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Kirby Smart: "Dom Blaylock and Kearis Jackson Are Practicing Every Day"

September 7, 2021

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ATHENS, Ga. --- University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with a pair of linebackers previewed Saturday’s home opener against UAB. The Bulldogs and the Blazers kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET in Athens, GA.  

On Tuesday, Coach Smart, and senior Channing Tindall and Junior Nolan Smith offered the following comments.

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Head Coach Kirby Smart

On Nolan Smith’s preparation for the season… 

“I thought he was a more confident leader. He worked out really well, he always trains hard. It seems like he is always in a good mood, excited about practice, just a really fun kid to coach. But I don’t know that he trained, I mean everybody trained different this year dealing with COVID, but his training was a commitment to gaining a little weight, being a better leader, and I certainly thought he took on the role of leadership much better.” 


On Blaylock and Kearis’ injury concerns… 

“I told y’all Monday, Blaylock and Kearis are practicing every day. They are repping, they’re going. Basically, they are cleared. Kearis was out there. Dom is working out; he is practicing every day. It’s a matter of those guys working themselves back in. I mean, the body of work that Ladd and Jaylen have, Kearis is not 100%. Dom is, well, Dom may be closer to 100% than Kearis. But there is not a lot more we can do other than them getting reps and working themselves back. So, everyone keeps asking when they’re going to be back. Well, they’re back. They’re just not completely 100%. SO, when they are better than the guy who is playing, we’ll get them out there. They’re not 100%.” 


On Dominick Blaylock’s injury… 

“Dom has been practicing. Dom has been practicing for a while. Dom is getting confidence back in his knee. He is getting stamina back. He is getting contact. He is getting reps back. I mean, it’s more than just saying he is cleared. It goes back to our quarterback last year, you know, you can’t just say that you got to put him out there. Well, no; it takes more than that. I mean you’re out there with people trying to knock your head off, and you’ve had an ACL surgery. You would like to be 100% of your old self, and it may take a little while on an ACL. Especially on a second ACL. So, he is cleared to practice, and he does all kinds of things, but there’s a difference between being game-ready and out there practicing.” 


On George Pickens’s injury… 

“He is rehabbing every day. He is lifting every day. He is going to school and doing all his schoolwork, and he has done a good job of doing that. So, we will see. We don’t know – it’s one of those where he gets kind of a monthly check-up, and we haven’t had an update in quite a while. I think he is scheduled to go see Dr. Andrews here soon to checkup and visit, but he is doing his rehab. He is working hard and straight line running, but I have no idea on the date of return. It’s just too far out right now.” 


On the challenges UAB presents on defense…

“Yeah, they are really good on defense. Bill (Clark) does a tremendous job mixing up coverages. They’ve got long, rangey outside backer-types that are hard to block, quick switch guys, really athletic linebackers. And their secondary - they’ve got a lot of guys who have started a lot of games. They have two corners who seem like they have been playing forever.  You go back and watch games on them, and it seems like that same group of secondary has been playing for a long time. They do a great job. People don’t understand, these guys are a one score game, late in the game with Miami. You know what they did to Georgia a long time ago, they played them really tight. They do a tremendous job; they’ve got really good football players and I have a lot of respect for what they do.”


On standout special teams players…

“Yeah, Smael Mondon is a guy who does a lot of good things on special teams. Jake Camarda, like last year, does good things. Arian Smith was dominant the other night and made some good plays. Kendall Milton stepped up and did a lot of good things on special teams. So, we have a lot of our freshmen and are two deep on special teams. Javon Bullard did a great job there, Rian Davis. We have a lot of guys who are going to be able to play a role, and hopefully a bigger role in special teams. We didn’t get a lot of opportunities the other night.”


On Jack Podlesny…

“I am very pleased with his work ethic, his attention to detail. He does a great job of preparing himself mentally every day, day-in and day-out. Looking forward to getting him back out there for another one because I have a lot of confidence in him.”


On Defensive Backs Coach, Jahmile Addae...

“He has done a tremendous job. He is very intelligent, works hard and has a great relationship with both recruits and players. He is diligent and I appreciate the hard work he has put in. His family has come to Athens hopefully to see a Sanford Stadium atmosphere for the first time on Saturday.”


On the Right Guard position……

“We want the best five to play for sure so it’s a depth concern because we have to have enough guards and we have to have enough centers. So, we’ll play the best five and hopefully, provide enough depth while doing that. But if something happens to a center then we got to have a center ready, so you got to have two centers more than you got to have guards available. We got tackles that can play guard, but we don’t have tackles that can play center.”


On practice this week and the back-up quarterback…

“Monday was a good attention to detail practice, had a lot of energy and enthusiasm, moved around. I think Labor Day and sleeping in probably helped them some. But today we were not as sharp. Didn’t have as good a practice as we had Monday so hopefully that’ll improve tomorrow. Carson’s (Beck) been our number two quarterback. He’s worked with the twos and has worked a lot there, taken a lot of reps. Stetson still gets some reps from time to time but he’s got a lot of bank reps so we ask him to do a lot of things mentally to be prepared and ready to go.”


On Dan Jackson…..

“Dan (Jackson) came to us and wanted to walk on. Certainly, was a good high school player, watched his tape and thought he could help us. Didn’t realize he would help us this quickly. He’s a really good athlete, very intelligent. When he first got here, the first summer he ran a really fast 40 time and we thought wow this guy could help us, he could play on special teams and he’s done more than that. He’s taken an opportunity where we have very, very limited depth and he seized it, he seized the moment. He’s gone out and practiced really hard towards the end of last year’s bowl practice, we started working in and then in spring practice he went with the twos pretty much the whole time and had a good spring and we felt good about his role. He’s a great kid, a really smart kid, he works really hard every day and is a blessing to coach.”


On the reserve offensive lineman…

“Tell them they can come to the spring game to see them or they can come out and watch them in warm-ups before a game or if we’re ever fortunate enough to get a lead they may get to watch them. Right now we’re worried about their safety on the field and that’s the key for our guys to stay safe. Devin Willock’s done a great job. He’s a big guard and he’s working with the twos at guard and we think he’s going to be a good football player. Lindberg got to go in the other night and got to play on special teams and filled a big role for us on the field goal when Tate went out. He’s working at guard as well.”


On Broderick Jones….

“He’s ready. He’s done about 60 or 70 practices, he’s had probably about 200 lifts, he’s had about 100 days of workouts but he’s worked really hard. He’s improved. He was not very strong last year, he was weak at the point, he’s put on some weight he’s about 315. He’s intelligent, he’s played left and right tackle. He understands how to pass off twists and gains. He’s still got a ways to go to be ahead of the guy in front of him but he’s a good football player and we think he’s ready to play.”


On Kelee Ringo…

“I hope that he gets better with game experience, practice experience, playing the ball in and out of phases, he’s got really good ball skills. So, I’m excited to see him play because I think some people are going to go after him because of the pass interference calls. But I’ll be honest with you, he's one of our best ball skill guys. Go up and attack the ball so hopefully, he’ll get an opportunity to do that. 


On Coach Cochran… 

“I haven’t talked to him since probably before the Clemson game, we spoke a little bit, but he seems to be doing well, and I’m looking forward to getting him back here.” 


On the top performers on the scout team… 

“I would say Brock Vandagriff has been doing a really good job on the scout team. He gives us a really good look and does a really great job. Micah Morris has done a tremendous job. Defensively, last week, John Staton was Skalski, and he did a really good job of representing him. Xavian Sorey has worked really hard, and Jonathan Jefferson has really improved. So, those guys probably stick out as high-effort guys who practice really hard each day to make us better.” 


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