The Saturday, Nov. 30, football game between Georgia and Georgia Tech in Atlanta will kick off at
12:00 noon ET and be televised by ABC.
This will be Georgia’s first appearance on ABC this season. The Bulldogs’ all -time record on ABC is 46-27-2.
The Saturday, Nov. 30, football game between Georgia and Georgia Tech in Atlanta will kick off at
12:00 noon ET and be televised by ABC.
This will be Georgia’s first appearance on ABC this season. The Bulldogs’ all -time record on ABC is 46-27-2.
ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against Texas A&M. The Bulldogs and Aggies kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
On Monday, Coach Smart and student-athletes offered the following comments.
Head Coach Kirby Smart
Opening statement …
“Murray [Poole], thank you for everything you’ve done. You’ve been awesome and a pleasure to work with.
Before I get started and move on, I would like to apologize for something I said after the game Saturday night. That’s not indicative of who I want to be or what I stand for, and you know you messed up when you get home to your wife and she’s more upset that — you won the game, but she’s more upset at something you said, and that’s not what I represent and that’s not the kind of behavior I want to have. So I want to say that to Dawg fans out there and everybody. I’m going to try to handle that a lot better. And it was an emotional win, and I was very emotional in that, but gotta do a better job than that.
To Chamberlain [Smith], I also want to say she comes to every Thursday night to this event in here. We have a radio show. She’s here with us every Thursday night. She takes pictures. She does an outstanding job. And that was a very scary moment, I know, for our players and for me, because we looked over, and she was motionless at the time, and it was a pretty scary situation, I know, for Brian [Herrien] and Jake [Fromm]. But we want to wish her well and thank her for all the work she does. She does a tremendous job.
With that, I’ll give a couple updates on the injuries. I don’t ever know exactly who you’re asking about, but Cade [Mays] is banged up. Don’t think he’s going to be able to practice today, but we think he’s going to be able to play and he’s going to be able to hopefully practice Tuesday.
Ben [Cleveland] is still fighting the injury bug, too, on lower extremity. We’re hopeful he’s able to go. And then [Lawrence] Cager will be cleared to practice. Just be a matter of whether he can sustain.
A little bit about Texas A&M. Jimbo Fisher is an unbelievable coach. This team will probably be one of the most talented teams we’ve played against. We all know who their three losses are against. I feel like the three losses are against Top 10 teams that are really, really good football teams. And they have an immense amount of talent. As far as their receiving corps will be one of the best we’ve played against. They have a total of eight or nine starters back on offense. Really, basically every position outside tight end and a running back is coming back for their team. And when you watch them on tape, it really jumps off the film at you.
So our kids understand the challenge we got. It’s part of the grind in the SEC to be beat up and have to play another good football team. And that’s what they are. They’re coming to Sanford Stadium for the first time. So Jimbo and I have been on a staff together before. Obviously Coley and him have been on a staff together for a while and got a lot of respect for the way his teams play. And they’re really good in all three phases. So this will be a big test, after an emotional win that we’ll have to prepare really well for. So with that, I’ll open it up.”
On Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond being dangerous with the run and passing …
“Very much so. He is probably improved as much as a player from high school to now as any quarterback I’ve ever seen. I liken it to when Dak [Prescott] first went to Mississippi State and Dan [Mullen] took him and did all these really good things with him, Jimbo has really — this kid has a tremendous arm talent. We know the athlete he is. We know he can run. But it’s not like you say this guy is a runner first. He’s a really good passer, and the beauty of it he plays in a pro-style offense and throws to some really good weapons and checks things, moves things around, but is extremely athletic. And when I say athletic, I don’t mean, oh, he’s going to scramble for a first down. When he takes off running, he continues running. And there’s guys out there that just can’t catch him. He doesn’t always look to do that, but when he does, it’s extremely dangerous. Makes you play him a different kind of way, so we’ve got a tough charge in front of us.”
On Texas A&M running backs Isaiah Spiller and Cordarrian Richardson …
“I hate to compare it, but it’s completely different football, so don’t misquote me on this. But it’s like the triple option of today when you have two backs in the back field, because nobody knows really how to defend it anymore. Coach Dooley is back there; he could probably tell you how to defend it, because you toss the ball and you run a sweep, and nobody knows how to handle a lead blocker. Now, they don’t do that all the time. Don’t get me wrong, but when they do it, they’re very efficient. He still has option plays; and it keeps people honest. It keeps you from saying, I’m going to do an overload this way or I’m going to do one of these unsound defenses to go attack the quarterback when they run an option play. And they do a tremendous job of it. They’re very different runners, but he did some of the similar same things at FSU when he had Dalvin. He uses some different plays to really highlight the two backs he has. And they’re running the ball more and more efficiently as the seasons — like you can see how they’ve gotten better and better and better at running the ball every game, and it really came to fruition against South Carolina.”
On if his players take on his passion and personality …
“They probably do. Our players have passion and energy. I have it. I wear my feelings on my sleeve all the time. You see it out there, when Travon [Walker] got a sack. That’s kind of who I am. You just gotta be able to control that and make good decisions, and I didn’t do that. So I regret that part of it. But I also am the one that has to represent this organization, and I want to do that the right way. And it was an emotional win, but obviously we moved on to Texas A&M now, and that’s the focus.”
On this being Texas A&M’s first trip to Athens and if they should play more often …
“Yeah. Don’t know how to make it happen other than a nine-game conference schedule. It’s crazy that they’ve been in how many years? You all know better than me…So that’s how many years? Seven years and they still haven’t played Georgia. That’s kind of wild to think about. But I mean I know their fanbase is passionate. I mean from when we played there at Alabama, they bring — you will see their fanbase in Athens, because they all want to make this trip, just like it’ll be reciprocated when we go there whenever that is. So very passionate fan bases. It’s sad that doesn’t happen often enough, but our conference is big and we got a lot of good football teams, so it takes time to circle it and go all the way around it.
I’m not really here to debate the nine-game schedule versus the eight-game schedule. It’s just that’s the way it fell, and that’s who we got. I know this: Their team is not intimidated by any environment. Okay. They go to Clemson and play. They go to Tuscaloosa and play every year. They get to play at Auburn every year. They get to play at LSU every other year. I mean, that’s not going to be what this game is about. They grew up in Texas high school football. 80 percent of their team is Texas made. So they got a good football team, and they got a team that they’re going to be in every game they play, because they’re well coached and they got good football players.”
On the running backs breaking longer runs…
“You know, there were several runs the other day that were close. They were good runs. They just weren’t super explosive where we got to the second level. Some of that’s the back end. Some of that you don’t create the angles when all the extra guys are in the box. You can attribute it to a lot of things. I attribute it to good defense. I think of Auburn, you turn on that tape, they run to the ball. They hit. They tackle. They got really good, a lot better than people even thought, corners, and they’re physical up front. So they got a good football team. And so does Missouri, guys. I mean you start looking at it, they got good football teams in our conference. I mean look at us defensively. We’re not giving up a lot of explosive runs either. So across the board it’s tough to do that, and we’re certainly looking, trying, reaching, trying to find ways to create those advantageous situations. But I just know our conference is very defensive when it comes to rankings and statistics. There’s a lot of good teams in it.”
On the running backs playing with a chip on their shoulders…
“I think the whole team is that way. I think you play better when you have a chip on your shoulder. And I certainly think the defense and special teams would be in the same boat as the offense of — you’re motivated — I always say this — intrinsically not through what people say and write, because when you’re motivated by that, it controls. And the narrative is, oh, well, everybody said bad things about Georgia, so then they start to play better. That’s really not the case. The case is they’ve worked really hard to get better and improve. And sometimes the outcomes we have are based on what the opponent does, not based on what we do. And each guy on our offense, I guarantee you they’re giving the best they can. They’ve had great practices. We go against them good-on-good. I see them make good plays. Just hasn’t come to fruition in a game, at least not against Auburn as often as we’d like. We had good drives, and I thought the offensive staff did a really good job. The three touchdowns we had were all plays they come up with and designed and had for Auburn. They weren’t every-game plays. They were plays meant to help us against Auburn, and they did.”
On coming up with new plays to execute…
“It’s never difficult to come up with new things. But you have to be careful, good football teams do what they do. Best football teams I’ve been around, they’re not tricking you. You don’t trick people in our conference. You block ’em. You don’t scheme ’em. You find a way to get your best player or whoever your guy is a way to be successful. So I don’t know that we can just scheme them up. But we certainly had new wrinkles to the same plays that proved to be successful in that game, and they hit at the right time, because a lot of our drives didn’t amount to much, but the ones that did didn’t end in field goals. That’s probably more important than having a bunch of field goals. And that proved to be the difference, at least in that game.”
On facing opponents coming off a bye week and the disadvantage that brings the offense…
“About the off week, obviously we don’t control that. I couldn’t remember what you said first. But I didn’t realize that, if that’s the case, five of the last six seems — that seems crazy. I didn’t realize that that was the case. I didn’t know the stats, somebody said, about them being 9-0 after off weeks, or Gus had been 9-0 after off weeks, and I’m glad nobody told me that before the game.”
On how teams use the bye week…
“Well, I think you rest your team. Most coaches have a philosophy in the bye week you don’t go practice for the other team you’re going to play. Kids get sick of it. You can’t practice for the same team for two straight weeks without getting fed up with it. I’m always concerned with that. What you do is you rest your team, you look for new ideas. You look for new plays, new wrinkles, a new way to do the same thing. I think that part helps you, but you’re also always concerned about coming off an off-week how they’re going to respond.”
On the improvement of the run defense over the last three years…
“I think Dan (Lanning) has done a good job. This is no knock on Mel (Tucker), because I’m as much responsible for it as anything. Dan’s done a good job of bringing — whether it’s new ideas, less risk averse. We got secondary back. I mean, when you got a new secondary and you got true freshmen, true freshmen or sophomore that haven’t played back there making — because last year’s defense was almost so completely new, because if you go back to the year before that, there were kids that had played for three and four years off that team that went to the National Championship. So it was a tough year defensively, man. You were holding on every time somebody moved or motioned. This year you feel more comfortable being aggressive, and we’re reaping the benefits of experience.”
On blocking out the outside noise of playoffs and the future…
“That’s not a message. You don’t control that. These kids live and die by these things, man. I mean they got them with them. They’re going to see it. They’re going to hear it. What you try to emphasize is the facts. Here are the facts. If we block and tackle people, we’re pretty good. You know what I mean? If we block and tackle people, if we do simple better, we’re pretty good. If we don’t and we turn the ball over and we don’t play well on special teams and we give up big, explosive plays, we’re not very good. So what’s going to allow me to do those things? None of the other stuff matters. None of it matters. So if you get their focus on playing better and getting better, especially the second part of your roster, because we got 2s that are having to play now. So now this week more 2s are going to have to play. The next week maybe more 2s are going to play, because you got more guys getting injured. So how do I get the rest of our roster better is really all we focused on.”
On how important punter Jake Camarda’s overall performance was on Saturday night…
“In that moment it was obviously one of the pivotal — I mean it was a field position game. So with him doing that, he flipped the field position, did a tremendous job. Can’t say enough about — I mean the thing about all the confidence in sticking with him, we’re at practice every day. So you don’t get the fortune of seeing that. But he does that all the time. So everybody’s like, well, is Jake going to continue to be your punter? Yeah, he hit 60 yards at practice. It’s just a matter of when it comes to fruition in the game. You just keep working with him. I think psychologically he’s handling things a lot better, and mentally he’s been much stronger and he’s done a really good job. He was very impactful in that game, and just hope he can continue to do that. And we have to cover him well, because you can outkick your coverage when you punt. He’s close to doing that. He’s just booming the ball, but we’ve had good coverage with him.”
On if it seem like quarterbacks are getting hurt more often and if he finds himself thinking more about injuries…
“Well, I think this has been talked about several times. I do think they’re getting hurt at a little higher rate than usual. I don’t know if that’s an outlier or if that’s going to become the norm. I think it’s because design of offenses is all NFL mentality, get the backs out, get everybody out. You don’t see people max protect; you don’t see people seven-man protect. You see people run their quarterbacks. That’s an extra option to rush the ball. As offenses have grown and scoring has exploded, so has the exposure of quarterbacks. And defenses take less regard for contain, for true base defensive principles, and all they look for is how can I hit your quarterback. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s what they’re trying to do. That’s what we try to do; that’s what everybody tries to do. So when you do that, they get hit more, and when they get hit more, they get injured more. And I don’t think the trend is going to go away. I think our conference and NCAA rules are trying to protect quarterbacks more, so we actually coach the decision you make to stay off the quarterback, because that’ll kill you, and they’re protecting them. But ultimately they’re getting hit more, legally hit. And that creates more injuries, which is tough.”
On D’Andre Swift’s ability to get to 1,000 yards at this point in the season…
“He’s always been really talented. I don’t know- the talent, maybe his quickness, his knowledge, his protections, his route running, all that has improved throughout his career. Dell (McGee) has done a great job with him. But he’s always been uber talented the whole time he was here. He was just playing with some really good players in the back field. What I think this year has shown is the exact question everybody had: Can he endure, can he take on the load, can he handle the responsibility of X number of carries, whatever that number is, and I think he’s proven that, that he can do that well. And I mean, to me he’s one of the most talented players in the country. He makes things happen when they’re not there, and we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without him.”
On previously coaching against Jimbo Fisher…
“Yeah. We had one game I think the first year maybe. I was on staff with him at LSU, and I’ve been around Jimbo almost all my life. As a player, he was a coach coaching there at Auburn and things. So I’ve been around Jimbo a lot, got a lot of respect for him, and he’s always been a close friend.”
On the impact the senior class had and final departing thoughts for them as they play their last game in Sanford against Texas A&M…
“Just proud of everything they’ve meant to our program. Some of those seniors are part of our first class. A few of those, I don’t know how many, the Tae Crowders and Mike Barnetts were already here. So it’s a unique group. It’s the first group that we’ve had for four years, and I’m happy for them. I want them to be able to enjoy the moment, but also understand that there’s a very emotional game following it up. When you have the senior day, it’s always an interesting dynamic for those guys because they go out and have a different routine before the game. But they’ve meant so much to this program. Just want them to know that our university and our alumni will be here for them forever, regardless of where they go on to, that we’re going to help them and they’re Dawgs for life.”
On how this team stacks up against the previous two years being 9-1, as far as health and the evolution and where they stand…
“I think every team is different. You know, it’s really different because you think about three years ago this week or whatever week it was, you’re in completely different position. I mean you’re coming off being undefeated and getting your butt whipped, to last year, more similar to this year, having one early. And then each year is different. I think this team is getting better. I think the biggest things — I mean this team is going to be defined what it does going forward, not what it’s done in the past. And that’s always the case. And this is a big one, because they have a really good football team, and our guys are coming off an emotional victory where we have to go get prepared for the grind of the SEC, which is another good football team.”
On defining third-and-manageable in offense, looking at the three-and-outs, and if there is a common theme in terms of down-and-distance…
“Well, manageable, with our offense, third down has been anything from 1 to 12. I mean, we’ve had a lot of success on third-and-long during the year. I certainly don’t want to be in those, and if you want to keep people off balance and you want to change things up, you’re going to have to live with some third-and-tens, because you’re not always going to complete some shots and some explosive play actions. But it’s something we’re always looking to do, to not be as predictable. And it’s also, we have to serve who we are, and we have to make sure that we can get into those situations where Jake (Fromm) has a chance, whether it’s to win it with his feet or he has a chance to win it with shorter routes or keep them honest on the run in third down. But obviously we have to improve in that area, and this will be a big test for us.”
#51 David Marshall | Senior | DE
On what has led to the improvement in the run defense…
“We just worked on it the whole year, the whole spring, during fall camp. It improved with that and we have a lot of talent on the defensive line. There’s just so much talent on the defensive line this year. We worked really hard on it so it would make an impact in the game.”
On what Coach Dan Lanning brought to the run defense side of things…
“He brought a lot, puts a lot of pressure on the defense. He wants more tackles for loss, more sacks, more interceptions, so we just practice on that the whole season. We prove in the game when we can stop the run and stuff.”
#17 Eli Wolf | Graduate Student | TE
On what he thinks about the rhythm of Georgia’s offense, specifically considering last weekend’s game against Auburn…
“Auburn’s defense gave us a lot of problems. They’re a very talented group, but we expect more out of ourselves. We expect to get third-down conversions, and we weren’t doing that very well. First and second downs lead to third downs, so we’ve got to do better on those, too. [Our offense] was a little stagnant, but we’ve just got to look at film and get better, and we’ve got to execute better this week.”
On the ways the passion of Georgia coaches affects the players…
“It rubs off in a pretty big way. Everyone can see the passion [Coach Smart] had after the game was over, and it was really cool to see. It’s really awesome, as a player, to see that your coaches are that much more invested— it’s not always that you have a head coach who is so tied into your program, so it’s awesome to see.”
On his thoughts about senior day and the impact Georgia’s seniors have had on his transition to UGA…
“The seniors here have been awesome, and they took me in right away and treated me like family. It’s going to be an emotional day, but rightfully so. A few guys will probably tear up, but that’s what that day is for, and these guys have given four years to this program— five in some cases — and it will be great.”
#13 Azeez Ojulari | R-Freshman | OLB
On facing a mobile quarterback in Kellen Mond…
“He’s a very mobile quarterback. He can run, he can throw. He’s very mobile so it’s going to be a very different type of game plan this week for sure.”
On being back in this spot after losing to South Carolina…
“We always knew we controlled our own destiny, we always knew we could be back in this position and just continue to work and do what we have to do to get back.”
On blocking out the noise regarding the future…
“We try to do is focus on one game at a time and focus on this week for sure. We just go week-by-week and we’ll get there. It’ll work out.”
AUBURN, Ala. – Despite a fourth-quarter rally by Auburn, the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs clinched their third-consecutive SEC Eastern Division championship Saturday afternoon with a 21-14 victory over the 12th-ranked Tigers in front of 87,451 fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium and a CBS television audience.
Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC) will face the SEC Western Division champion in the 2019 SEC Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (4 p.m. – CBS). The Bulldogs will be making their eighth appearance in the game, having previously won titles in 2002, 2005 and 2017.
The Bulldogs’ victory was their third straight over the Tigers (7-3, 4-3 SEC), and gave them a 60-56-8 all-time advantage in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Georgia has prevailed in 12 of their last 15 meetings with Auburn.
Junior quarterback Jake Fromm went 13-for-28 with 110 yards and three touchdowns, while junior tailback D’Andre Swift eclipsed the century mark for the fourth time this season with 106 yards rushing on 17 carries. Swift’s night helped him pass 1,000 yards rushing for the second-consecutive season, making him the fifth Bulldog to do so and the first since Nick Chubb (2014, 2016-17).
The Georgia defense held Auburn to 329 total yards, their lowest home output of the season, and tallied eight tackles for loss and two sacks. Junior linebacker Monty Rice extended his team lead in tackles with 10 stops, including eight solo.
“It’s a credit to our staff and our players who work tremendously hard,” said head coach Kirby Smart. “That was a tough environment and a good football team. We had some big plays in the red area which was huge for us because we had not done that a lot before.”
On their opening possession, the Tigers quickly moved into Bulldog territory with a pair of first downs, but came away empty as Anders Carlson missed wide right from 47 yards out. With the miss, Georgia’s defense has yet to allow a score on the opponent’s first drive in each of the team’s first 10 outings.
With its first drive, Georgia went 3-and-out, but kicked off a day of tremendous punting as sophomore Jake Camarda pinned Auburn at the 2-yard line with a career-high 66-yard punt. Burdened with the poor field position, the Tigers quickly punted back, setting up Fromm’s 51-yard touchdown strike to freshman wide receiver Dominick Blaylock, capping off a 3-play, 61-yard drive.
After a series of punts from both teams, Auburn once again entered Georgia territory with a long drive in the second quarter, but their 4th-down conversion attempt was stopped at the Bulldog 37-yard line as the Georgia defense perfectly read Auburn’s wildcat formation. The Bulldog defense continued to assert itself later in the quarter as junior linebacker Jermaine Johnson forced a Bo Nix fumble that was recovered by junior safety Richard LeCounte at the Georgia 44-yard line, his second recovery of the season.
Although the Bulldogs were unsuccessful on the ensuing drive, they would close out the first half with a one-minute scoring drill, powered by Swift’s 26-yard rush to the Auburn 14-yard line. Three plays later, senior tailback Brian Herrien scored on a 5-yard screen pass from Fromm, concluding a 7-play, 81-yard drive that gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead entering the locker room.
“It ended up being the difference in the game,” said Smart. “I thought we handled the clock well. We were smart enough to not give them a possession, but steal a possession, and our kids did a good job of doing that.”
In the third quarter, the defense continued to stifle Auburn, forcing the Tigers to punt from the Georgia 39-yard line on their first drive. Following another punt, Georgia embarked on its longest drive of the afternoon, a 12-play, 88-yard sequence that effectively closed the quarter. After a touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Kearis Jackson was overturned on review, Fromm found graduate tight end Eli Wolf for a 5-yard touchdown to make the score, 21-0.
The Tigers opened the fourth quarter with a 12-play drive of their own, culminating in a 3-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Eli Stove with 10:04 remaining in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Auburn appeared to recover an onside kick at its own 46-yard line, but an illegal blocking penalty negated the play. Following a Georgia 3-and-out, Auburn continued its comeback with a 5-play, 57-yard drive that took just over a minute off the clock and ended with Nix rushing for a 2-yard touchdown, narrowing the Bulldogs’ lead to 21-14 with seven minutes remaining.
Following a Georgia punt, Auburn again moved down the field, though the Bulldogs nearly recovered a fumble near midfield. On 4th-and-5, Nix scrambled for an 8-yard gain, but he was unable to convert on his second 4th-down opportunity, overthrowing Harold Joiner on a screen pass. On the final Tiger possession, freshman defensive lineman Travon Walker clinched the win and division championship with a sack of Nix on 4th-and-10. For the game, Georgia held Auburn to 1-of-4 on 4th-down conversions.
The Bulldogs will conclude both their SEC and home slates next Saturday as they play host to Texas A&M at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The first-ever conference matchup between the schools is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs continued their preparations for Saturday’s game on the road at Auburn with a two-hour practice on Tuesday afternoon.
Head Coach Kirby Smart, along with a pair of Georgia junior defenders, Monty Rice and Mark Webb, fielded questions from the media after practice. Excerpts from their sessions follow:
Head Coach Kirby Smart
“The guys practiced hard. They’re excited for the atmosphere and looking forward to it. We have a lot of work to do. I feel like we’re behind and playing catch up. There is so much to prepare for. They do a lot more defensively than they have in the past. A lot of different looks and then offensively they’re always tough to prepare for. When you know the history of somebody it could be worse because you try to prepare for everything you’ve seen which makes it hard to do but you just have to get them ready. I think we’re getting closer.”
On balancing preparing for everything they’ve seen from Auburn and the core stuff the team is built on offensively and defensively…
“The core stuff hasn’t changed much. You just try to expose them to what the opponent does that’s different from what you see day-to-day. Gus (Malzahn) has always had a lot of different things. They have different tempos, formations, different groupings. They have a lot to prepare for, it’s a lot of offense. You have to be careful that you don’t overload your kids with too much and prepare them.”
On Ben Cleveland being named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week…
“He got to play a lot more this week. He’s had a major role, minor role, big role. He has taken on all roles. He’s kind of had that kind of career when you think about it. He was starting and playing when he had the broken leg and bounced back from that. He’s done a tremendous job. He was playing really good the other night, getting a lot of movement and playing with good pad level. Usually when Ben plays well, we play well. He helps give us some power over there on the right side. He did a nice job in that game and graded out well and was happy to get him that award.”
On his relationship with state troopers that escort the team on gamedays, particularly Officer Sadler…
“It’s a privilege to have such a relationship with someone who gives so much to our community, to our state, and gives so much back to us. I really enjoy Officer Sadler. He’s with us year-round for events and obviously gamedays and traveling. I really appreciate the job those guys do. They make life much easier on us and much safer in our communities. Right now it’s probably one of the most thankless jobs out there.”
On the atmospheres and struggling in tough SEC West road games…
“I would chalk it up to good teams at the end of the day. It’s good football teams, good football programs. The atmosphere isn’t any different than playing on the East. I would say the level of talent of the teams we’ve played has been pretty good. We haven’t figured out a way to win one and we have to do that.”
On stopping the run being a key to this game…
“It’s always important. I mean you start at the line of scrimmage, if you can’t run the ball and they can, then you’re probably in trouble. We have struggled in those game to stop the run. It’s something that we take pride in and have done a better job of this year. This is a team very similar to ours of being able to run the ball. They’re committed to the run and want to find different ways to do it. They’ve always done that well.”
On how important it is to back Auburn a one-dimensional offense…
“It’s always critical. If they’re playing third and seven or more, eight, nine or more, you’re going to be at an advantage. You know that but it’s just hard to do to get people off schedule, especially ones that are committed to the runs. The point of attack is three different places on every play. It’s the quarterback, the back and then something outside of that, whether it’s the RPO or some kind of screen that they’re making you defend all over the field. That’s college football now and they do a good job of it. Getting to third and long is a bigger problem than being able to win third and long.
On uncharacteristic penalties in the last game at Auburn…
“We’ve had really good composure in most of our games and that’s what I try to harp on, is the positive of showing good composure. We haven’t retaliated or had stupid penalties. You’re going to have aggressive penalties. I want our guys to play aggressive but I just don’t want them to play stupid. We did some dumb things in that game but that wasn’t the result of the game. The ultimate result was our inability to stop the run and our inability to run the ball.”
On playing opponents coming off a bye week…
“Early in the season I don’t know how important those are because I don’t know that you’re at the point where you need recovery. I would say the first four or five weeks of the season it’s a push if someone has a bye before you or you have one before them. As it gets later in the year it has an effect because you’re able to get guys back. The cumulative effect of the games in sequence, you lose guys and you don’t get recovery time and when you get recovery time you can get some guys back. It doesn’t matter. We all have the same number of bye weeks and most of us have had the same kind of stretch.”
On celebrating with his family on the field after a game…
That’s what it’s all about. Other than the relationship with the players and the coaches on the staff, that’s why I do this. I do it for my kids and for my wife. I spend a lot of time away from them so when I get to see them after a game, win or lose, it brings everything back into perspective. So much is put on winning and losing. Everything matters if you win and everything is terrible if you lose, but then you see your kids and your wife and that’s not what’s important. I think people lose sight of that a lot of times and that keeps things in perspective for me. I want to be remembered for being a great husband and father a lot more than I do a coach.”
#23 Mark Webb | Jr. | DB
On playing in SEC road games and how different each environment is…
“Not knowing an [away] environment is definitely different. Just playing in the SEC period is different. You have to be ready to play those teams because going against those teams you know are going to get their best—always.”
On not giving up rushing yards like in past years versus SEC West teams on the road…
“Yes, I feel it is always about the trenches, you have to win the trenches to win the games.”
On being ranked fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings…
“I feel like that is great, but we’re just looking at who is next.”
On preparing for Bo Nix….
“I feel like they are both two great quarterbacks and he gets the job done over there for Auburn. He makes a lot of great plays. He has his own style. He has a younger guy so he has a lot of growing to do as a quarterback—he really is himself. He is a good passer and can run.”
#32 Monty Rice | Jr. | ILB
On his thoughts about the playoffs rankings going into this weekend’s game against Auburn…
“That’s just the way it is now. We just have to go and take care of business. We have to play the game and execute our game plan, because if we don’t win, [the rankings] don’t matter.”
On whether Alabama being his home state makes him more excited to play at Auburn…
“I know a bunch of dudes who play at Auburn— K.J. [Britt] and T.D. Moultry— we were all the same class. It’s going to be cool to play up against those guys and beat them. It’ll be cool to go back to my home state.”
On what he remembers/took away from Georgia’s 2017 loss at Auburn that he will take there this weekend…
“[The 2017 game at Auburn] was rough. It was very rough. We didn’t take care of business that day, so we lost. This time, we’re going in with a different mindset. We know what we’re supposed to do and how to execute it.”
On what Auburn’s offense is doing right…
“They’re running the ball on people. They’ve got a good running back in freshman DJ Williams. He’s pretty good, and he got them going against LSU with two very long runs.”
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia graduate place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has been included as one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on.
The only player from the Southeastern Conference on the list will now be eligible to be one of three Burlsworth Trophy finalists, which will be announced on Nov. 19. Finalists will be honored and the winner will be announced on Dec. 9 in Springdale, Ark., hosted by the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, in conjunction with the Springdale Rotary Club.
The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.
Honors have already begun to roll in for Blankenship. The five-time 2019 SEC Special Teams Player of the Week has earned one of the National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar Athlete Awards; is a finalist for the Campbell Trophy; and he is a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award and Wuerffel Trophy.
Blankenship, a native of Marietta, Ga., is leading the league in scoring this year, averaging 9.9 points per game, and has connected on 19-of-22 field goal attempts and all 32 of his PATs. He has drilled three 50-yard field goals during his team’s 8-1 start. Blankenship is the FBS active leader by 14 with a total of 72 made field goals.
The former walk-on who earned a 2018 UGA undergraduate degree is a 2019 CBS Sports/Athlon Midseason All-American. Blankenship has connected on a school record 186 consecutive PATs, which ranks second in SEC history. Thanks in large part to his contribution, Georgia leads the nation with 277 PATs in a row dating back to 2014.
The 2018 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team member and 2018 SEC Community Service Team member has been just as exceptional away from the field as he has been on the field.
Blankenship is a member of the UGA Athletic Association’s Leadership Academy (L.E.A.D.) and has served on the SEC Football Leadership Council the past two years. He has given his time to the following activities and many more: spokesperson for “No More,” which is a public service announcement against domestic violence and sexual assault; visitation at Camp Sunshine, which is a camp that provides support programs for children with cancer and their families; volunteer for the “Empty Bowl” luncheon, which is a luncheon sponsored by the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia where hand-painted ceramic bowls done by the football players were part of a silent auction to raise funds for needy families; and volunteer for the Home Runs for Hometown Rivals, which is a softball game at UGA’s Foley Field for Special Olympians.
The No. 5 Bulldogs (8-1, 5-1 SEC) travel to Auburn, Ala., to face the No. 13 Tigers (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday. CBS will televise the matchup at 3:30 p.m.
Week 10 Recap
Browns 19, Bills 16
Nick Chubb, RB: Chubb had 20 rushes for 116 yards and he caught two passes for five yards for the Browns. Chubb is ranked third in the league with 919 yards rushing and seventh with six rushing touchdowns. Chubb joined Hall of Famer Jim Brown as the only Cleveland players to roll up 900 or more yards in the first nine games of a season.
Isaiah McKenzie, WR: McKenzie had two catches for 19 yards for the Bills.
Bears 20, Lions 13
Roquan Smith, LB: Smith paced Chicago with 11 tackles.
Leonard Floyd, LB: Floyd posted two tackles and two quarterback hits for the Bears.
Javon Wims, WR: Wims logged five plays on offense, but he did not have any stats.
Riley Ridley, WR: The Chicago rookie was a healthy scratch.
Matthew Stafford, QB: Stafford was inactive due to fractured bones in his back. He had started 136 straight games, the second-longest active streak and the sixth-longest streak in NFL history among quarterbacks. Stafford stands second in the NFL with 19 passing touchdowns, third in total offense at 303.5 yards per game, and 10th in passing yards with 2,499.
John Atkins, DL: Atkins had one tackle for Detroit.
Isaac Nauta, TE: Nauta is on the Lions’ practice squad.
Jets 34, Giants 27
Jordan Jenkins, LB: Jenkins had two sacks and defended a pass for the Jets.
Alec Ogletree, LB: Ogletree rolled up seven tackles and defended a pass for the Giants.
Lorenzo Carter, LB: Carter posted three tackles for the Giants.
Deandre Baker, DB: Baker had one tackle for the Giants.
Titans 35, Chiefs 32
Ben Jones, OL: Jones played all 52 snaps at center and helped the Titans accumulate 371 total yards.
D’Andre Walker, LB: Walker is on Tennessee’s injured reserve list with a groin injury.
Mecole Hardman, WR: Hardman had a 63-yard touchdown reception for the Chiefs. He added four kickoffs for 90 yards and a 5-yard punt return. Among NFL rookies, Hardman ranks first in receiving touchdowns (five) and punt return average (16.0), second in total touchdowns (five), fifth in receiving yards (437), and sixth in kickoff return average (23.0). Hardman joined Otis Taylor as the only rookies in Chiefs history with five touchdown catches through the first 10 career games.
Dolphins 16, Colts 12
John Jenkins, DL: Jenkins posted two tackles, including one for loss, for Miami.
Reshad Jones, DB: Jones was on the Dolphins’ inactive list due to a chest injury.
Jonathan Ledbetter, DL: The Miami rookie is on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Justin Houston, DE: Houston had three tackles, including a sack, and two quarterback hits for the Colts.
Ravens 49, Bengals 13
Shawn Williams, DB: Williams posted seven tackles, including one for loss, and defended one pass for Cincinnati.
Geno Atkins, DL: Atkins had a tackle for the Bengals.
Cordy Glenn, OL: Glenn was on the Bengals’ inactive list (coach’s decision).
A.J. Green, WR: Green was on the Bengals’ inactive list due to an ankle injury.
Davin Bellamy, DE: Bellamy is a member of the Bengals’ practice squad.
Steelers 17, Rams 12
Todd Gurley, RB: Gurley had 12 carries for 73 yards for the Rams. Gurley stands seventh in the NFL with six rushing touchdowns and eighth with seven overall touchdowns.
Natrez Patrick, LB: The Rams rookie logged 17 special teams snaps, but he did not have any stats.
Raiders 26, Chargers 24
Thomas Davis, LB: Davis rolled up 11 tackles for the Chargers.
Buccaneers 30, Cardinals 27
Lamont Gaillard, OL: The Cardinals rookie was a healthy scratch.
Packers 24, Panthers 16
Elijah Holyfield, RB: Holyfield is a member of the Panthers’ practice squad.
Bye week: Jaguars, Patriots, Redskins.
Week 11 Schedule Involving Bulldogs
(Games are on Sunday unless otherwise noted)
Steelers at Browns, Thursday; Falcons at Panthers; Cowboys at Lions; Jaguars at Colts; Bills at Dolphins; Jets at Redskins; Cardinals at 49ers; Bengals at Raiders; Patriots at Eagles; Bears at Rams; Chiefs at Chargers, Monday. Bye week: Giants, Titans.
Graduate placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship matched his career best with four made field goals. The Bulldogs’ defense held Missouri to just 198 total yards, including 50 on the ground, and has still not allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
Junior quarterback Jake Fromm finished the game 13-of-29 through the air, including two touchdowns. Graduate receiver Lawrence Cager finished with 93 receiving yards on six catches. Freshman George Pickens made five catches, finishing with a career-best two touchdowns and 67 yards.
Defensively, senior Tae Crowder led Georgia with seven total tackles, while junior Monty Rice finished with six.
“I have a lot of respect for our offense,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “That (Missouri) defense is really good; they’re big and physical. … We made more plays than they did. Our quarterback made some throws. They didn’t make explosive throws and we did.”
After forcing the Tigers to punt on their opening drive, Georgia drove the field and scored when Fromm connected with Pickens, his third touchdown of the season, on a 25-yard pass to jump on the board first, 7-0. Georgia’s scoring drive included six plays, covering 60 yards.
Georgia didn’t allow a Missouri first down in the opening quarter.
The second quarter began with a 20-yard field goal by Blankenship, adding to Georgia’s lead, 10-0. The field goal, Blankenship’s 16th of the season, punctuated a 13-play, 67-yard drive that lasted five minutes, 51 seconds.
Junior defensive back Richard LeCounte intercepted a pass from Taylor Powell and returned it 71 yards to the Missouri 18-yard line around the eight-minute mark in the second quarter. The interception was LeCounte’s second of the season. Following a rush for a loss, Blankenship came on and split the uprights on a 48-yard attempt, widening the lead to 13-0 with 6:06 left in the half. The field goal was Blankenship’s fourth from 40 or longer this season and 19th of his career.
The first half concluded with a 47-yard field goal by Blankenship to bring Georgia’s lead to 16-0 at halftime. The opening half was the eighth time Georgia has held an opponent scoreless in a half this season, the third scoreless first half.
Blankenship connected on his fourth made field goal just under the seven-minute mark in the third, this time a 29-yarder, widening the lead to 19-0.
The Bulldogs’ second touchdown came with 14:02 left in the contest when Fromm completed an 18-yard pass to Pickens. Georgia completed a two-point conversion on a pass to sophomore James Cook, bringing the Bulldogs’ tally to 27-0. The touchdown completed an 11-play, 86-yard drive by the Bulldogs.
Up next, Georgia travels to Auburn next Saturday. Kickoff on CBS is set for 3:30 p.m., EST.
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia senior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2019 Lou Groza Award, which is given to the nation’s top kicker.
Blankenship is the only three-time semifinalist included and one of three kickers from the Southeastern Conference on the list.
Blankenship, a native of Marietta, Ga., is second in the league in scoring this year, averaging 9.5 points per game, and has connected on 15-of-17 field goal attempts and all 31 of his PATs. The four-time 2019 SEC Special Teams Player of the Week has drilled three 50-yard field goals during his team’s 7-1 start. He is the FBS active leader by 12 with a total of 68 made field goals.
The former walk-on who earned a 2018 UGA undergraduate degree is a 2019 CBS Sports/Athlon Midseason All-American. Blankenship has connected on a school record 185 consecutive PATs, which ranks second in SEC history. Thanks in large part to his contribution, Georgia leads the nation with 276 PATs in a row dating back to 2014.
Honors have already begun to roll in for Blankenship. He has earned one of the National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar Athlete Awards and is a finalist for the Campbell Trophy; he is a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy; and he is a nominee for the Burlsworth Trophy.
The No. 6 Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1 SEC) play host to Missouri (5-3, 2-2) on Dooley Field in Sanford Stadium this Saturday. ESPN will televise the game at 7 p.m.
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia senior inside linebacker Tae Crowder has been named one of 12 semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s best linebacker.
Crowder, a native of Hamilton, Ga., is one of only two players from the Southeastern Conference on the list. Finalists for the award are expected to be announced on Nov. 25.
Crowder’s friend and former roommate Roquan Smith was named the winner of the 2017 Butkus Award. Smith is currently with the Chicago Bears.
Current Bulldog freshman Nakobe Dean was the 2018 high school Butkus Award winner following his career at Horn Lake High School (Miss.).
Crowder is currently tied for second on the Bulldog defense with 36 tackles, including three tackles for loss. He also scooped up a fumble at Tennessee earlier in the year and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. Crowder mans the middle of a defense that leads the SEC in Scoring Defense (11.4 points/game, No. 4 nationally), Rushing Defense (77.6 yards/game, No. 4 nationally) and Total Defense (268.1 yards/game, No. 8 nationally).
The No. 6 Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1 SEC) play host to Missouri (5-3, 2-2) on Dooley Field in Sanford Stadium this Saturday. ESPN will televise the game at 7 p.m.
ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, previewed Saturday’s game against Missouri. The Bulldogs and Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. ET on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.
On Monday, Coach Smart and student-athletes offered the following comments.
Head Coach Kirby Smart
Opening statement …
“Off to Missouri. [Head Coach] Barry Odom and his staff have done a tremendous job. Got a lot of respect for him. He’s a guy that I share a lot of ideas with and discuss a lot of things with when we are at SEC meetings, very similar to me, a defensive guy and also coaching his alma mater. I think he’s done a great job motivating this team, and putting them in a good situation.
They are extremely physical. They are a tough match-up from their defensive perspective because they are so big and physical up front. You look historically against us, they have done a really good job. They are top probably 15 in the country in almost every defensive category and they do a good job of that.
Their offense has been very explosive. They are tied for the most plays over 50 yards in our conference and they have done a good job of that. They have a tight end and stuff to match-up with and a quarterback that’s played in a lot of big football games. Have a lot of respect for what they have done and I know coming off an off-week, they will be ready and prepared.”
On how much winning time of possession helps you win a game …
“Well, objective goals for our offense, one of them is to win time of possession. It’s one of the 15, 20 things we list and we hit some of those in the game. We didn’t hit some of those, time of possession, winning that battle, our offense, they won that battle and that was important to them. It’s important in every game that you win the time of possession, but it can be misleading for explosive teams that are scoring it all the time. But I’m really focused on Missouri and how we can kind of get ourselves in a position to play these guys.”
