ATHENS, GA –The Georgia Bulldogs continued preparations for their upcoming Southeastern Conference finale against Kentucky by conducting a two-hour workout in full pads Wednesday.
The 7th-ranked Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1) will square off against the Wildcats (7-3, 4-3) this Saturday on CBS at 3:39 p.m. It will mark the final home game for Georgia’s formidable group of seniors, who can post their third season of double-figure wins in four years with a victory over UK.
The Bulldogs will also be chasing another unprecedented milestone this Saturday. ‘’We’re excited to have the chance to do something no Georgia team has ever done, and that’s to go undefeated against the East,’’ head coach Kirby Smart said. ‘’That’s a big part of the motivation for our seniors. They want to finish it off right in their last home game.’’
A group that Smart calls ‘’a really special senior class’’ includes some record-setting players. Most prominent among them are running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who already rank as the second and fifth most prolific ground gainers in school history. Safety Dominick Sanders needs one more interception to tie the school record for most in a career (16). He already owns the UGA mark for career interception return yards.
Bulldog defenders will most likely have their hands full with a productive Kentucky offense, led by quarterback Stephen Johnson. ‘’He’s really athletic,’’ Smart says. ‘’He does a really good job of extending plays. In some ways, he reminds me of (Josh) Dobbs from Tennessee, who improved as a passer while he was in the SEC. I think Stephen Johnson throws it a little better than Dobbs and does a good job of knowing when to pull it down and take off, versus when to read the coverage and throw the ball.’’
Following are some excerpts from post-practice player interviews on Wednesday:
Tight End Isaac Nauta:
(On the team’s focus this week after the Auburn game): ‘’Our main thing is just to keep pushing, keep chopping. You can’t look back on that (Auburn) and focus on it. You’ve just gotta learn from it and come back stronger.’’
(On QB Jake Fromm’s approach this week): ‘’He’s been good. He’s always got a positive attitude, a positive outlook, so I think he’s been doing a good job. We’ve had two good practices, three good practices, really, coming off the Auburn game.’’
(Anything the tight ends can do as a unit to help Fromm?): ‘’Just playing better overall. With a team like Georgia, you’re gonna get everybody’s best. Especially late in the year, people are fighting for spots, so you’re going to get everybody’s best. We’ve got to be ready to perform every week.’’
(What have the past few days been like, in the wake of the Auburn game?) ‘’Obviously, we had a bus ride back to get it off our minds and put it to rest. But you’ve just got to move on from those things and learn from them. Just grind and get back to work. It’s all you can do.’’
(What different things are you trying to do this week to improve the play at the line of scrimmage?) ‘’Just focusing on the small details. It just comes down to technique, want-to, and just making sure you’re where you are supposed to be at all times. That was our biggest thing. We just had to clean up some finer details that, you know, could have popped off some bigger runs or a bigger pass. So it all comes down to small things, really.
‘’They outplayed us, plain and simple. That’s the way it was, but like I said, we learned from it and we don’t ever want to have that feeling again. So we’ve come out to work this week and want to put together a good one against Kentucky.’’
Wide receiver Terry Godwin:
(On the team’s approach this week): ‘’We’re just doing the same thing we’ve been doing all year. We’re out there being physical and doing what we’re supposed to do.’’
(On what you said to Mecole Hardman after the muffed punt): ‘’I just told him that he’s got to have a short-term memory with things like that because stuff like that can affect your whole game and the rest of your season. So you just want to let stuff go. Be better on the next play. Do your best.
‘’He (Hardman) is awesome. As a young kid, it’s probably still lingering in him. But it’s always good to hear it from an older guy, or somebody you trust, to help get it out of your system. It’s happened to everybody. We’ve all messed up and you feel like it’s cost your team a game or something like that. It’s happened to me before and I told him the exact same thing. You’ve just got to forget about it. Have a short-term memory.’’