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Georgia’s Dan Lanning Named Broyles Award Finalist

Georgia Fain and Billy Slaughter Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning during a press conference at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia Fain & Billy Slaughter Defensive Coordinator/outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning has been named one of five finalists for the 2019 Broyles Award, which is presented to college football’s assistant coach of the year.

 

Lanning is one of two coaches from the Southeastern Conference on the list, including LSU passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Joe Brady.  The other finalists include: Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow, Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jeff Hafley and Utah defensive coordinator/safeties coach Morgan Scalley.  Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart won the 2009 honor and was a finalist in 2015 while at Alabama.

 

The five finalists are invited to travel to Little Rock, Ark., on Dec. 10 where the 2019 Broyles Award winner will be announced.

 

In his first year as defensive coordinator and second with the Bulldogs, Lanning has helped Georgia’s defense transform into one of the nation’s best.  The Bulldogs lead the SEC in Scoring Defense at 10.4 points/game (No. 2 nationally), Rushing Defense at 71.0 yards/game (No. 2 nationally) and in Total Defense at 257.0 yards/game (No. 4 nationally).  The Bulldogs have allowed just 125 points in 2019 and only one rushing touchdown.

 

Georgia ranks third nationally in Red Zone Defense.  The Bulldogs are on the verge of setting several all-time UGA marks.  The school record for fewest average points allowed in a season with 12 or more games is 14.5 in 2003.  The fewest points allowed in a season with 12 or more games is 198 in 2004.  The defense has posted 31 scoreless quarters, including shutouts against Arkansas State (55-0), Kentucky (21-0) and Missouri (27-0).

 

The No. 4 Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1 SEC) face No. 2 LSU (12-0, 8-0) in the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.  CBS will televise the matchup at 4 p.m.

Smart, Bulldogs Preview SEC Championship Game

ATHENS, Ga. —  University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against LSU. The Bulldogs and Tigers kick off at 4 p.m. ET. 

On Monday, Coach Smart and student-athletes offered the following comments. 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement … 

“On to the big one. We have an exciting football opportunity to play what I think is one of the best teams in the country, as explosive as a team as I have probably ever watched on tape. I don’t even know what the numbers say. Obviously, the numbers say they’re really good. But I don’t go by that. I go by what I see on tape and they do a tremendous job.

Defensively, we have had them on tape, I know we overlapped on Auburn and Florida. And I think [Defensive Coordinator] Dave Aranda does a tremendous job. They have a very experienced secondary, talented up front, play a lot of players, just a tremendous overall program. And what Coach [Ed] Orgeron has been able to do with his program from the standpoint of winning big games, I mean, playing top-25, top-10 opponents, I think he’s been as good as anybody in the country. And I have a lot of respect for him, always have. I’ve known him for a long time. And his teams take on his personality, which is toughness, physical, and cut it loose.

So this will be as great a challenge as we have had, I know since I’ve been here as far as playing an opponent. And our players have earned this opportunity. We didn’t back our way into this game. We earned our way into this game. And we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play in what is probably one of the greatest stages, I said it over and over, in all of college football.”

On using the underdog role as motivation … 

“No, we really don’t bring that up. What we worry about is what do we have to do to execute well. And I don’t get into who is favored by how many or underdogs. It’s just not important because the people that make those decisions aren’t in this room. They’re not, like, in our meeting rooms, they’re not in our meetings, they don’t go there through our practices. So we try to control what we can control with how we practice and how we get ready. And as many of the games we’re favored in, it doesn’t matter, so if you’re not favored in it probably doesn’t matter either.”

On if he relishes the challenge as a defensive guy going against an explosive offense … 

“I probably did until about yesterday afternoon. I started watching the tape and then you realize that there really aren’t weaknesses. I mean, arguably one of the best backs in the country. I mean, just vicious attack, you spin, you hit, you — in the biggest games Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been one of the biggest players. Joe Burrow speaks for himself. I could go on and on. Wideouts, tight ends, they’ve got five, really, returning starters on their offensive line. They got defensive players. They got an outstanding all around team. It’s a tremendous opportunity to measure where you are as a team when you get an opportunity to play a team like this that is firing on all cylinders. I mean, there’s no such thing as a perfect game. Nobody will ever play it. But what they did last week on A&M was pretty incredible in all three phases.”

On if there is any advantage having experience in this game … 

“Experience is valuable. I think the experiences in the Mercedes Stadium, the routine, you go over there Friday, you walk through, we don’t typically walk through where we play. Well, this is a different deal, so we go over there and walk through where we play and a lot of our kids have done that a couple times now, but we’ve got 20 or so guys that have never done it because they’re freshmen and it will be their first time. So I don’t think that’s a big advantage by any means, but our kids have played in it. Like I said yesterday on the teleconference, their kids have played in a ton of big games. It’s not going to be any different for them or us when you play in the SEC and the stage you play on. Week-in and week-out you’re playing on CBS in front of the largest crowds in the country.”

On defense winning championships and how true that is in today’s college football … 

“You’ve got to play good football to win, period. I don’t know that the adage defense wins championships stands as much as it used to. When you saw scores from the ’60s and the ’70s and the ’80s and you saw scores of games it was indicative of defense, compared to now. Now, it’s like I got to play pretty good defense and I got to score a lot of points. I can’t play horrific defense. I can’t play bad defense, but I might not have to be perfect, is the way a lot of teams have had success. They probably take more chances and risk and they just score tons of points. That’s not, I’m not talking about LSU. I’m just talking about college football. I think LSU plays really good defense and they are explosive on offense. But an explosive offense allows you to play a certain way on defense, too, because you know that you’re going to score a certain amount of points. Sometimes that changes things. But I can’t say, because you could go over the history of the last 10 years, still there’s been some really good defenses that have won national championships. The Alabama ones, the Clemson ones. A lot of them get overshadowed by really good offenses, but there’s been some good defenses winning.”

On if there is a transition period for a quarterback when there is a new coach in the case of Jake Fromm … 

“No, I don’t think so. We really don’t have a new quarterback coach because it’s the same guy that did it last year. Different coordinator. But I don’t think, if anything, they’re probably on, better on the same page because they’re in a second year of being in the room together. So I think that’s a big part of growth and growing up, being able to do things. Biggest difference this year is who is healthy, who is out there playing. I mean, three guys are in the NFL that were out there playing last year and, really, five when you count Holyfield and Nauta. So there’s not been a level of consistency with the perimeter skill that there probably was last year. That’s the biggest difference.”

On the Georgia defense leading the SEC in nearly every category compared to previous defenses he’s coached … 

“It’s a hard comparison. I mean, first of all, our defensive staff, I give tremendous credit to the coaches on our staff. I don’t take credit for that myself just because I’m a defensive guy. I think our coaching staff, [Dan] Lanning, [Glenn] Schumann, Charlton [Warren] and Tray Scott have done a tremendous job. Our players have done a tremendous job of working hard, buying in. Look, we don’t have natural star power on our defense that a lot of the defenses I’ve been a part of that were successful had that. They had three or four first rounders. This group plays really hard and well together. They’re well coached and they’re fundamentally sound. But this, obviously, will be the ultimate test, best offensive unit we have played all the way around, really not even close.”

