On a rainy night in Georgia that saw the Bulldogs shutout Kentucky 21-0, a tale of two halves for the offense, and a tailback from Philly swiftly stamping his name into the annals of running back U greatness, Head Coach Kirby Smart talks about the win, the weather, the struggles on offense, and more in his post-game press conference.
Below the video, you can find a timestamped indexed of all the points and topics Kirby Smart discusses.
00:00 Opening Statement
“It was a tough atmosphere, obviously. It was tough. I thought our kids were very resilient. We knew it was going to be that way as early as Tuesday earlier this week. I told the team we had to be patient and continue to chop wood throughout the game. It was going to be a field-position battle the whole game. I was proud of the way our guys fought in what was a tough environment to play in. I told the team if they handled it best, they would probably come out on top. It takes a lot of concentration and phycological energy to focus throughout a game like that. I want to thank our fans who were at the Dawg Walk. I was blown away by the way we pulled up to the Dawg Walk and there were people out there in the pouring down rain and stayed throughout the game, a lot of them. They had an impact in the four down red zone to get that stop. I thought that was big for us.”
01:02 After Richard LeCounte recovered the fumble, it seemed liked D’Andre Swift and the o-line had extra motivation?
02:19 Did Jake Fromm say it was too tough to throw the ball?
“No, he never said that. Jake had a 100 percent confidence that he could throw the ball and he wanted to. Sometimes we tried to make sure we did it when we had a fresh ball, sometimes we did it when we had a fresh set of downs. You take calculated opportunities to do that. It’s tough. At the end of the day there’s some tough things that had to happen to throw the ball in those conditions. One, you’ve got to protect, two you’ve got to throw and catch, and you’ve got to protect the ball once you get it. Handing the ball to a guy is a helluva easier in those conditions. I said it takes patience. Jake was never really rattled or frustrated by anything. Jake has a calm demeanor. At halftime he was in a good place and he kept leading our team and offense.”
3:15 Wide receiver separation
04:03 Patience from fans… in regards to the “boo birds”
“No effect for me, I’ve got headphones on. We’re trying to make the best decisions that gives us the best chance. I mean, you know, fans, that’s what they pay their money for, to give their opinions and they are entitled to that. I respect that. But at the end of the day our job is to put our kids in the most successful situations and allow them to be successful, you know what i mean. I don’t think you make decisions based on that (crowd reaction). If you do… you never look back. You’ve got to make decisions based on patience, the weather, the field position and all those decisions that were involved in that were calculated.”
04:51 Assessment of Offensive Coordinator James Coley
“Very pleased today, I thought we were extremely patient on offense and in tough conditions. And, we’ve got more explosive plays than we did last year at this time, with three wide receivers that are in the NFL. That’s taking today out of it, because today, I don’t know how many explosive plays we got (today), but coming into this game we had more explosive plays this year than we had last year, so, and there’s three guys that were drafted off that team.
05:17 Concerns on offense
“We worked really hard, the concerns coming into the week were, can we get separation, can we create some space, can we get healthy, can we run the ball explosively. Today’s conditions were completely different. What I know today is we have a physically tough, mentally tough team that’s not impacted by a quarter of events. They believe in the long haul, they believe they can win every game in the fourth quarter and they continue to work really hard.”
05:51 What did you learn about your defense today?
They’re resilient and physically tough. It was a ground-and-pound game and we knew it would be that way. Look, their offensive staff did a great job to take a kid who’s not really a quarterback and try to make him into a quarterback. At the end of the day you have to defend him differently, so it created a lot of issues for us. One-on-one situations all day outside and you’re one play away, in weather like that it’s a one possession game most of the game. It puts a lot of pressure on your defense to be able to play in those conditions against a guy like that. They did a good job of managing their quarterback because it’s tough on our guys and tough on theirs. Our guys continued to rise up in the red area, which has been big. We have to tackle better though.”
06:38 Thoughts on Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden as a passer
Yeah, it was conditions. He’s a better passer than his numbers indicate. His numbers were better last week because of the conditions. His numbers probably would’ve been better tonight if the conditions were better. I’m not saying that he’s the perfect passer, but he’s a better passer than these numbers indicate. It just made it hard and tough for everybody to deal with these conditions.”
07:10 What kind of energy does D’Andre Swift bring to the team?
He brings energy without making plays. He’s heart and soul a leader. He’s inspirational. The runs kind of get the fans involved. Swift gets the team involved by all the things he does and says. He cares. This team has a lot of character, a lot of grit and I love the way they play.”
07:38 Looking ahead to the next opponent, Florida
08:07 How did Kentucky’s shanked punt and the turnover in the second half change the course of the game?
08:49 What did you have to do differently on defense in this game?
“We had to play the middle field safety different. We had to play some different looks. We had to play off. We never played press. We did a lot of different things defensively. The calls were really different based on who the quarterback is. You’ve got to have somebody for him every play. Those plays he got out you had to have somebody assigned to him and we didn’t always get him. We missed him, but we had somebody assigned to him. The people assigned to him sometimes might not be the same athlete that he is.”
09:26 Flipping the field position on Jake Camarda’s big punt
“I don’t know. It was just energized. We got the momentum back. We flipped the field position. We talked about it at halftime that we have to flip the field position and we were able to do that. We knew kicking off to them that we had a chance to pin them down there deep. We didn’t get the ball where we wanted. The kickoff didn’t get down as far as we wanted to and got pretty good field position. We got pretty good field position, I think it was on the 30. Then they moved the ball. That really is disheartening to give us first downs because every first down you give up on defense to them is huge in the field position game. We had come after some punts and this rugby punter is running sideways trying to kick the ball with Walter Grant and Nate McBride running at him and you get affected by that and I thought that was one of the biggest differences in the game that special teams.”
10:20 Dealing with the fan base’s frustrations about the passing game
“I’m not concerned. I feel really good about what our offense does. I feel good about Jake. To judge it based on that game is just not very smart. It’s hard to judge anything in that game,” said Smart. “You can’t evaluate that. What you’ve got to evaluate is what is your heart, what is your courage, what is your love of the game. Think about those wideouts in that game. That’s for the love of the game is what’s that for. George Pickens, Kearis Jackson, those guys going out there and block. That’s for the love of the game. You evaluate things based on what’s going on around them. What’s going on around them is a tough environment. I could have told you two days ago we weren’t going to go out there and throw it for 200 yards in those conditions. We had to put a plan together to give us the best chance to be successful. I thought we did a good job.”
12:01 Did you practice with wet balls for this game?
“We did a ton. We sprayed the ball down. We did all we could. We didn’t have weather to go in and practice. Water bottles, and we made it way worse than it would be, but we knew going in that it was going to be tough to be able to catch.”
12:18 Kearis Jackson blocking at wide receiver on D’Andre Swift’s touchdown run?
“Go watch the tape of that. He had one of the most physical blocks. That kid plays with passion and energy. He doesn’t care if he gets the credit. He’s a winner. He fights his butt off. He took a tough injury and came back, and he’s more excited about his block than catching the ball and doing anything with it. That, to me, is what winning programs have. It’s what winners do. It’s the kind of guys that I want on my team. I want guys lined up all over that are like that.”
12:50 Where is this Georgia team now compared to the first open date after the Notre Dame game?
“I love the fact that they compete. They block the outside noise. They go work really hard. We’ve had good, physical practices. There’s no way to simulate what we were going to play in tonight, but the guys have embraced the challenge. They’ve not shied away from any work we’ve given them. They come to work every day. We’ve got good leaders on this team. Those guys buy in and do a great job. I think when you start with a core leadership, guys like D’Andre (Swift) and Jake (Fromm) and J.R. (Reed), Andrew (Thomas), those guys, they believe in each other. That’s all you need. Players that believe in each other. Where we are right now is not where we need to be. We’re not a finished product. We’ve got to get better. It’s what we’re gonna do this week.”
13:41 Not converting the 4th and short at midfield in the second quarter?
14:08 Brian Herrien’s physicality and toughness running the ball
14:37 Did the weather affect the play calling?
“Tuesday we had an outlook that said, ‘This might get ugly’ and we put some more runs in, some different things in. But we continued to pass the ball throughout the week too. We wanted to be able to work on the passing game, and we didn’t know how bad it was. As the week went on, you get more accurate forecasts and it grew and grew and grew to the point where we thought we might have some shot plays, some play actions early before the weather really hit. Some of the ideas that we had were on those plays, but it got worse as the ball stayed out there in play and it got wet.”
15:19 END OF VIDEO