Georgia Continues Bye Week Practice on Wednesday

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during the Bulldogs' game with Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Photo by Walt Beazley)

The Georgia Bulldogs continued bye week practice Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Georgia’s next contest will be in Lexington, Ky., at 12:00 p.m., ET on the SEC Network versus the Wildcats. Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart provided an update on the Bulldogs during the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference. Following practice, Jake Camarda and Justin Shaffer offered these comments.

Selected comments from Smart and the student-athletes follow:

Head Coach Kirby Smart
Opening Statement
“We got some good work done yesterday. We had a really good practice. I thought that there was good energy and enthusiasm out there, especially for an off week. The weather was great, and I thought the kids really competed. We haven’t been able to really rep a lot of our younger players having just played a conference schedule, a tough schedule so far. We got some extra reps for our twos and threes, and tried to work on some really specific things for our ones, and give each kid kind of a goal and objective for the week that they could improve on. We’re going to go back out there today and try to get better today.”

On Kendall Milton’s performance so far this season…
“Yeah, he is earning some playing time. I think you saw that probably at the last game. He played a little earlier than he has been playing. He makes really good cuts, has good vision. Every opportunity he has gotten he’s taken advantage of it and grown with it. It’s really unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to contribute more until now because he had a two hamstring [injuries]. He had a hamstring [injury] early in camp then when he came back he pulled it again. He’s such a intense worker that a couple of times we had to slow him down because we felt like that’s why the hamstring bothered him. We would be trying to do walkthroughs, and he would be going full speed and pulled it. I have been really pleased with what he has been able to do. He is a physical, downhill runner. He is really trying to protect the ball better, and that is something all freshmen have to get used to. Obviously, the protections in the last games is something he has improved on as well. But, I have been proud of him. We have asked him to do some things with special teams that he had never done, and he learned them really quick—between punt return, kickoff return. He is learning how to compete in those drills and that is carrying over to his confidence at running back.”

On the mandatory day off on Nov. 3 falling during preparation week for Florida…
“Our players have been very adamant and active socially, really in our community in terms of serving the community and expressing their opinion that they want to vote and make a difference. We brought people in to speak about awareness and how to do that. A lot of it is not even about necessarily how to vote as much as it is, ‘What am I basing my decision on who I vote for on outside,’—all of the elections, the state elections, a lot of them don’t know the candidates. We have tried to educate them on that, and let them make the best decision that they think fits them. That day is going to be dedicated to that, and that’s kind of where we are.”

On Azeez Ojulari’s performance so far this season…
“He is extremely tough, extremely physical, very disciplined, one of core leaders. When you have guys that do things the right way, he practices the right way. He goes to call. He attends all of his appointments. When you evaluate a person from on and off the field, not just physical performance, he checks all of the boxes. On top of that he is a really good athlete. I am proud of the way he is working and the growth he’s made. I think he’s better right now than he was this time last year and that is what you are looking for in terms of development.”

On what he learned about the Georgia team after the Alabama game… 
“It’s very glaring that there are some things we have to work on, in terms of defensive penalties, defensive explosive plays and then offensively, you can’t get into a boat race when you are trying to outscore people. [We need] to play our brand of football and allow and help Stetson [Bennett] with the people around him—that is probably the number one thing. We definitely didn’t play our best game, but at the same time we were playing our best opponent. The best level of competition we have gone against was certainly [Alabama]. That is how you get better. You have to go out and compete and play. We actually did some things better than we have done in other games. We are just doing it against a lot better competition. We have to improve this week, and I have really been pleased with the attitude and approach of the guys thus far.”

On JT Daniels progression…
“JT [Daniels] is going out each day and working. His mobility is getting better as time goes through. He is moving around and taking a lot of reps and growing. He is competing just like D’Wan [Mathis] and Carson [Beck] is.

#90 Jake Camarda | Junior | PKP
On the differences in travel this season compared to past seasons…
“I wouldn’t say too much has changed, but we’ve been making sure that we’re wearing our masks everywhere we go. Social distancing is a big part in not having as many cases. At the hotel, we try to take the stairs more, that way we can isolate to just us taking the stairs. Social distancing and wearing masks are something we’ve done a really good job at.”

On what the mood has been around the team after the Alabama game…
“It has been pretty good. Coming off a loss at a big game like that, people on the outside would expect that guys are down and really upset. Sure, we would have loved to win that game and we’re bummed that we didn’t, but the mood is still good. We still have everything in front of us and we’re really looking forward to competing in the next couple of weeks. That game is in the past and now we’re focused on moving forward.”

On what has gone into him being a consistent punter…
I’m not able to do anything on the field if it isn’t for God. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to be here or on that field at all. I’m giving all the glory to him. He has been my rock throughout freshman, sophomore and junior year. My accomplishments are all through him. I also have great teammates and coaches that help support me too.”

#54 Justin Shaffer | Senior | OL
On what the offense needs to do to help Stetson Bennett
“We just have to keep standing in there and give him that confidence that he needs in order to lead the offense and just be the man for the whole offense. To me, I feel like the quarterback needs to take that extra step forward and be that leader and that outspoken person. We all just bend his ear trying to give him that confidence and be outspoken, step up be that leader that we need as a quarterback.”

On what the feel of this team has been like…
“I feel like the leadership has stepped up. We’ve all bonded together and just became one brotherhood. Everybody is listening to what each and every leader has had to say.”

On his take away from the Alabama game…
“We just have to finish. Finish that second half. That starts with us up front. We need to be more conditioned and being there to finish all four quarters.

How the Bulldogs in the NFL fared in Week 6

Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) speaks to members of the media at a press conference on Monday, Oct., 1, 2018. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)

Giants 20, Washington 19

Tae Crowder, LB: Crowder returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown and notched 10 tackles for New York.

Andrew Thomas, OL: Thomas logged 22 offensive plays at tackle and helped the Giants accumulate 240 total yards.

Thomas Davis, LB: Davis was on Washington’s inactive list.

 

Lions 34, Jaguars 16

Matthew Stafford, QB: Stafford went 19-for-31 for 223 yards and a touchdown for the Lions. He added five carries for 14 yards.

