Saturday, September 17, 2022

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Offensive Numbers: Georgia tallied 547 yards of total offense in winning 48-7 on Saturday. Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers scored three touchdowns -- two on receptions and one rushing. That is the second time in his career (Vanderbilt 2021) that Bowers has scored three times and in that manner in the same game. Bowers ended up with five catches for 121 yards, including a 78-yarder, and the two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett went 16-of-23 for 284 yards and two touchdowns in two-plus quarters of work. He also rushed for a touchdown to cap the Dawgs’ season-best drive of 88 yards on eight plays and was the leading rusher with 36 yards on three attempts. Senior kicker Jack Podlesny drilled a season-best 42-yard field goal.

Red Zone Review: The Dawgs were 5-for-5 in the Red Zone with four touchdowns and a field goal. For the season, Georgia improved to 19-for-20 in the Red Zone with 14 touchdowns and five field goals.

A Look At The Defense: The Dawgs have allowed 10 points this season, which is the program's lowest 3-game total since 1927. South Carolina finished the game with 306 yards of total offense. The leading tackler for the Dawgs was sophomore linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson with six stops. Freshman defensive back Malaki Starks, sophomore inside linebacker Trezmen Marshall and safety Dan Jackson picked off passes for the Dawgs. For Marshall, it was his first career interception. Collectively, the Dawgs had six tackles for loss.

Starters & Game Captains: Georgia had two first-time starters in freshman receiver Dillon Bell and senior defensive lineman Tramel Walthour. South Carolina won the toss and elected to receive. Senior Kearis Jackson (WR), junior Warren McClendon (OL), and sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson (ILB) were the captains.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia picked up 14 points off three turnovers. The Dawgs moved to +6 for the year with 31 points off turnovers, while Georgia has not had any turnovers this year.

This and That: Freshman tight end Oscar Delp recorded the first touchdown of his career on his first collegiate catch … South Carolina’s successful fake punt was the first against Georgia since Cincinnati in the 2021 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl … The Gamecocks’ 46-yard pass play was the longest surrendered by the Dawgs this year.

Series History: Georgia improved to 54-19-2 in the series history with South Carolina, including 21-10 in SEC matchups. The Dawgs posted their largest margin of victory against the Gamecocks. Coach Kirby Smart is now 6-1 against the Gamecocks and 5-0 against former assistants (2-0 vs. Arkansas, 2-0 vs. South Carolina, 1-0 vs. Oregon).

Dawgs Feast On Chickens

UGA Sports Communications

Led by another blistering offensive performance, the top-ranked University of Georgia football team defeated South Carolina, 48-7, Saturday afternoon before 78,212 spectators at Williams-Brice Stadium and an ESPN national television audience.

Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) amassed 547 yards of offense, including an average of 8.7 yards per play. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett finished 16-of-23 passing for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while also leading the team in rushing with 36 yards and a score on three carries. Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers tallied 126 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.

On the defensive end, Georgia held South Carolina (1-2, 0-2 SEC) to 306 yards of offense, with only 197 coming in the first three quarters. Sophomore linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson tied a career high six tackles, while the Dawgs notched three interceptions.

“We’ve got a young team and a lot of them haven’t played in or seen that type of environment,” coach Kirby Smart said following the game. “I thought we had some guys grow up today. The offense really executed efficiently and did a nice job. The defense was ‘bend, but don’t break’ again and they’ve been very opportunistic in terms of getting turnovers after big plays.”

After South Carolina’s first drive stalled near midfield, the Georgia offense quickly moved down the field for an opening score, set up by a 28-yard pass from Bennett to redshirt sophomore receiver Ladd McConkey on second-and-2. The drive concluded with a 5-yard touchdown run by Bowers, capping off a 10-play, 82-yard sequence.

On the ensuing Gamecock possession, quarterback Spencer Rattler found tight end Jaheim Bell for a 46-yard completion, but the momentum was short-lived as he was intercepted two plays later by freshman defensive back Malaki Starks, who returned the ball to the South Carolina 43-yard line. The Dawgs soon capitalized on the field position as Bennett scrambled to the 1-yard line, followed by junior tailback Kendall Milton punching it in to make the score, 14-0.

South Carolina extended its next drive with a fake punt as Kai Kroger completed a 20-yard pass over the middle to Traevon Kenion. The Gamecocks eventually reached the Dawg 37, but Rattler’s fourth down pass went incomplete to close the drive. Aided by a pass interference penalty, Georgia then extended the lead to 21-0 as Bowers made a tremendous tiptoe catch in the end zone.

Following a series of punts from both teams, Georgia reached the South Carolina 25-yard line via a pair of long passing plays, but three straight incompletions resulted in a 42-yard field goal by senior place kicker Jack Podlesny, bringing the halftime score to 24-0.

Georgia opened the second half with possession and wasted no time bolstering its advantage as Bennett connected with a wide-open Bowers, who ran away from the South Carolina defense for a 78-yard score, his third of the afternoon. The Dawgs continued the scoring on their next drive, moving 88 yards down the field before Bennett rushed up the middle for a touchdown.

On South Carolina’s next play from scrimmage, Rattler was again intercepted by junior defensive back Dan Jackson, who wrestled the ball away for his first career pick. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Carson Beck relieved Bennett and promptly hit freshman tight end Oscar Delp for his first career touchdown, leaving the score at 45-0 heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final period, the Georgia offense continued to roll down the field reaching the 5-yard line before redshirt sophomore place kicker Jared Zirkel made his first career field goal from 21 yards out, finishing up a 13-play, 88-yard possession.

South Carolina looked to finally score on the subsequent drive, reaching the 11-yard line before backup quarterback Luke Doty was intercepted by junior linebacker Trezmen Marshall following pressure from fellow linebacker Rian Davis. The Gamecocks eventually hit the scoreboard with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Doty to Kenion with 53 seconds remaining.

Georgia returns home next weekend to face Kent State on Saturday at noon in Sanford Stadium. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Another Shutout For The Defense: For the ninth time in the Kirby Smart era, the Dawgs registered a shutout in posting a 33-0 win over Samford today. Samford finished with 128 yards of total offense on 43 plays. The leading tackler for the Dawgs was Smael Mondon with four stops and 1.5 TFL. Samford finished the first half with only 59 yards of total offense on 23 plays. Late in the second quarter and trailing 23-0, they turned it over on downs at their own 44, which led to a TD. Georgia forced one turnover that led to three points. Last year, the Dawgs posted three shutouts (Vandebrilt, No. 8 Arkansas and Ga. Tech). 

Offense Puts Up 33 Points: Georgia posted a 33-0 victory, rolling up 479 yards of total offense on 75 plays. In the first half, the Dawgs were 6-for-6 in the Red Zone with three TDs and three field goals, tallying 329 yards of total offense on 47 plays in building a 30-0 lead. At the start of the 4th quarter with Georgia leading 30-0, it was announced that by mutual agreement of the coaches, the 4th quarter would be shortened to 12 minutes. The Dawgs would add one field goal in the second half and finish 7-fo-8 in the Red Zone.

Georgia’s first drive of the day resulted in a 27-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 7:52 left. Georgia converted a pair of third downs until stalling out at the Samford 4. It was a 12 play, 47-yard drive. Following a turnover, Georgia reached the Red Zone again and had to settle for a field goal on a five play, 34-yard drive. Georgia’s third possession resulted in a TD on a three-year rush by QB Stetson Bennett. It capped a 7 play, 71-yard drive in 3:44. It was Bennett’s second rushing TD and sixth of his career. Georgia extended its lead to 19-0 as Bennett directed another 71-yard drive on nine plays capped by a three-yard TD pass to freshman Dillon Bell. Kenny McIntosh had a one-yard run to finish the final scoring drive of the half and a 30-0 lead. It was the second of the year for McIntosh and eighth of his career. It was Bell’s first career TD catch.

Bennett finished the day 24-for-34 for 300 yards and 1 TD in three quarters of action. In the first half, he was 20-for-28 for 252 yards and one TD plus four rushing yards with one rushing TD. Redshirt sophomore QB Carson Beck (5-for-7, 52 yards) entered the game with 2:34 left in the 3rd quarter. Today’s leading receiver was senior TB Kenny McIntosh with five for 61 yards with junior Kendall Milton leading all rushers with 85 yards on 10 carries. A total of 15 different Dawgs caught a pass today.

Podlesny Tallies 15 Points: Senior PK Jack Podlesny scored a career-high 15 points today (4 FGs, 3 PATs) and that was the most by a placekicker since 2017 when Rodrigo Blankenship had 17 against Misouri. He connected from 27 yards out for his first field goal of the year and a 3-0 lead with 7:51 left in the first quarter. Later in the first quarter, he made a 25-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead. He made a 26-yarder with 5:01 left in the half to make it 23-0. He made three PATs. Podlesny had six touchbacks on seven kickoffs with one going out of bounds. In the second half, he attempted a career-long 54-yard field goal, and it was short. It was his first career miss from 50+ after going 3-for-3 in 2020 and did not attempt one from that distance last year. In the second half, Podlesny added a 25-yarder for a 33-0 lead with 11:11 left. In his career, he is now 16-for-16 in the 20-29-yard range.

For Starters & Game Captains: Georgia had one first-time starter today in freshman Malaki Starks (DB). Samford won the toss and elected to take the ball. Georgia forced the Bulldogs to punt. Senior Warren Ericson (OL), junior Zion Logue (DL), and junior Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (WR) were the captains. Sophomore WR Adonai Mitchell injured his ankle in the 1st quarter and did not return.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia got three points off one turnover today. In the first quarter, junior Dan Jackson caused a fumble that was recovered by redshirt freshman Xavian Sorey. The Dawgs are +3 for the year with 17 points off turnovers.

Uga Wins Battle Of Dawgs

UGA Sports Communications

The No. 2-ranked Dawgs cruised to an easy 33-0 win over Samford in the their home opener Saturday afternoon. Stetson Bennett threw for 300 yards, the defense was dominant throughout, and kicker Jack Podlesny connected on four field goals in front of a crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium.

After scoring touchdowns on its first seven drives in last Saturday’s season-opening 49-3 rout of then-No. 11 Oregon in Atlanta, Georgia (2-0) didn’t get into the end zone as easily against Samford (1-1), an FCS squad from the Southern Conference. Podlesny, who was busy booting extra points last week, made field goals from 27, 25, 26 and 25 yards.

Georgia ended the game with 479 yards of offense, averaging 6.4 yards per play, while the defense held Samford to 128 total yards. It was Georgia’s third win in three meetings against Samford. The teams first played in 1943 when Samford was still Howard College. Georgia won that meeting 38-0 and beat Samford 42-14 in 2017.

