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2018 SEC Championship Week Starts With Smart, Saban

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks to members of the press in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Sep., 24, 2018. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)

ATHENS, Ga.– To open the 2018 Southeastern Conference Championship Game week, University of Georgia and University of Alabama football head coaches Kirby Smart and Nick Saban addressed the upcoming contest on a teleconference Sunday evening.

 

A championship meeting scheduled since November 3, the fourth-ranked Bulldogs and top-ranked Crimson Tide sealed their fate with respective wins against then-No. 9 Kentucky, 34-17, and then-No. 4 LSU, 29-0, on the road. Three weeks later, Georgia and Alabama check in with the top-two spots in the conference in scoring offense at 40.1 and 49.0 points per game.

 

“(Alabama’s) going to score, and they’re good at it,” Smart said. “(Saban’s) doing what they do best. I think a lot of that credit goes to (offensive coordinator Michael) Locksley and (associate head coach Dan) Enos and their offensive staff. They’ve got a who’s who star-studded cast over there on offense. A lot of their support staff, I’ve known for a long time. There are coaches that have been in pro ball over there, and they get great ideas. They’ve got great players, and they put the package together, and they’re really aggressive with it.”

 

Both teams are directed by the leading contenders in passing efficiency at quarterback with sophomore Tua Tagovailoa (212.5), junior Jalen Hurts (204.5) and sophomore Jake Fromm (179.4) at the top-3 conference spots.

 

Protecting starters Fromm and Tagovailoa are the Georgia and Alabama offensive lines, both named semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award, presented annually to the nation’s top offensive unit. On the defensive side, Georgia ranks fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (17.2 points/game) with Alabama at second (13.8 points/game).

 

“Alabama’s always separated themselves in regards to the offensive and defensive lines, and this team is no different,” Smart said. “They’ve got an extremely talented offensive line, an extremely talented defensive line. That’s who they are. There are no bones about it. There’s no way around it. They’re good on both lines of scrimmage, and that’s where they try to control the game. It will be a great challenge for the offensive line. They get to go against a really talented group.”

 

The SEC Championship Game will also feature the top punt returners in the conference: junior Mecole Hardman (21.8 points/game) and freshman Jaylen Waddle (13.6 points/game).

 

“Georgia is one of the most complete teams in the nation in terms of offense, defense, special teams,” Saban said. “This will be the most challenging game we have all year.”

 

The January CFP National Championship Game marked the first meeting between the two teams with Smart and Saban at the helm. Saban hired Smart as an assistant at LSU before a one-year stint with the Miami Dolphins served as the precursor to eight seasons at Alabama together.

 

“I think Kirby has done a fantastic job, and no surprise to me,” Saban said. “Georgia has always had a pretty good program, and he has taken it to the next level. They’ve done an outstanding job of recruiting good players, and they’ve also done a really good job of developing the players and getting the players on their team to play at a high level on a consistent basis.”

 

On Saturday, both Georgia and Alabama defeated its respective in-state rival by at least 20 points before shifting sole focus to the conference title game in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The SEC Championship game is slated for a 4 p.m. start time on CBS.

 

“I’ve never been around really good teams that are focused on other teams,” Smart said. “The good teams I’ve been around are focusing on whoever they play that week. And it’s really not been different for us this year.”​

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Georgia Postgame Quotes Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart
On the win to go to 11-1:
“It’s a rivalry game. They have a good program and a good team, and our guys take a lot of pride in doing things the
right way and competing. I thought we played really hard today. …
This is a credit to our seniors, to our entire team, for buying in. We’re getting better each week.”
On defending Tech’s offense:
“The kids played hard and practiced hard. Our defensive coaching staff put a lot of effort in and it paid off. The look
from the scouts all week was tremendous. They gave us a good picture and a lot of credit goes to those kids. … It’s
an eyes football game. You’ve got to look at your keys the whole time and we did that.”
On Georgia’s offense:
“Our offense is functioning at a high level. We’re efficient and we’re getting positive plays. The offense is getting
better.”
On playing in the SEC Championship Game:
“It’s where this program should be. It feels like a game we should be going to every year. Our guys will lay it on the
line and they’re excited about the opportunity. It will be a great atmosphere, one of the best in college football. It will
be another game week for us. We’ll prepare for our opponent and treat it like every other week.”
Sophomore DL #10 Malik Herring
On the defensive performance…
“I want to give credit to our scout team because they really helped us prepare for this game and practice was actually
harder than the game.”
On the challenge of facing Georgia Tech’s offense:
“It was a challenge. We had to change our minds and get prepared for the game because their offense is so
different. We just had to prep really hard and stay focused throughout the week, even though we’re getting cut
(blocked) in practice and stuff like that, we just had to change our minds.”
Sophomore TB #7 D’Andre Swift
On what the “We Run This State” mantra means to the running backs group…
“It means a lot. The last time they [Georgia Tech] came here, the senior class lost so it’s real big for us just to send
our seniors out with this win today.”
On outgaining Georgia Tech, the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation coming into the game, 285-128 on the
ground…
“Hats off to our scout team. Our scout team did a great job of giving our defense a look because they run a real
complicated offense to stop. Our defense did a great job of stopping them today … On offense, we’re clicking right
now. I think we’re starting to peak at the right time.”
Senior OLB #15 D’Andre Walker
On snapping Georgia Tech’s two-game winning streak in Sanford Stadium…
“I feel like after this year, there will be no more years where Georgia Tech will come into the University of Georgia
and beat us in our own stadium.”
On the defensive performance…
“I feel like our scout team gave us a better look than they [Georgia Tech] could, and we just went out there and
executed.”
Georgia Tech Postgame Quotes
Georgia vs. Georgia Tech
Sanford Stadium
Nov. 24, 2018
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson
Opening Statement:
“We played against a really good football team and we played really poorly. We got ourselves dug in a hole and we
never could put together anything consistently on offense. The first drive, we make a couple first downs then got 4th-
and-1 then jump offsides. I think the first half, we got the ball a few times and didn’t do much with it. In the second
half, we got the block below-the-waist call which I talked to them about. … The game was over by then. We just
could never get anything going offensively at all. The offense needs to possess the ball for us to have a chance to
score. We didn’t do that today. Credit to Georgia, they did what they had to do to win.”
On the struggles of the defense in the first half:
“It gets masked sometimes in a game with limited possession as long as you can hold the ball and score, but we
struggled mightily on the backend. We missed a ton of tackles.”
On the offensive struggles in the first half:
“We had a hard time blocking. We never could get anything going. We’d get a first down or two. We missed reads. In
a game like that, when you miss the read and you miss your target, you keep getting buried and there’s not much
margin for error. You can’t go four possessions without scoring and expect to be in the game.”
Freshman Punt Returner Juanyeh Thomas
On catching the ball on the goal line…
“I was just thinking if I can return it I can go. I thought to myself if I can I can run it out and I did, That was it. I
followed the Georgia kick off team crashing and I just read the kick off team, hit it, and scored.”
On the kicks going over his head…
“Every game if they game goes into the end zone I’ll get mad because I want to return the ball. That’s just me
honestly.
On the rivalry…
“Honestly the hype about it was everything that I thought it was but we didn’t get the results we wanted so now we
have to focus on the bowl. We’re throwing this behind us and wanting to finish strong.”
Freshman Quarterback Tre Swilling
On Georgia’s receivers…
“Like you just said they’re really good receivers, very talented across the board. For every play they were out there
they were very physical and they’re good at what they do.”
On being confident with the score…
“Me personally I think you just have to have conference throughout the whole game and in every game the
momentum is going to go the other way at some point. That’s when you have to dig deep, remember where you
started, and not really scratch what you’re doing but focus on that and continue going. Being able to go out there and
get a stop.”
On Jake Fromm…
“He’s a really good passer I think there’s no secret about that. He’s a great quarterback, very smart. He knows where
the routes are going to be and most of the time you see that the receivers haven’t left their cuts yet but the ball has
left his hand. He has great placement and great timing. He’s a really good quarterback.”

