THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Zamir White, Kearis Jackson.
We’ll start with questions.
Q. Kearis, what has been your view of the development of the offense since JT came on the scene, not comparing him with any quarterbacks before, but how have things changed in the offense? What’s different that you’ll take into the Cincinnati game?
KEARIS JACKSON: We’ve been more efficient. We’ve been able to stay on the field, convert on third downs, make big plays when we needed. Just continue to stay on the field and move the ball.
We’ve been more efficient just by the pass game and the run game being balanced. Carrying that over into the game this week.
Q. Zamir, can you explain going through all the things you’ve gone through on the field has made you the football player you are, how are you better for it?
ZAMIR WHITE: I’ll say just going with my teammates makes it a lot better for me, just being there for me, just working hard with them guys. My coaching staff. My family been there for me. So, yeah, it’s been great.
Q. Zamir, we were talking to some Cincinnati players, they were talking about toughness. You seem to be a guy, a tone setter, when you run it up in the hole, not
be too shy about contact. How important is it for teams to establish toughness? What are your thoughts about a program like Cincinnati that doesn’t play in the SEC saying they feel like they can jump in the ring and match SEC toughness?
ZAMIR WHITE: I personally feel like no matter who you
play, you got to go out there and just play hard. It really don’t matter to me. Like, everything has to be physical and just play hard.
Q. What was y’all’s reaction, when did y’all know for sure that y’all would not play that final game against Vanderbilt? How quickly did you turn towards this game for the seniors and so forth?
ZAMIR WHITE: I cannot remember. I can’t even remember when we found out. I wanted to play the game. Well, we wanted to play the game badly. We were just, like, disappointed.
But, like, we just figured that the bowl game would be fun for us. We’re just going to bounce back this week, play hard, try to get that W.
KEARIS JACKSON: I want to say we found out towards, like, the beginning of that week, around like Tuesday that Vandy decided they wasn’t going to play. It was tough on
us because we only had three home games this year, a lot of road games. We were quite excited just to be able to play in front of our home fans one more time. Now we got an opportunity to play a great bowl game right in our backyard in Atlanta, going to take full advantage of it, the opportunities, just to go out there and play our best game.
Q. Zamir, with your injury situation, everything you’ve been through, are you considering coming back next year? Have you made that decision? The same for you, Kearis, because you’re also draft eligible. What are your plans for next year?
ZAMIR WHITE: I’m just trying to, like, focus on this season right here, just end right with a win. So, like, I’m not really focused on that right now.
KEARIS JACKSON: Same. I haven’t thought about what my plan is after the season. I’m just focused on the bowl game and hopefully we get the win.
Q. Now having worked under Coach Monken for a year, how would you describe him as a coach and what has this year been like working with him?
KEARIS JACKSON: I can tell you, working with Coach Monk has been quite different, especially with him coming in as our new OC, having to learn through Zoom. And just not being able to be around him the whole year has been kind of a challenge, just learning new offense through Zoom is tough. Once we got on campus, we could just tell he’s a bead type of guy, know what he likes to do with the offense. He has put us in situations to be successful.
It’s been quite exciting this year, especially towards the end of this season, by the way we’ve been performing these last couple weeks. It’s been fun just putting points on the board.
ZAMIR WHITE: Just like Kearis said, at first it was kind of different, like the Zoom calls, not actually doing stuff. Once we did get here, it was very simple. Coach Monken really broke it down for us. We just rolled on from there.
Q. Kearis, Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator today said he believes that JT probably has the strongest arm that he’s faced in his time there as defensive coordinator. For you on the field, what does that arm strength mean to you? What kind of confidence does that bring to you as receivers?
KEARIS JACKSON: It brings a lot of confidence to us as a unit on offense knowing we can throw the ball downfield if we need to. Just knowing we have a quarterback who is reliable to throw the ball downfield. We have great receivers on the outside and within the slot that can run past guys.
It will be quite a challenge because Cincinnati has a great defense, especially a great pass defense. It will be a great challenge to see what they bring. Of course, we’re going to come with our A game as well.
Q. Give me your impressions of what it’s like in the huddle with JT Daniels, not in comparison to the other guys? Give me something he’s said in the huddle to you, something he’s done. Give us some insight into what JT Daniels is like on the field.
ZAMIR WHITE: He’s, like, just a vocal guy. He’s, like, always talking, just always joking around. For me, like, in the backfield, it’s just fun. So yeah, that’s all it is for me.
KEARIS JACKSON: Just being around JT you actually learn how smart he is. He’s a very intelligent guy. He’s able to make checks. He sees things that we don’t see. He just puts us in a great position to be successful, just pre-snap reads, anything like that. I feel like he does a great job at this point just by managing the game. That just
comes from experience and confidence.
Q. We all know how this season has transpired. We know Friday is your last game. Given your performances at South Carolina and Missouri, the way this offense has come together, do you wish you had three or four or five more games together? Has this been so much of a grind that you’re glad it’s almost over?
ZAMIR WHITE: No, we definitely wish we had three more games. Yeah, I don’t know. We definitely wishing, though.
KEARIS JACKSON: Of course, I love the game of football. If I’m given the opportunity to go play a game, I’m going to go play it. Just knowing this is our last game, what’s on the
line, playing in our backyard, you give it all you got, lay it on the line. It’s your last time to put on a uniform in 2020. You got to take full advantage of it. It’s like how you want to walk into the ’21 year feeling after a game we just played in the Peach Bowl.
We’re just focusing on how we’re going out there playing, just have fun doing it.
Q. Zamir, you had your first real start last year in the Sugar Bowl. How much did that game help you?
ZAMIR WHITE: I feel like that game helped in my confidence, just getting back out there as a starter, just being back in my groove, just getting the reps. That game was definitely a big part of my starting out.
Q. Looking at the offense and how young it is, has there been any sort of discussion about if everyone were to come back, all the pieces were there, there’s a lot of talent returning in 2021, and what the potential for that could be?
KEARIS JACKSON: Yeah, there has been a lot of talk about potential starters for next year. That’s a long way from now. There’s a lot of planning, a lot of things have to go down before we get to that moment.
We’re not really focusing on that right now. We’re just focusing on finishing out this game, enjoying this team and the players we have right now because this year’s team is not going to be the same next year. Just enjoy the guys who are here now and see the season out with a win.
ZAMIR WHITE: Just like Kearis said, we’re trying to send seniors out right with a win, just focus on right now.
Q. Kearis, this year you’ve been able to get more in the offense to be a vital player. Do you attribute that to
having more opportunities this year or just being able to put in work to earn more of a starting role? Is it a little bit of both? For Zamir, we know you had the injuries, being able to fight back, what does it mean to be at this point this year having a starting role, be the main tailback that Monken and the Bulldogs want to go to?
KEARIS JACKSON: Basically what you said, it was just opportunity based. I was given the opportunity this year to make plays. I did make the plays. I know what I can do. My teammates and coaches know what I can do. It was just the small things like injury holding me back. Now I’m 100%. I’m trying to give it all I got every time I’m on the field. You never know when it will be your last play.
Just take every opportunity, give it your best at everything you do. You never know what can happen, you never know when it’s your last play. Play every snap, every down like it’s your last. Now being more involved in the offense, I’m actually enjoying it, having fun. I still feel like there’s more inside me I haven’t shown yet. Hopefully I get to showcase it this game.
ZAMIR WHITE: For me, I’m just blessed to be here, playing on this team. I’m just truly grateful for my teammates and my coaches and my family for just believing in me after my injuries and stuff like that. Yeah, just blessed is what I’ll say.
Q. Zamir, how much confidence do you have in the running game since the Mississippi State game? Without Ben Cleveland, what kind of change does that make?
ZAMIR WHITE: I feel like the linemen right next up is already to go. Like, we’re pretty confident that we just grind it hard at practice. Yes, we going to be all right.
Q. Kearis, your thoughts on the narrative of this game is going to be Cincinnati as a Group of 5, they’re going to be hungry in this game. Georgia is a Power 5 that didn’t get where it wants to be. How would you answer that narrative?
KEARIS JACKSON: They have to put they uniform on just like we have to put our uniform on. They’re humans as well. We just so happen was fortunate enough to get an offer to this type of school. At the same time we all football players. It’s like it’s going to depend on who wants it more, that want it. There’s nothing in the Power 5, it has nothing to do with nothing. It’s just a ranking, just a higher name of a school. Like I say, it just depends on who comes out to play harder because any team can be beat.