Head coach Kirby Smart discusses Georgia’s 27-0 win over Missouri on a chilly Saturday night at Sanford Stadium in his post-game press conference. There is a timestamped index of topics Kirby discusses in the video below. Just click on the time mark to open a new tab and the video will play at that timestamp or you can follow along as you watch the presser in its entirety by clicking on the video below to play it.
00:00 Opening statement
“I’ll open as always by thanking our fans. Really thought the turnout at the Dawg Walk was probably one of the best ones we’ve had this year. A lot of fans there, it means a lot to our kids and the atmosphere was really good as well.”
“I’m proud of our team. Probably the most important step for our team is the next step. We’re taking it one step at a time. But that was a really good football team that we just played. I’ve got a lot of respect, especially for their defense. The physicality they play with. They’ve got good defensive guys up front and they’re a tough team to play. This program is built on being neutral, that’s where we try to remain. We’ve got to get better to get where we’re going and our guys are excited about doing that. I thought our guys played really hard and consistent and we continue to protect the ball and not turn it over much and we’re not getting many turnovers, which we’ve got to do a better job of, but the effort was there so I’m proud of the way the kids played.”
01:00 Goalline stand and effort at the end of the game to preserve the shutout, Georgia defense’s third of the season…
“Yeah, you can’t say enough about the defensive staff and the game plan they put together, the buy-in from the kids. We preached all week how well these guys ran the ball on us last year and I thought they ran the ball on us as good as anybody last year. The defensive players kind of hung their hats on that and they were all chomping at the bit at the end to make it tough to score. I thought they showed some competitive character there at the end with that stand.”
01:31 Play of inside linebacker Monty Rice
“Teammates sacrificed for him and we talk about it all the time. The big thing this game was sacrificing for your brothers. A lot of guys up front knocked the ball back to free Monty up. We had some guys inside who were getting blocked to kind of free him up and he made a nice play, too.”
01:59 As the game went on, did it become harder to throw?
“I don’t know that it got harder to throw. I know it was tough at times. They do a good job, they’re a very aggressive, physical defense which I said all week. I mean, who’s not in our conference? They do a good job in the secondary of getting hands-on people. They mix coverages well and they did a good job of mixing things up on third down.”
02:25 Update on injured players: Lawrence Cager, Trey Hill, Cade Mays, and Isaiah Wilson
“Think (Lawrence) Cager will be fine. He bothered his shoulder again but we think he’s going to be fine, probably could have came back in if he had to. The other guys I think are fine. We’ve got Trey (Hill) with an ankle. Cade (Mays) was fine and he could have come back in. Isaiah (Wilson) played.”
02:55 Thoughts on the centers that subbed in for an injured Trey Hill?
“I’d have to reserve judgement, I can’t really say. I know going into the game that each one of them practice there and they each get reps, so it’s not like, I mean Cade(Mays) took reps with the ones last week at center and he gets reps. Trey (Hill) works out at guard so he gets a lot of reps. Jamaree (Salyer) does not get as many, but he does get some.”
03:18 Cade Mays versatility to be able to play different positions on the offensive line
“He’s very versatile, that’s what he says. I look it as practice gains to me, he gets a ton of reps in practice,” Smart said. “No moment is too big for him. He’s very intelligent, he’s very athletic.”
03:37 Assessment on George Pickens’ performance
“George did a good job. If he got on the ball, he would have had three touchdowns.”
03:50 George Pickens improvement and progress as a player
“He’s getting better. I think everybody on the team is getting better. The way they played them, it opened up a lot of one-on-one opportunities. You had a lot of long foul balls tonight, too. You’ve got to hit more of those, you’ve got to hit them at a higher rate to make them count.”
04:16 Thoughts on Richard LeCounte’s interception
“Richard’s a ball hawk. He’s got really good ball skills. I didn’t think we were going to catch it, I thought it was going to be an overthrow and he went up, grabbed it, snagged it and had heck of a play on the ball and had a great return. Richard’s improved, he continues to get better. I was more proud of his physical tackling tonight instead of the turnover. He’s taken a lot better approach the last two weeks, he’s really been in the game plan and making his calls. I’m really proud of him.”
05:17 How do you assess the offense through the first 9 games
“No. I mean, if you give up a negative play there about an eighty percent chance you’re not going to have a good drive. So when we get sacked or we give up a negative play we usually don’t continue to have good drives. When we get positive yardage on first and second and we convert third downs then we are pretty efficient. Can’t say exactly what it is. There’s a lot of things mixed in there. We’ve got to do some things better. We’ve got to play better in the red area. We’ve played these guys three years and I swear we’ve had 28 field goals in three years. I don’t know what the number is, but it’s ridiculous. We’ve got to find a way to score touchdowns when it matters most. Thank goodness we’ve got a very consistent field goal kicker who continues to come through. I though Rod did a tremendous job tonight. Those were tough conditions for kicking. Field’s tough. It’s damp. It’s moist. It’s slippery and it’s cold. He was very consistent from good distances, long distances.”
06:27 What are your thoughts on traveling to Auburn next week?
“They’ve got a great program. Gus does a tremendous job. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way they play. They’re a physical football team. Great defense. Really good young quarterback. Really hard offense to prepare for. Gus and I have seen a lot of each other over the years. I’ve got a lot of respect for their program, and I know they’ll be ready to play coming off an off week.”
07:00 What can Pickens do to improve going forward?
“Consistency. Playing with his mind in the right place. Just doing the little things right. Attention to detail is what gets George, just like you saw tonight. As talented as he is, if he doesn’t have attention to detail, he can hurt the team. If he does have attention to detail, he can really help the team. He’s got to do those things right. He’s talented and he loves the game. That’s what I love about him. He loves the game of football.”
07:34 Do style points matter?
“I don’t really think about style points. I just think about what we have to do to win the game and what we have to do to be more efficient and what we have to do to be at our best. That’s a good football team. There’s a reason they’re ranked in the top fifteen in the country in almost every single defensive category. They have good players.”
08:06 With the defense getting their third shutout of the year, are they as good as they look or is it luck?
“We play hard. We play consistent. We don’t control who they put in front of us and our kids go out and play really tough and physical. That’s all we can ask them to do and they’ve done a great job at that. The buy-in on that side of the ball, we’ve been playing a lot of players, the camaraderie, the defensive staff, Dan (Lanning) and his staff have done a great job of putting plans together, and the kids have executed them. It’s hard for me to judge who we’ve gone against.”
08:45 Hard runs and yards from D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien against loaded box
“That was as hard of a box as you’ll ever see. That was like a brick wall box. It’s tough. We’ve run the ball in the same box, but that was really good players with a hard box, and they did a good job. We still rushed for 166 yards. Guys, you’re not going to find that many teams that do that on Missouri. I am proud of the way Brian (Herrien) and (D’Andre) Swift are patient. They earn those yards. Really physical yards. Those are tough. It’s just not like the standard here is you should get 7-8 yards every rush. That’s just not realistic and I’m proud of the way our guys work really hard at it.”
09:35 Did you prepare for Missouri QB Kelly Bryant as well as Taylor Powell?
“We were prepared for both. We thought that either one would play. I think the kid that played is a good player. He’s going to grow up and get better. We felt like all week we might see either one. It didn’t matter which one we saw, we were going to carry a lot of the same things. It didn’t change a whole lot for us.”
10:03 What did it mean to get cornerback Tyson Campbell back?
10:25 Freshman cornerback Tyrique Stevenson’s improvement and playing a bigger role
“He’s worked really hard. He’s a kid that continues, we talk about it each week, thought he matched up well with their tight end, a big, physical guy. He made some plays. He got beat and played wrong leverage but he also made some plays in one-on-one situations against what we think is a really good tight end. He’s growing up, gaining some confidence, and Divaad (Wilson) is a little dinged up. So it’s a matter of we’ve got a lot of guys beat up and injured. Mark (Webb) had to play the STAR position so we put Tyrique up at MONEY.”
11:20 Did you get updates on the LSU-Alabama game?
“No. We’re just trying to get an opportunity to play one of those two. That’s what we’re worried about. If you fall asleep at the wheel or get distracted, you can’t control your own destiny if you don’t worry about the one that’s in front of you so I didn’t see anything.”
11:46 When did you know Tyson Campbell could and would play?
“Well, we thought he could have played last week. We talked about that during the week. I think we said he probably could have played. He didn’t feel like he was 100 percent. He practiced all week this week and we felt like he was good to go. We wanted to give him an opportunity to play because we feel like we’re going to need him down the stretch. Keeping corners healthy is hard. We try to keep yards off those guys by rolling them.”
12:16 Talk about Nolan Smith’s first SEC sack
“Yeah, I didn’t even realize he got one. How many sacks did we have, two, three? I didn’t realize he got one. I just know a couple of times we couldn’t finish on the quarterback. He scrambled out and made some plays for us. But he has been close a lot. He was close on the last play of the Notre Dame deal, chasing him around,. He’s gettting better. He’s playing with more and more confidence. It’s getting where freshmen aren’t freshmen anymore. This is where last year we had a lot of these kids step up and play well . We’ve got several of them trying to now.”
12:53 Has Jermaine Johnson seen increased playing time due to injuries?
“We’ve just got injuries. You know, Walter (Grant’s) hurt. So, I mean, some of those situations where Walter would’ve played, Jermaine gets an opportunity, you know, next man up. Tyrique McGhee’s the same way. We’ve just got a lot of guys injured and hurt, so other guys are getting opportunities. Jermaine’s doing a good job of taking advantage of those.”
13:22 Update on linebacker Walter Grant’s injury
13:30 Zamir White’s contribution late in the game
“Yeah, he’s probably the most different runner we’ve got. He’s physical, he’s got really good hands out of the backfield, he can catch it. But he’s a physical, downhill runner. You can’t make it through this league with two backs. You better have three or four. You see why out there. It’s tough sledding.”
13:52 Do you feel that the team is playing its best football of the year?
“I think we are in some spots. You know, we’ve had brighter moments at some spots. We’re reaping the benefits on defense of all the frustration of last year. And that was a tough year. We’ve got a lot of young players and it just feels like we’ve got a lot of young players that grew up at the end of the year last year, you know. the bowl practices. But we’re certainly not where we need to be. We’re not where we need to be to play at the level that we need to be at to get where we want to go. Our kids are working hard and they’re buying into that.”
14:38 How will the injuries affect UGA, will team health be a factor next week versus Auburn?
“There’s no way I can answer that. I don’t know who’s in and who’s out and who’s dinged up and who’s not. At the end of the day you play with the guys who are healthy. There’s no crying over it, because you’ve got a tough team to go play, and I’m sure they’ve got some injuries, too.”