Watch: Kirby Smart Post-Practice Presser

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Watch: Kirby Smart Post-Practice Presser

Opening Statement:

“I’ll open up with a comment first about Tyrique Stevenson and Tyler Simmons and then talk about practice a little bit. Obviously very disappointed. There’s a standard of behavior that’s expected of athletes at the University of Georgia and that’s not indicative of the behavior we want at the University of Georgia. It’s very obvious that those guys made poor choices and decisions and they will be disciplined. They will be disciplined internally and to be honest with you, both of them were cited with disorderly conduct which I think you guys know. They’ve got to find a way to make better decisions especially as young men representing this university. Those things will be handled, and they’ll be handled the right way. 

“As far as practice today, I thought guys did a tremendous job practicing, really pushed hard, spirited practice. They competed really hard. We’ve got a lot of good competitions going on out there. I thought Saturday’s practice was really good, too, so we’ve had two really good competition days. Hope we can continue to stay injury free, we’ve got some bumps and bruises. We’re starting to get some guys back, LB David Marshall was able to do a little more today than he’s been doing coming off the Liz Frank injury, hope we can continue to do that. With that I’ll open it up for questions.”

On if there is a frustration with team leadership after the arrests of a freshman with a senior…

 “Yeah, there’s always frustration when you have this. I don’t think it’s about a senior or a freshman. Those two guys weren’t even together. They didn’t go there together. That wasn’t the case. They ended up there, but that’s not my concern. My concern is I’ve got is the decisions that were made to put yourself in that situation. Look, our kids go downtown. We know our kids go downtown. When you go downtown, you’ve got to behave. You’ve got to act the right way. You’ve got to follow rules and be law-abiding citizens. That’s the expectation we’ve got for our players and, to be honest with you, for the most part our guys do that. But when they don’t they’re going to be punished and we’re going to try to correct it and we’re going to do it through educational ways. We’re certainly going to do that with both Tyrique and Tyler.”

Kirby Smart

On Simmons’ injuries from the incident…

“Yeah, he’s fine. He practiced today. It was something to do with his ear, but I’m not sure what it was.”

On if there were any other players involved…

“Not as far as I know. I do not think so. I think it’s over and done with. They finished it up, but I’m not 100 percent sure on that. Our communication with them is that those were the two guys involved. There were other guys there, but as far as the involvement it was those two.”

On filling the tight end position without Isaac Nauta…

“Thin. There’s not a lot of guys there. You know we moved Colby White, who we thought was a really good outside backer in fall camp, and he did a good job. He’s developed. He’s gotten a little bigger. We moved him over there to give us a little more depth. He’s done some really competitive things. He’s fighting his tail off. There’s a young man that decided to be a walk-on here, Peyton Mercer, who’s done an incredible job competing over there. Several guys. Charlie [Woerner]…[John] Fitzpatrick are ahead of the other guys. Obviously we’ve got help on the way and we want more help. But if you ask me right now it’s thin.”

On who stands out of the wide receivers…

“Well, ironically Tyler Simmons has played well. He’s really competitive, he’s fast, he gets on top of us. He’s done some good things. I think ‘D-Rob’ (Demetrius Robertson) stepped up. He’s got to continue to play more physical, but he’s made some catches. He’s made some vertical threats. Jeremiah (Holloman) is playing well. Kearis (Jackson) is coming along, probably not as fast as I’d like. Matt (Landers) has done some things and Tommy (Bush} has done some things. You know Matt’s got some bruises. Tommy’s dealing with some groin injuries. The volume we have for the number of receivers we have has been tough, and we normally balance that with tight ends but we don’t have volume there. So we’re thin. We know help’s on the way, but we’ve just got to do a good job developing enough depth that we’re comfortable with. They’ve made some plays, I definitely think that, where last year it was like big-play-bonanza out there with the wideouts while we had the young DBs. That’s balanced out more. Our DBs have gotten better, at least I hope they have, or the receivers are not as good a group right now. Actually, it was this time last year. That’s only going to happen through getting the kids here we signed and continuing to develop them.”

On CB Tyson Campbell’s development…

“Tyson’s doing a good job. He’s in a really good competition. What’s good about the corner position, we’ve got some guys coming along. DJ Daniel was, which we knew in bowl practice, he’s going to be a good player. He was covering the guys in the likes that were at the combine so we knew we had a pretty good player in DJ. Tyson’s improved. He understands the defense better. He’s bright, he’s doing some good things out there. (Eric) Stokes is doing some good things. Even Tyrique Stevenson has picked some things up. So we’ve got some good competition at that corner position.”

Kirby Smart

On David Marshall’s injury…
“We got him fixed immediately, we just didn’t know when he was coming back. David in my mind was probably not going to be able to come back most of the year last year. So I don’t really know what you’re asking. His injury is not the same injury as James Cook, though, no. It didn’t so much linger as it did. He was injured (and) then out for a while. We got him fixed. He’s taking the screws out now; he’s taking the next step to coming back now. He’s got to progress back because he gets sore each time he uses it because he hasn’t used it for so long.”

On the impact of losing Marshall last season…

“I don’t know. That’s in the year’s past. He’s a good player, I’m not going to cry over that. We need him this year. I want him to stay healthy.” 

