ATHENS, GA — The #3-ranked Georgia Bulldogs worked out in shorts and shoulder pads for a little over two hours on Tuesday afternoon, the first of three practices during their only bye week of the regular season.
Following are comments from head coach Kirby Smart after today’s practice:
‘’I thought the energy was good. Fall weather is here, which is nice. It’s not nearly as hot out there. We were able to get a lot of good work. We were able to get the 2s and 3s and 1s all a lot of reps, so it was good work and we’ll get back to work tomorrow. We’ll be a little more physical tomorrow.’’
Of the players who have been injured, how many do you expect back against Florida?
‘’I don’t even know who you’re asking specifically about. Terry (Godwin) practiced today. He was great. Trenton (Thompson) practiced today. He looked good; he’s bouncing back and I expect him to be back. David Marshall did not practice today. Hope to get him back. Daquan Hawkins-Muckle did not go today but hope to get him back. Reggie Carter was out there today, practiced good.’’
Trenton Thompson in particular has been out a couple of weeks. Did you like what you saw today, in terms of his movement?
‘’He didn’t do a whole lot, but he was able to move around and do Indy. He’s got his quickness back and is continuing to get a little better with each day, I think.’’
Javon Wims is a guy that you inherited through recruiting. He’s the leading receiver right now. What do you see in him, in terms of what you had when he showed up and what you have now?
‘’First of all, I don’t know that we inherited him. I remember going into a recruiting battle against South Carolina. Coach Coley and myself visiting with his parents and going to see him, so he was not a guy that was 100 percent committed, so we had to battle to get him. I think he’s improved. I think he continues to improve. He was a guy that had not played football every year consecutively, so we thought he had some growth potential, as far as getting better. And I think he’s improved. I think he continues to improve with his physicality and his blocking. He catches the ball really well. He’s a big target and he gets open, so he’s definitely an asset for us.
(What makes Javon so good at those “50-50” type of catches?) ‘’He’s got great, strong hands. He snatches the ball out of the air. He’s a former basketball player. He does a tremendous job attacking the ball, which is part of being a great wideout.’’
Was the increase in passing against Missouri more exploiting matchups or a growing confidence in Jake Fromm?
‘’I think it’s that we couldn’t run the ball. I mean, you can run and you can mix it up. The run opens the pass, the pass opens the run. They complement each other. That’s why every team in the country wants to have balance because when you’re good at just one, it usually doesn’t work out for you. Go look at the stats of the teams that lead the country in passing. They’re not always the guys on top. And the teams that just lead the country in rushing. They’re not always on top. So you want to have balance and sometimes it’s hard to do one before the other.’’
When you spoke, early in your tenure, of changing the culture, did you have any idea of a timeline for how long that would take?
‘’I don’t know that there’s ever a timeline for that. I don’t know that you ever achieve it, to be honest, because your culture is always changing. I mean, to me the culture you create is created by the seniors and by the leaders on the team, and that’s shaped by every team, and every team is different. So we obviously want to be an ‘effort, toughness, discipline’ team, and I think each year that team takes on its own personality. Some years it has more effort, some years it has more toughness, some years it has more discipline. But you do that each year, independent of the previous year.’’
After the game last Saturday, you said this week was going to be a ‘work week’ and not a bye week. How do you find that balance between getting your players their rest and recovery and being intense during your practices?
‘’Well, I look at the recovery part as Sunday and Monday, which they had two days off. I look at Friday, Saturday, Sunday as three days off. So that’s five days off in an eight-day window. We’re gonna go to work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. There’s no recovery Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We’re working, and we’re working to get better. You don’t get better by going out there and kinda halfway doing it. There’s no secret to this whole thing. The secret is, there is no secret. So we have to go to work and that’s what we’re gonna do tomorrow and the next day. And then they get three days off.
‘’The difference is we can rep more players. We don’t have to do as much scout team work. We can go against each other and get more quality against quality.’’
How much do you think the indoor facility has helped this year?
‘’It’s hard to measure, but in my mind there’s been a tremendous difference. Maybe it’s just mentally. I don’t know. I just know that trip over on that bus (last year to the off-campus Rec Sports Complex), and dealing with the openness of the place. I don’t know if it was hotter this year or last year. They both seemed extremely hot. The difference for us, obviously, is the ability to recover and go inside. We’ve done a lot of 50/50 practices, where we were half in and half out, or rotated defense and offense in and out. We’ve done more things inside than we ever have and I think that’s helped. And we’ve had a lot of night games, too. It’s been a big part of that because if we had to play in it, we’d have to practice in it. But we’ve had a lot of night games.’’
Is there a level of concern with the way your defense is affecting the quarterback?
‘’There’s always a level of concern when you don’t have ‘affect quarterback’ numbers. Disruptions are what we look for, and we’re not disrupting the quarterback enough. I don’t look at just sacks. I look at batted balls, pressures, hits, hurries, moving him in the pocket and knocking balls down. We had a couple of games where we made a lot of plays on the balls by the DBs, but we didn’t affect the quarterback enough. We’re trying to work really hard on that this week to generate some. It’s not more pressure. It’s not more blitzes. It’s just rush guys and win.’’
How are you tackling the uncertain personnel situation with Florida? Do you just ignore, do you just go with what you’ve seen, do you anticipate?
‘’To be honest with you, I haven’t even thought about it. We’re not even thinking about Florida. I really don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m worried about our team for these two days and we’ll get to work on Florida probably Thursday and focus on them then. We’re working on our team. We’ve got to get us better, and we’ve got a lot we can get better at, and that’s the focus right now. I haven’t turned my focus to Florida just yet.’’
Do you have any feelings toward what Mark Richt has been able to do at Miami so far?
‘’Yeah, I think Mark has done a tremendous job. I actually got to see some of the Miami-Georgia Tech game because we watch Tech some this week. I think he defensive coordinator Manny (Diaz) does a tremendous job. He’s a really good defensive coordinator. They’ve beaten Tech two years in a row now, so I think Coach Richt has a rejuvenated energy and he’s done a good job down there. They’re playing really hard and recruiting well. He’s always done a tremendous job.’’
How has Davin Bellamy progressed in his role on this team?
‘’Davin has grown up. I think he’s become a more vocal leader. Just in the time we’ve been here, he’s become more confident in himself. I think early on he was overshadowed by some really good players here and now he’s out of those shadows and he’s growing as a player. He understands that he’s got an area to improve in himself, but he works hard each day. He’s a very mature kid for our team.
‘’He’s got a good personality. I think he and Lorenzo (Carter) and Roquan (Smith) all have a different personality. They all bring a different demeanor, toughness, ‘want-to’. Davin’s just a little different than those other guys. He wears his feelings on his chest. He’ll tell you how he thinks and what he thinks, and I appreciate him for it. He’s an honest kid.’’
The Bulldogs will next return to action on Saturday, Oct. 28 against Florida in Jacksonville.