Friday, December 31, 2021

Post Game Notes

Dawgs Return To The CFP And Headed To National Championship Game: Tonight Georgia made its second appearance in the College Football Playoff, again as a No. 3 seed, and beat 2nd seed Michigan 34-11. The MVPs were seniors Stetson Bennett (offense: 21-for-31, 307 yards, 3 TDs; 3 rushes, 32 yards) and Derion Kendrick (Defense: 2 INTs, 5 tackles) The first time in the CFP came when the 2017 SEC Champions outlasted No. 2 seed Oklahoma 54-48 in double overtime in the Rose Bowl Game. Then, it fell to No. 4 seed Alabama 26-23 in overtime in the National Championship Game in Atlanta.

Up next, Georgia will face No. 1 seed Alabama (13-1) in the 2022 National Championship Game on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis. UA won the 2021 SEC Championship over #1 UGA 41-24 in Atlanta on Dec. 4. UA leads the all-time series 42-25-4 and has won the last seven meetings with four of those during the Kirby Smart era.

Staunch Defensive Effort To Advance To CFP National Championship Game: Georgia entered as the national leader in Scoring Defense at 9.5 ppg while UM was averaging 37.7 ppg, and the Dawgs won 34-11. UM tallied 325 yards on 63 plays. Georgia leads the nation in Red Zone Defense, and UM was just 1-for-3 including a fourth down stop at the UGA 6 in the fourth quarter. Opponents have made 28 trips this year and 12 times have come away with no points. UM got its lone TD with 4:25 left in the contest, trailing 34-3.

Tonight’s leading tackler was junior Nolan Smith with eight stops and a sack followed by 2021 Butkus Award winner junior Nakobe Dean with 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack and a forced fumble (recovered by Devonte Wyatt). Georgia forced a total of three turnovers but did not convert any into points. Dean and senior Robert Beal collected sacks in the first half as they lead the team with 6 and 5.5 this year. Overall, Georgia had four sacks to give them 45 this year.

Senior Derion Kendrick notched two interceptions and five tackles. He collected his 2nd INT to stop UM’s opening drive of the 2nd half, catching it in the endzone. The two INTs tied a Dawg bowl record held by seven others. Tonight was the first 2-INT game by a Dawg since Richard LeCounte versus Arkansas in 2020. Kendrick had a big CFP semifinal game while at Clemson versus Ohio State in a 2019 Fiesta Bowl win, tallying nine tackles and 2 PBU.

Bennett Leads Offense: Coming in tonight, the Dawgs were averaging 39.4 points per game and posted a 34-11 win over No. 2 Michigan who was allowing just 16.1 ppg. Georgia finished with 515 yards of total offense on 67 plays. At the half, Georgia had built a 27-3 lead on 330 yards of total offense on 36 plays.

Senior QB Stetson Bennett improved to 13-3 as a starter (10-1 this year). In the first half, he went 16-for-21 for 234 yards and 2 TDs to nine different receivers. He completed his first nine passes for 92 yards before his first incompletion. With 1:38 left in the first half, he connected for a 57-yard TD pass to Jermaine Burton that finished a 37-second drive in three plays covering 69 yards and made it 27-3. He completed a 39-yard TD pass to James Cook to make it 34-3 with 11:11 left in the game.

The leading receiver was freshman TE Brock Bowers (6 rec., 56 yards, 1 TD), and the leading rusher was senior Zamir White with 54 yards on 12 carries. Senior James Cook had 32 yards on six attempts, and he also had three catches for 99 yards.

Georgia took a 7-0 lead, driving 80 yards on seven plays in 4:11 to start the game. The drive was capped by a nine-yard TD pass from Bennett to Bowers. For Bowers, it was his school record 12th TD reception and his 50th overall catch, which also is a record for tight ends in a season. Georgia went up 14-0 after a halfback pass from Kenny McIntosh to AD Mitchell for 18 yards. It was the first TD pass by a running back since Thomas Brown to Joe Tereshinski (QB) for 9 yards against UF in 2005.

Orange Bowl History: Georgia made its fourth appearance in the Orange Bowl, and the first since 1960 when it blanked Missouri 14-0. The Dawgs are now 3-1 in Orange Bowls. Georgia’s first-ever bowl game was the 1942 Orange Bowl where the No. 20 Dawgs defeated No. 14 TCU 40-26 to cap a 9-1-1 season. Georgia made its 25 consecutive appearance in a bowl game tonight which is the nation’s longest active streak. Overall, the Dawgs have played in 58 bowl games and own a mark of 34-21-3. Georgia is now 2-1 versus Michigan with the other two meetings coming during the regular season in Ann Arbor in 1957 and 1965.

2021 Senior Class Ties Win Marks: Georgia’s senior class now improves to 44-8, and that ties for the most wins by a senior class, joining the 2005, 2018 and 2020 teams. Also, Georgia became only the third team in school history to win a record 13 games in a year, joining the 2002 and 2017 squads.

Summary of Specialists: Junior Jack Podlesny went 2-for-3 on field goals (good from 28 and 43 yards; missed 45) and 4-for-4 on PATs. He is 20-for-25 in FGs and 68-for-69 on PATs. Senior Jake Camarda had two punts (45.5 avg) and handled kickoffs.

Game Captains/Coin Toss: The captains were Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Jamaree Salyer and Zamir White. Michigan won the toss and deferred until the 2nd half.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Signing Day Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement on Signing Day…

“I’m excited about these guys joining us. Another great group, very hard-working staff to bring this into one group. It’s still not over, as far as our guys will sign in February. I’m excited about this group. It’s been one of the funnest to recruit here. It was kind of a half-COVID recruiting class because they didn’t get to come to campus until June 1. Everybody came through—it was a wild time with everyone trying to come at the same time. Our staff did a tremendous job. Our recruiting staff did a tremendous job. Our administration helped. Our academic folks that meet with these kids, they come on visits. There was a span from June 1 to June 28, 29, where we spent every single day here with somebody here, so that was a big part of our signing class. It started before that on Zoom, it started before that in communication, talking. But physically seeing people, in front of them, it was certainly great to have these kids being able to come to campus like they did. I’m proud of the group. We feel like it’s spread out the way it should be dispersed that way. We hit some needs that we needed. A lot of great stats that I could read through, but you guys have all those. It’s really a well-rounded class in terms of multiple-sport athletes, high academic achievers, top-ranked guys, which I don’t really care about what they’re ranked. I care a whole lot more about how they play, and we’ve seen evidence of the guys that have played a big role on our team, some of those guys were not the guys we talked about on this day during their career and I think we know a lot about those guys. It’s a lot more about what’s inside you that matters the most.”

On the emphasis placed on defensive backs in this class…

“We don’t have enough DBs now. I don’t know what you would be referring to—I don’t know how many are in there, I get confused between what’s in and what’s not in, but we don’t have enough. We’re still lower than we’ve ever been in terms of defensive backs. We have more leaving than we have coming. We were already below, so if you have more leaving than you have coming, you’re actually net gain, so we’re still working on that defensive back position. It’s a position that’s been tough for us this year because we’ve not been able to play dime packages, we’ve not been able to do some of the things we’ve wanted to do, put six DBs on the field. I am really proud of the DBs in this class that we have, but we’re not anywhere near where we used to be. I think there are seven that have left since the last year, then you throw in the seniors, those core Georgia guys that have been here forever and they’re all finishing. When you add those seven plus four or five, that’s a one-year window of 14 to 15 guys. In my mind, we’re still short numbers of scholarship players.”

On the addition of Gunner Stockton…

“The recruitment of Gunner was really interesting because we’ve known, at least I’ve known, Gunner since he was a small kid. His dad hosted me at an official visit at Georgia Southern many years ago, so I’ve known his dad for a long time. My dad was the high school there was Gunner was a young, young kid. Tremendous athlete, tremendous character, I don’t know you could raise a finer young man in today’s day and age of all the attention-seeking people. He’s never done that. He’s stuck to his guns that he loves UGA. He wants to be here, and certainly, a major part of our class.”

On the quality of the defensive backs in this class…

“I don’t think you actually ever know what you have. You certainly feel great about them, but to tab anybody the next guy or the first guy to start, it’s hard. The length and the speed is what stood out the most. We missed some size in recent years. We like to have length; we like to have toughness. I like intelligence; I like ball skills. I think a lot of these qualities and traits show up. Your ability to play man-to-man—more in college football now than ever before, if you have a liability in coverage, it’s easier to find it. It used to be we were all up in a little phone booth, now we’re all out here, so your mistakes or your guys who can’t cover, it’s almost out of control. They spot it and they get you. I think this group, number one, has speed, they have man-to-man cover ability and they’re going to help us. There’s just not enough of them. What’s interesting is it used to be you couldn’t find O-linemen and D-linemen, and I still think they’re hard to find, but you’ve got these top-notch schools all saying DBs because there’s not enough of them to go around. The premier position is to go play wideout and we’ve got to find some guys that can cover those guys.”

On the wide receivers in this class…

“It starts with speed. You’ve got to have vertical speed down the field, and we feel like we’ve got some guys that can really stretch the field and do that. High character—you’ve got to be able to learn, buy into the offense, understand the splits, understand the route tree, understand the intricacies that go with playing the position. We’ve got a really good group there. I think each one of those guys that we bring on board brings a different attribute, whether it’s excellent speed, excellent size, quickness, toughness, all the things you look for. Wideout is another position where when you look across the board, we’re down. We were down all year, not just because of injury but because we had three or four leave, and now, we’re trying to replace those guys and catch up, and that’s tough to do. I like to have the numbers where we hit quota, and you’re finding out more and more now it’s easier to leave than it is to get them, so we’ve got to get some more guys there.”

On the offensive lineman in this recruiting class…

“I think it’s like everything. You have a group, a class of O-lineman. Any NFL general manager or scout will tell you, ‘OK, this class is loaded with this.’ Last year’s NFL Draft class had a lot of really good corners. We had two good corners go pretty high. We had corners go before, but that was a really big corner draft class. As you look across the country, the offensive line class now, I’m not talking about recruiting rankings like you referenced—I would refer to that because they are going to have a certain number of five stars and four stars that they’ve got to hit—but the pool of offensive lineman probably wasn’t as great as it’s been in years past in terms of quality depth at that position. Now if you go statistically, there is 100 four stars, 20 to 25 five stars. There may be the same number, but we’re talking about on our board we rank things completely different than stars and things like that. We rate them where we can rate them across classes. Compare a guy three classes ago to a guy in this class. There were probably not as many guys. I feel great about the guys we got. We have a couple guys with great size. We have a couple of guys with great upside, kids that we think are going to be really good players that maybe haven’t played football for a long time. I love the core group we got, and we have a good group here, a good nucleus here on campus that we feel good about in terms of offensive line.”

On having two signing periods, NIL deals, and the Playoff all at once…

“I don’t, I don’t have many thoughts really. A mess would probably be your words. It’s the world I live in. It’s not a mess to me, it’s just the world I live in. You better learn to deal with it and be on top of it. We’re all dealing with the same ‘mess,’ so who handles it better is everything. I focus on how we can do it better and not on how messy it is.”

On Chandler “C.J.” Smith…

“Character. He’s a high character young man that we actually recruited a long time and had an official visit set up with and then he ended up committing to Florida. After that, we kept in contact with him. I think he has a great set of parents—military-based, on time to everything. Academics are important to him. He’s really fast. A track guy. Has excellent hands. When you look at the skill positions, that’s the one trait you really don’t develop as much as a lot of other traits—just sheer speed.”

On recruiting to the STAR position versus corner or safety…

“If we thought a guy could be a STAR, then we could also say he’d be a really good corner or safety. It’s not that we recruit to the STAR position. Certainly, it is a position in and of itself. He’s on the field 80, 85 percent of the season, but we don’t look at it that way. I look at it as you’re developing two positions when you’re here at any position. If you’re a guard, you’re developing as a center too. If you’re a tackle you might be developing as a guard or center. If you’re a back, you’re going to develop as a wideout because you play in space. If you’re a wideout, you’re going to develop as a slot. Everybody has two homes because we want to develop you where you become better and not specialize. The STAR position is a guy—we’ve had corners that have played STAR and we’ve had safeties that have played STAR.”

On Malaki Starks…

“I think Malaki has a bright future. He’s fast. Number one, he’s very intelligent. He’s high-character and you’re going to hear me repeat that over and over because that matters way more than what reputation they’re coming in with.”

On the importance of persistence in recruiting…

“It’s always the cause. I wouldn’t say that just this class has been persistence. It’s every class. It’s consistency in messaging. It’s consistency in communication. It’s the number one overall quality that I want to be known for in recruiting: consistency in performance, consistency in messaging, continuity of our staff and program. We won out a lot on that because a lot of folks by default had things change, and we didn’t have a lot of change. We were able to continue developing a relationship with people even if they were committed somewhere else because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Opening Statement on the Orange Bowl…

“We really haven’t focused on Michigan in terms of our preparation with the players, we have focused on us. We’ve been able to get a light practice in, I guess it was last Saturday, a heavier practice in yesterday. We’ve been able to get some conditioning and workouts in between as we’ve been recruiting. The players have been finishing up final exams; today is the last day of final exams so they’re finishing up those. They’ve had a hectic time getting ready for that. They’ve also had a little bit of off time, but as we turn the page towards Michigan, we as a staff have been working on them for several days now, preparing and getting things ready. We’ll start prepping the players for some of that here in the next couple days and we’ll batten down the hatches and start practicing heavier tomorrow for those guys.”

On the COVID-19 precautions with rising numbers…

“Ron Courson has had a heightened awareness in the recent weeks and days. We’ve got a large portion of our team that’s been vaccinated and continues to be diligent about that. We ask the guys that aren’t to be extra safe. We’ve taken some precautions around the building and to be smart. It’s certainly that time of year, we had a little bout with the flu there that made me concerned as well about COVID. Here in the last couple of days, we’ve been on top of it and our guys are understanding that we have to be safe and cannot lose anybody at this time. Ron and his staff have been incredible.”

On Coach Muschamp and Coach Schumann defensive coordinator clarification …

“The clarification is both Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann will be co-coordinators. Dan Lanning has done a tremendous job here, he is by far and away one of the most loyal, hardworking guys that I’ve been around. He’s bright, energetic, a good teacher. He’ll do wonderful things at Oregon. I’m so happy for him that he got an opportunity for a job like that. He had had several interviews, several opportunities that he wasn’t interested in, some that he was, and it was one he thought was a great opportunity. I’m glad that he’s staying on with us to help us finish this thing out. He’s done a great job.”

On the physicality of Michigan…

“Great running game, great backs. Three really good backs, really physical. Just extremely physical at the point of attack. Two quarterbacks, one’s really athletic, the other is athletic and they use both of those guys. They’re doing a really good job. They keep you off-balance and they have great play-action game, great use of their tight ends. Defensively, they’ve come a long way from the Michigan I knew two or three years ago when we studied them in off-season when they had a lot of sacks and a lot of turnovers. Mike Macdonald has done a lot to change that and you can see they’re playing really, really hard, very sound on defense.”

On the team mentality following the SEC Championship loss…

“We haven’t done a lot. It’s really good to get them away, focus on finals, focus on their health, focus on other things they’ve got going on. To get somebody’s total focus, you can’t sustain that for four weeks, you can’t sustain that for three weeks. You want to build to a point of getting back to an in-season mode. I don’t think you can continue doing what you did in-season for three or four weeks because the game is too far away. We’ve taken a mental check to say what kind of physical and mental shape we’re in. Our guys are in a really good place. We’ve slowly have started to come back. The two practices we had, had high energy and they’ve done an awesome job, they’ve been great. It’s more about what they’re going to do from this point forward as we get into things the next couple of weeks.”

On the quarterback position…

“Yeah, I don’t know if I can answer all of those questions. There were like three of them in there. At the end of the day, I think we have four really good quarterbacks in our system. I really feel confident in four guys that can play quarterback for us. I continue to say and repeatedly say that all those guys are evaluated each and every day. Stetson did some really good things in the Alabama game. He made a couple bonehead plays as well, that he has not played and that he has not done in the past. Just like we reassessed every single position, just like I said after the game, we reassess everything by how you practice, what you do and everything you do. His feet have been a blessing for us. His ability to run, scramble, make things open, make plays with his feet have all been good. He made a couple poor decisions in the last game, but he is not the only one that did that. We will continue to evaluate it. I hope that answers it for you.”

On the Rose Bowl experience helping prepare for this year…

“There is a huge significance in every game. Just making sure that we are clear on that because I know there are people that think the bowl games don’t matter, but they matter. Certainly, being in the CFP heightens the attention to it and we have a really solid plan. I was able to be a part of that CFP process while at Alabama, was able to do it here and we feel really comfortable with the prep. We build up to a point, and then we have a Christmas break, and then we have a game week at the location. When we go to the location, we are honed in, we are focused, just like we would be for a bowl game. I think the intensity of the practice and the awareness of the situation of your leaders on your team is probably the biggest difference. People are really locked in and focused with an attention to detail, just like they should be for a bowl game. You don’t treat things differently, but our guys are aware of that and you prepare in a very similar fashion in terms of getting ready. Right now, we are actually trying to get our team better, get our twos and threes as many reps as possible because it is like an extra spring practice. I mean we will have 14-15 practices before we play and that is literally an extra spring practice.”

On keeping NFL Draft eligible players’ minds right…

“I think every year we go play we have a group of players that could potentially get drafted, I think you could agree with that. I think we have a group whether that be 16 or three, but we have a group. The distraction is only if you make it one. The best way to get drafted higher is to do what? Play well. I think the distractions outside of our building, they’re there year-round. The distractions of an agent or social media, that never changes, it only becomes greater and greater and greater as you move along throughout the season. These guys have been incredible on being focused on what they have to. I mean Michigan has guys that are going to get drafted, Alabama, Cincinnati, they all have good players or they wouldn’t be there. So, everybody is dealing with that, and how you manage it internally, I’m talking about within your skull session group, your leaders on your team. That is really a team that comes out ahead.”

On the historic defensive performance this season…

“I think it is week-to-week. I think it is really how your defense plays. Did our defense keep us in some guys where we didn’t have to shoot out? Sure. We did that some this year. We also had some where people scored. There were times at the Tennessee game it was looking like that. Certainty, the Alabama game would be one. A lot of that is based on what we did, meaning, ‘What did we do?’ We didn’t play this coverage right or we didn’t play that coverage right and when you don’t do those things, you give up big plays. When you give up big plays, you have to score points, so it is two-fold. It’s total complimentary football and the one thing we did really well this year was play complimentary football and we didn’t do that the last time out.”

On development of players like Javon Bullard and Kamari Lassiter…

“I don’t know how realistic. In my career, which is long being around bowl practices, I’ve probably been in a bowl game everywhere it seems I’ve been. You don’t see a kid go from like, ‘OK, he just had this magic switch, and he just took over.’ I’ve seen them grow and get better. We got some guys out there that I’m like, ‘Man, that guy has gotten a lot better. He is with the scouts working.’ But to say he is going to go play in this environment and take over, I think that is a little bit of a stretch. If injuries happen, yeah it could happen. But it’s hard when you say this kid has only been here almost six months, which is the case for some of the guys you mentioned, for them to leap frog and take over for somebody that has been playing in the system. It is not like you just have to play the guys in the system, no. You play the guy that gives you the best chance to win. That is what we do at every single position, you play the guy that gives you the best chance to win. When you do that, a lot of the times the youngest ones don’t have that opportunity. They haven’t been in enough battles to do that.”

Nakobe Dean, Junior, Inside Linebacker

On the defense against Alabama...

"For the most part, the defense, we had discussions on the team about how we are going to build off the game and the type of impact it had on us there. We look forward to having nothing but a positive impact, like Jake Camarda and Jordan Davis. Like we say, smelling salts, kind of woke us up a little bit. So, it's stuff like that and fighting to make us work harder."

On feeling shocked when reviewing game tape...

