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Video/Transcript: Kirby Smart, Stetson Bennett and Javon Bullard Postgame Interview
COACH SMART: These two young men are special to our program. They’ve done a tremendous job. I don’t know that we have two players that embody toughness more than these two guys.
Bullard’s had injuries throughout the year, has done an incredible job. Stetson speaks for himself, the way he leads and prepares. His mental makeup is such of a quarterback that believes he can make every throw and what he did tonight was truly amazing. Probably had his best game of his career, in my opinion, with some of the checks he made, some of the decisions he made, just really elite.
I want to thank our fans for traveling all the way out here. I hope they understand the message I’m about to say. They can’t take it for granted. You can’t take opportunities like this for granted. And they showed up in full force. And they better never get tired of it because we need them here. We need them to back us. And you can’t become complacent as a fan and we can’t become complacent as coaches.
I’d like to give a shout out to my dad who wasn’t able to make it. He and my mom are back home. I didn’t say anything about them earlier, and I miss them and I wish they were here to celebrate it with my family and myself. But I know it was the right decision. I love you, dad, and I love you, mom. With that I’ll open it up.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Javon, have you ever played a better game than you played today?
JAVON BULLARD: I can’t really answer that right now until I get the tape. But it’s a blessing to be up here speaking in front of you all tonight.
Stetson, if you can go back a few years, signing day, you were getting ready to sign with Louisiana-Lafayette. Georgia called you. You ended up signing with them. What would you have said if someone at the time told you what would happen since then?
STETSON BENNETT IV: I mean, I wouldn’t believe them. I mean, I don’t know. That would have been like – well, good thing I signed with Georgia, you know?
Stetson, Coach Smart calls that timeout when you come out of the game what were the emotions like walking off the field?
STETSON BENNETT IV: The huddle, because I told all the guys, what are we doing? Why don’t we have a play? I was, like, they’re letting me walk out of here.
But in the huddle, just as simple as it is, just one last huddle with the guys, you know? And that was special coming off and seeing Coach Smart, that was really cool. And I appreciate that.
COACH SMART: First time he’s ever walked off that I was hugging him.
STETSON BENNETT IV: Yeah.
Stetson, what plays did you check off that Coach Smart was alluding to? And do you think this was your best game?
STETSON BENNETT IV: I mean, there were a few ones, a few, I mean – what he was saying, some that we had shots where we checked to a run because the look wasn’t there. And a few where – actually the one before the touchdown to AD before the half, I checked that out of a post; I actually missed that one. But there were some other ones in there.
As far as best game, I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m going to watch the tape. I’m going to enjoy watching this tape, and we’ll see after that.
COACH SMART: He saw the max blitz and he beat the max blitz and ran for a first down in one of the biggest plays of the game which takes a phenomenal athlete. He knew what was coming and he set the guy up.
He did a change of protection and made an elite throw. He schemed up a run, ran a mid-line run which nobody runs. He ran for a touchdown because he’s got a tackle that’s like a tight end out there in Broderick.
And when you have a quarterback that can do the protections and check things and know what the defense is doing, yet still beat you with your feet, you’ve got a high-level quarterback. And people have slept on Stetson Bennett for too long. He needs an opportunity to play for a long time at the next level.
Stetson, there’s people saying you’re the best quarterback in Georgia history. Just when you hear that, what does that mean to you, to even be in that conversation?
STETSON BENNETT IV: I mean, there’s so many different variables that go in – scheme, players around you. I mean, you know, I’ve been along for three years, we brought back pretty much the entire core of our offense from last year, so we were all clicking.
We had a really good offense. It makes me proud of what I’ve accomplished when I hear that because it means I’ve done some things right, but I don’t know if it’s accurate or not.
I grew up watching Murray and Stafford and Shock and Greene. And who’s to say? Those dudes were all amazing.
I know you don’t want to talk about the NFL until this game is over. This game is over. The career is over. What do you want the NFL to know about you as they begin to scout you for that level?
STETSON BENNETT IV: I don’t know. I’ve been here long enough. I’m sure there’s some game tape. I don’t know – hard worker, pretty good at football, smart. But they’ll see that. I don’t know. That will take care of itself. Today we’re national champs.
Obviously some roster things you can’t predict, like quarterbacks transferring out and having instability at the position. But kind of through necessity you’ve been forced to develop players on your roster in addition to bringing in these top level recruits. Football is a development game as much as it is a recruiting game, but where do you think in that balance this team falls? And how important was players getting better under you to being able to get back to this point to back-to-back titles?
