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

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

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

 

Selected comments from Smart and the student-athletes follow:

 

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

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

 

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

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

 

On the Aggies offense being different compared to other SEC teams

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

 

On development of Georgia’s wide receivers

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

 

On linebacker Monty Rice’s development

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

 

On the Aggies defense this season

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

 

Junior offensive lineman Solomon Kindley

On his first meeting and impressions of Sam Pittmann…

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

 

On the criticism of the offense being a weak link…

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

 

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

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

 

Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Kearis Jackson

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

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

 

On his emotions during that play…

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

 

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

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

 

Junior outside linebacker Walter Grant

On Tyler Clark…

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

 

On prepping for Texas A&M’s offense…

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

 

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

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

 

On Texas A&M’s quarterback Kellen Mond…

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

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