Story Poster
Photo by Chamberlain Smith / UGA SID
Georgia Football

Kirby Smart Updates QB Situation for Mississippi State Game

November 16, 2020
3,776

Get our insider newsletter today

ATHENS - Georgia coach Kirby Smart declined to announce a starting quarterback on Monday.

The Bulldogs are getting ready for another SEC showdown with question marks at quarterback. UGA played two signal callers two weeks ago at Florida - D’Wan Mathis and Stetson Bennett. Bennett is recovering from a shoulder injury.

“Stetson is bouncing back. He is still limited a little bit, but we've not done anything since Thursday. I don't know where he is until later this week. The competition will continue on like it did last week,” Kirby Smart said.

That competition will include Mathis, Bennett, JT Daniels as well as freshman Carson Beck. Mathis started the season opener at Arkansas, but gave way to Bennett in that game. He has started every game since.

“You have to put out there the best guys who give you a chance to win, and we've done that,” Smart said.

+++++++++++++++

 

Head Coach Kirby Smart
Opening statement …
“I will open with we moved on last week and began to prep and work for our future opponents starting last week. We found out our game was postponed with Missouri and got kind of a jump start this weekend on Mississippi State in terms of preparing for them. We had actually looked at them a little bit the first off week. Coach [Mike] Leach has a very different style of offense than what we typically see week to week in the SEC — a lot of the same concepts, but different ways of going about it. It’s kind of a different type of defending to defend these guys, so we’ve got a lot of elements to our defense that we have to keep consistent and then other elements that you have to change. Then, defensively, they’ve got a really aggressive, big front — physical style of defense in terms of getting prepared for that. Those are the challenges for us right now, and we are focused on Mississippi State.”
 
On handling COVID-19 postponements …
“Usually, you have a good indication when there is a possibility of cancellation in terms of a team is in a threshold, like last week. We knew that Missouri was teetering on the brink. Each test they got back was going to be crucial to whether or not they could make the numbers. So, you usually know when that could happen, but you have to prepare each practice as if you are playing the game. We certainly are confident that we are going to be able to play Mississippi State. We feel good about where we are. We feel good about where they are. That’s communicated, so we feel good about playing.”
 
On testing quarterback JT Daniels in a game situation …
“You just try to make the best situation you can to give your team an opportunity to win. That’s what we try to do in all our decisions, regardless of quarterback or not. You know, the running backs don’t get tackled in practice either. They get hit, but they don’t get tackled, so you have to put the best guys out there that give you the best opportunity to win. That’s what we have always done.”
 
On Stetson Bennett’s progress with his injury and if he can reveal who the starter will be …
“Stetson is bouncing back. He is still dinged up a little bit. He was out there at practice each day doing all he could. He has still been limited a little bit, but we haven’t done anything since Thursday. In terms of Friday, Saturday, Sunday treatment and recovery, getting himself back in a position that he can play and compete at a high level — that’s the hope for this week is for him to do the same. I don’t know exactly where he is until after practice today.”
 
On if he knows who the starting quarterback will be …
“No. The competition is going to continue throughout practice like it did last week.”
 
On his team finishing strong and what it would mean in terms of recruiting and the program legacy …
“Every kid has individual motivations, and you should have those. Ultimately, you have to put the team above yourself. The ultimate goal for the team is to finish strong. We only control how we play. We do not control other teams. We somewhat don’t get to control what games we get to play and what games we don’t get to play. All we control is how we practice today, what we are working on, our developments, each player’s development regardless of whether they are coming back next year or if they are going to be a senior and may be gone. They are working on development. They are working on an opportunity to get better, and so many of these kids don’t realize they don’t get that opportunity at the next level. They don’t coach you to get better, they don’t get reps — they essentially just go out and play games because they don’t have the ability to develop players in practice and get guys better. They are not allowed reps to do that, so we are. Our guys get a chance to grow and get better. That is the goal and the motivating factor for our team is to win the game against Mississippi State.”
 
