After Tuesday’s practice, UGA head coach Kirby Smart gives an update on the team as the Bulldogs continue to prepare for their final regular-season game of the 2019 college football season versus Georgia Tech.
There is a timestamped index with a typed transcript of the presser below the video. Just click on the time mark to open a new tab and the video will play at that timestamp or you can follow along as you watch the presser in its entirety by clicking on the video below to play it.
00:00 Opening statement:
“Practices have been good. Spirits have been good. they practice really hard. We did a lot of good on good periods today, and a little bit light work yesterday a lot of special teams work. Players are doing a good job. I’m excited about where they are and it’s different defending some option elements that they have so it brings back memories last year but just not as extreme, so we got a good scout team. Some guys have been working on their place during extra periods last couple weeks, just to get used to. Some of the things that Georgia Tech guys offensively and they got some similarities to us defensively so it’s easy to give them a good picture.”
00:46 Kirby, what’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving?
“Oh, my mom’s stuffing is probably the best. She does a great job with that. So, I enjoy the turkey and dressing and that’s kind of my favorite part is traditional and it’s, it’s my mom’s go to, so I enjoy it. My favorite part of Thursday is just being with my family and being thankful for all the blessings we have and my brother lives in town now so you can share it with his family as well. We have players come over from time to time- maybe the ones that couldn’t go (home) or have too far to go and get and enjoy just mainly eat.”
02:00 Do you have time to take a post-meal nap on Thanksgiving?
“I usually would nap but I eat so late because we have to practice in the mid day, so by time I get home to eat there’s no nap it’s just bed. So we eat and then go to bed. Back in the day I was a napper.”
02:15 Update on the status of freshman QB D’Wan Mathis:
“He’s been cleared to do more. He’s been cleared to do practice, not take hits, so that prevents them from being able to play but he’s able to do more in practice. He’s been scout team quarterback to last couple weeks now and done a tremendous job. He helped with the Bo Nix scout team stuff. You know even last week with the scout team stuff because he’s able to simulate some of these guys we’ve played. So that’s been a big bonus for us. But as far as when is he going to be completely cleared, I’m not sure but it was a step up in clearance when he could go 11-on-11 and throw the ball in, and give us a look.”
03:05 Talk about the process of clearing D’Wan Mathis?
“It is. It’s a deal where they don’t want to scan him a lot because of the radiation. They have benchmarks and points to hit and do, in time, which they’ve done. They want to see the recovery and healing. They’re three or four medical experts that Ron and his staff have called on all from different departments, one of them is an NFL representative, one of them is a Harvard doctor. They got three or four guys that are nationally renowned for this craniotomy surgery and pool together to decide what is best.”
03:45 Punter Jake Camarda, what has he done to hone in the power of his leg on kicks?
“I can’t say that he’s done anything to hone it in. He’s always had a powerful leg…, I mean that’s why we signed him. He was a tremendous kicker in high school and a great punter. He’s got great lift, I mean he lifts the ball on kicks really well too, as well as punts. I can’t pinpoint. He might be able to tell you better what exactly the trigger points have been. I think he’s just more comfortable in the moment. And he’s more experienced. He’s done a really good job making some big punts. I know the mindset side of things, the sports psychology side of things, he’s met with people and done stuff there and I think that’s helped him too.”
04:40 Can Jake Camarda replace Rodrigo Blankenship at placekicker?
“Yeah, we’re recruiting them. We’ve got guys at that position as well that we’re recruiting and we’re excited about. But Jake will be under consideration because he’s done it all his life. The big question there will be the effect of the total burden of kicking would be detrimental to him. But we’ll use the best guy, that’s for sure.”
05:11 How have you prepared the team for outside pressure?
“We have no consideration of anything outside of here. I mean we really don’t. We don’t have any control over it, so that the thought of those things never even cross my mind. I don’t look at them as punches. I don’t look at them as jabs because I don’t really listen to them. So that’s not motivation for me because if I need that for motivation then I’m not going to go where we need to go. You have to motivate because you want to be great. You have to motivate because you want to be better. It’s not about what people are saying or criticizing and they have a right to do that. I understand it and we’re critical of ourselves. We have a lot that we need to improve on and some of the things they’re saying they’re dead on. But that doesn’t motivate us. It’s just things we got to get better at.”
06:21 Can you share your thoughts on defensive coordinator Dan Lanning as a coach and being named a Broyles Award Semifinalist?
“I think all our defensive coaches do a tremendous job. He’d be the first to tell you that what he’s been able to do is, number one, because of the players but number two because of the defensive staff. All those guys pulled together to do that. He just has to be the leader and the guy in charge of it all. He does a really nice job of motivating the players, he relates well to the players, the players believe in him, and he’s done a tremendous job, but all those defensive coaches have. Glenn Schumann is one of our co-defensive coordinators and he does just so much game planning as Dan does. He deserve just as much credit as Dan gets. Dan is just the guy that calls it on game day, and he’s done a good job.”
07:16 Do you think about being back home at UGA during the holidays?
“I do, when I run into people in the off-season, not much in season. It’s great to be home. It’s awesome to be here, but I don’t come into work thinking about that. I come into work thinking about what we can do to get better, what we can do to improve. That’s constant. It’s what you do. You don’t sit back and acknowledge where you are, because you’re always trying to go somewhere else and that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s where can we take this program, where can we go further; that’s what I’m trying to do – take us to a different spot.”
08:05 Do you feel close on offense?
“Yeah, you can always say that. You can say that about anything. We’re close to not playing well on defense, you know, we give up a bomb, if we give up plays, we have penalties. It doesn’t work that way. Certainly, we have games with flashes of red area, flashes of third down, flashes of being able to run the ball, but we haven’t put that collective product together. I’ll tell you this, the offensive staff is working extremely hard on it, and there’s no stone unturned and the players are working really hard on it. They push each other every day in practice to do better, to get more. And it’s not a lack of effort in that department.”
09:06 How did the three interceptions and fumble during the South Carolina affect QB Jake Fromm?
“I don’t think so…”
10:08 Do you know why there are fewer major key injuries at UGA than on other teams?
“I don’t know. I would say Scott Sinclair and his staff have a tremendous part in that. We take pride in that. They lift hard. I think our depth is what prevents that a lot of times. There have been significant injuries to me, when you think about Cager and Simmons and D-Rob, at a position we were light in. They were kind of significant to me. Now if you’re talking about quarterback and running back it was probably not the case. We’ve had more this year on the offensive line, it seems, than we’ve normally had. But Scott’s strength staff does a tremendous job. We’re one of the healthiest teams year in and year out because of what they do in the weight room. But we also have a really good, deep[ roster that allows us to be competitive and physical in practice because you’re maybe not as concerned about losing a guy in practice. Because we’ve got good depth. It’s not great. But it’s good depth at a lot of positions. So kids push through it.”
11:25 Will cornerback Eric Stokes be back for the Tech game?
“He has practiced. He has not had a lot of contact but he’s done everything in practice just non- contact for a couple days. He’ll be contact tomorrow.”
11:38 On defense, is scheme preventing big plays and long gains by other teams?
“It’s both. We’re definitely not a bend but don’t break. We’ve been aggressive. You go ask the teams we’ve played, they’ll tell you we’ve been really aggressive. You’re going to give up some big plays when you do that. But you play at a really high level when you don’t. If you can be aggressive and not give up plays who would not take that? For a couple of games, we’ve been able to do that. And that’s a credit to the back end, that’s a credit to the communication, that’s a credit to the signal-caller. There’s a lot of things in that. If you could take away a few of those big plays it would certainly put us in a much better place.”
12:33 Has an emphasis on havoc rate helped with the performance of the defense?
“Well, we’ve been very pleased with the havoc rate. I don’t know what it is publicly but I know that we charted every game and we’ve had it every game, we’ve hit our goal of 20 percent, every game but two or three, maybe we didn’t. We had a string there where we struggled to get our rate but the last two I know we have. That’s always a big measure because if you have havoc, you usually have third and longs. Because that means on first and second you’ve either had a batted ball or a tackle for a loss. You get them behind the sticks and I felt like the last two games we’ve really had people in third and long a lot and that’s helped. That havoc rate has definitely helped our defense because it’s given us more negative plays. It has not equated to more turnovers, which you would usually think it does but it hasn’t.”
13:24 Thoughts on J.R. Reed as a Thorpe Award finalists…
“He’s a leader of one of the best defenses in the country. I mean, statistically, he’s the quarterback. He makes all the checks, he makes all the calls. You guys know the stats better than me, but he’s the one that sits back there and makes the decisions for a defense that’s played really well this year. I’m proud of the way he’s played and I think part of getting awards is based on how your team does. I tell people all the time, you want national awards? Win football games. Together- Everyone- Achieves- More- Team. And when we do that, we have several guys out there for different awards. You get those things when you have team success and J.R. is no doubt a product of that team success and his hard work.”
14:33 Thoughts on the growth of cornerback DJ Daniel since he transferred to UGA?
“DJ’s played well. DJ does a good job. We felt like DJ was one of our best corners all along. He came and worked with us in the bowl practice and he was covering Riley (Ridley) and Mecole (Hardman). We felt good about DJ and confident in DJ all along. We feel good about our three corners. They compete out there at practice. They compete for playing time and DJ’s done a nice job.”
15:13 How do you manage the SEC Championship Game and then the early signing period?
“I don’t think you can ever manage that. People have no idea what goes on the minute the SEC Championship game ends… We’re going to miss a week of recruiting. Everybody else is going to go out. We literally have one week… 5 to 6 days to go see every kid before they sign. That’s absolutely crazy. That’s crazy. There’s no way. I can’t be at 25 places in 5 days. Then, on top of that, you got awards, final exams for your players. You got juniors trying to make decisions. We will focus on the next step, which is Georgia Tech. Then we will focus on the next step. Then we’ll focus on the next step, whatever that maybe…”