Daily Dawg Thread: December 04, 2023

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Daily Dawg Thread: December 04, 2023

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ICYMI: Kirby Smart and Mike Norvell Press Conference


KIRBY SMART: First, thanks for those kind words, Eric.

We at the University of Georgia are honored and excited to
get to go down to sunny South Florida and looking forward
to an incredible environment. Although obviously our
players are very disappointed today with the outcome of
our game last night, we are looking forward to this
opportunity.
I don’t think there’s another team that we would love to be
able to go compete against than Florida State. I have so
much respect for Mike, his staff, the job he’s done there. I
grew up going to Tallahassee every day of my life from
where I grew up in south Georgia. To watch what he’s
done with that Florida State program is just incredible.
I know firsthand how hard it is to have an undefeated
season. It is hard. It’s hard to win games in any
conference. It’s hard to win games repeatedly. He had a
perfect season and won every game. That’s really hard to
do. A lot of kudos and congrats to he and his staff and his
team and his players with all they’ve overcome, the team
he’s assembled.
This should be a great matchup. Two giants in college
football across history and recently. I always worry about
when you get in bowl games, the matchups you get to
have. This matchup is really exciting. I know our players
are pumped and excited when they found out today who
we get to play.
The Orange Bowl is one of the best bowls we’ve ever been
to in terms of the sunshine, the beach, getting to enjoy it,
be in sunny South Florida.
Major congratulations to FSU, Coach Norvell, his staff, but
also to the Orange Bowl committee and the people that
host the Orange Bowl. Our players are looking very
forward to it.

THE MODERATOR: Coach Smart, thank you.
Let’s pass it over to Coach Norvell to open it up with some
remarks, then we’ll open it up for questions.

MIKE NORVELL: Today has been an emotional day.
Coming off of last night, just so proud of our team finishing
up undefeated season ACC champions.
Absolutely respect the opportunity that’s here at the
Orange Bowl. There’s such a great history with Florida
State and the Orange Bowl. To be able to get matched up
against the best team in college football over the last three
years…
You look at Coach Smart and the job they’ve done, this is a
special team that we’re going to go against. Obviously last
night did not go how they wanted, but this is a team that’s
really set the standard over the last few years. The work
that’s gone in, I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Smart
over the way he operates the program, the consistency
that they’ve shown.
To be able to match up with them in what I believe is two of
the best teams in all of college football here this year, it’s
really going to be a special matchup.
I know our players, they’re disappointed here today with
the news of not getting a chance to compete for a national
championship. We’ve had a team that’s responded
throughout the course of the year. They’ve responded to
adversity. They’ve had to fight through, overcome. I
believe in the heart and character of this team. I know that
they will respond once again.
It’s going to take a tremendous effort on our part, but I
know we’re excited for the opportunity to be a part of this
tremendous game with all the historical value that comes to
it, just to be able to play against such an outstanding
opponent in Georgia.
It’s going to be one that the fan bases are going to be
excited about. To be able to be here in our home state, to
be down in Miami, to get a chance to compete once again
for this team to showcase their identity, who we are, what
we truly are aspiring to be.
Just grateful for the opportunity.

 

 

 

 

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much.
We will now open it up for questions for both coaches.

Q. Coach Norvell, we saw your reaction on television
when Alabama was placed into the No. 4 spot. Could
you tell us what was going through your mind in that
moment when you put your head down, then what you
said to the team afterwards?

MIKE NORVELL: I was just hurt for our players to be
honest with you. It was one of the tougher moments I’ve
had to experience just for all that they’ve done. You talk to
a team about responding to adversity, getting up and going
to give all that you can, to be able to find a way to win a
college football game. Like Coach Smart said, it’s hard.
It’s hard to do, especially when you face some of the
adversities that we’ve had this year, whether it’s injury or
different things to overcome. It’s all part of it.
As we tell our team all the time, Your truest identity shows
up in times of great adversity. We faced it. They put it on
display. So that was really that feeling in the moment.
With all due respect, I put out a statement about the
committee, my feelings on that decision. Out of respect for
the Orange Bowl and the opportunity we have, I would like
to keep any questions focused on this matchup. Obviously
if there’s any other follow-up at a different time, it will be
welcomed. Let’s respect the Orange Bowl and the
opportunity we have here, not so much on the decision of
the committee.

 

 

 

 

Q. Kirby, I think Georgia has won six bowl games in a
row going back to the Baylor Sugar Bowl. You
changed a direction on players that only players that
were playing were going to the bowl games. Your
program has shown commitment even to non-playoff
games. Can you talk about that connectedness? I
guess you probably saw Kendall Milton had some
strong comments after the game about his
commitment to play in this game, not abandoning his
brothers.

KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I didn’t see his comments actually.
Before I got on here, I’ve just been swamped. This time of
year for college football coaches, I don’t think people
actually acknowledge. I haven’t watched one thing outside
of the naming of the four because it’s also close to the
portal opening. These teams that play the championship
games, today is like drinking water through a firehose. I
have not seen anything posted by Kendall.
I did talk to our team. They are very excited. I think of all
the ballgames we could be in outside the Playoffs, this is
where our kids would love to be. This part is good.
Yeah, really high-character team, a bunch of fun guys to
coach. The guys that want to play in it, they’re going to
continue with us, they’re going to enjoy that. We’ll have
guys go into the portal, guys looking for their future, it’s
bright for them maybe at other places. That’s what the
portal is for.
We’ll lose out on some guys, like everybody in the country
will. The guys that come back, they’ll have a commitment
to getting ready, getting better. It’s not just about this
game, it’s about the practices you get to have for this
game. A lot of guys are going to be guys that will play for
us next year that are going to get 13 or 15 practices, that
they get ready, almost like an extra spring practice, not to
mention the midyears that get to come in and get to
practice with you, too.
This is a tremendous time to develop and get better. We’re
going to do all we can to get our team in the best shape
they can to be ready to go compete against Florida State.

Q. Coach Smart, having players that will play and
some won’t be there. Fran Brown, one of your
assistants has moved on to Syracuse. Thoughts on
what Syracuse is getting, what he brought to your
program. Mike, Jordan Travis and the legacy that he
leaves with Florida State.

KIRBY SMART: I’ll go first with Fran.
He’s an incredible person, human being, beautiful family.
Nobody is more upset than my 11-year-old son who one of
his best friends was Braden (phonetic). When he first
came down, they got to be buddies. Now they spent a
year, two years together.
Fran is just an incredible person. Anybody that met Fran
knows the impact he has on people. He has great
relationship strengths. He’ll be awesome for Syracuse.
They’re getting a great recruiter, leader. He’s going to do a
great job. He knows everybody in the Northeast. Better
watch out up there because he knows everybody in Philly.

MIKE NORVELL: To touch on Jordan, just a special man.
The example he’s been for our football team, the way that
he’s grown, the work that he’s put in, the way that he
approaches every day whether it was practice, meeting
rooms, what he’s doing in the classroom, he approached
every day as a champion.
I think that he’s been one of the bright lights of college
football that you see somebody that was in a challenging,
tough moment that has really improved at a drastic level.
He’s become one of the best players in the country. He did
it the right way.
He cares about people. He cares about this university. He
cares about his teammates. Unfortunately he got injured.
That was the end of his playing career. Even through that,
I mean, he’s been so present in everything that he could be
just to help his teammates, to continue to be supportive,
the encourager. I mean, he’s what’s right about college
athletics. Just so glad to have his example. Just a
wonderful Seminole.

Q. Kirby, you’ve become well-known for being a great
motivator for your teams. Can you just talk about the
aspect of getting FSU in this type of situation, a team
that’s obviously going to feel very slighted, they’re
obviously good enough to be undefeated. It almost
feels like you guys might be walking do a kicked
hornet’s nest or something like that. I’m sure as upset
as you were about how things turned out, there’s some
empathy here, as well, right?

KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I mean, I empathize with anybody
that goes undefeated and doesn’t get in. I personally feel
like we deserved to be in. We’ve got a really good football
team and we’re considered No. 1 in the country all year,
then fail. We have a hornet’s nest around here, too, of
players that are disappointed. That works both ways.
The good news is we got each other to go play. I know
they’ll be up for us and we’ll be up for them. You worry a
lot more when you have a matchup that they might not look
forward to. I don’t know who that would be because it
shouldn’t be that way. It is that way. I have learned that.
I also think that it’s a time for coaches to grow their team,
grow their roster and grow the depth, and still get to play in
a game. We’re going to have kids that didn’t play a lot
during the year, they’re going to have an opportunity that
we’re getting better at the end of the year that they’re going
to have a chance to play because of the redshirt rule and
things in post-season play. I’m excited about those
opportunities.
I know our kids are going to be up for FSU. I know FSU is
going to be up for us. We’re going to rely on each other to
have that, to be able to go out and play.
Look, nobody knows better, I don’t know if this is correct, I
think we’ve been fifth or sixth and finished fifth or sixth
more than anybody. That’s tough. It’s tough. I can’t
imagine it being undefeated. It’s tough when you finish fifth
or sixth because there’s always a case for being in it.
We’ve been there maybe two or three times.