After the Georgia defense forced a quick three-and-out from the Samford offense, Bennett and the Dawgs took the field and quickly moved into Samford territory. Ultimately, Georgia had a first down at the Samford 12-yard line but had to settle for a 27-yard Jack Podlesny field goal and a 3-0 advantage.

Safety Dan Jackson derailed Samford’s next possession, stripping the ball from quarterback Michael Hiers. Linebacker Xavian Sorey Jr. recovered the loose ball at the Samford 41, setting Georgia up with excellent field position. On the next play, Bennett dumped a screen off to McIntosh on the left side and the back scampered 30 yards up the sideline to the Samford 11.

Georgia was again in great position deep in Samford territory, and it again had to settle for a field goal, this time a 25-yarder that made it 6-0 with 5:34 to play in the opening quarter.

The defense again forced a Samford punt — Samford through three possessions had 26 total yards and one first down — and Bennett and the offense marched down the field. There was a 37-yard completion to Ladd McConkey deep downfield that got Georgia into Samford territory, and the drive ended with a 2-yard Bennett run to the right for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.

In the second, Georgia’s defense got another quick stop and then the offense kept rolling. Bennett hit receiver Kearis Jackson for 16 yards to the 50, followed by two Kendell Milton runs to the left that netted a combined 14 yards. Two plays later, Bennett faked a handoff to McIntosh, and then dumped off a short screen to the running back, who cut up for an 11-yard gain.

Three plays later, Bennett faked a handoff to Daijun Edwards and found Dillon Bell in the end zone for a touchdown — the first of the freshman receiver’s career — and a 20-0 lead with 8:48 to play in the half. Following another defensive stop, McConkey helped give the offense great field position after a 21-yard punt return to the Samford 44.

Georgia started the ensuing drive with great field position and quickly got an 18-yard completion to tight end Brock Bowers, followed by a 5-yard completion to tight end Darnell Washington, plus a personal foul penalty. The drive later stalled inside the 20 and Podlesny pushed Georgia’s lead to 23-0 with a 26-yarder with 5:01 left in the half.

On the next drive, defensive back Javon Bullard reached in for a pass breakup on Samford’s fourth-down gamble, giving the offense the ball at the Samford 44 with 3:49 to play before halftime. Bennett hit Jackson for 17 yards on third-and-6, and later, he hit Bowers for 26 yards to the 2. Soon after, McIntosh ran the ball in untouched, pushing Georgia’s advantage to 30-0 with 55 seconds to play before halftime.

At the end of the half, Bennett tried a Hail Mary throw into the end zone that fell incomplete, snapping a streak of 14 straight scoring drives for the quarterback. Georgia had 329 yards of offense in the first half while holding Samford to 59.

In Georgia’s win last week, freshman punter Brett Thorsen didn’t deliver his first boot as a Dawg until the fourth quarter. On Saturday, he finally got on the field late in the third, with Georgia still up 30-0.

Bennett gave way to backup Carson Beck late in the third quarter and ended his day 24 of 34 passing for 300 yards, with a 3-yard touchdown run and a 3-yard TD pass to Bell. Through two games this season, Bennett is 49 of 65 for 668 yards, with three passing touchdowns and two rushing. Milton led the rushing attack with 85 yards on 10 carries, while McIntosh led the way receiving with five receptions for 61 yards.

Podlesny added to Georgia’s lead early in the fourth quarter, kicking a 25-yard field goal that make it 33-0. The defense got its first sack of the season in the fourth quarter, when freshman defensive end Mykel Williams tackled Samford backup QB Quincy Crittendon for a 9-yard loss.

The Dawgs hit the road next week for their Southeastern Conference opener at South Carolina. The Gamecocks dropped their SEC debut Saturday, falling 44-30 at No. 16 Arkansas.

Georgia returns to Sanford Stadium on September 24th, against Kent State.

Stegmania Returns

UGA Sports Communications

Following a two year hiatus due to Covid-19, Stegmania is back. Georgia Basketball will host its third-annual Stegmania presented by Bojangles' on Friday, October 7th, at 7:00 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum, with both teams taking part.

Gates to Stegeman Coliseum will open at 6:00 p.m. The first 2,000 UGA students in attendance will receive both a commemorative Stegmania t-shirt and food. The first 2,000 fans in attendance also will receive a Stegmania t-shirt. Interactive activities for students, families and fans will be set up on the Stegeman concourses.

“Events like Stegmania are part of the college experience for our guys, and they’re part of the college experience for our students as well” head coach Mike White said. “ We’re excited that we’re able to host Stegmania again and are looking forward to introducing this year’s version of the Dawgs to our students and fans.”

“We are excited to meet the fans and for the fans to meet our team at Stegmania,” head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “Our season is just around the corner, and it’s a great way for everyone to get to know the new faces on our roster. This will be a special night, and I look forward to seeing everyone there on October 7th.”

The program will begin at 7:00 with introductions of both teams and also will include a slam dunk event for the Dawgs and a 3-point shooting contest for the Lady Dawgs. There will also be a third contest that will feature three-person teams of a Dawg, Lady Dawg and selected UGA student in a lay-up, free throw and 3-point race.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Smith Named SEC Defensive Player Of The Week

UGA Sports Communications

Senior safety Christopher Smith has been named the Southeastern Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week following his performance against No. 11 Oregon, according to an announcement Monday.

Smith, a native of Atlanta, shares this week’s accolade with Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool. Smith was also named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week following Georgia’s season-opening win versus No. 3 Clemson last year.

As one of only three starters remaining from Georgia’s 2021 national championship defense, Smith demonstrated his leadership with six tackles, including a tackle for loss, and an interception during the 49-3 rout of the Ducks. This marked Smith’s second straight season opener with a pick. Anchored by Smith in the back, the Dawgs held Oregon without a touchdown for the first time in a game since 2017.

Monday Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart and several student-athletes offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“I’d be remised if I didn't wish Coach Dooley a Happy Birthday. I think they had a nice surprise for him the other day, certainly happy for him to celebrate his 90th. So that's a heck of a deal. I hope I can get there one day.

Looking back at the tape, I think it's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems. And that's kind of the mantra coaches use. To be honest, it's true. So it's never -- you know, you go to the tape to watch it and you think you played really good, and you see glaring mistakes and errors that you made that you got away with. It brings you back to reality really quick on Saturday night and Sunday morning when you watch that tape. But I was pleased with the way our players went about the connection piece. We challenged them to stay connected and be connected. There was a lot of examples of guys celebrating other guys' plays. So I thought that was awesome from our guys.

Now it's moving on to a guy I know a lot about and a program I have a lot of respect for. And he's done a tremendous job everywhere he's been. And it'll be a challenge for us getting ready for Samford at home on Saturday.”

On the performances of the freshmen against Oregon…

“They have a lot to improve on. The most obvious is there was a lot of mistakes. I mean, mistakes that even they'll tell you are, like -- we call them WTFs. There's, like, a lot of things that are, like, Why did you do that? You didn't do that all year. The largest growth for those guys is game one, two, three in terms of reaction to their mistakes. And, you know, what makes a guy -- I've always wondered, you know, who's going to sell the potion that allows a player not to make the most glaring mistake, things that you repped a lot. And you have those in the first game. I've come to accept them. It's more what's your response is to them. We'll get to find out what those young freshmen's responses are this week.”

On his praise of the coaching staff…

“The buy-in of those four coaches, the alignment, the understanding of this program's bigger than me and that I'll sacrifice for the program. They understand their role. They've done what they've been asked to do and they embrace it. And there's a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm at practice. And it works. So it's created a really good kind of connection among the staff.”

On Stetson Bennett serving as the holder on kicks…

“He's held ever since he's been here. I mean, he's held probably a thousand times. He was Camarda's backup holder. So it wasn't a new thing. It was we lost the guy that held before, so we go to the next best holder or the guy that's next up. And we're training a guy for when Stetson isn't here. So it's one of those things that I think it's important to the kicker to have who they're comfortable with. And those two guys get to spend time together, and they do. They take a lot of time after practice, pre-practice, pregame to make sure they're on the same page.”

On the growth of Ladd McConkey…

“Probably confidence. Ladd's always been a good player. That's not something new. He's always been an extremely hard worker. He's dependable. He's conscientious. It's important to him. He gives you everything he's got every day. And the biggest difference is, you know, he has confidence in himself to perform because he performed on big stages last year. And when you're one of these guys that has confidence, talent and you work really hard, then the sky's the limit for you. And he's worked really hard each and every day. And he knows the things he's still got to work on and he's got a lot of those things, too.”

On the current makeup of the offensive line and performance of Amarius Mims…

“Yeah, you're constantly in search of the best five guys, right? It's not on a marker where we say we've got the best five. It's a continuum. It's, like, what did they do today at practice? Because you're only as good as your last practice. So how are they going to perform today, how are they going to do tomorrow, how are they going to do the next day, how do they do the next matchup, how do they do when things get tight and pressure grows, when things don't go well. We didn't see that. You know, we didn't have a situation where there's a lot of adversity or required a lot of composure. So we'll figure out who those best guys are as we go along. Amarius did a good job in the game. He came in, I think, the third series. Played with some confidence. Those guys getting some experience, it's critical so they're ready to play when their opportunity comes every down. And I think early in the season, especially, those guys' conditioning level, it helps to have three guys playing at those positions.”

On the improvements of Ladd McConkey and AD Mitchell…

“Confidence. They're both much more confident. And in the system a second year. So, you know, there's -- every play you run, there's a reaction to what the defense does. They've seen what the defense does at a higher level. So the number of times they've run a play and had to react to something, it's almost infinite. And they now are starting to get where they can react faster.”

On the impact of a 12-team College Football Playoff on Georgia…

“I don't know how it affects Georgia personally. Yeah, and I think -- hesitant to say that just supported it. I wouldn't say that I've been clearly in one camp over the other. I think there's some good and bad to both. And I don't think we know the repercussions of going 12 over 4. There's been some good things about four. There's probably some good things about 12. It's just everybody loves change. It's on a continuum. So it's, like, there will be somebody complaining about something about 12. I don't really get into whether or not it's going to be beneficial for us or not, because I think it's year to year on what kind of team you have and how the other teams do in the country.”

On continuing to play FCS opponents…

“You know, I think it depends on where it goes. What they require you to do and where the FCS, some of those conferences end up with the realignment and some of those things, it's going to depend a lot on what you talked about; the scheduling, how many conference games you're playing. I do know it's critical for these programs to be able to survive. And, look, high schools are our feeder programs, just like we are for the NFL. And if you're going to have good high school programs, you got to have kids getting opportunities to play at all levels. Because there's a lot more kids playing at a non-Power 5 level than at the Power 5 level. So if you're a supplier of talent and the growth of the game comes from your youth sports and your high school sports, you're going to diminish that as these programs fade away. And some of these programs cannot, cannot survive without these games. That doesn't mean that I embrace them and love them. It just means that the programs can't survive without these kind of funding without these games.”

