Georgia not rushing into game-plan installation for Vanderbilt

Sports

ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Georgia football team held its second scrimmage in Sanford Stadium on Saturday with temperatures in the 90s. 

The Bulldogs will have a day off on Sunday before starting preparation for Vanderbilt later in the week.

Following Saturday’s scrimmage, head coach Kirby Smart met with the media in the Butts-Mehre Building.

Opening Statement

“I thought we had a much more spirited scrimmage. It was still hot out there but probably not as humid as it was last time. We didn’t have the lightning delay this time.  They started out a lot better, started out a lot faster.  We got more competitive.  I thought both 1’s units played better, which meant the 2’s probably didn’t play as well.  There were some explosive plays in the scrimmage. I was proud of the competitive toughness.  We had a lot of snaps out there.  I think we had 135 snaps, which is basically two football games. We had a lot of special teams snaps mixed in too.  The guys really pushed hard, they were hurting at the end.  There were some really competitive goal line periods, red area periods, competitive 2nd and 10, third down- everything was pretty even across the board when we did 1’s on 1’s.  So I thought that was good.  We were able to get some of the playmakers the ball on the perimeter and made more plays in our passing game.”

On the overall progression of the team with the season two weeks away…

“We have a lot to work on. I am pleased with the effort. The effort that our kids are playing with, I’m proud of that. We’ve had some tough, physical practices and this group has not backed away from that.  Our worst practice, by far, was last Saturday. I’m not saying today was our best, but it was to par with the other good practices.”

On how the team is holding physically…

“Pretty good.  We have some guys beat up.  We had a couple guys that couldn’t really go today.  Knock on wood, no major, major injuries.  We are going to have tomorrow off. Monday is going to be a light, light walk thru.  This is where we say, ‘okay, we have to start getting them back.’ We have to get recovery. We have to get fluids.  When you have 48 hours you feel like you can almost recover to the full extent.  We are hoping to get everyone’s legs back. They’re hurting a little bit. Part of that is mental toughness and the grit, and they’ve been able to handle that.”

On the status of Julian Rochester, David Marshall, and Nakobe Dean

“Nakobe [Dean] is banged up. He was not able to scrimmage today, but he is going to be fine. Julian [Rochester] is coming off the ACL repair. He’s practiced every day. He does some periods with us and he does others with a trainer where he runs and gets his mileage up, but not as much contact stuff.  He’s doing a little bit of both. David [Marshall] does about 50 percent with us, 50 percent with the trainers. Julian and David are both older players who are not 100 percent so we’re trying to control their volume of reps, and also giving some of the other guys reps. They’ve practiced each day.”

On which group had the most explosive plays…

“The receivers did. Last scrimmage it seemed like some of the backs out of the backfield had some big plays but it was the wideouts as a group. [Lawrence] Cager had one, George [Pickens] had one, Tyler [Simmons] had one, Trey [Blount] had one. We had several guys have explosive plays. Explosive to me is well over 12/13 yards.  Kearis [Jackson] had big one.  We’ve seen great balance on the explosive plays.”

On the progress of the receiving corps…

“There has been progress, yeah.  I think you can always do more and that is what we’re trying to do. I am very pleased with that group’s effort, toughness, resiliency, pushing through contact toughness. There are some balls that should have been caught that weren’t today, but that’s probably always going to be the case.”

On the progress on D’Andre Swift…

“D’Andre’s been good. He is a good leader in that group. He is very bright. Brian [Herrien] is probably the most experienced because he’s been here longer. Brian does not have as much volume of carries as D’Andre does, but Brian has practice experience and probably more reps just because he went to a whole spring when D’Andre was still in high school.  Dandre’s been good.”

On Jarvis Jones assisting the outside linebackers…

“[Running Backs coach Dell McGee] brought him about. I was not aware that he was done with football and Dell said he was going to be back here in school.  It was an awesome opportunity.  I’ve had the fortunate of Kevin Butler, Chris Samuels- some really special players who have come back to work as undergrads. Jarvis is here every day. A lot of times you get those guys that can’t be all in, but Jarvis is all in. He is in there to learn.  He helps set the tempo, set the standard in the outside linebacker room.  He demands excellence.  He played the position; he knows what it takes to play it. We have talented players at that position group, but a lot of those guys don’t have any experience. Here’s a guy that did it in the NFL and did it here at a high level. He’s from our state and played for one of our coaches. It’s a blessing.”

On making the decision on the 70 players who will travel to Vanderbilt…

It’s always tough. It’s tough at 80, 85, it’s tough when you travel 100. We know that what we decide there is not final. It changes week to week. There’s not a week that I think was exactly the same last year. Number one because of injury, but number two because of effort in practice. Michael Barnett didn’t travel, didn’t play, and then went on the scout team of defensive line, to starting on the defensive line against Georgia Tech. It can come full circle. We are going to have some tough decisions to make.  We’re not going to make them right now. We have two weeks to finalize those choices.

On how much longer “camp mode” will last…

“Probably until Thursday. We’re going to start to work on Vanderbilt early, but not too early.  We have a lot of games to play besides them.  We are focused, as coaches, on a game plan for them, but with the players we are focused on getting better. You have to be careful when you have an opponent that you’re going to play- if you start too early, they’re just going to get tired of preparing for that. They want something new, new energy. We’ll probably introduce Vandy on Thursday or Friday.

On the competition at punter…

“Both guys [Jake Camarda and Bill Rubright] have played well. It’s been a good competition.  Camarda punted well today, and Rubright punted a couple times as well. To be honest, I’d have to watch the tape. I’m a lot more worried about the hold up and the coverage, right now.  We will judge the rest on tape. 

On how much the receivers making explosive plays is because of quarterback Jake Fromm…

“I think all colleges that can pass the ball are explosive now. I’m not telling you guys they went out there and made 100 explosive plays, that’s not the case. I’d be worried about the defense. We have some explosive playmakers and we have a quarterback that throws the deep ball well. It’s really one of his better passes.”

On the progress of the defensive line…

”There’s a lot of guy rolling, there’s no one dominant player on that defensive front or defensive line. There’s a lot of good solid players. We may roll out there with six seniors that have played football- Michail Carter, Justin Young, Tyler Clark, Julian Rochester, David Marshall.  It just seems like we have guys that have played a lot of football that are out there.  As far as the younger guys, they are where the older guys are yet. You can’t be.  That’s unrealistic to think that some of those guys are going to be where the older players are.  They just can’t physically jump into that mold yet.  Devonte [Wyatt] has done a good job, who I count as a middle player.  Jordan Davis is one of those who is not a freshman and he’s not a senior, but he’s done some good things. Travon [Walker] is the one who has a chance to help us the most this year because he’s not really an interior defensive lineman. He’s more athletic, he plays on the edge. He can do more things in a sub situation.”

On wearing a shirt from current New England Patriot Isaiah Wynn’s camp…

“He sent it to me and I told him I would wear it at one of my press conferences. I saw the video of what he did with the kids before school started. He took a group of kids from his hometown community and bought them all back-to-school supplies and just did an unbelievable job. It’s indicative of what he did, that I asked him for one of his shirts. We read his quotes on #WinWithWynnWednesday to the team. He doesn’t a really good job with that.”

On who displaying toughness, defensively…

“I probably saw a little more toughness on the front, on the offensive line knocking us off the ball. There were some pops made, a couple goal line stops. Our backs are good players, they were able to make some space. Kenny McIntosh did some good things today. He continues to improve. He has really good balance and he’s been a good blessing. Lewis [Cine] shows up, he makes plays, he hits people. J.R. [Reed] had a couple good tackles. We just have to get our players on defense to play within the system. We still have some guys that want to play Rat Trap and do what they want to do instead of what they’re supposed to do.  When do the Rat Trap stuff it hurts us.”

On the team responding to the heat…

“It’s been hot. Our guys haven’t complained about it. There have been a couple practices where we went inside at the end of practice, but start every day outside and do about 75 percent of practice outside.  We did all of the scrimmages out there.  I talked to some of the coaches that have been at our practices and some other practices and they say the same thing, it’s hot.  Mentally, what are you going to do? It’s hot. Our guys pushed through it and I thought they did a good job today.”

On his assessment of Andrew Thomas…

“He’s been a leader. I think he has more stamina. He’s ability to lead and play hard longer has been good. His first two practices in camp I thought he played really physical. He has to continue to do that. He has to really be physical and be that right tackle that we need him to be. I’m pleased with him as a leader. He’s played with more consistently, I think, because he’s in better shape. He doesn’t get tired or winded and give up cheap sacks. He plays more consistently.

He has bought into the whole culture of ‘I have to be a great player’. If he wants to be a great player he has to eat, sleep, get off his phone at night. He has to do all of the things that require him to be a great player. We are trying to get a little bit better at everything and he is a guy that has bought into that.”

On Stetson Bennett and who is behind him on the depth chart…

“D’Wan [Mathis] is not able to go a whole lot. Nathan [Priestley] has been in there and he goes a good bit. He has been a blessing in disguise for us. He’s very bright, very athletic, really good arm talent. Coach Coley will tell you, he takes the best notes I’ve ever seen in the quarterback room. Within our system that’s important. You don’t get the volume of reps you want at the three. In camp he has, but his reps are going to start to dwindle.

Stetson didn’t have as good of a day as he had last scrimmage. It’s not that he was bad today, he just wasn’t quite as efficient.”

On Kenny McIntosh and the number of running backs that travel…

“I didn’t see him today [on special teams]. He has reps on special teams, but I don’t know how he did on those. We don’t know how many backs travel.  If we have seven backs that are really good, we’ll travel seven. If we have ten, we’ll travel ten. If they can help on special teams, they’ll be out there. We have traveled as few as four and as many as seven. Prather [Hudson] makes that number vary because he’s a really good special teams player. Those decisions that we have to make are going to be tough, but someone like McIntosh is a key to that decision because his value right now is going to be special teams.”

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