Georgia Football

Kirby: Offense Gets the Better of Defense

April 13, 2019
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ATHENS - The Georgia football team held its 12th practice of the spring and second scrimmage on Saturday afternoon, working out in full pads for two hours in Sanford Stadium.  The Bulldogs will continue practice through the team’s G-Day spring scrimmage game on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m.
 
The following are quotes from head coach Kirby Smart in his media availability following the practice.
 
Opening statement…
“I will reserve judgment until I watch the tape, but I thought the guys came out with good energy today like they did last time.  The offense played a little better today—a lot more consistency in the run-game than I thought last week.  Defensive line, defensive units controlled the run-game.  I thought we had a lot more 5-6-7 yard runs, not a lot of explosives, ran the ball a bit better.  Offense controlled most parts of the scrimmage that was good.  Just very efficient, we didn’t get a lot of third and longs, which made it hard for the defense to win the third and medians.  Starting to develop a little more identity, little more toughness of sort, a little more leadership from some guys.  I thought it was hot out there today and the guys pushed through it.  You know, that is practice 12 of our 15, and I thought they had good energy considering that.  I was pleased with the overall scrimmage.  We have a long way to go in some areas to get where we need to go here, by far not a finished product.  We all know that we don’t have everyone here yet. We have some guys that are injured or are coming in the fall that we expect to help us.  Pleased with the effort.” 
 
On Brian Herrien absent during media viewing… 
“Brian was there today.  I don’t know.  He might have taken a bathroom break, but I will find out.  He should have been out there.  He was out there catching kicks before y’all got out there.” 
 
On an update on Otis Reese… 
“Yeah, Otis is a little bit sick—under the weather.  We don’t know when we will get him back.  He didn’t practice today.  He didn’t scrimmage today.” 
 
On Herrien’s performance in the scrimmage today… 
“He did good.  He had a couple carries and did some good things.” 
 
On Julian Rochester’s progress… 
“Yeah, he is cleared to run now—straight ahead.  He did get some exercise but obviously not practicing.” 
 
On Water Grant’s position and if he is getting some carries during scrimmages… 
“Yeah, Walter is carrying the ball a good bit, I think he had three or four carries today.  He had three or four carries during the last scrimmage which he has also gone with the one defense—getting 15-20 percent of the snaps.  He still is playing at regular defense.  He knows the defense well.” 
 
On D’Andre Swift’s comment of Grant “running through everybody”…
“Walter does a good job.  I know we haven’t tackled him for a loss during the scrimmage one time.  So, a lot of times it's not how explosive you are its how efficient you are.” 
 
On Demetris Robertson and his improvement in the off-season and this spring… 
“It’s been tremendous.  He is more comfortable in the offense.  He plays and fits in the slot.  He plays outside.  He understands our offense better, and he also is getting more opportunities.  To be honest with you, there’s not three guys out there, really more than that if you add Jason Stanley and Ahkil Crumpton, so he is pushed to the forefront.” 
 
On Jamaree Salyer as a tackle… 
“Up and down.  I mean he—I tell you guys he does good and you write an article on he is the greatest ever and the Outland Trophy winner, so I’ll be honest with you he’s been up and down.  He hasn’t been as consistent as he was early on.  He has to continue to get better.  What I like about Jamaree is he gives you his best effort every day, and he went right tackle today and I think he played some right guard in there as well, rotating around.  But, he has to continue to improve.” 
 
On whether Coach Smart is concerned about his defense, with the offense outperforming it in today’s scrimmage…
"I mean, that’s just— I thought defense played hard.  It’s just ebb and flow.  Somebody’s going to make a play.  I’m concerned about the whole team.  I mean, I’m concerned about the offense.  I’m concerned about the defense.  I’m concerned about the depth.  I’m concerned about the field goals.  I’m concerned about everything.  I think, as a coach, you have to be concerned about everything.  The offense probably outperformed everybody— I mean, the offense outperformed the defense today."
 
