Friday November 26th, 2021 5:48PM

CFB: Everything Kirby had to say at Monday's presser

By AccessWDUN Staff
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ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart spoke to the media on Monday.
No. 1 Georgia will travel to Tennessee on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff against the Volunteers.

Head Coach Kirby Smart
Opening statement...
"We're excited to get started on Tennessee today. Josh (Heupel) has done an incredible job, you can see it in the atmosphere at home games and the way their guys play, they have really bought into their system. Defensively they're playing better and better, offensively in the last three or four games they're averaging the most points in the SEC. They're up tempo, fast paced and that's really hard to prepare for. Everybody tries to prepare in the off-season, but it's so hard to simulate when you talk to people going against it, it makes it tremendously tough. Our guys are excited for the opportunity, playing on the road in the SEC is one of the toughest things there is to do in the country, and we'll get to go to a really tough environment and play football against these guys. Their quarterback is playing tremendously and their defense has gotten better and better each week."
On defending Tennessee...
"I think it's the most in the country when you look at it and talk to people because everybody talks across the country and tries to defend it. It's so fast you can't really simulate it in your practices, so you have to try and find a creative way to practice for it. It's so different than the triple option, I'm not trying to compare it to that, but it's so different that it's hard to prepare for. You can't simulate it with your team unless you do it. We don't do that as well as they do it, so it makes it tough to prepare for. Your players really have to buy in, they have to know it's important to play that way against that tempo and you've got to work really hard at it. The challenge will be there this week for offense, defense and special teams because what they do doesn't just affect the defense, it affects your offense and special teams."
On the off-season and him being fired up about the connection in skull sessions and how it has paid off for the team…
"It's been a tremendous benefit. The players have benefited from it and they feel more connected. I think they know each other across position groups better now, they're that much closer. They know each other's 'why' and their purpose. It's made creating and developing leadership that much better. I've been a big proponent of our leadership and talked about it every year. This year I haven't had one meeting, not one because I feel like we've continued to get the same things. We didn't want to do that again and the leaders have developed through those sessions. not through meetings, group meetings with me, or meetings with strength coaches, or other people. They've come naturally through the off-season with connection, composure, toughness and the resiliency they've had."
On converting the red zone trips into touchdowns…
"Converting third downs, scoring from further out, being able to run the ball better. If you had to pick one thing it would be execution, so you could say that one guy kept us from doing this, whether it was a penalty, a mental error, a decision by the quarterback. Usually in the red area when you can run the ball stubbornly, you can score touchdowns. When you can't run the ball stubbornly, meaning there's people in the box, not much depth on the field and people aren't worried about the ball being thrown over their heads so you've got one extra hat, in some cases, two extra hats in the red area. So, you need to be really well executed to do that."
On JT's performance...
"Health-wise he seemed fine. I haven't talked to him about it, but health-wise I think he seemed fine. He didn't take any major hits. Evaluation and watching him play, I thought he did a great job. He had command of the offense. He understood… like I said Saturday. He did a really good job of being over there and seeing what the defense was trying to do. He understands our offense. Number one, where to go with the ball, what plays to put us in, decision making with the ball. He did a good job with those things. I think he did a really nice job for the reps he's gotten."
On the success of Missouri's quarterbacks run success and preventing Hendon Hooker... 
"Hendon Hooker is a tremendous athlete. He's hard to tackle. He's big, physical, strong arm. Saturday's miss ques (against Missouri) had a lot to do with execution. Tackling. We missed tackles, did not tackle well. Probably our poorest game in terms of tackling. Assigned, doing your gap football. We didn't do that. There were a couple of quarterback runs that a guy, instead of going in his gap went in somebody else's gap. It's never good when you do that. It wasn't an over pursuit at all. It was an execution of your job. Understanding the importance of your job because when you run the quarterback you have to be almost perfect on defense as apposes to when the quarterback hands it off. You have one less guy blocking. They (Missouri) did a nice job of that. The quarterback run is an element that makes stopping teams really hard. Missouri did a nice job with that and Tennessee does that really well too."
On doing creative things in practice and eye discipline...
"Absolutely, eye discipline. They've gotten some touchdowns just off the tempo of play. Guys not being lined up. Guys not communicating properly, and guys having eyes in the wrong place. That's not just Tennessee. That's everybody in the country. When you have bad eyes you can get beat. Their way of making you an eye violator is just a little different than other people in the ways they go about it. As far as how we practice for it, we change it up. We do different things. I could go into a number of things we do to practice for it. It's just we have to change it up."
On how the line looked without Jamaree Salyer and his injury...
"Jamaree's (injury) is not extremely serious. It does not require surgery. He may be able to go this week. We will see how he is today. We're hoping to get him back. He's conditioning, running, doing everything. We're just hoping we can get him back. I thought Broderick (Jones) did a nice job stepping in. He had some things that he can work on and get better at. The great thing with Broderick is he had to step in a game at Auburn. He got to play when Jamaree's ankle was sprained. He did a nice job. Broderick has gotten a quantity of reps there with the ones throughout camp, throughout the time Jamaree was a guard, throughout the time Jamaree has been banged up, and throughout every week when Jamaree goes and works his secondary position. Broderick gets to go. He has had no shortage of reps. I think he would be the first to tell you he could play better, but he played well. He played hard and that's what we ask our guys to do. Play with relentless effort, strain, play really physical. He did those things we asked, but he can get better at some technique things."
On Tennessee and covering their wideouts...
"They've got an extremely good group of wideouts. They're extremely physical, big, size, speed. They are really fast on tape. We know the players they are running past. They are good football players that they are running past, making explosive plays. They've made a lot of plays down the field. They would've had more of these earlier, but they overthrew some early in the season or they just missed them. They've been hitting on all cylinders, and they have been extremely explosive with what they have done. But to say that it will be all on the secondary, that's not very wise. You've got to control the run game. Everybody thinks these guys are pass-first, but they run the ball really well. They're stubborn about it. They wear you down, and they body-blow, after body-blow, after body-blow to the point where you can't rush the passer, or you can't stop the run. And it's the big runs that lead to the explosive passes. We are going to have to play well on all parts of the defense. It's a great challenge for this group because no matter how good you are up front, guys in the back end are going to have to make plays, and no matter how good you are on the back end, the front guys are going to have to control the quarterback and run game. They'll test you; they'll test you everywhere."
On Julian Rochester and the changes happening in the SEC...
"Julian, first, I am so proud of him. He's worked really hard. He spent, I don't know how many weeks, on the scout team since he has been cleared. I'm guessing two, three weeks. He's been down there repping, and he wanted to get confidence going against our guys. So, he's taken a lot of scout team reps. Last week we thought that he had progressed to the point where he was getting quality work done with them and hold the point and move, so we were able to get him some reps with us, in terms of jumping in. He helps spell those guys, and I think he'd be the first to tell you that he's probably not 100%. But he is much better now than he was previously coming off an ACL. As far as the changes, I don't think I have a comment on that. I am so focused on playing Tennessee and getting ready for this game that I haven't even thought about the changes across the league."
On how much stock he puts into a player's 'stars'...
"Zero. I have no idea what stars are, and nor do I care. The only time I care is when the kid is crying to me about his stars, and he is worried about it, and I know he is a good playing that I am worried about getting. That would be the only time I care because I am trying to massage him and say 'It's okay, it's alright whether you are a three, four, or five.' It's not like we have that in our records. We don't put that in our names. Some places, they put what the recruiting analysts say about them. I don't care. I just care more about the player."
On Jordan Davis, the Heisman, and if a defensive player should win it...
"I love Jordan. What he has done for our defense is incredible. I don't think you could measure in statistics what he has done for our defense. I know analysts will be deciding who gets to go for the Heisman, and who is up for it is determined by the media and the talking heads. And everybody who gets to be a part of that controls the narrative there. For me, it's about our team and our team playing well. And Jordan has been a tremendous, tremendous part of that. He's been a bigger bone to our defense from a confidence standpoint, in a run-stopping standpoint than probably any other measurable stat that we have for our defense."
On the rivalry between Georgia and Tennessee…
"It's a rivalry game. I mean, we've said it for years — Tennessee has all kinds of rivals and we have all kinds of rivals — it's the unique part of being in the SEC, and Tennessee-Georgia is one of those. It's been one… there are times that it's been lopsided. I know when I played here, it was lopsided their way because we could never beat them and they've had ups and downs, but I do know this: Josh is doing a really good job. He's done a tremendous job of recruiting and getting the players that are there to buy in. And they bought in. They're playing really hard, really physical. There's a lot of confidence. So we need to play a really good game."
On Nolan Smith's leadership abilities...
"Yeah, he's always had leadership skills. He's very intelligent. Everywhere you meet people at the schools he's been at or the schools he grew up going to, they rave about what a great kid he is. He went to IMG — it's the same thing. He came here from IMG, just a tremendous leader. He's kind of come into his own in terms of leadership where he has a quiet confidence. I think the more he played — before he was rotating more as a sophomore — the more he's played, the more his personality has been able to come out. And I appreciate his leadership and really his energy and enthusiasm he brings to work every day is what makes him a good leader."
On Javon Bullard, Lovasea Carroll, David Daniel, Nyland Green, Kamari Lassiter, and guys that aren't really seen, what they're doing and how they're doing...
"They're growing, they're getting better. You know, I think three or four of those guys were here for spring. So they got to go through spring, which has put them in a position to be backups because of our lack of depth. But they continue to progress. I mean, they get lots of reps in practice, very few reps in games… But Kamari's got to play a little more in the games we've been in and because of Ameer Speed's injury. Javon Bullard's got to play — I wouldn't say quite a bit — but he rotates and plays because we have to work (Latavious) Brini at safety some, so Bullard works at star when Brini's at safety. He's done a good job coming along, but you know, the progress those guys make a lot of times in our defense is learning and being able to kind of make decisions and calls. And they've each gotten better at that, and you know, I tell them all the time I need more out of them on special teams because that's where you kind of cut your teeth when you first get here. What can I do on special teams? How can I help? And Kamari and Bullard have been really big assets on that and we continue to work with those other guys."
On how he manages everything while chasing championships...
"Simple — you focus on the task at hand. I think that's easier said than done, but when you're playing a team like Tennessee, since noon on Sunday, all I've been thinking about is Tennessee and how do we message it right to our players? How do we game plan right for offense, defense, special teams, for our players? How much tape can I watch? Tape is information. How do you prepare them mentally for that? I don't even think about those other things. Those other things come as they come, you deal with them as you deal with them, whether it's coaching search for one of your guys, or whether it's recruiting numbers. I mean, we have set meetings for that, you know, and we have meetings every week that are set in stone that's where my focus is. But, that's not my focus on Sunday, Monday of Tennessee week — you focus on the task at hand and when the game plans done, there's always a little — I call it "dead time" — Thursday, Friday, and you work on the future of your program or the future of your organization and that's when we start thinking about those."
On players stepping up…
"Dom (Dominick Blaylock) repped last week with us on scout team. He came down and got worked. It's not as easy as saying, 'Oh, Dom's back! Go in there!' It's kind of like Julian (Rochester) He had to go down, get his feet wet, and get his confidence. So, it will be a boost to us to have Dom take some reps, limited reps, as a scout receiver because of the receiving core we are facing to simulate it. Probably the biggest setback we've had all year is not having the scout team receivers that we normally have to test us, to train us, and to compete with us. For the last two weeks, or last week, we've been able to get Jackson Meeks some and get Dom some, and be able to grow them there. That's the hope and we're still waiting to hear on George (Pickens)."
On the impact that Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter have been having on the goal line…
"I defer to Coach Monken and Coach Dell (McGee). They do a good job game planning goal line and finding the best place for us. Sometimes simpler is better in terms of power and moving people. We've got a lot of weapons on the line of scrimmage and those guys are weapons in terms of moving folks. But, they enjoy doing it. They enjoy doing it because they get out of a couple of defensive plays and go down and hang with the offense. I think that's their enjoyment more than anything else."
On if there's been a moment while recruiting, he goes to watch one player and leaves more interested in another …
"I don't know if I would say more interested, because if I went there to watch a player, we think he's a really good player that we're really interested in. It's an assistant coach that that's happened more because they're out more. As a head coach, that probably doesn't happen as much because when we're going out to see somebody, it's usually one of the feature players or things like that. You always get to see other guys and watching them compete live, there's no substitute for that because you see how they interact with their players, fans, the coaches, how they react to a poor play, how they react to a really good play. That happens a lot. That's why you go out to see them in person. It's a lot better than tape."

John FitzPatrick | Jr. | TE
On the success of Brock Bowers…
"He has made plays all over the field, from blocking to catching passes, he's doing a great job. We're really fortunate to have him. He made plays in the spring and in the summer in seven-on-seven he made plays and he continues to do so. He is one of my best buddies. He is a good dude all around, nice, works hard, does well in school."
On the Tennessee rivalry…
"I'm excited to play them. I know it's a huge stadium… 102,000 people I think it is. It is going to be loud, and I know we will prepare hard all week with some crowd noise in the indoor. We will be ready."
Lewis Cine | Jr. | DB
On not giving up explosive plays…
"A lot of SEC teams are copycats so what they see that we might be struggling with they will replicate it in a different form or different fashion. Every week or every Monday it is like going to the doctor, what can we fix? What can we change that this team or that team might try to expose us with? That is where we have grown and I feel like we are going to keep going."
On Nolan Smith as a leader…
"Nolan is definitely an extrovert. When Nolan is an area you are going to know because he is really loud. He is a people's person, so that is one thing that I'll say about him. He cares about his people, he cares about the players, he cares about the coaches."
 Kenny McIntosh | Jr. | RB 
On getting healthier as a group…
"It is great. Getting all these guys back is just making the offense more dangerous. We know we can make explosive plays, we know we can be more explosive, just getting guys back healthy really. It's just making us more dangerous really."
On Neyland Stadium…

"Tennessee is really…I don't know how the stadium is shaped but all the players and all the fans are energized. Whenever we go down to Knoxville it is a lot of noise, but I love it. I always look forward to playing in a stadium like this since I was a kid. Just being in front of all the fans and it being loud and all that, I just love that part of the game."

  • Associated Categories: Sports, College Sports
  • Associated Tags: Georgia football, Georgia Bulldogs, UGA football
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