Smart, UGA move on from Florida loss, look ahead to Kentucky

kirby-smart

ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, addressed media on Monday ahead of Saturday’s game at Kentucky. They offered the following comments: 

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement…

“Onward we go. Another really good task in front of us. For the last 24 hours we’ve gotten to look at Kentucky offensively, defensively and special teams. They are a very much-improved team, especially from the summer breakdown we had watching them. They are doing things really well, especially offensively running the ball. They are a physical team. Having talked to several teams that have just recently played them, they’re sore after the game. They’re a physical bunch. They do a good job getting after you. We’ve got a tall task in order to stop that run game and also to get ours going, so that’s the challenge in front of us. We’re expecting a great atmosphere up there in Lexington. Obviously they’ve won four out of the last five, five of the last six games. They’re doing some really good things. They’ve got a lot of excitement up there. That gives our kids an opportunity to play up there in front of a great fan base, great environment. They always are in the SEC. We’ve learned that, especially at night, on the road, in cooler weather. That’s where we are. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

 

On defending Kentucky’s run game…

“They do a really good job. They’re physical. They’re stubborn. They continually do it. They’re obviously using wildcat a lot with the back they’ve got, (Benny) Snell (Jr.) is a really good player. Talking to the teams who have played him, they talk about how physical he is, how good a down-hill runner he is. Then they’ve got the change-up with (Stanley) “Boom” (Williams) and with Jojo (Kemp), so they’ve really got good backs and they do a good job of using them. Those guys in wildcat have been really productive. You say ‘well, it makes it easy when they get in the wildcat.’ I’ve usually thought that, but they do things by motioning the quarterback out, bringing him back in. They do some creative things to create problems in the run game. You can have all the gaps and all the people, but you’ve still got to tackle them. They do a really nice job of that. They create a lot of issues. We’ll try to address some of those issues today. I’ve got a lot of respect for Eddie (Gran) and what he’s done offensively with them.”

 

On Nick Chubb’s play this season compared to past years…

“That’s a hard question, because I don’t know him from last year. I know he’s disappointed with where the statistics are for him. It would be a lie to say that he’s not. He is. Health-wise, I can’t say that anything’s wrong with Nick. He does everything. He had a really good off week of practice. He was sprinting, cutting, running all the way to the end zone. He gives really good effort and energy in practice. He practices with toughness. He’s a really good leader for us. He just hasn’t been productive (in games). That’s on us as coaches, we know that. We’ve got to help him, Sony (Michel) and all the guys that need to touch the ball in order to get them some more touches. I can’t say anything is health wrong with him. He’s done everything we’ve asked, and he looks good doing it to me. As far as comparison to old, I don’t have that baseline.”

 

On the team’s injury situation…

“Natrez (Patrick) is fine. I think he came back in the game and was able to finish. Dominick Sanders should be okay. He was banged up. He needed a little relief last week. Quincy (Mauger) was able to go in and play for him. DaQuan (Hawkins-Muckle) is going to be day-to-day. We are probably right now the most beat up we’ve been all year, which is probably the case for everybody when you get to this point in the season. But DaQuan is going to be day-do-day. It’s an ankle sprain. We’re probably going to hold him out today and let him rehab and do some things to try to get that thing better, treatment-wise. Riley (Ridley) we think is going to be fine. He actually had a death in the family that he’s not with us today but he’ll be back.”

 

On Georgia’s offensive output…

“We’re not maximizing really anybody on offense because we’re not getting a lot of production out of anybody. When you talk about maximize, when you’ve got some good backs you’ve got to get those backs enough touches. There’s a fine line between being stubborn with the run and not being able to run the ball and sticking with it versus taking shots (in the passing game). That’s really where we are is between those two. We’ve got to get those backs the ball more. We know that. They know that. It’s being addressed. I think everybody knows that. With saying that, when you’re not successful running it, you can’t keep banging your head against the wall. You’ve got to find ways to run the ball and you’ve got to find ways to take shots. Every time you take a shot, that takes the ball away from one of (the backs). There’s obviously some players on the outside that we want to get the ball to as well. Finding that balance is really the key and the struggle for us that we’ve got to find.”

 

On Smart’s involvement in offensive game plan…

“I don’t think we have to get into specifics of exact amount of time, but there’s not a play call that’s called on the offensive side of the ball that I’m not hearing. When I come over and see the defense it’s usually a television timeout or something like that. By the time the offense comes out, the first thing I want to know is what are we starting with. As far as the game planning, the offensive staff is very intelligent, got a lot of experience. Two coordinators on that side of the ball that have been there before and been coordinators. I trust those guys and believe in those guys. When they put the game plan together, that’s more for me to look at and then when I look at the defense I say ‘I think this is what they’re giving you. This is what their weaknesses are.’ I’m able to give them a second opinion. That’s the involvement I have from that standpoint. In the games, I’m always involved in that. Not deciding what to call, but what is being called I want to be abreast of and know.”

 

On Georgia’s play against Florida…

“You always find things you can improve on, and the best way to improve on them is to show them doing it right. We have practice clips of playing a certain play on third down exactly the right way, same play repped against the same call.  You show them doing it right, then you turn the next clip on and you show them not doing it right in the game. I think it’s important that kids really learn that way. You be technical. It’s not personal. You’re very technical about ways to clean things up. That’s what we have to do. That’s what we do on Mondays. We’ll clean those things up offensively. ‘Hey, we didn’t point out the right guy as the Mike (linebacker).’ He was unblocked and was able to run through the A-gap. When you make those mistakes it causes you a lost-yardage play, which sometimes ruins a whole series. You show them doing it right in practice. You show them doing it incorrect in the game. You make sure they understand they can do it right. It can be done right, and when we do it right we have more success. That’s what you try to improve on.”

 

On the importance of being bowl-eligible…

“To be honest with you, I’m not even thinking about it. My sole purpose is on Kentucky, giving these kids an opportunity to go play and have success in this game. That’s really what we’re thinking about.”

 

On issues on special teams and the run game…

“I think the biggest thing is doing better in those situations. You get a kicking situation and you want to do better, so how do you do better? You practice it, you practice it and you practice it. And you keep practicing it. You get faith, trust and confidence in the players that they’re going to do it better in the game and perform in the game. A lot of that is an opportunity. The more opportunities you get I think the better you get at it. I don’t think you can ever neglect practice because it’s too important. We’ll never do that. We’ll continue to get them to improve in the practice situations and in the game you hope they take advantage of it and do it right.”

 

On the play of the offensive line…

“I definitely think every game that we’ve struggled to run it in, when you go back and watch the tape, you see mistakes made or you see things done that we could’ve run it better. There’s also some games where we got dominated up front. They were more physical than us and they beat us. They whipped us. There’s both in games we couldn’t run it. Then there’s both in the other where we ran the ball successfully and overpowered some people and were able to run it. What makes that happen has a lot to do with who you’re putting your hat on. The size of the man you’re putting your hat on, the quickness, the strike, second-step on the run. There’s a lot of technical aspects that not only do we have to improve on but you have to give the other team some credit when they beat you, when they whip you. There’s been both cases. That’s what we’ve got to continue to improve on is making sure our guys can whip their guys.”

 

On the atmosphere around the team and the importance of having fun…

“I think that’s on the coaching staff and the whole organization. We have a support staff here from strength staff to player development to training room. Everybody has to be on board with that and understand that 90-percent of what you do is self-talk. If you’re talking to yourself the wrong way then you’re in trouble. Kentucky, they’ve won four out of five. They’ve probably got good self-talk going on. We probably don’t. So convincing our kids and making them understand that what they believe is who they are. If you believe that you’re a bad team then you probably are. If you believe that you’re a good team then you probably are. That’s the sell we’ve got to do a great job as coaches with our players, to be honest with you. I really believe we’re a better team than we’ve indicated. We’ve got to go out and do that and show that and prove that. That’s where we are with our group. That comes through your energy and enthusiasm as a coach on the field. I think the energy and enthusiasm in these team meetings I have with our players, they feed off the coaching staff. The leadership helps with that as well.”

 

On issues in the third quarter…

“The biggest thing you can do is come out of the half and play better. Most part, in some of those games if the opponent gets the ball, a lot of times we’ve taken the ball sometimes to get the wind and sometimes to be aggressive and show confidence in the offense. A lot of it is dictated by how you come out and play in the second half.  The fourth quarter had been better for us early in the season. Hasn’t been as good lately. We’ll continue to improve. We’ve looked at some things like how do we warm up when we come out of the half. Are we doing too much? Are we doing too little? You always analyze those things from the strength staff and figure out what you can do better, making sure you’re at your best in the third quarter and fourth.”

 

On the offensive line…

“A lot of times in the Florida game it was quickness. It wasn’t necessarily size. It was 57 beating somebody, moving at an angle, slanting and stunting. A lot of times people slant and stunt and move, it hurts them. They get washed and they get moved out of the way. To be honest, a lot of teams we played that slanted and stunted, we washed them and moved them and gashed them.  That wasn’t the case with Florida. They were quicker and penetrated and created some problems. Where South Carolina moved some, it didn’t happen. When they moved we were able to push them around. That wasn’t the case Saturday.”

 

On the team’s youth and playing on the road…

“Sometimes I think our kids are able to concentrate better and play better on the road. I think the noise and the environment can sometimes affect the offense on the road. I think that plays a factor in your ability to execute. Maybe some more offsides and things like that. If you charted us we’ve probably got just as many as home as we do away. I don’t attribute that to being a factor. I think the overall youth of the team is a factor, but not necessarily playing on the road or away.”

 

On players who have emerged as leaders…

“First off it would be the 11 seniors. I don’t have to mention all of those, you know who they are. They’ve done a great job of speaking up and helping control the leadership of the team. Several of the juniors, Nick (Chubb), Sony (Michel), Davin Bellamy (have stepped up). Mo (Maurice Smith) has done a good job as a senior, a guy who walked in the locker room and earned respect by the way he practices. There’s a good core group of kids on this team that want to do well. It’s important to them to do well. That’s why we’re able to keep the continuity of the team together because so many of them are good kids. They want to do well and they want to buy in. It’s really important that we keep it that way.”

 

On improving on size up front on offense…

“I don’t deal in the hypotheticals. I’ve told you that before. I think it’s a situation where we’ve got to improve. We’ve got to get the guys we’ve got here to play better. I’m not looking for pointing the finger or the blame at them. It’s our responsibility as coaches and an offensive staff and offensive line coach to get the ball to the playmakers and allow them to make plays. I don’t want anybody to think that we’re blaming the offensive line. Do we think we’ve got to play better there? Yeah. They have played well sometimes. We just haven’t done it with a level of consistency. We’ve got to help them but what we call and what we do scheme-wise.”

 

On the cause of the drop in running productivity…

“We don’t look for blame. It’s a team game, guys. Sony (Michel) and Nick Chubb are as good as team players there are anywhere in this country. Those two kids love that offensive line and appreciate what they do for them. We don’t point blame. Nobody points blame. That’s somebody else’s responsibility. For us, it’s ‘us’ and ‘we’ when we don’t do well. ‘Us’ and ‘we’ can do better. It’s not ‘you’ and ‘him’ when you don’t do good. We don’t focus on that.”

 

On the impact of this season on recruiting…

“I don’t think there’s any question they see it as an opportunity. I talk to kids constantly and that’s what they see it as. I think that’s important that you use that and that they believe that.”

 

On Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey’s relationship with Jacob Eason…

“They’ve both been great. I think Greyson has been really good. He and I have had several conversations. Greyson has been very helpful with Jacob. Greyson is a team player. He knows that he came in here last year and was able to play in front of some other guys. He’s been very good with Jacob. He’ll continue to do that because that’s the kind of person he is. And Brice the same.”

