LOS ANGELES, CA — The Bulldog football team participated in its third practice session on Friday at the Stub Hub Center in anticipation for its College Football Playoff semifinal matchup.
The third-seeded Bulldogs practiced for 90 minutes in shoulder pads and shorts under sunny skies with temperatures reaching the 80s. Georgia arrived in Los Angeles Tuesday evening following a brief break for the holidays.
Along with the Friday afternoon practice, the team is visiting Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills for the annual “Beef Bowl.”
Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, along with the senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith, senior nose guard John Atkins, redshirt sophomore defensive back J.R. Reed and junior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, participated in an official press conference for the defense at The L.A. Hotel Downtown on Friday morning.
Tucker directed a defense this season that ranks fourth nationally in Scoring Defense (13.2 points/game) and Total Defense (270.9 yards/game).
“Oklahoma is a spread team committed to the run and that’s what makes them unique,” Tucker said. “Their run game sets up their play action and they are certainly going to be a challenge for us. Oklahoma has a multi-dimensional offense. Our goal will be to do our best to make them one dimensional.”
One of Tucker’s leaders on the Bulldog defense is Roquan Smith. The Montezuma, Ga., native has racked up a team-high 113 tackles this season, including 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Smith got a visit before Friday’s practice from the legendary Dick Butkus. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was meeting Smith in person for the first time since the Bulldog linebacker earned the 2017 Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in early December.
This is not Smith’s first trip to L.A. since he traveled to California several times during his recruitment period. In fact, Smith enjoys traveling and looks forward to future trips.
“I’ve been to Central and South America and probably enjoyed Honduras more than any place I have been,” said Smith. “There are still some spots I want to visit in this country and Spain and Africa are spots I have always wanted to travel to.”
Smith and his teammates will have one of their more difficult tests of the season as they will try and slow Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense, which leads the nation averaging 583.3 yards per contest. Mayfield is a former walk-on who won the Heisman Trophy earlier this December.
“It’s always big getting the chance to play against a Heisman Trophy winner,” said Smith. “I always hear his name and Oklahoma’s name on Sundays when I get to catch up on a little college football recap and it’s amazing what they have done. I am excited to play against a guy like that.”
Georgia will have daily practices through Saturday before a final walk through on Sunday. Kickoff for the Georgia-Oklahoma Rose Bowl Game will be Monday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET and be televised live by ESPN.