"I wouldn't say it’s shock, it's a lot of execution, a lot of long recoveries. Basically, we had to play better, we got out played that day. That's just the way it was."

On Michigan...

"For the most part, they seem like a really good team. They have good players; they are well coached. I’m just looking forward to the game and the opportunity to play them."

Lewis Cine, Junior, Defensive Back

On Coach Glenn Schumann and Coach Will Muschamp being masterminds of defense...

“I would say it's their years of experience, their years of coaching. Everything they have under their name in terms of where they've been and the people they've coached. It gives them credibility in how much they know. That's why I call them a mastermind and I personally have learned a lot from them."

On Coach Dan Lanning’s role in preparation for the game...

"I don't think his role is going to change. In my opinion, I think he is really going to soak in the last moment he has with us guys, the guys that he's coached and got to know who they are other than just football players. He's going to soak in that moment before he takes on the job at Oregon. Other than that, I don't think his role is going to change."

On who leads the defense and any changes that will be made in the next couple of weeks..

"Way before hearing about the Dan Lanning job, it wasn't just one man taking control of what's being said in the defensive meeting room. It was all of them. Whether it was Lanning coming up and talking, Glenn Schumann coming up and talking. They all took turns to talk about something different. Like I said again, we're not seeing anything new in that because Coach Schumann and Muschamp have gotten up and talked about different things.

James Cook, Senior, Running Back

On the opportunity to play in his hometown of Miami…

“For me to possibly play one of my last college football games in my hometown and from where I’m from is great. To be able to play in front of all those people is an honor.”

On emotions while preparing for the bowl game vs. Michigan…

“It’s a little bit of everything as we prepare for this game. We have a chip on our shoulder since the last time we were out there, we lost. We know what we have to do to improve, and we have another chance to go out there which is very special.”

On practicing for the bowl game vs. Michigan…

“We are focusing on us in practice right now, just getting after it. We are getting guys back in shape. Everybody is locked in and we are taking it one day at a time to get ready for this game.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Hall Of Famer Charley Trippi Celebrates 100th Birthday

By Loran Smith, NFF Correspondent

Charley Trippi, one of the most accomplished super stars in the history of American sports, turned 100 years old on Tuesday and was honored by his Georgia and Athens friends with a hundred-candle cake at his home, which is a little more than three miles from Sanford Stadium where he earned fame as a multi-talented football player.

Trippi has reaped high honor and gushing praise every day of his life from the time he could not afford football cleats in his hometown of Pittston, Pa. until today, where he is homebound and unable to get about after having raked leaves and cut his own grass well past his 98th birthday.

This is a man whom the legendary Jim Thorpe, a 1951 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, said was the "greatest football player I have ever seen."

Harry Gilmer, the great Alabama quarterback and a 1993 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, once noted that Trippi could play every position on the team and that he likely was the greatest player who ever lived.

"Was I impressed to see him blow out all the candles?" remarked Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, also in attendance. "Being such a great second effort athlete, he wouldn't stop until he blew them all out. I was really overwhelmed. If you know anything about his legend at Georgia, you know he was, perhaps, the greatest all around football player on our campus. Many historians and observers have said that and from reading about him, I understand why."

Trippi's story is as compelling as there has ever been in the history of football. The son of immigrant Sicilians, his father was a coal miner. The enterprising Trippi, via a Coca-Cola connection, had his own delivery route and made more money as a high school teenager with his Coca-Cola route than his coal mining father.

That came about because a former Georgia football letterman, Harold Ketron, had risen through the Coca-Cola ranks to become the bottler in Wilkes Barre, Pa., eight miles from Pittston. Ketron discovered Trippi and advised him that he would make sure that Trippi would receive a scholarship to the University of Georgia.

It is a story that has been oft repeated that Trippi's family could not afford to buy him football cleats but he punted so expertly in his street shoes that his coach Paul Shebby, got his young protégé a pair of football shoes.

One day in punt formation, the snapper sailed a snap over Trippi's head. He chased down the ball and weaved his way to a touchdown. The head turning touchdown run made Trippi a backfield star forever from Pittston to LaSalle Prep to UGA to the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League.

Along the way, he was a prep star, All-American at Georgia and All-Pro for the Cardinals. He led Georgia to the national championship in 1946 and the Cardinals to the NFL title in 1947. He played in the old College All-Star game, owing to the war years, a record five times (four as a collegian and once as a pro).

He batted .344 in a partial season with the AA Atlanta Crackers in 1947 and could have become the first two-way professional athlete, but chose to stick with football. In addition to excelling against minor league players that one season, he competed against big leaguers in his military years.

I once asked him if he thought he could have made it as a major league player, he grinned and said: "Based on my experience against them in the military, yes," he said. Why did he not attempt to do what Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders? "I never considered that," he explained. "I don't think that would have been fair to either team." Above all else, Charley Trippi was a team player.

He could have turned pro following the Oil Bowl game in 1945, but out of loyalty to his College Football Hall of Fame Coach, Wallace Butts, Trippi returned to campus for his final year of eligibility. In addition, he had an entrenched desire to earn a college degree which was very important to his parents who were grateful for his realizing the American dream of achieving an education.

In high school, he was, at 160 pounds, considered undersized, but after weight gain and a stunning prep season at LaSalle, every school, including Notre Dame and Ohio State gave him a dedicated rush for his commitment.

His old-school father, remembering what Harold Ketron had done for the family, reminded his son that he should keep his word to Ketron, who he had told he would enroll in Athens. The son agreed and never considered another collegiate offer.

His pro career, in which Trippi is the only member of the NFL Hall of Fame to have accumulated 1,000 yards as a runner, passer and receiver, brought about his election to this prestigious organization in 1968.

Before that, in 1959, Trippi was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He became a generous supporter of the University of Georgia chapter and played in the chapter's annual golf outing and never missed the annual chapter dinner.

Anything he was asked to do to support the chapter became a given to the man who became as famous as the hedges which surround the playing field of Sanford Stadium.

Since 1960 when I first met him, Charley has always been a generous friend, never letting me pick up a check when we went out for a meal. I have interviewed him countless times with two poignant comments remaining indelible in my memory.

One, after more than 20 years of playing football, including ten years in the NFL, he had this response to why there were fewer concussions in his era: "It's simple, we led with our shoulder, not our head."

When I invited him, an athlete who would have scratched your very eyes out to achieve victory on the playing fields, to go quail hunting, he declined, saying: "I could never shoot anything as harmless as a little bird."

In his latent years, whenever I would stop by to see him, he was either cutting his grass with a rusting, old mower or raking leaves. He never became sedentary and was the classic example of what moderation can do for one's longevity. He never ate excessively and seldom ordered more than one drink at dinner. He never jogged or lifted weights—but his waist line never bulged.

An incident in his life that had resounding implications, is, perhaps, the least known episode in his life. In a game against San Francisco in 1954, an era when face guards were in their infancy, the 49ers John Henry Johnson blindsided Trippi as he was walking back to the huddle, slamming a forearm in Trippi's face that caused extensive damage and a long hospitalization.

As he was recuperating, a certain emissary showed up in Trippi's hospital room. This message was clear. John Henry Johnson could be taken care of—for good. Trippi said no. When I asked him about that, Charley though initially embittered by the cheapest of cheap shots said: "Can you imagine what that would have done to the game of football?" Johnson, knowing what might have been, later told an interviewer that he owed his life to Charley Trippi.

There are countless vignettes in Trippi's life and career that would make for an interesting book. While he recognized his enormous name value, no book has ever been written. My Trippi file is filled with notes and material that reflect that even with his superstar status, he had had an undercurrent of poignant modesty.

His sophomore year, Georgia won the national championship and included a victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl—Trippi, gaining 113 yards on 24 carries; completing 5 of 10 passes for 83 yards; and being named the most valuable player. The Bulldogs, however, only scored one touchdown, a one-yard plunge by Frank Sinkwich (a 1954 College Football Hall of Fame inductee), who won the Heisman trophy that year. Sinkwich was hobbling about on two sprained ankles at the Rose Bowl, but Butts let him score the only TD of the game. "I thought that was appropriate," Trippi told me. "After all, it was Frank who led us to the Rose Bowl."

Trippi was not his old Heisman self on his milestone birthday with a few close friends on hand, including Georgia head coach, Kirby Smart and Lenn Chandler, president of the National Football Foundation Georgia Chapter, the nation's largest. Trippi can barely hear, and he can no longer go outside and rake leaves. But he was able to huff and puff and blow out the 100 candles on his birthday cake.

Those who know him, would expect nothing less from one of the greatest players in college football history. Some say, the greatest.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Lanning Taking Oregon Job

Dan Lanning will leave Georgia and become the head coach at Oregon, Kirby Smart issued the following statement.

“We are so happy for Dan and his family. He and Sauphia have been an important part of our Dawg family for the last four years, and we thank them for all they did for Georgia Football and the Athens community. Opportunities like this are a testament to a successful program. While he will coach with us for the upcoming College Football Playoff, we will move forward with Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp as co-defensive coordinators. Dan and I are both looking forward to preparing for the CFP.”

Lanning's first game as head coach will be September 3, 2022 against Georgia in Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Davis Wins Outland Trophy & Bednarik Award

Georgia senior defensive lineman Jordan Davis on Thursday was chosen as the 2021 winner of the Outland Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award. Additionally, Davis and junior linebacker Nakobe Dean earned First-Team Walter Camp All-America honors and senior offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer was named to the Second Team.

The Outland Trophy is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman, while the Bednarik Award goes to the top defensive player as judged by the Maxwell Football Club. Davis, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh (2009) and Pitt’s Aaron Donald (2013) are the only players to win the Outland Trophy and the Bednarik Award in the same season.

Davis joined Bill Stanfill (1968) as Georgia’s winners of the Outland Trophy. Davis and David Pollack (2004) are the only Dawgs who have claimed the Bednarik Award.

The Walter Camp Football Foundation presented its 132nd All-America teams on Thursday.

The award announcements came Thursday during the 31st annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.

Davis and Dean have helped Georgia (12-1, 8-0 SEC) lead the nation in scoring defense (9.5 points per game) and rank second in total defense (254.3 yards per game) and third nationally in rushing defense (81.7 yards per game).

Davis, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, anchors the interior line with 28 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Dean, from Horn Lake, Mississippi, is tied for the team lead with 61 stops, including a team-leading 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, and he has two interceptions and a forced fumble. Dean earlier this week secured the 2021 Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker and was picked as captain of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Salyer, who hails from Atlanta, helped pave the way for 40.7 points and 441.9 yards per game this season. He has seen action at both left tackle, including nine starts, and right guard

Four Named To Freshman All SEC Team

Four Dawgs were named to the Freshman All-SEC Team, according to a recent announcement following the votes of the league coaches.

Georgia TE Brock Bowers, OL Broderick Jones, WR Ladd McConkey and DB Kelee Ringo were tabbed to the Freshman All-SEC team.

In addition, the Dawgs had a combined total of 10 players named to the All-SEC First Team and Second Team, including five First Team selections. Bowers, senior DL Jordan Davis, senior DL Devonte Wyatt, junior ILB Nakobe Dean and senior P Jake Camarda were all named to the First Team.

Senior OT Jamaree Salyer, senior OG Justin Shaffer, sophomore DL Jalen Carter, senior DB Derion Kendrick and junior S Lewis Cine were included on the Second Team.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Davis, Dean Named Lott IMPACT Trophy Finalists

Georgia senior defensive lineman Jordan Davis and junior linebacker Nakobe Dean have been named two of four finalists for the 2021 Lott IMPACT Trophy, according to an announcement from the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation.

Davis, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dean, a native of Horn Lake, Mississippi, join Michigan senior defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson and Utah senior linebacker Devin Lloyd as the four finalists. The Lott IMPACT Trophy goes to the defensive IMPACT (Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community, and Tenacity) player of the year.

Former Dawg All-American and College Football Hall of Fame inductee David Pollack won the inaugural Lott Trophy in 2004. Since then, Jarvis Jones (2012) has also been a finalist for the honor.

This year’s Lott winner will be announced December 12th in Newport Beach, California.

Davis and Dean have helped Georgia (12-1, 8-0 SEC) lead the nation in scoring defense (9.5 points per game), rank second in total defense (254.3 yards per game) and third nationally in rushing defense (81.7 ypg). Davis anchors the interior line with 28 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks while Dean is tied for the team lead with 61 stops, including a team-leading 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks and has two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Davis was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trohpy and is a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Outland Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Senior CLASS Award ( The winners of the Walter Camp, Outland and Bednarik awards will be announced live on Thursday during the 31st annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN from 7-9 pm ET.

Dean has already secured the 2021 Butkus Award, was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy and was captain of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. In addition, Dean was named to the SEC Community Service Team.

Smart, Bowers Earn SEC Football Awards

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has been voted the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year while Brock Bowers has earned the title of SEC Freshman of the Year, according to a recent announcement following the votes of the league coaches.

In his sixth season as head coach, Smart has guided the No. 3 Dawgs to a 12-1 record and the program’s fourth SEC Eastern Division title since 2017. Later this month, Georgia will play No. 2 Michigan in its second College Football Playoff Semifinal since Smart’s arrival. Smart was also the 2017 SEC Coach of the Year when the Dawgs advanced to the CFP National Championship Game.

This marks the 13th SEC Coach of the Year for a Georgia football head coach voted on by the coaches. Smart is the fifth Dawg coach to garner this honor.

Bowers, a native of Napa, California, posted the fourth 100-yard receiving game of his first season after hauling in a career-high 10 balls for a career-high 139 yards and a score during the SEC Championship Game showdown with Alabama last weekend. He owns the UGA single season touchdown record for a tight end with 11. His 11 scoring catches also ties the school record for touchdown receptions in a season (WR Terrence Edwards, 2002).

Bowers also owns the single season receiving yards for a tight end (791) on 47 catches, which is now just two catches short of tying the school’s single season record for tight end catches. He is one of only two freshmen nationally to be ranked in the top 11 in total receiving touchdowns with 11 and he is the top tight end on that national list.

This marks the seventh SEC Freshman of the Year for the Dawgs voted on by the coaches. Current New York Giant Jake Fromm (2017) was the last Georgia player to earn this accolade.

In addition, the Dawgs had a total of 10 players named to the All-SEC First Team and Second Team, including five First Team selections. Bowers, senior DL Jordan Davis, senior DL Devonte Wyatt, junior ILB Nakobe Dean and senior P Jake Camarda were all named to the First Team.

Senior OT Jamaree Salyer, senior OG Justin Shaffer, sophomore DL Jalen Carter, senior DB Derion Kendrick and junior S Lewis Cine were included on the Second Team.

On Thursday, the Freshman All-SEC Team is expected to be announced.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Nakobe Dean Wins Butkus Award

Georgia junior Nakobe Dean has become the second Dawg to win the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker.

Dean, a native of Horn Lake, Mississippi, garnered 34 percent of the weighted vote and 52 percent of the first-place votes to secure the award. He was chosen from the other finalists consisting of Utah’s Devin Lloyd, Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal, LSU’s Damone Clark, Cincinnati’s Darrian Beavers and Wyoming’s Chad Muma, according to an announcement from the Butkus Foundation.

Dean joins Roquan Smith (2017) as the two Dawgs to win the Butkus Award in its 37-year history since 1985. There have been four other Dawg finalists five different years in recent history, including Monty Rice (2020), Leonard Floyd (2015), Jarvis Jones (2011, 2012) and Justin Houston (2010).

Capturing the high school award in 2018, Dean joins only Manti Te’o and Jaylon Smith as the only players to win both the national high school and collegiate trophies.

“Nakobe Dean is a playmaker with a special combination of strength, coverage ability, playmaking flair and leadership skill,” according to the award selection committee. “He consistently makes his presence felt on the field and in the community, elevates the defense with his command and is a complete linebacker who has made a tremendous impact on Georgia’s program.”

Also a member of the 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, Dean is tied for the team lead with 61 stops, including a team-high 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, and has two forced fumbles. In addition, he has two of the team’s interceptions this season, including a 50-yard pick-six versus Florida.

Dean has been the “field general” to a Dawg squad that leads the country in Scoring Defense (9.5 points/game) and Red Zone Defense (60 percent), is second in Total Defense (254.4 yards/game) and ranks third nationally in Passing Yards Allowed (172.7 y/g) and in Rushing Defense (81.7 y/g).

The Dawgs (12-1) now travel to Miami, Florida, to face Michigan (12-1) in the College Football Playoff’s semifinal round in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Friday, December 31st. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN. Georgia is the No. 3 seed while Michigan is the No. 2 seed in Sunday’s CFP rankings.

The Butkus Award® selection committee is comprised of 51 football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. Selectors are asked to recognize qualities that defined Butkus’ career: toughness, on-field leadership, competitiveness, football character and linebacking skills. They follow a 3-2-1 weighted vote in a confidential ballot.

The Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization which advances health and wellness through special initiatives. This includes the I Play Clean® program encouraging athletes to play using their natural ability, and the Butkus Takes Heart™ program encouraging preventive heart scans and screening among adults.

The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 since 1935.

Dawgs In Orange Bowl

No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Georgia are set to meet in the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The game will feature two of the top five defenses in the country and two of the top 13 offenses. Big Ten Champion Michigan (12-1, 8-1 Big Ten) is No. 4 in scoring defense, allowing just 16.1 points per game, while Georgia (12-1, 8-0 SEC) leads the nation at No. 1 in scoring defense, allowing just 9.5 points per game. Georgia and Michigan also own the nation’s No. 7 and No. 13 scoring offenses, averaging 39.4 and 37.7 points per game, respectively.

The teams are led by two of the most respected coaches in college football. 7th-year Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh owns a 61-23 record at the helm of the Wolverines, while 6th-year Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart has a 64-15 all-time record leading the Dawgs.

Georgia will be making its fourth appearance in a game hosted by Orange Bowl and its first since 1960 when it defeated Missouri 14-0 with the help of quarterback Fran Tarkenton. The Dawgs also appeared in the 1942 Orange Bowl (40-26 win over TCU) and the 1949 Orange Bowl (41-28 loss to Texas). Georgia is 2nd in yards allowed per game (253.9 YPG) and 5th in total sacks (41 sacks).

Michigan will also be playing in its fourth game hosted by Orange Bowl and its first since its 32-33 loss to Florida State in a down-to-the-wire thriller in 2016. The Wolverines outlasted Alabama 35-34 in overtime in the 2000 Orange Bowl behind quarterback Tom Brady, and first appeared in the Orange Bowl in 1976 in a 14-6 loss to Oklahoma. Michigan ranks 13th in total defense (316.2 YPG) and 10th in rushing offense (223.8 YPG).

For additional information about the Orange Bowl Committee or the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl, please visit or email

About Orange Bowl

Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars through its Orange Bowl Cares program: Youth Sports, Education, Community Engagement and Legacy Programs. Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, 2021. For more information on the 2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional inquiries and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Post Game Notes

SEC Championship History: With today’s 41-24 loss to third-ranked UA, the top-ranked Dawgs drop to 3-6 in SEC Championship games including 1-3 in the Kirby Smart era and now 0-2 against UA who leads the all-time series 42-25-4. Georgia saw its FBS-leading 16-game winning streak end including a school record nine-game winning streak in road games. The 16-game streak was the second longest in school history. Georgia’s run as the unanimous top-ranked team will end at eight weeks, also a school record. The Dawgs had been the No. 1 team in the CFP rankings all season.

Dawgs Allow Season-High 41 Points: Top-ranked Georgia came in as the national leader in Scoring Defense (6.9 ppg) and then saw UA tally 24 points in the second quarter and 41 for the game on 536 yards of total offense on 70 plays. Alabama was averaging 42.7 ppg. Coming in, Georgia had allowed only seven points total in the second quarter, and the previous most total points allowed in a game this year was 17 by UT in Knoxville. Before today, Georgia’s first 12 opponents had scored just 83 points.

