After the Bulldogs were handed, a 20-17 loss between the hedges by the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart discusses the game, gives an update on player injuries, his message to placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship as well as the team, and more.
00:00 Opening Statement
“Four turnovers. You can’t beat anybody when you lose the turnover margin four to zero. We talk about it every Monday at our meetings we start out talking about how many teams have won a game one over turnover margin, two over the turnover margin, three over the turnover margin and we were four minus the turnover margin. That’s twofold. We didn’t force any on defense causing programs for them when it comes to that and then obviously we didn’t take care of the ball offensively.”
“Give South Carolina a lot of credit. I thought Will (Muschamp) and his staff did a great job. They were able to control our run game, played really physical up front, they played a lot of guys, they outplayed us up front. That played a big part in the game. When we did get momentum and were moving the ball, we seemed to stub our toe each time with either the turnover a penalty or something that kept us from doing it.”
“Our kids are resilient. Our kids will continue to fight. We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror as coaches, as staff and do a better job. We’ve got to help our kids out. I just told everyone in the locker room, you can’t hang your head. They’ve got to go get better. We’ve got to help them get better. The leaders in that room will do that. That’s part of it. When you play in the SEC, guys, every week, you’ve got to be at your best because every team is 100 percent capable of out-physicaling you and outplaying you. Today, they played better than we did. We didn’t do a good enough job as coaches to help them out.”
01:29 Scenario at the end of regulation and decision to not kick a field goal…
“Not earlier. We had time. We had 13 seconds I think it was at the time. We had a play call to work the sideline. We were going to work the sideline like we do every week. We were going to work the sideline and try to get five more yards, six more yards. Jake always does a good job of making those decisions. We throw it away or get him out of bounds. We thought 38-yard line, it was a long, long field goal but it was a shot to make it. We felt like we had to take one more chance to get five or six yards and we were going to kick it. We were not going to kick with 13 seconds. No 1, we thought we could get some more yards back but the penalty obviously killed us. Not only did we get the penalty, but we lost the play. When you lost the play and you get the penalty, now you’re forced with three seconds left to kick a 60-yarder or try a Hail Mary.”
02:20 On thee social media criticism of Jake Fromm and his performance…
“I don’t have to say anything to those people; I’ll be honest with you. They have a right to use whatever they want to display what they want. That’s what Twitter’s about.”
“I believe in Jake Fromm. Jake Fromm is a leader of men. He gives tremendous effort week in and week out. He tried to throw the ball away and didn’t get enough on it to get it out of bounds and the kid picked it off.”
“We fumbled a snap. That rarely happens with our guys. It happened today. I can’t tell you exactly why it happened. One ball was dropped and ended up being intercepted off of that. So, it’s tough. A tough day. We’re not effective enough, efficient enough offensively. They did enough with our running game where you still look at it statistically 468 to 297. We outgained them, but its the critical times in which the turnovers happened. You can’t go 4-and-0 in turnover margin and expect to win a game. It just doesn’t happen.”
03:29 Assessment of line of scrimmage play
“I felt like they won the line of scrimmage. Swift had 113, Zamir 47, and we had some rushing yards in there but it wasn’t the dominant performance, it wasn’t controlling the line of scrimmage that we like to have. Give South Carolina some credit. They played really physical, they rotated guys up front and did a better job against our run game than most people have as anybody who has done in the past.”
03:53 Did South Carolina’s defensive front seven do something you have seen or expect?
“Oh no, we saw them on film. They’ve got a good team You start talking about the players they’ve got up front, they’ve got 300 pounders. These guys have good front guys, they were able to control the line of scrimmage and play the line of scrimmage. In our league, that’s the way it is Week in and week out, you’re not going to go out there and be able to push guys around. They played really physical, they did a good job.”
04:21 Update on Brian Herrien… Why didn’t he play?
“He had back spasms and he had them yesterday. They tried to treat him for it, tried to get him out there. He tried to go. He went in warm-ups but he couldn’t get over them. And it was unfortunate that he wasn’t able to play being a senior.”