D’Andre Swift, RB: Swift had 14 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns for Detroit. Swift became the first Lions rookie since Barry Sanders in 1989 to rush for at least 100 yards and score two touchdowns in a game. Swift added three catches for seven yards.

Isaac Nauta, TE: Nauta made his 2020 Lions debut with 18 offensive snaps but he did not have any stats.

Chris Conley, WR: Conley had a 6-yard reception for Jacksonville.

Abry Jones, DL: Jones was on the Jaguars’ inactive list.

 

Colts 31, Bengals 27

Rodrigo Blankenship, PK: Blankenship connected on a 40-yard field goal and was 4-for-4 on extra points for Indianapolis. Blankenship leads the NFL with 16 field goals and 63 points.

Justin Houston, DE: Houston played 43 defensive snaps for the Colts, but he did not have any stats.

Geno Atkins, DL: Atkins logged 18 defensive plays for the Bengals, but he did not have any stats.

A.J. Green, WR: Green had a Bengals-best eight catches for 96 yards.

Shawn Williams, DB: Williams had a defensive tackle and a special teams tackle for Cincinnati.

 

Dolphins 24, Jets 0

Solomon Kindley, OL: Kindley logged 55 plays at guard and helped Miami roll up 302 total yards.

Jordan Jenkins, LB: Jenkins had one tackle for New York.

 

Chiefs 26, Bills 17

Mecole Hardman, WR: Hardman returned two kickoffs for 33 yards and two punts for two yards for the Chiefs.

Isaiah McKenzie, WR: McKenzie had a 4-yard reception for the Bills.

Jake Fromm, QB: Fromm was on Buffalo’s inactive list.

 

49ers 24, Rams 16

Charlie Woerner, TE: Woerner was in on 18 special teams plays and two offensive plays for the 49ers but did not have any stats.

Leonard Floyd, LB: Floyd had five tackles, including one for loss, for the Rams.

Natrez Patrick, LB: Patrick had a special teams tackle for Los Angeles.

 

Falcons 42, Vikings 23

Todd Gurley, RB: Gurley posted 20 carries for 47 yards and he caught three passes for 20 yards for Atlanta. Gurley stands fourth in the NFL with five rushing touchdowns and eighth with 422 yards rushing.

 

Bears 23, Panthers 16

Roquan Smith, LB: Smith led the Bears with 12 tackles, including one for loss, and he defended a pass. Smith is fifth in the league with 52 total tackles.

John Jenkins, DL: Jenkins made his 2020 debut for Chicago with two tackles.

Javon Wims, WR: Wims had logged 13 offensive plays and two special teams plays for Chicago, but he did not have any stats.

Riley Ridley, WR: Ridley was on the Bears’ inactive list.

 

Titans 42, Texans 36

Ben Jones, OL: Jones played all 75 snaps at center and helped Tennessee roll up 601 total yards.

Isaiah Wilson, OL: Wilson was on the Titans’ inactive list.

 

Broncos 18, Patriots 12

Isaiah Wynn, OL: Wynn played all 57 snaps at tackle and helped the Patriots accumulate 288 total yards.

 

Cardinals 38, Cowboys 10

Lamont Gaillard, OL: Gaillard appeared on six special teams plays for the Cardinals.

 

Practice Squads

Bears: Reggie Davis, WR

Eagles: Elijah Holyfield, RB

Rams: Tyrique McGhee, DB; J.R. Reed, DB

Ravens: Nick Moore, LS; Eli Wolf, TE

Seahawks: Jayson Stanley, DB

Texans: Davin Bellamy, LB

Titans: Maurice Smith, DB

 

Reserve Lists

Browns: Nick Chubb, RB (IR)

Dolphins: Jonathan Ledbetter, DL (NFI)

Giants: Lorenzo Carter, LB (IR)

Jaguars: Terry Godwin, WR (PS COVID)

Jets: Lawrence Cager, WR (PS IR)

Lions: John Atkins, DL (COVID opt-out)

Patriots: David Andrews, OL (IR); Michael Barnett, DL (IR); Sony Michel, RB (COVID)

Bulldogs Downed by Crimson Tide, 41-24

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) during the Bulldogs' game with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (Photo by Skylar Lien)
Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith (4) during the Bulldogs’ game with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (Photo by Skylar Lien)

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the 2020 season to the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, 41-24 Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in front of a crowd of 19,424 and a national-televised audience on CBS.

“I was really pleased with the way our guys competed,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “Frustrated that we couldn’t get anything going in the second half, especially on that opening drive. I thought we would have been able to run down, but we stalled out and lost some momentum.”

Smart added, “Give them [Alabama] credit. We have to get back to the drawing boards because we still have a really good football team and we control what is in front of us by how we play.”

The Bulldogs (3-1) compiled 414 yards on offense, 269 through the air, and 145 on the ground. The defense forced one interception and sacked Alabama quarterback Mac Jones three times.

Redshirt-junior Stetson Bennett completed 18 passes on 40 attempts, throwing for 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Bennett threw for 177 yards in the first half, the third most by a quarterback in the last four seasons against Alabama behind LSU’s Joe Burrow in 2019 and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in 2018.

Sophomore James Cook recorded 117 all-purpose yards, including his first career receiving touchdown on an 82-yard completion. Bennett’s favorite receiving target was sophomore George Pickens, who recorded five receptions for 53-yards. Freshman Jermaine Burton caught four passes for 58-yards and his first career touchdown. Redshirt-sophomore Zamir White led the way on the ground for the Bulldogs, rushing 10 times for 57 yards and one touchdown with a long of 12.

Defensively, the Bulldogs sophomore Lewis Cine led the way with eight total tackles, four solo. While seniors Jermaine Johnson, Malik Herring, and sophomore Nakobe Dean each recorded a sack. Richard LeCounte grabbed his third interception of the season and ninth of his career.

Specialist Jake Camarda punted four times for 196 yards and an average of 49 putting three inside the twenty and hitting two over 50 yards. Jack Podlesny went 1-for-2 in the kicking game, making a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter.

