Smart: Bulldogs "moving on to South Carolina"

- Fresh off of an opening game win, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart told reporters Monday that he and his team “are moving on to South Carolina” ahead of Saturday’s key SEC Eastern Division matchup.

Georgia will travel to Columbia Saturday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m. nationally television game against Georgia grad’s Will Muschamp Gamecock squad.

The following are Smart’s comments as well as comments by some of his players from his weekly news conference Monday.
Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Comments…

“We are moving on to South Carolina. Obviously, I have a relationship with Coach (Will) Muschamp, and they do a tremendous job over there. Watching them progress their program over the last couple of years, they've gotten better with each season. We had a hard-fought battle two years ago on the Sunday game, and then last year's game was probably one of the most physical we played in. It was a really tough, physical game. A lot of breaking the wheels when it comes to running the ball, them and us. And they've got a great special teams unit that does a tremendous job in all phases. So obviously the challenges of going to Columbia and playing; we've talked to our kids about it a lot over the summer, an opportunity to go into an environment that'll be as tough as any, as I well know playing over there, from a crowd and a fanbase, and it sounds like we'll also be playing the heat and the sun along with their team, which is always a challenge. We're excited for the opportunity. I have a lot of respect for their program, and ready to get to work on them.”

 

On his assessment of the running game after watching film from Saturday…

“We are moving on to South Carolina. Obviously, I have a relationship with Coach (Will) Muschamp, and they do a tremendous job over there. Watching them progress their program over the last couple of years, they've gotten better with each season. We had a hard-fought battle two years ago on the Sunday game, and then last year's game was probably one of the most physical we played in. It was a really tough, physical game. A lot of breaking the wheels when it comes to running the ball, them and us. And they've got a great special teams unit that does a tremendous job in all phases. So obviously the challenges of going to Columbia and playing; we've talked to our kids about it a lot over the summer, an opportunity to go into an environment that'll be as tough as any, as I well know playing over there, from a crowd and a fanbase, and it sounds like we'll also be playing the heat and the sun along with their team, which is always a challenge. We're excited for the opportunity. I have a lot of respect for their program, and ready to get to work on them.”

 

On his relationship with South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon…

When I coached here previously under Mark Richt, Bryan was a player and did a tremendous job for us. I've always had a lot of respect for him as a leader, really good recruiter. He did a great job with receivers when he was with those guys, and now he's calling. He called it in the bowl game, and I thought for a guy that started off slow in the bowl game, he was very patient, committed, called a great game, especially the second half; kind of won that job by the job he did and got a great amount of respect. 

What we can learn from the first game, probably tough. They're not the same defensively as we are. They were able to get a lead, very similar to our game, but I know he's a good football coach, and he's got a great staff around him of other guys that we've had to compete against, and I'm sure he'll rely on those guys to help him out.”
 

On Will Muschamp going up-tempo on offense …

“No. Tempo is in every offense in America now. So for it to be involved in it, I think it's the way of the world. If you can create an advantage by going up tempo and you have the kind of quarterback he has who can lead and coach on the field and do the things he does, I certainly think it's a big advantage. And I think you see a lot of teams out there. I think the key is can you go up tempo and still run the ball, which they can. And that's the key to going up tempo, because up tempo does nothing if you're three and out, and I think he'd be the first to tell you that. That's why they've been able to speed things up because they've got a quarterback that can make good decisions with the ball in his hands, and he makes them right a lot of times.”

 

On South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel …

“He's probably the most underrated player in all of college football, because I don't know that everybody in the country knows what the SEC knows about Deebo Samuel. I mean the guy is phenomenal. When you look at what he's done, even two years ago, he gave us fits in that game. And then you turn around and say, okay, he has a tough injury he has to deal with, but before he had that injury he had some of the most electric kickoff returns in the country. You see what he's already done in this game, in one game how explosive he's been at whether it's running back, receiver. And they're creative in ways in finding getting him the ball. He's a ten-touch guy a game, 15-touch guy a game. They're going to find ways to get him the ball, through the screen game, return game, handing it to him. He's an electric football player that's extremely powerful, confident, hard to tackle and he'll be a key guy for us. You gotta get him on the ground when he gets the ball, because you'll never know when it's going to him.”

 

On how the Georgia offensive line performed this past Saturday …

“Yeah. I didn't think the conditioning was where it needed to be, and I told those guys that. I thought at times they did some good things. The team they were playing was probably overmatched in a lot of the situations they were in. Pleased with assignments. Pleased with communication. But will be a whole new ballgame this week. They're going to be playing bigger, more physical guys. It's going to be loud. They've gotta do a better job of creating movement and they gotta do a better job second-level blocking, getting to the second level and protecting our ball carriers down the field and covering down which takes more effort.” 

 

On incorporating speed on the edge in the running game …

“I don't think you ever change it. I mean whether you run the ball with a speed sweep or you run the ball with an inside zone, everybody knows in college football those plays are packaged together. So a lot of times it's what the defense gives you. Y'all may see it as a hand off to Demetris Robertson, but that's not actually what the play was. The play has two options to it.So, with every play there's two plays, usually an inside play and an outside play. That's what college football is. It might be a run. It might be a pass. It might be a handoff, but I think you use the tools you have, but you take what the defense gives you. If it gives you the outside run, then you run it outside. If they give you the inside run, then you run it inside. If they give you neither, then you gotta find a way to throw the ball. We gotta be good at inside, outside run and the ability to throw the ball, because it's just hard to run the ball in our conference. Whether it's perimeter or inside, you've gotta be able to create plays through the passing game.

 

On how Tyson Campbell played against Austin Peay…

“I don't know what play you're referring to, but he did a good job of what he was asked to do. He communicated well. I think he got settled down more as the game went on. He's got a lot of speed. He's got a lot of toughness. He's a competitor. He hadn't been in the environment he's going to be in Saturday, but I mean a lot of teams across the country have young DB players, and the only way they grow up is to go play. So he needs to go play. And we've got other guys that can roll in and play. Eric Stokes came in and played well. So did Mark Webb.

So I feel a lot better about where we are at corner this year right now than I did at times in the past. They just need to go play. Those guys have to go play, and they're going to have to play well this week because they (South Carolina) have some really good wide-outs."

On the possibility and expectations of the return of Terry Godwin…
“He's run the last few days. He's had a couple times he's come back where we thought he was going to be back and he just hadn't been able to push it over the edge, but he was able to work out Saturday prior to the game and run, and then he was able to work out some yesterday. We're expecting him to go out there today and do a lot more. We're expecting to get him back, but I won't know that probably until later in the week. But what he brings is some experience and some confidence. He has a really good feel with the quarterbacks. He has a lot of experience. I mean, he understands the game. He's a really good route runner and he has great hands. So for us that value of confidence of having an extra guy frees up some other guys to play on special teams when Terry (Godwin) is able to eat up some of the reps out there on offense.”

 

On the similarities of week two at Notre Dame last year and week two at South Carolina this year…
“I don't compare this to Notre Dame because our fan base was, it felt like, 50 percent of the fan base. It won't be that way in Columbia, let me assure you. Their fan base will be turned out and have a lot of people there. So that environment is probably not a good analogy for what we're going into. Because I know, I've been there, I understand. Not a lot of our guys have because the last time we played there was a Sunday.

 

But all things considered, that's not what's important for our team. What's important for our team is how we practice today, how they listen to the scouting report and what they prepare for.

 

You guys are focused on the game. We're focused on today trying to get ready for practice.”
 


 

On the challenges of deciding on the 70-man travel roster…
“The biggest challenge will probably be figuring out the injuries with some guys. If one guy can't go here, then you have to take two extra guys there and making sure that Kearis (Jackson) and Jayson (Stanley) are good to go, who were not really cleared to play the other day. We're trying to get those guys back.

That's probably the toughest thing is just being able to foresee the injuries and who gets the reps to decide. A lot of that will be determined by special teams for us.”

 


 

On the challenges of facing their wide receiver group…
“They're big, they're physical. They throw the ball vertically down the field. I think Jake Bentley does a tremendous job of throwing the touch passes, throwing fade routes, throwing vertical patterns; and they catch them at a high percentage. I think if you look back over the last few games, they've hit a lot of those long balls, and they have big wide-outs to do it with. They're committed to the run game to the point where you can't sit there and cover up the pass the whole time. So they take their shots, you have to cover them. It will be the same way for them against us. The game can be a simple game; when you get down to it, you have to make plays when you get an opportunity.”

