ATHENS, Ga. – Fifth-ranked Georgia held a two-hour workout Wednesday in preparation for its upcoming home game against Massachusetts.
Saturday’s contest will mark the second of three home games to close out the regular season for Georgia (9-1). Speaking on the SEC head coaches weekly teleconference before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs are looking forward to playing at home again.
“We’re excited about our second to last home game against UMASS, and Coach Whipple has got a great program and a really good team that scores a lot of points,” said Smart. I” know our players are fired up to get another opportunity to play at home in front of our home crowd in an afternoon televised game.”
Georgia enters Saturday’s game averaging 37 points a game while the Minutemen check in at 33.4 points a game. The Bulldogs scoring defense ranks ninth nationally, allowing just 15.8 points a game while UMASS surrenders 40.8 points a game. One of the featured playmakers for the Minutemen is senior wide receiver Andy Isabella. He is one of 11 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award which goes to the nation’s top wideout. He ranks second in the FBS in receptions (87) and receiving yards (1,479). Smart was asked about the challenge Georgia faces covering him.
“Andy is a great wideout, and they do a tremendous job of using his skill set so he’s never in the same place twice,” said Smart. “We do study where receivers line up each week. He’s not your normal receiver. He can be in the backfield; he can be in motion; he can be shifting. The guy has lined up at tailback, at the slot. We play defenses that don’t allow you to follow a guy with one person. They (Deandre Baker and Isabella) will get matched up at some point in the game but to travel with him is almost impossible.”
Smart was asked if the SEC is the best conference this season.
“I’m not the expert at that, I’d love to give you a great headline or great comment,” said Smart. “I have no qualms saying that our conference top to bottom is one of the toughest in the country. But to say this year, I probably don’t get to see enough football outside ours. You could poll a lot of other teams and ask them if they want come in this conference and you’d find out that way.”
Following the workout, redshirt-sophomore running back Prather Hudson and senior tight end Jackson Harris met with the media about the Auburn game.
#24 redshirt-sophomore running back Prather Hudson
On the opportunity to play more snaps this week…
“We’ll see how that goes. Fortunately, I’ve been playing on special teams, that way I can get a couple reps and get some more experience. However the game plays, I’m ready for it if the coaches call me.”
On the coaches’ message to the team this week being highly favored to win…
“Every team around the country is beat up at this point. A lot of teams struggle with focus. There’re so many aspects that go into the game and so many details, I think when the good teams get to where they’re supposed to be, they forget how they got there. So that’s the main thing, focus.”
On playing and practicing with running backs like D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield…
“You just watch how they practice because that translates onto the field because how hard they practice pays off in the big-time games. So you just try to take little bits here and there on how they play.”
#88 senior tight end Jackson Harris
On the team focusing and working on red zone situations…
“We’re not reinventing the wheel by any means, we’re just going to go to work every day. There’s definitely an emphasis we’re putting on the red zone. I think our work is going to pay off and we’ll see in the next couple games.”
On the opportunity to learn from offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Jim Chaney…
“He’s awesome. There’s a lot of attention to detail. He coaches us hard and that’s how we want it to be, too. He’s very knowledgeable at the game and we’re very grateful to have him.”
On enjoying the experience this season…
“We have one loss and two weeks to play in the regular season, we have a lot to play for. It’s fun. We’ll finish the season strong then we have the SEC Championship. Not to look ahead but there’s a lot to still play for. That’s what you came here to do.”
On a related football note, due to heavy rainfall this week, the location for this weekend’s SEC Nation Presented by Regions Bank has changed from the University of Georgia’s Myers Quad to the Special Collections Library Lawn. The new location is at the 300 block of S. Hull Street on the UGA campus. Airing live from 10 a.m. – Noon ET on Saturday, the show will delve into the storylines of Southeastern Conference football, the weekend’s biggest matchups and more before Georgia plays host to UMass at 4:00 p.m. in Sanford Stadium.
Saturday’s kickoff at Sanford Stadium is slated for 4 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.