COACH SMART: It was a big part. Lost, whatever it was, 15 draft picks and how many portals – you guys have reported it over and over – and we didn’t gain anybody.
So the development part was super, super important. I’m going to tell you another important date was about three days from right now last year when he came in my office and he said, I’m trying to decide if I’m going to come back or ride off in the wind. I don’t understand everybody’s telling me I should just ride off into the sunset be the legendary quarterback who won a national title. He said, that’s just not who I am I am.
He’s, like, I don’t get it. Why should I do that when I have an opportunity to play again? Why don’t we go win it again?
And I’m kind of thinking, well, that would be nice but we lost 15 draft picks. Might not be that easy this time.
And he had full conviction that he wanted to come back and go opposite of the mainstream. Like, all he wanted to do – he was here, I think, a year with Jake, and he knew Jake had left early. And he brought it up to me and he said, I want to go play. I want to go play football and prove to people this is no fluke. We can do this.
And he did everything that he said he was going to do.
Stetson, tonight your team did something that hasn’t been done very often in the history of college football and hasn’t been done in a number of years. What’s that feeling like for you to achieve that?
STETSON BENNETT IV: Yeah, I mean, it’s special. It seems like for the past three or four months we’ve been looking to see if somebody could beat us, and we just ran out of games.
Stetson, I know that it’s tough to put things in perspective right away, but given the trajectory of your career and the ups and downs and leaving and coming back and fighting to be QB1 finally and then having the success you’ve had last year and this year, how do you put it all into perspective? And do you feel like maybe you’re kind of an example for all those other grinders out there that are facing the same battles?
STETSON BENNETT IV: You know, I don’t know. I think the coolest thing to me is in 20 years when this is cool to us, we all come back and we’re talking about how Bull intercepted that ball before the half and I threw it to AD for the touchdown.
That’s the coolest thing, because this team loves each other. When Coach Smart says he’s never had a group like this, obviously I hadn’t been in this – whatever, he’s right. We love each other. Every single person on this team would do anything for each other. And you know, it’s a special group, man.
Javon, I know your days in Milledgeville weren’t that long ago, but just a few years ago. Could you have been possibly been seeing what envisioned the kind of stuff you were doing out there in the first half tonight?
JAVON BULLARD: As a kid, you know, you always dream of moments like this. And just to see those moments and accomplishments and things like that come true, it’s just a surreal feeling. I’m extremely blessed to be in the position I am. I just thank God for it every day.
Kirby, first of all, as I understand it Stetson would not be eligible to be in the College Football Hall of Fame because he’s not an All-American. Is that a rule that should change? Secondly have you had a chance to talk and connect with your father tonight?
COACH SMART: I’ve not connected with my dad. I would love to. I feel bad I didn’t take the opportunity when I had TV coverage to say something. I know he was still watching then. He’s probably in bed now.
But I promise you my dad doesn’t need any accolades or pats on the back; he hates them. He gave it to me, I can promise you that.
The hall of fame thing, I have no idea. I would like to say congratulations to Coach Richt who got elected in the College Football Hall of Fame today, I think. I texted him earlier. So happy for him.
He texted back to me immediately: Kick that ass tonight. I knew he was behind us. Really happy for him.
Should this guy go in? It’s a long time away. I think 20 years from now when he comes back we’ll talk about that. But I don’t know those prerequisites. I know he’s got G.O.A.T. status in Athens, Georgia forever.
You’ve mentioned not taking things for granted. And I know several players and yourself said that people doubted you this year. Now you’ll go into a year where you’ll probably be No. 1 across the board. What’s the biggest challenge for this program, and I know you don’t want to talk about a three-peat, but going for that next one?
COACH SMART: The biggest challenge is the same as in the world we live in today, the society we live in – entitlement. The minute you think you’re entitled to winning games and you don’t have to work hard – Coach Dykes and I were talking about it; the uphill battle for those guys is you think that you just inherit success.
And I personally think next year is going to be a much more difficult challenge over this year because we had so many guys leaving last year.
We got a lot of guys coming back. And unfortunately this one right here is not.
And tell you a quick story, I walked in my – they’ve got a nice head coach’s office in that room over there. I don’t know if Stetson knows this, but I walked in, my 10-year-old son, Andrew, is bawling. I’m, like, oh, no, somebody’s hurt his feelings; somebody’s thrown him down or done something to him.