On if he looks at last year’s Georgia-LSU game in Baton Rouge … 

‘You always watch it. You have it in your breakdowns. You look at things, you look at matchups, you look at guys, playing guys, covering guys, because a lot of the guys are the same and you look at those things. But schematically, they’re different. They hurt us with some things last year. Some of the things they hurt us with last year they still do. Some of them they don’t. They’re just a really different team from an offensive perspective. From a defensive perspective, they’re not exactly the same team, but they’re more similar.”

On where the decision comes from to call a fake punt or a fake field goal in big games…
“I think you just work on things. You are always looking for an advantage. No different than Geoff Collins and them last week with Georgia Tech. You’re saying that if I get an opportunity to steal a possession because I think someone’s unsound or not ready for something, then you try to give your kids a chance to win. I mean, you saw it last week in Auburn and Alabama. I mean, it was not a trick play. It was a maneuver to get an extra possession and they gained an extra possession at the right time and that’s big. So I think anytime you can find some advantage, some ability to do that, it’s important to do it. Just got to be calculated. You have to understand why you’re doing it and you hopefully are going to be successful at it. Otherwise it doesn’t look real good.

On having to give extra motivation to the rest of the receivers with Lawrence Cager out and George Pickens out for the first half…
“No, it’s very similar to last week. As far as, hey, guys, you’re going to get an opportunity to play. Step up and make plays. We had some guys do that. We had some guys catch balls that haven’t caught balls in a long time or very little all year. And they made some good plays. You’re going to get one-on-one opportunities when you play in our offense because of the run game. So you have to win your 50/50 opportunities. You have to take advantage of it. And it will be very similar to last week in regards to not who we’re playing but the guys on the field.”

On what makes LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire so difficult to play against…
“Baller. I mean, he is a football-playing machine. When they cut out a running back and say, this is going to be a running back, this guy is as explosive quickness — he makes the best football tacklers in our conference miss. So when you got football players that are playing against him from Auburn, Florida, Alabama, and he’s making them miss, you get immediate respect with the toughness that he runs with. And I mean, the kid is, he’s got an incredible drive and ability and willingness to break tackles and toughness that I just respect. He plays the game the way it should be played, and they play him an awful lot because he’s really good.”

On getting James Cook the ball and utilizing him more…
“He has been utilized quite a bit. When he’s been healthy, he’s been out there a good bit. Some of them are what we call PRO’s, which I talked about before. So they’re controlled by what the defense gives us, not by touches necessarily for him. In the last couple weeks we have given him a few more carries. It boils down to us, really, saying, all right, who are the best football players to give us the best opportunity to win. And he’s at a position where it’s more shared. To be a wideout and go out there and play wideout, that’s not a natural position for him. So the things he’s able to do, the things he’s really strong at, are best around the back field. We happen to have other strong guys in those areas. So we’re trying to find ways to get him the ball.”

On if the rotation and use of Ben Cleveland, Solomon Kindley, Cade Mays and Jameree Salyer is based on rhythm or matchups…

“No, it’s a practice thing. It’s who practices the best, who gives us the best chance to win, who is playing the best within the game, who is prepared, who is doing the best job of communication based on fronts, and who is pass pro-ing. So, basically, whoever is playing better, we try to play.”

On what LSU’s offensive line provides in pass protection and run blocking…

“Great experience. Look across the board, all five of them have played a ton of games, they communicate really well, they have got a great system to help those guys out, whether it’s chipping in protection to protect them on one-on-ones. They got a really good complimentary run game, they do a tremendous job of making decisions at the line, they’re in the right play very often because people can’t play them in hard boxes because of their wideouts, so it allows them to be really, really successful at checking run, checking pass off of looks and making things look the same and being able to do different things off of them. And their offensive line is the key to that because they’re the ones that protect the quarterback.”

On Jake Fromm’s comfort level with Dominick Blaylock… 

“I think that’s been the case with each of the wideouts. (Jake) has had so many different guys in the lineup that he’s familiar with them, he’s comfortable with them, I think he likes Dom, because Dom is a guy that is constantly working, he’s where he’s supposed to be, he runs the right route, he runs it the right depth. Jake has a trust with all those guys but he and Dom have grown for sure.”

On the confidence level with the depth of the running backs… 

“Very confident. Zamir (White) had some good games and gotten to play more and more, we’re trying to find ways to use him. James (Cook) the same way, and Kenny (McIntosh) got to go in the game and did some good things the other day, so I feel very comfortable about the other guys. Obviously (D’Andre) Swift has a different skill set probably as a total package than all of them, and we want him to be in there, but we have got some depth at that position that we can use guys.”

On the fan support and Georgia fans traveling to away games…

“Yeah, I think it helps. Our guys love any environment. A lot of players will probably tell you they like a hostile environment more than they like a home environment because they like to go in and get in front of the other team’s fans and play well and be motivated by that. I certainly like the fact that you can go on the road and in certain locales and take over a stadium. It says a lot about your fan base and the passion they have for the game. But we know in the SEC that’s tough, because you’re going to find very few places you can do that.”

On the importance older players mentoring the younger players on the team…  

“Well it’s important to have a big brother. I mean, we all have mentors and you grow. A young player, I mean, young players across the country, you have to grow up. And when you have an older player, that’s able to help you with that, I think it’s always a benefit and we’re always trying to get our guys to help out the younger players in every facet.”

#77 Cade Mays | Sophomore | OL

On the challenges LSU’s defense presents for Georgia…

“They’re a well-rounded defense. They’ve got a great front seven, a good back and good secondary. They’re very deep on the D-line and linebackers.”

On whether the fact that Georgia has gone to the SEC Championship before helps going into this year’s…

“It definitely helps our whole team. We’ve been in big games before, so it’s important we know not to let the moment be bigger than it is and live in the moment. The stadium is packed, and it’s one of the biggest games of the year. Everyone is hype.”

On how Jake Fromm has handled criticism this season…

“He’s definitely handled it well. He knows himself, and he’s true to himself. He comes out and works hard every single day, and he doesn’t let anything affect him. He’s focused on what he’s supposed to do.”

#87 Tyler Simmons | Senior | WR 

On what George Pickens can provide in the second half …

“I feel like it definitely can. I know, personally, Jake is very close to George and they have great timing. It can definitely give us some spark in the second half if it does come down to a close game.” 

On if you take responsibility to step up being the older guy…

“Yeah, like you said, I am the oldest guy in the room. I have the most experience. It is up to me to put myself on that higher pedestal and try and bring those young guys with me.”

#13 Azeez Ojulari | Redshirt-Freshman | OLB 

On what makes LSU different than previous teams…

“All of the weapons they have on offense is critical. They have their quarterback, a Heisman candidate, their receivers, great backs. They have talent all-around the offense.” 

On how Richard LeCounte’s energy helps the defense… 

“He brings it every day, every practice, every week. He brings that energy and he is a leader on the defense. He impacts other players because when he is going hard it makes other players go hard. He is doing it for the team, for the school, for his family. He brings that energy and leads the secondary and everyone follows along.” 

#94 Michael Barnett | Senior | DT

On how he would describe LSU’s offense…

“I feel like their offense is well rounded. They pass the ball really well, their receivers know where to be, their quarterback knows where they’re going to be. Timing is really well. Their running game is good. Their running back number 22 [Clyde Edwards-Helaire] is really good. Their offensive line is pretty solid up front.”

 

On Joe Burrow…

“He’s ready. He’s league ready. He knows where he wants to go with the ball. He knows the scheme, where the coaches what they want to do as far as what they want to do with the players and what not. He knows his wide outs and where they’re going to be. The timing is well. He’s a really good quarterback.”

 

On what it will take defensively to slow down LSU…

“Going into a game like this is really about honing in on your fundamentals. If you focus on the little things, the big things will come. As a defensive line, we’re supposed to know what we’re doing upfront. Linebackers making the right calls and safeties making the right adjustments. If we’re all in the right place, good things will come.”

Georgia’s strong second half caps off 52-7 win over Georgia Tech

by DAN MATHEWS

The end result of the 52-7 win for Georgia over Georgia Tech was much better than the game started.

The Bulldogs went to the half up just 17-7 over their rival Yellow Jackets. They had turned the football over twice and also seen a rare Rodrigo Blankenship missed field goal.

Quarterback Jake Fromm started the game by missing on his first four throws. He would finish up the afternoon in Atlanta by tying his career-high in touchdown passes with four.

Fromm improved his overall afternoon of passing, despite the slow start. This was his best performance in terms of yards (254), since he threw for 279 against Florida.

Georgia was without wide receiver George Pickens for the first half of the game, due to a violation of team rules, according to head coach Kirby Smart. He would then be ejected in the second half for fighting with Yellow Jackets cornerback Tre Swilling.

In his short time on the field, Pickens was able to score on a 41 yard touchdown pass from Fromm. He also drew a defensive pass interference and holding penalty on intended passes.

Smart confirmed after the game, that Pickens would be out of the first half of the SEC Championship Game next week. This goes along with the news that graduate transfer Lawrence Cager is indeed going to miss the SEC title game and likely a bowl game.

Cager’s absence has been noticeable in the performance of Jake Fromm. In the last three UGA games, Fromm has completed less than 50 percent of his throws.

The good news for Georgia, is that senior receiver Tyler Simmons was able to pull in some key catches on the afternoon. He ended the game as the team leader in catches, with three and one touchdown.

Georgia also lost junior running back D’Andre Swift to a left shoulder contusion in the second half of this game. Smart said in his postgame press conference that he did not believe that Swift’s injury was serious.

Defensively on the afternoon, Georgia only gave up that one touchdown to the Jackets. It came following a muffed punt return by freshman Dominick Blaylock. The conclusion was a six yard touchdown pass from James Graham to tight end Tyler Davis.

Dan Lanning’s group finished the game with six tackles for a loss. They also broke up seven passes.

Now, the attention turns to one of the most electrifying offensive groups in the country in LSU. The Tigers will enter the SEC Championship Game behind the likely Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Joe Burrow.

This highly productive UGA defense will have it’s hands full in trying to defend wide receivers Justin Jefferson, JaMarr Chase and Terrace Marshall. The offense can also run through tight end Thaddeus Moss and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

No. 4 Bulldogs Rout Yellow Jackets, 52-7

ATLANTA – The fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, 52-7.

 

Georgia shutout the Yellow Jackets in the second half, outscoring Georgia Tech 35-0.

Offensively, junior quarterback Jake Fromm completed 14 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns. His four touchdown passes tied a career best set last season against Georgia Tech.

 

On the ground, junior D’Andre Swift had 10 carries, accumulating 73 yards, leading the team in both categories. Senior Brian Herrien had eight carries for 46 yards and a touchdown.

 

The receiving corps was led by three completions by senior Tyler Simmons, who scored his first touchdown of the season. Sophomore James Cook completed two passes for 34 total yards.

 

On the defensive side of the ball, junior Monty Rice totaled eight tackles and a pass breakup.

 

Graduate place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship made one of two field goal attempts and extended his PAT-made streak to 197.

 

After being forced to punt on its first drive, Georgia then scored on three-straight drives, all of which were completed prior to the end of the first quarter.

 

Blankenship put the Bulldogs on the board first with 10 minutes left in the first quarter, connecting on a 49-yard field goal, his eighth from 40 or longer this season, 3-0 Georgia.

 

Georgia’s next scoring drive was punctuated with a two-yard Herrien rushing touchdown, 10-0 Bulldogs. It was Herrien’s sixth score of the season. The seven-play, 64-yard drive was highlighted by a 25-yard pass from Fromm to Simmons to the two-yard line, setting up Herrien’s touchdown.

 

On its next drive, senior Charlie Woerner caught a 20-yard pass from Fromm for his first career touchdown reception, widening the lead to 17-0 with 3:40 left in the first. D’Andre Swift rattled off an 18-yard rush on Georgia’s scoring drive, followed by a 12-yard rush by Simmons.

 

A fumble by Dominick Blaylock on a punt return was recovered by the Yellow Jackets on the Georgia 17-yard line at the 13:19 mark in the second quarter. The fumble set up the first Georgia Tech first down of the contest followed by a six-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Davis, breaking up the shutout, 17-7.

 

The fumble was the first turnover committed by the Bulldogs since the South Carolina game on Oct. 12.

 

Another Georgia fumble recovered by Georgia Tech put the Yellow Jackets on the 42-yard line. The drive resulted in a 27-yard field goal attempt which was wide right, keeping the Bulldogs’ lead at 17-7 with 3:33 left in the first half.

 

The first half came to a close on a missed 42-yard field goal attempt by Blankenship. The teams entered the locker room at half with Georgia leading 17-7.

 

Fromm completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Simmons, his first touchdown catch of the season, on the opening drive of the second half, reopening a 17-point lead for Georgia, 24-7.

 

Following a Georgia Tech punt that allowed Georgia to begin its drove on the Yellow Jacket 41-yard line, Fromm immediately connected with George Pickens on a 41-yard touchdown pass with 7:44 left in the third, 31-7 Georgia. The catch was Pickens’ sixth touchdown of the season.

 

The lead was widened on a Fromm touchdown pass to Blaylock with 4:28 left in the third, 38-7. The touchdown pass was Fromm’s fourth of the game, tying his career best set last season against Georgia Tech.

 

Redshirt-sophomore Stetson Bennett handed off to sophomore Otis Reese who punched in a two-yard touchdown with 11:19 left in the game, lengthening the lead to 45-7.

 

A Georgia Tech fumble in the endzone was picked up by sophomore Tyson Campbell with three minutes left in the game, finalizing Georgia’s lea at 52-7.

 

Up next, Georgia will face off against second-ranked LSU at Mercedes Benz Stadium in the Southeastern Conference Championship next Saturday. Kickoff on CBS is set for 4 p.m.

Georgia Continues Preparations for Georgia Tech

ATHENS, Ga. — The No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice on Tuesday in anticipation of the rivalry game against Georgia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta.

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart, along with offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, punter Jake Camarda, inside linebacker Monty Rice, and defensive back J.R. Reed, fielded questions from the media after practice. Excerpts from their sessions follow:

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

“Practices have been good. Spirits have been good. they practice really hard. We did a lot of good on good periods today, and a little bit light work yesterday a lot of special teams work. Players are doing a good job. I’m excited about where they are and it’s different defending some option elements that they have so it brings back memories last year but just not as extreme, so we got a good scout team. Some guys have been working on their place during extra periods last couple weeks, just to get used to. Some of the things that Georgia Tech guys offensively and they got some similarities to us defensively so it’s easy to give them a good picture.”

 

On his favorite Thanksgiving side and spending it with his family…

“Oh, my mom’s stuffing is probably the best. She does a great job with that. So, I enjoy the turkey and dressing and that’s kind of my favorite part is traditional and it’s, it’s my mom’s go to, so I enjoy it. My favorite part of Thursday is just being with my family and being thankful for all the blessings we have and my brother lives in town now so you can share it with his family as well. We have players come over from time to time- maybe the ones that couldn’t go (home) or have too far to go and get and enjoy just mainly eat. I usually would nap but I eat so late because we have to practice in the mid day, so by time I get home to eat there’s no nap it’s just bed. So we eat and then go to bed. Back in the day I was a napper.

 

On the future of D’Wan Mathis…

“He’s been cleared to do more. He’s been cleared to do practice, not take hits, so that prevents them from being able to play but he’s able to do more in practice. He’s been scout team quarterback to last couple weeks now and done a tremendous job. He helped with the Bo Nix scout team stuff. You know even last week with the scout team stuff because he’s able to simulate some of these guys we’ve played. So that’s been a big bonus for us. But as far as when is he going to be completely cleared, I’m not sure but it was a step up in clearance when he could go 11-on-11 and throw the ball in, and give us a look.

 

On what Jake Camarda has done to hone in on his powerful leg…

“I can’t say that he’s done anything to hone it in. He’s always had a powerful leg I mean that’s why we signed him. He was a tremendous kicker in high school and a great partner. He’s got great lift, I mean he lifts the ball on kicks really well too, as well as punts. I can’t pinpoint. He might be able to tell you better what exactly the trigger points have been. I think he’s just more comfortable in the moment. And he’s more experienced. He’s done a really good job making some big punts. I know the mindset side of things, the sports psychology side of things, he’s met with people and done stuff there and I think that’s helped him too.

 

On handling outside pressure…

“We have no consideration of anything outside of here. I mean we really don’t. We don’t have any control over it, so that the thought of those things never even cross my mind. I don’t look at them as punches. I don’t look at them as jabs because I don’t really listen to them. So that’s not motivation for me because if I need that for motivation then I’m not going to go where we need to go. You have to motivate because you want to be great. You have to motivate because you want to be better. It’s not about what people are saying or criticizing and they have a right to do that. I understand it and we’re critical of ourselves. We have a lot that we need to improve on and some of the things they’re saying they’re dead on. But that doesn’t motivate us. It’s just things we got to get better at.”

 

On Dan Lanning being named a Broyles Award Semifinalist…

“I think all our defensive coaches do a tremendous job. He’d be the first to tell you that what he’s been able to do is, number one, because of the players but number two because of the defensive staff. All those guys pulled together to do that. He just has to be the leader and the guy in charge of it all. He does a really nice job of motivating the players, he relates well to the players, the players believe in him, and he’s done a tremendous job, but all those defensive coaches have. Glenn Schumann is one of our co-defensive coordinators and he does just so much game planning as Dan does. He deserve just as much credit as Dan gets. Dan is just the guy that calls it on game day, and he’s done a good job.”

 

On if there are one or two things that could be done different and better for the team to play at a much higher level offensively…

“Yeah, you can always say that. You can say that about anything. We’re close to not playing well on defense, you know, we give up a bomb, if we give up plays, we have penalties. It doesn’t work that way. Certainly, we have games with flashes of red area, flashes of third down, flashes of being able to run the ball, but we haven’t put that that collective product together. I’ll tell you this, the offensive staff is working extremely hard on it, and there’s no stone unturned and the players are working really hard on it. They push each other every day in practice to do better, to get more. And it’s not a lack of effort in that department.”

 

On the status of Eric Stokes…

“He’s practiced. He has had a lot of contact but he’s done everything in practice just non- contact for a couple days. He’ll be contact tomorrow.

 

On the defense not giving up a play of more than 30-yards since South Carolina…

“It’s both (scheme and execution). I mean we’re definitely not bend but don’t break. We’ve been aggressive. Ask the teams we’ve played, they’ll tell you, we’ve been really aggressive. You’re going to give up some plays when you do that but you play at a really high level when you don’t. If you can be aggressive and not give up plays, who wouldn’t take that. For a couple games we’ve been able to do that. That’s a credit to the backends, credit to communication, it’s a credit to the signal caller. So a lot of things involved in that. But if you could take away some of those big plays, especially earlier in the year, it would certainly put us in a much better place.”

 

On J.R. Reed being a finalist for the Thorpe Award…

“He’s a leader of one of the best defenses in the country. I mean, statistically, he’s the quarterback. He makes all the checks, he makes all the calls. You guys know the stats better than me, but he’s the one that sits back there and makes the decisions for a defense that’s played really well this year. I’m proud of the way he’s played and I think part of getting awards is based on how your team does. I tell people all the time, you want national awards? Win football games. Together- Everyone- Achieves- More- Team. And when we do that, we have several guys out there for different awards. You get those things when you have team success and J.R. is no doubt a product of that team success and his hard work.”

 

#71 Andrew Thomas | Senior | OT

On the feelings of the team heading into the Georgia Tech game this weekend…

“It’s still a big rivalry. I remember back in 2016 — I wasn’t a part of the team yet, but I was at the game — when [Georgia Tech] beat us here at home. That stuck with a lot of guys here, so we just want to go out and play our best. I remember [Georgia Tech] tearing up the field and their guys having the Hedges in their mouths. [Georgia’s staff] actually put some some of those pictures [of Georgia Tech’s players] up in the weight room for when we’re working out.”

 

On whether he was upset that he wasn’t named a finalist for the Outland Trophy…

“I was upset about it, but it’s just motivation to keep working because there are still things I have to improve on, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

 

On what he attributes the offensive line’s failure to operate to Georgia’s standard…

“It’s the small things. It’s leverage, things of that nature. It’s the fundamentals where we seem to just be breaking down and we’ve got to focus on the basics of what we need to do.”

 

#90 Jake Camarda | Sophomore| PK/P 

On what he would attribute for his ‘breakthrough’ the last few games…

“I guess I’m feeling good. I just try to keep everything the same as it was at the beginning of the season… I go into every game knowing I’m probably going to have to punt at some time during the game. No matter what happens is what happens, so I try to focus on what I can control. If I end up punting, then I focus on doing the best job I can.”

 

On the importance of LS Steven Nixon for Camarda this season… 

“Steven is awesome. He’s definitely important, and it’s been awesome having Steven. He’s done an unbelievable job the year, and I’m very thankful to have him.”

 

On the ways he’s managed his confidence this season, particularly post-Notre Dame… 

“My confidence never really went down. I probably had a couple bad punts in the Notre Dame game, but I also shot a couple good balls in that game. One thing I’ve tried to do is just stay positive all year, no matter what happens. I think that’s kept my confidence level at a good place.”

 

#32 Monty Rice | Junior | ILB

On what the focus has been for Georgia in this week leading up to Georgia Tech…

“A lot of focus has been on getting better as a team. We’re focused on what [Georgia Tech] does and on knowing their tendencies.”

 

On what he knows about this rivalry/what the excitement is like to beat Georgia Tech…

“Coach Smart talked about it a little bit. I remember, when I was younger, watching [former Georgia Tech player] Joshua Nesbitt who was really good. [Georgia Tech] had [Deck] McGuire, too, and I remember watching them… It’s an in-state rivalry. You want to win the state and be state champs this week. It’s always good to beat Georgia Tech just because they have a lot of guys over there who take it personally when they play Georgia. It’s the last game of the season, so we want to go out with a bang… Winning is always good, but some wins are more exciting than others.”

 

On whether Georgia is balancing its focus on Georgia Tech and LSU at the same time…

“Our focus is on Georgia Tech. They’re a good team, and we can’t overlook them. They’ve got a lot of good players, too. Georgia Tech can make a bunch of plays, and their quarterback is very fast. They’ve got some good running backs who are some tough runners. They’ve even got receivers and guys in the slot. They make a lot of plays for them— the deep ball and other moves they make— so we’ve got to focus in on them.”

 

#20 J.R. Reed | Senior | DB

On his personal experiences with the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivals/what it means… 

“I learned about [the rivalry] when I first got here and the first time I actually had a practice for it and getting cut. That’s when I really, really started to grow a hate for Georgia Tech. [Winning this game] means you run the state. It’s bragging rights. We’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve got to do.”

 

On what his job entails…

“Most of my job that people don’t see is that I get people lined up all the time. That’s what I spend the majority of my game doing and the majority of my practice doing. I get guys lined up and just alert them of little things that are going to happen before the ball is snapped— pre-snap motions and things like that.”

 

On his memories of the Smart family from his time at Georgia…

“I’ve just enjoyed seeing the kids grow up, especially when I first got here and we first went to the lake. I love seeing that family and those kids. It’s always nice to see them and to be nice to them, because they’re good kids.”

Georgia’s Dan Lanning Named Broyles Award Semifinalist

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia Fain & Billy Slaughter Defensive Coordinator/outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning has been named one of 15 semifinalists for the 2019 Broyles Award, which is presented to college football’s assistant coach of the year.

 

Lanning is one of three coaches from the Southeastern Conference on the list.  Bulldog associate head coach/offensive line coach Sam Pittman was a 2018 Broyles semifinalist.  Head coach Kirby Smart won the 2009 honor and was a finalist in 2015 while at Alabama.

 

From the list of 15, five finalists will be selected and invited to travel to Little Rock, Ark., where the 2019 Broyles Award winner will be announced on Dec. 10th.

 

In his first year as defensive coordinator and second with the Bulldogs, Lanning has helped Georgia’s defense transform into one of the nation’s best.  The Bulldogs lead the SEC in Scoring Defense at 10.7 points/game (No. 2 nationally), Rushing Defense at 68.5 yards/game (No. 2 nationally) and in Total Defense at 267.8 yards/game (No. 5 nationally).  The Bulldogs have allowed just 118 points in 2019 and only one rushing touchdown.

 

Georgia ranks fourth nationally in Red Zone Defense.  The school record for fewest average points allowed in a season with 12 or more games is 14.5 in 2003.  This year, Georgia is allowing just 10.7.  The fewest points allowed in a season with 12 or more games is 198 in 2004.  This year the Bulldogs have given up just 118.  The defense has posted 28 scoreless quarters, including shutouts against Arkansas State (55-0), Kentucky (21-0) and Missouri (27-0).  The school record for shutouts in a season with 12 or more games is four.

 

The No. 4 Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 SEC) travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech (3-8, 2-6 ACC) on Saturday.  ABC will televise the matchup at 12 p.m.

Smart, Bulldogs Preview Georgia Tech Game

ATHENS, Ga. —  University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets kick off at noon ET. 

On Monday, Coach Smart and student-athletes offered the following comments. 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement … 

“Looking forward to those two visits, those are always great events. I can remember doing those events as a player here before we played in Atlanta. So I know our players will be looking forward to it as well.

Our guys are good to go and ready to move on to Georgia Tech. I know they’re excited for this week of practice. It’s kind of a different schedule for us with Thanksgiving being involved. And a lot of the guys get to go home, that live within a close enough radius, to share time with their family and return here and travel over to Atlanta as a team, as we prepare for Georgia Tech.”

On Jake Fromm’s ability to throw the ball and if there is a common thread over the last few games … 

“You know, it’s hard to put a finger on it. Auburn they play really tight coverage. There’s no really easy throws. I thought these guys — guys had just played Texas A&M. Their pass efficiency defense is really stellar. They do some good things defensively. Their coordinator was at Notre Dame; he’s done some really good things. Makes it tough at times but at times you’ve got to hit the open guy.

I think Jake would be the first to tell you that. We missed a couple, made a couple. There’s no easy throws. When you start looking at it there’s not like a “gimmee” here or three. You try to get high-percentage throws and we had a couple of those to the back in the flat and to Charlie and to the swing passes. But we’ve got to do a better job helping him out and he’s got to do a better job hitting the ones when they’re open.”

On if he has seen Georgia Tech progress this season … 

“Yeah, I think their offense has grown and they got better and better from the beginning of the year towards the end of the year it’s like two different teams. I think they were learning a new system. And any time you’re learning a new system and you have growing pains and you push through those. Their quarterback’s done a tremendous job. We know him well, recruited him out of high school. James has been extremely athletic and he’s gotten better throwing the ball. He threw the ball with a lot of confidence Thursday night and their team is growing.”

On if Fromm’s arm health is ok … 

“Yeah, his arm’s fine.”

On what is different now not having to prepare for Georgia Tech’s triple option … 

“Yeah, they still have a lot of elements of the options. So obviously when I say a lot, I don’t mean as much as what they had previously, because they were — they were all in when they were triple options. They have elements of the triple. They still — you can’t just flip it over and just go completely to a non- — when that’s what your roster is made. They have dive pitch keys, they have reads. They have perimeter runs, inside runs. They’ve got elements of the option. So it is different from a perspective of not having to do everything we used to do, which was completely different. So where it was a 100 percent different defense, it might be 50 percent difference now with some of the things they’re doing.”

On injury updates on Eric Stokes, Cade Mays, Tyrique McGhee and Lawrence Cager … 

“Tyrique cleared out last week. Was able to practice — Tyrique McGee was able to practice a couple days and thought we could use him. He made a good play on special teams and got real involved with the special teams units. And he helped provide depth in the secondary. So, it was great to get him back great to get him back for his last game because he’s a kid who has had a lot of injuries and been in and out of the roster.

Cade was, just like we said last week, was cleared to go. He was going to be able to go if we needed him to. We wanted to try to avoid it if we could. And we were able to get through the game without having to use him.

We talked about Cager after the game. He didn’t feel like that he was able to go and was going to be 100 percent. But there’s nothing new on those two as far as we’re moving forward. They should be cleared to practice this week and we’re hopeful they’ll play.

Stokes got dinged in the game. I think it was on the offensive pass interference play where he and the receiver kind of ran together. He took a jolt. But we think he’s going to be fine. Think he’ll be fine to go today.”

On how he now uses the time he used to have to spend preparing for Tech’s triple option … 

“I didn’t know if it was an unknown. Geoff hires an offensive coordinator, an offensive staff; you know what they do. So you try to plan based on that. We get to watch — we have a person that scouts ahead. It’s advanced scouting. They watched teams that we’re going to play. And we try to look down the road and say what’s going to be really difficult. What’s different? Not necessarily, though they’ve got really good players, you look at teams and say, what is it based on that’s so different they do that we can’t handle.

So we said, hey, Georgia Tech’s got a very different offensive system than what we faced week-to-week. Even now they’re different. So during the off week, we took some periods and worked on some different things they were doing.

So it’s never based on who you play in the future, what their record is. It’s what they’re doing offensively or defensively that’s different than what you see.”

On how this year’s Georgia team compares to his last team at Alabama … 

“Like I said, it’s hard for me to compare that because I didn’t look at that team through the glasses of a head coach. I looked at that team through the glasses of a defensive coordinator where I was really focused on that. Obviously this team has some really good traits. I don’t know how they compare to that team. I can’t even remember that team. I do know to be successful we’ve got to play better in every facet of our team — special teams, defense and offense. But certainly we have to improve offensively the most in order to get where we want to go.”

On his relationships with coaches on Georgia Tech’s staff, specifically Geoff Collins and Brent Key…

“Geoff and I have worked on the same staff at Alabama, have a lot of respect for Geoff. He has a ton of energy. Does a tremendous job. He leaves no stone unturned. He’s looking for every competitive advantage he can get, whether it’s through recruiting, whether it’s through innovation, whether it’s through scheme, whether it’s through motivation. He’s a high-energy guy.

And Brent’s the same way. Brent’s a Georgia Tech guy. He played there. He played there while I was playing here. And he and I have never been on a staff together but we’ve always crossed paths and been friends in recruiting. We go to the same schools as assistant coaches. And I see Brent in the offseason a lot. I have a lot of respect for those guys and the job they do.”

On how he sees the matchup of Georgia’s offensive line with Georgia Tech’s defensive front…
“When you look across the board they’ve got guys that play quite a bit of snaps. They rotate a lot of guys in there. They play a ton of players. Geoff’s always done that. He had that philosophy when he was at Mississippi State, when he was at Florida.

I think that helps build morale and self-worth within your team. You have more kids bought into the organization when they know they’re going to get an opportunity to contribute. So they play a lot of guys and they move and they’ve got athletic guys up there.

We’ve got to worry about ourselves more than we have to worry about Tech. And that’s the case every week. You have to get better at you, and it’s not really about the other team. And that’s what we focus on regardless of who we are playing.”

On how adding more marquee non-conference games going forward will affect the significance of this game…
“I don’t worry about — no, I think this is one of the most traditional rivalries in all of college football. And I don’t know that our scheduling is going to change the fact that — it’s not going to move the proximity of their university and ours.

We’re always going to have interstate rivals, whether it’s through recruiting, whether it’s through recruiting students, whether it’s through anything. So I think the history and tradition is there that this game is always going to be a big factor.”

On his memories of the Georgia Tech rivalry and if Georgia coaches cross paths with Georgia Tech coaches on the recruiting trail…
“The second one, we do run into them a lot. We ran into them before because nobody’s not going to recruit in our state. Let’s be honest. There’s good football players in our state.

They probably recruited different type players in a lot of situations. Like tight end, obviously they weren’t recruiting a lot of tight ends during their last staff. And you can tell that Geoff and his staff have made it a priority through their transfers and through who they’re recruiting.

So you come across those guys much more. As far as the rivalry, I mean, it’s always — when I came to school here as a player, it was one of the biggest rivalries there was. It was what you talked about as a freshman. It’s what was engrained in you to have the hate and build that up.

I think because of the conferences and because of the importance of winning your conference, that may have diminished some in regards to over the time. But the game, the rivalry is usually based on wins and losses and who is winning those games.

Georgia has so many rivalries that you can’t say one’s more important than the other. You don’t think it’s important, then lose it and then it will be really important. And I know the importance of this game and I know the significance it has to so many of our fans, especially the crowd that may be older that traditionally Georgia Tech was a national powerhouse year in, year out. It means so much to them.”

On the challenge and focus this week knowing there is a big game the week after…
“The challenge is about the rivalry. So when you think about this game, records are thrown out. None of that matters. They finished Thursday. This is a huge opportunity and stage for them. We acknowledge that.

A lot of our kids will be playing in front of their home crowd where they’re from, their community because of so many kids being from the Atlanta area. That’s the focus and that’s the concentration, and our guys understand that.

We have a mature team and we said the other day that most important step is the next step. Georgia Tech is the next step. And they’ve got a football team that’s peaking at the right time. Played a really good game Thursday night. So we’ve got to go out and play a good football game.”

On if there is anything extra they do as a team to help with injury prevention and rehabilitation at this point in the season…
“Yeah, we drive recovery home. Recovery is so critical to your soft tissue muscles, and part of recovery is rest. So we talk about sleep, making sure you’re getting proper sleep, extra treatment. We’ve cut time out of practice, whether it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, that you hate doing as a coach, but you’re trying to get return on investment and say, okay, you’ve got to spend this time in the cold tub. You’ve got to spend this time in the training room.

Instead of walking through on Friday and going straight to dinner, we took 20 more minutes and got everybody some extra recovery because we think that can be the difference at the end of the year if you’re out recovering a team than you’ve got an opportunity to have a competitive advantage and we’re trying that.”

On memories of playing in the rivalry with Georgia Tech as a student-athlete…

“The memory I have is probably the worst. It’s what you always do; you don’t remember the positives sometimes, you remember the bad. It was my last home game at Sanford Stadium and lost on a game-winning field goal with Joe Hamilton’s drive. So that was my last memory of Sanford Stadium. Thank God I got into coaching; I got to fix that. But otherwise that would have been the last time that I was in there. That was a tough loss that if Georgia had won at that time, I think maybe three or four, I’m not sure how many in a row they had won, and our senior class lost to a well-coached, really good football team.”

On if he will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with family…

“The actual Thanksgiving day, I wouldn’t say — the week is a work week for us, game week. So Thursday we get to finish a little bit earlier, move some things up. It makes for an awkward scheduling. But I say awkward because it’s different than a normal game week but it’s not awkward for Thanksgiving. It’s what everybody does. Your goal in high school football is to be playing on Thanksgiving and your goal in college football is to be relevant and still have an importance to the game. For our kids, I know they’re fired up to get see their family but they like this game, it’s an exciting game.”

On what Sam Pittmann does well on the recruiting trail…
“It’s Sam’s personality. He kind of just oozes with confidence, and the offensive linemen appreciate that. He’s very genuine. You don’t get a sales pitch; you get his natural instinctive self. A lot of you guys have seen his personality through social media. That’s the same way he is with the kids. And the kids — the players gravitate to that. And I think that’s a very natural for him, and he’s done a tremendous job recruiting for us.”

On where the defense needs to continue to improve…
“Turnovers. We’ve got to force turnovers. We’ve got to be better in the red area. We’ve slipped in the red area the last couple of weeks. We don’t sustain at the end of games. Meaning we give up a pace drive or a rhythmic drive where somebody gets on rhythm and we’ve got to be able to stomp on people’s throats when you get them down. And what they’ve done well is a lot of things. But what they can improve on is several specific things that we try to work on each week and we try to demand it of them. The great thing about this defense is they take criticism well. They handle criticism well. They realize we want to be the best. To be the best means you never arrive. So you have to keep driving to get better and they’ve really accepted that.”

On Travon Walker’s role in the Texas A&M game…
“We met as a staff and just felt he was one of our best 20 football players and we weren’t getting the most out of him. I just forced upon them to say he’s got to be on the field. So we’ll figure out a way. Some of that was dictated by what Texas A&M did. He has a unique skill set. He’s 270 pounds. He’s different than some of our other guys. He’s done a really good job. We’re just trying to find ways to use his athleticism. So when they’re in open sets, it allows him to play a little more. And Texas A&M chose to do that some. So it helped us.”

On Jordan Mason as a running back…
“(Jordan) Mason is an unbelievable back. First of all, seen him play several Thursday night games where I’ve got to watch him. He’s physical. Low to the ground. He runs mad. And he’s thick. He’s heavier than the backs that we’ve faced and has great strength in his lower body. I just respect his running passion and his energy. I love watching him run, and he does it the right way.”

On being prepared for this weekend’s rivalry game despite Georgia Tech’s record…  
“I don’t think you have to worry about that because we don’t look at the record. We look at the team on the tape. That’s more important than their record. We’re not scoreboard watching. We’re not record watching. We’re looking at the guy across from us and we’re really, as simple as it sounds, I know you think people don’t do this, but we’re trying to take the next step, which is Georgia Tech.”

On Richard LeCounte and what he has brought to the defense this season…
“(Richard’s) playing with a lot of energy and passion. He’s practicing better. He takes a lot more pride in making his calls and learning the game plan, that he can make good decisions on the field in the heat of the moment. I think he’s taken a nice step forward in regards to that and he plays really hard. He doesn’t always play with great eye control or great discipline, but he plays really hard, gets after the ball, attacks the ball.”

On Georgia’s recent success on kickoff and punt returns…
“Kickoff return is different than punt return. I think kickoff return, Brian (Herrien’s) provided us a major spark. Wish we had done it earlier. He was the off guy for so long, such a good blocker and good decision-maker, that he’s been good as the primary returner. He’s done a good job. It’s not like all of a sudden he’s gotten better. He’s gotten opportunities. We don’t get a lot of opportunities when the ball is kicked into the end zone.

“And then punt return, I thought Dominick Blaylock took what was there and got what was there, but I thought our hold-up unit did a much better job the last two weeks of giving him opportunities to make plays and we’ve still got to make more out of what we’re getting him.”

#30 Tae Crowder | SR. | ILB 

On what Jordan Davis brings to this team both in the locker room and on the field… 

“Off the field he is very funny, someone you love to be around. On the field, he works hard and is a threat. We need Jordan. We try to stay on him because he is young, to get him to keep working.” 

On how it has been preparing for Georgia Tech this year compared to previous years without having to prepare for cut blocking… 

“We haven’t really started practicing for Tech yet, so I am not sure how it is going to be different. But, we will see today. It has been nice to not have deal with the cut blocking in spring practice and the beginning of the season. Everyone who has played in this game knows it was crazy when we had to prepare for that.”

#89 Charlie Woerner | Senior | TE

On the defense affecting the way the offense plays…

“It’s awesome to have our defense as good as they are. It really takes a lot of pressure off us to always have to score every drive …  They can win us games but also during the week, we’ve got to match their intensity every practice and help them out more. We need to put more points on the board as an offense to help them out.”

 

On where the offense needs to improve…

“We need to execute more, a little better in the red zone. When we get down to that red zone area, we’ve got to get touchdowns, not just field goals. (Rodrigo Blankenship) is a tremendous weapon for us but we need six points, not just three all the time.”

 

On if he talks Georgia football with his uncle and former Bulldog Scott Woerner…

“We talk about it, but nothing too much. We really don’t talk a whole lot of football. We kind of just talk about hunting and fishing and stuff.”   

#59 Steven Nixon | Graduate Student | LS

On his thoughts about playing at Georgia Tech this weekend… 

“It’s going to be fun. It’s one of those deep southern rivalries. I think that [Georgia] Tech is going to come out prepared, but I think we’ve got a really great game plan set in place. We’re going to take this week just like we take every other week. Come in, prepare another game plan, and go out there and execute… I grew up a Georgia fan, but I actually played at [Georgia] Tech back in 2016 whenever I played at Mercer. This isn’t my first time playing there, but I know this game is just different. I know we prepare differently here for Tech than we do a lot of other teams because it’s just different. It’s more of a pride thing. It’ll be really interesting to see how Georgia Tech comes out with their new offense and new coaching staff. They’ve had some ups and downs this year, but they just beat NC State. It’s going to be really cool and really fun. We’re excited.” 

On the importance Coach Smart places on special teams…

“He’s in every special teams meeting every single day. I think that says a lot about him as a coach and a lot about the coaching staff. A lot of schools don’t put a lot of emphasis on special teams, but [Coach Smart] is in every meeting. He’s at every walkthrough, and he knows exactly what everyone’s doing, on every position on the field, on all four phases of special teams. They love special teams here. We take a lot of pride in it— I know I do. All the snappers, kickers and punters take a lot of pride in it, and even offensive and defensive players that are on the special teams in the shield in the punt on kickoff return, because everyone wants to score. Everyone wants to have an effect, because we know that’s a third of the game. If everyone kind of does his one part, then the 11 guys on the field are going to be alright.” 

Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship Earns Sixth 2019 SEC Weekly Honor

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia graduate place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has earned his sixth weekly Southeastern Conference honor of the year, according to a league announcement.

 

Blankenship, a native of Marietta, Ga., was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the sixth time this season and for the eighth time in his career.  So far this year, Georgia has had 12 weekly league awards.

 

Blankenship connected on all four of his field goal attempts (41, 49, 37, 31 yards) and drilled his only PAT during the Bulldogs’ 19-13 win over No. 24 Texas A&M in the rain.  With his 13 points, Blankenship became Georgia’s all-time leading scorer with 418 points, which stands second in league history.  His school record 190th consecutive PAT ranks second in SEC history.

The No. 4 Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 SEC) travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech (3-8, 2-6 ACC) on Saturday.  ABC will televise the matchup at 12 p.m.

No. 4 Georgia Beats Texas A&M, 19-13

ATHENS, Ga. – The fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs defeated No. 24-ranked Texas A&M, 19-13, Saturday afternoon at a rain-soaked Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.

 

Senior Rodrigo Blankenship etched his name as Georgia’s career points leader Saturday, concluding the game with four field goals. He also extended his school record PATs-made streak to 190.

 

Freshman wide receiver George Pickens led the receiving corps with 57 yards on two completions, including a touchdown. Junior running back D’Andre Swift rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

 

Defensively, Georgia held the Aggies to -1 rushing yards and 274 total yards on 62 plays. Junior defensive back Richard LeCounte led the Bulldogs with seven tackles.

 

“We make things so complicated,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “If we had cashed in on a touchdown, the game’s over. We just couldn’t put them away. Give them credit, they had us on our heels. It was like Auburn when we were tired. We’ve got to clean things up offensively. We need to run the ball and score some points.”

 

Blankenship put the Bulldogs on the board with 8:22 left in the opening quarter, connecting on a 41-yard field goal. The field goal was Blankenship’s sixth from 40-or-longer on the season and 20th overall this season, tying his career-best in a season (2017, 20-of-23).

 

The Aggies knotted the contest on a 37-yard field goal from Seth Small just a minute and 31 seconds into the second quarter.

 

The following drive resulted in a 49-yard field goal from Blankenship with 11:38 left in the half, giving the Bulldogs the three-point advantage back, 6-3.

 

Fromm connected with Pickens on a 16-yard touchdown pass, lengthening Georgia’s lead to 13-3 with 6:44 remaining in the opening half. It was Pickens’ fifth touchdown of his rookie season. The scoring drive spanned seven plays over 65 yards highlighted by pass completions to Tyler Simmons (27 yards) and Kearis Jackson (22).

 

The Bulldogs went to the locker room at halftime holding on to a 13-3 lead over the Aggies. The Georgia defense held Texas A&M to 73 total yards in the opening half including -9 yards on the ground.

 

LeCounte forced a turnover on the Aggies’ opening drive of the second half, giving Georgia the ball on the Texas A&M 21-yard line. Georgia’s resulting drive ended on a 37-yard field goal by Blankenship, breaking Georgia’s all-time points record, previously 412 held by Blair Walsh (2008-11), and widening the lead to 16-3.

 

Small capped a six-play, 39-yard drive for Texas A&M with 4:14 left in the third, making a 35-yard field goal and bringing Georgia’s lead back to 10, 16-6.

 

Blankenship began the fourth quarter hitting a 31-yard field goal, bringing the Bulldog advantage back to 13 at 19-6.

 

The Aggies sliced the lead to six with 11:16 left in game on a touchdown pass to Jhamon Ausbon, 19-13.

 

Up next, Georgia matches up with in-state rival Georgia Tech next Saturday, Nov. 30. The game will kick off at 12 p.m., noon, on ABC.

Bulldogs Focused On Texas A&M

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during the Bulldogs' session on the Woodruff Practice Fields in Athens, Ga., on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Photo by Steven Colquitt)

ATHENS, Ga. – The fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice Wednesday with the Southeastern Conference game against No. 24 Texas A&M on the horizon.

Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC) plays host to the Aggies  (7-3, 4-2 SEC) Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., ET, on CBS.  Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference and provided an update on the Bulldogs. After practice, Bulldog junior offensive lineman Solomon Kindley, redshirt-freshman wide receiver Kearis Jackson, and junior outside linebacker Walter Grant met with the media to discuss the upcoming contest with the Aggies.

 

Selected comments from Smart and the student-athletes follow:

 

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“We’ve got Texas A&M coming to Athens for the first time since they moved into the conference. We’re anticipating an unbelievable atmosphere. {Head coach} Jimbo (Fisher) has got a good football team. If you watch them on tape, they have gotten better and better throughout the year. They have as much talent as anybody in our conference. They’ve done a great job recruiting. It’s going to be a big challenge facing them and a quarterback like Kellen Mond who is extremely versatile and athletic.”

 

On the first things that jump out at you when you watch Texas A&M

“First thing is the multiple formations, the personnel groupings they use offensively. They have a lot of offense to defend. The athleticism on defense would be the biggest thing overall, team speed. They’ve very consistent on special teams. When it comes to special teams, you see all the starters on there. It’s like you’re playing in the SEC, and you go to turn the tape on, and you’re like oh gosh they got good really players at every position and you realize you’re going to be in for a war.”

 

On the Aggies offense being different compared to other SEC teams

“It’s different when you see the two-back runs. That’s not a thing that everybody uses anymore. A lot of people create two-back runs with their tight end. These guys are almost like three-back runs because they have the two backs and the tight end they use. They move the pocket really. Jimbo (Fisher) does a good job, he changes it up, he keeps you off balance. They’ve got a lot of passing game that they’re able to run in a lot of situations.”

 

On development of Georgia’s wide receivers

“We’re fighting for number one experience. We’ve got two really young receivers out there that are playing a lot of snaps in George (Pickens) and Dom (Blaylock). We’ve got a lot of inexperienced guys having lost predominately all of our pass catchers. We’d like to see some more consistency, more physical blocking, see some separation. We’re trying to do a good job of helping them whether it’s scheme or opportunities off play action. We’re trying to help them and they’re trying to help us. What I love about them is that every day they go to work they really fight to get better. It’s been a group that’s really been beat up and banged up the whole year. Every guy has almost missed a game or missed an opportunity. We’re trying to gel at the right time and bring these guys along and make some plays.”

 

On linebacker Monty Rice’s development

“I think number one his confidence in the system is at an all-time high. Early on, he was talented and didn’t really know the stuff. Last year, he knew it better, and he was banged up some. This year, he’s been healthy and been really confident. He understands things. He knows checks. Things are happening for the 100th time instead of the 40th or 50th. He understands how to use the tools of the defense. He is playing with confidence. He’s one step ahead and sometimes one step in football, is the ability to make a lot of plays.”

 

On the Aggies defense this season

“They’ve gotten better. They’ve done a really good job of improving throughout the year. They’re fast, they’re athletic. They’ve got good experience on the back end. I can’t say enough about the job the defensive coordinator (Mike Elko) has done. He was at Notre Dame. They’ve always created havoc and caused turnovers. They create another tough matchup which seems to be the norm in our conference.”

 

Junior offensive lineman Solomon Kindley

On his first meeting and impressions of Sam Pittmann…

“My first impression is kind of funny. I think I’ve told the media before, but my first impression, when I first saw Coach Pittmann, he came to my school and I was playing basketball. My first time seeing him, I talked to him before on the phone, he came to my school … The next day, I go for a layup and I missed the layup, I was like, oh man, my first impression for Coach Pittmann is ‘Solomon Kindley is not an athlete, he missed a wide open layup with nobody on him, just missed it.’ But other than that, it showed that Coach Pittmann is a father figure to you, not just on the field but off the field, he is going to push you to be great as a player and a man every day.”

 

On the criticism of the offense being a weak link…

“We don’t listen to the outside, we keep what we can keep inside, that’s our family, our brotherhood. We come to work every day no matter what anyone says, because like you said, when we’re up, they say we’re the best, when we’re down, they say we’re the worst. So that’s what a team is, we come together every day and fight and we try and get better every day, we don’t worry about what anybody says because the only thing that matters is what’s in front of us and what we’ve got going on today.”

 

On giving Lawrence Cager advice as a player who has come back from injury this season…

“Lawrence is a vet anyway, coming from Miami, all I do is tell him to get treatment and try and get the healthiest that he can. Lawrence stays in treatment, he gets here every morning with Mr. Ron (Courson) and gets treatment every day to try and be better every day. That’s all I pretty much tell him is take it slow but do as much as you can to get treatment, stay in the training room. So that’s my main thing that I can give him tips on about getting healthy.”

 

Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Kearis Jackson

On whether his near-touchdown catch at Auburn was his best…

“I think I haven’t had one better than that, but that’s up to me. I’ve got to have more room on the sideline. I need to make those catches, keep my feet in bounds and I’ll make that catch next time.”

 

On his emotions during that play…

“I’ve just got to come back and make the next play. That’s when my number was called and whenever that play gets called, I’ve just got to come back because that [previous] play is out the window. Like I said, I’ve just got to come back and be ready for the next play.”

 

On the vibe among the team currently after the Auburn game…

“It was a dog fight. I mean, Auburn has a good team and Auburn has a great defense. They’re physical, they’re big and we had to be ready. After that game, I promise my whole upper body was sore because it was so physical by blocking. After that, that game is out of the way and we’re focused on Texas A&M. We’ve got a big game this weekend.”

 

Junior outside linebacker Walter Grant

On Tyler Clark…

“Tyler is an animal. He brings energy whether it is in practice or in the game. If his guys aren’t doing anything, he is going to get on them and push them. Tyler is a guy that brings energy.”

 

On prepping for Texas A&M’s offense…

“We always look forward to finding something new. We watch film for it so I feel like it will be like any other game in the way we prep for it.”

 

On if Texas A&M’s offense will increase his role…

“I wouldn’t say it will be more of an increased role. I would just say that it gives more of an opportunity for different players in different spots to switch up the defense a little bit.”

 

On Texas A&M’s quarterback Kellen Mond…

“He is a great athlete. He is a runner and a great passer too. He is an all-around good player.”