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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during the Bulldogs' practice on the Woodruff Practice Fields in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo by Steven Colquitt)

ATHENS, Ga. — The third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice Wednesday as they look forward to returning to action at Tennessee following their first open date of the season.

 

Georgia is off to a 4-0 start including 1-0 in the SEC while the Volunteers are 1-3 overall, 0-1 SEC. Kickoff Saturday in Knoxville will be at 7 p.m. and be televised by ESPN.

 

Before practice, Georgia coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference and provided an update on the Bulldogs. Selected comments from Smart are below:

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“We’re coming off a bye week in which we got a lot of work done and trying to improve in a lot of areas. We’re excited to go up to Knoxville and play in a night environment. Anytime you go up to Neyland Stadium, there is so much tradition, the crowd noise and anticipation, our guys certainly are excited for the opportunity to go play. Any time you’re playing in the SEC, you know that the quality of play that is required on the road in this conference is hard to match. We’re preparing for that right now.”

 

On play of Georgia wide receivers this year…

“It’s been by committee. We’ve had some injuries there and had some guys miss games and get banged up. I think they are starting to establish themselves. They have gotten more confidence. You only get confidence when you don’t have experience through experience. We’ve been able to play four games where a lot of these young guys have gotten more and more experience. It’s good to have a little bit of a running game to help them. It’s good to have an experienced quarterback that they can rely on. That part I’m pleased with.”

 

On how an outstanding line and quarterback like Jake Fromm helps the play-calling…

“The experience helps. The toughest thing about play-calling is you’re in the SEC and you’re facing athletic, big fronts week in and week out. The quality of the defensive lines. It’s really hard. A lot of times you have to help those guys by staying balanced. You got to not let them tee off on you on pass rush. You’ve got to do a good job of keeping things balanced, and I think Coach (James) Coley has done that.”

 

Most bizarre thing you’ve seen a strength coach do and what they do to energize a team on game day…

“I don’t know of anything that’s bizarre that they do anymore because they are bizarre as a whole. They operate under a different mindset than your typical coaches. I think that’s what you’re referring to. I’ve been around some really good ones in Tommy Moffitt, Scott Cochran and now Scott Sinclair here. They are all recognized nationally as some of the top guys in their profession. Each one is different in their own right. Bizarre is the norm when it comes to those guys.”

 

Where did the team get better in the bye week…

I don’t know that we know that. We’ve got to wait and see in the game. We worked in a lot of areas. The proof is in the performance. We got to see where we got better. We have to go out and do it on a big stage and in front of an opposing team’s crowd. I want to reserve judgement until we actually go out there and do it.”

 

Is Tennessee better than what its record shows…

“Yeah, I think that’s always the case. We’re always judged, and Jeremy (Pruitt) be the first to tell you, by our record. It doesn’t necessarily indicate what kind of team we have. So many things control the outcome of games that are outside your control sometimes, and in their case, there’s several situations where it could be the other way very easily.

 

Meanwhile after Wednesday’s practice, junior offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and redshirt freshman tight end john FitzPatrick visited with the media. Here’s a few of their comments:

 

Offensive lineman Andrew Thomas

On what he remembers from last year’s game against Tennessee…

“I remember it being a really physical game. They played us really well in the second half also, so they’re a good time coming out in the second half. So, that’s a big thing to focus on is finishing.”

 

On guys stepping up for injured players on the offensive line…

“I think it shows our talent across the board. When somebody goes down, we have somebody that’s just as good, or maybe even better, that can come in and do their job pretty well.”

 

On the complexity of Tennessee’s fronts and how Georgia will adjust…

“They’re base front, so a lot like our team, so we’re used to that. On third down they have a lot of odd, exotic stuff we have to be prepared for. … A big thing is execution before the snap, making sure everyone is on the right page regardless of what they’re doing. If we don’t know our roles, know our jobs, it really doesn’t matter.”

 

Tight End John FitzPatrick

On the benefits of the players further in the depth chart getting playing time…

“I think it just comes down to we have to execute and do what we have to do. We want first line, second line, third line, fourth line to be ready at all times incase of injuries or whether we are pulling a team out by forty. Everyone has to be ready so when we blow out teams everyone gets to play, everyone gets to learn. Everyone is locked in. It is beneficial to everyone.”

 

On the brotherhood of the team…

“Everyone comes to practice and works hard every single day. And some kids don’t get to play on Saturday and some kids do. Just coming from last year learning a lot from the older guys and this year being able to contribute. It is nice to see everyone getting an opportunity and everyone getting a chance to showcase their hard work.”

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