04:42 Message to placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship…
“Oh man, the guy has made so many big field goals … he’s got to go back to work. We’ll continue to show confidence in Hot Rod, he’s a worker, we believe in him, he’s meant so much to us, he’s given us so much. But it’s tough. Their kicker missed one, too. It’s tough. But in that environment, you’ve got to be able to make those field goals. Rod knows that. We support him, we love him; there’s other games we wouldn’t have won without him.”
05:14 Did South Carolina’s offense change much after Hilinski went out and Joyner came in?
“They didn’t really change much. They gave him a few more sprint outs, some quick naked actions to get him out of the pocket. We had worked on him, we had talked about him; he was their second-string quarterback and we knew that. He’s actually really talented. We knew him from high school, he can throw the ball, he can spin it, he does a good job. I thought they did a good job, B-Mac and his guys, keeping it where he could keep us off balance just enough with their run game and their play-action game to give them a chance to win the game. He did a nice job.”
05:49 What are you most disappointed in with the game?
“It was turnovers, without a doubt. We turned the ball over four times and got none. When you get the ball from the other team four teams, one of them scores, when a team scores on defense it’s like a 90 percent chance they’re going to win, and we still almost overcame that. But you can’t turn the ball over four times and win. There’s a lot of things we can clean up. There’s a lot of things we can get better at as coaches, and we’re going to do that … but to turn the ball over and not get any back. We get two back, it cancels some of that out.”
06:30 J.R. Reed said “this will not linger…,” What about this team makes him think this loss to South Carolina won’t linger?
“It’s just that. J.R. Reed, D’Andre Swift, Jake, Andrew Thomas, these guys are phenomenal leaders and great kids. But we’ve got to do a good job of moving forward and understand we’ve got to get better. We have to get better. We’ve got to be able to get the ball in space. Make some plays with some guys. Be able to block people up front. Everybody likes to talk about our offensive line being a dominating offensive line. I’d love to talk about that. But they’ve got to do it. We’ve got to go out there and occupy the line of scrimmage and win the line of scrimmage, over and over. In this league, it’s tough to do that all the time. Because they’ve got good players out there too. Those front players they have over there, they can play.”
07:14 Offensive line rotation
“We had some guys dinged up. Solly was banged up, Ben was banged up, several guys were banged up.”
07:25 Receivers not getting separation
“Yeah, they did a great job. If you had to say one thing they did well they got their hands on our guys, and there was not a lot of (berth?) and separation. There were a couple of those that were frustrating. They were playing man to man, they pressed, they pressed George, they pressed Tyler, they pressed Cager. They’ve got two good corners who are really long, we knew that all week. So the idea was to get them on the move. To get people off of you, you have to get in bunches and do some different things. We did a lot of those things to get them off us, but they did, they did a nice job. A couple of those picks were because they were just all over us.”
08:04 What was the mood of the team at half-time?
“The mood of the team was good. They felt like they were going to win the game in the fourth quarter. It’s always a four-quarter game in the SEC. It’s very similar to last week when we talk about ‘hey, we’ve got to go out and play better, adjust, execute, and do those things.’ They were in good spirits. My message was make it a four-quarter game. Win it in the fourth quarter with physicality, and build on this program for what it is. And we didn’t do that. We didn’t win the game in the fourth quarter.
08:32 “Deep opportunities” on offense
“We called a lot of deep opportunities. But they’re not there if they’re getting pressed or at the line. Because there were several deep balls thrown if you notice there was no space. They were on the sidelines, they were out of bounds, they were getting wired. We’ve got to do a good job of winning the one-on-one, and when the pass pro’s there and you give Jake time he’s very accurate. But you’ve gotta win the one-on-ones.”
09:13 Does running the ball on 1st and 2nd down put Fromm in jeopardy?
“I don’t think so. You try to play to your strengths. We went a few series with empty and with passes. It’s hard when you’re behind the sticks on second-and-10 as well. When it’s first down and everybody can say don’t go run the ball. When you’re getting four yards, we consider that a pretty successful play. There were some times we ended up second-and-9, second-and-10, but there were more times we ended up second-and-6, second-and-5, and you’ve got the option to do what you want against the defense. But I certainly think there were times we opened it up, and we opened up some drives by taking a shot. We did that a couple of times.”