Q. Can you touch on the significance of this being the
90th Orange Bowl as well as the impact that will have
on recruiting. You guys are impactful in the transfer
portal. The effect of the outcome of this game…

MIKE NORVELL: I believe the Orange Bowl, it’s a special
game. The impact not only of the game and the event, but
really of the whole week and the impact in South Florida to
the community.
That’s one of the things you get to experience as you’re
down there recruiting, you see just what the Orange Bowl
does to the youth sports programs, to helping facilitate
opportunities for young kids that you have a dream of
becoming college football players, to come to a Florida
State, to go to Georgia, to have the open doors of what
their future can be. The Orange Bowl has been just such a
staple for opportunity.
To be able to be a part of the 90th game is special. It does
have a great recruiting impact. I mean, a lot of our best
players are from South Florida. It’s going to be a chance
for them to be able to go home, to be able to play in front of
their families, just to be able to showcase once again the
identity of our team, where we’re going, what we’re building
here in Tallahassee.
It’s going to be a great opportunity for us.

KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I agree with what Mike said.
There’s no greater place to recruit than Miami, Florida.
Kids love football. Kids down there are different. They
come in ready to play. There’s no anxiety. They don’t fear
anyone. The kids we’ve had in our program from that area
are incredible.
So getting to play down there allows us to stretch out our
tentacles and have contacts. There’s a lot of good
programs in the state of Florida, but we’ve been very
fortunate to have three or four first-rounders come out of
that area. I love when we get a chance to go down there
and play.

Q. Kirby, this isn’t your first rodeo in the opt out of
bowl era. Have you found there’s any sort of balance
between a benefit to playing younger guys, getting a
sneak peek, but also trying to win the game?

KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I think it was the year — I don’t
know if it was the Texas year. I don’t remember what year
it was. Man, it was a struggle. It was tough. There was a
lot of disappointment I think. We just took the motto that:
Hey, you’re either in or your out, man. It’s that simple.
We’re going to go compete. We’re going to go practice.
We’re going to have our practices and get after it, after a
long, tough, grueling year with a championship week on
top of it. This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to
practice this many times. You’re going to buy into it or not.
That is how teams win. It is how you win, is be committed
to the calls, be all in on it. If you’re wondering or trying to
decide then you probably don’t need to.
That forces you to play some younger kids. Especially with
the timing of the portal now, people really don’t understand
what’s going on in college football right now. So with the
timing of that and the ramp-up of the number of kids
entering in general, you can’t even play the game without
playing some new faces.
I don’t even know what that looks like right now for us. I’m
sure there will be some guys take on some roles that
they’re moving towards next year.

Q. With how close you guys got this year to getting
into the Playoff, both feeling like you were deserving,
does that make you look forward next year to a
12-team Playoff and disappointed not to have a
12-team Playoff this year?

MIKE NORVELL: I mean, we don’t have an opportunity to
compete for a national championship when you have a
year like we had and that Georgia had, I mean, it is
disappointing.
You look at this Georgia team – I’m going to say it for
Coach Smart – you go undefeated throughout the regular
season, you lose in the conference championship game by
one score, and that be the end of your opportunity to win a
national championship, it’s hard.
For us, we go undefeated throughout the season. We
accomplished the things that we did. You try to teach
players about response. You try to teach players about
consistency, things that you want to see them grow and
build in.
Knowing that next year it will be an expanded opportunity
when teams compete at this level that both of our
programs have been able to accomplish this year, there
will still be that avenue.
But it is what it is this year. We can have our
disappointments. Like I said, I respect the opportunity we
have. Of all the games that are out there in this bowl
season, there’s not one that will be more exciting or
probably more anticipated than having these two teams.
Like I said, it’s a special group and a lot of great players on
both sides. I think coaching staffs respect each other in
how they go about their business.
It’s going to be a fun one for our players to compete in.
Obviously the venue and this bowl game is special. But
absolutely that next year with 12, I mean, it’s going to open
those doors for the best team to really be able to prove
itself out there on the field when they put themselves in the
situation.

KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I don’t want to be longwinded
because I could talk for a long time.
Football is a very unique sport. It’s unlike other sports. It’s
hard to say, because I’ve always wanted to say,
64-tournament basketball team, baseball team, soccer
team, all these teams I follow in college sports… I love
college sports. I watch college athletics all over the
country. They can have these big pools and tournaments
to determine who the national champion is. It just seems
fair and nobody is upset with it.
College football hasn’t really been able to get that done
because it’s much harder in a sport where you play the
game that’s so physical once a week. You can’t have a
64-team playoff at the end of a regular season. The model
becomes what is the appropriate model and where is the
number? They’ve landed now on 12.
There will be a debate over who is 13, 14. There will
always be that debate. I certainly don’t think it will be an
undefeated team that gets left out of that. Maybe from a
non-Power Five.
When you look at it and say the playoff model that the NFL
has put in place, earned on the field, a lot more parity,
eight and eight teams making the playoffs. Their schedule
gets set for them from a league. The schedule is set that
way so there’s a little more balance when it comes to you.
If you look at the bigger picture, until it’s regulated by some
supreme body, it’s probably not going to be balanced. It’s
going to be led by conferences that are merging together in
different forms. You’ll never be able to have a long
tournament because people can’t play these number of
games that long.
We’ll find out how the 12 works. Certainly would have
been good for Georgia the last four to five years because
we would have been in the hunt. We would have had a
shot, just like FSU this year. We’ll see where it goes in the
future.

Q. Kirby, I didn’t know how many guys are you
expecting to not play in this game? When do you have
that conversation with the guys about when they’ll play
and when they will not play?

KIRBY SMART: It’s probably going to happen throughout
the week. They need some time to decompress. I’m not
expecting anyone to not play, to be honest with you. When
the conversation comes, we’ll have those conversations
with ’em. We’ll talk to ’em.
I know we’ll have some enter the portal. Those
conversations have been happening for several weeks now
leading up to this time. So we’ll have guys into the portal,
opt to not play in the game.
To be honest with you, I’m really not stressing or worried
about it right now. We have a week to kind of get
ourselves together. Our guys will take some time off, take
a little break they need, get back and get back to working
out, throwing, practice time.
It’s not a major concern for me right now because I know
we have a good core of our team that’s going to want to be
there and play. I just don’t have specifics, though.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coaches.


WBB: Georgia downs Furman giving Katie Abrahamson-Henderson her 400th win

 Three players scoring in double figures boosted the University of Georgia women’s basketball team past the Furman Paladins, 85-55, on Sunday afternoon before 2,944 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum.  

This win marks head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson’s 400th career win. In 19 years as head coach, her teams have won 16 conference championships, made 12 trips to the NCAA tournament and boasted 11-straight 20-win seasons.  

Furman (5-4) grabbed an early lead with a triple before three points from Asia Avinger sparked a nine-point run for Georgia (6-2) to lead 9-3. Both teams traded points throughout the duration of the period as Stefanie Ingram sank one from behind the arc to give the Lady Bulldogs a 24-14 lead heading into the second quarter.  

An 8-2 run for Georgia opened the second period. The Lady Bulldogs spread out scoring across the floor as Ingram had four points in the frame to set a new career high. Georgia held an 11-point advantage going into the locker room at the half.  

Georgia used a 10-2 scoring run to increase its lead to 16, 47-31, at the start of the second half. The Paladins put eight-straight points on the board with just over three minutes remaining in the period. The Lady Bulldogs responded with 11 unanswered points, highlighted by a pair of Chloe Chapman triples, to build a 19-point lead, 61-44, going into the final quarter.  

Georgia attacked the paint in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 of its 24 points down low. The Lady Bulldogs continued to extend their lead, creating a 22-point advantage, 69-47, at the hallway mark. Georgia continued to build on its lead, using seven layups to conclude the game ahead 30 points, 85-55.  

Storylines from Today’s Game 

  • Coach ABE won her 400th career game.  
  • Georgia built a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter, the largest for the Lady Bulldogs this season 
  • The Lady Bulldogs scored 33 points in the paint, marking the seventh time in eight games Georgia has recorded double figures down low. 
  • Georgia’s five blocks is the second most recorded by the Lady Bulldogs this season 
  • The Lady Bulldogs tallied 26 assists, the most since Georgia recorded 28 against South Alabama on 12/21/2021 
  • Georgia had a season-high 50 points in the paint 
  • The Lady Bulldogs tied their season high in scoring with 85 points for the second time this season 

Career Highs/Player Superlatives 

  • Chloe Chapman recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and assists 
  • Stefanie Ingram scored a career-high nine points 
  • Zoesha Smith paced the Lady Bulldogs in scoring, tying her season high with 18 points, and set a career high five assists 
  • Javyn Nicholson tallied 17 points, marking her eighth double-figure scoring effort of the season and the 32nd of her career 
  • Taniyah Thompson set a season high with three assists, just one shy of her career high 
  • Jordan Cole and Destiny Thomas both tied their season highs in blocks with two apiece  

Quote of the Day 

“I think about when I was at Missouri State, which was my first year as a head coach, we won 60 games there,” Coach ABE said. “Then I went to Albany, then I go to UCF. I just think of all the players and my staff members that have been with me the whole time. It’s not me. It’s all my players. I’ve had some amazing players that I’m still in touch with that played for me at Missouri State, at Albany and at UCF. I’ve been blessed to have a great group of young women playing for me and a great staff that stayed with me. It’s a combination of everything.” 


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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.