On working for Samford head coach Chris Hatcher at Valdosta State…

“You know, his charisma. He's always been one of the best recruiters in terms of his relationships with high school coaches. He was incredible, his disposition with the team, was always confident. And just believed that we could win every game. And he embodied that. He embraced that. His players loved playing for him because of the energy he exudes with the players.”

On Carson Beck’s performance against Oregon…

“Carson was very calm, cool, and collective. His disposition is such that the moment's not too big for him. Like he's done multiple times before, I thought he did a good job. He made some good decisions and had a couple poor decisions. And I think he'll be the first to tell you that he would like to improve on some of those. But the good thing is he got to come in and have an opportunity and run the offense just where it wasn't a run-oriented system just to end the game.”

On Mykel Williams’ performance against Oregon…

“Yeah, practices led to it, just like it'll lead to him not starting. If he doesn't practice well, it's not real hard for us -- you know, you base it on who practices the best, who gives you the best chance to win. And he's done that, really, since he's got here. His work ethic and his humility has been off the charts. And if he continues to do that, coupled with his ability, then he'll probably continue to start. But he's got to play well and he's got to play big for a guy that's 260, 265.”

On stopping Samford’s offense…

“Well, they do a lot of different things. They do a good job in the passing game. They have a lot of confidence in the passing game. Quarterback came in, played really well against Kennesaw State. They believe in throwing the ball. And they -- people mistake that they can run the ball, as well. They did a good job at the end of the game to be able to run the clock out and handle that. I think if you look and see what they did last year against Florida and throwing the ball all over the field and scoring points, they did an incredible job. For them, for their players, this is an opportunity to play on a really large stage. And Chris Hatcher does a great job of getting his team prepared for moments like this and confidence in throwing the ball.”

On getting Malaki Starks into the game early…

“We just talked about how to play the players. We had a plan all along. All depended on how he practiced in fall camp and how he grew.

And we have a plan on every player. We talk about every and where they are and what our plan is. And that plan can change in a game.

The plan was to get him in early and we did. And he made a few mistakes and he made a few plays. And we got to try to limit the mistakes.”

On the performances of the linebackers…

“Those guys had some WTFs and they have to improve on those. They can't have those in order to be elite players. But they played with confidence. And we call it, you know, being loud and wrong is better than quiet and right. And they had some moments where they were loud and wrong. But they were confident in what they called. You know, when you go with a team that plays some tempo and hurry up, it creates a little chaos. And I thought those guys managed that well. They managed the leadership position well. Physically, there's things we can improve on in terms of toughness, tackling. All the guys can. I mean, we didn't tackle the man with the ball real well.”

On Christopher Smith’s impact on the defense…

“it's important. All the pieces we have that have played are integral to make the other pieces play well. So Chris is a piece that's played and he brings a lot of confidence to the other players around him, especially in the eye of the storm. I told the players today, we asked for composure and connection. We got a lot of connection. We don't really know, we never really got tested. So it's not their fault. But they didn't get tested in the composure category. And that's going to come. And when that time comes, are you going to be ready for that storm? And Chris is a guy that you feel pretty good about.”

On Javon Bullard’s performance…

“I think Javon, he'll tell you, he probably had some first-game jitters like the other guys. And A couple times where he didn't get lined up right, maybe didn't have his eyes in the right place. He plays really hard. He plays really physical. He's going to continue to get matched up on some big guys. He's got to play big for a guy that's not a real big size. But he's another guy that doesn't back down from contact. And works really hard every day. He gives you everything he's got. And he's a starter I think on every special teams, too, which is a credit to the way he plays.”

On the SEC East this season…

“I'm focused on us. I'm focused on how we can get better. Because we got so many glaring things we can improve on. And that's going to be critical, how mature our team is to grow. Look, standards don't need motivation. So when you look at it, if you play with a standard, you don't need motivation from outside sources. I don't care if it's who we're playing, who we're going to play, how somebody else is playing. Standards don't need motivation. So if we're a mature team, then we'll go practice today to our standards.”

On the differences between opening with a close game versus a blowout…

“Yeah, I don't know how to answer that because, I mean, each one, I think you learn something. I think you learn something valuable about your team and their approach to the team. A lot more learned in the steps leading up to the game and during the game than the result of the game. You guys are about results. I'm about process of how we went about the game, how did we do in the game, how did we do as coaches, how did we do as players during the game, halftime adjustments, end of game, a lot more than I am just the results and what we learned from the result because the result came from what we did during it.”

On deciding to keep Stetson Bennett as the starter last season…

“You guys don’t see every single practice, every single rep that led up to the Alabama game and all the reps from South Carolina to the time he played UAB all the way through — there's a million things you don't see against a pretty good defense, against a pretty elite defense. So there was enough of that to convince me that we were going with the right guy. For who we were and who needed to be, he gave us the best chance to win. And it didn't take a lot of conviction to stick to that. It doesn't really matter what people say outside of our organization. It matters what we think in it. And we had conviction on that.”

On Nazir Stackhouse and the impact of his personality…

“I don't know how to answer the last part. I've never seen any of his TikToks. So I wouldn't really know. I'm a lot more concerned how he plays on the field and how he handles himself off the field and all the things he does to help our team. He's worked himself to get better. He's gotten in better shape. I think Tray is one of the best developers of defensive linemen in the country. And this is a guy that, hey, he needed development. He came in here really raw. And he wasn't the player when he got here that is today. He's come a long way. And he can still get better. But he's one of our thicker, tougher guys that can anchor. And if he continues to get better, it gives us a chance to have a really physical presence in there.”

On the relief of being back in season…

“It's never a relief. I mean, I don't think relief is an adjective that comes with anything positive. Because when you become relieved reeled, you become complacent. And that's just not who we are. So there's no -- you don't approach things that way. I don't think from a mental standpoint it's good to approach it from relief.”

On the performances of Oscar Delp and Arik Gilbert against Oregon…

“I thought both those guys got to go in the game, tried to gain some confidence. Certainly, they've got two good players playing in front of them. We think the sky's the limit for both those guys. I'm looking forward to seeing them work today.”

Tate Ratledge, Redshirt Sophomore, Offensive Lineman

On the depth of the offensive line...

"I think it is pretty rare for an offensive line to be able to rotate people. I think we have a really solid two-deep that can play."

On what the defense was capable of against Oregon...

"They perform every day in practice. They come and bring it. We go against them every day. It makes us better, and we make them better."

On his performance against Oregon...

"Physically, I felt pretty good. It took me a minute or two to get used to it again with nerves and everything, but after that was gone, I felt really good."

On his biggest takeaway on where he can improve heading into week two...

"Personally, it is definitely foot work and things. Little things like hat placement and stuff like that. It got me into situations that I did not need to be in up front."

Trezmen Marshall, Junior, Linebacker

On his health...

"I feel great out there. Being out there is the best feeling. I'm trying to stay healthy. That's something that is really not in my control, but I just get treatment every day. I talk to Ron Courson to see how I'm doing. That's still out of my control, but I get guidance. As long as I stay readied up."

On Malaki Starks...

"Malaki was in beast mode when he stepped onto the field. He's really young, but if you're good enough you're old enough. As long as he keeps chopping and working every day, he'll be alright."

On "going to the doctor"...

"Going to the doctor just means fixing our mistakes. They didn't score, so it looks like we did not play a bad game. But you still go to the doctor on Monday and see what you did wrong to get better. I could've had a possible takeaway, like the pick. I could've completed one of our goals with a few takeaways. There is always room to do better, and we're trying to come back and practice Monday to work on that."

Kearis Jackson, Sophomore, Wide Receiver

On Ladd McConkey and Adonai Mitchell’s improvement…

“They are starting to build their confidence up. They’ve been in this offense for more than one year now, having the experience of last year translating over to this year, having the whole fall camp, having Stetson Bennett as our quarterback the whole fall camp, really gave us confidence as a receiver group. Those two guys were able to showcase their abilities and especially how they make plays.”

On how his confidence grew over time…

“It builds game by game. When you get that opportunity to go out there and play, I just wanted to go ball, because you never know when that next opportunity is going to come. So when it does come, I just wanted to showcase my ability and put it on tape.”

On the team’s offensive identity…

“We’re still trying to find our identity. That was just the first game. A lot of people trying to dictate, ‘Oh, Georgia’s going to be better than last year,’ it’s just one game. We just have to be able to be consistent. If we can keep being consistent, then maybe that [the air raid] will be our identity.”

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Bennett Named National Player Of The Week

Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett has been named the Walter Camp National FBS Offensive Player of the Week, according to an announcement Sunday.

Bennett, a native of Blackshear, led third-ranked Georgia over 11th-ranked Oregon 49-3 in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to give him 15 career wins as a starter.

Bennett was 25 for 31 (80.6 percent) for a career-high 368 yards and two touchdowns to go along with one rushing score. Assuming the spot behind center for three-plus quarters against the Ducks, Bennett helped the Dawgs go 8-for-8 on third downs while he was in as 11 different Georgia players hauled in catches in the season opener.

Bennett is the first Dawg since former Georgia linebacker and current Miami Dolphin Channing Tindall late last season to earn Walter Camp weekly honors. While Bennett is the 11th Georgia player to earn Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors in history, he is the first player on offense since Todd Gurley in 2014.

Dawgs Pluck The Ducks

Georgia Sports Communications

The third-ranked Dawgs opened the 2022 season with a 49-3 victory over the 11th-ranked Oregon Ducks in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in front of a record 76,490 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and an ABC nationally televised audience on Saturday evening.

With the win, Georgia improves to 99-27-3 in season openers, including 7-0 under head coach Kirby Smart. The Dawgs move to 2-0 all time versus the Ducks.

“I was really proud of the way our kids played,” said coach Kirby Smart. “We tried to talk about coming out and playing as if we were hunting, and we wanted to play connected football. That was all we talked about all week; we're going to play connected, we're going to play aggressive, we're going to be a hunter."

Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett began his second season under center for the Dawgs (1-0) with a 25-of-31 passing performance for 368 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, the Dawgs ran for 132 yards on 25 attempts.

Senior tailback Kenny McIntosh led the team with 135 all-purpose yards (117 receiving and 18 rushing) and a touchdown, while redshirt-sophomore receiver Ladd McConkey registered 89 yards (73 receiving and 16 rushing) with a pair of touchdown. Junior tailback Kendal Milton led the Dawgs with 50 yards rushing and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving).

The Georgia defense stood tall, holding Oregon out of the endzone and allowing 313 total yards of offense. The Dawgs were especially impressive on third down, with the Ducks (0-1) only converting on 7-of-15 opportunities.

True freshman defensive back Malaki Starks led the team with eight tackles and an interception, while senior defensive back Christopher Smith and junior defensive back Dan Jackson each tallied five tackles.

After winning the coin toss and deferring the option to the second half, the Dawgs forced the Ducks to punt on their opening drive. Georgia responded with a 12-play, 85-yard drive capped off by a nine-yard end-around touchdown by McConkey.

On the ensuing Oregon drive, quarterback Bo Nix was picked off by Starks, thanks to an acrobatic effort. The Dawgs capitalized on the turnover with a seven play, 92-yard drive and resulting in a Bennett one-yard touchdown run.

Moments later, Christopher Smith logged the defenses second takeaway on another Nix interception. This marks Smith’s second season opening game with an interception – a 74-yard pick-six against No. 3 Clemson in 2021. The Dawgs again took advantage of the Oregon turnover, scoring on a McIntosh one-yard touchdown run to take a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Ducks responded with a promising drive, but the Dawgs held Oregon to a 35-yard field goal. Georgia answered with an eight-play, 75-yard drive, where Bennett improvised and found a wide-open McConkey for a four-yard touchdown pass to give the Dawgs a 28-3 lead heading into the half.

Georgia opened the second half with a six-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a Kendall Milton 14-yard rushing touchdown to take a 35-3 advantage. The Dawgs continued their offensive dominance with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a 18-yard AD Mitchell touchdown catch. Georgia went on to win 49-3.

Georgia will play host to Sanford (1-0) next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The game will broadcast on SEC Network.

Post Game Notes

Georgia Sports Communications

Impressive Season Opener/Series History: With today’s 49-3 victory over No. 11 Oregon, third-ranked Georgia improves to 99-27-3 in season openers including winning its last nine dating back to a 45-21 over Clemson in Athens in 2014. In the Kirby Smart era, Georgia is now 7-0 in season openers. Under Smart, Georgia came in averaging 31 points a game in openers (186 points/6g) while it surrendered just 8.8 (53 points/6g).

Today’s 49 points was the most in a season opener under Smart, and the most since 2015 (51-14 over La.-Monroe in Athens). Also, today marked the second straight opener when the Dawgs held their ranked opponent to only three points (No. 3 Clemson in Charlotte, N.C.). This was the third neutral site opener under Smart, and he’s now 3-0 (2-0 in Atlanta/Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and 1-0 in Charlotte, N.C.). In the series history with Oregon, the Dawgs are now 2-0 including winning a 1977 contest in Athens (27-16). With today’s win, Georgia is now 26-12 in top 25 matchups (11-7 at neutral sites) under Smart.

Strong Defensive Showing: Georgia limited the No. 11 Ducks to three points on the day including a goal-line stand with less than two minutes left in the contest. For the day, Oregon ran 68 plays and had 313 yards of total offense. In the first half, the Dawgs built a 28-3 advantage as the Ducks ran 36 plays for 183 yards of total offense (41-rushing, 142-passing).

Freshman Malaki Starks notched his first career interception (snagging it while falling backwards at the UGA8) and finished with a team-best eight tackles. It led to a 92-yard touchdown drive and a 14-0 advantage. Senior Christopher Smith snagged his fourth career INT, and he returned this one for 24 yards to the UGA 44. It led to a TD and a 21-0 lead. Georgia registered 16 INTs last year.

Offensive Leaders: Senior QB Stetson Bennett (25-for-31, career-high 368 yards, 2 TDs plus 1 Rushing TD) in three-plus quarters while improving to 15-3 as a starter as the Dawgs racked up 571 yards of total offense on 62 plays. He concluded his seventh and final scoring drive with 5:20 left in the third quarter to put the Dawgs in front 42-3. For the game, the Dawgs were 8-for-8 on 3rd down with him at the helm. Georgia was 6-for-6 in the Red Zone, scoring six TDs. Bennett now has five career rushing TDs. RS-sophomore QB Carson Beck took over for Bennett, and he led an 89-yard driver on nine plays in 4:36 including a 3rd-down conversion to make it 9-for-9 for the team on the day. Georgia’s first punt came with 10:19 left in the contest.

The second half started with Bennett directing a six play, 64-yard TD drive in 2:36 for a 35-3 advantage. It was aided by a 36-yard kickoff return by Kearis Jackson. Sophomore wideout Ladd McConkey (5 rec., 73 yards 1 TD plus 2 rushes, 16 yards, 1 TD)notched his second career rushing TD with a 9-yard scamper to cap a 12-play 85-yard drive in 4:57 for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Georgia’s second score came on a 7-play, 92-yard drive in 3:37 for a 14-0 edge early in the second quarter. Bennett’s one-yard rush finished the drive. Today was the first time since Vanderbilt last year that he had a rushing and receiving TD in the same game. McConkey’s rushing TD versus the Commodores last year covered 24 yards.

RB & TE Production: Senior Kenny McIntosh (5 rushes, 18 yards, 1 TD and Career-high 9 rec., 117 yards) notched his sixth career rushing TD, a one-yarder to put the Dawgs up 21-0 midway through the second quarter. It capped a six play, 56-yard drive in 3:46. His previous best receiving was 3-for-37 yards. The leading rusher today was junior Kendall Milton with 50 yards on eight carries and one TD that covered 12 yards and an 18-yard receiving TD (first of his career). Sophomore TE Brock Bowers had two receptions for 38 yards while junior TE Darnell Washington tallied two for 33.

Points Off Turnovers: In the first half, Georgia converted two interceptions into 14 points. The INTs came from freshman Malaki Starks and senior Christopher Smith. Last season, Georgia was +4 in Turnover Margin and scored 94 points off 21 turnovers.

For Starters & Game Captains: Georgia had six first-time starters today, all on defense. Javon Bullard (DB), Juman Dumas-Johnson (ILB), Kamari Lassiter (DB), Smael Mondon (ILB), Nazir Stackhouse (DL) and Mykel Williams (DE). Williams became the first true freshman starter on defense in a season opener since Tyson Campbell (DB) in 2018 against Austin Peay. Williams became just the ninth true freshmen starter to make his debut in a season opener in the Kirby Smart era. In the fourth quarter, true freshman Brett Thorson had his first career punt, becoming the first true freshman punter in a season opener since Jake Camarda (2018). Thorson’s punt covered 53 yards and was fair caught at the 11 yard line.

Georgia won the toss and elected to defer the ball until the second half. Senior Kenny McIntosh (RB), redshirt sophomore Sedrick Van Pran (C), senior Nolan Smith (OLB) and senior Christopher Smith (DB) were the captains.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Scrimmage Report

Coach Kirby Smart met with the media Saturday afternoon and offered the following comments regarding today’s scrimmage and the upcoming 2022 season.

Coach Kirby Smart


Opening Statement

“I thought it was warm today, which was great. We needed it to be. It was not as hot last week, so I thought the temperature allowed us to play through and push. I did not think we started with as much energy at the start of practice as we did last week, but we did sustain better and had good ebbs and flow. Offense made some plays in some situational stuff; defense made some plays. I was pleased with the overall effort and very pleased with the toughness we’ve had in camp. At this point, we’ll be moving forward toward getting prepared for some future opponents and we’ll start on Oregon.”

On Arik Gilbert's progression in fall camp...

“Arik’s done a good job. He understands his assignments. In the spring, he got thrust into things a whole lot more, in terms of reps and volume of reps. With the other guys being healthy and Oscar Delp being further along…we couldn’t do two-spot in the spring as much. We didn’t have enough guys. We’ve been able to do more two-spot, so that’s helped. Darnell Washington coming off the injury, Brock Bowers coming off the injury, Delp coming off the mid-year, and Arik as well, we get a lot more reps. He has to be able to sustain. He’s developing as a special teams player also—it’s something he has not done as much before. I’m always a lot more concerned with Arik’s well-being mentally, than his well-being just on knowing assignments and what to do, and that’s the most important thing is that he feels comfortable with our team and can help us.”

On the defensive line in today's scrimmage...

“I would say it was an improvement, but not where it needs to be. We got a little more pressure than we got last time, not where it needs to be in terms of affecting the quarterbacks in our league.”

On the younger players' contributions to the team...

“It all depends on injuries during the year. As it is now, and I don’t know what you define as young, if you just mean the freshmen class, probably half of them will have to play a role, whether that’s special teams or as a backup or substitution role when they go in and play. Some of them may start. But if you talk about young players like guys who didn’t play last year but will have to play more this year, there’s certainly even a larger number. You get up into 45, 55 percent of our roster would be freshmen and sophomores playing, that actually go play. Any time you have that, you’re susceptible to lack of experience with mistakes, anxiety mistakes, composure mistakes, so we try to create situations in practice to make them want to do right as much as they can and feel like they’re in a game, so that when they’re in a game, they can just relax and go play. There’s a lot of those guys that are going to help us. I think more and more we’re finding every year there’s more freshmen that have to play and contribute.”

On the quarterback competition...

“I’ve said all camp all three quarterbacks have done an excellent job. I’m so pleased with the progression of those guys, all the way down to Gunner Stockton, who hasn’t had as many reps in our system or in general as Brock Vandagriff and Carson Beck have. We try to have a lot of two-spot where I feel like Gunner’s getting reps and getting work. There’s times, where like in scrimmages, you don’t have two scrimmages going on, so there’s quarterbacks on the sideline. In our practices, I’d say 80 percent of the time, there’s two quarterbacks on the field because we’re doing multiple things. So that helps the development of those guys, certainly Carson and Brock are ahead of where Gunner is, and both of those guys are different but they both play winning football. They do an incredible job of understanding. They both took some reps with the ones today in preparation, and they continue to get better.”

On Brock Bowers and Jamon Dumas-Johnson not playing final high school seasons...

“It’s a tale of two players there. One played—I don’t know if he started—but he played a bunch against Clemson. Brock certainly made some plays and did some things right away in the Clemson game and had no acclimation problems there. He came in the spring. Pop Dumas-Johnson was a different scenario. He didn’t play his senior year, but he also didn’t come in that spring. He was a little bit heavier, a little out of shape, so it impacted Pop much differently than it impacted Brock. I think that had to do with not having spring practice and not being able to sustain quite as much. Any time you can play your senior year, you’re going to be better off because you will have played football. Unfortunately, Brock didn’t get that opportunity to, but he did get an opportunity to get 15 practices and probably 100 walkthroughs with our team in the spring which helped him play early. Pop would’ve probably struggled to play for us last year because he hadn’t played football senior year and because he didn’t come in the spring. Obviously, we had some guys in front of him.”

On Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff...

"I think both of those guys have done an incredible job. They're really good quarterbacks, and they understand our system at a high level. They've been through multiple springs, and they're both playing winning football. I'm pleased with both of their growth. We're trying to get them more opportunities because we are trying to evaluate them as a one, more than you are as a two or three. Sometimes your offensive line changes when you do that."

On his scheduling philosophy...