On moving on after an emotional win …
“Just your actions speak louder than your words, and the actions you take towards practice and the actions you take towards preparation are all things that are in our control. I don’t think talking about it does it. I think the actions speak louder than your words, and that will be important to our guys, you know, how we prepare and how we get ready and what kind of plan we put together to help us with these guys because they do a good job of making you play left-handed a lot of times, and Derek [Dooley] does a good job offensively of mixing things up. They have got some good matchups, especially with some of their big guys.”
On if the game is different now than when he was a defensive back and the low number of interceptions …
“I wouldn’t say it’s different. We play a little different style because we’re a match defense for the most part. I think a lot of interceptions come through zone defenses and being able to see the ball a lot of times. We are not all looking at the ball. We are looking at the man, whether it’s a zone match-up or a man match-up, but it’s what we think gives us the best chance to make people inefficient, and it doesn’t always promote a lot of interceptions. I mean, historically, we have not had a ton of interceptions. We’ve got to do a better job getting turnovers. There’s no doubt about that. That comes with forcing them, havoc, tipped balls, batted balls, strip outs, knocking the crap out of people, ripping the ball out; those things all effect turnovers, but we’ve been short on interceptions, for sure.”
On the importance of a player’s mental capacity when looking at graduate transfers …
“Most of the time, you know enough about those guys to know they have got the mental capacity. I mean, they have played in an offense or a defense for a year. Usually have some kind of connection to them because otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be considering you. It’s not just completely out of the blue. Usually know something about them. You know a coach that used to coach them. You knew them out of high school through recruiting, but you have some connection, and you feel comfortable that they are going to fit in your program; otherwise, you don’t bring them in.”
On showing the team motivational videos before each game …
“Well we use outside sources. We use Trevor Moawad, consulting firm. Trevor and I have had a relationship for a long time. We don’t always use them but we usually come up with some kind of message. Regardless of what the game is, there’s a point to it and an emphasis for it. This week it was more about — for him, it was an opportunity for him to make a decision that he wanted to do something rather than listening to the outside world and all the different pressures. He chose to wear gold shoes because he expected to win the race, and that was a decision that he made and he made it internally. Wasn’t really worried about everything outside that. That’s really what it’s about, because the men in this room that come in for meetings every day and fight and do all the things, they are the ones that matter. They make the decisions that determine the outcome of the game, nobody else.”
On pass protection …
“I think the pass protection has been excellent. I’ve repeatedly said that. I thought earlier in the year is when it was at its, I guess you could say weakest. But coming in after the Vanderbilt game that, was a concern for me because we took some shots and some hits. They had improved. They worked hard on it and they have gotten better as far as snap-to-throw. It really depends on the route structure and it depends on the protection. Some protections, it’s quicker. It’s meant to be that way. Got to get the ball out. Some route structures, the ball is out quick. And then other ones, is longer, and longer developing. But our guys have done a good job up front. That’s one thing they do really well is pass pro, and it’s like Sam says, you get good at what you practice at. Well, we practice that, too.”
On Missouri’s road record …
“I don’t look into it much to be honest with you. I think it’s not really to be — it’s not a big deal. The bottom line is, I know the football team they have got. I know the coaching staff they have got. I know the players they have got and I can watch the tape and know they have got a really physical football team. One of the games was played in some extreme weather conditions, which I know how that impacts the game, and I know that impacts when you’re playing against a guy that’s probably not a quarterback; he’s an athlete, he completely changed the game for how they played. It’s very different.”
On Tyson Campbell injury update…
“Tyson warmed up. Felt pretty good. Felt like he can go if he needed to. Didn’t feel like he was 100 percent and just never gave him an opportunity to play. There’s no other medical tent.”
On teams attacking the nickel and dime back in the middle of the field…
“I think that’s where teams attack you, based on what you’re in. There were some things we were giving up in that game that was probably more inside routes than we tried to take them away a lot of times, a lot of times you take them away by coverage and sometimes you take them away by leverage and sometimes you just get beat. All those combinations are there and you rob Peter to pay Paul. So you move everybody inside, you’re more susceptible outside. It’s really about pitching to it and being able to change things up. I think Dan (Lanning) and the defensive staff is doing a good job of that.”
On Jake Fromm’s relationship with Lawrence Cager and how that affects the receivers…
“Yeah, I’d say he’s comfortable with them. He’s comfortable with some of our other wide-outs. Some of those plays Cager got, they weren’t featured Cager plays. He was the second, third, fourth option. Some of them he’s primary. Some of them he’s primary based on coverage. Some of them he’s not. Some of them, Jake had time to work to him to make the decision on who to throw it to, so I don’t think it was a scheme deal. It was, some of them, he was just the best option. He was the open option in the zone. But Jake’s comfortable with all our guys. I think he’s got good rapport with all over receivers.”
On using the run game to wear teams down with the schedule ahead…
“I don’t think you ever just stick with something to bang your head against the wall. If you’re not successful doing it, you can’t abandon it totally. But you’ve got to do what works and you’ve got to have enough change ups to keep them honest. I think we always try to do that. I mean, of all the games, that was the toughest game throughout because there was never a large success in the run game where it was like other games where you’ve been able to take over or third and fourth quarter really be able to power through them. That was tough sledding. Give Florida credit. They played really physical at the line of scrimmage. These guys will be the same way. They have a good defensive front. It’s just hard to run the ball in our league, and our success has been more second half oriented than first for the most part.”
On hearing the highs and lows of how good his team is…
“I don’t know either one’s tougher because I don’t really try to pay attention to it. I try to emphasize to the kids that that inconsistency is consistent. So the highs and lows are going to be consistent as far as everybody is going to say one way or the other, it’s always higher or lower than it really is. As coaches, we always say that’s it’s never as good as it is, and it’s never as bad as it seems. More important, our kids understand what makes you successful is what you do, not what you listen to.”
On the upcoming schedule, the “gauntlet,” being a buy-in moment for the team…
“We don’t look past the gauntlet of Missouri because our team respects them. It’s a single-minded focus on one thing. We can’t look past that. As far as buy in, they never didn’t buy-in. They have bought in the whole entire time. There’s been a sense of urgency for our guys for a long time. Just execute and got to get better and most important thing is they understand they have to get better to get where we want to go.”
On how Albert Okwuegbuam stacks up against other tight ends…
“They all have some good tape to watch, that’s for sure, because we have had some tight ends have good performances against us, so they will have some good things to look at and he’s a good player. I think back to last year, he was probably the toughest match-up I thought we had. Last year seems like he stuck out more in that game plan. He’s a good player. They convinced him to stay. He’s done a good job this year being more of a complementary football player than being just a receiving tight end. He’s done more than that this year. They are doing a good job using him, and he is a match-up problem. He is a big, athletic guy, different than Pitts. I mean, he’s big.”
