WATCH: Kirby Smart Presser – November 19, 2018

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WATCH: Kirby Smart Presser – November 19, 2018

 
 
Opening Comments…
 
“I am excited for the senior class. I think you always remember your last game in Sanford Stadium, I certainly remember mine. It’s a special opportunity for these guys to thank their families and for our fans to thank the senior class that has really been a special one. They have had a chance to finish in the top probably five or six in the history of Georgia’s senior classes in terms of wins and that’s a pretty remarkable stat when you think about the senior classes that have been through here. They have done a great job for our program, certainly me personally and our staff personally. This is kind of the group that we came in with- freshmen rising sophomores. They’re heading out and we’re proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.
 
We move on to Tech today who is, arguably, one of the hottest teams in the country as far as what they’re doing offensively. They’ve put four really good games together back to back, scoring a lot of points, and playing better defense this year. They are playing better on special teams as well.
 
So there’s a lot of challenges ahead of us anytime you play in this type of offense there’s a lot of challenges involved in it, especially getting prepared in a week.”
 
 
On if the offense will start to panic if Georgia Tech starts controlling the clock…
“I don’t think you ever panic. I think you take advantage of your opportunities. You just may have less opportunities. I think panic comes from within. It comes from pressing, trying to do things you don’t do, normally.
 
I think the number of opportunities or series or drives you may have may be less. Realistically it may be less, we may have less than most people because we have been a ball controlled time possession offense. Maybe not to the extent Tech is but we understand those games. And every offensive possession is critical, but when is it not? It’s always that way.”
 
 
On the injury update of Ben Cleveland and Monty Rice and the role of the middle linebackers against Tech’s offense…
“The middle linebacker is critical against Tech’s offense. You have to do a great job but really both linebackers, to be honest, both linebackers have to be tremendous keyers. They have to be able to read, react, be good tacklers, be athletic and be able to play in space.
 
As far as Monty (Rice) and Ben (Cleveland), Monty is probably not going to be available this week. He’s doubtful to be able to play. We think that he’ll get better quickly. We hope to get him back, but don’t know when and don’t know if it will be this week. But he will not practice today.
 
And then Ben is continuing along the same path. Ben’s cleared to play and he’s just getting over an ankle injury. That, coupled with his leg like we talked about after the game the other night, he’s just fighting back. We hope he’ll be back this week. He’s playing. He’s playing on punt team. Just trying to get him back 100 percent.”
 
 
On how much he thinks he can sub on defense against the triple option…
“It depends on how many guys can play winning football for you. It’s not a big sub-type game for them. They’re not in a lot of different personnel packages. But certainly can sub if you have quality players that can play.
 
I think part of morale, it really doesn’t have anything to do with Tech’s offense, it has to do with how many guys do you have that can play winning football. You want to keep guys out there fresh, you want guys to play hard. But I think it’s yet to be seen because we have had to wait and see how the guys read, react, play and key their plays and we’ll have the best players out there.”
 
 
On the injury update of Cade Mays, Kendall Baker, and Walter Grant…
“Walter (Grant) has had an ankle that’s been ongoing. He’s practiced and played with it. He played in the game the other night with it. Cade (Mays), we’re not sure if he’ll be available this week or not. He’s not going to practice today. But we hope to get him back soon, as soon as he gets cleared. Kendall (Baker) is very doubtful.”
 
 
On the coaching points for the first-year players facing triple option in college football
“There are a lot of coaching points. You have two or three hours? You can’t just define them in a few words. Eye control, discipline, toughness, tackling, it’s limitless. So you have to be disciplined. You have to do your job and you have to key things the right way. If you don’t, they expose you. The ball does a tremendous job of seeing when people are out of place, seeing when people don’t do things the right way.”
 
 
On if the team has worked on triple option throughout the season…
“We didn’t work on it the whole season last year. We did it in fall camp. We did it a few weeks during the season when we felt like we had an opponent that we had gone against that was similar to our offense. If they had similarities to offense we used an extra period to work on Tech but we didn’t do it every day of the week last year and we didn’t do it this year. We certainly had off-week, preseason camp, and we worked on Mondays the same amount we did last year but the difference is more who you’re doing it with and last year we were doing it with guys who had a lot more carry-over. This year it’s been new for a lot of guys. And that’s the biggest difference.”
 
 
On if Austin Peay was used as a reference point for the triple option…
“No. That’s not close to the same. It’s not the same offense. Austin Peay is really not a triple team to be honest with you. And these guys (Georgia Tech) are really unlike anybody we’ve played.”
 
 
On how the discipline varies between an offense like Georgia Tech and one like Auburn…
“There’s no similarities. I mean, you have discipline in all of football. Don’t take it that I mean you need discipline or you don’t need discipline against Auburn or Florida. You need discipline in football, period. But when I talk about discipline in this, it’s eye control. It’s patience. It’s doing your job over and over again and doing it exactly right. And it’s repetition.
 
You can’t get enough reps to get really good at it and you’re trying to multiply those reps in a small period of time and you can’t catch up to the number of reps they’ve had, blocking what they see, compared to us doing it in one week. So it makes it tough. And you just have to have kids that buy into it and love playing against it and care about it.”
 
 
On the wide receiving corps…
“We have good balance in the room. And we have great camaraderie. I think they all enjoy being around each other. They love seeing each guy get the limelight at different times. Tyler (Simmons) had some big games earlier in the year where he made big plays; he’s now just getting back. He had an injury where he was out of whack for a little bit and he’s played well the last two weeks, really, and he’s played well in practice. I think each one of those guys had a game where you’d say he’s the guy, he’s the guy.
 
You don’t have to have a guy. You can do it by committee. And those guys are talented. Just because you say, well, they don’t have a star-studded group, they don’t have a star – one of those wideouts could be on somebody else’s team and be a star. But we don’t sell individual goals, we sell team goals and we sell winning and that takes care of itself. A lot of those guys for selfish reasons want individual accolades but that’s not really how the NFL works. They’re not drafting a guy based on the number of receptions he has. They don’t do that. I mean, some of the best wideouts in the NFL came from SEC teams that didn’t have a lot of catches.
 
So we look at it as saying – hey, you’re going to develop as a player, team player and you’re going to grow on special teams and the next level will take care of itself. Right now we’re trying to win football games.”
 
 
On ‘Tech mode’…
“Focus, concentration, effort, toughness, competitive fibers. I mean, Tech is one of our rivals. I mean, who is not? So it’s like, next up. I mean, you look at our schedule, it’s like everybody’s a big rival. These guys are a big rival. And we have to do a good job against them because it’s a tough matchup, it’s a tough game to play. And we have to send our seniors out the right way.”

On senior WR Terry Godwin…
“Terry has grown as a kid. When I first got here his practice commitment was there, and he got better at it and he got better and he got better. And he worked at it. He’s gotten a lot better as a blocker. I think he’s gotten physically stronger.”
 
He’s been a really good wideout here the whole time he’s been here. I think the biggest thing Terry’s helped with is being able to play inside and outside, and he’s done it with really good work ethic. And he helps keep those guys level-headed in that group. There are some young guys in that group. He’s been kind of a good leader for the whole group the whole time he’s been here.”
 
 
On philosophy in scheduling…
“I think it’s hard to in the Georgia Tech situation, because it’s what they do and it’s a traditional rival. You don’t run and try to get away from that. If you’re asking me, ‘Do I want to schedule a triple option team?’ I’d prefer not. That’s not what I’m looking forward to playing. My whole thing in scheduling is I want to play as many good football teams as we can, and it’s never really been about the offense. It’s been about the home-and-home. And it’s been about the opportunity to play big games. I mean, that’s important to us in our future. It’s not really necessarily what offense they run, but given the opportunity I would rather play a style offense that we will play more often in our league.”
 
 
On Georgia Tech quarterbacks senior TaQuon Marshall and RS freshman Tobias Oliver…
“Extremely talented. I know both guys. We recruited TaQuon at Alabama; he came to camp a lot of years. He’s a competitive, tough – I think about the years he’s been there and the toughness he’s played with. And having him and Terry (Godwin) and Tae Crowder in camp kind of growing up, those kids coming from the same area over there. They do a tremendous job. They’re competitors. He’s a really good football player. And Tobias has done the same thing. He’s given them a new element. He’s really tough, able to carry the ball, does a lot of good things for them and they’ve got good football players. (Georgia Tech head coach) Paul (Johnson) does a great job with those quarterbacks.”
 
 
On senior OLB D’Andre Walker’s performance against Georgia Tech in 2017 and his consistency since…
“D’Andre kind of had a little bit of a breakout game. He got to play more in the game first and foremost. He got more opportunities. And he does a good job. He’s a good athlete. He’s tough to defend because he’s got long arms, he’s extremely athletic, he’s fast. So he’s your prototype outside backer-type guy to play with. So he does a good job playing in it. And he gets excited about playing against these guys.”
 
 
On if freshman QB Justin Fields’ run option will be an advantage against Georgia Tech…
“Absolutely not. Justin doesn’t do anything like what they do. And nor will he be able to come over and give us a picture of what they do. Because we’re not doing that with Justin. There will be no carry over there.”
 
 
On the ‘defend your turf’ mantra…
“That’s been a message all year. It’s not been about Tech obviously. It’s been about the teams that have been championship teams have defended their home turf. We have a bulletin board about it. When you win your games at home, it gives you a much better chance to win the East. When you win games at home, it gives you a much better chance of winning the SEC. And we’ve talked about that all along. And we want to continue to do that, and I think that’s a big part of it. Not because it’s Tech but because it’s our home stadium. And we want our fans to come out, support these guys, even over Thanksgiving break, it’s critical that we have the momentum and the fan base behind us to make it an advantage for us. But we want to play well for these seniors and these seniors want to go out on top.”
 
 
On the fluidity of defensive adjustments among the coaching staff during games…
“A lot. It’s a lot of moving parts. You’re trying to adapt quicker than they do. And (Georgia Tech) does probably as good a job as anybody in the country at taking advantage of your weakness. I mean, like I said before, when you have your doctorate, you have somebody with a graduate degree, master’s, doctorate, (Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson) is all the way up there; he’s as far as you can be in the option world. He’s able to see things from the field that most people don’t see because he watches it all the time. So if you make a mistake, he’ll make you pay or he’ll expose you on it maybe the very next play, maybe the very next drive. But he knows what complements what. So for us it’s having the right eyes in the right place for our players’ sake. If we don’t play something correctly, you better get it fixed quick.”
 
 
On explosive plays and first-year Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Nate Woody…
“Explosive plays, sometimes they come in bunches. Sometimes they come from downfield blocking. A lot of defenses don’t tackle as well as the year goes on. I know we’ve struggled with that at times, where we don’t tackle as well as the year goes on because guys get dinged up and injured. You don’t play as physical. You don’t practice as hard sometimes when you don’t have your pads on as long, guys take them off. Explosive plays may stem from some of that. I don’t know.
 
But as far as defensive coordinator, he does a great job. He was the defensive coordinator at Appalachian State; he was good when he was there. He has a great reputation. You think about the defense that we played against when he was here [at Sanford in 2017] and Jake (Fromm) had to come in the game. The guy does a great job. They play really hard. They play really physical. And he’s turned — that’s the biggest difference in Georgia Tech this year is the way they’re playing and how hard they’re playing on defense.”
 
 
On how Georgia Tech will adjust Georgia’s offensive approach…
“I always want to put people down by multiple scores, don’t you? I don’t know a game you go say, well, let’s keep this one tight for a while. I love the theories behind all this, but, I mean, yeah, I would love to get a lead if that’s what you’re asking. But that doesn’t put any more pressure to say that we have to have it. You’ve got to play the game you’ve got and you’ve got to do a good job managing whatever it is, whether you’re behind, ahead, doesn’t matter. You’ve got to do a good job managing it.”
 
 

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Greg is closing in on 10 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.