Kirby Smart – Georgia vs. LSU SEC Championship Post-Practice Press Conference: Tuesday, December 3, 2019

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Kirby Smart – Georgia vs. LSU SEC Championship Post-Practice Press Conference: Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Kirby Smart during Georgia vs. LSU SEC Championship post-practice press conference on Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Kirby Smart during Georgia vs. LSU SEC Championship post-practice press conference on Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Head coach Kirby Smart gave an update on the team after Tuesday’s practice as the Bulldogs continue to prepare for the SEC Championship Game and LSU.

There is a timestamped index with a typed transcript of Kirby’s 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:

”Practice has been good.  Guys were really focused and energized.  You can tell the extra juice flowing out there.  It’s nice to see it.  It’s nice to be practicing, and I’m excited about the opportunity.  Certainly, the more you watch these guys (LSU), the more you realize why they’re so good.  But our guys are really excited.  We’ve had two really good practices in the books.  Gotta be smart about how you practice this time of year, so we’re having to do tempo walks, do some good-on-good, try to take care of their legs.  But at the same time, expose them to what’s going to be a really physical, good football team.”

00:46 Are you practicing exclusively indoors all week or have you also been outside some?

”No, we’ve been outside, I would say, probably 25 to 30 percent of the practice, mainly because of the legs.  The turf is probably a little harder on the legs, so we get some out, some in.  Plus, we just don’t have enough space in there.  So we do most of it inside.”

01:11 How good for the game and the SEC to have a personality like LSU head coach Orgeron?

”It’s awesome.  I think it’s more important what he does with his team than what he says. Obviously, words only go so far.  It’s your actions and your team’s performance, and he certainly spoke loud and clear with that because they played really well in big games.  He keeps his team good and loose and they play to his character.  I think it’s great for our conference.  I think we’ve got a stellar group of coaches in our conference.”

01:57 How hard is it for a defensive coach to sacrifice physicality for a higher scoring offense?

”I don’t think it’s hard.  I mean, if you can score points like they’re doing, that’s great.  What’s bad about that?  I think we all want to do that some.  It’s not who we are.  We don’t have a team built like that.  We’re not built like those two teams.  We’re built very differently.  And that’s not always by nature.  It wasn’t like, all of a sudden, Alabama just decided they were going to throw the ball.  They got a stellar group of wideouts in one gathering.  It was like they all came in at once, and they became really good players.  Same thing at LSU.  They’ve had good wideouts over the years, but they’ve got a really stellar group at the same time, along with a transfer quarterback that has been impeccable.  So I don’t know that philosophically both of those guys just made huge changes, as much as they inherited two really good quarterbacks that are unique, that can do special things, and they’ve got some special players around them.”

03:17 Is there a sense that losing Lawrence Cager for the year and being without George Pickens for the first half, with the game plan be different than it has been this season?

”I don’t know about that.  I mean, you can’t change who you are completely in a week.  Certainly, we’ve got different groupings, different packages, different use of guys, a lot of big guys.  We’ve got tight ends, backs, receivers, but not as many as we’ve normally had.  But I don’t think there will be major wholesale changes in a week.”

03:49 Does it increase the importance of the tight ends for Charlie Woerner and Eli Wolf as receivers?

“I don’t know if I’d say that.  Everybody’s important, so the wideouts that are playing are important, the tight ends that are playing, the backs that are playing.  I mean, everybody is important.  It’s important to be able to run the ball.  You can’t put one thing over another.  The things that indicate success is don’t turn the ball over and explosive plays.  We’ve been good at one, and we’ve been just OK at the other.”

04:20 LSU goes 4 and 5 wideouts on offense so much, how often do they utilize running backs and tight ends on passes?

”They probably do the least personnel groupings of anybody we’ve played because they go tempo.  So they go fast.  They don’t change who’s in the game.  They may change the person, but not the position.  So, they’re in ’11’ personnel a lot, which is one back, one tight end and three wides.  It may look like four or five wides because they’re all out there and they’re all really good receivers.  And they’re really good skill players.  That’s what makes them unique, but it’s not necessarily five wides.  This team is really good for them because they can do all things with the same people.  So when you take this grouping and you say, ‘this is the empty grouping.  OK, this is the big, 12, hit-you-in-the-mouth grouping.’ They do it all with the same grouping.  So then you’re forced to decide, ‘Hmmm, what do I want to try and take away?’  And that’s tough.”

05:24 Elaborate on how much Glenn Schumann has played a part on defense?

“Yeah, I fully expected him to. When I hired him, he was probably the most sure-hire. You could say, ‘wasn’t he a risky hire?’ No, because I had worked with him for, my god, I don’t know how many years. He could tell you. I think seven or eight. He was at Alabama forever. When you’ve got a body of work, it’s like having an internship, an employee, a comrade, he worked with you. He worked alongside you. There was not a lot of risk or concern when you hire somebody who has been to work with you as long as he had. So he’s done a tremendous job. He provides a lot of energy. He’s a great teacher. He teaches the technique well. He spends more time putting his tapes and his packages together. His players play really hard for him. He’s a good recruiter. He’s what you want in a coach.”

