posted a shut out a top 10 team with a 37-0 victory over No. 8 Arkansas. It was the first time since 1980 that the Dawgs had back-to-back shutouts of SEC opponents, doing it against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Today Georgia posted its seventh shutout in the Kirby Smart era and the fifth in an SEC game.

The other shutouts of top 10 teams came when No. 6 Georgia blanked No. 10 Alabama 21-0 here in 1976, and in 1942, the No. 5 Dawgs shut out No. 2 Ga. Tech 34-0 here. The Razorbacks finished with 156 yards of total offense (75-rushing, 87-passing) and came in averaging 35.8 points a game.

Georgia leads the nation in Scoring Defense, allowing just 4.6 points per game. Opponents now have scored just 23 points on the Dawgs this year.

The Dawgs are now 12-6 against top 10 foes under Kirby Smart including 4-0 at home. Georgia improved to 4-2 when ESPN College GameDay is in town including winning its last four. The Dawgs are 5-0 under Smart for the third time (2017-19).

Leading Tacklers and Sack Masters: Georgia’s leading tacklers today were Devonte Wyatt with six along with Adam Anderson and Channing Tindall with five apiece. Also, they got a total of four sacks from Wyatt (1.5), Nakobe Dean (1.5) and Anderson (1). Dean has 3.5 for the year and those were the first for Wyatt this year. Anderson has a team-best four sacks this year.

Quick Start For Offense: Georgia QB Stetson Bennett made his second start this year (in place of JT Daniels who has been dealing with a lat issue) and finished 7-for-11 for 72 yards. Georgia marched down the field on its opening drive, going 75 yards in nine plays in 4:14 for a 7-0 lead. The drive was capped by a three-yard run by Zamir White, his third of the year and 17th of his career. On the second possession, Georgia went 56 yards on nine plays in 4:38 for another TD, this one by Kendall Milton, his first of career. During this drive, the Dawgs converted a 4th-and-1 at the 35 when White rushed for three yards. Georgia built a 14-0 lead with 4:34 left in the first quarter.

Coming in Saturday, Arkansas had not allowed any points in the first quarter, outscoring their foes 34-0. Today, Georgia led 21-0 after the first.

Focused on Rushing Attack: Georgia tallied 345 yards of total offense including 273 on the ground, rushing the ball a season-high 57 times. That was the most rushing attempts in the Kirby Smart era. James Cook led the attack with 87 yards on 12 carries. Zamir White had a team-high 16 carries for 68 yards and two TDs. On its first drive of the second half, Georgia started at the UA 46 and used 10 rushing plays for 33 yards before making a 30-yard field goal and a 27-0 lead. White’s 15-yard TD scamper made it 34-0 with 12:12 left. It culminated a season-high 11 play drive that went 93 yards in 5:50

Special Teams Summary: Senior punter Jake Camarda had two punts for a 43.5 yard average and handled the kickoffs. Junior Jack Podlesny was 4-for-4 on PATs to improve to 26-for-26 this season plus he was 3-for-3 in field goals as they covered 47 yards, a season long, a 30-yarder and a 37-yarder. He is 7-for-9 in FG this year.

In the first quarter, redshirt sophomore DB Dan Jackson blocked an Arkansas punt, and it was recovered by Zamir White in the end zone to make it 21-0. Before today, the last time Georgia blocked a punt was against Arkansas last year by Zamir White. The last blocked punt returned for a TD before today was Eric Stokes at Missouri in 2018. Georgia now has five special teams TDs in the Kirby Smart era.

For Starters, Game Captains & Helmet Decal: Georgia did not have any first-time starters today. The captains were seniors James Cook (RB) and Jamaree Salyer (LT) and junior Christopher Smith (DB). Arkansas won the toss and elected to defer the football until the second half. Georgia took part in College Football Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct. 2-9) by wearing a special helmet decal to declare #MentalHealthMatters.