On emerging leaders of the team…
“Yeah, I think those guys start to come to the forefront when you have adversity. We didn't have a lot of adversity Saturday, but leading up to the week, practice, there are guys starting to rear their heads, guys that practice hard all the time, guys that step up and speak after practice or speak before the game. I think we're starting to get some guys to show some of those qualities, but it's the same guys you would expect. And that's what we expect. We want to continue to develop that. But a lot of that true leadership doesn't show until things get tough.”

On Jack Camarda's performance against Austin Peay…

“I think it's good to get a game under his belt. He's a tremendous talent. He works hard day in and day out. He probably had some adrenaline pumping and he lost a couple that ended up going into the end zone, but it's hard to predict from how far he was punting it that that was going to happen. I just hope, given the opportunity to do some sky kicks, he can do it with good percentages of getting them down like Cam (Nizialek) did. Those probably weren't fair to judge him off of because we weren't telling him to sky those.”

 

On South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon reaching out to Smart when transitioning from interim to full-time…

"No, not really. I talked to Will periodically, and I've worked with Lance (Thompson) a long time. I know a lot of guys on their staff, but B Mac is probably closer to (Mike) Bobo and some of those guys that he's worked with longer. I have a lot of respect for B Mac. I see him a lot of times on the road recruiting."

 

On if the South Carolina game has grown in significance since Smart’s time as a player…

"They're all significant. That's all I can say. They're all significant."

 

On Smart’s assessment of the front seven after the first game…

"Probably didn't get tested. I mean to be dead honest with you, probably didn't get tested. I know it's easy to say that now, but that's not the caliber of offensive line we're going to have to face. And I've got a lot of respect for Austin Peay and the job their coach does, and their kids played really hard. But we know that we're going to face a bigger, heavier, quicker person, and we're going to have to play better. For what we asked them to do, you can't say the kids didn't play hard. They played hard, ran to ball. We didn't play with real good technique all the time, and it will continue to be a committee because the committee in the defensive front in the SEC is, you’ve got to play a lot of people, especially against a team that goes up-tempo."

 

On reinforcement and education on targeting…

"We try to reinforce it every opportunity we get. When we have a learning opportunity from an opponent that has one or we have one come up in practice, we show it to the team. We have an SEC official that comes in and speaks to the team in the preseason, and does a tremendous job of showing do's and don'ts and not leading with the head. And I don't think you can do enough education on that. But our biggest education is when we have something in practice, we show it in a team meeting that, hey, this is not how we want to practice. It's not safe for you, but it's also not safe for the guy opposite you. I think James understands that. His intent was not to be violent and hurt somebody. He's a freshman that made a mistake and will learn a valuable lesson from it."

 

On quarterback Jake Bentley’s contribution to the South Carolina offense… 

"A leader. I mean he understands the game. There are games I've watched him play over the years, it seems like 30 games now, seeing the kid in the game, understand it – whether it was on TV or watching him on tape – comes down to a two-minute situation. You like having a coach on the field. He's more athletic than you give him credit for. He scrambles for first downs when things are covered. He handles pressure well. He knows where to go with the ball. He's unbelievable in the RPO game. I mean he's a really good quarterback, and as an offensive coordinator, it's a lot easier to call the game when you've got a guy that you know makes good decisions with the ball. And that's what he does best."

 

On freshman ILB Channing Tindall returning to his hometown to play in Columbia…

"I think it's special anytime you go back home and get to play in front of your hometown and your family. And that's a special moment for him. His recruitment was a long process. He handled it the right way. He communicated throughout. He took a lot of visits. But I think a lot of him as a kid. His family is a great family. I've enjoyed getting to know them, recruiting them in Columbia. And he's an exciting player. He’s got to grow up and mature and learn some things, but as far as competitor, toughness, effort on the field, he gives that. And he's really fast, and speed is hard to coach. And he continues to grow as a player, and we're trying to develop him because we think he's really talented."

 

On if the game situation will dictate the quarterback decision…

"It's just a situation where there's no plan. You know, we gotta go with how things go and how the flow of the game goes. I thought (Fromm) did a good job Saturday in the game, handled things well, but I don't know what this game is going to dictate, what this game is going to bring. So we'll see."

