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.”