"As far as scheduling philosophy, it's never changed for us. You look at it as if you make decisions right now, for right now. Decisions made for this year or next year were made a long time ago. It's always been my philosophy to go play quality opponents, Power-5 opponents, a good matchup. I don't care if it's home and home. I don't care if it's neutral site. Go play a good team that helps your team get better. When you play in the SEC, you're going to run the gauntlet anyways. What's playing one more good, physical team. We don't run from that at Georgia. We try to embrace that. Our fans want that—I want that. It generates a lot more excitement, and you recruit off that. You go and get to sell the opening game, playing in big-time games. I think that's important. As far as the philosophy, us playing more SEC games if that happens, so be it. It's not going to change our philosophy as far as what we do non-conference. We had already moved to that before the realignment. We were already trying to schedule big games every year, and that's just the way that we think is best."

On injuries in fall camp...

"We had some nicks, bumps and bruises today. I don't know that outcome of all those, yet. Kearis Jackson has an Achilles or ankle that is bothering him about halfway through the scrimmage. We thought he could've gone, he thought he could've gone, but we held him in the back half of the scrimmage. Kendall Milton did not go today, but he is much better. He is much closer to being full speed. Having not practiced, we didn't want to put him back out there because he did not practice before the scrimmage. He should be back to full speed. Earnest Greene is still struggling with an upper leg injury. Rian Davis did scrimmage today. It's really his first day back. He's been able to get back up to 80-90% of velocity and speed. He was able to go for a little bit today. Tramel Walthour scrimmaged today and was able to go and do some things. De’Nylon Morrissette was running and is back to about 70-80 percent. He did route-running,"indys," and all the drill work, but we expect to get him back next week. Brett's Seither's back has been bothering him, and we've been working with him on that. He scrimmaged today and did fine, but he's been in and out."

On the backup quarterback competition...

"They're different - they're two different guys Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff. They each possess different parts of what Stetson does well. The thought process is there. We are going to find out who is the best guy to give you a chance to win, who are you playing, what kind of packages are you running, what are you carrying that week with Stetson, and how does it fit those two guys? They continue to do a great job. Carson has taken more of a body of work with the two's reps than Brock has, but they've both done a tremendous job and will be ready to go."

On leaders within the defense...

"Jalen Carter has done a great job. Pop has done a great job. Trezmen Marshall has, Kelee Ringo has, Kamari Lassiter has. There are several guys that have stepped up and really taken on that responsibility. Even Robert Beal. He's not a guy of many words, but he has certainly been around here a long time like WIlliam Poole. We've got a lot of guys that know how to do it and have seen it done right. They haven't been the featured player, but they understand how to lead and have seen it done the right way."

On connection in today's scrimmage...

"We talked a long time about connection. Connection is one of our four DNA traits. Connection is seen or heard through language or touch. If you want to visually see connection, you have to touch somebody—you have to high-five somebody, celebrate with somebody, you have to be connected. You see that through what you say. I don't think you can be really connected if you don't have great energy and focus. If you're showing good energy and staying focused onto what's going on, that usually creates a good connection. I thought we had more moments later in the scrimmage. Last week, it just flattened out. This week, it was more upward. It got better in terms of energy as the scrimmage went on, which at least lets me know that they are in better shape."

On Arian Smith and the health of the receiving corps...

“They are the highest soft tissue injuries. His is not, but you tend to have a lot of soft tissue injuries in that position because of the volume of running and the scholarship quota and numbers. What is your scholarship number at that position? We have had years where we thought 12 was the number, 13 was the number or 10 was the number. We brought more into camp this year than we ever have. I want to say we brought 18, not scholarship, but 18 in our 105 number. It is hard to keep up when you two-spot things and work things. You are always looking for extra legs to cut the volume on those guys. We actually cut volume on the top four guys this spring and this camp than we have last camps just in learning, don’t work these guys too hard and keep the volume down on these guys. Some of the injuries we don’t control and are not soft tissue. Arian’s situation is just football, and it happens from time to time. The number one thing we can do is to have more depth at the position and not have to count on freshmen. Ever year that I have been here we have had freshmen lead us in receiving.”

On Kenny McIntosh...

“It is work ethic. He has always been a worker. He was in the shadows of those other guys and now, he steps up and he leads. He pushes guys. He’s got better stamina. There were times where he would get tired in practice in the past. He might be gassed and taking reps. Now, he might be the rush guy. He can go cover a punt. He can run routes out of the back field. He is elusive. He has to work really hard on his weight to maintain his weight. I think it is really important if he can stay above that 205 to 210 mark for bulk and protecting himself. He has had the best camp he has ever had by far in terms of no mental lapses and picking up pressures. He has done a tremendous job.”

On skill players who impressed in today's scrimmage...

“It is hard to single anybody out without watching. I hate to say that. Dominick Blaylock made a nice play. Young guys at wide out continue to step up. I thought that Stetson did a good job getting the ball out to those guys. It probably wasn’t as good as an explosive offensive day as it was last time, which is probably a good thing for the defense. I thought a couple of guys on the defense made some plays. Pop has some good plays. David Daniel-Sisavanh made some good plays. Malaki Starks showed up a few times and made some plays. It is hard without watching the tape to say that anybody stood out over someone else.”

On the special teams today...

“I thought both of those guys Jack Podlesny and Jared Zirkel kicked off really well. I’d have to check the numbers. I don’t know the hangs and distances, but just watching it off the foot and seeing it in the air, I thought they really kicked off well. Field goals we have to continue to work on. I thought we had great effort on both side, protection and rush, which is critical for us defensively and protection-wise. I thought that Brett Thorson hit some good punts. We punted situationally today where we were trying to pin some kicks inside the 10 and work on some different things. It wasn’t about the distance. It was more about directional and trying to work on some different things. I thought all of those guys continue to get better.”

On preparation for the Oregon game...

“We don’t touch it just yet. We would be reassessing our team and our roster, stacking the roster. We are going to look at some numbers and say, ‘If we have to go on the road in the SEC, who are the 70? Who are the 80? Who are the 85? Where do those number fall? What are the decision we have to make? If we are not taking that guy, then we are taking that guy.’ We have a lot of things to look at in the next day or two as the players get a little recovery time. We will start working as coaches on Oregon in the next couple of days, but not with the players until later in the week. We will work on some future opponents we got before the off week in the coming days just so we have a little bit of history there when we get ready to play them.”

On the progression of freshmen in fall camp...

“Everyone is different. We definitely have some freshmen who have hit a wall right now. They are like, ‘Gah lee, this camp is a grind.’ It is the most physical, toughest practices they have ever gone through. It is part of being at Georgia. We have multiple scouts and different people who come to practice and say, ‘Man, Coach, y’all practice with great energy and great toughness. Your kids get after it.’ You don’t realize that when they are telling you that, they go other places and you realize with these freshmen that the bar is huge for them to jump from where they used to practice to where we are practicing. That can be overwhelming. Sometimes those guys hit a bump, hit a wall, and we have to do a good job as coaches to encourage them. Some of those guys have run through the wall and will help us immediately. Others are seeing the writing on the wall and go, ‘It ain’t my turn yet. I have got to continue to develop and get better.’ That is what separates great staffs and coaches from average. You have got to bring those kids along because they are the future of your roster.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

"93" Into Pro Football Hall Of Fame

Former Georgia defensive lineman Richard Seymour will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 6th, in Canton, Ohio.

Seymour will be the fifth Dawg inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Charley Trippi, Fran Tarkenton, Terrell Davis, and Champ Bailey.

Seymour played for New England from 2001-08 after being drafted sixth overall and for Oakland from 2009-12. He was a 3-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots and appeared in a fourth Super Bowl. Seymour was a 7-time Pro Bowl selection and a 5-time All-Pro pick. He ended his career with 496 tackles and 57.5 sacks.

Seymour was named to the Patriots' 50th Anniversary Team, New England's All-2000s Team, and the Patriots' Hall of Fame. He was chosen for the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

"Richard was the consummate professional and leader, always accepting the roles he was assigned, putting team goals ahead of personal ones, and in turn, raising the game of everyone around him," Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said. "As great as he was as a player, he is a Hall of Fame-caliber person as well."

At 6’ 6” 300 lbs., Seymour was a nightmare for opposing offenses when playing for the Bulldogs. A native of Gadsden, South Carolina, Seymour played a total of 41 games for the Bulldogs, starting 25.

In 1999, Seymour led the Dawgs with 74 tackles, becoming one of only two defensive linemen in Georgia history to lead the team in tackles for a season. Following his junior season, Seymour was elected as a permanent team captain by his teammates.

Seymour was a two-time All-SEC first-team selection and was named a first team All-American in 2000 by the AFCA and Walter Camp. He ended his career in Athens with a total of 233 tackles, 26 tackles-for-loss, and 10 sacks.

In 2015, he was inducted into the Georgia-Florida Game Hall of Fame and was named one of the "Legends of SEC Football." In 2018, he was inducted into the State of South Carolina Hall of Fame. He established the Richard Seymour Family Endowed Scholarship and made an additional gift to the Sanford Stadium West End Zone project.

Seymour will be enshrined into the Pro Hall along with offensive lineman Tony Boselli, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive back LeRoy Butler, defensive linemen Bryant Young, wide receiver Cliff Branch, Coach Dick Vermeil, and former NFL director of officiating Art McNally.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Dawgs Place Nine On All SEC Preseason Team

Nine Dawgs, including six on the First Team, were included on the 2022 Preseason Media Days All-Southeastern Conference Team, according to a league announcement Friday.

In addition, Georgia is picked to win the SEC Eastern Division. The Dawgs have won the Eastern Division four out of the last five years.

Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers and junior offensive tackle Warren McClendon were named to the First Team offense while junior defensive lineman Jalen Carter, senior linebacker Nolan Smith and redshirt sophomore defensive back Kelee Ringo were voted to the defense’s First Team. Also, senior wide receiver Kearis Jackson was included as a First Team Specialist.

Second Team Dawg selections included redshirt sophomore center Sedrick Van Pran and senior safety Christopher Smith. Senior tailback Kenny McIntosh concluded Georgia’s selections after being voted to the Third Team.

The Dawgs start their 2022 campaign versus Oregon in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on September 3rd.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Kirby Gets Paid

The University of Georgia Athletic Association and head football coach Kirby Smart have agreed to a contract extension through the 2031 season.

Under the new agreement, Coach Smart’s annual base salary and supplemental compensation for the upcoming 2022 campaign will be $10,250,000 with annual increases, culminating at $12,250,000 for the 2031 season.

“Coach Smart’s impact on the University of Georgia extends far past his significant accolades as our head football coach,” J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks said. “He and his wife are Dawgs through and through, and it is evident that Athens and UGA mean as much to him as he means to us. I am excited for our football program’s continued success under his direction. The future of Georgia Football remains bright with Coach Smart as its steadfast leader.”

“I am pleased that Coach Smart has made a long-term commitment to the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to seeing his continued success with the Dawgs for many years to come.”

In his six seasons at the helm of Georgia Football, Smart has led the Dawgs to the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship, a 2018 CFP title game appearance, the 2017 Southeastern Conference Championship, four SEC Eastern Division crowns, 66 wins and six bowl game victories. Smart has been named SEC Coach of the Year twice since being hired in December of 2015, as well as coached 11 first round NFL draft picks and 45 overall.

“Mary Beth, my family & I are excited and grateful for the extension of my agreement with The University of Georgia. This is home for us, our roots run deep here. My commitment to this University and our Football program is unwavering,” said head football coach Kirby Smart. “I’m thankful to President Jere Morehead and Josh Brooks for their continued support of Georgia Football. It’s an honor being the head football coach at the University of Georgia, and while I’m certainly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, I’m confident the best is yet to come!”

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Post Practice Interview

Coach Smart, redshirt sophomore Warren McClendon, senior Stetson Bennett and redshirt freshman Kelee Ringo offered the following comments after practice…

Coach Kirby Smart

On Dominick Blaylock...

"He's doing well. He's been pretty consistent. The off-season program was good for him in terms of getting confidence, changing direction, doing some things well. I think he would be the first to tell that he's still rusty, but he's so confident with the ball. He catches the ball really well. He's smart, very savvy. He's a great route runner in the slot. He's done a tremendous job there. He's back-catching punts, as well. He brings some veteran experience. Really right now anyone with experience is a veteran because we don't have many guys with a lot of experience there. He's done a tremendous job. Dom never complains. He works and handles the cards he's been dealt very well, and he's had some really tough resiliency. He has overcome it. I'm really proud of Dom

On Jamon Dumas-Johnson...

"I almost didn't know who you were talking about because he goes by 'Pop' for us. Pop has done a good job. He's getting opportunity - that's the biggest thing I would say. You could make a case that he is probably where all those guys, Quay, Channing, Nakobe, in their second year. Really, he's still in his first year if you are looking at the grand scheme of things. This is a young man who didn't play football his senior year due to COVID. He came in a little heavy. He'll be the first to tell you he was a little heavy when he got here. He had not played a season, so he was rusty and got time on special teams and times in games when we had leads. He's trying to take on a leadership role. There's a really big void - it's a common theme you'll hear. There's a void there because of all the guys that left and also the guys that are injured. I've got a lot of respect for Trezmen Marshall for pushing through a tough knee injury. He's been out there trying to get reps. The two freshmen, Jalon Walker and C.J. Washington are pushing through. And then Xavien Sorey is another guy who really almost has zero experience because he didn't get to play inside linebacker much in high school. All of those guys, collectively, have talent, but they don't have experience. The only way to get experience is time."

On Stetson Bennett returning...

"We had a couple of conversations just in passing. He reached out a couple of times and said he wanted to come back. He wanted to continue to get better. There wasn't a lot there. There weren't a lot of questions or anything. It was more he felt like he had grown as a quarterback. We showed a lot of confidence in Stetson if you didn't notice. He answered that with the way he played. He'll be the first to tell you he can still grow and get better. We have high expectations for Stetson, but we also have high standards for what we expect Stetson to do in terms of leading our offense, going to class, and doing the right thing. We are still challenging him to do those things."

On his expectations for Stetson Bennett...

"Making decisions. We were late over the middle a couple of times with balls late in the season. He'll be the first to say he didn't play perfectly. He made some really good plays for us with his feet, his legs, his decision-making, but you want to take out some of the 'bone-head' throws, some of the 'bonehead' mistakes that he sometimes makes. It's easy for him to say he hasn't had an opportunity to correct those mistakes because the guy was taking threes at this time last year. He was taking reps at the three or sparingly. He wasn't getting a lot of reps. He got a lot of work fast, and we feel like he is still showing progress. He's done some really nice things this spring, but that should be expected for a guy with his experience level."

On Stetson Bennett's growth...

"I think he can grow. He took a lot of the one reps from one-point last year moving forward. In terms of leadership, we are still working on that. We are not where we need to be in terms of leadership and guys challenging guys. I thought it was really good on Saturday in terms of leadership, and then things got a little tough out there today. Whether you call it Tuesday, two days off, I don't know. I can't say it was hot. It felt mighty good to me. We didn't have the level of practice that I was expecting. You would think whether it's the quarterback or the receiver, whoever the leaders are, that they are going to stand up and push the guys. we probably didn't get what we needed out of that today. I was a little disappointed in the practice."

On Kelee Ringo refocusing after his play in the National Championship...

"It's hard for me to answer that because first, I don't think that play won the game. I know people would beg to differ, but I would argue the offensive drive prior to that did a lot to help that. I would argue that a lot of the plays made in the red area did that. I never look at games and say one play did it because it's not that way. There were so many plays made in that game that you could point that to. What he can't do is let that play distract or deter his development. He'll be the first to tell you that he made an outstanding play, a play that will live in glory and be great, but he also had some plays in the game that weren't so good. He's got some tackling situations that he has to improve on. What makes me so proud of Kelee is that he is taking it out there to the field. He's really working on the physical part and being a better tackler. If anything, that play gives him a little more confidence to play with. Most of the year he was working on that confidence. He was a guy that some teams went after more than Derion Kendrick, and he had a chance to make some plays. He's starting to get some confidence. He can let that play live in infamy, or he can decide to make a lot of those plays, go be a great player and go make money to play in the NFL and develop. I think that's the route he is taking. I know this. He's going to get a lot of encouragement from me to go do that. So far, he has done that. I push Kelee because I know he can be a really good player. He hasn't gone away from that coaching or turned his nose up. If anything, he is trying to take on a leadership role."

On depth at cornerback...

"It's a big opportunity. Kamari Lassiter, Nyland Green, and Daylen Everette are taking every single rep with the ones and twos. Those guys are out there. Receiver and defensive-back, we have never in seven years been this thin. Ever been this thin. You can point a finger and blame anywhere you want, but it's the life of a college football coach now. You don't have depth. You don't have it anywhere. It's easy to leave and go places. Those guys are a little higher maintenance in terms of thinking of themselves. They expect to play right away and go. It's certainly a position of concern for us in terms of recruiting and development as a skill position."

On Jalen Carter...

"Jalen is a good football player. I think he has taken a role in Tray's (Scott) room of trying to set an example for others. Devonte and Jordan, and really Travon in that same room, did as fine of a job, along with Julian. They set a standard of work ethic, and you want whoever, Jalen, Zion (Logue), to control that. Jalen is definitely talented, and you have to push. You have to be willing to push yourself and give great effort in practice because that is what set Devonte Wyatt apart. He was not that player when he got here. He was not that talented of a player when he got here. He worked himself and lost weight. He got stronger and quicker. He wasn't the player in year one or two that he was in year three, four, or five. Jalen started off as a very talented player as a freshman and sophomore, but we would like to get more out of him."

On new coaching hires…

“I think they’re trying to figure out where they’re going right now. We have a lot of drills and a lot of things going on at practice. So, they’re still getting their feet wet. They’ve had four days to do that, to figure out where they’re going, how we do it, what the expectation is. What I like about all of them are their enthusiastic and good leaders. I want their players to take on the personality of the coaches. There have certainly been great energy out of those coaches. We have to get a little more energy out of our players when things get tough at practice. But, that’s the responsibility of the coaches. I’m very proud and pleased with what those guys have done.”

On replacing Travon Walker with Mykel Williams…

“It’s too early to tell. You guys put so much expectation on these guys. I’m just trying to get Mykel to know what a six technique is and a nine technique is, just like I did with Travon when he first got here. So, he doesn’t have to be Travon Walker. That is not what he has to do. We’re not going to replace Travon Walker; we don’t have another Travon Walker. Those guys are once-in-a-lifetime players when they’re that size and that speed. So, we’re going to coach the guys we have and we’re going to teach them to play really hard and really physical. Not have the expectation to be compared to someone else, because I don’t like those comparisons.”

On his daily routine…

“I look at every day as independent of the other. I feel like a broken record because the only thing that changes is your team. You have different players, you have different coaches, you have different demands. I go with the theory of ‘W.I.N.’ what is important now. When I get up in the morning I say, ‘Ok what is the most important thing today. I have to call this mother. I have to call this player. I have to talk to this kid. I have to make sure these coaches know what we are doing in this situation. I have to decide how we are going in practice.’ I just really live day-by-day. I don’t look at it as routine or monotonous because I am trying to do it differently. I am trying to change it up, cycle players, just develop young men and I don’t think that is routine. I don't think you get into a routine. I think when you get into a routine sometimes you get complacent and complacency will be the killer of us all.”

On Coach Fran Brown…

“I think he is very charismatic. You have to really spend time with Fran to get to know Fran. Fran has done a tremendous job at establishing relationships. It was very evident that when you talk to people that have worked on a staff with him about his charisma. I was very pleased with how hard he works, his relationships with the players, he is relentless on the road recruiting. I mean the guy communicates so well and pushes so hard, I think he is going to be a really good coach. I think he is a rising star in this profession because of the energy he puts into it. He is very coachable. He does what you ask of him and he doesn’t know he asks, that is important. It is just as important to ask when you don’t know as it is to know. He has been really good thus far in that area.”

Warren McClendon, Redshirt Sophomore, Offensive Lineman

On Coach Stacy Searels…

“Basically coach just wanted to keep the tradition of the Georgia offensive line as being physical and tough, playing hard, and being the best unit on the field. That was his main message, he wanted to keep that going. He didn’t want there to be a drop-off from Coach Luke to him.”

On becoming a leader…

“I’m definitely trying to be a leader. You know, going into my fourth year, it’s time for me to step up and try to be a leader and be more vocal. I’m not a very talkative guy, so just stepping up and being more talkative, leading by example, and helping out the younger guys.”

Stetson Bennett, Senior, Quarterback

On the difference between this season and last…

“You’d like to say that you always prepare to be the guy and you always work the same that you would. We’re all human and you’re kinda like ‘jeez sometimes it seems like I’m not going to play at all,’ but now, as you said, somebody comes in that’s better than me they're going to start, it’s the University of Georgia. There is a lot more of being hands-on with the routes and the way you want the guys to run the routes. How you feel comfortable with them, a lot more reps than we had last year. So I guess just individual conversations about what I’m seeing and what they’re seeing, so we get to know how to play football better together.”