I said, why are you crying? You’re going to ruin my moment.
He said, (crying) Stetson is leaving. He’s going to go.
I said, he’s 25 years old. He’s got to go. He’s got to leave.
But he;s bawling about Stetson being gone, and most of our team, we’ll have a lot of guys coming back. We’ll lose some really talented guys, probably lose some juniors.
But the disease that creeps into your program is called entitlement. I’ve seen it firsthand.
If you can stomp it out with leadership, then you can stay hungry. And we have a saying around our place: We eat off the floor. And if you’re willing to eat off the floor, you can be special.
Stetson’s the first quarterback in Georgia history who’s thrown for more than 4,000 yards. He’s leaving. What’s left in the room?
COACH SMART: We’ve got some good quarterbacks in there. We got one that took a black jersey off and took hits all week so he could be Max.
And Gunner Stockton said, Coach, take my shirt off. I’ll take the hits.
And Brock Vandagriff is down there learning all year. Carson Beck got a lot of play time and has a lot of composure to come back and be able to play.
So those three guys will get to battle it out. And they’ll learn a lot.
Coach Monken does an unbelievable job in that room. And he did an unbelievable job with Stetson. And the fact that he’s playing in an NFL offense with an NFL coordinator who coached NFL quarterbacks should tell people he’s not going to get marbles in his mouth when he’s spitting out seven-word calls. And a lot of NFL teams like that.
You called the timeout when Stetson was coming out. You called a timeout on defense as well when those guys came out. Why was that important for you to do for both of those guys?
COACH SMART: Because of what they’ve done for this program. I got really emotional, and these guys will tell you, before the Ohio State game, I don’t know what got into me. I hadn’t been that way forever. I don’t know if it was exhaustion, stress anxiety. But I got pretty emotional.
And I held it together tonight for the most part, but that moment with the timeouts, seeing Stetson and those defensive players – you don’t see what they sacrifice. You don’t see Bullard, when his shoulder comes out and he won’t put on a black jersey, and you’re, like, you can’t go, Bullard. And he won’t come out of practice. And he’s still hitting people.
His shoulder comes out tonight, his collarbone, and he just stays in the game. He embodies what our culture is, which is toughness. And I have a very serious appreciation for that because they do it for a university I love.
And it means a ton to me when they sacrifice like that for our university.
Coach Smart or Stetson, you guys walked off the podium together deep in conversation. What were you talking about after all you’ve been together?
COACH SMART: I have no idea. Probably what he’s going to do tonight, make sure he doesn’t get into any of that pappy. He is 25. So I can’t –
STETSON BENNETT IV: Come on. (Laughter).
COACH SMART: Nobody got that joke, I guess. But compliance will make him pay it back.
Why was this so easy?
COACH SMART: I don’t have an answer for that. I think preparation was really good. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little concerned that we were tired. I had apprehension about a couple of the practices we had.
And Stetson’s complaining to me about not having enough free time when we were in Athens. He didn’t want to come in as early. And I thought you’ve got one chance to be legendary. I’m not going to leave any regret out there. Did you not?
But I called some seniors in and I said, look, guys if you want me to cut back, I will. I don’t know from TCU’s perspective how things went.
I did have a feeling that our offense had a really good plan. And as I watched the offense each day I said, we’ve got a good plan. If we execute this plan we’re going to attack these guys and we’re going to be really aggressive.
I was proud of the defense after two outings that we did not perform well. They have a first-round receiver. They got a Heisman Trophy quarterback that was in the finalists. And I thought our defense really performed well tonight with their backs against the wall.
Stetson, can you talk about the fact that you guys had a tremendous performance. And what was the motivation that gave you the ability to save your best for the last?
STETSON BENNETT IV: Well, I mean, we had confidence in the plan. We left some plays that we didn’t even call. And we missed some shots.
But it’s the last one. I mean, it was the last one in this jersey. It’s for the national championship. It was against Max, who is a great quarterback and I know from New York.
But I mean if you can’t pull out your best in a game like this or at least your best effort and best preparation, then maybe this isn’t for you.
But I don’t know. Confidence in our guys and everybody played really well.
Stetson, I think it was before Ohio State, you talked about that you liked the idea that overlooked guys and under-recruited guys are going to look at your story. After a performance like this, you’re really going to be one of those guys where they look at players who go from walk-on status to stardom, you’ll be at the top of that list. Have you thought about the example you’ve set for other guys with that?
STETSON BENNETT IV: No. I mean, when I was growing up, you know, you’ve still got to be the best. Right? Like it doesn’t matter if people doubt – you’ve got to be good. So I always used to – I enjoyed growing out my hair, wearing glasses, and then going and winning the camp. That was my thing.
So if you are an under-recruited guy, you’re an under – soak that up, but you’ve still got to be the best. Go be spiteful out there. Be a dog. You’ve got to.
But hopefully in 15 years there’s some kid out there who is being a stud and he remembers watching us play.
What’s the significance of this team going 15-0 mean to you, and why was this team able to do that?
COACH SMART: The significance is there’s no blemish. I had four national championships at Alabama, I don’t think we had but one that was undefeated, and that one was really special.
Sometimes it takes a loss to galvanize, put your team in a spot to win. It did that last year. And it didn’t take that. I always tell guys, do you have to take a loss to learn? Why? Like, it doesn’t take that to learn that.
And this team is special because they didn’t have a flaw. They had two games in which they came back in the fourth quarter, Missouri and Ohio State, with incredible comebacks and led by Stetson and the offense.
So it makes it more special, I think, when you come back and look at it, because when you want to compare teams you’ll say, hey, look at this team. There’s some parts of me that think, if the team last year played this year’s team, last year’s team probably had more talent on it. But this year’s team was different. Like, they just had this eye of the tiger; they weren’t going to lose.
A person could watch a lot of college football and very seldom see the level that your team has attained several times this year and other times. Have you yourself thought about that at all and sort of admired where the caliber this team has reached?
COACH SMART: What I admire is the consistency with which they do it. I keep thinking that if you press the gas pedal too hard, you’re going to run out of gas and they’ll be exhausted. I kept thinking mentally maybe the LSU game. And then doing this, and doing that and then practicing this, and going to Ohio State emotional, just roller coaster. Maybe we’re just out of gas.
And they never run out of gas. So that goes a lot of credit to our strength and conditioning program, our training staff, our kids committing to actually doing that. Like, they actually go out and hit each other in the 15th week of the season over and over again, and they enjoy doing it.
That’s just not normal in today’s day and age. People want an easier pathway. So the coaching staff, Coach Monken and his offensive staff, Coach Schumann and his defensive staff, and the special teams staff, wow, every week they brought it. They brought a great plan. They brought a unique plan and made the most of the players that we have.
We had a lot of guys injured during the year. The receiving corps, it’s like a luxury, these last two games. Looking out there, we’re throwing Arian out, AD out, Ladd out.
You have all these weapons, that really helps you to be successful. And that consistency in performance is hard to find. And I do admire the people that buy into what we sell in our organization.
Following that up, I know it takes great players and a lot of work and the right plan and everything, but can you just step back and sort of say what it means to you to come back to Georgia and build a dominant program?
COACH SMART: It means everything. The University of Georgia meant so much to me. I’ll never forget the speech I heard Billy Payne give and how much Georgia meant. He met his wife there. And he gave back to the University of Georgia every way possible. He helped bring the Olympics.
And then when you say all he wants to do is give back to a university that gave to him, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the University of Georgia. I was lucky to go to get a chance to go to the University of Georgia. And I want to give back to a place that has meant so much to my life and to my family’s life and has given so much to us.
I don’t think you can do that without honoring them with how you work and the standard you try to set. And that’s my selling point.
I want to say one other thing before we finish. I promised our guys, I promised our guys – you all know I did this – you all tell them – somebody write a really good article because our defensive scout team did the most unbelievable job.
When we got TCU, I called them all in. I had the coaches meet with them. We made them meet and become this defense. And we said we’re going to do it better than they do it; you’re going to watch tape, sit in here, learn how to do it.
We had a guy CJ Allen, No. 6, he did it as good as they did it. We had Collins, 57, he did it as good as they did it. We had guys be their guys and do their defense exactly right. Until the last day we were walking in there, they were giving an unbelievable look. That set our offense up for success. Scout team makes a difference, and we had a hell of a scout team to give these guys a look.
National Championship Photo Gallery
Sonny Dykes, Max Duggan and Dee Winters Interview
COACH DYKES: Well, tough one tonight. I think anybody that saw that could see that we certainly didn’t play our best. You’ve got to give Georgia a ton of credit. They did a tremendous job of getting their team ready to play.
Those guys came out and played exceptionally well. They’ve got a very good football team. Really talented. And the thing that, again, I was impressed about Georgia coming into the game is they played hard all the time and they played well, and really had a lot of pride in their performance in the way they played, and you could see it today.
They did an excellent job. I thought their quarterback really played an outstanding game. Tight end obviously played an outstanding game as well.
And we just, look, we’ve got a good football team and it was a tough one tonight.
We’ll evaluate what happened. Couldn’t be more proud of our football team, though. And especially these two young men that are up here with me right now just for what they’ve meant to TCU football and just what kind of people they are. I think we’re all disappointed that we didn’t play better and we didn’t coach better and we didn’t represent our team better than we did tonight.
But we’ll learn from it. And next time we’re on a stage like this we’ll handle it better.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
I know that this isn’t the result you wanted today. But when you look back on this season, after being picked seventh in the Big 12 and everybody kind of overlooked you guys, how do you put into words finishing 13-2 with the Fiesta Bowl championship win?
MAX DUGGAN: I think Coach Dykes said it. Tonight did not go the way we wanted it to. Disappointed in that aspect. But tonight isn’t going to take away from this season and what we were able to do as a program.
I don’t think that’s going to define all the good memories and all the success that we had this season to project and put this program in the right direction and moving forward. I think that was the biggest thing of this program’s moving in the right way in the right direction. There were so many great memories this year. Obviously we’re disappointed tonight, but not going to let this take away from a remarkable season.
DEE WINTERS: I think he pretty much hit the nail on the head. This is something we definitely weren’t looking forward to. But looking back, it was a long journey. And I think all the guys kind of appreciate Coach Kaz and Coach Dykes coming in and showing us the ropes of how to be a winner. And we’re excited to have them the next couple of years.
COACH DYKES: I’ll say this to add to that, too. I think as Max said, a loss like this stings. But we talked about this a little bit in the locker room a second ago, just about how far we’ve come in a year and what these guys have been able to accomplish really when nobody outside of our locker room expected it or really believed in them.
They always believed in themselves and they always rolled their sleeves up and worked incredibly hard and competed every single second of every day. And you couldn’t ask for more than that.
Again, I’m disappointed we didn’t make a better show tonight because that’s not indicative of who we are. But we’ll look back – it’s going to take some time for the sting to go away, I assure you – but we’ll look back on the season and build on it from here.
Were they that much better than you? That outcome we were not expecting at all. Were they that much better than you?
DEE WINTERS: You know, defensive flaws, they didn’t really do anything special. We just kind of beat ourselves up. Kind of just executed on our mis-alignments and kept scoring on those.
We just kept beating ourselves up, just overthinking, trying to run too fast to the ball and things of that nature.
MAX DUGGAN: They’re a great team. Everybody knows how good they’ve been this year and prior years, and we knew that. I think tonight was one of those nights where at least offensively we couldn’t get anything rolling. They were playing well on defense. We were shooting ourselves in the foot. I was making bad decisions. I wasn’t executing well and not putting us in a position to score some points and move the ball.
But they’re a great team. Obviously that’s not what we thought was going to happen or wanted to happen or what we worked for. But it was just one of those nights where we couldn’t really do much on our end.
I know it’s hard right now in this moment to kind of grasp it all, but when you look back at this team, what are you going to remember about the character and resiliency you displayed all season long?
MAX DUGGAN: I think that’s the best thing about being part of a football team and especially this one. I mean, long pass this time, we’ll probably not remember the wins and losses or stuff like that. But we’ll remember the men in that locker room, the guys we got to grow up with, that we learned more about.
When stuff got tough and things kind of got hard, you saw what type of men that we’ve got in our locker room that continue to fight, believe. It’s such a fun group to go to work with. It’s the little stuff that you’ll remember about this season. Probably less about the wins and losses, but what great men we’ve got.
Max, how much was Georgia’s pressure, was that the most pressure you’ve kind of seen all year in terms of how consistent and quick they were?
MAX DUGGAN: I mean, they were good up front. I don’t know. I don’t really know compared to stuff coming up in this year or this season. They had some blitzes, some pressures they got through. I held onto the ball a little bit too long, wasn’t getting through reads, was kind of causing trouble for the O line myself. It was kind of on me.
But they had some good schemes. Again, going back to the stuff we were doing that we weren’t executing well, and they were playing well on their end, and that isn’t a great recipe for success.
This hasn’t happened to you. How can you describe the feeling, the frustration early in the game when you figured out what you’re so good at wasn’t there tonight?
DEE WINTERS: You know, it was just something that we really had to finish, like you said, but Coach Kaz did a great job just trying to tell us always have that next-play mentality, to come out and just compete. And you go from there.
MAX DUGGAN: I think when stuff like that happens you’ve got to go back to your roots, go back to your values, the culture that we set. It was frustrating. Haven’t been in a situation like that. But you’ve got to dig yourself out of a hole. You’ve got to believe.
I know going forward, this program is going to get on this stage again. And if we’re ever in a situation like that, I know we’re going to be able to get out of it, have some success. And I’m pretty positive in that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
You said you guys are going to sit down and evaluate what’s next. I guess, is there any value you can take from this game kind of showing you and the staff how much further you guys need to go to kind of really become a championship program?
COACH DYKES: Yeah, for sure. You know, that’s the good thing about, I think, our program and really our coaching staff, and we’ll look in the mirror. It’s what I told our players afterwards. We have to look in the mirror.
It all starts with me and works down from there. And the thing that we did, we had a formula that worked where we played pretty well for 14 straight weeks. And we carried the same formula into this game. We didn’t do anything different.
There was no preparation that was any different. There was no – I didn’t have any sense that our players were in a different place. Their preparation was good.
There was zero difference between preparation for this game than there was for the Michigan game 10 days ago or nine days ago, whenever that was.
So I think what happens sometimes is you get on a run like we’ve been on. You play a lot of games like we played this year that are emotional games and games that you put everything you have into it to win it.
You did it nine days ago against a Michigan team where we had to hold on and fight and scratch for every inch against a very good football team and found a way to win. And got out there tonight and Georgia did a great job, got off to a fast start.
We answered. Cut it to 10-7. And then for whatever reason it went downhill from there.
We’ll sit down as a staff and begin trying to figure out what happened tomorrow and make sure it doesn’t happen again and learn from it.
I think that’s the best thing that happens when you face adversity like this, you make mistakes and you learn from them. And you get better as a program. You get better as a coach. You get better as players. And the next time you handle the situation a little bit better.
But our preparation was really good. I thought we had two of the better practices, when we were in full pads, than we had had all year. And to be able to have those – and it was week 22 for us, I believe – for the players to practice like they did 22 weeks into the season, it’s a real credit to those guys.
And, again, I don’t know what happened tonight. We ran into a really good team and we did some very uncharacteristic things and it snowballed on us. And that hasn’t happened to us one time this year that we haven’t been able to fight our way back and figure out a way to get back in the game or win the game. We weren’t able to do it tonight.
So we’ll self-evaluate and make corrections and go from there.
You mentioned that this sting is going to last for a while and you’ll get back to work evaluating this tomorrow. But when you think about how you carry a thing like this into the future for this program, what’s the next month or so look like for you as you put together a plan to do that?
COACH DYKES: Look, our guys have been going, we’ve been practicing pretty much since the end of July. And we have a bunch of young people that are 18 to 22 years old that have really poured everything they have into it.
They’re been home one weekend since the football started to see their family.
So these guys have paid a lot into this run and into having this kind of success. They’ve given everything they have, made a ton of sacrifices. We start school here pretty quickly.
We’ve got a good plan on how to give our guys some rest. We have a significant group of newcomers that start school, that actually report tomorrow, believe it or not. Show up on our campus and go through orientation to start moving into the dorms tomorrow.
So no rest for the weary. We’ll get back. We’ll start helping those players get settled and they’ll start school a week from Tuesday and here we go.
So we’ve got to give these guys a little bit of a break. It will be a little bit of a different schedule maybe than it normally is because of that.
We’ll wrap up recruiting. Still have three or four recruits that we’re chasing, and hopefully get those guys on board and just continue to build and learn from tonight and, again, make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Can you just describe what this entire run has done for our city of Fort Worth and the university in general?
COACH DYKES: It’s one of the things that’s most disappointing. Look you hate it for your players and your fans that traveled all the way to LA. They really invested in our program. I know flights were expensive. I know tickets were expensive. I know all of it was hard to do. And our fans answered the call every single time we asked them to do something, they’ve done it.
And we’re all very appreciative. We’re disappointed for them. We feel like we let them down with our performance tonight.
We certainly wouldn’t be where we are without them. And wish we would have represented TCU and the football program better tonight than we did.
