ATHENS, Ga. – The second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice on Tuesday in full pads and helmets in anticipation for their Southeastern Conference matchup with the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Following the tuneup, head coach Kirby Smart and selective players addressed the media.
Head Coach Kirby Smart 
On players facing their hometown teams, such as Knoxville native Cade Mays
I think Cade is a bright kid. He comes from a good family. I think he understands that Knoxville means a great deal to them and his dad played there and he’s a legacy and all that. But at the end of the day, when you get between the lines, a lot of that stuff fades out. You start playing the game, and you play physical, and you play hard. He wants to do as good as he can, and he’s got to focus on what his assignments are and play football. Hopefully he’ll be a guy out there; we don’t know how the lineups are going to play out. He’s a great competitor, and he comes from a good family, and at the end of the day, I know he’ll give us an A-effort.”
On getting a commitment to Georgia from a Tennessee legacy like Mays…
I think that Georgias a great academic institution. Its a place that I think he knew he had an opportunity to come here and play. He wanted to play for championships, and that’s important to him. He really had a good relationship with Coach (Sam) Pittman. And at the end of the day, that long-term relationship with him probably won out, because they had a new staff coming in.”
On building a new system as a first-year coaching staff…
We were fortunate here to come into a system that was very similar to ours defensively. There were not major overhaul changes, so a lot of the kids had a ground-level base. You’d have to ask Jeremy (Pruitt) how all that fits into their system. I know for us it was a smooth transition. Maybe not offensively or special teams, but from a defensive standpoint, there was some carry over.”
On if negative plays by the defense are an important stat…
Absolutely it is. One of the most important stats you look at, and to have it ranked, and the ability to find the cause and put people behind the sticks  weve done off-season studies in the past couple years to see who led the country in tackles for loss: why did they lead the country in tackles for loss, what were they doing, what can we do that they were doing? Early on, we actually thought we were doing pretty well at that, and the last couple games, we havent done as well. Its something you always want to have to put people behind the sticks, especially in this day in age. I think to do that, you have to put yourself at risk sometimes. We probably haven’t done this as well as we want to. Also, I think when you look at the SEC defenses, they’re traditionally not a lot of those teams up there for tackles for a loss. When we did the study, Clemson was one that popped up, Miami was one that popped up, Michigan was one that popped up. You didn’t see SEC teams popping up. Why is that?”
On having enough depth
I don’t think you ever have enough depth. I don’t think any coach in the country would tell you, ‘I feel really good about my depth.’ If I had to say that, I would say maybe at receiver, but outside of that, I don’t know if I feel good about our depth…We’re also developing our young players. I don’t think there’s enough people worried about that during the season. It’s a long season; we’re going to need somebody to play. We give three reps; we put our best players on scout team; Malik Herring’s a guy that played 15-20 snaps – he played on scout team last week, and you know what, he played really good in the game because he did. We send guys down all the time to go be scout team players and then come back. I think that organization in practice really helps develop your players. I see it in Luke Ford. He’s getting better every practice. He’s down there with us getting slobber-knocked, and that’s the best way to get better.”
On freshman wide receiver Kearis Jackson…
“Kearis is a really good athlete. He’s got a thick body; he’s in the Tyler Simmons mold. He’s a very bright kid, a very conscientious kid. Unfortunately, he had an injury in camp, probably set him back some. He’s been getting over the hamstring, hip flexer, but he’s done a good job of it. He’s a really tough competitor, and he handles coaching well. We enjoy coaching him; he can really help us.”
On the defense limiting long yardage plays…
“I think Mel (Tucker) does a great job with the secondary leveraging the ball, trying not to expose yourself to big plays. To be honest with you, look at the tackles for a loss and sacks that we’re lacking. That probably points to that area. There’s three or less twenty-yard passes or more in that area that you’re trying to prevent big plays and make people drive through on you and create turnovers when your defense fumbles and intercepts.
On Riley Ridley’s play this year compared to last…
“I don’t know if it wasn’t there last year – I was going to say work has led to it, but then it sounds like he didn’t work last year. Riley Ridley works hard. He works hard at practice. He competes at practice. It’s important to him. He’s got one of the highest GPS systems every day. He just really competes; it’s important to him. It was that way last year. You’ve got a quarterback that’s played a whole year, that has a lot to do with it, instead of his first college games, and I think that has a lot to do with it. He’s playing with confidence. He’s playing fast.”
Senior ILB #6 Natrez Patrick
On playing an amplified number of snaps and using the linebacker rotation …
“It’s what the fourth-quarter program here is for. For times when a guy goes down, anything like that, we’re able to withstand in those later quarters, so I don’t really know that it affects much, but it’s more beneficial.
On taking Missouri’s success in the run game personally…
“I take that very personally. And the defense takes that very personally. That’s something we pride ourselves on, stopping the run in this defense. Stopping the run is the number one priority, so obviously those guys had more yards than we would have liked, and that’s definitely something we’re going to put an emphasis on…Honestly it’s just feeding fuel to the fire because we took that personally. We knew how we played after that game. We knew how much better we could be at stopping the run, so everybody took it as a chip on their shoulder. ”
On Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt…
“Great coach. Players’ coach. Always stuck up for his guys. Knew his defenses really well. It’s exciting to be able to play against him…I just know he’s going to get those guys ready to play. When you have a guy like that, guys don’t mind playing for him. He’s able to get everybody ready for any game, so you just have to go into it with the mentality that we’re coming here to win.”
Junior OLB #51 David Marshall
On Coach Smart’s message this week
“Stopping the run. They ran 172 yards on us, so that’s all that matters, stopping the run.”
On going up against freshman offensive lineman Cade Mays in practice
“We’ve been going against each other since spring, so we’ve been bumping heads and getting each other better…He’s powerful. He’s good on footwork and blocking for tackles.”
On what Marshall would do with the ball if he scored a defensive touchdown…
“I’m going to take it to the bench.”