On the period following the national championship…

“I mean it was a whirlwind. It seemed there for about two weeks, we hadn’t won one in 42 years, so, I mean the world exploded there for a second. We hadn’t experienced anything like that before. We got two weeks off because I think it’s NCAA rules, after you finish playing you have two weeks. So we were a little bit further behind, because usually, typically in the past, except for 2017, we would end on January 1st or December 31st, so that two-week period would start before school started. This year it started right when school started. So we were what, 10 days, 11 days behind on like walkthroughs and football stuff? So, once we started back, there was a little bit more urgency because we had lost a week and a half from prior years between then and spring ball. We had like a week and a half less reps to get ready for spring ball. So, there was an urgency to get the new guys, the new enrollees, back in, and the old guys who hadn’t done anything for two weeks, get them back ready to go for spring ball.”

Kelee Ringo, Redshirt Freshman, Defensive Back

On William Poole and Christopher Smith returning…

“We had a pretty good secondary last year. And of course, as you were saying, those two players had a big impact on that. Having two older guys and two leaders being able to come back for the next year is something that's going to help us.” \

On the National Championship Pick-6…

“It was a pretty good feeling honestly. Going throughout the entire game, a lot of plays were made to put us in that situation. I’m just happy to be able to play with my team and just do great things at the right time when we’re able to. So, that helped us come out on top.”

Friday, March 18, 2022

Lady Dawgs Advance

UGA Sports Communications

Behind 19 points from Jenna Staiti and a career-high 15 from freshman Jillian Hollingshead, the sixth-seeded University of Georgia Lady Dawgs basketball team (21-9, 9-7 SEC) defeated the No. 11 seed Dayton Flyers, (26-6, 14-1 A10) at Hilton Coliseum Friday night.

Georgia advances to play either No. 3 seed Iowa State or No. 14 seed UT Arlington on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Game time will be announced later.

Hollingshead’s night marks the most points for a freshman in the NCAA Tournament since 2013, when Shacobia Barbee notched 20 against Iowa State.

“Dayton is a really good team,” said coach Joni Taylor. “They do a really good job of stretching you. They’re really good and they’ve been really good for a long time. In terms of what we looked like, I thought we did a really good job of locking in and trying to take away what they do well. They have three dynamic guards; we did a good job of frustrating them and making it tough. I thought we did a really good job of being aggressive when we didn’t make shots and winning offensive rebounds, giving ourselves second chance opportunities and to get to the free throw line. That’s something we talked about a lot.”

Despite struggling to find the rim early, the Dawgs were down by just two at the first media timeout. Staiti found the basket off a Flyer turnover followed by Que Morrison increasing Georgia’s lead, 15-11, with a fast break layup. The Flyers’ offense persisted, but the Lady Dawgs locked down and kept the lead, 19-17 in the first quarter.

An 8-2 run highlighted the second quarter for Georgia. Hollingshead put away three shots alongside a Morrison layup. The Lady Dawgs went on to score 12 more points and collected 14 total boards to finish the half up by 10, 41-31. Hollingshead led the offensive drive for the Lady Dawgs, tallying 10 points in the second quarter alone.

Rallying after a two-and-a-half minute scoring drought, Staiti pulled Georgia back with a 6-0 run before the first media timeout. The Lady Dawgs battled to keep their advantage over Dayton, matching their two three-pointers with a 6-0 run from Morrison, Staiti, and Hollingshead. A fastbreak layup from Chloe Chapman kept the Lady Dawgs ahead, 56-46 heading into the fourth quarter.

Georgia jumped to a quick 15-point lead with contributions from Hollingshead, Morrison and Malury Bates. After drawing a Dayton foul, the Lady Dawgs finished the final quarter scoring seven more points. A free throw from Chapman sealed the 70-54 win

The Lady Dawgs will face either No. 3 Iowa State or No. 14 UT Arlington on Sunday, March 20th.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Dawgs Talk About Spring Practice

A trio of University of Georgia football players spoke on the Dawgs’ spring practice.
On Thursday, senior Christopher Smith, senior Kenny McIntosh and redshirt sophomore Sedrick Van Pran offered the following comments after practice…

Christopher Smith, Senior, Defensive Back

On the biggest impression after two days of practice…

“A lot of guys on the team are very driven and hard-working. That’s probably the main thing I see that jumps out. Being able to go out there and see those guys work day in and day out, that’s the culture we’ve built here since day one. A lot of those guys already have that mindset coming in and the guys that have already been here.”

On comparing last year to this year….

“When you think about it, it’s hard to forget last year. It was a pretty special year. We did a lot of special things and stuff like that but we know we got to be able to look forward and on to the next because nothing that we did last year is going to carry us to this year. We have to put in the same work that we put in last year to build that chemistry just like what we did with those guys last year. We lost a lot and we gained a lot, a lot of great players and stuff like that so we have to be able to just mesh and come together to be able to do what we did last year.”

Kenny McIntosh, Senior, Running Back

On his versatility…

“I’m ready to take on whatever Coach Smart needs me to, whether that’s special teams or whatever my team needs me to do, whatever it takes to win… I think it’s really because of my hands. I thank God for blessing my hands with the ability to catch the ball and Coach has been trusting me to catch the ball.”

On the dynamic between Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards…

“It’s been like this since Zamir White and James Cook were here. We’re going to compete and help develop each other’s abilities every day while we’re at practice. He helps me, I help him… We’re brothers in this, so yeah, we’re competing at the same time, but we push each other to do better.”

On the dynamics with his brother Deon McIntosh…

“We’re both very similar. He can definitely catch a ball and run the ball and plays special teams as well. As well as Deion, I’ve got five brothers really, so just me being the youngest growing up… My brother’s 6’5’’ in the league and I’m 6’1’’ right now, so he’s still beating me and I’m still going up against him, so it’s just having the heart at a young age that my dad taught us. It’s really my dad, I give it up to my dad and God.”

Sedrick Van Pran, Redshirt Sophomore

On Zion Logue…

Zion Logue is like a combination of like a JD (Jordan Davis) and Devonte Wyatt, he’s in between both of them. He’s fast, he’s strong, he can catch you off guard with his quickness but he’s also very powerful in the run game. I think he’s a mixture of both.”

On his confidence this year….

“I wouldn’t call it confidence just because for me confidence just comes off as arrogance to me. I would call it more just comfortable. I think I’m very comfortable in the system right now. Still pushing to learn and taking notes on things like inside zone, you know just trying to get better but honestly, I just feel comfortable, way more comfortable playing football at this point in my career.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Pre-Spring Press Conference

Coach Kirby Smart and selected players met with the media to preview spring practice, which begins today and culminates with the annual G-Day intrasquad game on Saturday, April 16th. Following are excerpts from today’s interviews:

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

First and foremost, excited about Mike White, his addition to our athletic department. Don't know him personally. Looking forward to getting to meet him today. Excited about his large family moving to Athens and getting to be a part of a special university. So I'm happy to have him.

I’m excited about spring practice. This is actually my favorite time of year, believe it or not. I like the fact that you have one practice and you have a day off to teach, and then you have another practice and you have another day off to teach. It slows things down for the players. So if you enjoy coaching football and the relationships you get to have with the players, this is the best time of year because you literally get to sit in a meeting room, teach, go at a much slower pace.

We've obviously got a lot of holes to fill and a lot of young players on this roster that are excited about filling those roles. We've had probably six weeks of pretty intense workouts. I think our strength staff has done a tremendous job.

As is the case in all businesses, really when you look at it, when you have success, sometimes you have change and people get opportunities. So we've got two new strength coaches, four new position coaches, several new quality control people, so a lot of new faces.

One thing that you benefit from is you get a lot of different ideas and knowledge from those people. So the additions we made to our staff have been tremendous. They are bright. Some of them bright young coaches; some of them very experienced coaches.

But all of them fit our culture and criteria, and that probably excites me most. The players have gotten to know these guys in really a short amount of time. It's been a quick turnaround relative to the amount of time we've had.

I’m excited about where our team is heading, where our guys are going, the roles that have been embraced. We have continued with our skull sessions and our player development, in terms of character and leadership.

A lot of holes. There are a lot of questions to be answered from our team for guys leaving. I'm excited to see what this group can do, and take on the personality of their team. Some of that is already started.

So couple injuries of guys that will be out. We traditionally have -- I think the years we've been here we've had six or seven guys out every spring, mostly with post-season surgeries. This year we had a little more with our incoming freshmen.

So we've had nineteen incoming freshmen, but some of these guys are out for the spring as well. Of the returning guys, most of you guys know Brock Bowers is out for the spring with a shoulder surgery. Rian Davis will be able to do some things, but he's been out since fall, about mid-season. Smael Mondon is out with a labral repair, very similar to what Nakobe Dean had last year. Tykee Smith is still doing his ACL. He's back running, moving around, but he's right where he should be but not going to go through spring.

And then Darnell Washington will be out as well for spring. He's got a lower leg extremity that's going to keep him out. All those guys are promising they'll have good returns.

Then our mid-years, our nineteen mid-years, I think we have five guys that required surgeries, which we knew these guys would require surgery. The positive is we'll have them back for fall camp. But Bear Alexander had a labral repair. Jacob Hood had ankle surgery. C.J. Madden had a labral repair. Griffin Scroggs, shoulder surgery. And then C.J. Smith is coming off some meniscus repair, but he's able to do some things. So that's not abnormal for us to have some guys out and injured. Gives an opportunity for some other guys, hopefully the mid-year kids will be ready to rock and roll for summer and summer workouts, where the NCAA has granted us more time to spend with them and put our defense and offense and special teams in place.

So with that, I'll open it up.

On Arik Gilbert…

Arik has done a great job kind of integrating back to the team. He's been here for a while now. He's done the work we've asked of him. He's doing well academically. You know, I think there is this perception, and it affects college football athletes more than anybody else because they're younger, that the -- this recruiting stigma follows someone, and these expectations follow kids.

I look across and follow guys that maybe we signed here or somewhere else and they carry this really heavy burden of expectation. We don't place that burden on anybody. I think sometimes they put it on themselves. I think sometimes social media does it. Sometimes media in general does it.

But for whatever reason, Arik is a guy that's carried a lot of that burden with him in terms of expectation. Our expectation of Arik is to be the best person he can be first and foremost, and hopefully be the best player he can be. He's had a really good off-season. He continues to work. But that doesn't put an expectation that this guy is going to go out there and set the world on fire. He's trying to figure out where he fits in and he's working really hard. He's done everything we've asked. He's fortunate he's going to get a lot of reps because of the two guys we have out. So he's going to get a lot of reps.

On burning the boats and the new team identity…

Well, when we came back and went to work for those six weeks, that's -- we've put that to the side. We're not communicating, talking about that. That's something they'll be able to have the rest of their life. We always talk about it here. We've talked about it since we won the SEC. You don't defend a title. You guys want it to be that way, but that's not what we do. We start fresh just like we did when we lost to Texas in a bowl game. We start completely new. That's so hard for the media to grasp. It's not hard for us because we go into a different part of the program, off-season conditioning program. What's different about the off-season conditioning program than it has been in the past? Not a whole lot. We're doing the same things we do to build up to the point we went to last year.