From the first snap, the Bulldogs made their presence known, pressuring Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, allowing LeCounte to secure the interception. On the ensuing possession, Bennett would go on to throw his first interception of the season. The Crimson Tide would take advantage with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jones to John Metchie to put the Bulldogs down 7-0.

The offense would respond a few drives later, going 57 yards on eight plays, capped off by a 10-yard White touchdown run. Freshman Kendall Milton was integral in setting up the score, rushing for a career-high long of 25-yards. A Podlesny point-after-attempt tied the game a 7-7 with a minute to go in the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Bennett threw his first touchdown of the game to Cook for 82-yards. It would be the longest play for the Bulldogs since 2013. Podlesny put the extra point right down the middle for the Bulldogs to take their first lead of the game, 14-7.

The Crimson Tide would spend the following 5:49 going 60-yards on 13 plays before being stopped at the 15-yard line thanks to a Johnson sack. Will Reichard hit a 33-yard field goal to put the Crimson Tide within three, 14-10.

A week after hitting his career high with a 51-yard field goal against Tennessee, Podlesny capped a 10 play, 44-yard drive a yard shy of tying that high, making a 50-yard field goal to push the Bulldog lead back to seven, 17-10.

A back and forth first half continued as Jones would tie the game once again at 17 after completing a 17-yard pass to DeVonta Smith with three-minutes to go before halftime.

The Bulldogs would use nearly all three of those minutes, driving 66-yards on 12 plays, including Bennett drawing the Alabama defense offsides on fourth and inches, ending with a five-yard strike to Burton.

With 23-seconds left on the clock, Alabama would drive 41-yards and finish the first half with a career-long 51-yard field goal for Reichard. Georgia would lead the Crimson Tide 24-20 heading into the break set to receive in the second half.

The second half began with great defensive series on both sides, it would not be until the four-minute mark that Jones would find Jaylen Waddle for a 90-yard connection to put Alabama ahead for the first time since the first the score was 7-0. The Bulldogs would go down 27-24 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.

On the next Georgia possession, Bennett would throw his second interception of the night after a ricochet off a Bulldog receiver. Jones would take the Crimson Tide 56-yards in 5 plays finished off by a Najee Harris 2-yard touchdown rush to put the Bulldogs down 34-24.

Another Bulldog turnover led to a 45-yard, 10 play drive by Alabama ending with a 13-yard touchdown reception by Smith to put the Crimson Tide up 41-24, where the score would stay.

Georgia will take their bye week, a week early due to SEC rescheduling before heading to Lexington, Kentucky for a matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 31. Kickoff is set for Noon, ET with coverage provided by SEC Network.

SEC Announces Football Schedule Changes

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (October 16, 2020) – The SEC is adjusting its football schedule following the postponement of two games originally scheduled for October 17 due to positive tests and quarantine of individuals related to COVID-19.

 

On Monday it was announced that, due to positive tests and quarantine in the Vanderbilt football program, the Vanderbilt at Missouri game of Oct. 17 is rescheduled for Dec. 12.

 

On Wednesday it was announced that, due to positive tests and quarantine in the Florida football program, the LSU at Florida game of Oct. 17 is rescheduled for Dec. 12.  In addition, due to an extended pause of team activities for the Florida football program at the advice of health officials, the Missouri at Florida game originally scheduled for Oct. 24 is rescheduled for Oct. 31 and will be televised on the SEC Network Alternate channel at 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT.

 

Also, the Kentucky at Missouri game of Oct. 31 is rescheduled for Oct. 24 at 4 pm ET / 3 pm CT on the SEC Network and the Georgia at Kentucky game of Oct. 24 is rescheduled for Oct. 31 at Noon ET / 11 am CT on the SEC Network.

 

In addition, the South Carolina at LSU game of October 24 will change game times and is now scheduled for 7 pm ET / 6 pm CT on ESPN.

 

SEC Football Schedule Adjustments:

 

  • Kentucky at Missouri moves from Oct. 31 to Oct. 24 at 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network
  • South Carolina at LSU remains on Oct. 24, changes game time to 7 pm ET/6 pm CT on ESPN
  • Georgia at Kentucky moves from Oct. 24 to Oct. 31 at Noon ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • Missouri at Florida moves from Oct. 24 to Oct. 31 at 7:30 ET/6:30 CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Vanderbilt at Missouri moves from Oct. 17 to Dec. 12, time and network TBA
  • LSU at Florida moves from Oct. 17 to Dec. 12, time and network TBA

LSU at Florida Game Postponed

A commemorative patch on the Georgia jersey for the Bulldogs' game with Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Snyder)

The LSU at Florida football game of October 17 has been postponed due to positive tests and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Florida football program, consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements. The game is tentatively rescheduled for December 12 in Gainesville.

 

The SEC’s COVID-19 management requirements, as developed by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, are available on SECsports.com. (full report).

Coach Kirby Smart and LeCounte Post-Practice Comments

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is interviewed during the BulldogsÕ home opener against Auburn on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Oct., 3, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

Head Coach Kirby Smart

On COVID-19 positive test results across SEC and his worries…

“There’s really no way to tell. The biggest thing is you’re one day away, one test away, one situation away from a possible situation like Florida’s. We’ve been very fortunate. I think Ron [Courson] and the medical staff has done a great job for us. Ron sends me an article or an NFL reference and we post for our players to see, but we feel like our players are doing a good job, but I’ll be honest with you—when they’re not here at the facility, I don’t always know what they’re doing. The biggest concern we have is post-game, Sunday, and then they’re back into a routine Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. But you’re one exposure, one outbreak away from losing some guys, so we’ve been very fortunate so far, but we don’t have our test results back even from this week.”

 

On the evolution of offense in the SEC and what he attributes that to…

“I don’t understand what advanced scouting has to do with it—defense is allowed to scout too. If they have advanced scouting, we have advanced scouting. I don’t know why that would equate to higher scoring, if I’m following you right. By advanced scouting more they should be more successful on offense. We have video tape as well. I think attributing to the scoring is poor tackling, poor fundamentals defensively, up tempo offenses creeping in our league. I will be honest with you— football gets really sloppy when you go really fast. It doesn’t mean it’s not successful. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t score points. I am not saying that. I have been torched by teams that go up tempo. I’m not disgracing that—it gets really sloppy. As things get sloppy, fundamentals go downhill. If fundamentals go downhill, statistics go up.”

 

On stopping the run and what challenges Alabama’s Najee Harris presents…

“He is fast, physical, receives the ball well out of the backfield—it makes it much harder to defend. It’s not just Najee [Harris], their offensive line is humungous—every guy is 330/340 [pounds] and they wear on you. They lean on you. It’s like Nick [Saban] used to say, ‘They have weight classes in boxing and there is a reason.’ If a guy is a heavyweight and he keeps hitting a lightweight, eventually the heavyweight will knock the lightweight out and you have to have enough big guys across the line of scrimmage to withstand that. We feel like we are in a much better position than we have been in terms of depth, but we don’t have guys across the defensive line as big as their offensive line. The difference is we have to be able to substitute guys, play guys and try to stay fresh and try to use our depth to take those punches. Then we have to be able to give some punches by how we play. But Najee creates an issue because he is hard to tackle. They get him in space. If they are successful with Najee, it makes it really easy on the quarterback in terms of play-action game.”

 

On what he has learned about his team’s makeup from the last three games and how it could help UGA Saturday against Alabama…

“Well, I feel like we are growing up on offense before our eyes. It can be a painful growth process. It’s one of those—you go through some tough times with pups. I remember the last year when Mel [Tucker] was here we were going through that defensively, and that was—it’s easy for me to get impatient. Now, we are reaping the rewards of a lot of those kids that were playing the, and they were young—Tyson Campbell, [Eric] Stokes, Richard [LeCounte]—all of those guys were young. They have a little more experience now, and we’re going through that a little bit on offense. I am watching the maturation process with that. I am not pleased with where we are, but I am pleased with the progress we have made.”

 

On the special team’s No. 3 ranking and what he likes about what Coach Scott Cochran is doing with the special teams…

I like Scott [Cochran]’s energy, his enthusiasm. He does a good job in his meetings. The kids enjoy playing hard for Scott. Scott has a lot of assistance in terms of decision making and scheme. We have good players. The commitment to playing good players on special teams is a big part of being successful at it. We have good specialists. When you are going to rank that, and you have a weapon in [Jake] Camarda and [Jack] Pod[lesny], who has done a great job—it helps your ranking. To be honest with you, it could change in the drop of a hat. I don’t measure—I know everybody loves those statistics, but just like Saturday I was proud of Kearis [Jackson]. He fielded three balls that would have rolled for 20 more yards, and we lost ground on punt return. What they will never show is he gained 20 yards by fielding the punt on the bounce. He did it three times, and we dropped—no telling how far in punt return rankings, but I was extremely pleased that he did it. The stats can lie. We haven’t played a team the caliber of Alabama in terms of their specialists. They have really good return game, like extremely good, like so good people don’t even kick them the ball.”

 

On UGA’s execution and how Georgia measures them on a day-to-day basis…

“It’s a measurement, we call it playing clean and taking MA’s, mental assignments, and we miss assignments, and we chart those. You try to count one player. If you have ten one day, and he goes down to nine or eight—typically earlier in the week when we are installing things—they are higher. They go down as the week goes on, that’s the only quantitative measure we have is the ability to chart that and see if we can reduce that. Each game is different because you can’t run the same plays in our conference and expect to be successful. You have to be able to window dress, eye-candy, move people around and try to take advantage of the defense. When you do that you create missed assignments for them and you. If we could just line up static and beat people it would be a lot easier.”

 

On whether Ole Miss’ offensive performance against Alabama encourages him in terms of what UGA’s offense could do against Alabama…

“I am not into comparisons Chip, to be honest with you. We are not Ole Miss. We don’t run the same offense. I think Ole Miss did a tremendous job, and I think if you watch Ole Miss’ tape and you actually watched the previous two games, there is a lot Ole Miss did that other teams did. It’s a copycat profession. It’s a copycat league. Lane [Kiffin] does a really good job scheming things. He understands what defenses are trying to do especially that defense. He was able to take advantage of those things with a really athletic quarterback. A lot of it had to do with tempo. You create sloppy play when you go tempo. That is no offense to Ole Miss, that’s no offense to Alabama. I see it with us. If somebody goes tempo it gets really sloppy. At times, offensively, we have gone tempo and it gets really sloppy. I think you just have to be aware that that can happen, and you have to what you can do and do what your team and your quarterback allows you do to.”

 

On whether the changes Alabama’s offense has undergone is something he notices when watching Alabama film…

“I feel like the last two times we’ve played [Alabama], they were scoring that many points. The time we played them with Tua [Tagovailoa], we went into the game thinking they may score a thousand. They had all those wideouts, and they were really, really good then, and I felt like they scored lots of points then. They also had some really good defensive players along with those teams, which is what made them great. I don’t see this team as being completely different, made up of those teams. Now, it’s different than when I was there, probably. Yeah, I agree with you there. We weren’t as prolific passing it when I was there, but since the two times we’ve played them, I feel like [the offense] has been pretty similar.”

 

On an update on Jermaine Johnson and James Cook…

“They’ve both practiced the last two days and have been full go, and we’re expecting them to be able to play.”

 

On whether Ole Miss’ tempo that was ‘so effective against Alabama’ is something UGA can or would want to try against Alabama this weekend…

“I don’t know that all that’s true. It’s not who we are. It’s not the team that we are. It’s certainly who Lane [Kiffin] is. He’s done that and has been successful doing that where he’s been even when he was at Alabama, but he’s kind of wholesale and done that. It’s not all tempo; it’s a lot of tempo and keeping you off balance and trying to you, but everybody does that now. It’s not a team that says, ‘Oh, we’re not going to go tempo at a time.’ I would just say that Ole Miss does it more frequently, and they probably did it even more frequently the other night to try to keep Alabama off balance. It helps when you get a couple first downs in a row and wear the defense down. Where you get in trouble with Alabama is when you can’t sustain the dive, and you go three-and-out or four-and-out or five-and-out. You can’t wear them down. If you’re able to drop the ball and convert third downs, which Ole Miss did, your defense gets winded.”

