ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs worked out for a little over two hours on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their non-conference matchup this Saturday at home against Samford.
Following are comments from head coach Kirby Smart, as well as selected Georgia players:
‘’We’ve had two practices. We’re very fortunate to have the facility we have, to be able to get in and practice. Yesterday, we lost a little power during practice, but we had some lights and generators in there. The power came back on about 15-20 minutes after they went off, so it was good to be able to practice, especially under the circumstances. We were trying to get our thoughts off so many people without power, and trees down all across Georgia. I know a lot of our players’ families are spread out across the Southeast. We had a lot of concerns, and we’re thinking about all of them. But we’ve had two good practices. I thought the energy was good. I guess that’s kind of the luxury of being inside. Our tempo seems better when we’re inside. We hope to get outside tomorrow so we can use a little more space.’’
What has (Samford head coach) Chris Hatcher meant to you, being the person who gave you your first full-time coaching position?
‘’I’m very thankful of the opportunity he gave me. I really enjoyed my time on his staff. Some of my greatest memories are at Valdosta State. I was young then and a whole lot different as a coach. For two years there, I just had a lot of fun, and he’s a great guy to work for. Very family-oriented. He had his first son, who’s now a junior or senior in high school, in Birmingham. His dad’s a great, legendary high school coach, which we kinda grew up in the same household. So Chris has always been a good friend of mine. He’s always been real positive.’’
What was the reasoning behind Mark Webb’s position change and how permanent is it?
‘’Let me say this first. I’m very disappointed in you guys. He’s been there (at DB) for two weeks. I really don’t know where you guys have been, so I’ve been a little bit shocked. I mean, we didn’t try to hide it. We didn’t move him around in Individuals. We didn’t put him in a black jersey. I kept asking Claude, ‘What are these guys doing?’ Then it shocked me that y’all got it during the game, and it came by way of a, I guess, a roster announcement or something. We probably shouldn’t even have done that. Y’all still wouldn’t have known.
‘’But obviously, we’ve had concerns with injuries at that position, and we have a little more depth at wide receiver. He (Webb) has been making plays on special teams. He tackles people. He played corner in high school. It’s not necessarily permanent, but he’s done a really good job. I really think he’s got a bright future there. We’ll sit down and revisit it when the time comes, to see what he really wants to do. He originally wanted to play receiver, but I’ve never met a more selfless kid that said, ‘It doesn’t matter, Coach. I just want to play.’ He’s playing on punt returns, on kick returns, so he’s a valuable asset that we felt like, if A.D. (Aaron Davis) didn’t improve and get well, and Malkom (Parrish) — we don’t know when he’s getting back for sure — we just didn’t have enough guys. So we moved him over there and, to be honest with you, he’s been a really pleasant surprise.’’
Any updates on Jacob Eason and Malkom Parrish?
‘’They’re both really improving, so we’re excited about where they are, and I think progress is being made.’’
Do you wish you had had a chance at the Golden Spikes award, and do things like that come across your desk for approval?
‘’No, I had not gotten involved in that. I was more involved in the belt that we started at Alabama and thought it was a good idea. I thought it generated a lot of popularity and it’s kinda caught fire from there. Everybody’s getting their own toy, I guess. It’s cool. It’s cool because of our fan base and the Spike Squad that we have. I think it kinda honors them, and our players take a lot of pride in it. I’m just glad we finally got to bring it out. First game, we never got to show it. Coach Tucker was killing the defense after the first game. He was like, ‘Everybody in the country is talking about their deal and we don’t even get to show ours.’ So it was nice to get some turnovers.’’
How much freedom does Jake Fromm have to adjust plays at the line of scrimmage?
‘’He doesn’t have freedom to adjust plays. It depends on the play we call. I mean, there are some plays that we call where he can adjust. Some plays that we call that are straight run it. So it depends on which one we call. But there are those that he checks. We try to base it on simple things, like most offenses do. He’s very knowledgeable at that. That’s an asset that we have with him. He’s very comfortable with that.’’
Is it safe to say that the offense is different under Jake Fromm than it is under Jacob Eason?
‘’I wouldn’t say that. You’re saying that Jacob would have more latitude than Fromm? They both went through an entire camp doing the same plays and same scripts and same things. We call the same plays with them. We check the same plays with them. We don’t say, ‘These are Eason plays and these are Fromm plays.’ They’re both very intellectual guys. Jake is a little more exceptional for a freshman, as far as knowledge. Eason in his second year has picked up everything, is able to check and do things. Fromm did a little more of that stuff in high school, so he’s a little more advanced than a normal freshman would be. I’m not saying as compared to Eason. I’m just saying as compared to a normal freshman. They both do a good job of that, and the quarterbacks are expected to do that. That’s the advantage of having a smart quarterback. He’s supposed to get you into the right play.’’
Has there been a conscious effort to try and do more out of the shotgun, in order to soften up the box a little bit?
‘’It’s been a conscious effort to loosen the box. It doesn’t have to be in the ‘Gun. I think most of the time you open formations up. Obviously, the gun helps you. Anytime you’re going to throw RPO’s it helps to be from the ‘Gun because it’s hard to do that from under center. So the conscious effort has been to loosen up, but not necessarily from the Shotgun. I think the two go hand-in-hand. You’ve got to be able to block on the perimeter to run on the perimeter. So we’ve got to improve in that area and it’s a challenge, every week, to run the ball. I mean, look at teams trying to run it on us. It’s hard to do. So it’s not just a given that you can go out there and run it. You have to earn every yard you get when it comes to that. The good thing is, we’ve got a good stable of backs to try to accomplish that with.’’
What’s impressed you the most about D’Andre Swift, to have put himself in his current position?
‘’Just his maturity. I mean, very similar to Andrew Thomas. He’s a very mature kid. He picks it up the first time. He doesn’t need two reps. He understands the game. He’s got great instincts, great hands. You could put him in the slot, you can put him in the backfield, you can put him on kickoff coverage. You can do anything with the guy. He kinda gets it. That’s why, when he was injured earlier in camp, we wanted to get him fixed. We knew he was going to be a player. He didn’t need the reps. He needed to be healthy to play. So when we sent him to Philly to see the doctors, he had to go up there and get well and come back.’’
Have you done anything specific to try and limit penalties?
‘’We always talk about penalties. We talk about penalties every day in our meetings. I just laugh because last year, we were one of the least penalized teams and now we’re leading. It’s always funny to me when you look at stats because they can say what you want them to say. Sometimes the most aggressive teams in the country are the most penalized and they have the best teams. And we certainly feel like we’ve been aggressive on special teams, and we’ve had some penalties in those areas. We’ve had some unfortunate ones, with hands to the face. I don’t necessarily call all of them undisciplined. You know, you think of your team being undisciplined when they have a lot of penalties. Some of those penalties are not undisciplined. They’re aggressive. And I don’t go after aggressive penalties all the time because I think you can coach caution in your players. But we bring it to their attention and we show them a lot of stats on penalties.’’
Thoughts on the play of Roquan Smith thus far this season?
‘’Roquan is a special player. I knew when he was in high school that he was going to be a talented player. Everybody in the country saw it. It’s why he was so highly recruited. He does it the right way, man. What y’all see out there on Saturday, I see every day in practice. So, there’s not like, when you go into the game you’ve gotta worry about Roquan. Because he’s already put the work in the bucket. Some guys don’t think practice is important. That’s not Roquan Smith. He goes out there and plays full speed every day.’’
Senior OT #77 Isaiah Wilson
On if Hurricane Irma affected their schedule and his family in St. Petersburg…
‘’We had a normal Sunday, Monday. We came here a little bit earlier on Monday morning and went over some stuff and went about our normal Monday schedule. My family wasn’t affected, thankfully.’’
On what the team gets out of Saturday’s big win…
‘’Just that we have to fix a lot of little stuff. We left a lot of points on the field just off of minor things that we can fix. We got those corrected yesterday and we are going to continue to correct them the rest of the week.’’
On description of this past Saturday at Notre Dame…
‘’Magnificent. It was a great experience. It was a vibrant atmosphere and a great amount of the Dawg Nation was there. It was just a great win.’’
On what stands out in Andrew Thomas’ play thus far…
‘’His physical play. He is very physical for a freshman. It is unheard of for a freshman to come in and start especially at tackle and on offensive line period. But he is a great player and is going to be really good.’’
On playing in the night games…
‘’I enjoy it. I think it makes the atmosphere a lot better. It gives a chance for all of our fans to be there. It is a great feeling and I think a better atmosphere sometimes as opposed to during the noon games.’’
Senior OLB #7 Lorenzo Carter
On Notre Dame saying they were impressed by Georgia’s team speed…
‘’Yeah, I heard they were impressed by our speed and physicality, but that is what we try to do. We want to be known and build that statement that that is us. That is our identity. We are a fast defense that is physical and will fly around all game.’’
On play of Roquan Smith…
‘’It is crazy, because you just come to expect great things from him. He is a leader and heart and soul of our defense at inside linebacker. He makes everything work. I’m proud to have a guy like that on the inside when I look to my left.’’
On his big game…
‘’It is just the beginning. We are just getting started. We can’t live off this one game, we have a long season ahead of us. If we plan on planning on getting to where we need to go, we have to move on past this fast.’’
On learning that he earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors…
‘’Davin told me. It is big, I’m honored but we still have more work to do. That was last week. That isn’t going to do anything for this week against Samford.’’
Senior RB #27 Nick Chubb
On still prevailing despite missed opportunities…
‘’I think that’s a sign of a good team. With penalties and turnovers and all that stuff, we still pulled it out. We have potential that we could have played better.’’
On playing at Notre Dame…
‘’It was a great experience. It was almost a home game. A lot of fans traveled up there, and they were loud and effective and a huge advantage to us in that game.’’
On the depth in the backfield…
‘’It is tough to get everyone enough carries and enough touches. But I think they do a great job with it.’’
On more plays in Jake Fromm’s second week…
‘’I mean every day he knows what’s going on, even when he was working the second string, same amount of reps.’’
Graduate ILB #45 Reggie Carter
On being a part of this defense…
‘’The sky’s the limit for what we can do as a defense and as a team. We’re working on getting better each and every week. The sky’s the limit.’’
On team improvements….
‘’Last week we didn’t do good with turnovers, so at practice we were working on getting turnovers. And it paid off late in the game.’’
On preparation for the season…
‘’Both sides of the ball are working hard. We both got the same hours of the day working hard.’’
On the ramifications of the spikes on the defense…
‘’Once that possession is over, we give it back, and the person that gets the next turnover gets the spikes.’’