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.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Dawgs Swipe Gators Basketball Coach

Mike White, who has averaged more than 22 wins per season in 11 campaigns as head coach at Florida and Louisiana Tech, has been named the 23rd head men’s basketball coach of the Dawgs. Josh Brooks, UGA’s J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics, announced White’s hiring on Sunday.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Mike White and his family to Athens,” said Brooks. “We have witnessed Coach White to be a leader of men, as well as a proven winner with an impressive postseason body of work. We want to compete for national success in all 21 of our sports, and we believe that he is the coach that can build Georgia Basketball to a consistent winner on the collegiate basketball landscape.”

“We are thrilled to welcome a coach with Mike White’s integrity, character and competitive excellence to the University of Georgia,” said Jere W. Morehead, University of Georgia President. “He has been a leader throughout his extensive head coaching experience at Florida and Louisiana Tech, and we are confident that he will make a positive impact on UGA student athletes and our campus community.”

White’s teams have advanced to postseason play during eight of 10 possible seasons. He has spent the past seven seasons at Florida, compiling a 142-88 record and leading the Gators to five postseason bids including four NCAA appearances. In four campaigns at Louisiana Tech between 2011-15, White was 101-40, and the Bulldogs won a trio of conference regular-season titles and advanced to three NITs.

“I am beyond excited for the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program at the University of Georgia,” White said. “President Jere W. Morehead and Athletics Director Josh Brooks are united in a strong vision for UGA Basketball which resonated with me deeply. They believe, as I do, in developing our young men as students, athletes and leaders, as well as providing them with the support they need to be successful. I believe in the limitless future of Georgia Basketball.

“I am extraordinarily grateful to the leadership of Scott Stricklin and to the entire Florida Athletics staff for an amazing experience during my tenure,” White continued. “Thank you to each and every one of our current and former players. Your hard work, commitment and dedication was and continues to be an inspiration. I will cherish our relationships forever. In addition, the Gainesville community has been wonderful to my family and I. We are truly thankful for our time at the University of Florida.

“To the Georgia Basketball family, friends and fans, I’m ready to get to work. Go Dawgs!”

Florida has earned five consecutive postseason bids under White, reaching the 2016 NIT quarterfinals and earning four consecutive NCAA bids from 2017-21. The Gators, who advanced to the Elite Eight in 2017, are the only SEC team and one of just 12 nationally to reach each of the last four editions of “March Madness.” Florida is one of only six schools to win a game in each of the last four NCAA Tournaments. White was voted SEC Coach of the Year by both league coaches and the Associated Press in 2017, and eight different Gators have earned All-SEC honors a combined nine times during his tenure.

At Louisiana Tech, White led the Dawgs to the Western Athletic Conference regular-season crown in 2013 before winning back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2014 and 2015. The Dawgs reached the NIT in each of those campaigns and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2014 and 2015. In NIT play, Louisiana Tech recorded a trio of impressive road victories, toppling Florida State in 2013, Georgia in 2014 and Texas A&M in 2015.

White was named WAC Coach of the Year in 2013 and Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2015. He coached the 2015 C-USA Player of the Year, two WAC Newcomers of the Year, the 2014 C-USA Sixth Man of the Year and the 2014 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year.

White came to Louisiana Tech as a 35-year-old after spending seven seasons (2004-11) as an assistant coach at Ole Miss, his alma mater, where he developed a reputation as one of the top assistant coaches in the country. White helped lead the Rebels to four NIT berths, including two runs to the NIT Final Four, and SEC West titles in 2007 and 2010. White also spent four years at Jacksonville State from 2000-04, three as an assistant coach and the final season as associate head coach.

White was a four-year starter at Ole Miss and helped the Rebels to a pair of SEC West Division titles, three NCAA Tournament appearances and the school’s first ever NCAA Tournament victory. White excelled off the court as well, earning a spot on two SEC Academic Honor Rolls and being named to the 1999 SEC Good Works Team.

White is married to the former Kira Zschau. The couple has two daughters, Rylee and Maggie, twin boys, Collin and Keegan, and another son, Dillion.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Crean Fired

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia has decided to change the leadership of its men’s basketball program, and Tom Crean will not return for his fifth season as the Dawgs’ head coach.

“I would like to sincerely thank Coach Crean and his family for their commitment to Georgia Basketball,” said Josh Brooks, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics. “Tom Crean demonstrated unquestionable effort and enthusiasm in what he has attempted to accomplish at Georgia. That said, our expectation is to compete for post-season success in all 21 sports. We believe a leadership change in men’s basketball is needed to achieve our goals.”

This season, Georgia finished 6-26 overall and 1-17 in the SEC. Crean compiled a 47-75 record and was 15-57 in SEC play during his four seasons.

The Dawgs broke their all-time total attendance record in each of Crean’s first two years, and during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, Georgia recorded two of its top-5 scoring averages during the 2000s. Anchored by Anthony Edwards, Crean signed six top-100 prospects during his first full recruiting cycle. Edwards left after earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors to become the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

A national search for Georgia’s next head men’s basketball coach will begin immediately.