 

On whether he has seen coaches, like Lane Kiffin, choosing not to sub on offense and the purpose of that…

“Lane doesn’t, that’s exactly right. No, he doesn’t. He goes really fast and tries to not allow the defense to sub to wear them down, and there were a couple points in that game where it was tough. I mean, I’ve been there defensively. You’re like, ‘Man.’ It doesn’t matter what you call; your guys are gassed, and you know what? The other guys are gassed, too. It’s not always pretty football. It can turn sloppy, and it’s not the football I’m used to seeing in the SEC, but it’s the football that I’ve seen in other conferences at times and it does usually produce offensive numbers.”

 

On how Georgia finds an edge and what the defense needs to do to succeed against Alabama, the nation’s leading-scoring offense…

“Well, I don’t know. I’m excited to go see. I’ve always loved the challenge, and we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got a good offense. The game will come down to a lot more than just those two units, I can assure you that. It’ll boil down to how our offense and their defense play and the special teams, but I’m excited to see it. I know our guys are excited about the challenge. I’m sure, offensively, it’s the same for them. They’ve heard about our defense and our defense has heard about their offense, so it’s a great opportunity for both units to go out and compete and go play, but I’m excited to see it. It’s going to boil down to the line of scrimmage, like it always does. They have success running it, and they’ll have a great play-action game. If they don’t, you try to make them one-dimensional, and that’s hard to do against Alabama.”

 

On whether there is anything Georgia defense can do to step up and create more havoc plays/get more pressure on the quarterback…

“Oh yeah, there’s a ton we can do better. Our defensive staff has done a great job of harping on the fundamentals. I think that fundamentals are a foregone conclusion, like it’s lost in football now. Everybody’s defenses are just giving up. They’re just like, ‘Okay, let’s get the ball back from the offense. Let’s try to cause turnovers and sacks and give up big plays, and either they score or they don’t.’ We’re trying every day to do something fundamentally, and I’m a big believer in, ‘Alright, let’s take this block protection. Let’s take this tackling. Let’s take this hook and swat.’ We’re trying to take little, small things each day and get better at them for the kids, so they can enjoy them, because they show up in games. We show a clip of a drill, and then it happens in the game, [and] we’re like, ‘Hey, I’m glad we did that drill.’ We didn’t just go rep plays. It’s not a magic potion. It’s good players, and it’s a playing sound, fundamental defense, but we’ve got to do it this week, and tackling will be the challenge this week, because you’re not tackling your average players anymore. You’re tackling some really good ones.”

 

On how important Jordan Davis will be this week considering the size of Alabama’s offensive line…

“It’s extremely important. It’s huge, because the movement in the middle. If I had about three Jordan Davises, I’d feel a lot better, because we need to be able to match up with [Alabama players] Evan Neal and [Alex] Leatherwood and all the big guys they’ve got. But we’ve got some guys who will go in there and fight, and we’ve got some depth, so going to try and use those guys all we can.”

 

On updates about Tommy Bush and Owen Condon…

“Tommy is going to be out for a little bit and had some surgeries—some dental work—he’s had to get done. Owen is practicing, but we’re fighting to get him back. He’s hopeful for the game.”

 

On how he balances not overloading players while running different plays…

“There are only so many snaps during a game. So offensively or defensively, we’ve ranged from 65 to 85 snaps in a game. You can’t carry so many, some of those plays, you can’t run them. You have to do a good job with that balance. Basically, we’ll carry as much as we can that they can handle. Defensively right now we can handle a little more because of the experience and offensively we can handle a little less because of the lack of experience. That’s just where we are. Hopefully the cumulative effect of each game, each week, it grows where something carries over for a kid. Maybe you put something in and you don’t use it. You keep it in on the menu and you keep adding stuff. We’re doing the best job we can to get these guys ready to play. It’s just a matter of how much they can handle and how much they can execute. I want them to play fast and not have to think.”

 

#2 Richard LeCounte | Senior | DB

On if there is an awareness that teams will try and take shots at the secondary…

“That’s what any team in football, with the defense, there are opposing teams that are looking at your previous games and trying to figure out a flaw to capitalize on the game. I think there will be a few things that the opponents that we’re going up against in the next few weeks will try to exploit. That’s something that we’re preparing for. We practice for all those things. We come in and make corrections for them the week before and we move on to the next game.”

 

On facing up-tempo teams…

“In practice, we’ve been practicing very fast. Making sure that we don’t lose our fundamentals in fast ball periods being able to tackle and wrap up. Just doing the little things good so we don’t have to be one of those teams that experience that type of breakdown.”

 

On taking pride in playing in a good fundamental defense…

“That’s something we’ve started to emphasize since we’ve been back. Starting up everything back up, there’s nothing that our defense is going to change. We’re going to keep things basic. We’re going to check all the boxes off and be the defense of Georgia that’s been known for plenty of years, the last four, five years. Just bolting our feet down and making teams do it the long and hard way. That’s something we pride ourselves on. 11 guys to the ball, 11 guys playing together. That’s something that you can always count on coming from that Georgia defense. We practice like there isn’t going to be a tomorrow. We hit each other, we thud each other. That’s just the way football is meant to be played, keeping the defined principles, defined.”

Georgia’s Monty Rice Named Bednarik Award Player Of The Week

Georgia inside linebacker Monty Rice (32) during the Bulldogs' game with Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Photo by Walt Beazley)

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia senior linebacker Monty Rice has been named the Chuck Bednarik Award Player of the Week, according to an announcement from the Maxwell Football Club.

The Bednarik Award has been given to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player each year since 1995.  David Pollack earned the honor for the Bulldogs in 2004.  Current Chicago Bear Roquan Smith was Georgia’s last finalist for the accolade in 2017.

