SHARE

ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs continued their preparations for Saturday’s game on the road at Auburn with a two-hour practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Head Coach Kirby Smart, along with a pair of Georgia junior defenders, Monty Rice and Mark Webb, fielded questions from the media after practice. Excerpts from their sessions follow:

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“The guys practiced hard. They’re excited for the atmosphere and looking forward to it.  We have a lot of work to do. I feel like we’re behind and playing catch up. There is so much to prepare for.  They do a lot more defensively than they have in the past. A lot of different looks and then offensively they’re always tough to prepare for. When you know the history of somebody it could be worse because you try to prepare for everything you’ve seen which makes it hard to do but you just have to get them ready. I think we’re getting closer.”

 

On balancing preparing for everything they’ve seen from Auburn and the core stuff the team is built on offensively and defensively…

“The core stuff hasn’t changed much. You just try to expose them to what the opponent does that’s different from what you see day-to-day. Gus (Malzahn) has always had a lot of different things. They have different tempos, formations, different groupings. They have a lot to prepare for, it’s a lot of offense.  You have to be careful that you don’t overload your kids with too much and prepare them.”

 

On Ben Cleveland being named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week…

“He got to play a lot more this week. He’s had a major role, minor role, big role. He has taken on all roles. He’s kind of had that kind of career when you think about it.  He was starting and playing when he had the broken leg and bounced back from that.  He’s done a tremendous job. He was playing really good the other night, getting a lot of movement and playing with good pad level.  Usually when Ben plays well, we play well.  He helps give us some power over there on the right side.  He did a nice job in that game and graded out well and was happy to get him that award.”

 

On his relationship with state troopers that escort the team on gamedays, particularly Officer Sadler…

“It’s a privilege to have such a relationship with someone who gives so much to our community, to our state, and gives so much back to us. I really enjoy Officer Sadler. He’s with us year-round for events and obviously gamedays and traveling.  I really appreciate the job those guys do. They make life much easier on us and much safer in our communities.  Right now it’s probably one of the most thankless jobs out there.”

 

On the atmospheres and struggling in tough SEC West road games…

“I would chalk it up to good teams at the end of the day. It’s good football teams, good football programs. The atmosphere isn’t any different than playing on the East. I would say the level of talent of the teams we’ve played has been pretty good.  We haven’t figured out a way to win one and we have to do that.”

 

On stopping the run being a key to this game…

“It’s always important. I mean you start at the line of scrimmage, if you can’t run the ball and they can, then you’re probably in trouble. We have struggled in those game to stop the run.  It’s something that we take pride in and have done a better job of this year.  This is a team very similar to ours of being able to run the ball. They’re committed to the run and want to find different ways to do it. They’ve always done that well.”

 

On how important it is to back Auburn a one-dimensional offense…

“It’s always critical.  If they’re playing third and seven or more, eight, nine or more, you’re going to be at an advantage. You know that but it’s just hard to do to get people off schedule, especially ones that are committed to the runs. The point of attack is three different places on every play. It’s the quarterback, the back and then something outside of that, whether it’s the RPO or some kind of screen that they’re making you defend all over the field. That’s college football now and they do a good job of it.  Getting to third and long is a bigger problem than being able to win third and long.

 

On uncharacteristic penalties in the last game at Auburn…

“We’ve had really good composure in most of our games and that’s what I try to harp on, is the positive of showing good composure. We haven’t retaliated or had stupid penalties. You’re going to have aggressive penalties.  I want our guys to play aggressive but I just don’t want them to play stupid. We did some dumb things in that game but that wasn’t the result of the game. The ultimate result was our inability to stop the run and our inability to run the ball.”

 

On playing opponents coming off a bye week…

“Early in the season I don’t know how important those are because I don’t know that you’re at the point where you need recovery. I would say the first four or five weeks of the season it’s a push if someone has a bye before you or you have one before them.  As it gets later in the year it has an effect because you’re able to get guys back. The cumulative effect of the games in sequence, you lose guys and you don’t get recovery time and when you get recovery time you can get some guys back. It doesn’t matter. We all have the same number of bye weeks and most of us have had the same kind of stretch.”

 

On celebrating with his family on the field after a game…

That’s what it’s all about.  Other than the relationship with the players and the coaches on the staff, that’s why I do this. I do it for my kids and for my wife. I spend a lot of time away from them so when I get to see them after a game, win or lose, it brings everything back into perspective. So much is put on winning and losing. Everything matters if you win and everything is terrible if you lose, but then you see your kids and your wife and that’s not what’s important. I think people lose sight of that a lot of times and that keeps things in perspective for me. I want to be remembered for being a great husband and father a lot more than I do a coach.”

 

#23 Mark Webb | Jr. | DB

On playing in SEC road games and how different each environment is…

“Not knowing an [away] environment is definitely different. Just playing in the SEC period is different. You have to be ready to play those teams because going against those teams you know are going to get their best—always.”

 

On not giving up rushing yards like in past years versus SEC West teams on the road…

“Yes, I feel it is always about the trenches, you have to win the trenches to win the games.”

 

On being ranked fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings…

“I feel like that is great, but we’re just looking at who is next.”

 

On preparing for Bo Nix….

“I feel like they are both two great quarterbacks and he gets the job done over there for Auburn. He makes a lot of great plays. He has his own style. He has a younger guy so he has a lot of growing to do as a quarterback—he really is himself. He is a good passer and can run.”

 

#32 Monty Rice | Jr. | ILB

On his thoughts about the playoffs rankings going into this weekend’s game against Auburn…

“That’s just the way it is now. We just have to go and take care of business. We have to play the game and execute our game plan, because if we don’t win, [the rankings] don’t matter.”

 

On whether Alabama being his home state makes him more excited to play at Auburn…

“I know a bunch of dudes who play at Auburn— K.J. [Britt] and T.D. Moultry—  we were all the same class. It’s going to be cool to play up against those guys and beat them. It’ll be cool to go back to my home state.”

 

On what he remembers/took away from Georgia’s 2017 loss at Auburn that he will take there this weekend…

“[The 2017 game at Auburn] was rough. It was very rough. We didn’t take care of business that day, so we lost. This time, we’re going in with a different mindset. We know what we’re supposed to do and how to execute it.”

 

On what Auburn’s offense is doing right…

“They’re running the ball on people. They’ve got a good running back in freshman DJ Williams. He’s pretty good, and he got them going against LSU with two very long runs.”

 

###

SHARE