Governor’s Cup Remains in Athens, Georgia 45 Georgia Tech 21

ATHENS, Ga.– With a 45-21 victory against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium, the fifth-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs football team retained the Governor’s Cup in Athens for the second consecutive season.

 

With the win, the Bulldogs remain perfect at home with an 11-1 regular-season record in back-to-back years.

 

A balanced attack with 447 total yards of offense – 285 on the ground and 162 through the air – was paired with a Bulldog defense that held the nation’s top rushing offense to 66 total yards (all rushing), four first downs and one touchdown in the first half.

 

Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm opened the contest with seven-straight completions, matching up with seven different receivers for a 13-for-16 final clip with 175 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift registered his fourth 100-yard rushing contest of the season with 105, complete with a touchdown.

 

With nine tackles, the Georgia defense was paced by senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, a member of a senior class that improved to 42-11, the third-best mark in school history.

 

“It’s a rivalry game,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “They have a good program and a good team, and our guys take a lot of pride in doing things the right way and competing. I thought we played really hard today…This is a credit to our seniors, to our entire team, for buying in. We’re getting better each week.”

 

After scoring seven-straight touchdowns in the first half against Massachusetts last week, the Bulldogs’ first five drives resulted in a touchdown.

 

The first Georgia possession, a 9-play, 75-yard drive, was finalized by a 5-yard touchdown from Fromm to junior wide receiver Riley Ridley. After the first Georgia defensive stop, the Bulldogs used an 11-play, 88-yard march – featuring a 39-yard rush from junior Elijah Holyfield and receptions from tight ends senior Charlie Woerner and junior Isaac Nauta – to reach the 1-yard line, where Swift fought for the touchdown and the 14-0 margin.

 

After the Yellow Jackets’ Juanyeh Thomas returned the first 100-yard kickoff return against the Bulldogs since 1999, Georgia’s distanced itself yet again with a 6-play, 63-yard drive, highlighted by a 26-yard Jayson Stanley rush. At the 12:56 mark, the 21-7 lead was sealed by a 12-yard touchdown from Fromm to sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman.

 

Next, Georgia took over on downs as the Bulldog defense held Georgia Tech at its own 44-yard line, highlighted by a tackle from Ledbetter for a 3-yard loss and a sack from freshman defensive lineman Jordan Davis for a 4-yard loss. On the following play, Georgia took control on offense, and Fromm found junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman feet from the end zone for the 44-yard touchdown and the 28-7 lead.

 

After another Bulldog stop, Georgia needed just four plays, split between freshman tailback James Cook and Swift, before Holyfield leaped into the end zone, extending the ball across the plane for the 8-yard touchdown.

 

With 48 seconds remaining in the half, the Bulldogs marched 40 yards between a 13-yard Swift rush and three-straight Nauta receptions to set up a Rodrigo Blankenship 25-yard field goal. Georgia headed into the half with a 38-7 advantage.

 

After the Bulldogs forced a three-and-out to open the second half, six plays and 53 yards later, Georgia produced a 45-7 score. Swift checked in with 39 yards on two carries, setting up a 4-yard Ridley touchdown, his career-topping second of the day, from Fromm between a pair of Georgia Tech defenders.

 

The Yellow Jackets tacked on a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter, but the Bulldogs’ 45 points held till the 45-21 final.

 

Next up, the Bulldogs head to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the SEC Championship in Atlanta against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, December 1.

 

“It’s where this program should be,” Smart said. “It feels like a game we should be going to every year. Our guys will lay it on the line and they’re excited about the opportunity. It will be a great atmosphere, one of the best in college football. It will be another game week for us. We’ll prepare for our opponent and treat it like every other week.”

#5 Georgia Postgame Notes vs. Georgia Tech

*42ndWin For Seniors And 11thThis Year: With today’s 45-21 victory, the Bulldog senior class improves to 42-11 and that tally ranks tied for third in school history with the 2004 class that went 42-10. Georgia went a perfect 7-0 at home this year. ​For the fourth time in school history since a 12th-game was added to the season in 2002, Georgia has won at least 11 games in the regular season. Georgia has gone 11-1 during the regular season in 2002, 2012, 2017 and now 2018.  In the series history with Tech, Georgia improves to 67-39-5 all-time and retains the Governor’s Cup Trophy. It was presented to Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs at midfield after the game by Governor Nathan Deal.

 

*Bulldogs Strike First – & Often: Georgia scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and six out of its nine times with the ball and added a field goal during its 11thwin of the year.  This comes after the Bulldogs scored touchdowns on all seven possessions in the first half last week versus Massachusetts and then scored on four of five drives during the second half against the Minutemen. Georgia’s first punt came in the 4thquarter, a span of seven quarters dating back to the Auburn game after not punting last week against UMass.

 

*Fromm Directing The Rout: Junior QB Jake Fromm started the game 7-for-7 (12-for-12 counting the UMass game) and hit seven different receivers and went 13-for-16 for 175 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in a little more than a half.  He hit junior WR Riley Ridley for a 5-yard touchdown to cap the opening nine-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:37.  Fromm then directed an 88-yard drive (second longest drive this season) that lasted 6:07 and was 11 plays.  Junior TB D’Andre Swift scored on a 1-yard plunge on the second drive and had 20 yards on the ground.  Fellow TB Elijah Holyfield jumpstarted the drive with a 39-yard rush.

On Georgia’s third and fourth possessions, Fromm sent scoring strikes to sophomore Jeremiah Holloman for 12 yards and to junior Mecole Hardman for 44 yards.  Holyfield returned to the Sanford Stadium end zone for the second time in as many weeks for Georgia’s fifth touchdown on an 8-yard scamper.  Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship completed the scoring with a 25-yard field goal as time ran out in the second quarter.  In the second half, Ridley snagged his career high second touchdown grab of the game with a 4-yard catch.

 

*Another Productive Day: Georgia featured a balanced attack with 448 yards of total offense including 286 yards rushing and 162 yards through the air.  The Bulldogs had four receiving touchdowns and two scoring runs.

Junior TE Isaac Nautaled the receivers with four catches for 36 yards while Swift led the charge on the ground with 105 yards on 14 carries (7.5 avg.) and a touchdown.  This marks his fourth 100-yard rushing game in the last five contests after he played a minimal number of snaps during the 66-27 victory over UMass.

 

*Getting Defensive: Matched up versus the nation’s top rushing offense, the Bulldogs held Georgia Tech to 66 total yards (all rushing) and only seven points in the first half off a kickoff return. Tech finished with 219 total yards (128 rushing) and 21 points in the game. Tech was averaging 353.7 yards per game on the ground and 437.5 total yards.  The Yellow Jackets completed the game with 12 first downs to Georgia’s 25. Tech went 3-for-6  on fourth downs.

Senior DL Jonathan Ledbetter led the Bulldogs with a nine stops and Georgia had three sacks.  Senior ILB D’Andre Walker (7 tackles) and Jordan Davis (3 tackles) each had a sack.  Tae Crowder and Malik Herring split a sack in the first half.  Walker’s previous high was six tackles against GT last year.

 

*Giving Up A 100-Yarder: After the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the Yellow Jackets’ Juanyeh Thomas returned Rodrigo Blankenship’s kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.  This was the first KOR for a TD since North Carolina’s T.J. Logan went 95 yards to the end zone in 2016.  Tennessee’s Leonard Scott was the last player to go 100 yards for a touchdown on a KOR against the Bulldogs in 1999. Also on special teams, freshman P Jake Camarda had his first punt since the third quarter of the Auburn game on Nov. 10.  He had a 45 yarder at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and it was the only one of the contest.

 

*Protecting The Pigskin: With one fumble today, Georgia is now +3 in turnover margin.  The Bulldogs have forced 15 turnovers that have led to 51 points. Their opponents have forced 12 turnovers that have resulted in 30 points.  Freshman TB James Cook fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter and Tech converted it into a touchdown.

 

*For Starters: Georgia had a pair of first-time starters on defense. Sophomore defensive lineman Malik Herring and junior defensive lineman Michael Barnett got the nod for the Bulldogs. Senior C Lamont Gaillard started his team-leading 40thconsecutive game while on defense, junior J.R. Reed started his unit-leading 27thstraight time.

 

*Up Next:The No. 5 Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1 SEC) make the trip to Atlanta to face No. 1 Alabama (11-0, 7-0) in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday.  CBS will televise the matchup at 4 p.m. The Iron Bowl kicks off today at 3:30 p.m. to close out the regular season for the Crimson Tide versus Auburn.

Football Practice Report: Bulldogs Getting Set For Tech

ATHENS, Ga. – Fifth-ranked Georgia held a two-hour workout Wednesday in preparation for its upcoming home finale against Georgia Tech.

 

Saturday’s contest will close out the regular season for the Bulldogs (10-1) as Tech comes to town with a 7-4 mark. Both teams are riding four-game winning streaks. Speaking on the SEC head coaches weekly teleconference before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs are ready to honor their 25-member senior class.

 

“We’re excited to have our third home game in a row and looking forward to getting an opportunity to thank our senior class on Senior Day and their families for how much they’ve meant to the UGA program and what they’ve given back,” said Smart. “We want to honor them by playing one of our best games at home. I know our guys are excited about the opportunity to play Georgia Tech. We always look forward to this game. It’s a big rivalry in state, and I know both sets of fans are looking forward to it.”

 

Georgia enters Saturday’s game averaging 39.6 points a game while Tech checks in at 36.9 points a game. The Bulldogs scoring defense ranks 12th nationally, allowing just 16.8 points a game while Tech surrenders 27.5 points a game. The Bulldogs are 10th nationally in rushing with an SEC-best 257.5 yards a game. Tech’s triple-option offense averages 353.7 rushing yards a game, which leads the nation.

 

Tech’s leading rushers are quarterbacks TaQuon Marshall (857 yards on 174 attempts with 11 touchdowns) and Tobias Oliver (808 yards on 142 attempts with 12 touchdowns) while the top running back is Jordan Mason (637 yards on 102 attempts with 7 touchdowns).

 

“They are definitely running the quarterback, when you combined the fact that most times they’ve got one quarterback and they have two quarterbacks rushing at the clip they have been rushing at, it’s pretty obvious that they think very highly of those guys as runners,” said Smart. “You have to be smart on how you play them. They’re doing a good job of getting those guys on the perimeter, and they’re running the ball well.”

 

Smart was asked how the leadership on this year’s Georgia team has been, and how it has managed to follow up last season’s success.

 

“They’ve done a good job,” said Smart. “They have taken on their own roles. Each one has been different. Some guys have larger roles on the field and lesser off, and some have larger leadership roles and maybe lesser on the field. They take on their own personality. They’ve done a good job of kind of distinguishing themselves from last year because last year was last year. There were a lot of good leaders on last year’s team. They are some of the same leaders on this team, but a lot of the primary leaders on this team are younger players.”

 

Georgia’s senior class is 41-11 overall, winning SEC Eastern Division titles in 2017 and 2018, the 2017 SEC title, the 2018 Rose Bowl Game and an appearance in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game.

 

Following practice, the Bulldogs will have a 24-hour window to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. Kickoff at Sanford Stadium Saturday is slated for noon ET on the SEC Network.

Bulldogs Plan for Tech Matchup

ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Georgia football team practiced for approximately two hours on the Woodruff Practice Fields in preparation for its regular season finale against Georgia Tech.

 

The 2018 senior class picked up its 41st win last Saturday after beating UMass 66-27; the 2018 seniors are 41-11, which is tied for the fourth-best record by a class in school history. The record for most wins by a class is 44, which is held by the 2005 contingent, which won two SEC championships.

 

The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry contest is slated for noon ET on SEC Network on Saturday, a precursor to the SEC Championship in Atlanta against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Georgia’s second-straight trip to the conference title game will be at 4 p.m. ET and broadcast on CBS.

 

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart

On Tuesday practice…

“We had a pretty physical practice. On Tuesday, it’s our day to get after it a little bit more today than others. We had some pretty good cuts, had a lot of guys on the ground. I thought our scout team did a tremendous job trying to get us a picture. Certainly not exactly the speed Tech is going to give us, but we’ve had a couple kids who have been on the scout team for a few years now – (Steven) Van Tiflin, (Willie) Erdman, Prather (Hudson) – those guys are unbelievable at how fast they go out there and try to mow people down. We appreciate their effort and what they do to give us a good picture.”

 

On the challenges of a triple option offense…

“The challenge is eye control. Football, to be honest with you, has changed so much in the last 20 years…that’s nothing what this is about. This is about physicality, toughness, getting down in the dirt – backyard football. I went and watched my son play in a 6-year old tackle football championship, and I saw 6-year olds, 7-year olds, 8-year olds playing, and that’s what they were playing. 11 people in a box, and all of them hitting each other and tackling each other and tackling the man with the ball. Looks like a scrum sometimes. What a lot of people don’t do, they spread you out. Tech does a tremendous job playing physical. Some guys don’t like to get physical. If you don’t like physical, you won’t like this game.”

 

On the approach for facing an annual team with a triple option offense…

“We did a lot of that the first year because I certainly didn’t feel comfortable with it the first year. We studied people, did all kinds of things to prep for the first year. We certainly didn’t finish very well, but I think a second-year experience is helpful. There’s nothing I can say that we just went out and reinvented the second year, we made some good plays last year, and we had some good players out there. But we look at things every year, try to get better at third downs, and do the same thing with triple option, and get good ideas from different people and try to learn them.”

 

On what characteristics of the Georgia defense will make them successful against Tech…

“A lot of playing Tech is attitude. I want to hit, not be hit. I want to attack, not be attacked. That’s the approach we’re taking. We have to do a good job of selling it to your players, and I think the teams that defend it well are really the ones that enjoy playing against it.”

 

On how this senior class has elevated the Georgia program…

“I don’t know the numbers on that freshman class when they arrived, but I would argue there’s not a lot of them left because it was a really large class…since we arrived, whether by transfer, by grades, by dismissal, it seems like that class has really shrunk. Now, I don’t know the official numbers, but the ones that have stayed, the ones that have pushed through, the ones that have bought in, have really helped our program. They have a chance to be one of the top-4 senior classes that have every played here, which is pretty incredible.”

 

On the definition of roles each year…

“I think it’s on an individual basis. Certainly for every senior, there’s a guy that has had to expect his role for that year, but that doesn’t mean his role is going to be that for the next year. Keyon (Richardson) is a great example. Keyon has helped our team; he’s played on some third downs, but I mean he will tell you he wants to play more, but he’s really been a good special teams player. He’s started on punt, he’s started on some kickoff coverage, he starts on punt return, and that’s become his role. He gives us great effort; he was our Special Teams Player of the Week last week. There’s a great guy who gives us a great example. There’s (Jonathan Ledbetter), who early on, didn’t have as big a role some of the other guys were here. He played, but he didn’t have as big of a role as he does now. J.R. Reed was a scout team player for a year because he couldn’t play. Now, he’s a veteran leader and a redshirt junior who’s doing a good job. This senior class that sits across the front row, each one has their own individual story, and each one has bought into the program and given their blood, sweat and tears for whatever their role is.”