Rice, a native of Huntsville, Ala., led the Bulldogs in tackles for the second straight game and scored his first career touchdown during Georgia’s 44-21 rout of No. 14 Tennessee.  He tallied eight stops, including a pair of tackles for loss.  One of Rice’s TFL was a strip-sack that he recovered and returned 20 yards for the Bulldogs’ final touchdown.  Rice directed a defense that held the Vols to minus-1 yards rushing and without a point in the second half.

The No. 3 Bulldogs (3-0 SEC) travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face No. 2 Alabama (3-0 SEC) on Saturday.  CBS will televise the matchup at 8 p.m. ET.

Georgia-Kentucky kickoff at 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. ET

            ATHENS——— The Saturday, Oct. 24, Southeastern Conference football game between Georgia and Kentucky in Lexington will kick off at either 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. ET according to an announcement Monday by the SEC office.

            Kick off time will be finalized following games on Oct. 17.  The 7:00 p.m. kick time will be televised by ESPN while the 7:30 kick will be on the SEC Network.

            Georgia’s all time record on ESPN is 52-34-1.  The Bulldogs’ record when televised by the SEC Network is 19-3.

Smart, Bulldogs Preview Alabama Game

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart before the Bulldogs' game with Tennessee in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020.. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker)

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart and several Bulldog student-athletes offered the following comments on Monday. 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement … 

“We are moving forward and have been getting prepared for this game since really yesterday morning. We will have our first practice today. I’ve got a lot of respect for these guys, having worked there for a long time. They’ve got a really good program. They’ve got really good football players, physical at both the offensive and defensive lines, extremely physical and extremely big. They do a really good job in special teams. They are always well coached, play the best players on special teams, similar to the way we do. This is what college football is all about, so we are looking forward to the matchup.”

On the prolific offenses in college football and how Alabama has succeeded so well on offense … 

“What’s made them succeed well is players. They’ve got really good players. Sark [Steve Sarkisian] does a great job of implementing the system that the kids can execute. It’s based on really hard guys to cover outside. They’ve got one of, probably the best backs in the country if not one of the best backs in the country. Najee [Harris] runs the ball really hard, and they are massive upfront. So, offensively, they are not built like some of these teams that go tempo the whole time and go hurry-up the whole time. They can go up-tempo and they do tempo well, but they are really big, they can take shots down the field with explosive wideouts they have. They make you defend the entire field. 

“I think college football as a whole is more offensive because the rules lend it to be that way in terms of allowing — you can have linemen a little further down field in college, so the RPO game gets to be big. You can do tempo in college football at a lot higher rate. Tempo hasn’t been successful in the NFL because you get your quarterback hit and, to be honest with you, a lot of those NFL teams their linemen aren’t built to go tempo. They are not built to go 70, I mean 100 plays a game, and go really fast. A lot of the teams that have the most success statistically are tempo teams in college football. I think that has a lot to do with the success and the numbers you are seeing. Alabama capitalizes on a great system with a really good scheme and really good players.” 

On the 2007 overtime game in Tuscaloosa… 

“I thought we played a pretty good game defensively. I don’t remember a lot of it. It was not really high scoring for you to have some of the weapons they had at the time. Knowshon [Moreno] was a first-round pick. Matt [Stafford] was a first-round pick. I am sure they probably had another one, maybe a wideout somewhere in there what was a really good player, too. So, it was a good game. Went into overtime, and then they won the game on a really good throw and catch first play.”

On going to Tuscaloosa for the first time as a head coach and memories at Alabama … 

“The challenges to going back are playing a really good football team in a tough atmosphere. They will have as many as they can have and it will be as loud as they can possibly make it. In terms of going back, I don’t think I’ve been back since I’ve been the head coach at Georgia. I don’t think I’ve been back any. I don’t really remember.” 

On how Tommy Bush is doing and other injury updates … 

“Yeah, I think Warren [Ericson] and Ben [Cleveland] are going to be fine. A lot of their’s was fatigue. It was humid, and they wore down a little bit. We tried to sub in for them, but no injuries. 

“Tommy was in a minor accident. Thankfully, his health, he is safe. He’s got a little bit of a concussion. He’s got some injuries, but we are thankful that Tommy is ok because it was a dangerous situation.”

On what he’s learned about the Georgia offense through three games and the priorities for this week…

“The biggest thing is that when we execute, we are hard to stop. When we don’t execute, we go backwards. It’s that simple.  Everyone wants to make it about this or that. But if the guy has the right split and if the guy does the motion right, and we block it right and not cut one free, Stetson’s accurate and he finds people, we block it the correct way up front, we move people- we have success.  If we don’t move people, then we don’t. It’s not really complicated. It’s more a matter of can we execute at a high level and are our players good enough to move their players.”

 

On if the magnitude of this game is lessened because it’s a regular season game, compared to the last two times his teams have faced Alabama and the roster turnover since those games…

“The magnitude of every game, as you well know, is huge. It’s the next game. And probably in a season where you’re not playing out of conference games, every game is really important because we are playing all SEC opponents. Obviously, the magnitude of those last two, we all know what they were and what they were for, so I can’t weigh the magnitude.  It’s hard for me to compare those things because there’s not a game that I’ve played in where the magnitude wasn’t great.”

 

On the resiliency of the Bulldogs after taking decisive wins in two games when trailing at halftime…

“It shows me what we can be if we do that the whole time. My focus is on why are we not doing that from the start. Why are we not executing better from the start and dominating the opponent instead of keeping people in the game. We have to do a better job of dominating from start to finish. That’s the focus, is how we can do that better. I am proud of how they have responded.  They responded by coming out and playing physical. And we still didn’t execute with certainty in the second half of those games. Not the way that we’re capable of.”

 

On mistakes and penalties in the first half and how the players deal with that and make corrections …

“You have to try to prepare and get guys to execute at a higher level. You can’t say do less with them. You have to do what you have to do to give yourself a chance to win.  As a coach, you can’t be afraid to challenge your players in terms of execution and asking them to understand what it is the scheme is you want to do. You can’t sit there and say I’m not going to move anybody, I’m not going to shift anybody. I have to be able to go play. We have to get better at that. We have to grow up on offense, defense, and special teams. And grow up faster. There’s no time to be patient in a schedule like we’ve got.”