 

On if Fromm has been offering advice to Fields on the upcoming environment at South Carolina…

"I've not been privy to any of those conversations. But I know all camp they roomed together, and they're around each other every day in meetings, but I'm not privy to their conversations among each other. But they're both great kids. They're both UGA fans. They both pull for us, and they compete hard against each other, but they're pulling the team in the right direction. That's one thing I'll say about both those kids. They just want to make our team better, and they've done that by how they've competed."

 

#8 Riley Ridley | Jr. | WR

On Demetris Robertson fitting in with the receiver group and coming in after sitting out a year…

“He’s physical, he’s fast, he has a lot of awareness, so he fits pretty good with us right at this point. He had a big play of the game which we were excited about. We’re excited about the things he can do for the offense. … I wouldn’t say he isn’t conditioned. I feel like he is conditioned as well as any other receiver in the room. He’s competing day in and day out, so I feel like he’s in good shape.”

 

On the environment in Columbia, South Carolina as a visiting team and communicating when lined way out…

“It’ll be the same. … Just composure and know my assignment and know the coverage and know things going on around me and just be focused in.”

 

On making the most of an opportunity on a team of playmakers…

“We can throw the ball out of the backfield. We can throw it to any receiver, we can hand it off to a receiver. Anytime you have to take all of your opportunities and just got to make the most out of it.”

 

#71 Andrew Thomas | So. | OL

On the run game from Saturday and the difference approaching this weekend at South Carolina… 

“I feel like we did pretty well but there are still some areas we can improve in. We need to get to our linebackers faster, things like that. It is a different level of competition this weekend as they are an SEC team. We just have to play our best to be able to beat them.” 

 

On some of the more important aspects in an SEC road game… 

“I guess crowd noise would be something that we have to deal with on the road. We also have to adjust to the different speed and level of play. We practice against great guys everyday so we should be prepared.” 

 

On the key for the offensive line getting to the second level successfully… 

“After you get your fit on the first line of scrimmage, just getting your eyes toward your linebacker and shoulders turned to make sure you can get off when they fire.” 

 

#13 Jonathan Ledbetter | Sr. | DE

On Jay Hayes’ arrival and talk about last year’s Georgia/Notre Dame game… 

“Coming from another program, you know he’s going to have his strategies. He is tackling very well and is a great athlete. We noticed that watching his tape at Notre Dame. So of course, we wanted to welcome him into the family. He’s been fitting in perfectly. The D-line has definitely taken him in, but really just the whole team. You got a guy that wants to come in and continue to work to make himself better. We are here for it. We joke around sometimes about the game last year at practice and in the locker room saying, “That’s that Notre Dame swag you’re bringing to Georgia”. He’s a great guy and a great person. We love him, he’s just part of the family now.”

 

On playing in road environments… 

 “I like playing in noisy environments. I like the competition and the fans bring a lot of energy to games, just like our fans do. I think when everyone is screaming and yelling you just have more of that drive to do something and to do better. When you are in somebody’s own turf the odds are stacked against you and it is kind of a statement to be able to come out there and handle your business.”

 

On team leadership… 

“Even in this first game against Austin Peay, I could see leadership in the new year. We are starting to realize that you have to create your own identity. You can’t live in the past off of someone else’s hard work. We are going to have to put the hours in to get to where we want to be and to be as successful as we want to be.”

 

#20 J.R. Reed | Jr. | DB

On South Carolina’s … 

“They are a SEC team. They kind of remind me of our team with the receivers, running backs and smart quarterback that they have…They have really big receivers and they have a lot of speed. Especially from what you see from Deebo (Samuel). He is a very big and physical receiver. He is one of the top wideouts in the SEC…Jake Bentley reminds me a lot about our Jake, Jake Fromm. He is very smart, great competitor, and will play really hard out there for his team…It’s going to be a good game. We can’t make any mistakes back there in the secondary…As long as we stay in communication, we’ll have a great game.”

 

On carrying on a leadership role… 

 “I’m more relaxed. You know what to expect now. You aren’t going into the team new, so you always coach up the young guys like Tyson (Campbell) and the other young guys that might have a role in playing this year. I help with what they need to look at and then also now what I need to look at and what I need to watch.”

 

On keys to playing in tough road environments… 

“You just have to play to your stable and play your game. You have to keep your mindset. You have to keep yourself in the game, because there are going to be ups and downs. It is all about how you respond to adversity. Try to limit any dumb penalties.”

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes advertiser stories