 

Senior C #53 Lamont Gaillard

On Gaillard’s last game in Sanford Stadium…

“I’m not feeling it right now, but I’m sure when the time comes on Saturday, I’ll feel it. Of course, when everyone’s screaming for you to be going to your next chapter, you’re going to feel that moment…Just us going to playoffs last year, that’s a great moment for us and our program, but just us trying to get back there, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

 

On the offensive line being named a Joe Moore Award semifinalist…

“Of course it’s a great honor to be in that award. For us, we just win to because we know we’re the best. We have guys that go down, and then we still produce when we get on the field, but we don’t focus on it. We just go out there and try to win games….There’s a lot of pride and a lot of prep. You’re going to be hurt, it’s football. But you just have to go out there and play. That’s what we try to do.”

 

Junior DB #20 J.R. Reed

On the Georgia Tech offense being “impossible” to stop…

“Nothing’s impossible…You just have to have very good eye discipline. You have to be very disciplined playing in the back game. Stopping a lot of those big passes. If you’re not disciplined and your eyes get lost somewhere, then you give up those big plays.”

 

On playing for this senior class…

“We always want to do it for the seniors. This whole season for me has been dedicated to the seniors. And just being part of those guys and being with some of those guys since their sophomore years and seeing those guys develop makes me really proud. Just going out there and doing it for them would be the best thing.”

 

Junior TB #13 Elijah Holyfield

“It’s a rivalry game. Everybody’s pretty juiced up for this one. We’re excited to go out there and play for the fans.”

 

“Lamont makes everything so easy for me as far as pass protection and running the ball. A lot of times I’m cutting off him. He’s been a really good role model to follow, and I hope we send him out the right way.”

 

Senior ILB #6 Natrez Patrick

On how Patrick would like to be remembered…

“I just want the fans to know that and remember me as a player that was willing to lay it all on the line for the team. He was willing to do whatever he needed to do to accomplish team success.

 

“The moment I will never forget was winning the SEC Championship, first of all, and being part of a team that went to the Rose Bowl and a National Championship, that’s got to be the highlight of my career.”

 

On getting creative at practice

“Definitely. When you look at the season, you may find similarities from this team to that team, but when you play Tech, the switch flips tremendously. Everything has to change. So we have to be creative and simulate all those cuts, because it’s probably going to be the hardest thing to simulate a real picture of guys coming at you on cut angles. We try to do as best we can and be creative in trying to simulate those types of things in practice.”

Georgia’s Sam Pittman Named Broyles Award Semifinalist

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman has been named one of 15 semifinalists for the 2018 Broyles Award, which is presented college football’s assistant coach of the year.

 

Pittman is in his third year as one of the Bulldogs’ assistants.  A native of Oklahoma, Pittman is one of only two coaches on the list who are not coordinators.  Five finalists will be selected on Nov. 26 to travel to Little Rock, Ark., where the Broyles Award will be announced on Dec. 4.

 

Pittman’s offensive line has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the nation’s most outstanding offensive line unit.  Georgia leads the Southeastern Conference in Rushing Offense at 257.5 yards per game and also leads in SEC only games (232.8).  Georgia has started four different alignments on the line, including three freshmen and three sophomores, and has managed to average 39.6 points per game.

 

Current Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart garnered the honor as Alabama’s defensive coordinator in 2009.  Former Georgia defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder received the award in 2003 while coaching at UGA.

 

The No. 5 Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 SEC) play host to Georgia Tech (7-4, 5-3 ACC) on Saturday.  The SEC Network will televise the matchup between the instate rivals at 12 p.m.

Georgia’s Deandre Baker Named A Thorpe Award Finalist

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia senior defensive back Deandre Baker has been named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented to the nation’s best defensive back in college football.

 

Baker, a native of Miami, Fla., joins LSU’s Greedy Williams and Notre Dame’s Julian Love as finalists, according to an announcement from the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

 

The winner of the 2018 Thorpe Award will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 6, at ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Awards Show, which will be held at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

 

A midseason All-American and Bednarik Award semifinalist, Baker has started all 11 games for Georgia and has 36 tackles and a team-leading two interceptions.  He has a team-best nine pass break-ups and is in the Southeastern Conference’s top five in passes defended with 11.  Baker also has one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for a defense that ranks 12th nationally allowing just 16.8 points per game.

 

The No. 5 Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 SEC) play host to Georgia Tech (7-4, 5-3 ACC) on Saturday.  The SEC Network will televise the matchup between the instate rivals at 12 p.m.

How the Bulldogs in the NFL fared in Week 11

Giants 38, Buccaneers 35:

Alec Ogletree: Ogletree returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown and posted nine tackles for New York.

Lorenzo Carter: Carter had a tackle for the Giants. Among NFL rookies, Carter is tied for 13th with two sacks.

John Jenkins: Jenkins was inactive for New York.

 

Lions 20, Panthers 19:

Matthew Stafford: Stafford went 23-of-37 for 220 yards and a touchdown for Detroit. Stafford is 13th in the NFL with 2,605 passing yards and is tied for 15th with 17 touchdown passes.

Thomas Davis: Davis recorded six tackles for the Panthers.

 

Bears 25, Vikings 20:

Roquan Smith: Smith posted seven tackles for Chicago. Among NFL rookies, Smith stands tied for sixth with 70 tackles and is tied for seventh with three sacks.

Leonard Floyd: Floyd had five tackles, including two for loss, for the Bears.

Javon Wims: Wims was not active for the Bears.

 

Rams 54, Chiefs 51:

Todd Gurley: Gurley had 12 carries for 55 yards and caught three passes for 39 yards for the Rams. Gurley leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,043), rushing attempts (210), rushing touchdowns (13), total touchdowns (17), scoring (108), and rushing yards per game (94.8).

Ramik Wilson: Wilson entered as a reserve for Los Angeles but did not have any stats.

Chris Conley: Conley caught seven passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns for the Chiefs.

Justin Houston: Houston had four tackles, including a sack, and forced a fumble for Kansas City. Houston is tied for seventh in the NFL with three forced fumbles.

 

Colts 38, Titans 10:

Corey Moore: Moore had a tackle for the Colts.

Ben Jones: Jones started at center for the Titans, who had 263 total yards.