Review Of Bennett’s Day: Senior QB Stetson Bennett finished 29-for-48 for 340 yards (all career highs) with 3 TDs and two INTs (one was a pick-six by Jordan Battle). Bennett dropped to 12-3 as a starter and 9-1 this year. In the first half, he was 11-for-16 for 168 yards and 2 TDs as Georgia trailed 24-17. For the second straight game, his first nine completions went to nine different players. Georgia’s 2nd drive resulted in a field goal and a 3-0 lead with 6:01 left in the first quarter. On the next drive, Georgia posted a season-long 97-yard TD drive on 8 plays in 3:36 for a 10-0 edge in the 2nd quarter. Georgia tied the game at 17 with a 32-yard TD play to Ladd McConkey (2-for-35, 1 TD).

Bowers Headlines An Array Of Targets: Georgia’s leading receiver was freshman Brock Bowers (10-for-139 yards, 1 TD) who tied the school record for TD catches with his 11th this year (split end Terrence Edwards had 11 in 2002) as it covered 18 yards and closed the deficit to 38-24. He notched his fourth career game of 100+ yards receiving and set SEC Championship Game record for catches and yards by a tight end. Bowers is the first Dawg to have at least 10 catches in a game since George Pickens against Baylor (12 for 175) in the 2020 Sugar Bowl.

In the first half, nine different Dawgs caught a pass as they were 11 completions for 168 yards. Junior WR George Pickens, who saw his first action of the year in the rout of Georgia Tech last Saturday after recovering from a knee injury, finished with two catches for 41 yards today. Sophomore TE Darnell Washington notched his first career TD, a 5-yarder to make it 10-0.

Specialist Summary: Junior Jack Podlesny went 3-for-3 on PATs and 1-for-1 on field goals, making a 38-yarder. For the year, he is now 64-for-65 on PATs and 18-for-22 in FG. Meanwhile, senior Jake Camarda handled the punting duties with four for a 52.5 average including a career-long 68-yarder and another one that was 64 yards.

Game Captains/Coin Toss/Starters: The captains were seniors Quay Walker (LB), James Cook (RB) and juniors Zamir White (RB) and Nakobe Dean (LB). Alabama won the toss and deferred until the second half. Senior Jamaree Salyer returned to his left tackle spot after missing the last four games due to an injury. Senior William Poole (DB) got his second career start and first since 2018.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Wednesday Player Interviews

Ladd McConkey, Redshirt Freshman, Wide Receiver

On George Pickens...

"He's a phenomenal player. What he can do when he plays is special. Going out there, doing his thing, having fun - y'all know how George is when he's out there doing his thing and making plays. He makes a huge impact on our offense."

On the Alabama secondary...

"Overall, they are a really good team. Their whole defense is really good. They've got a bunch of good athletes who are physical and can run. I'm looking forward to getting out there and competing with them. But overall, they're a really good defense, and it's going to be a battle."

On this season...

"It really is crazy. I was talking to my receiver coach from high school how this is something special we have going on here going into the SEC Championship. Having the opportunity we have, it's something awesome and something we are not taking for granted. We are just going day-by-day and finishing this thing out strong."

Sedrick Van Pran, Redshirt Freshman, Offensive Lineman

On his mindset going into this weekend...

“My mindset is just to lean on my brothers honestly. Go in, continue to do the things that I’ve always done and try to execute to the best of my ability. Lean on my brothers, try not to be Superman.”

On preparing for Alabama’s pass rush…

“Basically, just keying in on some moves that a couple of guys work a lot on. A lot of guys work on hard moves, just different things like that. So just trying to make sure you keep your head out – play with your head move your feet, things like that.”

On the SEC Championship...

“Of course, you dig down a little deeper, just because you want to be an SEC champion. That’s something that’s really really special and something that will bring much joy to everyone in this building. You definitely dig down deeper for the people in this building, whether it be players, staff, coaches, assistants, janitors, whoever. Everybody is a part of this, so you want to make sure that you dig down deep to make sure that you don’t let down anybody in this building. So, definitely dig down a little bit deeper especially for the sense of we want to be SEC Champions.”

Travon & Quay Ready For Bama

Travon Walker, Junior, Defensive Lineman

On the responsibilities of his position...

"Basically, at the position that I play, sometimes, we can be asked to do a lot, but sometimes, it doesn't get the recognition that it deserves. At my position, there is a lot that goes into it. Setting the edge, dropping in coverage, asked to get sacks, or asked to eat blocks, so it could be a variety of things."

On the locker room vibe going into the SEC Championship...

"The connection with the team and the guys in the locker room, it's an unbreakable feeling about the guys. Everybody has that bond and knows each other's 'why'. Why we are doing it. Therefore, with us knowing why each other is doing it, we can hold each other accountable to that 'why.'"

On getting to Bryce Young...

"I think it's going to be a great matchup for both sides. I just think that we have to continue doing what we have been doing all season, and everything will go as planned. That being said, we just got to keep rushing the passer, and it will all fall in place."

Quay Walker, Senior, Inside Linebacker

On what has contributed to his standout senior year...

"I think it started in the offseason. Changing my body, changing the way I eat, pretty much just feeling better, getting to know things better, and learning the defense. I think it pretty much started with that. Once you know the defense really well, you can play really fast and you're not going to get into too much danger. It pretty much started with that, but mainly we changed the way I eat and changed my body and feeling better. That's pretty much it."

On the focus for playing Alabama for an SEC championship versus a normal in-season game...

"When you focus, you adapt a little bit, but I think that's always been our motive this whole year. No matter what game it is, we treat all of them the same. We don't need anyone to try to do anything different than what they have already done this whole year. But other than that, we've got to go out and execute and everything else is going to be taken care of."

On Coach Kirby Smart's message to the team the week before the SEC Championship...

"Keeping the main thing the main thing, focus on what we have to do and don't pay attention to anything else besides what we have to do. That's pretty much it. We have to focus on what's ahead of us and everything else is going to play out how it's supposed to play."

Monday, November 29, 2021

Monday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement …
“We are looking forward to the SEC Championship game. Always a great venue, a great event. I spoke on this yesterday. I feel like I'm saying the same thing twice, but it's just an incredible atmosphere to play in. I never had a chance to play in it as a player, but have coached in it a lot of times, and it's just a special atmosphere. And the fan bases of both teams regardless of who's in it, are always so passionate, and excited for our players to get an opportunity to play in it. I guess it's the first time since we've been here that we've got less of a portion of guys that have played in it. Our upperclassman have. Some have played in two of them, some in one, and some in zero. Very important to keep your composure and have a good plan of attack and then execute.”

On the status of Jamaree Salyer and how to block the Alabama defense …
“Jamaree is going to practice today. Jamaree had a setback last week that was minor, but it was enough that he couldn't play this past week. I thought he was going to play against Georgia Tech, but once he had a setback it was a little tougher for him to. We'll find out where he's at. It's really up to how he practices and what he does.

The good news is he's played a lot of SEC football. He's blocked some really good players before. They have some tremendous edge rush guys, including Will Anderson and others. They do a good job of attacking that. But he has to go against -- all camp he's had to go against really good pass rushers. Every Thursday he gets to go against our guys and compete in two-minute, things like that. If he's healthy, I feel good about Jamaree being able to play. If he's not, Broderick Jones has played in some big games now, too. Broderick has gone on the road and played in an Auburn environment, in a Tennessee environment where he got to play. I'm pleased with what Broderick has been able to do. Broderick is a really good athlete and they've got good players, we've got good players, and they get to go against each other. Excited to see them go play, but I'm not overly concerned about just left tackle. We've got to block, we've got to throw and catch, we've got to be able to run the ball, be able to have some form of balance, and we've got to do what we do better than what they do.”

On using tight ends to catch and to block …
“Yeah, those three guys have kind of been the unsung heroes. In some cases I guess you'd say they're not unsung, but they're the unsung heroes in terms of everything they've been able to Do. Number one, they've been dependable. Outside of Darnell Washington, they've been healthy. When you get dependable, healthy, talent, good pass catchers, I think Coach Hartley has done a tremendous job with them in run blocking. It's hard to find tight ends that can block defensive ends in the NFL, but in the SEC. Our guys -- we don't leave them out on an island often, but they hold up when they have to block in the run game and get movement and read things. They do a tremendous job. So they've been weapons catching the ball when they've been targets. Obviously, Brock Bowers has been that, but the other guys have been, as well. They're a big part of our success on offense.”

On if the team has made any pass-rush adjustments with the absence of Adam Anderson …
“Not really. We haven't changed a lot. The guys have bought in. We've got a good group. We've got less depth across the defensive line now in edge rushers than we had previously. But you get good rushers, you let them rush, they'll go against one of the best tackles in the country and the best groups that we've faced as a whole. We'll have to do a really good job.”

On if he’s noticed anything unique about coaching against Nick Saban in three previous meetings …

“They've got really good players. That's what it's about. I always defer to the players in terms of games. People have just talked about our defense a lot this year, but it's really about the players. It's not about Coach Lanning or myself. It's about the players. I've got an immense amount of respect for Nick and the job he's done and what he's done at Alabama. I admit it's the phone calls Monday through Thursday and the official visits Saturday and Sunday that get the job done in terms of the players, but it does take a complete organization and great leadership, and he's provided that.”

On simulating make-or-break moments …
“It depends on how you view every moment. I look at every moment and the opportunity in practice, we're coaching, we're demanding excellence. We create adversity because we go against each other. We put -- hey, I tell you we've got five two-point plays. Offense, you go ones on ones. We're going to go out here and see who wins the most, best three out of five, two points. There's some adversity in that. Those are heat-of-the-moment type plays. I know for a lot of you guys would say, it's not the same as a game. It is. We make it like a game. You can only want to do it right so bad. If you won't do it really right in practice, you're creating that same situation. A lot of our guys have played in the heat of the moment many times. I look at the start of every game that way. I don't put greater emphasis -- there's no like, okay, we've got to simulate this or this this week. No, we've got to go be who we are and we've got to do it better than they do it, and that's our goal.”