Series History & Up Next: With the 37-0 win, No. 2 Georgia now has a 12-4 edge in the series history over Arkansas. This marked the first shutout in the series history with Arkansas and the largest margin of victory with the series going back to the 1969 Sugar Bowl.

Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) returns to action Saturday at Auburn. Kickoff will be at 3:30 pm ET (CBS).

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Dawgs Slaughter Hogs

UGA Sports Communications

The No. 2-ranked Dawgs used their stifling defense, a powerful run game and some special teams fireworks to take down No. 8 Arkansas, 37-0, Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium. It was the Dawgs’ second SEC shutout in as many games after winning 62-0 at Vanderbilt last week.

In the Dawgs’ second top-10 match of the season, after opening up against Clemson in a top-five clash, Georgia’s stout defense clamped down on the Razorbacks from the outset and never let the Hogs get going. Arkansas didn’t reach 100 yards of total offense until the final minute of the third quarter and finished with 156 yards, while the run-first Dawgs ended up with 273 on the ground and 345 total yards.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett was making his second start of the season in place of the injured JT Daniels. In his first, against UAB in the Dawgs’ home opener on September 11th, Bennett put on a show for the ages, completing 10 of 12 passes for 288 yards and tying a school record with five touchdowns. Against the Razorbacks, Bennett was mainly tasked with handing the ball to Georgia’s vast stable of running backs.

Zamir White led Georgia’s ground attack with 16 carries for 68 yards and two rushing touchdowns. James Cook had 87 yards on 12 carries, and Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh combined for 105 yards on 23 attempts, Milton scored on a 1-yard run. Bennett, meanwhile, was an efficient 7 of 11 passing for 72 yards. Ladd McConkey led the receivers with three catches for 27 yards.

Just like it has in its previous SEC games, the Dawgs got off to a running start. On the first play from scrimmage, Bennett faked a handoff to White and ran right for 9 yards. Another fake handoff to White and a quick throw to McConkey netted 16 yards. The Dawgs were on the move and the nine-play drive ended on a 3-yard touchdown run by White, putting the Dawgs up 7-0 with 10:46 to play in the first quarter.

Arkansas’ first possession went perfectly, at least for the Georgia defense. A false start backed the Hogs up 5 yards, as did a second false start. Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker teamed up for a stop after a short gain on first down. Wyatt then sacked K.J. Jefferson for a 6-yard lass on second down, and Walker broke up a pass on third-and-24.

The Georgia ground game ate up the yards on the Dawgs’ second drive. The first six plays were all runs, by four different backs, and the drive ended on Kendall Milton’s 1-yard run, putting the Dawgs up 14-0 with 4:34 left in the opening quarter.

Georgia’s special teams produced the Dawgs’ second touchdown. After the defense stuffed another Razorback possession, forcing a punt on fourth-and-9 from the Hogs’ 8-yard line, the Dawgs’ Dan Jackson got free and blocked the Reid Bauer attempt, and White recovered the ball in the end zone for a score and a 21-0 advantage with 2:17 to play in the quarter.

The Dawgs have outscored South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arkansas a combined 70-6 in the first quarter this season.

The Dawgs’ only points the rest of the half were a 46-yard field goal by Jack Podlesny with 7:38 to play in the second. Georgia had 139 rushing yards at the half while the Dawgs defense had held the Hogs to just 78 yards of total offense. This was the fourth time in five games that Georgia’s defense has held its opponent scoreless at the half.

A defensive stop — the Razorbacks lost 7 yards on their first possession of the third quarter — and a 10-play drive that ended with a 30-yard Podlesny field goal, put Georgia in front 27-0 with 10:05 to play in the third quarter.

White got his third touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 15-yard scamper to cap an 11-play and 93-yard drive, making it 34-0 Dawgs. On Georgia’s ensuing drive, after another Arkansas possession lost yardage, McIntosh ran for 15 yards on fourth-and-1 at the Hogs’ 38. Podlesney capped that drive with a 37-yard field goal that put the Dawgs up 37-0, with 3:46 to play in the game.

