THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Jordan Davis and Malik Herring.
We’ll go to questions.
Q. Jordan, obviously there’s a lot of talk about opt-outs this season, a lot of people have done it. Why are you not choosing to opt out for this bowl? What is your motivation?
JORDAN DAVIS: First off, I love balling with my brothers. That’s the big reason. That’s probably the only reason, is I love my team too much, I love my Dawgs too much. I don’t want to opt out.
Q. Jordan, you had the elbow injury against Kentucky. The battle to come back, what has that been like for you, the rehab? Slower than you anticipated? I’m assuming you’re definitely going to be able to play on Friday.
JORDAN DAVIS: Rehab was very important. I was motivated by the fact I wanted to play again, I wanted to play as soon as possible. Malik can tell you, he was on my tail making sure I did the little extra things. We would be sitting in the meeting, Malik would be like, Stretch your arm out, stretch your arm out.
I love my guys. I just want to be there as I can.
Q. Jordan, another dropped eligible guy that was rated pretty high isn’t playing, Eric Stokes. You’re showing up on some of those lists. Have you made a decision about next season and what kind of factors will go into it?
JORDAN DAVIS: Have not yet.
Q. What will you think of in terms of making that decision?
JORDAN DAVIS: I’m not even thinking about it till after the season. That’s where my focus is. I’m focused on this team and this game, so I don’t have a decision for you right now.
Q. Malik, the position you play, we know Jordan is about eating up double-teams, talk about how challenging that position is you have as a down lineman.
MALIK HERRING: It’s very challenging. We just try to do our job, not try to force ourselves to make plays, just make the plays that come to us.
Q. What are some of the unique challenges about that spot if we’re talking about that spot versus other defensive line positions? What makes your spot tougher sometimes?
MALIK HERRING: It is like an inside-out (indiscernible). Us being like 275, 270, taking on 600 pounds is very difficult. Really just got to lock your jaw and just hold on.
Q. Jordan, how do you look at the Georgia’s defense? How would you evaluate how it’s done? Seems like highs and lows, the lows being Florida and Alabama, maybe Mississippi State, but the highs being every other game.
JORDAN DAVIS: We go game by game. Each game we got to figure out what we got to work on. I feel like in the later part of the season we really took heed to that, addressed what we needed to fix.
It’s easier doing it off of wins, but the losses really open our eyes, show where we got exposed in, try to mix that and alleviate the problems.
Q. Do you think those losses led to tangible schematic things more so than it was just the opponent you were playing was easier?
JORDAN DAVIS: I mean, yeah. It’s definitely the schematics, the things that we do. We try to adjust to each defense because Alabama is a lot different than Florida, Florida is a lot different than Cincinnati. It’s not a set game plan we have for that team, specific team we play that week. We just try to make sure that we alleviate the self-inflicted problems first.
Q. What does Azeez bring to this defense? How has he gotten better over the course of the season?
JORDAN DAVIS: Malik.
MALIK HERRING: Just helping out with the pass-rush game, also run game, too. I feel like his run game overlook by his pass game. Azeez really a complete player. You can tell when he’s not out there, he really help us.
Q. Malik was talking about setting your jaw to deal with the double-team. Did y’all know how much you had to set your jaw to get through the season relating to COVID? How is it different now four months later playing than it was in August? Was not knowing the hardest part?
MALIK HERRING: Definitely, not knowing was the hardest part. Like some guys would be like, Man, we have no season. I’m not going to do the workout, I’ll work out tomorrow or something.
JORDAN DAVIS: I think in terms of COVID, it’s hard because we could tell the later part of the season some games got postponed or canceled. It’s not hard, but we have to adjust to that. This season was all about adjusting. We always talk about mental agility: if one thing happens, we need to keep pressing forward, keep moving on.
In life anything is not promised, so we just have to keep adjusting, rolling with the punches.
Q. Was the hardest part the little stuff? Was there one big thing?
JORDAN DAVIS: I would say it’s a combination of things. I mean, I feel like we attacked it. I feel like everybody attacked it, honestly, especially our guys not having a lot of cases. We did the right things, did the little things right.
Q. Malik, when you look at this opportunity, last game at Georgia, how much would it mean to you to go out there, play your best defensive game the year? Jordan, same for you in terms of doing it for the seniors, whether you come back or not, how special would that be?
MALIK HERRING: Go, J.
JORDAN DAVIS: You got it, Malik. Go ahead (laughter).
MALIK HERRING: I would say we go out there and dominate as a defense, don’t even get by the 50. Jordan Davis, black out. The whole D-line just black out. We have an unstoppable game. That would be the right way to send me out, whatever, if I even leave or whatever.
JORDAN DAVIS: For me, I want to send the seniors out the right way. They spend a lot of time grinding. They could tie the record for the most winningest class. That’s something I have a lot of personal pride in. I want to make sure people like Malik who build me for my whole career just go out the right way.
Q. Jordan, in terms of your career, a couple years ago you were the guy that came up through the ranks, what was your moment when you thought you could get to this point of being a star on the defensive line, the guy that everybody depended on?
JORDAN DAVIS: I wouldn’t consider myself a star. I just do what I have to do to make sure I’m successful, make my teammates successful: complementary football.
Honestly, it’s the motivation. Like, Malik, I know I always talk about the runningback, but Malik really my dog. Julian Rochester, all the seniors before, last previous years, they taught me everything I know. I wouldn’t be here without them.
I’m just motivated by them. They pushed me to go harder. They pushed me to go faster, longer, stronger. Anything I really do is for them, for the whole team. I love the team. Without them, I wouldn’t be here, so… That’s my motivation.
Q. Jordan, we had some Cincinnati players and coaches earlier. A lot of their players talked about their motivation, that it would be a dream come true to play Georgia in this game. You talked about your motivation. Are you confident after the break that your teammates share your motivation, they will be able to match that kind of inspiration that the Cincinnati players are bringing?
JORDAN DAVIS: Yeah, definitely. I mean, they’re here, so we’re all in. The motivation, it doesn’t have to be said. What’s understood doesn’t need to be said. We coming in there for one goal, and that’s to win. We always want to win.
Q. Have you heard of anything you may be getting for the bowl game, some sort of bowl gifts? You usually
get the week events, dinners, fun stuff, swag bag. This year is completely different. What have they done to accommodate that bowl week feeling for you guys?
JORDAN DAVIS: Even previously when we went to the bowl sites, it just felt like regular practice. I guess now more than ever we have to stay true to what our roots is. We practice hard, we watch a lot of film. Doesn’t matter where we go, where we at, we’re all going to do the same thing.
I will say I’m going to miss the bowl gifts because I wanted to get my mom an air fryer this year. I’ll probably have to get her something for her birthday. Bowl gifts was really going to cover me if they had an air fryer. Unfortunately we’re probably not going to have that. I wanted to get her
one of those.
Q. Jordan, you got to watch some of the younger guys while you were out. How would you assess the future of Georgia’s defensive line?
JORDAN DAVIS: I can tell you, Malik could tell you, if they getting coached by Tray Scott, they in good hands. He’s not only going to develop you as a player, he’s going to develop you as a man. He’s dropped so many gems in just life stuff. I really appreciate that man. Love him to death. I love him like he’s family. If Coach Scott is still here, they getting coached by Tray Scott, they’re going to be in good hands, definitely.