Video/Transcript: Kirby Smart, Nakobe Dean, Mark Webb, Warren Ericson and James Cook Interviews

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Video/Transcript: Kirby Smart, Nakobe Dean, Mark Webb, Warren Ericson and James Cook Interviews

Kirby Smart, Georgia vs. Florida Dawg Walk
Kirby Smart, Georgia vs. Florida Dawg Walk

The Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice Wednesday, Nov. 4, in preparation for the Georgia-Florida matchup in Jacksonville, Fla. 

The Bulldogs travel to Jacksonville to face the Gators on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., ET on CBS. Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference. Following practice, James Cook, Nakobe Dean, Warren Ericson, and Mark Webb offered these comments on the contest with Florida. 

Opening Statement

“We’re getting ready for a big Georgia-Florida game. The kids are working hard. It’s always a big matchup in the east when these two play down in Jacksonville [Fla.]. It will be interesting to see the dynamic of the crowd and whether it feels different than traditional Georgia-Florida games. We’ll see.”

On the biggest adjustments and changes Todd Monken has brought to the offense…

“I would say basically the way we structure things, in terms of how we get the game plan together—putting the whole staff together and giving assignments to each guy, and bringing together a total plan. It probably has shrunk some of what we carry to each game. A lot of that has to do with the youth of our offense, in terms of not trying to carry too much and then not being able to use it. There is only so many plays in a game, so you can’t carry too many things. Some concepts in the passing-games are different.”

On playing against Brenton Cox and what he brings to the Florida defense…

“Brenton is playing really well. He’s an explosive pass-rusher. He is a really good player, just like he was when coming out of high school. He plays really hard. He’s hard to block. Todd [Grantham] does a good job of putting him in situations that he gets to rush. That is what he is really good at, rushing the passer like all the Florida guys they have had in the past—really good edge rusher-type guys. He is playing really physical for them. He’s playing hard. He will create some issues for us on Saturday. He is going to do a good job just knowing where he’s at.”

On Kadarius Toney and his growth…

“Much more. He was always good, and I thought Dan [Mullen] always used him, but Dan had more weapons around him when he was younger because he had other good players between [Freddie] Swain and the other guys, Tyrie [Cleveland] and has had really good wideouts—[Van] Jefferson. Now, he is a more polished receiver on top of the utility stuff. He is extremely hard to tackle. He’s got extreme quickness, one-step quickness. He plays powerful. When people hit him, he doesn’t go backwards. He is physical in what he does, and he has become a better receiver. They are using him really well.”

On Kyle Pitts…

“You have to know where he’s at. Certainly, he was extremely talented last year and he’s only gotten better. He’s gotten a little bigger, a little more physical. Dan finds ways to use in him both of the run-game and pass-game. He’s elite. He is first-round talent—there’s no question about that. With all of my history in the SEC, I don’t know that there has been a guy like that. He is a receiver and tight end in one.”

On an update on Jordan Davis and players that will be circling Kyle Pitts on Saturday…

“Jordan [Davis] is still day-to-day. We are hoping he will be good to go. Obviously, yesterday we did not practice so there’s not a lot there. We are trying to get him back, even if it’s just a role. I think he can play a role in the game. I am hopeful he is able to do that. In terms of [Kyle] Pitts, it’s not like we are throwing people at him. You can’t do that because they put him in different spots. When you play the defenses we play, you can’t—I can’t determine where he is going to be at. They are going to determine where he is going to be at. So, there’s some things we can match up on and there’s some things we can’t. It’s not a matter of, ‘Oh we’re going to put this guy to cover him or we’re going to put this guy in to cover him.’ It depends on where he is. If we have a chance to get a player we think matches up better against him then we try to do that, but you can’t do that for all calls.”

On an update on Richard LeCounte and his release from the hospital…

“Yeah, he was released. He came over and he was in the training room yesterday and was able to get some different treatment and things and some rehab.”

On how he feels about where the safeties are without Richard LeCounte…

“We have some guys that have played between Lewis [Cine] and Chris[topher] Smith. Chris has had to play quite a bit. He got to play last week. He got to play in the Auburn game, I guess it was. Like I’ve told y’all—I value practice a lot. The kid has worked really hard and played a lot in practices. We’ve got other guys that have repped at safety as well, between Major [Burns], [Latavious] Brini and Tyrique [Stevenson]—so that we have depth there and the ability to play. I am looking forward to seeing those guys play. They have a great challenge. It’s an opportunity as I see it as to go out and play against one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and get a chance to go out and play.”