We certainly have different faces and different people in places. I think they're right where they need to be. They're not way behind schedule, not way ahead of schedule. We have holes to fill just like we do every year.

Probably just more this year than in years past based on guys leaving and the departure. We also have more mid-years here to fill some of those roles. We're certainly not deep enough at several positions, but I'm not here to cry about it. I'm here to solve it and figure it out and get the best guys. That's what you do as a coach, right? You coach the players. So that movement for us has been long past. I think that will be the play and the talk of the media for last year, but not us. We're really worried about creating an identity for this team.

We're in the identity phase. Spring practice is let's figure who are we? Let's figure out who we are by how we practice. I think we'll see that over the next 15 practices.

On the process of hiring new coaches to the staff during the off-season…

We went through an interview process at every position. We interviewed multiple people at each and every position, think about what's the best overall for our program, for our culture we built here, take input from the coaches on the staff been here a long time, Dell McGee, Glenn Schumann. These guys have been part of our program. Tray Scott. They are the culture. We want people that want to be here and want to be part of that.

It's very demanding what's required of college coaches. You've seen guys move on to the NFL, seen guys step out, you've seen guys go onto other places, but it's not going to ever change at the University of Georgia. The standard of excellence that you want to have in recruiting and spending time with your players, and these four people meet that criteria.

They're also people I trust and some I've known, some I have not known. But the ones that we didn't know we did a lot of research on and felt like they were best for the job.’’

On the value of Spring practice for early enrollees…

It's more important for their degree, right? They get an extra semester of classes. They get 15 hours towards their graduation. That is the most important thing to me.

For five of them it's about getting the best rehab you can possibly get in the country, maybe the world, as opposed to sitting in Atlanta and having a surgery and not having the rehab facilities that maybe your high school has, you're getting that here. To get those guys and the care they need so they don't reinjure, don't have setbacks, we get to have them right here underneath our tutelage and our care. There is no value you can put on that.

There are other kids, six or seven other kids that aren't here. I don't think they're in a deficit either because they're able to get on Zoom, sit in on meetings, get playbooks. Those guys begin to learn, too, so that when they get here over the summer we can integrate them as well.

I think the nineteen guys here now are going to benefit from reps because there are a lot of reps available for those nineteen mid-years.

On Coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe…

Chidera gives us great energy, enthusiasm, played the position, easy to recruit outside backers and defensive ends at University of Georgia because we've produced a lot of them. It's also easy to recruit to him because he played the position with tremendous success, had an stint in the NFL. He has got a really good track record, high character, very enthusiastic, and we've seen the impact on our players with what he's done.

On the pride of talent at the NFL Combine and replacing it…

Yeah, we saw this coming two, three years ago. We even had the fear that we might have been replacing those guys last year had they not decided to stay. So that's been a preparation deal for us. We're always looking two, three years ahead sometimes, and, you know, where you maybe have a deficit or you're not as good or maybe better at certain positions. That's a focus we take on each and every year, so that will be a challenge for us. Lost a lot of good defensive players, some really good wideouts, so it's on to the next. You got to create your identity through who you have, and that's what you do as a coach.

You know, you do the best job you can with it and try and get the most out of them. Certainly proud of those guys. Coming over here to this meeting, I ran into a bunch of them and they're getting to see new parts of our building they had not seen, and it's great to see them. Really happy for them.

So many of those guys worked their tail off. They didn't get there through some easy deal. They worked really hard, and that's what our players now have to understand. It doesn't come easy.

On what you’re looking for from Stetson Bennett, as well as the other QBs…

Looking to develop each and everyone. I think all four of those guys are in different spots. You can go all the way from Gunner Stockton just getting here to Stetson being 23, 24 years old and having seen a lot of football.

So they're in different spots, all four guys. The biggest challenge for us for the spring is to get reps and develop, because we don't have the depth at the skill positions, receiver and defensive back and even tight end, to be able to do some of the things we liked to practice-wise.

We’re trying to be innovative, creative in the way we practice, because quarterback development is critical. So if you have quarterbacks that aren't able to get reps, how do they get better? So I'm big on challenging our staff to be creative in the ways we rep those guys, who goes with what groups, how many reps a week you get, what percentages. We want to see these guys get better. It's easy when you have three groups of offensive linemen. They all get work. But you might have four quarterbacks, and it's hard to get those guys enough work. Wanting to see those guys improve. They can't all play, so it's a matter of growing them to get them in a position to where they can be successful.

On Tate Ratledge, Arian Smith, Trezmen Marshall…

They're all running, moving, doing things. Arian has been able to take some reps. He will he'll be practicing with us some. Not 100%, but he'll be able to practice with us practice. Tate is coming off the foot injury. He's not going to be able to take reps in the spring, but he's weight bearing, running, doing some activity there and able to take walk-through reps. So I take him in a kind of mode of he's not out for the entire spring. He's just not going to be going live with. The progress has been great for both these guys.

Trezmen is doing running, cutting. Got a knee brace on. He'll be able to take some reps, but not 100%.’’

On preparation coming off of a national championship season…

Let's be clear: We won a National Championship because we had really good players who played well together, right?

So usually the team that wins the National Championship is a unified group. I can go through the last couple years. There is like this really great group of special players at LSU; they won a National Championship. Really good group, special leaders at Alabama; they won a National Championship. We had a really good group. So we're trying to like develop our team to emulate what is your identity. Is it going to be supreme talent with great character, great leadership? Is the leadership and character going to outweigh the talent? We're trying to figure out the team's identity completely independent of the previous years.

There is, when you look out there, there is not as much experience. There are good football players on this roster, but we’ve got to get those guys in position to be successful. Our job as coaches is to grow them.

I’m going to repeat: I am not worried about living in the past. That's our job, is to make sure these kids grasp what they do is in front of them. The wind blows a lot harder at the top, but we’ve been up there. So it's not like we’ve been at the tip-top, but it's been blowing pretty good where we were, so we’ve got to do a good job continuing to develop our guys and get them ready to play.

On Glenn Schumann growing as a defensive coach…

He's always trying to grow and get better. He's never satisfied. I think a lot of times you can get complacent, it sets in on all of us, this is what we do. We don't want to be complacent. That's just not what I believe in. We're always trying to find a different way to do it better. I think Glenn epitomizes that. He's constantly on Zoom with the NFL guys; he talks to high school coaches; he's a sponge. Doesn't think he knows it all. Always trying to find a better way to do it, to reinvent himself as a coach.

I think his players play really hard. They have a passion and energy for him that they want to be successful. I mean, to do what he's done with those three guys coming out this year is really pretty special. No. 1, he helped recruit them, identify them, and then he helped mold them into good players. So there is a pedigree there that he's able to recruit to.

On Zion Logue…

Those are big shoes to fill. We don't do comparisons. We let you guys stick to the comparisons. You know, I think the comparisons can be bad for people when they try to compare. I think what's good about Zion is he's a great leader, a great kid. He is the perfect example of a guy that has matured and he's grown. He used to have academic problems freshman year, wouldn't go to this, wouldn't, and now for the last year he's not on lists, he handles his weight, he practices really hard, he's hit a strength, a little bit extra strength in the weight room that's going to help make him a better player. We got high expectations for him. He's going to take on a larger role, but his role may not be the same as what those guys was.

Kearis Jackson, Senior, Wide Receiver

On the next man up mentality...

It's football, injuries happen, you got to be prepared for it. Look at last season, we had numerous injuries but the way we work here at Georgia, it's always the next man up mentality. You got to be prepared to come here and play no matter. Just like Coach Smart says all the time, when we have travel games, if you travel and you dress with the team, you got a chance to play. So, if injuries happen, we are already prepared for it.

On his knee surgery last summer...

With me having surgery literally right before the season kind of held me back from getting the training with my teammates, especially summer workouts. Summer workouts here is what pretty much defines you and what is going to prepare you for the season this year. Me being able to not have the opportunity to attend those workouts and not be fully participating in those things kind of set me back a little bit from being as close as I know I can, like with speed and stuff. I was still able to be a leader on the sidelines, encouraging the guys. So, I still feel like I played a major role even with me being injured.

Nolan Smith, Senior, Outside Linebacker

On graduating...

If you want me to be honest, I believe honestly in what Coach Smart is building here and the coaching here. But at the same time, my mom wants me to graduate, so that's the whole reason I came back. If I don't give her a diploma, she couldn't care less about the NFL Draft.

On leaving his legacy...

Hopefully, my name is up there on that pillar behind you as being team captain one day. I get to come back and show my kids that I graduated from here, I built a lot of things here in my little pond and I tried to make a ripple effect.

On being the vocal guy on the team...

No, I wouldn't say I feel that responsibility to be that vocal guy. I just feel like, I am going to be the same guy that I was and still try to lead people in the right direction and do the right thing always. I feel like that's something everyone, all of us, on the team should do. That's why we did so well last year. A lot of guys saying that's not right, that's wrong and you shouldn't do that.

Warren Ericson, Senior, Offensive Lineman

On coaching changes…

Spring is all about being in competition. It is proving yourself. And now with a new coach being an aspect, it is like that as well. It was definitely a little strange when Coach Luke left, because we loved playing for Coach Luke and respected him so much. But, he was our coach in the past. Now we can look forward to our new coach. So far, we’ve really loved having Coach Searels. He has brought in good energy, good demeanor. Just with the start today, I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to coach on the field at a full practice. And how we’re going to gel as a new line together because we’re losing Jamaree Salyer. We’re losing Justin Shaffer. We also have experience as well with Sedrick Van Pran. Me being out there with Warren McClendon as well. So, it will be good. I’m excited about today. I think it’s going to be a really good day.”

On Coach Searels…

He set the tone right away, just physicality and aggressiveness. That was his first thing in the meeting room. He wants us to play disciplined and know exactly what to do. So, I’ve really respected that. He wants us to continue the tradition of being a dominant offensive line that Georgia has always had. So, he has come in, stepped in, and done that really well so far. He also has different lingos and terms to be used on different calls. We’re having to adjust with that. He is having to adjust with our plays and our lingo as well. So, it’s a little bit of a give and take as far as what he is having to learn and what we’re having to learn from him.

Zion Logue, Junior, Defensive Lineman

On maturing…

When I got here, I was all over the place. I had to really settle myself down and stick to who I was. I was trying to be somebody else, and I had to reel it back in a bit. I found myself and things started changing for me.

On finding himself…

Just seeing my teammates prosper. I just wanted to do it for myself as well. I have seen the changes they were making in their game, so I was taking bits and pieces and trying to put them into mine.

On replicating last year’s leadership…

It’s big shoes to fill this year. We don’t want to put that much pressure on ourselves, but at times we have to. We have to step in. We have a lot of snaps. We need to be up field, special teams, defense, offense. Guys have to step up in different places in different areas.