 

On Lamont Gaillard and Dyshon Sims…

“I think Lamont and Dyshon, they share that spot. Lamont has to work probably half his reps (in practice) at center because he’s also the backup center. He spends kind of 50-percent of his time doing both. I think both of those kids are fighting their tail off. They both love Georgia. They both want to play well. They’re both giving us all they’ve got. They’ll continue to do that. It’s important to them. Lamont’s only been over there two years. He’s getting a lot better. He can be a really good player. I certainly hope both of them are able to play better. As far as putting someone else in there, if we’ve got somebody better then we’ll do that.

 

On if the staff is celebrating Halloween…

“No dressing up for Halloween. I’ll be dressing up for practice is all I get to wear. We had the kids up last night. All the coaches’ kids came up and had family dinner, so they all got to dress up. We had some really cool outfits between all the coaches’ kids. We had football players and we had grim reapers, so it was good.”

 

On what Smart has learned about himself as a coach…

“As far as me, when I’m talking about myself, every day is a challenge and every day is a new challenge. That’s part of the opportunity that I always wanted was a chance to affect young people’s lives. I really think we’re doing that.  There’s a lot of kids in this group that are growing up. When things are easy and you win, it’s easy. When there’s adversity you find out a lot more about not only your character, you find out a lot more about all the young men in this room. We’re finding out a lot about the young men in this room and the coaching staff as we go through this adversity. I think that’s important.”

 

——

 

Sophomore WR #82 Michael Chigbu

On the game against Florida…

“We have to go back to the drawing board and see what’s wrong.  We need to see how we can fix it.  Florida showed us that we are not clicking as a unit.  We will forever stay together.  We’re brothers, we love each other, we’re dedicated to the University of Georgia, and to this team.  We will do better in the future.”

 

On Nick Chubb’s season…

“Nick is still motivated.  He puts in the extra work, comes in for treatments, finishes his plays. The team is not having the year that we want, and he isn’t either. The way we get over it is by hard work and dedication.”  

 

On Jacob Eason’s performance…

“I want him to keep his composure, and know that we’re always there for him. We will get this right. I don’t want him to get frustrated. He’s one guy and we’re a team. We have to play together, work together and be cohesive. If one person on the field is not clicking, we’re not going to get to the finish line.”

 

Junior DL #97 John Atkins

On Kentucky’s run game…

“It’s always important to stop the run game, because then you make the team one dimensional. We’ll focus more on it starting today. They run hard, but we’ll focus on stopping it and go from there.”

 

On getting into the backfield…

“Since the injury to my knee I felt limited on being able to make the moves that I wanted to make, but now I feel like I can make those moves and it doesn’t hurt. I can finally let it go.”

 

On Georgia’s defensive front…

“I’m happy with the defensive front, but we can’t get complacent and allow people to run over us. We have to continue to grind everyday and get better.”  

 

On freshmen stepping up…

“They came in with their ears pinned back, ready to go. They’re getting better and better every game and they’re starting to feel like they can do it now. I’m the oldest guy here, so I need to keep the whole defensive line motivated. They look up to me. I tell them, ‘don’t be like me, be better than me’.”

 

Senior OLB #41 Chuks Amaechi

On keeping morale high…

“We keep a bond between us, a brotherhood. And we have the 24-hour rule that Coach (Kirby) Smart talks about which means we have 24 hours to dwell or celebrate a loss or win then it is over with and done with on Monday morning.”

 

On favorite halloween costume…

“When I was eleven months old I was Simba. My dad lifted me up like Rafiki, we got a picture of it back at home.”

 

Junior OG #77 Isaiah Wynn

On status of offensive line…

“We just have to all get in the right page. It’s kinda frustrating but at the same time, you can’t let it get to you because you tend to mess up even more. So we are just working on fixing it and getting better. Some of it is just technique wise, the effort is all there.

 

On keeping a positive attitude…

“We all do know that we could do better and we are all pushing ourselves to do better. So nobody has a negative mindset or a negative attitude about things. 

 

On expectations for Kentucky…

“We expect a live atmosphere. It’s a night game so it might be a little cold but that is never really a big factor. So we think it is going to be a solid game. In the SEC, anything can happen each week, so it is always a battle.”

 

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