 

Saints 48, Eagles 7:

Benjamin Watson: Watson entered as a reserve for the Saints and did not record any stats.

 

Steelers 20, Jaguars 16:

Abry Jones: Jones notched a tackle for Jacksonville.

 

Ravens 24, Bengals 21:

Shawn Williams: Williams returned an interception 22 yards and led Cincinnati with 11 tackles. Williams is tied for second in the NFL with four interceptions, is 10th with 73 interception return yards, and is tied for 14th with 10 passes defended.

Geno Atkins: Atkins had two tackles, including for loss, and a quarterback hit for the Bengals.

Clint Boling and Cordy Glenn: Boling and Glenn started at left guard and tackle, respectively, as the Bengals rolled up 255 total yards.

A.J. Green: Green was inactive for Cincinnati due to a foot injury. Green is 12th in the NFL with six receiving touchdowns.

 

Bye Week:

David Andrews (Patriots)

Orson Charles (Browns)

Nick Chubb (Browns)

Jordan Jenkins (Jets)

Reshad Jones (Dolphins)

Isaiah McKenzie (Bills)

Sony Michel (Patriots)

 

Practice Squads:

John Atkins (Lions)

Davin Bellamy (Texans)

Reggie Davis (Cowboys)

Garrison Smith (Dolphins)

Maurice Smith (Dolphins)

 

Injured Reserve:

Tyler Catalina (Redskins)

Isaiah Wynn (Patriots)

Kirby 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.  They offered the following comments during Monday’s media session.

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Comments…

“I am excited for the senior class. I think you always remember your last game in Sanford Stadium, I certainly remember mine. It’s a special opportunity for these guys to thank their families and for our fans to thank the senior class that has really been a special one. They have had a chance to finish in the top probably five or six in the history of Georgia’s senior classes in terms of wins and that’s a pretty remarkable stat when you think about the senior classes that have been through here. They have done a great job for our program, certainly me personally and our staff personally. This is kind of the group that we came in with- freshmen rising sophomores. They’re heading out and we’re proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.

We move on to Tech today who is, arguably, one of the hottest teams in the country as far as what they’re doing offensively. They’ve put four really good games together back to back, scoring a lot of points, and playing better defense this year. They are playing better on special teams as well.

So there’s a lot of challenges ahead of us anytime you play in this type of offense there’s a lot of challenges involved in it, especially getting prepared in a week.”

On if the offense will start to panic if Georgia Tech starts controlling the clock…

“I don’t think you ever panic. I think you take advantage of your opportunities. You just may have less opportunities. I think panic comes from within. It comes from pressing, trying to do things you don’t do, normally.

I think the number of opportunities or series or drives you may have may be less. Realistically it may be less, we may have less than most people because we have been a ball controlled time possession offense. Maybe not to the extent Tech is but we understand those games. And every offensive possession is critical, but when is it not? It’s always that way.”

On the injury update of Ben Cleveland and Monty Rice and the role of the  middle linebackers against Tech’s offense…
“The middle linebacker is critical against Tech’s offense. You have to do a great job but really both linebackers, to be honest, both linebackers have to be tremendous keyers.  They have to be able to read, react, be good tacklers, be athletic and be able to play in space.

 

As far as Monty (Rice) and Ben (Cleveland), Monty is probably not going to be available this week. He’s doubtful to be able to play. We think that he’ll get better quickly. We hope to get him back, but don’t know when and don’t know if it will be this week. But he will not practice today.

And then Ben is continuing along the same path. Ben’s cleared to play and he’s just getting over an ankle injury. That, coupled with his leg like we talked about after the game the other night, he’s just fighting back. We hope he’ll be back this week. He’s playing. He’s playing on punt team. Just trying to get him back 100 percent.”

On how much he thinks he can sub on defense against the triple option…
“It depends on how many guys can play winning football for you. It’s not a big sub-type game for them. They’re not in a lot of different personnel packages. But certainly can sub if you have quality players that can play.

I think part of morale, it really doesn’t have anything to do with Tech’s offense, it has to do with how many guys do you have that can play winning football. You want to keep guys out there fresh, you want guys to play hard. But I think it’s yet to be seen because we have had to wait and see how the guys read, react, play and key their plays and we’ll have the best players out there.”

On the injury update of Cade Mays, Kendall Baker, and Walter Grant…
“Walter (Grant) has had an ankle that’s been ongoing. He’s practiced and played with it. He played in the game the other night with it. Cade (Mays), we’re not sure if he’ll be available this week or not. He’s not going to practice today. But we hope to get him back soon, as soon as he gets cleared. Kendall (Baker) is very doubtful.”

On the coaching points for the first-year players facing triple option in college football

“There are a lot of coaching points. You have two or three hours? You can’t just define them in a few words. Eye control, discipline, toughness, tackling, it’s limitless. So you have to be disciplined. You have to do your job and you have to key things the right way. If you don’t, they expose you. The ball does a tremendous job of seeing when people are out of place, seeing when people don’t do things the right way.”

On if the team has worked on triple option throughout the season…
“We didn’t work on it the whole season last year. We did it in fall camp. We did it a few weeks during the season when we felt like we had an opponent that we had gone against that was similar to our offense. If they had similarities to offense we used an extra period to work on Tech but we didn’t do it every day of the week last year and we didn’t do it this year. We certainly had off-week, preseason camp, and we worked on Mondays the same amount we did last year but the difference is more who you’re doing it with and last year we were doing it with guys who had a lot more carry-over. This year it’s been new for a lot of guys. And that’s the biggest difference.”

On if Austin Peay was used as a reference point for the triple option…
“No. That’s not close to the same. It’s not the same offense. Austin Peay is really not a triple team to be honest with you. And these guys (Georgia Tech) are really unlike anybody we’ve played.”

On how the discipline varies between an offense like Georgia Tech and one like Auburn…

“There’s no similarities. I mean, you have discipline in all of football. Don’t take it that I mean you need discipline or you don’t need discipline against Auburn or Florida. You need discipline in football, period. But when I talk about discipline in this, it’s eye control. It’s patience. It’s doing your job over and over again and doing it exactly right. And it’s repetition.

You can’t get enough reps to get really good at it and you’re trying to multiply those reps in a small period of time and you can’t catch up to the number of reps they’ve had, blocking what they see, compared to us doing it in one week. So it makes it tough. And you just have to have kids that buy into it and love playing against it and care about it.”

 

On the wide receiving corps…
“We have good balance in the room. And we have great camaraderie. I think they all enjoy being around each other. They love seeing each guy get the limelight at different times. Tyler (Simmons) had some big games earlier in the year where he made big plays; he’s now just getting back. He had an injury where he was out of whack for a little bit and he’s played well the last two weeks, really, and he’s played well in practice. I think each one of those guys had a game where you’d say he’s the guy, he’s the guy.

You don’t have to have a guy. You can do it by committee. And those guys are talented. Just because you say, well, they don’t have a star-studded group, they don’t have a star – one of those wideouts could be on somebody else’s team and be a star. But we don’t sell individual goals, we sell team goals and we sell winning and that takes care of itself. A lot of those guys for selfish reasons want individual accolades but that’s not really how the NFL works. They’re not drafting a guy based on the number of receptions he has. They don’t do that. I mean, some of the best wideouts in the NFL came from SEC teams that didn’t have a lot of catches.

 

So we look at it as saying – hey, you’re going to develop as a player, team player and you’re going to grow on special teams and the next level will take care of itself. Right now we’re trying to win football games.”

On ‘Tech mode’…
“Focus, concentration, effort, toughness, competitive fibers. I mean, Tech is one of our rivals. I mean, who is not? So it’s like, next up. I mean, you look at our schedule, it’s like everybody’s a big rival. These guys are a big rival. And we have to do a good job against them because it’s a tough matchup, it’s a tough game to play. And we have to send our seniors out the right way.”

On senior WR Terry Godwin…

“Terry has grown as a kid. When I first got here his practice commitment was there, and he got better at it and he got better and he got better. And he worked at it. He’s gotten a lot better as a blocker. I think he’s gotten physically stronger.”

He’s been a really good wideout here the whole time he’s been here. I think the biggest thing Terry’s helped with is being able to play inside and outside, and he’s done it with really good work ethic. And he helps keep those guys level-headed in that group. There are some young guys in that group. He’s been kind of a good leader for the whole group the whole time he’s been here.”

On philosophy in scheduling…
“I think it’s hard to in the Georgia Tech situation, because it’s what they do and it’s a traditional rival. You don’t run and try to get away from that. If you’re asking me, ‘Do I want to schedule a triple option team?’ I’d prefer not. That’s not what I’m looking forward to playing. My whole thing in scheduling is I want to play as many good football teams as we can, and it’s never really been about the offense. It’s been about the home-and-home. And it’s been about the opportunity to play big games. I mean, that’s important to us in our future. It’s not really necessarily what offense they run, but given the opportunity I would rather play a style offense that we will play more often in our league.”

On Georgia Tech quarterbacks senior TaQuon Marshall and RS freshman Tobias Oliver…

“Extremely talented. I know both guys. We recruited TaQuon at Alabama; he came to camp a lot of years. He’s a competitive, tough – I think about the years he’s been there and the toughness he’s played with. And having him and Terry (Godwin) and Tae Crowder in camp kind of growing up, those kids coming from the same area over there. They do a tremendous job. They’re competitors. He’s a really good football player. And Tobias has done the same thing. He’s given them a new element. He’s really tough, able to carry the ball, does a lot of good things for them and they’ve got good football players. (Georgia Tech head coach) Paul (Johnson) does a great job with those quarterbacks.”

On senior OLB D’Andre Walker’s performance against Georgia Tech in 2017 and his consistency since…
“D’Andre kind of had a little bit of a breakout game. He got to play more in the game first and foremost. He got more opportunities. And he does a good job. He’s a good athlete. He’s tough to defend because he’s got long arms, he’s extremely athletic, he’s fast. So he’s your prototype outside backer-type guy to play with. So he does a good job playing in it. And he gets excited about playing against these guys.”

On if freshman QB Justin Fields’ run option will be an advantage against Georgia Tech…
“Absolutely not. Justin doesn’t do anything like what they do. And nor will he be able to come over and give us a picture of what they do. Because we’re not doing that with Justin. There will be no carry over there.”

On the ‘defend your turf’ mantra…
“That’s been a message all year. It’s not been about Tech obviously. It’s been about the teams that have been championship teams have defended their home turf. We have a bulletin board about it. When you win your games at home, it gives you a much better chance to win the East. When you win games at home, it gives you a much better chance of winning the SEC. And we’ve talked about that all along. And we want to continue to do that, and I think that’s a big part of it. Not because it’s Tech but because it’s our home stadium. And we want our fans to come out, support these guys, even over Thanksgiving break, it’s critical that we have the momentum and the fan base behind us to make it an advantage for us. But we want to play well for these seniors and these seniors want to go out on top.”

On the fluidity of defensive adjustments among the coaching staff during games…
“A lot. It’s a lot of moving parts. You’re trying to adapt quicker than they do. And (Georgia Tech) does probably as good a job as anybody in the country at taking advantage of your weakness. I mean, like I said before, when you have your doctorate, you have somebody with a graduate degree, master’s, doctorate, (Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson) is all the way up there; he’s as far as you can be in the option world. He’s able to see things from the field that most people don’t see because he watches it all the time. So if you make a mistake, he’ll make you pay or he’ll expose you on it maybe the very next play, maybe the very next drive. But he knows what complements what. So for us it’s having the right eyes in the right place for our players’ sake. If we don’t play something correctly, you better get it fixed quick.”

On explosive plays and first-year Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Nate Woody…
“Explosive plays, sometimes they come in bunches. Sometimes they come from downfield blocking. A lot of defenses don’t tackle as well as the year goes on. I know we’ve struggled with that at times, where we don’t tackle as well as the year goes on because guys get dinged up and injured. You don’t play as physical. You don’t practice as hard sometimes when you don’t have your pads on as long, guys take them off. Explosive plays may stem from some of that. I don’t know.

But as far as defensive coordinator, he does a great job. He was the defensive coordinator at Appalachian State; he was good when he was there. He has a great reputation. You think about the defense that we played against when he was here [at Sanford in 2017] and Jake (Fromm) had to come in the game. The guy does a great job. They play really hard. They play really physical. And he’s turned — that’s the biggest difference in Georgia Tech this year is the way they’re playing and how hard they’re playing on defense.”

On how Georgia Tech will adjust Georgia’s offensive approach…
“I always want to put people down by multiple scores, don’t you? I don’t know a game you go say, well, let’s keep this one tight for a while. I love the theories behind all this, but, I mean, yeah, I would love to get a lead if that’s what you’re asking. But that doesn’t put any more pressure to say that we have to have it. You’ve got to play the game you’ve got and you’ve got to do a good job managing whatever it is, whether you’re behind, ahead, doesn’t matter. You’ve got to do a good job managing it.”

 

 

#13 Jonathan Ledbetter | Sr. | DE

On some of the headaches you have to go through during this week of prep for Georgia Tech… 

“Cut blocks, most definitely. Yesterday we did a gauntlet in the weight room, something they created for fun to simulate a cut block. I just don’t think this game can be simulated. These guys just come out and it is what it is so we just have to go play.”

 

On how concerned you are about injuries when dealing with all those cut blocks… 

“Actually our coach just told us there is no statistic proving they have more injuries than any other football game. I really don’t care. We are just going to go play. We know what type of game this is every year, we are always hungry for it.”

 

On the confidence after facing Tech several times already and any messages you pass along to the young players… 

“I honestly think it is different every time you play them. There are so many options to what they do, you never know what is actually going to happen. So you have to be prepared for everything. I think getting our young guys comfortable in those situations and making sure everybody is helping each other out. Staying off the ground is the most important thing in this game, just staying alive and ready to run to the ball.”

 

On no one in the program having experienced a home win over Georgia Tech and the motivation behind that…

“I want this, and I know everybody on the team wants this. 2012 is the last time we won at home and we have taken a lot of disrespect from Georgia Tech. I know some people would much rather see us beat Georgia Tech than win a national championship, and we are not going disappoint. We are going to come out and play a physical football game, giving it everything we have.”

 

#5 Terry Godwin | Sr. | WR

On the importance of winning his final game at Sanford Stadium…

“It’s important but I’m not playing just for me, I’m playing for my other seniors as well and my other brothers. To send this senior class out with a win at our last home game would mean the world.”

 

On reflecting on his initial vision of his senior season despite being injured at the start…

“At the beginning, it was kind of rocky for me personally. Coming off the injuries and being able to help this team be where we are now is what we dream of. But we’re not satisfied of where we’re at now. We still have more to play.”

 

On the receiving group being more ‘balanced’…

“I wouldn’t more ‘balanced,’ I would say we’ve got more weapons. Like I was saying at the beginning of the season, to us, this is the best receiving core in the nation. We have guys that have proven they’re capable of going out there anytime against anybody and make plays.”

 

 

#18 Isaac Nauta| Jr. | TE

On big blocks last few games… 

“Those blocks are fun when you think you’ve made an impact on a play whether it goes for a score or just an explosive play. It is something that as the year goes on, I’ve put a bigger emphasis on and try to finish those blocks downfield. For example, seeing Tyler Simmons score while I was blocking all the way down field is a good feeling. On that particular play I got to the safety and if you can get to the safety then it creates a lot of opportunities for guys to make more yards and make more big plays.”

 

On struggle of playing triple option and having limited time of possession… 

“It can be frustrating with offense that they run, they hold the ball. They are running the ball and chewing the clock and that is what they are trying to do. They want to take away possessions from us. But offensively, when we get the ball, we need to score since our possessions are limited. On defense, we have to take the ball off of them and stop them to get the ball back to score. So it is definitely a challenge that aspect of the game. We are just going to do our part and get the ball in the end zone.”

 

On ensuring no slip-up in Georgia Tech game… 

“We know that we have to finish our schedule strong this weekend and the following weekend in order to do what we want to accomplish. We just have to go out and do what we have been doing, especially what we have been doing the second half of the year. I feel like we have really been clicking and playing well. We just have to continue going and get a big win this weekend. The good news is we can still get better. We see that every week on tape, ways that we can get better and I think we’ve gotten better each week. That is our main focus, grow regardless of who we play.”

 

On sending off seniors with good game on senior day … 

“It is super important. For these seniors, it is a huge game. I know coach (Kirby) Smart has said that he left with a bad taste in his senior year. That is something that we want to ensure that our seniors don’t have and we want them to go out on top.”

 

 

#15 D’Andre Walker| Sr. | OLB

On keys to defending the triple option offense … 

“Be fast and patience. Just getting all 11 defenders to the ball and then run back to the line of scrimmage. The option is a little tricky. You have to be fast, but at the same time you have to be patient.”

 

On playing last game at home… 

“It is going to be a big game for me. I want to make sure that I cherish it and live in the moment to really enjoy it…My mom, uncle, sister and maybe my niece and nephew will be in attendance.”

 

On avoiding slip up losses late in season and role of seniors taking program to new level… 

“We just have to get this game over with and see where we end up. I feel like we just have to prepare for each game…I feel like everybody plays a role, even the freshmen on special teams. We recruit guys that can play instantly so it is big effect. It will never get old the amount of talent that we have.”

 

On Tae Crowder’s development as a linebacker and what you remember when he made the switch from running back… 

“He used to come over for scout team and I guess he got tired of playing running back or thought he wasn’t going to be able to play so he came over to linebacker. Ever since, he has been getting better each and every year…I’m not surprised he has done so well, because he is a really good athlete.”