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).

Undefeated!!!

12-0

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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Davis Named Finalist For Outland Trophy

The top defensive tackle on the nation's current top-ranked team, a standout center from a program with separate finalists in consecutive years and the top lineman on a contender for the Atlantic Coast Conference title are the three finalists for the 2021 Outland Trophy, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

Jordan Davis
, the persistent force clogging the middle of Georgia's defensive line, Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, regarded nationally as the country's top center this season, and Ikem "Ikey" Ekwonu of N.C. State, an offensive tackle and one of the top run blockers in the country, are this season's superior linemen.

The 2021 Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation's best college interior lineman on offense or defense. The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the three finalists from among the six semifinalists announced last week.

The recipient of the 2021 Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live on ESPN on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. ET. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee in Omaha, Neb., on Jan. 12, 2022.

Of note is that the three schools represented by the finalists have a combined six Outland Trophy winners in their past. Each of the three finalists will also be a member of the FWAA First-Team All-America team.

Here is a closer look at each of the finalists:

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (#99, 6-6, 340, Sr., Charlotte, N.C.): Simply put, Davis is the most dominant defensive tackle in college football for top-ranked Georgia (11-0). The Dawgs own the nation's second-best total defense giving up 236.3 yards per game and with Davis anchoring the interior line own the nation's second-best rushing defense (77.2 ypg). Georgia is the national scoring defense leader (7.5 ppg) by more than a touchdown above second-place and has not given up more than 17 points in any game. Nobody has been able to run on Davis. Georgia has an Outland Trophy tradition on the defensive front. The Dawgs' lone Outland Trophy winner was also a defensive tackle, Bill Stanfill, in 1968 and boasted offensive tackle Andrew Thomas as a semifinalist in 2019. Defensive tackles have won two of the last four Outland Trophies: Quinnen Williams of Alabama in 2018 and Ed Oliver of Houston in 2017.

Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State (#79, 6-4, 320, So., Charlotte, N.C.): Ekwonu has been ranked as the top run blocker in college football by Pro Football Focus and has more than 50 pancake blocks and 17 knockdowns.for the Wolfpack (8-3). He has earned the ACC Offensive Line Player of the Week twice this season. Protecting quarterback Devin Leary at left tackle, Ekwonu and N.C. State are 19th nationally in passing offense at 292.2 yards per game, fifth in the ACC and 11th among Power 5 schools. Leary is tied for 14th nationally in passing yards at 289.6 ypg. "He's.nasty. He's athletic. He's big," said Tim Hasselbeck of the ACC Network. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic calls him the most feared lineman in the ACC. "Ridiculous strength levels, athleticism and will to finish," said Jordan Reid of ESPN. Ekwonu is N.C. State's first Outland Trophy finalist. Jim Ritcher, a center, won N.C. State's only previous Outland Trophy in 1979 before finalists were designated. Garrett Bradbury, a center, was a semifinalist in 2018. Offensive tackles have won the last two Outland Trophys: Alex Leatherwood of Alabama (2020) and Penei Sewell of Oregon (2019).

Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (#65, 6-3, 290, Jr., Solon, Iowa): Linderbaum is one of the dominant linemen at his position for the Hawkeyes (9-2). He was the Second Team FWAA All-America center a year ago. The junior has started all 32 career games after playing on the defensive line as a true freshman. He moved to the offensive line following the 2018 regular season, and this season has a 94.8 offensive grade among centers by PFF, the best for a center since 2014. Iowa's run game has improved, as Tyler Goodson became Iowa's first 1,000-yard-season rusher since 2017 with a 132-yard output last week.
The Hawkeyes have four Outland Trophy winners in their past, most recently offensive tackle Brandon Scherff in 2014, who is also the Big Ten's last Outland winner. Offensive tackle Robert Gallery (2003), tackle Alex Karras (1957) and guard Calvin Jones (1955) are other winners. Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs was a semifinalist in 2019. The last center to win the Outland came in 2005 from the Big Ten, Greg Eslinger of Minnesota.

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

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

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Dean Named Butkus Award Finalist

UGA Sports Communications

Georgia junior linebacker Nakobe Dean has been named one of six finalists for the 2021 Butkus Award given to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker, according to an announcement by the Butkus Foundation.

Dean, a native of Horn Lake, Mississippi, is one of two finalists from the Southeastern Conference for the 37th awarding of the honor. The winner will be announced on or before December 7th.

While Dean was a semifinalist for the collegiate award in 2020 and the winner of the high school Butkus Award in 2018, former Dawg and current Tennessee Titan Monty Rice was a Butkus Award finalist in 2020. In addition, former Dawg and current Chicago Bear Roquan Smith won the 2017 collegiate Butkus Award.

Dean is the second-leading tackler for the No. 1 Dawgs this season with 50 stops, including a team-leading seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Starting all 11 games this season as the middle of Georgia’s top-ranked defense, he has also forced a fumble, has two interceptions, including a 50-yard pick-six versus Florida, and three pass break-ups. Dean is also a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and Wuerffel Trophy and has been named to the 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

Monday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement...

"First off, I'd like to recognize and give thanks to Jonas Jennings. He does a tremendous job for us as Director of Player Development. Kind of my right-hand man. He does a great job. Today is his annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway day over in College View Hills in Atlanta where he grew up. I think he's done it now for 13 years. He's maybe given away over 230 turkeys to an impoverished area over in College View. I just appreciate all Jonas does for our program and really for our kids. For him to give back to that community, it means a lot. He's done it every year I know that I've been here and does a tremendous job. With that, leading to Georgia Tech, our guys get to go play in Atlanta. An opportunity, in one of our main recruiting areas, where a lot of our guys are from. It's a great atmosphere. I know our guys will be excited for a rivalry game, to play in Atlanta. It's the next part, the next chapter, and what are they going to write about this chapter with each group? I know our guys will be fired up and ready to go this week."