On if they work on schematic or individual defensive plays…

“There’s definitely some schematic stuff. We have a base defense that we feel good about. Within that, we have pressures and we have a lot of things we didn’t use last year for whatever reason. We may not have thought they fit the opponent. We may not have thought the fit who we had on the back end to protect it. I think we’re going to be deeper and older and wiser on the back end, which allows for a little more complexity. Last year was s tough year. It was nothing to do with Coach (Mel) Tucker. It was tough. We had some young guys in the secondary, a lot of young guys. Where now, I feel like we have a group back there that is emerging with some personality. Divaad (Wilson) has grown a little confident. That bowl game worked wonders for him. He’s playing good. Mark Webb is where he understands things. J.R. Richard…there’s good competition at safety with Otis (Reese). We just have more competition, which I think allows us to create more havoc. Some of that is scheme where you go meet with five times that are in the top 20 creating tackles for loss and you say ‘How do you do it?’ You start learning that and you try to put some things in that they do. We’re trying to that, but to be honest with you, you’re running against a big ole wall of grown men up that, and that’s tough. That’s a good offensive line.”

On what he’s seen from early enrollees DE Nolan Smith and LB Jermaine Johnson…

“I’ve seen hunger out of both of those guys. They don’t know exactly what to do yet, but man they do it hard. There’s something to be said for that. We’re going to play kids at the University of Georgia who give effort and play hard and do the right things. Those two guys, they play hard. They don’t know what they’re doing yet, and that’s our job. I’m very thankful they’re here for (these) 15 practices. I mean Nolan has flashed some plays. He made a helluva hit today and a really good play. He’s also flashed some What are you doing?’ Jermaine has been the same play. We call them ‘Super Man plays,’ where you look out there and say ‘Who is that guy? Who is that jersey number?’ But then they’re lost some too. I’m fired up to coach those two guys because I’m excited about what they’re going to do to the guys in front of them from a pushing standpoint.

On if DL Jordan Davis and other defensive linemen are stepping up with an injured line…

“What other guys? We don’t have any. Defensive line is super thin. I guess I’m whining to the masses because every coach would tell you they don’t have enough defensive linemen. Jordan is pushing hard. He’s working hard to control his weight. He’s not playing to the level he was playing mid-season to the end of the season. He’s not there right now, but he’s working hard. Jordan comes in and works cardio more than anybody we’ve got. I mean if I ran as much as Jordan my wife would be happy because I’d be skinny. Jordan’s got to fight that battle, and he knows it. We don’t have enough depth there. I thought Devonte Wyatt is a guy who’s really been competitive and done some good things. He was starting to grow up during the season, and there’s something about these guys in that second spring when they start to click and get it. Our help is on the way there. It’s just not here.”

On OL Jamaree Salyer’s performance…

“I’d say he’s three or four practices, he’s our most improved offensive lineman. It’s not center because he’s working at center as a candidate, but he’s working at right tackle and right guard. Let me tell you something, he’s played quick. The biggest jump has been that guy. We kept waiting on it because you knew you were getting a really talented player. I didn’t see the Jamaree I’ve seen this spring, I didn’t see any of that in the fall. He’s challenging some guys. He’s making guys work hard. I didn’t know if the guy could be a right tackle, but he’s gone out and played well. He’s gone to right guard and played well. He’s gone to center and blocks Jordan Davis. You start going ‘Who is that?’ ‘That’s Jamaree.’ ‘Who’s that at right guard?’ ‘That’s Jamaree.’ Jamaree has done some good things. We gave him some looks today with the ones, and we’ll continue to do that if he continues to play well.”

On DT Michael Barnett putting on weight…

“We want some quickness and twitch. When we study all these ‘havoc rates,’ a lot of it is twitchy players…quick guys. It’s a catch 22 for us because if you have quick twitchy guys and you’re playing against our guys every day in practice, our offensive line, when you move and they move you, some times the displacement is huge because when you’ve got Salyer and Andrew (Thomas) and really good offensive linemen and you start moving sideways, they just whack you and move you. We’re not built to be an extremely violent quick, twitchy defense. Mike has put on a little weight. I can’t tell you if it’s good or bad weight because he’s playing good football. He’s not playing great; he’s playing good and I’m pleased. Mike is a leader. Mike is a lunchpail guy. He’s gotten better every year. He works really hard Jordan is pushing him, though.”

On David Marshall and the inside linebacker position…

“Well, Marshall’s not able to do much. I see him a lot during walk through and I see a lost kid. LB Rian Davis, the only time I see those kids are during walk through. I’m just licking my chops to go coach them and they don’t get to practice. That’s unfortunate. They can’t put pressure on themselves to go learn it in walk through. You can only learn it through repping it. One guy who’s done some good things has been LB Nakobe Dean. He’s very intelligent, he’s very instinctive and he’s going to challenge some guys. He’s got to continue to grow and learn. LB Channing [Tindall], LB Monty [Rice], LB Quay [Walker], LB Tae [Crowder], even LB Jaden [Hunter]. They’re all doing a good job. They’re competing. But, as you know we just had two guys leave the program. I thought they were both team players and competitors but they were not elite speed-wise. We’re not going to be able to play until we get an elite speed guy in there that can run and chase things down. We’re still looking for that.”

On J.R Reed’s decision to return…

“It’s really important for us. We’ve got some continuity in secondary, he’s a great leader, he’s very communicative, he is the alpha in that secondary. He says, ‘this is what we’re doing’ and he takes over. He demands guys take notes in meetings. He is what you want. Him staying doesn’t have to do with me. He talked to his dad who is an NFL vet, played a long time. He talked to his mom. I don’t get involved in that decision. I provide information and I get feedback from people I talk to but he made that decision. I’m certainly glad he did. I think he’ll go down as one of the best leaders to come through here because he’s got a chance to be a three-year starter. 

On running back Brian Herrein…

“Brian’s a fire plug out there. Brian’s hard to cover, explosive. I think you’re just seeing more of Brian because before it was sharing, sharing, sharing. He gets a chance to do a lot more and he’s worked really hard and we need him to be a good leader on the team.”

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.