On Fromm’s comfort level with his tight ends…
“As far as tight ends, he doesn’t not target the tight end. We never go in the game and go, ‘We’re not going to target the tight ends this game.’ We’re going to move to the wide-outs. We take what the defense gives us, and so much of what people think is just a choice or a decision made to throw the ball or not throw the ball to the tight ends, it’s a game of matchups. It’s a game of leverage, it’s a game of coverages, and any good football coach will tell you that. It’s not going to this guy, that’s the guy. It’s not like that. You’ve got to go with matchups and where people play you, and the catches that the tight ends had in the game the other night, they were the right throw. So that’s where he went with it. We’ll continue to do that, and you take advantage of what the defense gives you.”
On the Missouri defense…
“They have done a good job every year he’s been there to me. They are an aggressive style. They load the box on you. They make you play one-dimensional. They are very multiple and they disguise things well. We always study what they do because we are always trying to get better and they do different things than we do. We are not like philosophically built the same as them. Yeah, stop the run, don’t let them score, don’t give up big plays, turnovers, we are all the same there. But schematically, they are different from us, and we are always trying to steal ideas from them. I have a lot of respect for them and the way they play defense.”
On the status of Tyson Campbell during the week and on gameday…
“Yes, he practiced last week. I think I talked about it last week. Went Tuesday and Wednesday pretty much the whole practice. It bothered him some having been on the turf more because of the weather. We were forced inside and so, we kind of shut him down Thursday, and then for the game, pregame, he felt pretty good. He felt like he could play if he needed to, but he did not feel 100 percent and we never really had the opportunity to put him in and play him. We were going to play him if we needed to, and we didn’t feel like we had to. We were playing pretty well. So that’s what it usually goes into. He’ll continue to work this week. If he has a good week of practice and he feels 100 percent, then we’d sure like for him to play. We have a lot of roles that we can play guys as fast and talented as him, so we want to try to work him in in some way. As far as other guys, yeah, pretty healthy coming out of it. I can’t think of anybody that didn’t finish the game out.”
On preparing for Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant…
“Well, I don’t think it will change how we prepare. We’ll prepare for his style, which he’s a really good athlete. They run him. He’s got quarterback runs. They make you count extra hats in the box when he’s a quarterback run guy. In a lot of ways, they can be like Lynn (Bowden, Jr.) from Kentucky with a really good passer back there. Now you’re defending two things. That’s tough. And the quarterback run element is always hard to prepare for, but he has a lot of experience in big games. It’s not like he hasn’t played in big games and been in these kind of stadiums. Been in the SEC and also playing at Clemson. Got a lot of respect for the way he plays. He plays with toughness, passion, runs the ball, scrambles, makes a bunch of throws. Really good player.”
On whether other graduate wide receivers besides Lawrence Cager considered Georgia…
“We had a couple reach out, but either it wasn’t a comfortable marriage or we didn’t know if they were going to be able to contribute. It’s a tough decision because you’re betting on this guy, and we haven’t been 100 percent. We’ve had guys that came in here and didn’t play as graduate transfers, and you’re looking for the right fit and we just felt comfortable that it was the right fit with him and he was the one that made the most sense.”
On the differences between hosting recruits for day games versus night games…
“Differences, I would say the earlier, you’ve got more time to go to dinner, do more afterwards. It’s a more relaxed atmosphere because the game is over, as opposed to, you know, a late game, you’re with them all day. Our assistant coaches try to spend time with them and you try to entertain them as much as you can, but you’re obviously preparing your own players for the game and the buildup there. It’s tough after the game on a night game. You’ve got a short window; they are tired, want to go to bed and then you’re looking at Sunday to spend time with them, but yet you still have to prepare for another game in some instances.”
On the possibility of limiting how much TV the players watch on Saturday…
“Yeah, I don’t know how I would monitor that. If you figure that out, let me know, because I’m not the TV police. So, we don’t monitor that, and we have walk-throughs and try to prepare mentally.”
#2 Richard LeCounte | Junior | DB
On another big tight end challenge this week…
“There are a lot of really athletic tight ends in this world. Every week is a new challenge and I think I am ready for it this week. Missouri has a great guy in Albert Okwuegbunam. He is extremely big and physical and I played against him last year. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
On what he likes about night games…
“I love the energy that is brought by our fans at night games. I love the LED lights and stuff like that. It makes for a really fun game. It is also going to be a little chilly this weekend so I am looking forward to the cooler weather.”
On how he prepares differently for a 7 p.m. kickoff…
“You have to prepare differently because of the time. You have a lot more downtime for a night game to watch other games and mentally prepare. You can get a few more nuggets game plan wise for a 7 p.m. game that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to get for a noon game. You have a little bit more time to prepare.”
#30 Tae Crowder | Senior | ILB
On not giving up a rushing touchdown all season…
“It’s not really something we talk about. We just come to practice and work at it. We come to practice and work at it each and every day and it pays off on Saturdays.”
On his thought process the night before a game…
“We’re just trying to focus on what we want to do ahead of time before the game. We do see other teams playing, but we just want to focus on everything we can before we play the game.”
On DB D.J. Daniel…
“D.J.’s been doing a great job all year just coming to practice and working hard and it pays off on Saturdays.”
On what Daniel does well…
“He just comes to practice and works at it. He’s got great technique. He does a great job competing with our receivers.”
#89 Charlie Woerner | Senior | TE
On the advantages of time of possession/the importance of winning that battle…
“It’s huge. It really helps us out in a way that it gives our defense time to rest on the sideline and get ready for the next drive against [the opponent’s] offense. It keeps the ball away from our opponent, so it’s a really big thing for us. It wears the other team and their defense down so that, by the end of the game, they’re tired too.”
On the effect winning the possession battle can have on Georgia, especially against five-straight games against Power Five teams with no open dates…
“It’s something that continually helps us out, and it’s something that helps us win games every week. It shows that we’re executing, because it’s hard to have long drives— usually something messes up somewhere. To have that long of a drive just shows that we’ve really been practicing hard and better executing our plays.”
On whether Missouri is a tough team to figure out, considering the win over South Carolina…
“It’s the SEC. I feel like it’s hard to look at everything because every team is good in the SEC. You have to come out every Saturday ready to play. Everyone has to be really locked in to practice all week, or you’re going to come out and lose that game. Every team in the SEC has the capability to beat any SEC team on a given day, more so than any other conference.”
#15 Lawrence Cager | Graduate Student | WR
On the support he got following the game against Florida/this year in general…
“As you can imagine, a lot of family and friends reached out with amazing support and love. [Former Miami teammates] reach out to me pretty much every game. I still have family over there. I love all those guys over there.”
On what stood out to him about UGA when going through the graduate transfer process…
“It was Coach Coley and Coach Smart. Getting the opportunity to play with them was a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the same time, getting to be a part of this team and having Jake [Fromm] as a quarterback, I couldn’t have picked a better situation.”