Georgia coach Kirby Smart spoke with beat writers Tuesday for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak via a video teleconference call.
One of the first things Smart addressed was that he didn’t want to speculate on anything because this current situation is new to all of us. But, of course, he was asked about when the season might possibly begin.
“To put a time on that, I don’t think it’s fair. ” Smart said. “And I don’t think we as coaches should be going out there saying that, because we’re not the (experts), we’re not the medical people, and professionals. We can say what we feel, but it doesn’t matter if a medical person disagrees with us on that. So, I’d hate to even speculate on that.”
However, Smart did confirm that new offensive coordinator Todd Monken will also serve as the team’s quarterback coach. He also added that the QB coach position has been made a whole lot harder recently since campuses were shut down, and physical interaction isn’t allowed at this time.
“That’s the one position where, if you had to say, ‘who does this affect the most? Is it going to affect the running backs, the DBs, the Mike Linebacker?’—it’s going to affect that quarterback more than anything, in my opinion,” Smart said. “There’s no substitute for reps.”
Smart said that grad transfer Jamie Newman, Stetson Bennett, Carson Beck, and D’Wan Mathis were all working out, and making progress before spring break. Also, that they had been working well the wide receivers in their free time.
“I feel like he (Newman) was starting to get some rhythm. He got to throw a lot with those guys in their own time that they elected. He did a good job,” Smart said. “He and Stetson, Carson, and D’Wan would all go out there and throw with our wideouts. They were able to do some 7-on-7s, unstructured on their own, with the team members.
“They did a good job with that, but you know, that’s no substitute for what they would have gotten in spring ball. We’re going to get all that done when we get the opportunity. But hell, nobody knows when that is.”
Smart declined to comment on when that opportunity might be, and he also didn’t want to speculate when he thinks practices will resume. Or, even when players are allowed to even return to campus.
“Yeah, that one is completely speculative. I don’t want to give an opinion on that. I don’t want to be speculative and guess. I think you’d have to leave that up to the medical people,” Smart said. “To put a time on that, I don’t think it’s fair. And I don’t think we as coaches should be going out there saying that, because we’re not the (experts), we’re not the medical people, and professionals. We can say what we feel, but it doesn’t matter if a medical person disagrees with us on that. So, I’d hate to even speculate on that.”
All Smart could get into was what he and his coaching staff could do during this current period of social distancing.
“First of all, it starts back at spring break. We were on spring break when all of this happened, and that’s probably been one of the toughest transitions for us, as you can imagine,” Smart said. “We’ve had to call each player individually. We have ways to connect with them obviously through Zoom and Facetime. Not having that exit meeting to say, OK, this is where we’re heading at this point—that was probably the toughest thing. The weeks have been different.”
Monday was the first time that the SEC starting allowing teams two hours per week of video conferencing, but Smart was unsure about how effective it might be. UGA also started back classes again on Monday, but the football facilities and office in the Butts-Mehre Building remain closed.
“It’s very limited. We’re not allowed to have but a few people, and they have to be essential people. Essential is defined by the USG (University System of Georgia), and we check in and out with the people that are able to come in,” Smart said. “But we’re not asking guys to come into the office, to be honest with you. The only time you would come by is if it’s something you have to do. Most of us are able to work from home.”
Unfortunately, it looks like things will remain the same as a society until we are given the green light to return back to our lives. For Smart and his staff, that means figuring out what they can do to make the best of this situation.
Players aren’t on campus, and coaches aren’t allowed to force them to workout. So, that means that players have to be completely self-motivated to stay in shape.
“We can’t do much. We can’t do anything. We can’t go online and go work out with them or have them call us. So what Scott’s (Sinclair) able to do is say, ‘Hey if you don’t have a place to go—and what we’re finding out is, not many of our guys do,” Smart said. The answer has been daily workout tweets from the strength and conditioning coach. “I know Scott’s done a good job of being creative and sharing it with the whole world, so anyone that wants to use it can. He’s done a good job of that.”
Here is the video from Smart’s Tuesday teleconference: