Bulldogs continue preparations for South Carolina game

ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs worked out for a little over two hours on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their SEC matchup this Saturday at South Carolina.

Following are excerpts from head coach Kirby Smart’s post-practice press briefing on Tuesday:

‘’Tuesday’s in the books. We got a good practice in today, a lot of tempo and energy, I thought. I guess maybe because it was cooler, but pads were popping and the guys got after it today. I was proud of them. I saw some leadership out there and that was good.’’

On prospects of moving the game because of weather: ‘’I haven’t really talked to anybody, but I’m obviously aware of the weather. I’ve heard different people making different statements. To be honest with you, we’re just focused on getting ready for the game. We had a team meeting today to discuss just that, that our focus needed to be on getting ready for this game. Whatever happens, happens. It’s really out of our control. There are a lot of scenarios out there, none of which I want to discuss because it’s not really my call. We want to do what’s right for the safety of the players and for the safety of the people of South Carolina.’’

Most difficult part for a QB playing in windy, rainy conditions?

‘’It would be just that, the wind and the rain. It affects the kicking game probably more than it does the quarterbacks. I always thought it affected the defensive players the most because they’re reacting, and the offensive players know where they’re going. So when you’ve got to react, sometimes there’s more slipping and sliding. It really becomes more of a controlled-ball type deal, so we’ll see what happens.’’

On QBs practicing today with wet footballs:

‘’It’s something we always do about every couple of weeks, just in case we have to play in the rain. Of course, we had two scrimmages this year that were in the rain. We try to throw wet balls because we may have to play with them.’’

On Deandre Baker, who started his first game last Saturday:

‘’He’s a really fast guy, he’s got long arms and can reach. He’s got good size, and since camp he’s played with a lot more physical toughness. That’s what we didn’t see in the spring from him, the physical tackling. He’s bought into the fact that he doesn’t play if he doesn’t tackle. He’s done more and more of that. He got a lot better at it during fall camp. I told y’all that kid had a really good fall camp and we wanted to play him in some other games, but never got the opportunity. He’s getting his opportunity now. He earned his physicality through practice.’’

Baker’s play (forced fumble) on UT’s Jalen Hurd:

‘’We made a point to bring that play up because I thought Coach Tucker did a great job after the Ole Miss game. He (Baker) had a chance to get Chad Kelly on the ground right before he scored on a long run. He maybe could have gotten him, maybe not. I thought Coach Tucker made a great point about never giving up and fighting to the very end. So the next week, almost the exact same play happens. He hits the guy at the goal line and ends up getting a fumble. It was a good lesson to learn and the kid learned from it.’’

Compare Riley Ridley to his brother, Alabama WR Calvin Ridley:

‘’I don’t want to be unfair to Calvin, but he (Riley) likes contact a little more. They’re both fun-loving kids, they both love to practice. They always have smiles on their faces. They compete hard. They love football; that’s the similarity between them. The ways they’re different, they’re a little different build. He (Riley) is a little bigger, a little tougher. He likes to play on special teams and hit people. Calvin returns the ball.’’

How to prepare defensive players for inclement weather:

‘’Keep their feet under them. Just make sure they understand that, when their feet get outside the framework of their body, they slip. So they’ve got to take short steps, keep their feet under them and their cleats in the ground.’’

Assess the progress of the wide receivers from the Ole Miss game to the Tennessee game:

‘’They caught balls and made some plays. The biggest thing they improved was their physicality. We had to challenge them every day in practice, just like we did today, to be contact-tough. There aren’t a lot of big guys out there at wide receiver, so we really have to emphasize the physical part of it.’’

How to prepare for two different types of quarterback:

‘’You prepare by the plays you run with your scout team. We have different kinds of quarterbacks on our scout team. We have a pocket quarterback, we have a scrambler, a really good athlete that can run some ‘gun’ runs and things like that. I think it’s really important to your program that you have guys on your team that can do different pictures for you.’’

Philosophy on speaking publicly about players:

‘’I think honesty is the best policy. If you ask me how a player is doing, I think I’ll tell you how he’s doing and I’ll tell him the same. That’s kind of my policy on how they’re doing. I don’t think it’s ever good to be openly critical of a college athlete. I think it’s good to be honest, though, if they’re not performing to the standard that I think they should. But I’m always open and honest with our kids. If any of them want to know why they’re not playing, they can come talk to me and we talk about it. We have a good relationship. I think when you’re honest with players, they trust you more.’’

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