Video/ Transcript: Coach Smart, Trey Hill and Tre’ McKitty Interviews October 28, 2020

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Video/ Transcript: Coach Smart, Trey Hill and Tre’ McKitty Interviews October 28, 2020

Opening Statement

“Our guys are practicing hard. I thought we’ve had a good couple of days getting ready and prepared for what’s often a physical game, like we play all year. These guys are really big up front and do a great job across both offensive and defensive lines, especially in the power running game and as they have been for a while—the quarterback run game. We’re getting ready for the Kentucky Wildcats, ready to go.”

On how he gets a defense ready and prepared to face different style programs…

“In terms of defense, we just try to improve on fundamentals. We took the off week and just really tried to work on block protection, tackling, a lot of circuit work. It’s not really scheme, it’s more being able to execute at a high level and tackle people. You don’t get a chance to do that very often so we try to work really hard on that. This week, we worked on all the different things they do. They create a lot of issues in their run game, and they’ve got really athletic quarterbacks that can hurt you when they break out of the pockets and things.”

On the availability of George Pickens and DJ Daniels…

“Yeah, DJ [Daniels] has been practicing, he’s been doing fine. He had an ankle [injury] way back. He’s had an ankle [injury] all year—he had it in camp. He’s been fighting back from that, it bothered him some last week and has been trying to overcome that. George [Pickens] should be fine. He is in and out—based on him being dinged up a couple of times. We have a lot of guys that way. He practiced yesterday.”

On both of Kentucky’s quarterbacks [Terry Wilson Jr. and Joey Gatewood] and their similarities and differences…

“Well, it’s hard to tell from the body of work you have on [Joey] Gatewood, you have to go back to his history in high school and at Auburn. He’s obviously a little bigger, more of a physical presence—probably more of an inside runner than Terry [Wilson Jr.], who can run inside but has a little more speed on the perimeter. It’s horizontal versus vertical runners. Terry has come a long way since he first was playing quarterback for them. Sitting back and watching things with perspective, being injured, has allowed him to get a little better. With Gatewood you don’t really know. You don’t have a lot of body of work to see. It’s just seeing the athleticism he had at Auburn and the packages they ran. In the limited reps he’s taken this year at Kentucky, I think he’s done a really nice job.”

On how taxing it is on a team to play a series of multiple road games in a row…

“I don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s mostly overrated. Sometimes our kids get better rest on the road in terms of being able to go, get away from our place and travel. They rest while they’re traveling. I don’t think it’s a real big deal. It’s a lot bigger deal when you’re playing in the SEC environments on the road during a traditional season with the impact of crowd noise—all different things are a lot more impactful when it comes to a normal season instead of a COVID-19-altered [season], in terms of attendance. So, we get back later from a night game, but not all of them are night games, at least the next two are afternoon games. Getting back will be important to getting recovery.”

On whether he is pleased where the tight end group is…

“The tight ends have done a really good job in terms of the three guys that are playing there. Staying healthy is the most important thing. Number two, being able to block our edges and create edges and just perimeter blocking. Tight ends can become weapons if they can block teams’ perimeter players. If you can get a bigger man on a smaller man on the edges, it certainly helps in terms of the passing game. A lot of it has to do with how they’re playing and how they’re playing us. If the run game working the play action can sail.”

On where he feels the team has improved the most during the bye week…

“That’s hard to tell. I think the judgement on that comes from when you go play the game. There are a lot of areas we focused on, but usually the improvement shows in the game more than just in practice.”

On if playing a team like Alabama shows where areas need improvement…

“Every game shows you something. You have different matchups in different gamed. Certainly some teams are stronger in other areas than other teams. So, you find out a lot about your team every game.”

On James Cook and him being a talented athlete…

“The ceiling is very high for him. He is a freak athlete so seeing what he can do on the field has been amazing so far. I am glad to have him as a teammate. He is a great guy and a great player… His ability to turn the corner and do things like that—things like that make him a freak athlete” 

On what he has learned from Coach Todd Monken and Coach Todd Harley and being a part of Georgia system…

“Those two coaches were a big reason why I came here. It has been cool working with them so far. I think Coach Hartley has taught me a lot with new techniques that I didn’t work with in the past, and having an info guy like Coach Monken has been great so far. [I am] soaking up all of the knowledge that I can. That is what I am trying to do and play the best that I can.”

On having two games and a bye week under his belt now and if his performance is at 100 percent…  

“Definitely the first two weeks I came back, I wasn’t quite feeling myself. I was good enough to go, I wanted to be out there as soon as I could. This bye week has definitely helped, and I am getting closer to 100 percent every single day. I think I am moving along great. Ron [Courson] has helped me out so much getting to 100%. I am looking to be that by Saturday.”

On the goal he set for himself during the bye week…

“For me, it was getting better at every aspect of the game. Snaps, run blocking, pass blocking, and all the other stuff that I need to get better at.” 

On the deflected passes against Alabama and how to stop those from happening…

“For us up front, we have to focus on getting defensive lineman’s hands down. I know we had a lot of batted balls against Alabama so getting lineman’s hands down and just moving them around…There are different types of ways. You just have to know what you are doing as an offensive lineman to get down the hands of the defensive line.”

On the offensive line’s progression since the start of the season…

“Everyone on the offensive line has room to grow. One thing Coach Smart teaches us is that practice makes permanent—so whatever we do in practice is what we are going to do during the game. That is our motto that we try to stick to. We have gotten better through our mentality on how the game needs to be played.” 

On rebounding after the loss…

“We are very anxious to get back onto the field. It was just a setback for a major comeback. Our team has been practicing hard each and every day to reach our goals each and every week.”

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