 

On if he can motivate his players in the same way for this game against Alabama, compared to the championship games…

“I don’t think players need motivating. I really don’t. Not for this game in any scenario. They don’t need motivating. It’s No. 2 versus No. 3.  It’s Alabama versus Georgia. They realize what’s at stake. I don’t think it’s about the motivation. I don’t get into comparing the matchup, this one to the other games, those teams have almost completely turned over. When you look at their team and our team- there’s not many guys who played in those games.”

On how Stetson Bennett has taken command of the team…

“I honestly think he’s just himself. He doesn’t try to be someone else. He doesn’t try to artificially lead or fake it. He never did that while he was trying to compete for the job and he hasn’t done it since he got the job. Stetson is who he is, and I think the skill players on offense, the offensive line, they all trust him and rally around him because they know he understands what we’re trying to do offensively and he can put them in good situations. The defensive players have all seen him play and see what Stetson’s about, so he does it his own way, which is doing very little in terms of trying to vocally lead. He leads by example and he encourages guys and helps guys a lot.”

 

On lessons learned from Nick Saban that have carried into his career…

“Focus on the task at hand. I thought he was always a master of that, of not really having the highs and lows, the emotional spells of a coach, and was focused on what’s important now.”

 

On the defensive performances in the second half…

“I’ve seen some energy. I thought in all three games they became more energized in the most important moments of the game in the second half. They’ve increased the intensity and played really hard. I think some of that is we play a lot of players. So, when you boil down to it, hopefully, we’re fresher than the opponent. I know in the first couple of games, it was very warm in two of them where you wear somebody down and you can take advantage of your depth in the second half and see yourself playing faster than the opponent. It’s something we’ve got to continue to work on and get better at because we always haven’t been that way in the first half. We certainly had a second half against Auburn that was a lackluster couple drives where they converted a lot of third downs. You can’t be a good team consistently and do that, and we’ve got to help our offense by getting the ball back.”

 

On the running back situation…

“I’ve been really pleased with the backs. I think protecting the ball is really key for us and having great ball security, which it always is. They run hard after contact and break tackles. Each one is a little different than the other, and James [Cook] certainly brings an exciting quality to our offense and brings a different flair than some of the other guys. We expect to have him back. To be honest, we thought he could’ve gone emergency Saturday. We felt good about him being able to go should we have needed him Saturday. We have good depth there right now, so we’re hoping he’ll be 100 percent healthy and ready to go.”

 

On the Alabama offensive line against Georgia’s defensive line…

“They’re just massive. Even as good of offensive lines as we’ve had, and you throw Andrew [Thomas], Isaiah [Wilson], and Solomon [Kindley] for us, those guys were big people, but these guys. They have a guard bigger than Soli. They’ve got tackles that are bigger than Andrew and Isaiah in a lot of ways. It’s just a big group. They can swallow you up. They can move you; they can mash you. [Alex] Leatherwood played against us in the National Championship Game. He came in and played, and I thought he played really well in that game for a freshman. They’ve got experience. It’s certainly a really good group of veteran offensive line guys that help them be successful offensively.”

 

On encouraging the team …

“Yeah, you know I don’t think the psyche or the disposition of most of these kids is that way. Our kids all got recruited by Alabama. They know Alabama’s players. They played in all-star games with Alabama’s players. All of these kids know each other, now. It is just so different. They don’t necessarily see it by wins and losses and just championships. Our guys have played LSU two years in a row. They played Alabama two years in a row before that. There’s enough of our players that have played Alabama two games that know it’s a physical brand of football. It’s a physical game. We played them twice, and it wasn’t like they didn’t feel like they couldn’t beat them.”

 

On finishing the game better against Alabama…

“I think it’s a confidence level. It’s an execution level. At the end of the day most games come down to the fourth quarter when you have two talented football teams. In both cases, we have to finish better. A lot of that comes through maturity, execution—all of the little things you have to do right at the end of the game to give yourself a chance to win.”

 

On Jaylen Waddle and the challenges he brings as a wide receiver and his contribution to special teams…

“He is as dynamic and electric as I have seen. He touches the ball—you can see it on tape—it pops off and it’s really not just special teams.  They find ways all over the field to get him the ball. They move him around. They motion him. They give him touches, every way you can. Shame on them if they don’t because he is electric when he touches the ball. He is just a really, really good football player. He is tough. He runs the ball tough. He is physical. There are a lot of challenges there for us with him. He creates a lot of issues.”

 

On his mentality of treating all games the same and for a game with this high of expectations does he coach or go into the game any different…

“No. I don’t think so. You coach every game to win, and that is what we will always do here. If you make this one bigger than the rest the one the next week won’t be. I know for you guys it’s not that way, but for us it has to be because every team we play on our schedule is capable of beating us. You have to prepare the same and be very consistent in your message and preparation for your players.”

 

On what contributed to the split safety looks, high looks and Stetson Bennett being able to check the runs in the middle of the field during the Tennessee game…

“I think it’s just how Tennessee plays. Every team is different. Every team has a different philosophy. Some believe in closing the middle field. Some believe in leaving it open. Some believe in [8] man. Some believe in zone. Some believe in pressure. Some believe in drops. That’s Tennessee’s philosophy—they believe in protecting the secondary and not giving up big plays, and that is just the way they played us.”

 

On what he makes of Lane Kiffin discussing the group text between him, Kiffin, Will Muschamp and Jeremy Pruitt/his thoughts on the hype around Nick Saban’s record against former assistants…

“[Lane Kiffin] revealed the text messages, not me. That’s Lane being Lane. I’m not interested in that. He can do whatever he wants to do. He did it all last week—that’s Lane’s personality. As far as the record, I mean what’s everybody’s record against Coach [Nick] Saban. Everybody always makes it about the assistants, and I always laugh because I don’t think anybody in the last 10 years that has a really good record against him in terms of that. It is not something I try to focus on. I focus on what’s going to allow us to play good.”

 

On implementing George Pickens more in different areas of the field similar to what Alabama does with Jaylen Waddle…

“I don’t think [George] Pickens is like [Jaylen] Waddle. They are different type players. Both are really good players, but they are different types of guys. Waddle is a big return guy, George is not really in our return game. George does a really good job, and we certainly have to find ways to get George the ball. I couldn’t agree with you more. Some of it is dictated by what the other team does and some of it is dictated by what we have to do. They certainly do a good job of doing that—getting Waddle the ball.”

— UGA Player Quotes —

#87 Tre’ McKitty | Graduate Student | TE

On whether he remembers watching previous Georgia-Alabama National Championship game and whether he ever imagined he would play for UGA against Alabama one day…

“Yeah, for sure. I sat on my couch and watched it, actually. I never thought about playing for Georgia in the Alabama game but I’m just glad to be here. I know those [UGA-Alabama] games were extremely competitive and exciting to watch, and I can only imagine what it is going to be like playing in it.”

On his transfer to UGA/how his injury during fall camp has affected him this season…

“I was just in the middle of camp and fell on my knee, and I took a somewhat minor knee injury and had to be sidelined for a few weeks. It was definitely hard to sit on the sidelines and watch my guys out there working, especially for the first two games, but definitely super blessed and exciting to be out there this last week and continue to play the rest of the season with my guys.”

On the reason he chose to transfer to Georgia…

“I always liked Georgia growing up [and] took an official here coming out of high school and just wasn’t the time then, but everything happens for a reason. I came into the portal at the beginning of this year and had some great conversations with Coach Smart and Coach Hartley, and I knew Coach Monken was coming in with the NFL style offense, and it was something I wanted to be a part of.”

#69 Jamaree Salyer | Junior | OL

On what Alabama’s defensive style up front is like…

“Big, athletic guys just like us. They play a physical brand of football. [Georgia and Alabama] are two very similar programs. They get after it, we get after it, so it’ll be fun to see that competition.”

On the environment he expects to encounter Saturday night in Tuscaloosa/what his primary mindset is going to be… 

“I think it’ll be a wild environment, even with the stadium restrictions and fan restrictions. I think it’ll still be a wild environment. At Sanford, it’s been a wild environment, so I can only imagine what it’s going to be like at Bryant-Denny, but it’s going to be a fun game. I’m excited for the challenge, to be able to compete against a program like [Alabama] that’s been notoriously good for so long. It’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be a fun environment. I know our guys are hype, they’re ready to go, and we’re ready to compete.”

On what Stetson Bennett is like…

“Stetson is confident. He’s confident in himself, and he’s a competitor. Stets goes out there and gives it everything he’s got every day. He doesn’t like to lose. You can just see that on the job when he came in at Arkansas. He was out there having fun, completing third downs, getting first downs. He was having fun, and he has fun competing. For me, being able to protect a guy like that and to listen to to a guy like that, and look up to a guy like that — there’s nothing more you could want from a quarterback. He’s a guy who doesn’t like to lose. Jake [Fromm] was very similar in that way. They’re both just guys who don’t like to lose. That’s Stetson all day. Stets is going to go out there and compete, and he’s going to give you everything he’s got on every play, and he’s not going to fold on you when things get tough.”

#27 Eric Stokes | Junior | DB

On if the game against Alabama being a regular season makes it easier…

“We are going to treat this like any other game. If it’s the SEC Championship or a regular season game, we just want to go 1-0 every week.”

On how he gets the talk about Alabama out of his head and how they improve…

“We have coach [Dan] Lanning every Monday show us what we can work on. Like today, there’s still a lot of things that we need to do to get better at and improve. We gave up touchdowns and plays throughout the whole game. There are still a lot of little things to work on to be the best team that we can be.”

On if the team he is on now eclipses teams from the past…

“We have a deep unit this year that I absolutely love. I can say that I’m a leader now because last year I always looked to J.R. [Reed]. To be one of the leaders it’s tremendous. Seeing the younger buy into what I do, it just feels different.”

#99 Jordan Davis | Junior | DL

On if he carries any previous moments or memories from the last few meetings with Alabama…

“Alabama is always a tough, challenging game. I always take into consideration on how well they’re coached, how they push and it’s an amazing challenge. Every game is a business trip, so I want to focus on us this week, going to Alabama and doing our thing.”

On his objective every game…

“It’s definitely a ‘do my job’ type thing. I play for the linebackers, I know they’re going to make more plays than I am, so if I can hold up the offensive line the linebackers can eat off me.”

On the feeling in the huddle when the team starts to dominate…

“The last game at halftime we told ourselves to stay positive, because we’ve been in this position before. We never waivered, we never fault ourselves, we just wanted to come out strong and make sure we stop them. Obviously, their offense made a lot of plays, but at the end of the day we just wanted to have one more point than they did.”

Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari Named SEC Defensive Lineman Of The Week

Georgia outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (13) during the Bulldogs' game with Tennessee in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020.. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker)

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia redshirt sophomore Azeez Ojulari has been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week, according to a league announcement.

This marks the first SEC weekly honor for Ojulari in his career.  This is also the Bulldogs’ third weekly honor this season (Sept. 28, P Jake Camarda – Special Teams; Oct. 5, OG Ben Cleveland, Offensive Lineman).

Ojulari, a native of Marietta, Ga., finished with five stops, including two sacks, two forced fumbles and one recovered fumble during the Bulldogs’ third straight win.  He had a strip-sack and recovery, which gave Tennessee its first turnover on the year, on the opening series of the second half that came with Georgia trailing 21-17.

Ojulari followed that up three series later with another sack that forced the Vols to punt.  Georgia scored on the ensuing series to distance themselves at 30-21.  Ojulari led the attack against Tennessee in the second half as the Vols were held to 71 yards on 39 plays and only 214 total yards on offense during the game.

The No. 3 Bulldogs (3-0 SEC) travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face No. 2 Alabama (3-0 SEC) on Saturday.  CBS will televise the matchup at 8 p.m.