On whether playing Jamaree (Salyer) at right tackle is Coach Smart’s efforts to find the 'fifth guy’ or if it it’s a long-term thing…
"Well, I mean, it’s trying to find the best tackles.  I mean, we’ve got guards— Cade (Mays) is playing left tackle, Cade’s playing right guard.  Owen Condon has gotten stronger, more physical, is playing with more confidence.  D'Marcus Hayes is playing out there.  (Warren) McClendon was in on more reps today.  So, you’re always looking to find tackles, and we’re trying to find the best lineup A, best lineup B, best lineup C; you could go all the way to Z with all the combinations and the multiples that could be created by injuries.  So, we don’t ever want to not have a player as good as another guy out there, so Jamaree (Salyer) gives us that luxury on being able to do both."
 
On Justin Young’s performance…
"Justin’s doing a good job.  Justin is an experienced player.  He’s put a lot of work in, and he’s put a lot of work in in the weight room. Justin is a ‘lunch pail’ guy—hard to move, he understands leverages, he plays with toughness, he plays hard.  Usually, when you get a guy who’s a fifth year in a program, that’s what you get.  He knows what to expect, and he’s played really hard."
 
On the outside linebackers…
"Up and down.  We’ve had flashes.  We’ve had Azeez Ojulari flash some good rushes and some good effort.   I think Jermaine’s flashed some coming back off an ankle injury.  Nolan (Smith) plays hard all the time.  He doesn’t always play smart, but he plays with great effort and does a good job.  And Brenton (Cox) and Robert (Beal) both scrimmaged today, and I think they’re both getting better, but it hasn’t been consistent, and we’re not dominant out there like people ‘quote-unquote’ think we’re the greatest inside linebackers to ever play.  We’re not getting by our tackles every down, I know that."
 
On how John FitzPatrick is coming around and other possible tight ends...
"Yeah, I don’t think we’ll really know there until the complete meeting.  We’ve got (Brett) Seither coming, too, from Tampa.  So, we’ve got a big group coming in there.  So, that’ll be— depending on how good those young guys are and if we get anyone else who’s able to help us— that’ll be key.  I mean, I’m pleased with Fitz’s work.  Fitz works really hard, and he’s blocking really big people, and he’s having to compete against big people for the first time.  Last year, he didn’t go up against those type guys.  This year, he’s getting thrown into the fire, but he’s competing really hard.  Two walk-ons— Kolby Wyatt and Peyton Mercer— are both competing really hard at tightens and thought they both did a good job today."
 
On kick/punt returners...
"Every guy we can go back there and try today.  On punt return today: (James]) Cook, (D'Andre) Swift, Kearis (Jackson), (Tyler) Simmons, so it was four or five of them back there.  They're all working and developing.  I figure it's a position that you develop at; you don't just anoint somebody and say, 'They're the guy.'  You work with multiple guys and a lot of those guys were working there last year. We knew this was coming down the road with Ahkil (Crumpton), Terry (Godwin) and Mecole (Hardman) back there.  You've got to have the foresight to anticipate in your roster and we're trying to fill those holes now.  As far as what we're going to work on this week, we'll be continuing to work a little bit on our opponents a period a day. We want to expose our offense and defense to things we don't do offensively and defensively, that we don't see.  We want to grow our team, continue to give the young guys a lot of work and try to get ready for the fall.”
 
On tight end John FitzPatrick's growth...
"He's playing tougher.  I don't think he was a guy that played a position where had to go block people all the time in high school.  Now, he's having to go in-line and block people, flex out, run routes.  I think he's in the 240s.  He works really hard and our weight program has helped him, as it has helped Owen Condon.  It's helped those guys go out there and get more strength.  They lift during the season on Fridays and that pays off for them now because they're further along because of all the work they did."
 
On the secondary's progression...
"We've had a good spring.  I don't know if that's a credit to the young secondary or whether that's a lack of depth at receiver.  We probably didn't have our best day today.  We gave up some plays on the back end, more than we did last week.  Those kids grow and they're growing. What you know is we've got what we're going to have.  There's nobody else coming.  It's very unique that we have depth and we're able to move people around to try to figure out the best parts.  You're really trying to get the guys who don't know what they're doing to be able to do that. There's a few guys that have played a lot of snaps here, with the likes of (Eric) Stokes, Tyson (Campbell), J.R. (Reed) and even Richard (LeCounte).  Those four guys have played a lot of snaps.  We're trying to get those other guys ready to go play and the good thing is they're here to get these reps.  I think that's going to pay off for us in the fall.  I think we've got the potential to be a very fast secondary.  I don't know how instinctive we are yet, I don't know how great we are at playing the ball, but we do have some great speed back there."
 
On Tramel Walthour...
"He's a rotational player.  He fits with Malik([Herring) and Justin Young.  When David (Marshall) gets back, he'll be right there with them.  He's good enough to rush outside, can bump inside and hold up.  Tramel's a good athlete.  I think his head's been swimming some because he doesn't know our defense.  He's really like a freshman even though he's in a sophomore's body.  He doesn't know some of the words and commands, and I hope when I watch the scrimmage tonight and tomorrow that he played better than he did last week is what I hope."
 
On who stood out in the scrimmage and how has Richard LeCounte done this spring...
"Offensively, we stood out today.  I thought Matt Landers made a couple plays, which he did in last spring's scrimmage.  I thought D-Rob (Demetris Robertson) made a couple plays.  I hate talking about the offensive line because somebody played good up there.  I don't know which one was mashing people out of there, but Trey Hill, (Jamaree) Salyer, Andrew (Thomas), I don't know where it's coming from but somebody played well.  The backs carried the ball well.  The quarterbacks made good decisions.  Nobody really stood out as a gamebreaker.  It's hard to do that because we go into the thing with a script of, 'We're going to give this guy this many carries, this guy this many carries.'  We’re not trying to go out there and beat Georgia, we are trying to go out there and get better.  As far as Richard goes, he still doesn’t know his assignments in and out, and I think he’d be the first to tell you.  We are trying to train him at left and right safety and he’s only played free safety before and that’s for his development and growth.  It puts a little more responsibility on him to know the calls very well.  If you have to play both safety positions, it’s a little more taxing you mentally.  He’s responded well, he just has to continue to grow.”
 
On handling a running back like D’Andre Swift during the offseason who has already proven himself at the SEC level…
“I think when a guy is going into his senior year like Nick (Chubb) or Sony (Michel) and they’ve carried the ball ‘x’ number of times at the SEC level, I think you do manage their workload (going into their senior year).  D’Andre is going into his junior year and only his third spring.  He didn’t get a bulk of work as a freshman, he didn’t get a ton of work last year with Elijah (Holyfield) and (Brian) Herrien and his injury.  D’Andre has gone out there this spring and really competed.  He has set himself apart from the other offensive players because of his demeanor and body language.”
 
On if Coach Smart is where he wants to be with this team at this point…
“I’m never where I want to be.  Where I want to be is have all of those freshmen who will be here in the fall here now.  You say, ‘Well, you can’t have that.’  I want to be able to see them, coach them, develop them to get better and see where our roster is and see what our strengths are.  But we are not where we need to be.  We didn’t cause a lot of havoc today, let’s put it that way.”
 
On if anyone is standing out at the nickel/star position and how fierce that competition is…
“There is competition across the board.  There are three guys – Divaad (Wilson), (William) Poole and Mark Webb – and all three of those guys have gotten better.  I am so proud of how they have worked.  But no one has said I am the clear-cut guy or I’m the guy who is going to know where I should be every play yet.  You have to be a tackler but you have to be able to cover.  It takes a unique player to play that position.  You have to be strong, take on linemen and also cover slots.  They’re developing, they’re practicing hard but no one has said that I’m the guy yet.”
 
On if each of the guys competing for the nickel/star position bring something different to the table…
“They’re similar, but none of them have enough experience to really separate themselves.  Poole played a little last year, Divaad played a little last year.  Mark played a little ‘money’ position last year and continues to play that position.  Mark is a physical player who we are trying to find a role for.”

Tags: Football
 
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