On what is different in defending Mississippi State compared to other types of offenses …
“I think they are changing too. They are re-creating their identity throughout the SEC as he goes along. He’s changed some throughout the year. Obviously, they have had different quarterbacks, but it’s similar to an option team in that you have to defend it patiently. You have to defend it and have the ability to deny the ball. You’ve got to be able to play man-to-man. They look for man-to-man. There’s a lot of things within their system that are different than traditional offenses in our conference, so they bought some outside elements that haven’t been in the SEC, and the SEC has — some of the teams have completely changed what they do. I think it is really hard to change what you do within a week to get ready for a team like this. It is very similar to when we play Georgia Tech. You had to change your whole defense. I don’t know how comfortable you can be changing your entire defense in one week’s time. They have certainly seen some different looks from teams in our conference.”
 
On the South Carolina coaching change…
“It’s a part of our business. They both know that and understand that. I respect both of them (Will Muschamp and Mike Bobo) as coaches and as friends. They know as well as I do that when you get into this profession, that’s a possibility that this happens. It’s not for me to decide. I’m worried about Mississippi State.”
 
On the balance between continuing the season and playing for the future…
“The balance is to win this football game. That’s the only balance I know. We’re trying to attack each day. We’re developing our roster in practice and getting better at competitive reps, and we’re trying to win football games because for us, that’s the ultimate goal. That’s what we want to do – grow and get better. We don’t control our destiny, certainly, but we do control our attitude, our effort, the way we approach things, the positive attitude with which we take the practice field every day, and making sure that my point is to help my teammate. It’s bigger than me and that’s the focus within that – all those things you talked about which are true. Yeah, we’re worried about the future of our players and the guys that are growing, but they’re going to do that every day in practice with the reps we take, how they approach them. It’s not just with games – we want to play with the guys that give us the best opportunity to win the game.”
 
On possible benefits from not playing a game last week…
“I don’t know there’s a lot of good things that come from it. I think you get better by playing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that, so that’s beyond our control. I don’t know that we’re getting players back because the players that we lost are more long-term injuries. They’re not three-to-four-week injuries where you get them back. I can think of some dinged-up guys we’re getting back in the next couple of days that might help us from a second team or depth standpoint, but not a primary starter. I don’t know if the time benefitted us in those regards. You might say getting an extra day on Mississippi State might help a little bit in terms of prep because we would’ve been playing Missouri until Saturday afternoon when we got back, and now, we’re able to spend a little time on them Thursday, Friday, to get a jump start on a different offense.”
 
On Monty Rice’s importance to the team…
“Monty has always held a special place to me because the recruiting process was so different for him. He committed to LSU, and then, he always wanted to be here, and he felt like he made a mistake, and he was strong enough to say, ‘I messed up. I really want to be at Georgia.’ We knew that, and he changed his mind and came here. I certainly respect the way he plays, the way he leads. He’s a rarity in college football because he’s not afraid to confront and demand. So many leaders have a hard time commanding the respect of their teammates and being able to call them out if they’re not doing it. Monty’s not one of those guys that shies away from that. He’s got some great role models in Roquan [Smith] and other guys that played that position. He’s held people to a standard and I respect him because he works really hard and he’s attentive in meetings and he’s just a quality person and leader.”
 
On the bowl game situation and Mississippi State’s roster situation…
“The bowl thing I can’t answer to. Again, all of that’s going to be controlled by something outside of me. The worst thing I can do is worry about a bowl game right now. We’ve got to worry about Mississippi State. We just feel better about them because of the communication we’ve had with them, and some of their guys are getting back from injury.”
 
On making any changes to the team’s defensive personnel or schematics…
“Definitely not. Personnel-wise, we’ve got good football players defensively –
some guys that’ll play for years to follow. We feel good about the personnel we have. Now Florida, I would argue we didn’t have the same personnel we had against Alabama, in terms of some starters and some key guys out. If we execute the scheme, I don’t feel concerned about the scheme. I think that you’re always looking for wrinkles and you’re always trying to do things better. When I look back at both games and the plays we gave up, I’ve brought light up to it many times, some of those plays were errors. We just had bad eye control, didn’t look at the right things. Ultimately, you’re going to get beat when you play man-to-man, I see it every Saturday, somebody gets beat man-to-man. But, when you give them touchdowns, those are the ones you can’t have, you can’t have those. It’s more a matter of executing what we have, not changing what we have.”
 
