26 days separate Georgia from the SEC Championship Game to the Orange Bowl in Miami. That type of break is not normal during the season, but Georgia players are doing their best to acclimate.
Now that finals are over for student-athletes, players have the opportunity for extra lifts, treatment or practice. They also have a lot of time to practice certain parts of their game that they may not be afforded time-wise during a typical game week.
So what specifically are the Bulldogs’ defenders working on? For some, it is about staying on the field as much as possible.
“One thing that I can say that helped me personally, conditioning-wise, was just running harder in practice so I can get myself in that position to play as many snaps as I need to in the upcoming games, so I can be in shape,” said defensive end Travon Walker.
One thing that separates Walker from other defensive linemen is his size and athleticism, which allows him to play all three downs most of the time. It is also a big reason that he will most likely be getting first-round NFL draft consideration after the season.
Against Alabama though, Georgia’s defensive line seemed to be worn out trying to chase after Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young.
“I can say that some of the time that some of the guys probably did get a little winded and that did play a small part in the loss,” said Walker.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and his players have often relied on the leaders of the team this season, and nobody is more vocal than junior outside linebacker Nolan Smith. Smith said he was able to move on from the loss to Alabama the next day, but has been working to make more of an impact against Michigan.
“My hands and my secondary pass rush move,” said Smith on what he has been working on recently. “The outcome didn’t come as expected but now we know we have things to work on… just trying to make sure guys keep the right mindset so we can keep pushing forward.”
Smith also credited former UGA linebacker Jarvis Jones for helping with his preparation. Georgia’s front surprisingly did not have a sack against Alabama, and now they will face a Michigan offensive line that rarely allows sacks as well.
Players will get some time to spend with their families before heading to Miami on Sunday.
For Nolan Smith’s full presser: