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ATHENS, Ga. — The No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice on Tuesday in anticipation of the rivalry game against Georgia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta.

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart, along with offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, punter Jake Camarda, inside linebacker Monty Rice, and defensive back J.R. Reed, fielded questions from the media after practice. Excerpts from their sessions follow:

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

“Practices have been good. Spirits have been good. they practice really hard. We did a lot of good on good periods today, and a little bit light work yesterday a lot of special teams work. Players are doing a good job. I’m excited about where they are and it’s different defending some option elements that they have so it brings back memories last year but just not as extreme, so we got a good scout team. Some guys have been working on their place during extra periods last couple weeks, just to get used to. Some of the things that Georgia Tech guys offensively and they got some similarities to us defensively so it’s easy to give them a good picture.”

 

On his favorite Thanksgiving side and spending it with his family…

“Oh, my mom’s stuffing is probably the best. She does a great job with that. So, I enjoy the turkey and dressing and that’s kind of my favorite part is traditional and it’s, it’s my mom’s go to, so I enjoy it. My favorite part of Thursday is just being with my family and being thankful for all the blessings we have and my brother lives in town now so you can share it with his family as well. We have players come over from time to time- maybe the ones that couldn’t go (home) or have too far to go and get and enjoy just mainly eat. I usually would nap but I eat so late because we have to practice in the mid day, so by time I get home to eat there’s no nap it’s just bed. So we eat and then go to bed. Back in the day I was a napper.

 

On the future of D’Wan Mathis…

“He’s been cleared to do more. He’s been cleared to do practice, not take hits, so that prevents them from being able to play but he’s able to do more in practice. He’s been scout team quarterback to last couple weeks now and done a tremendous job. He helped with the Bo Nix scout team stuff. You know even last week with the scout team stuff because he’s able to simulate some of these guys we’ve played. So that’s been a big bonus for us. But as far as when is he going to be completely cleared, I’m not sure but it was a step up in clearance when he could go 11-on-11 and throw the ball in, and give us a look.

 

On what Jake Camarda has done to hone in on his powerful leg…

“I can’t say that he’s done anything to hone it in. He’s always had a powerful leg I mean that’s why we signed him. He was a tremendous kicker in high school and a great partner. He’s got great lift, I mean he lifts the ball on kicks really well too, as well as punts. I can’t pinpoint. He might be able to tell you better what exactly the trigger points have been. I think he’s just more comfortable in the moment. And he’s more experienced. He’s done a really good job making some big punts. I know the mindset side of things, the sports psychology side of things, he’s met with people and done stuff there and I think that’s helped him too.

 

On handling outside pressure…

“We have no consideration of anything outside of here. I mean we really don’t. We don’t have any control over it, so that the thought of those things never even cross my mind. I don’t look at them as punches. I don’t look at them as jabs because I don’t really listen to them. So that’s not motivation for me because if I need that for motivation then I’m not going to go where we need to go. You have to motivate because you want to be great. You have to motivate because you want to be better. It’s not about what people are saying or criticizing and they have a right to do that. I understand it and we’re critical of ourselves. We have a lot that we need to improve on and some of the things they’re saying they’re dead on. But that doesn’t motivate us. It’s just things we got to get better at.”

 

On Dan Lanning being named a Broyles Award Semifinalist…

“I think all our defensive coaches do a tremendous job. He’d be the first to tell you that what he’s been able to do is, number one, because of the players but number two because of the defensive staff. All those guys pulled together to do that. He just has to be the leader and the guy in charge of it all. He does a really nice job of motivating the players, he relates well to the players, the players believe in him, and he’s done a tremendous job, but all those defensive coaches have. Glenn Schumann is one of our co-defensive coordinators and he does just so much game planning as Dan does. He deserve just as much credit as Dan gets. Dan is just the guy that calls it on game day, and he’s done a good job.”

 

On if there are one or two things that could be done different and better for the team to play at a much higher level offensively…

“Yeah, you can always say that. You can say that about anything. We’re close to not playing well on defense, you know, we give up a bomb, if we give up plays, we have penalties. It doesn’t work that way. Certainly, we have games with flashes of red area, flashes of third down, flashes of being able to run the ball, but we haven’t put that that collective product together. I’ll tell you this, the offensive staff is working extremely hard on it, and there’s no stone unturned and the players are working really hard on it. They push each other every day in practice to do better, to get more. And it’s not a lack of effort in that department.”

 

On the status of Eric Stokes…

“He’s practiced. He has had a lot of contact but he’s done everything in practice just non- contact for a couple days. He’ll be contact tomorrow.

 

On the defense not giving up a play of more than 30-yards since South Carolina…

“It’s both (scheme and execution). I mean we’re definitely not bend but don’t break. We’ve been aggressive. Ask the teams we’ve played, they’ll tell you, we’ve been really aggressive. You’re going to give up some plays when you do that but you play at a really high level when you don’t. If you can be aggressive and not give up plays, who wouldn’t take that. For a couple games we’ve been able to do that. That’s a credit to the backends, credit to communication, it’s a credit to the signal caller. So a lot of things involved in that. But if you could take away some of those big plays, especially earlier in the year, it would certainly put us in a much better place.”

 

On J.R. Reed being a finalist for the Thorpe Award…

“He’s a leader of one of the best defenses in the country. I mean, statistically, he’s the quarterback. He makes all the checks, he makes all the calls. You guys know the stats better than me, but he’s the one that sits back there and makes the decisions for a defense that’s played really well this year. I’m proud of the way he’s played and I think part of getting awards is based on how your team does. I tell people all the time, you want national awards? Win football games. Together- Everyone- Achieves- More- Team. And when we do that, we have several guys out there for different awards. You get those things when you have team success and J.R. is no doubt a product of that team success and his hard work.”

 

#71 Andrew Thomas | Senior | OT

On the feelings of the team heading into the Georgia Tech game this weekend…

“It’s still a big rivalry. I remember back in 2016 — I wasn’t a part of the team yet, but I was at the game — when [Georgia Tech] beat us here at home. That stuck with a lot of guys here, so we just want to go out and play our best. I remember [Georgia Tech] tearing up the field and their guys having the Hedges in their mouths. [Georgia’s staff] actually put some some of those pictures [of Georgia Tech’s players] up in the weight room for when we’re working out.”

 

On whether he was upset that he wasn’t named a finalist for the Outland Trophy…

“I was upset about it, but it’s just motivation to keep working because there are still things I have to improve on, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

 

On what he attributes the offensive line’s failure to operate to Georgia’s standard…

“It’s the small things. It’s leverage, things of that nature. It’s the fundamentals where we seem to just be breaking down and we’ve got to focus on the basics of what we need to do.”

 

#90 Jake Camarda | Sophomore| PK/P 

On what he would attribute for his ‘breakthrough’ the last few games…

“I guess I’m feeling good. I just try to keep everything the same as it was at the beginning of the season… I go into every game knowing I’m probably going to have to punt at some time during the game. No matter what happens is what happens, so I try to focus on what I can control. If I end up punting, then I focus on doing the best job I can.”

 

On the importance of LS Steven Nixon for Camarda this season… 

“Steven is awesome. He’s definitely important, and it’s been awesome having Steven. He’s done an unbelievable job the year, and I’m very thankful to have him.”

 

On the ways he’s managed his confidence this season, particularly post-Notre Dame… 

“My confidence never really went down. I probably had a couple bad punts in the Notre Dame game, but I also shot a couple good balls in that game. One thing I’ve tried to do is just stay positive all year, no matter what happens. I think that’s kept my confidence level at a good place.”

 

#32 Monty Rice | Junior | ILB

On what the focus has been for Georgia in this week leading up to Georgia Tech…

“A lot of focus has been on getting better as a team. We’re focused on what [Georgia Tech] does and on knowing their tendencies.”

 

On what he knows about this rivalry/what the excitement is like to beat Georgia Tech…

“Coach Smart talked about it a little bit. I remember, when I was younger, watching [former Georgia Tech player] Joshua Nesbitt who was really good. [Georgia Tech] had [Deck] McGuire, too, and I remember watching them… It’s an in-state rivalry. You want to win the state and be state champs this week. It’s always good to beat Georgia Tech just because they have a lot of guys over there who take it personally when they play Georgia. It’s the last game of the season, so we want to go out with a bang… Winning is always good, but some wins are more exciting than others.”

 

On whether Georgia is balancing its focus on Georgia Tech and LSU at the same time…

“Our focus is on Georgia Tech. They’re a good team, and we can’t overlook them. They’ve got a lot of good players, too. Georgia Tech can make a bunch of plays, and their quarterback is very fast. They’ve got some good running backs who are some tough runners. They’ve even got receivers and guys in the slot. They make a lot of plays for them— the deep ball and other moves they make— so we’ve got to focus in on them.”

 

#20 J.R. Reed | Senior | DB

On his personal experiences with the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivals/what it means… 

“I learned about [the rivalry] when I first got here and the first time I actually had a practice for it and getting cut. That’s when I really, really started to grow a hate for Georgia Tech. [Winning this game] means you run the state. It’s bragging rights. We’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve got to do.”

 

On what his job entails…

“Most of my job that people don’t see is that I get people lined up all the time. That’s what I spend the majority of my game doing and the majority of my practice doing. I get guys lined up and just alert them of little things that are going to happen before the ball is snapped— pre-snap motions and things like that.”

 

On his memories of the Smart family from his time at Georgia…

“I’ve just enjoyed seeing the kids grow up, especially when I first got here and we first went to the lake. I love seeing that family and those kids. It’s always nice to see them and to be nice to them, because they’re good kids.”

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