Wyatt led the defense with six tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Adam Anderson had five tackles and 1.5 for loss, and as a team, Georgia got 7 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including 4 sacks.

After Georgia’s touchdown drive to open the game, former Georgia All-American golfer Harris English was recognized on the field for his contributions in helping the U.S. Ryder Cup team defeat the European squad last weekend at Whistling Straits, Wis. During halftime, many of Georgia’s Olympians that competed in Tokyo this summer were celebrated, including swimmers Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland, who won gold and silver, respectively, in the 400-meter individual medley.

Georgia also celebrated its 2021 Circle of Honor inductees: football’s All-American lineman Randy Johnson, legendary women’s basketball coach Andy Landers, NCAA-champion swimmer Robert Margalis and softball All-American Kim Wendland.

The Dawgs return to the road next week when they head to the Plains to take on Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Tuesday Press Conference

UGA Sports Communications

Coach Kirby Smart

On areas of emphasis in practice this week…

“Physical contact, healthiness, execution, the same area of focus every week in football, right, you got to out block out tackle out compete, it really hasn't been a unique circumstance because we have a normal protocol we go through Monday we practiced on Tuesday it was a get after it day, we got after it. Kids had great energy, they're excited and they got a lot of respect for Arkansas and, I mean, the same areas you know we got to be explosive and not give up explosives and we got to create turnovers and not turn it over so not a lot of different ways to say that.”

On Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith this week…

“Both up and down, and they both practiced both days. I thought Tykee Smith looked better on Monday. He was quick moving around and we got him on pitch count. You know they're only able to take limited reps from a standpoint of your foot getting sore, as the volume goes up. Darnell Washington struggled a bit yesterday but then he looked good today, I thought he did a good job today. And, you know both of them are, they've got a ways to go, I don't know if they'll be able to play in the game or not but they're working towards it, I can promise you that. It's not just being cleared, you know it's everything else involved in it from being behind, stamina, execution, getting them reps, it’s tough, I'll be honest with you, but I'm still very hopeful that they both can help us.”

On Barry Odom’s defense…

“Ah, well, they've been able to change. They've had some different kinds of opponents this year they've had Rice, they've had Florida Southern which was a little more traditional stuff, and then they've had Texas and Texas A&M. They have multiple packages they can use and Clemson had the same options so you know some of what they do is somewhat of us and some of what they do is not so you have to prepare for more things when you play somebody like that. He does a really good job, you know, of being able to change it up and be multiple. “

On Georgia facing a top 10 opponent…

“It probably says the most about our conference. I guess, I know not all those are conference games because there's probably some bowl games mixed in there but, I mean, that's, that's where Georgia should be, right, it should be playing in marquee games, marquee matchups. I mean there's a lot of good football teams we play against, and a lot of good opportunities, but I like that, you know the prep of the week is a lot more focused, a lot more energy around the game, of course I feel like every SEC games that way, whether it's top 10 or not. But it's great. I mean, I like it.”

On trusting Georgia’s scouting and evaluation of players …

“I guess the answer to that would be yes, I mean I don't know how other organizations it do so it's hard to compare. I do know how we do it and I mean, I don't think any college coach would tell you, they make decisions based on what the rankings in the recruiting rankings say, I mean I really don't think a college coach would say that I think they do it based on the evaluation they see on tape. And that's what we do, because I really have found that if you go off camp, it’s a hell of a lot better accuracy than any ranking or anything, even the tape you see in high school. Um, you know, we didn't love Adonai Mitchell’s high school tape, and we were like man I got question marks, but we loved him in camp and we loved his COVID workouts that he did, and I get a lot more accuracy with information, like to me information removes arrows and we're in a game of not making mistakes right, we're trying to get the right kind of kids, talk about mentally and physically, and we go through a lot of evaluation. I don't think so, and I don't know this for certain, but I don't think a lot of teams do the evaluation process as deep as others. Some people fall in love with a player because it will play, and then they just go recruit them but we don't do that here we watch a lot of tape and I'm on my coaches all the time that, hey, the tape and the camp is gonna speak volumes to who they are, trust your evaluation, and we worry about the ones we get, not the ones we don't. And it's helped us, you know, we've been wrong, we've made mistakes, as much as anybody but I do think that character matters more now than ever. And, you know, guys like Ladd, that do a tremendous job and have speed. I'm like shoot man why would this guy not be a good player, he is. “

On Barry Odom and the offense and defense playing left-handed….

“We try to. Defensively I don’t know that we’re as good at it as Barry Odom and those guys. Barry and them come at you very differently schematically. We’re probably closer to the norm in terms of our league and Barry and them are not. They’re an extremely tough prep because of the way they play. It’s just different, I can’t explain it, you would have to watch the tape. Their kids play extremely hard, extremely physical, the strain is enormous. If you don’t match their strain then you’re gonna have a frustrating day. I got a lot of respect for the way they play. Our main thing is stopping the run and that’s always been an MO of ours. We’ve just been able to affect the pass a little better this year. These guys run the ball really well and Coach Pittman is very involved in that. Coach Briles does a good job of that and so, offensively we obviously try to dictate with some tempo. We try to dictate with our playmaker’s ability getting them to our playmakers. But I can't say that we make people left-handed as much as they do.”

On the importance of JT Daniels’ patience….

“Well, everybody says they drop a lot of players, those same players are the ones tackling people in the backfield. So, you know, that they don't always drop them, they’re aggressive. They know, in order to stop the run, they've got to be great eye control, great run-pass readers. They’re right a lot, their kids understand the game. They trigger on runs and they’re really elite at beating blocks. They run guys to the ball so it's not like they're out there, just dropping on air giving you all kinds of opportunities they can suffocate you with the way they play defense and they do a really good job. We just got to do a great job of making good decisions. That's what forced the quarterbacks they beat into poor decisions they forced them into bad decisions.”

On Kearis Jackson’s injury and his return to the field…

“No, he’s not 100 percent. As a matter of fact, he’s been struggling this week some, so no I felt like he got back. I don’t know what he was last week 90, 95 in the Vanderbilt game. He was out there playing, made a couple of plays, and it’s bothering him some this week. He’s been hindered some and practicing, I think he’s going to be good to go but he’s a little banged up. But Kearis is tough, he loves the game, he wants to get out there, and if anything with Kearis you got to hold him back because he’ll go out there injured.”

On Tykee Smith and Latavious Brini…

“Yeah Tykee brings experience. He played star position in West Virginia and he played with Coach Jahmile Addae, he did a great job playing there. So, once he went in the portal we felt like, you know, that was a perfect addition for us because not only had playing experience, he's a good tackler, He was gonna make our team better, and he's done that. Unfortunately, the injury is putting it behind some and, you know, we felt good about Brini, you know, we felt like Brini played well in the Cincinnati game. He's been around our defense for a long time. He practices really hard, he got more confidence through the Spring, and through these games we played, so they're both really good players and good people, and we're hoping to get Tykee back soon.”

On Treylon Burks’ impact on defense…

“Well, he's a tough matchup because, I mean, first of all, you could put him everywhere. He's in the backfield as a quarterback, he’s a receiver, he's a slot receiver, a tight end, I mean, he does everything. They find ways to get him the ball. He’s been fast, faster than you think he is. He gets out there on the edge and can go on. He’s really tough. So, you know, obviously, when it comes to 50/50, ball size matters. And he's got great length and really good ball skills, so he was a problem for us last year. He's been a problem for the SEC for a while and he's a really good football player.”

On Jalen Carter’s growth as a player…


“He’s more confident in the system, I think, more confident in his ability. Obviously, he's taking more reps so he understands the defense better, but he's playing quicker to me. There was a time where he got a little heavy towards the end of last year and he's really quick now, he's athletic. He can move and disengage blockers. He’s really powerful. This guy was a really good basketball player, he could dunk and do things. He plays with power when he strikes people, so, we're excited about what way he’s playing. He's gotten better and grown as a player and he's got two great role models there in Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt.”

On Latavious Brini growing as a leader…

“He's been a pleasure to work with the whole time. He's nice, he’s never truly been a problem. He's a guy that goes to class, does what he's supposed to do, has discipline, is fun to coach, appreciates hard coaching, you know, he's one of the guys that's come up to me before and thanked me and said, ‘Coach, I really appreciate how hard you push me and how hard you coach me.’ Not everybody feels that way and it makes me respect how far he's come, and he's a great young man and he's gotten better from being here and he's a good role model for our players and he's a true example of if you work hard and you learn the defense and you get better than you'll get your opportunity, and he's done that.”

On preparing to play against KJ Jefferson and how playing against DJ Uiagalelei has helped in preparation against Arkansas…

“Yeah, probably helps in terms of wrapping up and finishing because you don't ever get to practice tackling somebody that big, but he's a little different. DJ was not trying to run the ball and they didn't really try to have a quarterback run him much where KJ does do that and KJ is a more physical downhill runner and he throws the ball really well too. He got an extremely strong arm, but he's a true running back runner, they can do those things and I don’t think DJ, that's wasn't what he was, but in the pocket, you know, probably helps that we had to tackle a guy that big.”

On Robert Beal’s maturity off the field…

“Now Beal’s grown up a lot, he's playing good football to us, we think he's done a good job. He's a kid that's worked really hard, he's had some injuries, he's been banged up some, and we just think how long he's been here and really what he's been through. He's a tremendous kid, and I’m very thankful for the growth he's made. He's really helped our team on special teams and I think of all the reps he's taking in practice on those scout kickoff and scout punt return units and now he's out there doing them and he's put us on third down and he's really physical. He gives us something on outside backer, some of the other guys don't get.”

On crediting Coach Pittman while he was on the staff at UGA…

“Yeah it's probably morale and positivity, you know, Sam’s a really, really optimistic, positive guy, especially with his players and his relationship with them. He was always good for me to be around leading up the games, you know, or if you're worried about something, Sam always had a great spin and a great vibe on it and he was great for our staff, you know, staff morale and he's just a phenomenal person. I'd always heard so many good things about him as a coach in Alabama, and we tried to hire him a couple of times and could never get him and then when I got the job (at UGA), he was the number one guy that I targeted and I’m so thankful that he came with us.”

Robert Beal Jr., Senior, Outside Linebacker

On the decision to enter then leave the transfer portal…


“First off, I was not really happy with my playing time and I knew I could play anywhere else in the country. It would have been bad for me to leave honestly. I talked it over with my mother, I talked it over with my dad and I just figured it might work and came back.”

On having experienced players on defense…

“It helps a lot. There are a lot of veteran guys around who have seen a lot and done a lot. I think it helps us out overall. It keeps the new guys in check too.”

On forces fumble and attitude on special teams…

“On that play, it actually wasn’t me that caused the forced fumble, it was Jaylen Johnson. I hit him low and he hit him high and knocked the ball out. But special teams, I think it will get me to the next level.

Latavious Brini, Senior, Defensive Back

On confidence from the Cincinnati game and progress…

“The confidence I got from the Cincinnati game, it has continued building. It is a building process to try and take every week at a time and just keep building that confidence from Cincinnati.”

On having big-game experience…

“Like I said earlier, it just helps my confidence, boosts my confidence.
Every week we go in with a game plan which helps me to say ‘we are getting better every week and lets just do this for the week to come’.”

On Georgia playing top-10 matchups…

“Like I said, week to week, we just come to work. We come to prepare and get the game plan, go hard in practice, study hard and prepare to play every Saturday.”