On concerns about covering John Metchie and Jameson Williams …
“The quarterback -- the ability to get them the ball. They're really elite wide outs, but what puts them over the top is the distributor. He is an incredible athlete, player, decision maker. What he didn't get enough credit for is when the play breaks down, his skill set to deliver the ball, make people miss, he sets up rushers. He's like a point guard. He's like an elite point guard that can distribute the ball, and when he's dribbling down the court, he's got the ability to throw it over there, throw it over there, and then he can make you miss, and he almost baits rushers. He sits back there and is very patient, keeps his eyes downfield, great composure. But he makes those guys even better. Because where there might be another guy like that somewhere, they might not have the distributor to get them the ball, and he does a tremendous job. I think that O'Brien and them do a great job of putting them in positions that they're hard to cover. They mix up where they put them. They're not here and there, and that's where they are. They move those guys around.”

On leadership of Nakobe Dean and George Pickens …

“Nakobe is an unquestioned leader because of the way he works, the way he works in the off-season, the way he demands that others work, and he holds them accountable. He did that when he was hurt, and he's done it since he's been back. You couldn't ask him to put a better foot forward in terms of his work ethic, and Quay Walker goes right along with that. That group, Quay, he, and Channing Tindall work so hard that it raises the standard for everybody else.

“For George, he was away for so long that he wasn't really getting to do things with us when he was rehabbing with Ron and not coming to practice and not being out there and working under water and working in the weight room. There was a long time where he wasn't really with us, and he's been with us now for it's been a while now that he's been coming back and building up to it. I think he's had a good influence on the young receivers, and some of those guys had to play faster than maybe you would have wanted because of injuries and they've been thrown to the fire, and he's provided some experience for those guys.”

On Stetson Bennett’s growth from last year’s Alabama game to this season …

“Yeah, a big part of it is, number one, protection. How well can you protect and allow him to -- because no quarterback is very good without protection. I think we've seen all good quarterbacks have rough days when the protection is not there. So the first thing you have to do is protect him well. You have to have a plan. He has to understand the plan. You have to avoid adverse situations. You get yourself in a bunch of 3rd and longs, I don't care who your quarterback is, he's going to struggle because those take longer routes downfield to develop if you're going to try to get a first down. And experience. That's the number one thing that Stetson has been able to grow from, is looking back at that game, I don't know what that was, his second, third, I don't remember, fourth start, and he's played a lot more football now. Certainly, he has improved in terms of decision making. But it's a critical piece to every game, is that player at that position makes so many decisions during the game that the outcome is usually affected a lot by the quarterbacks that play the game.”

On timetable for the return of Kendall Milton …

“Hopefully we get him back. He was close this week. Wasn't able to go. Would have loved to have played him. Going to try to work him back in some this week and just see where he is. That's one of those things where it's a confidence issue, an MCL -- it was an MCL of the knee and he's gained a lot more confidence. I know he looked a lot better on Saturday than he did on Wednesday and Thursday when he was out there warming up.”

On Kearis Jackson and if Coach Smart watched any of the Alabama-Auburn game …

“There will be plenty of time to watch it as we've done since the game that way. I think it was more substitution patterns, seeing things you don't see on the coach's copy. You're watching the game in and of itself of offense and defense and special teams, how they kind of go intertwined. When you watch the coach's copy you're just watching offense, watching defense, or watching special teams. You're not seeing the parts all together. We were able to watch some of it on the bus ride back. It was in and out on the bus. But obviously we've watched it since, yesterday and today, trying to prepare as we watched them play everybody they played.

“As far as Kearis, we think he's going to be fine. It's not bothering as bad right now, but we won't know for sure until he goes out and practices this week.”

On not trailing in the second half and how he builds adversity for his team in practice …
“Yeah, the situation doesn't change when you trail. If you're worried about that then you're worried about the wrong thing. You need to be focused on what you have to do to execute. You have a plan of how are we going to run the ball, how are we going to throw the ball, how are we going to stop them. What's our plan of attack on special teams. Does that plan deteriorate and evaporate if you don't have a lead? Not necessarily. You may have to tweak some things. You may have move some things around. But you got to figure out what you're doing well or what they're doing different. That's the chess piece of the decision making process. That's not in and all everything where you have to worry about that. The big thing is what do we have to do to get our players to execute at the highest level in an extreme environment. Some of them have some anxiety. You want to try to remove that and allow them to play with confidence. That's our emphasis.”

On the offense ‘opening up’ under Todd Monken …

“Well, I think we've got good players on offense, and I think Monken is doing a tremendous job of using their skill set. I still don't know if we're as open as we would love to be. We've had injuries at wide out. We've had to do it some different ways. There's not a -- the huge difference in our offense is the production we've been able to have in terms of explosive plays, use of tight ends who are talented. Let's be honest, insert Brock Bowers and insert Darnell Washington, you've increased the talent level at that position. We've used the backs. I feel like we've used the backs well before and we've got a good group of wide outs. I think Coach Monken has done a tremendous job of using our personnel where we may not be as big on the offensive line as we've been in the past. I do think playing good offense is important to your success. You can't be one-sided and expect to be successful. But the area that we've left most deficient is probably special teams. I think we're good in special teams; I don't think we're elite or great, and I think that we can improve on that.”

On Chris Smith and also how the team has changed since Georgia’s last SEC Championship appearance …

“Well, number one, the team we played that day was a really good football team, probably one of the best that I've seen, and I've been in the SEC for 18 or 19 years. So they were a tremendous football team with a -- a really good football team. We've improved. I think we've recruited well. I think our kids are playing with confidence. I think there's a lot of things outside of just the Xs and Os of football that this team has really connected, and they've done a great job from a leadership standpoint. We're not the same team we were then, and there's some areas that team was probably more talented than this team. But the strength of this team, I've said it repeatedly, is the team, and the fact that it is a team and it's not a one-man show of any kind. It's really spread across. That's been the strength of this team.

“As far as Chris, hopeful he's able to go today. He did some running yesterday, and we're hopeful to get him back. But again, until I see it in practice I won't know.”

On what impresses him with Alabama’s offensive line and what Auburn did in the Iron Bowl …
“Well, first off, Auburn played them in a very different style. It was not what you see Auburn play all the time. They used a couple different methods with their receivers and different things, but their offensive line is -- they had X amount of first-round draft picks on that offense last year, so anytime you have that you're going to have guys who have to get playing time, get experience. They moved a guard to tackle and he's been able to play. They've moved Chase out to center a couple times, played different guys there. They've had some injuries, they've had guys move in and out at right tackle, just as all of us in the SEC have to do in finding the right combination. You have injuries; you have to move people around. I think they've had to do that. Anytime you lose the talent they have you're going to have guys that come back and have to grow with experience. I think they've gotten better throughout, but there's more to it than just what Auburn did. I don't know how you guys look at it, but that's a really tough place to play. So is A&M. That doesn't fall on deaf ears with our staff and understand probably two of the hardest places to play in the country are right there. We haven't been to A&M, but I've been to A&M, and we've always gone to Auburn. It's a tough environment. That game is always different. The nine years I was there, you never could judge anything on that game because it's such an intrastate rivalry.”

On getting into the College Football Playoff with a loss and if that changes anything …
“I don't see that has anything to do with anything. I've said all my career that to win SEC championships is almost just as hard, because the years I spent at Alabama you could say that winning the SEC Championship was just as hard as trying to win a National Championship, and it's one of our goals. We want to put it on this wall in here, and to do that, you've got to win the SEC. That's what we're focused on.”

On the importance of turnover margin …

“You try your best and you try to simulate as many ways as possible. We've done a lot of different things to try to create some advantage for ourselves in terms of turnovers. We have not been where we need to be at that. We've had like four or five games were dead even. Three games where we lost the turnover margin. If you're considerably better than somebody, that doesn't show itself. It doesn't come glaring. In these type of games it's huge. This explosive plays, that explosive plays are critical. We have to be able to generate more and we have to be able to protect the ball, which I feel like our offense has done a good of job protecting the ball. We haven't gotten enough defensively, and that's a big emphasis for us this week.

On winning the SEC Championship in 2017 …
“A long time ago. Just the excitement, the joy of accomplishing something special with a really good group, all those kids that have come back, all those kids, Georgia meant so much to them. It was our first time really doing it under this staff. I think the significant feeling they had of winning the SEC Championship kind of superseded the fact that, oh, we're going to be in the playoffs now, too. It's the fact that they had overcome the obstacle, the hurdle that was Auburn earlier in the year and we didn't play our best game and vindication of okay, we've won this game, now we're SEC champs. Let's worry about the next chapter after that. I think that's what made it special.”

Stetson Bennett, Senior, Quarterback

On how he’s grown in taking care of the ball…

“Knowing that incompletions don’t kill you. You don’t have to win the game on every play, because you can’t win it on every play. Our defense and the players we have, focusing on them and the strengths of the team, not trying to do it all yourself.”

On what makes him tick as a quarterback…

“It’s a delicate balance. You’ve got to rep it enough in practice to where it becomes second nature. You can’t go out there and think, ‘be careful here,’ because that’s how you play not-to-lose instead of playing-to-win. Those million reps you have in practice with the mindset of protecting the ball and being a ball player. It comes over time.”

On how Darnell Washington and Brock Bowers have helped him as a quarterback…

“Anytime you’ve got those players they’ll make you a better player. It makes it easier to throw it to them, they make the offense better.”

Jordan Davis, Senior, Defensive Lineman

On playing Alabama in the SEC Championship...

"We had a goal, and we wanted to get out of the East. Unfortunately, last year we didn't reach that goal, but it's good to be back and I am excited to play. It doesn't matter who.

On the Iron Bowl...

"I watched bits and bobs of it. Honestly, I don't think I've sat through an entire college football game unless we are playing in it, but I saw bit and pieces of it. Obviously, when we watch film, I will see more about it. You hear about it, but you can't let that get to you. They are a dangerous football team - it doesn't matter who because every dog has its day. Alabama is one of those program] you have got to be ready for."

On creating pressure on Alabama offensive line...

