Smart, players sound off on game being played in Jacksonville

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Smart, players sound off on game being played in Jacksonville

D'Andre Walker (15), Deandre Baker (18), J.R. Reed (20), Eric Stokes (27), Tyler Simmons (87), Elijah Holyfield (13) and Latravious Brini (36) celebrate with Dawg fans at TIAA Field after Georgia defeats Florida on 36-17 on Saturday, October 17, 2018
D’Andre Walker (15), Deandre Baker (18), J.R. Reed (20), Eric Stokes (27), Tyler Simmons (87), Elijah Holyfield (13) and Latravious Brini (36) celebrate with Dawg fans at TIAA Field after Georgia defeats Florida on 36-17 on Saturday, October 17, 2018

Earlier last week, the University of Georgia and the University of Florida reached an agreement with the city of Jacksonville to keep the rivalry game at least until 2023. 

Bulldogs’ starting left guard Solomon Kindley grew up in Jacksonville, and he loves the idea of the annual Georgia-Florida game in his hometown. He also mentioned that it was a big influence for him to try and get a college scholarship to a Division I program. 

“This game means a lot to me because growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, the type of scene it is and the type of environment I grew up in, it shows kids around the neighborhood, kids that came up from the same high school that came up in, they can do it no matter what; they can do it no matter what anybody tells them,” Kindley said. “I really like to go back home and show the kids back home that I did it, so can you.”

Kindley also said that it’s a big deal for his family and that his mom plans a big event every year for the game. 

“You know I liked it because I live 10 minutes from the stadium, probably even less than that,” Kindley said. “I get to go back home and all my family gets to come. My mom always has a big tailgate party every year. They put the game on the big screen and have fun.”

There are rumors that head coach Kirby Smart doesn’t like the game being played in Jacksonville, and that he thinks that it gives Florida an edge recruiting wise. During Monday’s press conference he said it’s a “misnomer” that he doesn’t back up the decision to keep the rivalry game at a neutral site rather than a home-and-home situation. 

“Some of my best memories as a player were in Jacksonville,” Smart said. “The administration felt like that was the best thing to do and I’m 100% on board with it. I’m a team player.”

But Monday, he also shared his concerns about the negative impact that it could cause his program. 

“I think the landscape of college football is such now that your home-and-homes are so valuable,” Smart said. “As you look across the board, you see more and more kids committing on official visit weekends where they go to a home game. They’re really important weekends, and we just have one less shot at those.”

Georgia senior safety J.R. Reed is 2-1 when playing the Gators in Jacksonville, and doesn’t seem to mind if they have less of a travel to play the game.

“I don’t think there’s a disadvantage,” Reed said. “The stadium is split 50-50. There’s history for that game, and I love it there. We could play all the way in the Bahamas and I wouldn’t care. It’s not a big deal for me.”

The last two seasons the Bulldogs have beaten the Gators, and have outscored them 78-26 in that time period. This upcoming Saturday’s matchup is the 97th meeting between the schools, and in Jacksonville, Georgia leads the series 45-40-1. Overall Georgia leads the series 53-41-2. 

This is the 3rd time that the two head coaches have competed against each other, and Smart is 2-0 against Mullen. Georgia will face Florida on Nov. 2nd, 2019 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

Here is the video of J.R. Reed’s interview:

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.