On George Pickens and what type of injury he is dealing with…

“Upper-extremity injury—[George] practiced the other day. We didn’t get to do much yesterday. He did what he did the week before. It’s just going to be a pain-tolerance deal. We are hopeful he is going to get to play. We need him to be at his best for us to be where we need to be offensively. That is what we are hoping to do the second half of the season.”

On anything that is unique or special about Florida’s offense this season…

“I don’t know if it’s different. The challenges are usually based on where [Dan Mullen’s] strengths are and where our strengths are. Every time you play against Coach Mullen’s offense there are different strengths—whether it’s Dak Prescott, an elite back, elite receivers. It’s always something different. You try to play to your strengths and not always to his. That varies for us defensively every year. What are our strengths and what are we able to take advantage of. This year will obviously be different because we have different players in on defense in terms of our injuries, and they are not exactly the same as they were last year.

On returning to practice after having an off-day on Tuesday… 

“We kind of did have a normal Tuesday practice, it just wasn’t on Tuesday. It hasn’t been that much different, we just had an extra day to get our bodies right—a little bit more of a mental day.”

On Monty Rice’s role leading into Georgia-Florida and leadership on the team

“He talked to the team. He addressed the team about how guys have to step up and definitely play well with guys being out and everything. Being at the midpoint of the season, and how we have to start elevating our game…He talks to the team regularly, not all the time, but he always talks to the team. Of course it had an effect, hopefully hit a lot of the younger guys and knowing that they have to step up, and we are going to need them more this season than they probably thought we would.”

On how Florida’s offense makes a defense defend the whole field…

“Florida’s got play makers all over the field in every position. I feel like we just have to focus on us. If we focus on us and if everybody focusing on their job and we just go out there and practice with a purpose every day, I feel like we will be okay. We will good to great.”

On limiting giving up explosive plays…

“We just have to take care of our job…If everybody is handling their job and execute to the level that we are expected to execute—I feel like we will be great and good.”

On Kyle Pitts and their relationship…

“I knew him pretty well growing up. We trained together for a long period of time, it’s crazy to see the improvement he has made. I remember when he couldn’t catch a soul and now, he’s catching everything that comes to him. It’s been great to see him blossom.”

On moving forward without Richard LeCounte…

“It’s always a next man up mentality and the team is doing everything they can right now. We have guys that came in behind him. Like Chris[topher Smith], he has been doing everything he needs to do. I feel like we’re in a good position.”

On what he has seen from Christopher Smith and what he does well…

“Chris is very vocal, physical and that’s something you want as a safety who is right next to you. He does his job very well and is ready for the opportunity that’s in front of him.”

On who has stepped up as a leader on the team…

“It’s going to be a huge game; it’s been a collection of everyone. We all want this game and know how big this rivalry is. We know we have to play hard and play some Georgia football.”

On what it’s like playing in the limited attendance games…

“You know how loud it gets with 93,000 of our screaming fans. When we’re playing in there now you can hear more from both sides of the ball and sideline. It’s different, but every time we go out there, we bring our own juice. The fans that are there are going to give us their all and we’re going to give them ours.”

On Matt Luke and his relationship with him…

“Coach [Matt] Luke has done a fantastic job since he has come in. Next month will mark his one year since being here. Every single day he has come in and attacked it with incredible enthusiasm. We have consumed it and taken on that personality. We want to go out, be physical and get better. We want to be the best for this team and do everything we can possibly do.”

On the rushing game and if that will be the key to win on Saturday…

“That has been a big thing over the past year, whoever leads in rushing will win the game. We’re just looking to come in, dominate and do what we do.”

On the 10-game SEC schedule and if his body is feeling the toll…

“You just need to take care of your body and be ready whenever they need you. You need to do the proper things to keep your body in good shape, by eating and sleeping right. I try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night.”

On what it’s like getting down field and making catches…

“It about being explosive and getting my team in the best position to win the game.”

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