"It's about the game plan. We have to scheme right. They have a big offensive line. We have a big defensive line, so it's about being concise. It is a challenge for us, and we just hope we bring the pressure on them."

Nakobe Dean, Junior, Inside Linebacker

On how the offense helps the defense…

“I feel like we complement each other well. No matter what they do out there, we have their back. From a mental standpoint, if everything isn’t going the right way, we always make sure to reiterate to them that we have their back and they do the same for us. They tell us, we got y’all. To have an offense and defense that work together like that definitely helps us a lot.”

On the program's growth since the 2019 SEC Championship…

“I was a freshman. Me personally, I have grown into more of a leadership position. Now we are more so of a player-driven team. A player-led team. There aren’t a lot of things the coaches can say that the players already haven’t reiterated to the other players. Back in the day the coaches handled and dealt with the problems on the field, and when practice wasn’t going the way it needed to. The coaches kind of took it by the reigns. Tried to get us right. Now, the leaders try to lead and get everybody right. Get everybody’s mindset right. The coaches don’t have to do anything, just worry about coaching.”

Lanning Named Finalists For Broyles Award

The Frank & Barbara Broyles Foundation is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2021 Broyles Award, which honors college football’s top assistant coaches. The finalists were selected from a group of 15 semi-finalists and 59 nominees by a selection committee made of former hall of fame coaches, members of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and broadcasters.

The 5 finalists are:

Baylor University – Jeff Grimes, Offensive Coordinator / TEs

Oklahoma State – Jim Knowles, Defensive Coordinator

University of Georgia – Dan Lanning, The Fain & Billy Slaughter Defensive Coordinator / OLBs

University of Michigan – Josh Gattis, Offensive Coordinator / WRs

Wake Forest – Warren Ruggiero, Offensive Coordinator / QBs

The final five will travel to Little Rock, where the winner will be announced at the Broyles Award Ceremony on Tuesday, December 7, at the Marriott Hotel.

Visit the Broyles Award website for a full list of previous finalists and winners.

Proceeds from the 2021 Broyles Award support the mission of the Broyles Foundation; to provide a game plan for Alzheimer’s caregivers through education, support and resources, all at no cost. The Broyles Foundation can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Post Game Quotes

Stetson Bennett, Senior, Quarterback

On the team’s focus one week before the SEC Championship…

“We’re just focused on doing the duty that lies near us. We knew what this game meant for us and for the history of this program. If we slipped up, anything could happen, so we were just focused.”

On the meaning of the victory…

“It means a lot. It’s the first 12-0 season since 1982. It’s a big accomplishment. Now, all the fun starts.”

On the return of George Pickens to the field…

“I just wanted to get the ball to him, get the ball in his hands on that play—like you said, shake the rust off. It’s good. He’s a great player. We’ve got to get some of the chemistry back that comes from being out that long. But he was extremely happy to be back on the field and we’re all happy to have him.”

Nakobe Dean, Junior, Linebacker

On the defense’s performance…

“We talk about getting better every week and ascending, continuing to ascend every week. This is just taking a step in the right direction of what we’re trying to do.”

On the return of Pickens…

“It meant a lot just seeing the work he put in in the offseason, the rehab, how positive he’s been. A lot of guys can look up to the type of attitude he had and the way he attacked this rehab to get back. So, it meant a lot to see him get back out there and play again.”

On the defense posting a shutout…

“I love seeing that goose egg on the other side. If they can’t score, they can’t win. It’s always great for the defense to be able to go shut out a team, definitely a team as good as Georgia Tech.”

Post Game Notes

Perfect 12-0 Regular Season: With today’s 45-0 victory, top-ranked Georgia improves to 12-0 for the first time since 1980 when the Dawgs finished with that mark as consensus national champions. This is Georgia’s first undefeated regular season since 1982 (11-0) and just the fourth time in school history completing a perfect regular season with double-digit victories (1946, 1980, 1982). Georgia extends the nation’s longest active winning streak in the FBS to 16 games. This streak ranks as the second longest in school history. The Dawg record is 17 games set during a three-year stretch from 1945-47. Georgia’s current winning streak includes nine on the road which is a school record. Also today, Georgia did not have a penalty for the first time since the 2019 win here versus Tech.

Defense Posts Another Strong Effort: Top-ranked Georgia, the national leader in Scoring Defense (7.5 ppg), posted its third shutout this year to retain the Governor’s Cup Trophy. It was the first in the Tech series since 1964 (7-0 in Athens) and the first in Atlanta since 1957 (7-0). Tech became the seventh team this year to be shutout in the first half by the Dawgs. Then for the sixth time this year, Georgia carried a shutout to the fourth quarter.

Opponents have scored just 83 total points on the Dawgs this year. Georgia collected eight TFLs and had three sacks. The leading tackler was junior Nakobe Dean with six while Quay Walker and Lewis Cine had five. Tech finished with 171 yards of total offense.

Pouring On The Points: Georgia tallied 45 points today on 463 yards of total offense on 51 plays. In the first half, Georgia built a 24-0 lead. For the year, the Dawgs have outscored their opponents 488-83.

Bennett Leads Bulldogs: Senior QB Stetson Bennett finished the day 14-for-20 for 255 yards and 4 TDs and improved to 12-2 as a starter including 9-0 this year. His first nine completions went to nine different Dawgs including TDs to Jermaine Burton and Ladd McConkey. He completed a 25-yard scoring strike to Burton to cap an 80-yard drive, the one to McConkey covered 11 yards to complete an 87-yard drive. He fired a 77-yarder to freshman Brock Bowers for a 24-0 lead. Bennett marched the team 75 yards in nine plays culminating with a nine-yard TD to Bowers that made it 31-0. With 12:40 left in the game, and up 38-0, junior JT Daniels took over at QB.

Bowers Headlines An Array Of Targets: In the first half, nine different Dawgs caught a pass as they were 10 completions for 226 yards. Sophomore Jermaine Burton notched his fourth TD of the year on a 25-yard completion from Bennett. Redshirt freshman Ladd McConkey caught an 11-yard TD to make it 17-0 for his fourth TD catch of the year. He hit Brock Bowers for a 77-yard TD. Overall, Bowers led the team with three catches for 100 yards and 2 TDs. His 10 TD catches this year ranks second in Dawg history, trailing only the 11 by Terrence Edwards in 2002. Bowers already owns the Dawg record for receiving yards in a season by a TE with 652 on 37 receptions. Junior WR George Pickens saw his first action of the year as he’s been sidelined with a knee injury.

Busy Day For Podlesny: Junior Jack Podlesny went 6-for-6 on PATs and 1-for-1 on field goals, making a 38-yarder. For the year, he is now 61-for-62 on PATs and 17-for-21 in FG.

Game Captains/Coin Toss/Starters: The captains were seniors Jamaree Salyer (OL), Justin Shaffer (OL) and Lewis Cine (DB). Georgia won the toss and deferred until the second half. The only first-time starter was junior RB Kenny McIntosh.

Series History/Up Next: Georgia now leads the Tech series 69-39-5 including winning the last 11 in Atlanta. Up next, Georgia (12-0) faces No. 3 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta next Saturday at 4 pm (CBS).



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Tuesday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

On the overall assessment of offense this season…

“I’ve really been proud of what those guys have done in terms of the injuries we’ve had. We just had had a countless number of guys in and out, in and out, and revolving to our receivers. You know, tight ends are the most consistent position but even Darnell Washington, was a lot faster before the injury. He had to really work himself back into shape. So overall, I’m pleased with those guys. We’ve been explosive, we’ve avoided some third downs because of our efficiency and our explosiveness. I think that’s a big part of it. There’s a lot of things we can work on too. There are some games we haven’t been consistently running it. We turn the ball over more than we should and those are all things we can’t afford to do in the future.”

On Broderick Jones…

“I’m very pleased. I think Broderick is an extremely hard worker. I’ve said repeatedly he buys into the team concept as good as any player I’ve been around. He’s so happy when you do well, regardless of his role. He’s embraced his role. He’s become more coachable. We used to tell him something, he got offended by it. Now he embraces it and says I’ll work on that. I’ll continue to grow and get better. We want him to be more physical in the run game. Wanting him to work on getting stronger at the point of attack and getting movement. But we need him to be more consistent in his assignments but that comes with experience.”

On Derion Kendrick, Kelee Ringo, and the defensive backs….

“Both have good size. Both have good ball skills that’s helped up in terms of holding the point tackling so much of football now is playing on the perimeter. And that’s where I think we’ve been able to hold up nicely in terms of point of attack blocks and hands on people because they’re both 200-pound kids and they both have good length. They both have given up some plays and they both been protected by a pretty good front at times in terms of maybe when they got beat. The quarterback got rushed, and that’s helped them some but they did everything we’ve asked and they take all their walkthrough reps very seriously. We’ve really been impressed with DK’s maturity in terms of leadership in that DB room. He’s played in a lot of big games. He provides a lot of confidence for the other guys.”

On defensive coordinator Dan Lanning…

“He’s doing a tremendous job. I think he’s very detailed, very organized. He’s a very good motivator. He has a lot of energy. He invest in the players. He thinks outside the box teaches in a way that keeps it interesting. And I think that's really important in today's day and age of all the guys on social media and things. They enjoy his intensity. And he’s done a tremendous job. He’s done a great job since he had the job. I mean, he’s not really grown into the role, he’s embraced the role and he’s had a lot of help and we’ve had other experiences, experience guys in the secondary. It had a lot of consistency and continuity, which I think helps him be successful and good players improve well. We all recruit well, and we all take ownership in that. So that part’s been really good for him. He’s embraced it. As far as coaching opportunities, I help anybody, at anytime. I don't get into the advice because I think that's an independent decision. If they asked me my opinion, I'll certainly will tell you what I think because I think that there's some really good jobs out there and the number one thing is can you get good players and can you win your conference, and those opportunities will present themselves if you just be where your feet are. I tell him to worry about that and rest to take care of itself.”

On the secondary and zone defense…

“I feel it has much to do with our past defense being maybe improved is the front guys that are playing in a second year. We probably weren’t as good all the way around last year. Devonte Wyatt was not the player last year that he is this year. He shed 15 or 20 pounds. Jalen Carter was not the player last year that he is this year, he was a true freshman. We had some guys on the edge that can rush but we have guys on the edge now that can rush. So I think the biggest change itself was to be successful in the rush, in combination of some things we changed. We’ll win on a lot more on first and second down to create third and longs than we did last year and we’ve given up less explosives, which helps to I don’t know what you can attribute it to exactly. I don’t think we were as deepest as we were last year in the secondary, I can assure you that.”

On the offense going into the last regular-season game…

“I just want to see improvement. Stetson, we’re getting targets each week, you know, decision making, quick decisions, not holding the ball. When you start extending the plays, the good things can happen and the bad things can happen so you’ve got to be wise about the way you go about it. You got to practice it that way. We got to have 11 guys on the same page. So many of our plays that fail when you go back and look at them, what caused that play to be unsuccessful. One got into his job. They do what they’re supposed to do. We tend to have a positive gain or no gain. It’s the lost yardages and sacks as turnovers that come back to haunt us the most so we’re trying to remove that. Continue being explosive and being dangerous. We want to be on the attack.”

On the College Football Playoff…

“No. I don’t have time. I’m trying to go do third down right now in the red area and do everything else. I don’t have any time for it. Between recruiting, worried about our players, and trying to get ready for a game. It’s the least of my worries.”

On the traits of defenses and defensive players…

“Traits haven’t changed much. Size and speed will never change and football is a tough sport. When you have small people, they struggle sometimes. Every one of you can mention the small guy that’s good, but you can’t mention a lot of them so size and speed is what it takes. I think more and more intelligence and desire to be great becomes critical because no matter how talented you are, if you don’t have the ability to listen and learn and have discipline, you won’t be a good football player. There’s so many I-discipline things, I think one of the most critical factors is can you run, do you have size, and is it important to you? Because you won’t make it here if it’s not important to you. I promise you we’ll demand so much excellence from you that you’ll either leave or you’ll just decide to play somewhere else before you stay here. It’s way too important to the coaches and the leaders on the team to hold that standard and that standard will eventually weed guys out so I just want to get the right guys here so I don’t have to go through that.”

On the offseason…

“The COVID offseason was just altogether different, we didn’t have a spring, we didn’t get that. So you know, a lot of those kids are responded to the fact that didn't do anything last year. I’m talking about the year before last so when you compare it to that, obviously it was tougher. But we did make some decisions as a staff after the Cincinnati game and said hey, we’re not doing our early morning workouts in the indoor, we’ll go to the stadium and we’re going to do it in the stadium at 5:30 or 6:00 and get out in the elements and see if we can make this team a little tougher. I think we did eight of those or something like that just to say, well it was cold and wet. We’re just trying to make it tougher and they would get the same things they were doing in the indoor but we just try to change it up because I didn’t feel like we were getting where we needed to go. I certainly don’t think that’s the only reason we’ve been successful. I just think some of those kids think of it as a little tougher.”

On the punt return unit…

“Yeah, that unit’s been a disappointment. We haven’t done what we needed to do We haven’t held up as well as we have in the past Last week’s not a great measure of that so I’d love to tell you where we’re going in the right direction but those guys were overmatched.”

On injuries with Christopher Smith, George Pickens, Kendall Milton, and Jamaree Slayer….

“Yeah, it’s all over the place. Chris is still with us. He was not able to go the other day. He wasn’t able to go today and we’re trying to rehab him and get him back hopefully for this game. I know he knows what to do but he has not been able to practice. Ya’ll saw Jamaree after yesterday. He was out there today. Then George has been practicing with us doing more, repping with the threes and the twos some. Still waiting to get him cleared but we didn’t have him with the scouts. We’re getting him working with the offense, trying to kind of integrate it back into getting calls and doing assignments. But he was still black jersey, no contact today. We were hoping to get Kendall back for this week, it’s still a process. I had two of those injuries, two MCLs in my high school and college career, and their confidence injuries. They're like, man, do I have my stability? Do I feel normal? You know, and he's going through those emotions of really pushing through what I like is his toughness and he does rehab two, or three times a day. He's gone. He's been a black shirt and been able to do some things rep wise he's much better than he was. But to say that he's ready to play right now. I don't know that he's there yet.”

On no longer playing against the triple-option...

"I didn't enjoy dealing with that. I did not enjoy that, whatsoever. That's not a decision I make. I don't get emotional about it. I just do what I have to do. It's very different. It's like going away from your calls for a week, so I'm glad we don't have to do that."

Lewis Cine, Junior, Defensive Back

On Derion Kendrick and Kelee Ringo...

"For one, they have been strapped on their men. You give them an assignment and tell them, 'Hey, we've got this guy for you to lock down, or we've got this guy for you to put on clamps,' and they do exactly that. They play assignment ball. They know what they're supposed to do. They know where their help is. They're just smart guys, and they do what they're supposed to, which makes it easier for me because I have faith in their skills and their game."

On tough workouts that help the team bond...

"We might talk about the fact that we worked out at 5:00 in the morning. I don't think anyone brings up the fact that we had to run up the stadium stairs 15 times. 15 times for every number of games that we're going to be playing, which says a lot. We have a goal, and we're going to see it through."

On how the defense has changed since last year...

"The playbook shrunk, so now, the coach has allowed us to just play ball and do less thinking. Teams nowadays are doing a whole lot of shifts, a whole lot of motions. The way our plays are set now, it cancels all of that. It stays the same. We don't have to constantly keep running around for people. It causes fewer mental errors and prevents big plays. That helped in a major way. Other than that, everything has kind of been the same other than the playbook. Our mindset is different for this year than it was in past years. We are more connected. We decided to go deep in the roots of how we can be better from past years. It all came down to how close we were with one another and how well we knew each other. It started from that really."

Warren Ericson, Junior, Offensive Lineman

On Andrew Thomas's touchdown...

"I did see it. He got up. That was pretty impressive. That was one of the most athletic big man touchdowns I think I've seen. That was super cool. I haven't reached out to him, but, as soon as it happened, our O-line group message just completely blew up. We were so pumped to see that. In primetime, you got to love to see the big man touchdown."

On the team's stair workout at Sanford Stadium...

"One, I remember it, because it was number seven. I got down at the bottom of the steps, and my legs could not stop shaking. I couldn't stop. I said, 'I don't know how I'm going to do this. I don't how I'm going to get eight more in.' Then, I had James Cook, Jamaree Salyer and other guys in my steps just pushing me and saying, 'Hey man, let's go. We got this. We got your back.' We were spread out across the whole side of the stadium, and you saw everyone doing that. Everyone was pushing each other. At one point, Coach Sinclair said, 'Maybe this is too much.' He even tried, for the big guys, to cut it down to only going halfway instead of going to the full top, but everyone said, 'No, we got this together. We're all in it together, and we're going to push each other. We're going to push ourselves.' We went back up to the full top, and that's when I kind of knew that this was a special thing that, when times are tough, I have my brothers to lift me up and push through."

On offensive line depth...

"I think that the great thing about being an offensive lineman at Georgia is that we have so many talented guys. That just fuels the competitive drive every day in practice. I love Xavier Truss, and I love Broderick Jones, and I love all of the offensive linemen. I also know that if I'm not bringing my best every single day, they could replace me. I think we all have that same competitive drive. We love each other, and we're going to fight for each other, but we got to go out there and do our job to the best of our ability. It's been great to see Broderick come out and play. He's gotten a lot of really good-quality snaps. He's gotten better each time, and you can really see that. Of course, you hate to see Jamaree Salyer out, and he's a strong leader on our offensive line and the offense in general. He's one person that, even though he's not physically playing right now, when we get to the sideline, he's always there keeping us up. He's always there telling us something, maybe that we missed or telling us to pick things up. He's still the same Jamaree, the same strong leader and person that we can always lean on the offensive line."

Ladd McConkey, Redshirt Freshman, Wide Receiver

On Brock Bowers...

"He's phenomenal; to be that size, have those ball skills, and run as fast as he can is crazy. It really is crazy that he is able to do that. It's really like having someone who can block like a tight end but also having another receiver on the field at the same time. When he's out there, just watching some of the things he does, it really is special."

On Kelee Ringo and Derion Kendrick...

"Going against guys like that every single day, I've said it, but if you can't get better going against those guys, something is wrong. They're going to give you their all every single day, and we're going to give them our all. If one of us isn't going hard then you're going to be able to see and notice that. Going out there and getting those looks from those guys - knowing the caliber of player they are - if you can do some good things against them, you can do it against anybody. I'm getting confidence from going against those guys and getting reps against them every single day."

On offensive lineman during stadium runs...

"Obviously, we knew it was going to benefit us and be good for us in the end, but there were times where we thought, 'Is this worth it, and is this it?' In the end we knew it was all going to pay off. The crazy thing is we actually ran from our facility to the stadium before the stadium runs, so for lineman to be able to do that and run those 15 bleachers speaks on the kind of players they are, the heart they have, and their willingness to just keep on going no matter what. Even when they're tired, there are other leaders who they can lean on and say, 'I need some help.' They're going to be the first there to pick you up and carry you if you need to."

Kelee Ringo, Redshirt Freshman, Defensive Back

On tweaks to the defensive system...

"Our schemes have been really complicated as you guys can see. Being able to use different players in different spots, and how we can help each other throughout the defense and not be on islands the entire time throughout the game. It's definitely been able to help us execute our plays and be more successful."

On summer workouts...

"I feel like everything we did throughout the summer definitely prepared us for the season. It made the games and practices much easier. Actually, the practices were not even much easier, but the workouts were definitely closer to what the practices were going to be like throughout the season. It made the games much simpler by thinking when you're tired and fatigued to help execute plays."

On preparations for future opponents...

"In all aspects of the game in every single day of practice - and also after the games - we speak on not necessarily the things we did well in the game but things we can work on. Definitely in the DB positions, specifically the deep ball, that's something that you will get throughout the entire season. I'm consistently working on that; I feel like we have been able to enhance our skills in that and other specific areas.