“When you’re not successful there, it’s easy to come back and say why are you running it on first and second. Well, if the strength of your team is your backs, you feel like they can make guys miss, and the strength of your team is your offensive line, you try to rely on your strength. Once they negate that, and you’re not able to move them up front, you’ve got to try other things. We tried to do both. We opened it up and threw it over the middle George a couple of times and took a shot one time coming out. We tried those things offensively.”
10:37 The pass rush on defense and getting to the quarterback
“There were a couple of times we got to him and he got loose. We didn’t finish, especially on the second kid who came in. The first kid (Hilinski), I knew all week he was a guy who got rid of the ball quick; he’s got a great release. He’s not going to sit back there and just let you hit him. He’s going to throw the ball away and get rid of it quick and he did that early in the game. The other kid came in and we got pressure several times, especially late when they were in empty. But he’s a really athletic kid. When you have kids like that, it’s very similar to Notre Dame, you get pressure and it’s effective and he takes off running and sometimes those 300 pounders and 200 pounders who are rushing him can’t get him on the ground. We had several chances to get them behind the sticks and we couldn’t. He just made it enough to make them manageable and he didn’t get the long-yardage situations.”
11:30 What was the message to the team after the loss?
“Yeah. The message is we’re a team. We stick together. When things get thick, we come together even better. The outcome of this game effects everybody outside of our building. Inside our building, we just get tighter and we go get better. And that’s what we need. We need to grow and get better. We’ve got to improve. So the outside world is going to say what they’re going to say regardless anyway. We don’t control that message. What we control is that our players believe and that our players believe in each other. And we’ve got to help them get better as a coaching staff.”
12:09 Was there any indication that the loss was coming during this past week?
“No. I thought we had a good week of practice. Thought we had good practice prep. I thought we may be a little tired but we went a little lighter on Thursday because of that. [South Carolina] did, they played a really good football game but, at the end of the day, we gave them four gifts. Of the four gifts, three of them were on our side of the field, four of them were on our side of the field. We’ve got to turn those into points.”
12:45 Injury update on Mark Webb and Lawrence Cager
“Webb bumped knees on the Hilinski kid’s knee brace. They went knee to knee on one of those pressures and the knee brace got him. He’s injured. I don’t know how serious it is…”
“Cager’s got the shoulder… It’s been lingering for him. He’s got a separated shoulder. He’s been dealing with it for weeks. It’s hard to get healthy cause he goes out there and plays. He doesn’t bang on it during the week but he goes out there and plays on it. He’s just had a hard time getting healthy.”
13:20 Injury update on Solomon Kindley and Justin Shaffer
“Yeah, his (Solomon Kindley) ankle… It’s been bothering him. He’s trying to push through.”
“Shaffer got injured as well (undisclosed).”
13:32 Are your goals still attainable?
“Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been a part of a lot of good football teams that have lost a game. For us, it’s not really about this game anymore. We’ve got to look at the tape and get better. It’s about the next game because, in the SEC, they’re all like this. I know that people find it hard to believe that Georgia, the No. 3-ranked team in the country, just played a tight ball game or lost to South Carolina, but when you look at it, Kentucky has a good football team, too. Everybody we play has good football players. You have got to go out, execute, and be able to play at a high-level week to week in this conference. We’ve got to do this. We’ve got to help them as a coaching staff.”
14:18 To lose the way you did, is it more frustrating?
“I wouldn’t say that. It’s just frustrating to lose. I’m disappointed in the way we performed.”
14:32 Why call a time out in overtime?
15:14 Concerns over defensive secondary giving up another long touchdown reception?
15:30 Update on cornerback Tyson Campbell
I don’t know yet. He was out there warming up today. He’s gotten better. He’s been able to run around at practice. He’s just not 100%. That’s a very delicate injury, and it’s tough to get over. And we’re trying to be patient because you don’t want to come back early from that injury. Turf toe is a tough one.”
15:56 Punter Jake Camarda’s performance…
“He punted the ball well.”