ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs worked out for a little over two hours on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their non-conference matchup this Saturday at Notre Dame.
Following are excerpts from head coach Kirby Smart’s post-practice press briefing on Tuesday:
‘’It was a little warm out there. We tried to use some periods where we were in and out, in and out, going back and forth. We don’t expect warm weather Saturday night, so we tried to rotate in and out and use some crowd noise for the offense, which is certainly always tough on the road. I thought the kids practiced well. I thought it started out a little flat, and some of the guys started picking it up. We had a couple of competitive periods and that was good. So, on to more work tonight.’’
Do you agree with Coach (Brian) Kelly’s assessment of this game as an old-fashioned, run-oriented game on offense?
‘’Yeah, I’ve always thought that Notre Dame’s a physical, hard-nosed football team. That’s kinda been their M.O. for a long time, even when he carried them to the national championship game. It was certainly that way the other day for them. They’ve got three good, physical backs and, counting the quarterback, that’s four because he really runs well. They are a big, physical football team. Across the front, I’m just telling you they’re the biggest team we’ll play when they line up. The tight ends are huge. They’d probably say the same thing about us, but I don’t know if our guys are quite as big as theirs are. They do a good job with the running game. Hard to defend because, with every run, they’ve got options off of it to throw it. So it’s hard to be right, sometimes, as a play-caller. You’ve just got to let your kids make plays and put them in good positions.’’
How difficult is it to defend a guy like (Josh) Adams out of the backfield and (Equanimeous) St. Brown as a wideout?
‘’It’s just weird for me because you’re familiar with your conference players. You watch these guys in the off season and you think you have a good feel for them. Then to see them Saturday, they’re really explosive, fast guys. I mean, they’ve got a slew of wideouts and they’re all big.’’
How impressive was (ND quarterback Brandon) Wimbush on Saturday against Temple?
‘’They move the pocket with him. He’s athletic. When things bring down, he takes off. He hits a few draws in there. The guy is just tough to defend. It’s like having a guy like Sony (Michel) back there that can throw. You can imagine that it’s not fun when it gets down to just tackling him one-on-one. A lot of times, you have to leave it that way. I mean, you have to leave one guy in the box to try to cover people. It’s hard to do with this guy.’’
How did you think Georgia’s wide receivers did Saturday and how will Riley Ridley’s return fit into your plans?
‘’I thought the wide receivers blocked really well. Guys in early, Javon (Wims) and Terry (Godwin), I thought played with more competitive toughness than they did last year. They tried to get physical and get on some blocks and do some things. And when they had a chance to make some plays, which wasn’t real real often, they made those. I’m excited to have Riley back out there. Looking forward to seeing what he can do. He’ll get in and mix it up with those other guys.’’
How much can J.J. Holloman contribute to the plan at wide receiver?
‘’J.J. has had a couple of nagging injuries through camp. The time he missed from his hamstring injury really hurt him mentally, not physically. He’s a guy who, when he figures it out…he’s a great kid, he works really hard, he’s got a great physical presence and is a great target. He’s just got to get comfortable. He’s going through what some of those guy — Riley (Ridley) and Tyler (Simmons) — went through last year.’’
How has Aaron Davis made it through the first couple of days practice this week? How careful do you have to be with guys like him and Solomon (Kindley)?
‘’He’s been great. He’s been good out there. He’s worked hard and has continued to push and we hope to be able to use him. He’s getting reps. Careful’s a hard word in football because when you say careful, then I’ll say, ‘They’re not ready.’ I’ve always been a big believer that if you can’t practice, then you probably can’t play. So the old adage of saving it for the game doesn’t work because in my history the ones you save for the game don’t usually play well in the game. So, if you can’t practice, it’s just hard to get out there and perform. We haven’t been real careful with them. We’ve gotta let ‘em go and push, and maybe control their reps as far as the number they get.’’
How important is it for Notre Dame to have a defender in the middle like (Drue) Tranquill?
‘’He does a great job. It’s strange because some of the guys that were playing more last year, you don’t see as much. So some of those guys aren’t out there quite as much. They might be in a different role. But he’s certainly a really good player. I think they do a tremendous job on defense of attacking you in different ways. They come from everywhere. They’ve got a really good base defense. They understand where their leverage is and they know where their help is. They do a great job defending perimeter plays. They attack blockers. They just do a really good job.’’
What can you say about D’Andre Swift after the first game?
‘’He’s a talented player. He’s very smart, very mature. He actually reminds me in demeanor of Andrew Thomas. Very businesslike. Both of them went to great academic institutions. Both of them won state championships in high school. They are very serious about their performance and I think that’s the overriding factor that allows them to play so early in their college careers because they are very calm in the moment.’’
How does a mobile quarterback like Wimbush affect the way you coach on defense?
‘’I think it’s something you can’t control. You coach it. You emphasize it. But they have five people blocking, last time I checked, unless they send a tackle out for a pass. And usually we have four people rushing. You can rush three, you can rush five, you can rush six. But to be honest, when you’ve got four on five, it’s not a great situation when you’ve got a guy that maybe your four can’t tackle because they’ve got a 300-pounder on them. So you start thinking, ‘How do you contain this guy?’ It’s tough to do that. You’ve gotta be aggressive. You’ve gotta come after him, but you certainly can’t rush past him. He really made Temple pay the other day when he broke out. Part of that you can’t control. You’ve gotta get him on the ground and go play the next play.’’
What have you seen the past two days from the quarterbacks?
‘’I’ll be honest with you, I think both of those guys (Fromm and Ramsey) have taken ownership, have taken a little more leadership. Certainly, there’s a lot more heightened awareness when you know you’re the guy. It’s the same way for Brice, you know. He went from getting no reps to getting all of the 2’s reps. So he’s like a changed person. It’s like, ‘I’ve got to prove myself. I’ve got to do a better performance than I did last time.’ He certainly felt that way and we did, too. Obviously, with Jake, he’s handled the situation really well. Some guys are going to have to play well around Jake. This is not the Jake Fromm Show. It’s not Jake Fromm’s game to win or lose. There’s a team traveling up there. Everybody’s making a big deal about Jake Fromm. Jake Fromm’s got 10 other people that have to execute so that he can.’’