Kirby Smart, Kearis Jackson, and Kenny McIntosh Comment on the Alabama Game

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Kirby Smart, Kearis Jackson, and Kenny McIntosh Comment on the Alabama Game

Opening Statement

“We’ve had two good practices and getting ready for a third. The guys are excited. It’s certainly a lot easier, in terms of preparation, for your kids when you have a game of this magnitude. It doesn’t get down to motivation. There is a lot of motivation to play in big games. In the SEC, you are getting the opportunity to do that almost every week. Our kids are excited for the opportunity and to play a really good team. I have a lot of respect for Coach [Nick] Saban and their program and the job they have done.”

On his opinion of Alabama’s evolution of offensive play since he left…

“I don’t know. I feel like a lot of teams have opened up and done things prior to Alabama doing it. Alabama has always played to their strengths offensively. If the strength was marking Derrick Henry, then they did. Their strength has been wideouts. When you’ve had the core of wideouts they have had, it’s easy to have that philosophy when you have a first-round quarterback in Tua [Tagovailoa]. It is easy to have that philosophy. I feel like it shifted before two years ago. It kind of came about around the time when they beat us in the national championship with the groups of wideouts they had, and the quarterback was an exceptional thrower, in Tua. It was a great combination, and they have run with it. They have gone further and further with it. [Steve] Sarkis[sian] has been a big part of that too.”

On the success of the Georgia defense so far this season and if the rotation of players helps contribute to that…

“I definitely think that has helped some in the fourth quarter—in terms of depth and keeping guys playing fast. I think a lot of it is good players. Obviously, the challenge this week is unlike any other because they have really good players on the front lines, really good players at running back, really good receivers and a really good quarterback. There is not a lot you can say—I’m going to take this away and make them play kind of lefthanded. That is tough with these guys. Having good players has helped us, and experienced football players is a big key because a lot of our guys have played defensively a lot.”

On if Georgia has a big-time star pass rusher on defense…

“Yeah, it’s usually who gets the best matchups. It’s not like we have one dominant player. Azeez [Ojulari] has done a good job to put himself in that position. It’s not easy on the guy. There’s one on ones up there that is usually two or three one on ones at each third down or pass rush situation. You have to try and win more of those than you lose so you can get pressure.”

On Matt Landers status and Georgia’s offensive strengths…  

“Matt Landers, we think is going to be fine. He has been practicing and been in black jersey. He has improved each day, and I think he is going to be good to go. In terms of strengths offensively, the biggest thing is getting continuity and being able to execute. We feel like we have good backs, and we have good wideouts. Our offensive line is growing and getting better. It’s one of those deals—Stetson [Bennett] is getting more and more experience. You want to be able to play to his strengths which is just being able to distribute the ball to a lot of people.”

On his theory and opinion as to why Georgia’s defense is one of the only consistent units in the league…

“I think experience. We have guys that have played. But look, we haven’t played anyone the caliber of Alabama. We haven’t played a team that is that powerful on offense yet. We’ve played some good teams, but not what they are. Defense is a lot of times it is trying to play catchup in terms of what the offense is doing. They get dictated to them what’s going on. We have a lot of guys back so that has allowed us to play to a level of consistency in terms of last year and this year, outside of probably the LSU game. Every week is a new battle.”

On how much preparation has gone into this game and not being distracted by outside noise…

“I don’t have any concern about Coach [Nick] Saban testing positive [for COVID-19]. I am more so worried about us as a team and how we are going to prepare and be prepared to go play a huge game—a primetime game. We just have to be prepared and be able to execute and just focus on what Georgia has to do.”

On his past two-years at Georgia and finally getting to showcase himself…

“It means a lot. I’ve been through so much, especially with injuries. I never have had so many injuries before in my life until I got here. It was just something that was new to me but I was able to fight through adversity and was able to respond the way I have and just knew that I wanted this opportunity at Georgia. I just wanted to ball and be able to show my skills.”

On his opinion on the recent increases in positive cases throughout the league…  

“Yeah, it’s definitely a wakeup call. We have to do the right things, wearing our masks and not being in places where people aren’t wearing theirs and things like that. We just have to continue doing a great job as a team, and staff by just making sure we’re wearing our mask and social distancing when we are out in public.”

On how Georgia, as a team, is staying safe and practicing COVID-19 safety measures…

“We have a good [team] doctor, Mr. Ron [Courson]. He’s in charge of everything. He has been doing good at keeping us in certain groups and stuff like that so we can have a limited contract trace and stuff like that. Our people, on this side, are doing what we have to do, and it’s keeping us safe.”

On kick returns versus running the ball out of the backfield and how this year is going for him…

“I am going to start off with how it’s going for me. I think it’s going pretty well for me. I know I have a lot to still improve for myself and that is for the team. As far as running the ball and kickoff, I feel like kickoff is a lot more space and I just run with my eyes. I see the hole and I hit. I feel like running between the hedges, you know you got to stay low and drop your knees. You have to expect contact running between the hedges. That is the difference for me.”

On how he sees his role as a running back and if he wants the ball as much as he can…

“I say of course it is what every back wants—you know to get the ball a bunch of times to showcase their talent and go out there and do what they got to do for the team. I am a team player so whenever my name is called I am ready to go out there and perform. It is looking good for me to go out there and show and do what I got to do for the team.”

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