But, again, we’re proud of what we’ve done, proud of them, appreciate their support of us. It’s been a fun year. It’s been a long year. I think all of us probably need to catch our breath tomorrow and get back to the grind stone here pretty quickly.
You used the word “uncharacteristic.” What’s at the top of the list that was uncharacteristic?
COACH DYKES: It was interesting. You look at early in the game and we really protected the quarterback well when we dropped back to throw. It got worse as the game went along. Our threat of running the football consistently went away.
But we felt pretty good after a series or two that we could drop back and throw the ball and we could create some things offensively. Felt like we could also run the ball.
We just dug such a big hole for ourselves. We never could quite get them stopped defensively. We never could get out of our own way on offense.
First play of the game for us was a false start. We probably have had three false starts all year. You know what I mean? And probably over a thousand plays, maybe had three false starts. First play of the game we have a false start tonight.
Just things like that. That’s just not who we are. We’re not that kind of football team. If we make those mistakes we’re not going to win football games. We’re certainly not going to be playing for a national championship making those kind of mistakes.
And I thought we had some busts defensively, some alignment busts, assignment busts. We cut some receivers loose. Again, that’s not something we’ve done.
I think in some ways, our guys, we got in the locker room a little bit before the game. You could sense some tension in the room. And we’ve got to try to not have that. We haven’t had that in the past. We’ve been pretty loose.
The guys were really excited to play, really fired up to play. I thought we were probably just a little too fired up, maybe a little too emotional. And as a result did some things that we don’t normally do. I just don’t think we were in the state of mind that we needed to be in.
And we’ve got to do a better job trying to get our players there. And obviously failed in that regard. And, again, we’ll learn from this mistake and hopefully address it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Did you feel like – earlier you talked about preparation and how things were working for 14 weeks. Did you feel like – I’m not sure if you were saying this – but did you feel like you should have altered from that for this game?
COACH DYKES: I don’t know. I think it worked for us in the past. Did you have a second part to that question? If you did I didn’t mean to cut you off.
But let me answer this. I felt we had had success. We had played probably close to our capabilities throughout the run that we went on this year. And you know, we didn’t want to change that. We felt it kind of got us to this point as a program and we didn’t really want to change it and we were comfortable with that preparation style.
Do you feel like this loss taught you anything about what you need to do as a coach to prepare?
COACH DYKES: For sure. Certainly. We’ll certainly sit down as a staff and watch the film, talk about, go through every single call we made in the game and say, okay, look, why didn’t this work? Where did this go wrong? What could we have done better?
And talk about preparation. Talk to some of our players, get some feedback from those guys about how they felt coming into the game, Did we feel like there was too much of the game plan, not enough in the game plan? Just all those things.
I know leading up to today, I know our guys felt very comfortable about the preparation, felt like it was as good as we had had. As I said, the practices were very good. Felt like the game plan was good coming in, and clearly it wasn’t what it needed to be and clearly we didn’t execute it the way we wanted to.
Mark Richt elected to College Football Hall of Fame
Former University Georgia head football coach Mark Richt has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, according to an announcement of the 2023 class Monday by the National Football Foundation.
Richt is the fifth former UGA coach elected to the College Hall of Fame, along with 16 former players.
During his tenure at UGA from 2001-2015, Richt compiled a record of 145-51 (.738) and was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2005. He led the team to two SEC championships (2002 and 2005), five SEC championship appearances, 15 consecutive bowl games (10-5), and eight top ten final national poll finishes.
Richt was one of only four men in NCAA Division I-A history to record 135 or more wins in his first 14 seasons. Twenty-four of his players went on to play in the Super Bowl. One of them, Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers, received the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award by the NFL.
Former Georgia players and coaches previously inducted into the College Hall of Fame: Coach Glenn “Pop” Warner, 1951; Bob McWhorter, 1954; Frank Sinkwich, 1954; Charley Trippi, 1959; Vernon “Catfish” Smith, 1979; Bill Hartman, 1984; Fran Tarkenton, 1987; Coach Vince Dooley, 1994; Coach Wally Butts, 1997; Bill Stanfill, 1998; Herschel Walker, 1999; Terry Hoage, 2000; Kevin Butler, 2001; John Rauch, 2003; Coach Jim Donnan, 2009; Jake Scott, 2011; Scott Woerner, 2016; Matt Stinchcomb, 2018; David Pollack, 2020; and Champ Bailey, 2022.
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