On Mississippi State’s defense...
“Their bulk inside—they are very disruptive in the way they go about things. They disrupt your run-game with twists and slants—very aggressive, just really physical. I feel like Mississippi State—ever since all of the years I have played them, they have always had really good, defensive football players and they’ve always been big and physical. That’s what they are. They are an aggressive, big, physical, SEC-defense.”
 
On the on-field work last week following the game cancellation...
“We practiced Thursday. If I remember, the game was canceled on Wednesday—we practiced on Wednesday, the day that it was canceled, and we used it more like an off week. Wednesday and Thursday we practiced and worked, but that was it. Friday, we had some other things going on—meetings and things like that.”
 
On if there was any contact with K.J. Costello while he was in the transfer portal and in his opinion what type of player is he...
“Yeah, we actually did communicate with K.J. [Costello] or at least I did. I had communication with him for a while, while he was in the portal and just talked back and forth. Really, it was before Jamie [Newman] had entered the transfer portal or we even knew that Jamie was an option. K.J. did communicate a little early on and there was some interest there. Then, we ended up going with Jamie. I think he ended up going to Mississippi State. I know he’s a really good player, really smart. People at Stanford [University] say a lot about him, really positive things about him. He’s very proficient. Obviously, he had some really good games, early. He’s been a little dinged up here lately. Big, big, fella with a big arm that fits well in the system of being able to throw the ball.”
 
On injury updates on George Pickens, Lewis Cine, Jordan Davis, Kenny McIntosh and Richard LeCounte...
“There really isn’t any change on any of those guys. George [Pickens] practiced last week. I think he is going to be able to play—thought he was going to be able to play last week. Lewis [Cine] is out of concussion protocol, and should be cleared. I think that really is it. All of those other guys are right where they were last week. [Kenny McIntosh] was practicing. He was in a black jersey, but he practiced. We are hopeful he will be able to play.”
 
On if the cancellation of last week’s game changed the tone at practice on Wednesday and Thursday...
“Not really—you’d like to but you have to be careful. We had practiced Monday. We had practiced Tuesday, which is our physical day and then Wednesday was another day. You have to be careful in-season of how many days in a row—in a normal off-week they would have been given a Monday off. It would have been Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in a normal off-week. We had Monday practice and got after it. Tuesday, practiced and get after it. We found out Wednesday that we’re not going to have a game so we had a shorter practice, but it was more good-on-good, more competitive. Thursday, the same thing—you can’t go every day slobber knocker, not at this point in the season and not with the depth that we have in injuries that we have. I thought they were good practices. I thought they were competitive—that was the whole point was to change things up, to do a different order and try to give them a little fresh start of how to do things, in terms of practice. We didn’t go live-scrimmage or anything.”
 
On having the early signing day in December the same week as a game...
“Yeah, if we have a game on the [December] 19th, it’ll be right in the midst of it. Well, it’s going to be tough but you control what you can control. It’s different this year because you haven’t seen these guys, I don’t even know. I mean how long? It seems like a year since we have seen a recruit. It hasn’t been that long, but it just seems like forever. Most of them are not in the same space as some of them would be if a coach was coming in their home a week before. When you are coming into their home, it creates doubt. This is virtual recruiting, so most of these kids have decided what they are doing. It’s probably going to be anticlimactic. It’s going to be in terms of whether they sign or don’t sign, not who they are signing with. It’ll be unique to have a game in that time. I can be honest with you—I didn’t like—it was worse when we had to prep for a bowl and deal with that. That was hard enough. This is going to be—the kids kind of know where they are going at this point and if they are signing even on that date.”
 
On DeAndre Baker’s charges being dropped and if he has had any contact with him...
“I have not talked to DeAndre [Baker] much. I have had a couple NFL teams, different teams have reached out and talked and asked things. I did just see that news. I am very thankful for DeAndre for that happening for him, and hope he can get things straightened out.”
 
On the challenges if there was a last-minute game rescheduling...
“Monday night to a Saturday, I don’t think would be too difficult to get a game in. I think that could be done. The issue there would be, is it someone you were already planning on playing? As I understand it that would have to be the case. It would have to be someone you were planning on playing. At this point, we have done prep on almost every one of them because of the off-weeks and the unexpected nature of things. Certainly, within a Monday night you could get ready for a game on Saturday if it was with an opponent you have had for a while.”

 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.