On the coaching landscape today...

"The opportunity at Georgia came about, and it really wasn't about the stability or any of that. It was about an opportunity and a place I believe in and a place that I wanted to be at for a long time. Had a lot more to do with that than maybe the history of who had been here or other places. I think the landscape across college football is what it is. The stakes have gotten higher. The pay has gotten higher, and with that, comes expectations. It's a different landscape now than it was even four or five years ago in terms of portal, recruiting, number of initials. Everything changes so fast. It makes it tougher. It's a much tougher job. I think you've seen a lot of people in our level go to the next level, because it has a little less strain on your family and things. I know it's a tough atmosphere, but most people would say, 'They pay you so much, so it doesn't matter.' At the end of the day, I hate it for Dan Mullen, because I think Dan is a good person. It's a tough situation, but it's a profession that we chose to be in. I know Dan will be fine. He'll be perfectly fine."

On consistency…

"I don't know. I think building it on a strong foundation, not on trying to have a great one year. To build a program, you have to build it on a foundation of strong recruiting, strong people in your organization, retention of staff. Administratively, you got to have tremendous support because you got to be able to go out and hire all the things you need a recruiting. It's so important to have help, and we've got tremendous help here in terms of our staffing. I'm talking about the overall picture, from Ron Courson to Jonas Jennings, to the recruiting staff that we have here, to the coaching staff, to the support staff. All those roles matter so much. I think signing good, quality high school football players is extremely important to building your program. You can't have a lot of holes from year to year, because the holes will cost you if you have one poor class, or you have a max exodus at a position. It can become really tough. that's where the screens are in being consistent. We've been fortunate to recruit well, and we've got a good recruiting base around us."

On stand out players last week…

"Tough evaluation. The game was out of hand pretty early. I thought some young guys got in the game. The young guys that got in the game, there's nobody that screamed, 'Play me over the guy in front of me.' There are guys that screamed, 'I'm going to be a good player when I figure this out.' There's no astonishing views from watching the tape."

On Xavian Sorey…

"He has come a long way. He was here over the spring, but he didn't get to practice because of a foot injury. He came in a little injured, and that probably hurt his progress early in terms of being able to learn and do things. We played him at outside backer early on. Since we've had two injuries at inside backer, we moved him to inside backer. He's probably better suited to play that position right now in terms of size, speed, and strength. He's not big enough to hold up at outside backer right now, but he has good instincts. He's flashed on scout team and made some good plays. I thought, not necessarily the pick and turnover, that was a little bit luck, but he had some other good plays where he showed some quickness and some instincts to strike people. I think he could be a big help for us, and he's a guy who in four weeks we've picked up in terms of really getting better and working.

On getting excited for Georgia Tech...

"It will be completely different. These kids were all recruited by Tech. They know Tech's players; they know a lot of those guys. That doesn't concern me. Our guys are very mature and handle things very well. It was awesome at the game the other day to come out and approach this thing with a 'will not be denied' attitude. We're going out to play our best game. That's out goal - play our best game of the season. How do we do that? We usually do that by practicing well. That would be the goal for us.

On areas of improvement...

"All across the board. I'm not going to single any unit out, but obviously we've got to play better on all parts. Nobody has arrived, no group has arrived. I don't look at it as an area of concern. I wouldn't vocalize that here. That's not my way of doing things. I look at it as 'How do we get better as a team, how do we get better on special teams, how do we become more explosive offensively?' Going back to the off-season, you're constantly looking to build your roster to impact your roster. Who can be an upgrade and make us better? Are they in the portal, or a freshman, or are they a guy that we can sign. We had concerns coming into the season that at a lot of positions, at depth, we don't have the depth we've had. On the O-line and D-line, we've had more depth than we've had. At receiver and DB, I've said it all along that we are very thin than we've been."

On Brock Bowers…

"He's stayed healthy. We really haven't had anybody else who has been consistently healthy across the board. I don't know if we have had anybody who has played every single game - maybe AD. I think he may be the only guy, and he's a true freshman starting out much like Brock. They both went through the spring which helped them. The biggest thing with Brock's consistency is, number one, he's not just a role player. He can block and plays with physical toughness. He's very intelligent. He takes notes. He comes in early and watches his tape. When you have dependability and talent mixed together, it's usually what you get, and you have a guy who has put up the numbers he did. Again, he takes opportunities for all the games we've played."

On the Georgia Tech rivalry…

"I wasn't a big college football fan as a recruit, so it's hard for me to say on how I viewed it. I didn't go to the Georgia-Georgia Tech games, I didn't grow up going to those. I grew up going to high school football games and watching TV on Saturdays. When I got here, there's an engrained, built-in belief that you had to beat your in-state rival. We also had conference rivals, so it became you play on something so many times that it falls on deaf ears, if you say, 'That's our rival, that's our rival, that's our rival.' We don't get into that, because it loses its effectiveness if you use it all the time. Who's not our rival? We look at it as a chance to grow to be the best team we can become. They stand in our way; we have an opportunity to go play them. You use game reps to grow and become better, everything gets heightened in a game rep. That's what we want to do, we want to go out there and make sure our team is getting better with each and every performance. We're trying to play that perfect game. It's not about the history of the rivalry, because our guys weren't even born when I was playing. Our guys have no recollection of that."

On Brett Seither…

"Brett's done a good job. He's came over and worked on the scout team with us more this last week than he has previously. I've always said that's one of the greatest confidence factors you can get, you go against a really good defense. He was over against us, and I know he made two or three plays with the scout team and did a really nice job giving us a look of the opponent. I think that carried over to his confidence in the game, plus he got more reps and opportunities."

On Georgia Tech…

"The biggest thing is they've got more talent to me. They've stacked some good players that've come back to the city of Atlanta. When you look across the board, a lot of kids on that team that went to go play somewhere else that all of us recruited, have come back. They've had some key injuries. They've had injuries at the quarterback position, it's been in-and-out, back-and-forth, but they always do a good job in the kicking game. Geoff Collins always takes part of that, that's a big part to him that he takes a role in. You can see his influence in terms of the way they play when they rush and return kicks in all phases. They played a tough schedule as well; I have a lot of respect for how they play."

On the impact of the one-time transfer rule …

"I think it's too early to tell how it may impact. I think you're always going to have a resource to patch holes. Who patches holes the best? Do we start getting super teams were all guys want to go to a certain place? It would be my estimation, and I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again, that the more you rely on those patches and the quick fix, the more trouble you can get yourself in. If you're not building it from the ground up, you're not developing players and you're not keeping your players within your organization, you're going to struggle. The flip side of that is the better you are in your organization, sometimes the longer it takes for a young player to play. And, so, the more transient, the quicker they want to leave. I think the culture within your program is so important that the older players embrace the younger players and grow them up so that they become leaders. If you rely on the transfer portal, you're not always going to have the built-in culture and belief of your organization because guys will be in it for the first time that year."

On the STAR position …

"We play a lot of guys. Quay Walker, Channing Tindall and Nakobe Dean all play. We play guys up front. William Poole has done a good job at practice. He's practiced well and done a good job. We're continuing to develop people across the board. I thought we played Kamari Lassiter and Ameer Speed. Dan Jackson played more at safety. Javon Bullard played at safety. David Daniel played at safety. Poole does a good job. We've got confidence in him.

On recruiting the Metro-Atlanta area …

"I think all metro areas get recruited heavily. I think metro areas get recruited for obvious reasons. You can travel there immediately. There's a large airport that attracts a lot of people. People come there to recruit them. They probably sometimes get over recruited. Sometimes the metro areas kids are fully developed. They've played in a big-time program. I don't look at it as any more challenging in Atlanta than it is in another major city."

On different linebacker packages…

"Well, we've always had that. We've had that package always. I mean, we did it against Florida. We did it prior to Florida. We try to get our best football players on the field in terms of speed. We've just done it a little more often now, but we carried that package every year. We did it in the past against Auburn, and we did in the past against other teams. So, it's not a role that Channing Tindall hasn't played before. He's always kind of had that role. It's been more of a dynamic for us of not being six defensive backs. So, what you're seeing is three linebackers where there used to be two linebackers because we had six defensive backs—we got five defensive backs. So, we don't have that—we have three inside linebackers with the five defensive backs. It just gets really complicated when you think about it… We're trying to get the 11 best players on the field and Channing Tindall gives us an opportunity to do that. But we also have to be cognizant that there are more snaps in the game. So, the more the three of them are on the field, is that taking away from the first and second down, which gets you to third down?"

On injured players…

"I feel good about all three of them. Hopeful about all three of them. Two of those guys will be back out there practicing. I mean, Nolan Smith practiced all last week. So did Jamaree Salyer, he just didn't go with the ones. We feel like tomorrow he'll be back, feel like Nolan Smith will be back, and we're hopeful that Chris Smith will be back. He won't be practicing today, but we think he'll be back."

On playing four QB's in a game…

"Yeah, I thought all four guys did what we asked them to do. We gave Brock Vandagriff as much of a chance as we gave those other guys because by that time we were running the clock and we had some linemen we wanted to get in the game, some of the walk-on kids that hadn't played. It's always important to me that if you're going to put a quarterback out there, you want to give him the best opportunity to be successful with who's in front of you, but I thought that those guys did a nice job. I think their understanding of the system is getting better and better with reps. They take reps each week, although Brock Vandagriff's are mostly scout team—those other guys get a lot of quality reps—great opportunity to get out there and grow in game time experience."

On Butkus Award finalist Nakobe Dean…

"He's one of the best linebackers in the country. If the award is based on statistics and number of snaps, shame on the award. That's not what it's about. It's supposed to go to the best linebacker in the country. I've been very fortunate to coach guys before that have won that, at multiple places. He's in that same category of guys. It's tough because I think Quay Walker and Channing Tindall are deserving of it. You know what's great about those three guys? They just want to win, and that's what has been special about this team. As these accolades, awards, and finalist have come out, those guys aren't worried about any of it. They are worried about winning a championship. I think Nakobe would tell you before anybody on the team, it's a whole lot more important about how he grows, plays, and continues to lead our team, than just about that award. He's one of the most explosive, best blitzing linebackers, smartest, that I've seen. Quay and Channing both have really good strengths too. They complement each other really well. All three of them."

On exemplifying 'Sic Von Non Vobis' on the Governor's Cup…

"The focus has been on each other. That was the whole connection piece. They've kind of had a pact that it's not going to be about the individualism. It's about the group. That's always easy to say in the off-season, but it's harder to live thru. Especially when you're going through games. One guy might have a stellar game and another guy gets the award offensively and defensively. It's been spread pretty evenly. Those guys on offense. There have been different backs leading us, different receivers leading us, different quarterbacks leading us. It just been by committee, and the defense has been the same way. I think it says a lot about the fact that the kids don't care and get caught up in it."

On the Georgia Tech QB and RB…

"Jahmyr Gibbs is playing really well. He's an explosive player. Kick return touchdown… They find ways to get him the ball. When you watch the tape, he looks like he's in a different gear. A really talented player with the way they use him. Both the quarterbacks have had some injuries and been beaten up. Jeff Sims is a really good thrower. A really good athlete. They use both of their legs well, to get them out of the pocket and move them around. That's been an issue for us in terms of quarterback being able to add to the run game this year. They'll be looking for ways to do that with whichever quarterback plays."

Channing Tindall, Senior, Inside Linebacker

On away games…

"Man, it is a crazy feeling. I want to say every away game and we haven't had that many away games this season but the away games this season we have had have felt like home games. You just see so much red and black in the crowd. It just makes you feel comfortable out there, regardless of where we are playing at."

On the Georgia Tech rivalry…

"This game, they have a really good quarterback so we have to be equip for that. Just that old fashioned hate, we are going to their place and it should be a good game. We haven't done too much yet. Today we are really going to start diagnosing them so there isn't too much I can speak on right now."

On the chance to go 12-0…

"During our summer workouts I could just tell it was going to be different. We had Skull sessions where we became closer and we talked about just knowing our 'why.' Not just going out there and playing and playing for this or playing for that. Now we are playing for his mother or his family or his situation. From there our workouts have just been 10 times harder than they have been in the past. So I just knew this year was going to be special just based off of that.

Warren McClendon, Redshirt Sophomore, Offensive Lineman

On Brett Siether's touchdown…

"Especially for the young guys…well he's not a young guy but sitting behind Darnell Washington and all of them and just being able to see him get his chance. Seeing him be able to make his first touchdown was a cool deal."

On Nakobe Dean being named as a finalist for the Butkus Award…

"Nakobe is a great linebacker, we do have some great linebackers. Just the way he carries himself in practice, he works hard, and he works hard in the weight room. He is deserving of it."

On if his body knows a difference after playing an FCS team versus an SEC team…

"Not really because when you get in you play hard no matter who the team is. We have to play to our standard. Body is still a little beat up the next day but was able to get in and get some recovery."

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Post Game Quotes

Coach Kirby Smart 

Opening Statement... 

“Let me open with the seniors, obviously. Today is a day to honor them. One of the coolest atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of in terms of honoring the seniors. I would also like to mention military appreciation day, the halftime show by the redcoat band, and all the in‐game recognition as well for the armed forces and all the vets. Just a tremendous honor to be a part of that and what they do for us in our country. I can’t say enough. We wouldn’t have a chance today to honor our seniors if it wasn’t for the military and the things they sacrifice and make for us.” 

On the Jordan Davis touchdown… 

“It was to score. I mean, we’ve been in that package the whole time. Todd Monken just came to me and said, he’d been begging to get the ball and he and Jalen Carter put a lot of work in because they have to go down and go through those plays with the offense. And then we make them make up for the plays they miss with the defense. So it’s a commitment for them to go down on offense. Jalen, you know, he wanted to catch a pass so we told him, we would flex him out and let Jordan get the ball. We worked on ball security this week with him and to be honest, I didn’t think we’d get a chance. It was almost fate that you got the opportunity because we weren’t going to do it out in the middle of the field. But the opportunity arose, and those offensive coaches wanted to do it and I thought it was a great idea. I thought he handled it well.” 

On game expectations… 

“We had a really short message and talked about our book and talked about what we’re writing and what the next chapter would hold. And I told them, I wanted them to name the next chapter because I didn't want it to be a boring or monotonous chapter, and they said send off. And that was the name of the chapter to send these guys off right at least in Sanford Stadium. And I thought they handled that well. They played to a standard and they gave a lot of guys an opportunity to play you know. If we let the team hang around and play sloppy, we don't get to play a lot of players that deserve the right play. You know, there were probably about 10 or 15 walk‐ons that had never played a snap. And some of them have probably taken somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 reps on our practice fields and they got to play a snap because of the effort of the guys that played our standard.” 

Stetson Bennett, Senior, Quarterback 

On handing the ball to Jordan Davis for a touchdown... 

"My whole job on that play was just to make sure he gets the ball, make sure he had the right hand up and just let him get in the endzone. It was pretty cool. Whenever we shifted out, and everybody saw what was going to happen, and the stadium went crazy, I was like 'Just get him the ball. Just make sure he doesn't fumble the ball. Get him the ball.' Hopefully, nobody took a picture right when I was handing the ball off, because I'd look pretty small." 

On the mood coming into the game... 

"We wish we would have executed a little bit more, but we'll watch that on film and get our heads right for next week. Today was about ending the season undefeated at home and honoring the seniors with the pregame. At the end, getting a lot of guys who don't play that much time on the field, and that was cool to see." 

Robert Beal, Jr., Senior, Linebacker 

On the defensive effort today... 

"We played a solid game. I feel like we need to go back to the doctor and fix a few things, but overall, we played a good game." 

On what Senior Day means to him... 

"It actually meant a lot to me. This was actually my mother's first game here at Georgia, because she has been dealing with injuries and stuff like that. Got a sack in my first start, which is a good feeling."

Coach Autrey Denson 

Opening Statement… 

“Man, tough when you are playing the No.1 team in the country. There is no room for error, so we had to play a perfect game, our best game of the season. Unfortunately, we did not do that in all phases, but man did they compete their tails off. I was proud of how they came out in the second half facing an uphill battle and just kept playing. Had a lot of young guys play which is very encouraging. And how about Garris Schwarting being Garris Schwarting right? Find a way to make a play, he will always do that. Couldn’t be more appreciative to him and those seniors for their contributions to our football team.” 

On the significance of today’s game… 

“What I told our guy’s ‘this is not the end of anything, it is the continuation of something that we are building.’ We compete to the glory of God by giving that God honored effort with that God honored attitude. Today was about sowing the seed, the week of a harvest that we want to reap at some point. Having guys play and guys get game time and guys get invaluable game time against the No.1 team in the country in this type of environment, we know that these tough lessons will pay off for us later.” 

On his team never giving up… 

“That is exactly what it is supposed to look like. When you are playing for something bigger than yourself, we like to say, ‘we just like to win around here so we can brag on Christ.’ So, when you are saying that you are ‘going to compete to the glory of God,’ you have to give that type of effort. You have to come out and play through your chest, because it is so much bigger than you. Just hats off to those guys, they never gave up, they kept playing. It was an uphill battle, and they fought every step of the way.” 

On the message in the locker‐room postgame… 

“We want to applaud those seniors. You start talking about 2019 all the things we have endured, all the adversity. More importantly man, the character of those seniors. Having had the adversity that they have had from a coaching change, they had no reason to believe in us and all they did was buy into who we are as a football ministry the way we asked them to do it. First and foremost was to give those guys their due and their respect. And then make sure that they have left this thing in really good hands. We are going to go on Thanksgiving break, and we will come back and be ready to work. Work with a mindset that it is not the end of anything but that we are building towards something special that we know that God is building here with our CSU football ministry.”

Post Game Notes

Dawgs Now 11-0: With today’s 56-7 victory, top-ranked Georgia improves to 11-0 for the first time since 1982 when it finished the regular season 11-0. Also, the 1980 consensus national champion Dawgs finished 11-0 during the regular season and then won the Sugar Bowl to cap a 12-0 run. The 1946 Dawgs posted an 11-0 mark after going 10-0 in the regular season and then claiming the Sugar Bowl. There have been nine other teams to register at least 11 wins in a season in school history (1942; 1971; 2002; 2003; 2007; 2012; 2017; 2018 and 2019). Georgia owns the nation’s longest active winning streak in the FBS as it improves to 15 games. This is tied for second longest in school history as the Dawgs also won 15 straight contests from 1941-42 and 1979-81. The school record is 17 games set during a three-year stretch from 1945-47. 

Defense Posts Another First Half Shutout, Bucs Score On Fumble: Top-ranked Georgia, the national leader in Scoring Defense (7.6 ppg), held CSU to no points in the first half and won 56-7. Georgia led 49-0 in the third quarter when CSU scored on a 65-yard fumble return following a Dawg interception. Opponents have scored just 83 points, and that tally through 11 games is the lowest in a season at this point since 1950 when it allowed 65. Georgia collected four sacks. Today marked the sixth team this year to be shut out in the first half. In the sack department, Travon Walker (4.0 for the season) and Channing Tindall (4.5) combined on one while Robert Beal, Jr. (3.5), Devonte Wyatt (2.5) and Smael Mondon (1.0) all notched one. Senior nose Jordan Davis scored a one-yard TD on a rush becoming the first member of the defense to score a TD while on offense since Jalen Carter caught a one-yard pass from Stetson Bennett versus Tennessee. 

Pouring On The Points: Georgia tied a school record with 49 points in a half, matching the mark set in 2011 against New Mexico State and in 1994 (Northeast Louisiana), all doing it in the first half. Georgia posted 368 yards of total offense 43 plays. Six different Dawgs scored a touchdown in the first half. In the second half, Georgia added one more score for the final including the first career TD for redshirt sophomore TE Brett Seither

Bennett Leads Dawgs: Senior QB Stetson Bennett finished the first half 8-for-14 for 105 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. He got the start for the seventh straight week and eighth time overall this year while improving to 11-2 as a starter. He had a 32-yard TD pass to Kenny McIntosh to convert a 4th-and-5 in the 1st quarter. With 12:04 left in the first half and Georgia leading 35-0, junior QB JT Daniels came in and was 7-for-12 for 73 yards and one TD. Redshirt freshman QB Carson Beck and freshman QB Brock Vandagriff saw most of the action in the second half. 

An Array Of Targets: Twelve different Dawgs caught a pass. Freshman Brock Bowers led the team with four catches for 36 yards and 2 TDs, all in the first half. He set a Dawg record for TD catches in a season by a tight end with two more today to give him eight. He caught a 4-yarder from Bennett and a 6-yarder from Daniels. For Bowers, it was his fourth game this year with two TDs. Junior RB Kenny McIntosh caught a career-long 32-yard TD pass on 4th-and-5 in the first quarter. It marked the second TD pass on 4th down this year for the Dawgs, also doing it against Missouri on a 4th-and-6 with a 35-yard pass to Arian Smith

Rushing Highlights: Georgia tallied 233 rushing yards on 32 attempts and 4 TDs. In the first half, senior Zamir White gained 83 yards on four carries including a 40-yard TD for his 10th score of the season and 24 for his career. Senior James Cook had six carries for 57 yards including 1 TD. Sophomore Daijun Edwards collected his second TD this year, a six-yarder, and third of his career. White’s first carry of the day gained 38 yards while Cook had a season-long 40 yard rush and a three-yard TD. Senior nose tackle Jordan Davis had first two career carries for two yards including a 1-yard plunge for his first TD and a 7-0 lead. After the game, Davis directed the Redcoat Band too! 

Special Teams Summary: Senior punter Jake Camarda had five punts for a 48.4 avg. Junior Jack Podlesny went 8-for-8 on PATs. He is 55-for-56 on PATs. Junior Kearis Jackson had a season-long 41-yard punt return and finished with four returns for 79 yards. 

Game Captains/Coin Toss/For Starters: The captains were seniors Zamir White (RB), Channing Tindall (ILB) and Devonte Wyatt (DL). CSU won the toss and deferred the football until the second half. The only first-time starter was senior Robert Beal, Jr. (OLB). 

Series History/Up Next: Georgia now leads the CSU series 2-0. Up next, Georgia (11-0) finishes the regular season at Georgia Tech (3- 7) in Atlanta on Saturday, November 27th at noon (ABC).

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Post Game Notes

Undefeated SEC Regular Season: With today’s 41-17 victory, top-ranked Georgia (10-0, 8-0 SEC) posted a perfect 8-0 mark in the league for the first time in school history. The average margin of victory in these games was 31.9 points. Georgia now has completed league play undefeated eight times, and this is the first 8-0 mark since the SEC split into divisions in 1992. This is the third time that Georgia has gone 6-0 in the SEC East under Kirby Smart. Since 2017, Georgia is 27-2 against the East. Georgia is now 10-0 for the first time since 1982 when it went 11-0. The Bulldogs also started out 10-0 in 1980 and 1946. The 2011 team began the year 0-2 and then won 10 straight games to close out the regular season.


Defensive Review: Top-ranked Georgia, the national leader in Scoring Defense (6.6 ppg), held Tennessee to 10 points in the first half as the Vols ran 41 plays for 184 yards (159 yards came in the first quarter and only 25 yards in the 2nd quarter). UT added a TD in the 4th quarter to finish with 17 points as the Vols were averaging 38.2 ppg. Georgia opponents have scored just 76 points, and that tally through 10 games is the lowest in a season at this point since 1950 when it allowed 58.

Junior Nakobe Dean led the team with 11 tcakles, 2 TFL and a sack. UT took opening kick and scored a TD, going 77 yards on 10 plays in 3:11. Georgia trailed 7-0 with 11:43 in first quarter. Then with 1:38 left in the first quarter, UT took a 10-7 lead on a 24-yard field goal. In the 2nd quarter, Georgia tied the game at 10 with 9:42 left. Also In the second quarter, senior Derion Kendrick notched his second interception, the other came versus USC. It led to a TD. Georgia is +3 in turnover margin this season and has scored 80 points off 14 turnovers.

In the second half on its first possession, UT went for it on 4th and 4 from the UT17 and the defense forced an incompletion. The Vols turned it over on downs again on their next possession at the UT 40 on a sack by Channing Tindall, and the Dawgs eventually added a TD for a 34-10 edge. Tindall added a sack/forced a fumble to thwart a red zone opportunity when UT had advanced to the 7 yard line. He had eight tackles and three sacks, both career highs. UT got its final score with 3:38 left to make it 41-17. It ended a 34-0 run by the Dawgs who trailed 10-7 with 1:39 left in the first quarter.

Bennett Leads Dawgs: Senior QB Stetson Bennett finished 17-for-29 for 213 yards and one TD plus one TD rushing as he improved to 10-2 as a starter including 7-0 this year. He got the start for the sixth straight week and seventh time overall this year. He had a 10-yard rushing TD for the team’s first lead at 17-10 with 7:24 left in the first half. It capped a five-play, 40-yard drive in 1:32. He directed an 11-play, 90-yard drive in 3:05 to make it 24-10 with 37 seconds left in the first half. It was Georgia’s fourth 11-play drive of the year, which ties a season-high. The others came against USC (90), Arkansas (93) and Mizzou (75).

Top Targets: Nine different Dawgs caught a pass. Freshman AD Mitchell led the team with a career-high five catches for 65 yards. Junior Kearis Jackson had two for 32 yards. Senior RB James Cook (3-for-43) caught a 23-yarder for a TD that made it 24-10.

Rushing Highlights: Georgia tallied 274 rushing yards on 42 attempts and 2 TDs. Senior James Cook had a career-high 104 yards on 10 carries including two TDs. Cook capped the first drive with a 39-yard TD to tie the game at 7. He has 13 career rushing TDs. Cook also had a 23-yard receiving TD. Cook posted 147 all-purpose yards. This was his second career 100-yard rushing game. He had 104 versus USC in 2020. This was his third career game with three total scores.

Special Teams Summary: Senior punter Jake Camarda had five punts for a 50.8 average. Junior Jack Podlesny had five PATs plus went 2-for-2 on field goals. He made a 40-yarder to tie the game at 10 with 9:42 left and added a 26-yarder in the 2ndhalf. This year, he is now 16-for-20 on field goals and 47-for-48 on PATs.

Game Captains/Coin Toss: The captains were seniors James Cook (RB) and Quay Walker (ILB) and junior Nakobe Dean (ILB). Georgia won the toss and deferred the football until the second half.

Series History/Up Next: Georgia now leads the UT series 26-23-2 including 5-1 under Kirby Smart. Up next, Georgia plays host to Charleston Southern (4-5) on Nov. 20 at noon (SECN+).

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Tuesday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart

On Mark Richt being honored during the game this weekend…


“Coach Richt and Katharyn, their family have just been tremendous to myself and Mary Beth, I think my career was probably similar to his in terms of coming up. Being a GA, growing up we both GA’ed kind of under Coach Bowden and I think he met his wife at the time, Katharyn, and then I kind of went on my career and then bounced back, by the time I was at LSU and Nick went to Miami, ended up getting hired and Coach Richt gave me an opportunity to coach running backs, which I'd never done. It showed a lot of confidence in me as a coach and I learned a lot from him. I learned a lot about being the right kind of person and how to run an organization the right way and it's meant a lot to my career and I was really only with him for one year, but always followed him from afar because he was an alma mater and I respected the job he did. And he certainly made this a really good job from the way he built everything and the things he did the time he was here. It's always been very fertile in terms of people and players in the state but he's meant so much to so many. I think when you talk to the players, I know all the guys that played for him, I've seen so many alumni and players that have just, they come back to events and they just rave about their relationship. And you see guys like Terrence Edwards and Ben Watson and these great players that just respect Coach Richt and the things he did for this university, I certainly feel the same way and I couldn't be prouder to be honoring him. And he's reached out to me so many times where he and Katharyn have said, Hey, we're praying for you and your family. I mean, back when I was in Alabama, it just meant a lot that he did those things, but I'm glad he's doing it and I know our fan base will be there to recognize him.”

On Missouri’s quarterback situation…

“I think there's a lot more difference in the Tyler Macon kid, the kid that played a little more, you know an athlete, got a really strong arm, but a good athlete. I mean, would be similar to the Anthony Richardson type in terms of athleticism. They can do some different things. He's got some really tough run games when he plays with a guy like that because he's got some tough plays to defend. And they've also got Brady Cook who played a little bit against us last year and has played some this year who's more like Bazelak Connor. So, we're up in the air as far as we don't know whether we're preparing for Tyler Macon, whether we're preparing for Cook or whether Bazelak will be able to play soon. So, we don't really know. It's probably tougher prep than last week because they were more similar last week as quarterbacks. There's a distinct difference when the Macon kid is in.”

On Ameer Speed and quarterbacks this week…

“Quarterbacks looked great. They both did a tremendous job, really pleased with where they're at. Ameer has been good. He played in the Florida game. He started on kickoff return. Wanted to use him on some more special teams and things, just didn't know how much he'd be able to handle and tolerate but he felt pretty good. I think he's like 80-85 percent. And he had a great rep on kickoff return that helped spring Kearis Jackson for that opening kickoff. And he's practiced this week and I don't know if he's 100 percent But he's, he certainly much closer to it. He feels more confident in it.”

On starting quarterbacks…

“I think it's important for both of them to continue to develop, make good decisions. I mean, part of playing quarterback is accuracy, decision making, mobility. Those things are the critical factors. Anybody can hand it off, we all know that, and anybody can make our run checks and decisions. But it's the decisions when the ball’s in your hand and you're having to make decisions where you're going with it, where you're throwing it, all those things that are the biggest deciding factors but I'm pleased where both of them are.”

On Stetson Bennett starting again this week…

“Like I said, I'm pleased where both of them are and I think both of them are doing a great job.”

On staying humble…

“They’ve had this night seven times And I would dare y'all to know how many of those seven actually won the national championship. Anybody got an answer? One's the answer. So my point would be to the players and I made the point today and will continue to make the point is why? Why did only one of the seven win it? And it's pretty easy, because it either went to their head, it affected them. They didn't continue to grow and get better and the narrative out there will be people will say I'm not saying this because I certainly don't think it's true at all. But the narrative is what distorts young people's minds and they read on social media and things that there's this upper echelon of teams, and then there's this other group, and I don't think that's the case at all. I don't see it that way. I see every team in that Top 10, Top 15 capable of beating each other any given Saturday. So, what we better do is distance ourselves from everybody else and get better because we got some tough roads coming down the pipe starting this week and every week to follow when you play in the SEC. So, that's our concern, not that. We're not worried about that. I told them they could tune in and watch the Braves, but there's no need to watch the other because that's not what's important and it's distorted at least six other team’s’ minds enough for them not to make it there.”

On Zamir White sharing carries with other guys and his importance to the team…

“The sharing carries is more for his health, than anything else. I don't think a guy can play in the SEC and tote it that many times anymore, I mean it’s just tough. I saw it with Derrick Henry and seeing it with other guys. It's hard to do and sustain. So what he's done is incredible. In terms of carrying the workload, the leadership, the work ethic, and there's not a day he comes out to practice, he doesn't practice hard. And the best thing about it is he takes care of his body. He does a tremendous job. I've seen, come across my office outside my window right here where he’s walking back and forth and I’m texting him, what are you doing? “Well, I’m coming to treatment. I’m leaving treatment. I’m getting extra treatment. I’m taking care of my body so I can be effective.” He’s just a great leader.”

On Zamir White…

“Yeah, this year in carries has been more from his health than anything else. I don't think a guy can play in the SEC and end the season that many times anymore. I mean, it's just tough. I saw it with Derrick Henry and seeing it with other guys. It's hard to do and sustain, so what he's done is incredible in terms of carrying the workload, the leadership, the work ethic, and there's not a day he comes out to practice and doesn’t practice hard and the best thing about him is that he takes care of his body. You know, he does a tremendous job. I've seen him come across my office outside my window right here where he's walking back and forth and I'm texting 'What are you doing?' 'I'm coming to treatment,' 'I'm leaving treatment', and 'I’m getting an extra treatment', 'I'm taking care of my body so I can be effective.' He's just a great leader.”

On the health of the wide receiver room…

George Pickens is not back, right. Dominick Blaylock is not back. Dom did routes all day for the first time in three weeks. He just ran 16-17 miles an hour. He's a 20-21 mile-an-hour guy, so he's not back. Justin Robinson is not back. And outside of those three, I think we have everybody else trying to approach, I don't think Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint is still not 100% and he's coming off of an ankle and a significant break from last year, so he's working his way back, but he's playing. You know, If you compare it to Auburn, I think we're 30-40 percent better than when we played Auburn. We were really struggling going into that game, but we're not 100 percent still, I mean, it's just nobody is. Nobody is at this point.”

On Georgia Pickens and Dominick Blaylock’s status for the SEC Championship…

“I don't know. I really don't know either one. I think Blaylock will have an opportunity because of what he was able to do yesterday and today. I think he's headed in the right direction. He's actually taking the brace off, so, this is, you know, I think he's 14 months post ACL, so it's like not about the ACL. He's got to get confidence in that knee and confidence through practice. Well, his practice has been hindered by his hamstring and it's ironic because the brace bothers his hamstring and he feels like it's part of the reason he pulled the hamstring. I think the last time you all were there he pulled, so he's been this big gap, but I think he's got a chance. You know, I don't know about George because, you know, we meet medically, periodically with Dr. Andrews, who did the surgery, and Dr. Andrews has been very positive with him. He's done Cybex testing, he's done, there’s 9 million tests you do to see where you are and he's like 85% to 99 percent, to somethings he's actually stronger on the injured leg than the other leg, so he's like come a long way, but there's no timetable yet to say SEC championship or not. We think he may be cleared to practice possibly before then, but we just don't know. I do know he's got a meeting set up with Dr. Andrews here in the near future that he’s gonna get to go meet with him and his mom and they get to visit and share things. He got to meet with him at the Auburn game, that's why he went with us because he got to meet with Dr. Andrews for another update.”

On the decision of keeping JT Daniels and knowing when to take starters out after being up big on a game…

“There was nothing really that kept him, I mean, we every game we talked on the headphones, we have a two-hour meeting in the morning before the game to go through how we plan to play the players and we don't always decide that until the day of the game and how to play the players is something that every, at least every coach I know goes through and used to be about red shirts and how many reps guys would get and other guys would play and it's really more about situations decided if a guy gets hurt, who's going in if this guy goes right tackle and he goes to left tackle. You go through all those things. We do all those things and we talk about them and then in the game, there is another discussion of, 'When is the game out of hand?', 'When is it not?', and 'How are we playing the game?'. A lot of times if you're playing to run the clock out then it's not necessarily beneficial for a guy to go in and hand the ball off or do that and then in other games, you're trying to score it and then you go back to whatever game it was Carson Beck, we were throwing the ball trying to grow him and get him better when we had the pick-six, so every game I think is different. We make the decision based on what we think is best for the team.”

On the last two days of practice…

“The last two practices have been great. They've really been good, I mean, there's been no letdown, hangover, any of that. They’ve practiced really good Monday and they practiced really good today. There's been a unique buy-in to Tuesday’s/Wednesday’s wins game, so let's go win it on Tuesday/Wednesday and very spirited, competitive, physical, good practices. The good news is we've had enough legs between Ameer Speed getting back and the wideouts feeling like they're pushing 100 percent, Jermaine Burton and Arian Smith specifically, we've been able to get a few more reps than we had in the past, we had to cut reps way down before.”

On his experience as a running backs coach…

“As far as the experience at running back, it was invaluable because I got to sit in a room with Neil Callaway, Mike Bobo, you know, Coach Richt, and hear how they think about things. And, you know, I was charged with watching the defense, which I thought was really cool and trying to tell them what the defense was doing or thinking and I got to listen to game planning how they went about third down, second down. It helped me tremendously in terms of “How does an offensive guy look at it?” and I wish I'd done a better job learning then because it's been invaluable throughout the years I've been on defense.”

On the difficulties of recruiting in season…..

“The difficulties of recruiting in season is time management. I mean, it’s just you have to make a choice of how much you want to commit to game plan, how much you want to commit to player development, player relationships, the mental health of your players and, how much you want to commit to recruiting. And it’s not an easy balance. I mean in-season is extremely hard. So our coaches I think do a tremendous job at night. After our meeting sometimes we get done at nine or 10. Each night is different. Wednesday night, we get done after practice so that’s kind of our night. We recruit hard and we communicate with each other what’s going on and Thursday night we do the same. Just balance whatever you’re comfortable with whatever you feel like best and certainly when we have home games it makes it easier.”

On Keele Ringo….

“Well, I mean I’m gonna be honest, Keele’s not really a leader yet. He’s still figuring things out and he has leadership qualities, but you’re talking about a defense full of some alpha males now and he’s still figuring all that out. He’s learning how to lead and set an example, you know, and it wasn’t more of getting on with a teammate as much as it was. His teammate messed up and he knew it and he knew he was right. He just didn’t mentally handle it the right way. But I’m proud, Keele’s come a long way. You know, he’s got a long way to go but he’s come a long way because I mean, this young man did not practice one time from the time he had surgery last year. So I’m very pleased with where he’s come. I’m proud of the way he works, and he’s got a lot tougher, tough contact, and he’s getting a lot smarter in terms of understanding our defense. But he still has a ways to go and he will be a leader of this team because he’s gonna be a guy that has a lot of experience.

Kelee Ringo, Redshirt Freshman, Defensive Back

On being ranked No.1 in the first CFP ranking...

"It's a great feeling, to be honest, but I feel just continuing to just come out every single day and work like you're in last place in college football could definitely help us to continue where we've been going. I feel like that's a great start to be putting ourselves in right now."

On the interaction with Coach Smart during the Florida game...

"With our defense we have a certain standard going from teammate to teammate, and coach to coach. As we saw later throughout the game, there were a few passes that I didn't meet, and I got a little bit frustrated. But the process, it's a lot of emotion - it's the type of emotion that wasn't in the right place at the time which is why I acted the way that I did. We got through that situation, and we solved it."

On what he can improve on...

"All aspects of the game, to be honest. Coverage each and every single day. We come into meetings and look at what we can work on, telling us about ourselves and how we came out. I feel like just continuing to work on the little things like coming out of the breaks, slowing down on tempos, bailing but also staying close to the receivers during their breaks."

Channing Tindall, Senior, Inside Linebacker

On the Florida game….

“That Florida game was definitely a challenging week for us. Offensively, for Florida, they run a lot of schemes, kind of like I-violators. That’s what we call them. So like, we just had to buckle down and look at those types of things. We just focused on what we had to do for our job. And so like once we paid attention to what we had to do for our job and just executed that everything took care of itself after that. So, yeah now we’re headed for Missouri.”

On Georgia’s defense and linebacker core…

“In the inside linebacker group, we don’t have a name, something we’re probably gonna have to talk about. Probably going to talk about it tonight actually or at the end of the season. We aren’t really worried about a name right now. But we are just trying to improve each week, we are focused on getting better. So we don’t really try to focus on the past. Last week, we looked at our mistakes, right now we’re just trying to get better and better and better. I feel like that’s what makes our room so special because we’re all competitive. So we’re trying to do better than the other ones. So like when you’re trying to do better than the other one, you focus on everything – the keys, the alignments, you gotta do everything. Outdoing each other actually making us better. So like that’s the number one thing that’s kind of got us to the point that we are now.”

On Nolan Smith….

“Yeah, definitely. In practice, what you see in practice is what you’re going to see in the game. We’re a firm believer that what you do in practice is what’s going to show up in the game. And Nolan’s very passionate, very vocal, and he’s going to make plays. What he does in practice shows up on the field. So all his hard work, he earns it. All those plays you see, aren’t just lucky plays like he actually worked for those.”