06:46 With the 20-hour rule, how important is it for players like Monty Rice and J.R. Reed working on their own when it comes to the success of the defense?

”That’s incredible.  I mean, you can’t get by in college football with 20 hours.  It’s impossible.  You can’t do it.  So they’ve got to do extra.  They’ve got to do things on their own and the right kind of players do that.  I think that’s really important in recruiting, that you recruit a guy that holds himself to a standard that’s bigger than just, ‘I’m gonna give you my work, Coach, and then I’m gonna go check out.’  But it’s not just those two.  There are countless guys in here.  Everybody keeps telling me about Monty and J.R.  There’s more than them.  Guys are up here non-stop.  Offensive players are the same way.  They enjoy it.  They love football.”

07:36 How hard is it to work on postseason when a coach might be considered for a head coaching job?

“From my perspective, it’s important that you owe these players who put you in an opportunity to get that opportunity to give them your all. For me, it was never about that as an assistant. I was never worried about that. Talk to me about that after the season, after everything’s done. I don’t want to deal with that. If I have one minute thinking about that, it’s not about what are they doing next, what is our next call, what is the next thing we can do. That’s not fair to the players.”

08:52 Update on running back D’Andre Swift:

”Yeah.  I mean, he’s been out there, doing what we’ve asked him to do.  He’s practicing.  He’s just banged up, man.  It’s tough, but he’s a warrior.  He’s a fighter.  We’re expecting him to be able to go.  He’s practicing.”

09:12 How did Swift injure his left shoulder?

”We had that same question.  According to him, it was earlier in the game when he injured it, and he continued to play with it.  And then it just began to hurt more and more after that.  That play was kind of the culmination of that, on that play, where it was bothering him more.  He’s had a banged-up shoulder a lot of the year.  I mean, Brian Herrien has had it. We’ve had a couple of players have similar injury that he has. He’s played with it, dealt with it, and I don’t want to say it’s a common injury, but we have a lot of guys that have had that same injury in football.  He’s been dealing with it well, and it came to a head Saturday.  He had a couple of hits earlier where he did fall on it, and it bothered him.”

09:57 What is your philosophy, your policy on ball security for running backs?

“Philosophically, you’d like to have the ball in the outside arm. But there’s also dominant arms, dominant hands and sometimes injuries are involved in that. But he is comfortable in his right arm, so, that’s where he had those.”

10:30 The “extra juice” you have seen in practice, do you think the players enjoy these types of games?

”Yeah.  I think they’re excited about the opportunity to play in front of this crowd.  I think two years ago, it was the most-watched game in college football.  It’s a lot of passion and energy involved.  Atlanta’s got a great venue.  The Southeastern Conference is second to none when it comes to fan bases and passion.  I know our players are excited.  I am, too.”

11:04 How important is it to find the weaknesses other teams’ have?

“They’re trying to find our weak links; they don’t have a lot. They’ve got good football players on the field. They’ve got a good quarterback, and they’ve got a very experienced O-line. It’s not like there are a lot of weak links out there for them. You put the game plan together, and you look at pictures and say, ‘That doesn’t look good,’ so you might move this, change that, and tweak people around. But philosophically, it’s about what am I willing to expose myself to risk on. That’s the hardest decision because ultimately they’ve got good players in a lot of spots.”

12:07 Talk about what kind of season defensive lineman Tyler Clark has had?

”Tyler’s had a good year.  He’s been really active.  I think the way we’ve played defensively, with the havoc and the movement, has helped Tyler.  He’s a good athlete.  That’s given him the ability to make some plays.  Tyler’s a hard-nosed, tough worker.  I mean, the number of snaps he’s played for us for four years is pretty incredible for what he’s been able to do for us, and also to stay relatively healthy.  But Tyler’s done a great job.  He’s one of the first kids we recruited here, and he’s been a great Georgia Bulldog.”

12:57 Can you comment on defensive front rotations and keeping d-linemen’s legs fresh?

“If you didn’t have to do that it means you have really, really good players on the front line but you have them playing a lot of snaps. On the defensive line it’s such a combative atmosphere, it’s physical, you gotta have guys that can rotate in and play. We do have good depth there. And we’re able to share a lot of reps with guys and keep them pretty fresh.” 

13:44 What do you remember about the 2005 SEC Championship Game versus LSU as an assistant coach on the Georgia staff?

”Man, I remember stuff after the game.  That’s the first SEC Championship that I was ever a part of, number one.  Number two, to win it was pretty special.  I remember taking pictures afterwards.  I remember Shock (UGA QB D.J. Shockley) played a whale of a game.  It was, like, the pinnacle of my career at that point because I’d never played in an SEC Championship.  I’d never been even close to one.  And to win one, it was pretty special because you don’t know if you’re ever going to get that opportunity when you play and you coach.  And that was a special time.”

14:30 Do you think this has been a successful season for Georgia?

“I don’t judge the season on wins and losses, I judge it on what you get out of the team and what you’re able to accomplish. I’m really proud of what our team has done so far.”

14:43 Will you and your coaching staff be able to get out and do any recruiting at the end of this week?

“We’re hoping to get out a couple of days, a couple of times to go see some people. It’s tough because there’s a lot of planning going on.”

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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!