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

ATHENS, Ga. — The third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs continued their preparations for Saturday’s game against Arkansas State with a two-hour practice on Tuesday afternoon.

 

Head coach Kirby Smart, along with two defensive players, junior Mark Webb and senior Michael Barnett, spoke with the media after practice.

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Comments

“It was hot yesterday and it’s hot today. The guys are pushing through it.  That’s what we need to do. We probably had a better practice yesterday than today. But we’ll clean a lot of things up from today and come back tomorrow.”

 

On his thoughts about noon kickoffs and what he appreciates about them…

“Yeah, my family afterwards, I mean I get to see them. We get more time with recruits on the back end. The biggest thing is just the recovery for the players because the next game is most furthest off.  To get to go home and watch the night games with my kids and my wife is probably the most enjoyable.

 

On what it’s been like to watch Michael Barnett develop…

“It’s been a pleasure. He’s a bright kid, works his tail off. He played D-line most of the first year and then he switched to O-Line that next spring and didn’t complain about it. We thought it would help our team. Then he moved back and he just continued to work. He’s really helped us a lot. He’s tough. He plays really hard and he’s a high character kid.

 

On Mark Webb’s development…

“He’s playing. He’s playing a lot more. He didn’t play near as much last year, he played more towards the end of the year and a little more in dime. So when he gets an opportunity to play more, he’s going to get more tackles. He’s bright. He’s tough. He’s fast. He covers well. He continues to improve. I think he’s a guy that still has upside because he just didn’t play defensive back his whole life. So he’s still growing at the position. His redeeming quality is that he likes to tackle. In a day and age when guys don’t love to tackle and hit, he does. And he plays with really good toughness.”

 

On where Mark Webb can grow the most…

“From playing the ball in the air, recognizing formations, understanding the leverage, what our coverages are, where his help is, those kind of things. The simplest thing to do is go play man. And he started out doing just that. Because It doesn’t take as much to do that. But then when you start talking about combination coverages, you start talking about zone defense, understanding what offenses are trying to do to you. He did have that awareness that he has now where he’s grown into it. The first couple of years that was a struggle.”

 

On having players who have graduated that stay to play at Georgia…

“I think it’s great. I think most of the guys that have graduated and contributing for us are major players. I think the rule is a blessing because it allows someone to go, after they’ve finished their education, to go play somewhere if they’re not able to play where they’re playing. Or if they just want a change of scenery and go play somewhere. To me, that gives them an opportunity and we’ve taken advantage of that from a standpoint of receiving them. We haven’t had many leave that have graduated because most of our guys that have graduated are playing for us.”

 

On how much Kearis Jackson can play with his injured hand…

“He’s available. But I don’t know if we’re going to put him out there with a club, it’d be pretty one dimensional. Unless he’s able to catch every ball with one hand. He’s practicing. He takes routes. He catches punts, he’s doing everything, but we’re not ready to use him until he’s 100%.

 

 

That’s what all of our guys do. If you can practice, you practice. There’s nothing wrong with his legs. He needs conditioning. He needs mental reps. He loves it. He gets behind every play he runs the motion, runs the route. We’re watching the tape last night of the play and he’s behind it, running it. But so are our quarterbacks D’Wan Mathis, Nathan (Priestley) are back behind it, taking the snap, dropping back, reading the defense. They’re just 15 feet behind the play. You have to get reps somehow, and you don’t have enough time to have their own practices.”

 

On the update on Tommy Bush…

“Tommy Bush is a couple weeks away, he’s had some sports hernia… I can’t even say the word and won’t even try to. We’re hoping to get him back, but don’t know when.”

 

On what the team is looking to clean up for Saturday…

“How long do you have? We had penalties. We had substitution errors. We had critical eye violations, busts. We had guys not having good movements up front, being fast enough and understanding what they’re supposed to do. There’s a lot of things to improve. We had guys missing assignments on special teams, we have to possess the ball on special teams. There’s a ton to clean up.”

 

On how much analytics are used in football…

“We use it a lot for the perspective of game management, clock management, decision-making, fourth downs, third downs. I mean, we use it a ton in that world and that’s usually based on who your opponent is, more than anything. It’s your style of play and your opponent’s and what the percentages say the outcome of the situation will be. What their strengths are, what our weaknesses are. So we use a lot of analytics from that standpoint.

 

As far as tendencies of the opponent, we have tons of break down on that, but that could change. Have they thrown it on 3rd and 7 for the last two years, well you know they may not do that against you depending on what we do. Sometimes you use it, sometimes you don’t. But it’s there.”

 

On making decisions based on analytics before the game…

“A lot of them, but you can’t say that what’s happened in the game doesn’t have an affect on that.  So the decision is made beforehand- in this situation I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. But at the end of the day, if you’re not running the ball well or you’ve had two short yardages. You can’t say that doesn’t impact you as you go forward. It all depends on how you’re playing. Are you getting movement upfront? Are you having success?”

 

On being conscientious of the scoreboard…

“I don’t pay attention to it. I get so entrenched in the game and the coaching of the players because I want the players that are in the game whether we’re up one point, down 10 points, or up 40 points to feel the same intensity that the ones that are in at the beginning of the game to feel. I don’t get caught up in the scoreboard part because I just want the players that are in the game to have success, especially if the margin, one way or the other, up for us or down for us, is out of control. We’re not going to ever stop coaching the kids that are in the game because they’re all learning opportunities. And those kids want to play good just as much as the ones who played earlier in the game.”

 

On how he feels UGA will match up against Arkansas State…

“We are going to find out. It’s going to be a real test. They have great wideouts. They have wideouts at all positions and they have tight ends. They’re really athletic. They’ve given some people major problems with match ups.  I can’t tell you how we’re going to match up. It’s going to be interesting to see. They have a guy that can spin it and they have guys on the perimeter that can catch it. They have experience doing it in big games and in big stadiums.”

 

On coaches having to step away for family matters…

“We’re human. A lot of coaches don’t want to remove themselves and they feel like they’re letting people down, but they also don’t want to have regret. There’s a lot more to life than football. Blake Anderson’s been a great example of that. I thought he handled it with such class.”

 

 

#23 Mark Webb | Jr. | DB

On the defensive mindset…

“I needed to get a hit during the game. You get beat on a play and you just have to stay your mindset. It’s only one game so you always have to keep playing. Coach Smart always talks about how we have to keep our head in the game.”

 

On earning playing time…

“I’ve had to learn everything about defense. Blitzing, covering, making calls, talking and tackling. I had to learn everything because I’ve come a long way since switching from receiver. I won’t lie to you the hardest thing I’ve learned is tackling. You come in and may want to guard people but the first thing you’ll do in this program is tackle people.”

 

On playing high school football in Philadelphia…

“I think coming from Philadelphia is different because you may not play a bunch of big guys but every week you play someone in a skilled position. There are lots of great coaches, Catholic league and public league.”

 

On learning to tackle…

“It’s funny, my first hit was against (Elijah) Holyfield. He tried to run me over but I made the tackle. That is how I learned how to tackle. And the second one was against Charlie Woerner on the sideline. My shoulder definitely went numb for a little bit but it was basically my initiation.”

 

 

#94 Michael Barnett | Sr. | DT

On his role with the defense…

“I feel like I just try to help the young guys get on pace with the plays and understand the playbook. My role is just to do whatever the team needs and whatever coach wants.”

 

On being a veteran on the team…

“It has been such a learning experience with the coaching changes to truly understand the game and the playbook.”

 

On the defensive line…

“I feel like every day we try to execute and get better. We really work on our technique and we don’t try to rush into making we plays. We really want to be a part of this system and really hone into everything we do. The more we do that the more things fall into place. We’ve done a lot more film study this year and I think we’re better for it but we need to maintain consistency.”

 

The Bulldogs and Red Wolves kick off at noon ET on Saturday, September 14 on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.

SHARE