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Georgia Football

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin "Georgia is a Complete Team"

October 4, 2021

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AUBURN - Auburn coach Bryan Harsin talks about the No. 18 Auburn Tigers’ matchup with Kirby Smart and the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs. 

Opening statement...

“Had the guys in yesterday (Sunday). Did a nice job getting themselves back from a late game and prepared for what we had to do on Sunday. That will continue today and into tomorrow’s practice.

“Our players of the game: Offensively was Bo Nix. On the defensive side there was really a lot of the players on the defensive side so most of the defense did a very good job there as we recognized that unit. O-line MVP was Keiondre Jones. D-line MVP was Colby Wooden. And then our special teams player was JoJo Willis.

“As far as this week, just back into practice on Tuesday. A continuation of things I’ve been talking about before, just our preparation, our focus. ANd we’re playing av ery good football team.

“Georgia is complete in all three phases. When you watch them, you pop on tape, you can see why they have the record they do and the type of performances they have. They’ve got very good players. They play hard. They’re well coached. And that shows up on a consistent basis on film. So really a credit to them for the type of consistency that they’ve shown throughout this season. They’ve got a lot of great players. Too many to mention. But some guys that really stand out on all three phases, really.

“And I know they make that important and they coach that and they emphasize  a lot of things that make them a good football team. We’ve got to do those same things as far as our preparation goes of emphasizing stuff that’s important, making sure that we’re detailed in those areas and then coming out and having a good week and getting ourselves prepped and ready for this game.

“Our guys should be excited. It’s a new week, new opportunity, new challenge against a really, really good team. Hopefully, most importantly, it’s a chance for us to kind of build off what we’ve done this season so far. I’m very proud of our guys for the LSU win being on the road and the different challenges that you have to face that you are on the road and you find a way to win against a good football team.

“And they were certainly excited about that. And now we’ve got to shift gears and be completely focused on our preparation and the things we have to do in order to go out there and play our best football this Saturday.

“I don’t know about their quarterback situation. JT Daniels is very good. Stetson Bennett, been very impressed with him. Their running backs, all very good. Their O-line does a great jobs. The tight ends. (Brock) Bowers a very good player. And on the perimeter, the wide receivers, they can make plays. They can go.

“Defensively, the last performance that they had, very good when you have a shutout and you’re able to do that. That’s impressive. And against a good football team in Arkansas. Those guys really played well in that game. You can see that. And they’re playing at a high level. So that’s going to be a great challenge for our offense, as we put together a plan to go out there put together and try to score points.

“Special teams, they had a big block in the last game. We talked about that as well. That was a big momentum swing in there. They had some of it, but they continued that with some big plays on special teams. They obviously do a very good job there and that continues to show up just as part of the third phase or one of their phases of what they’re able to do with their offense and their defense.

“Overall, right now, we’re getting into the film. We’re looking at everything We’re getting a plan put together for Tuesday. And this is why you play. You look forward to weeks like this to come into a game and be at home. I know our crowd is going to be great. Looking forward to that. And we’re going to need to be. We need that homefield advantage. So that place should be rocking. And our guys will be looking forward to being out there and playing in front of them.

“The work we do and the mentality we bring to this week is going to be extremely important to our success and everybody should be excited about the opportunity and the challenge that we have in front of us.”

On how he approaches preparation for Georgia’s defensive front…

“Well, yeah, that’s part of it. You’re going to have to win some of those one-on-one matchups. They do have very good depth, they’re very good up front. You still have to scheme for that so you just can’t give up on that because they have good players and they have depth. You’re going to scheme, you’re going to have a plan and then you’re going to work on the things that you have to do that week in order to make that play or that plan you have with your offense successful, or defense.

“All those things, it’s a continuation of our preparation, our fundamentals, the work that we do, how hard that we do it and then knowing that you’re going against some really good players and know those guys have shown, from what we’ve seen, to play at a high level and you’ve got to prepare yourself to do the same thing.
“So, it’s all those things and you just have to make sure that you’re getting that done yourself. You’re getting that done with your side of the ball and then making sure that’s happening consistently throughout the week. But, yeah, they’re very good. They’re very good up front on both sides. The line of scrimmage is where it’s at. We have to do a better job this week of making sure that we’re prepared for what we want to do on the defensive line, what we want to do on the offensive line, and then we’ll find out on Saturday where we are.”

On status of Owen Pappoe and Tank Bigsby…

No. Owen didn’t play, I hope he does this week. I hope that he would’ve last week as well. It’s just — it kind of comes down to game time.

“As far as Tank goes, he’s fine. Everybody that was on that trip was able to play. We hoped that Owen was. We’ll see where he’s at this week. We fully expect him to be out there and ready to go.”

On running backs and tight ends being involved in the passing game…

“I think when you play any team you’ve got to have those. Tight ends showed up. We had some drops in the game that we’ve got to clean up and that just goes back to our habits in practice and the things that we have to do fundamentally to catch the ball and the techniques that we use.

“The wide receivers, tight ends, running backs — they’re all going to be a part of what we’re doing in the pass game and certainly we like to run the football, but when we throw it, those guys are all going to be involved.

“And Shaun Shivers was a big part of the game plan. He showed up on third downs. I think he had five third down conversions that game. So Shaun, it was great to have him back. He’s playing really well. Knew what he was doing out there. Had great energy. On the field, he was making plays. Had a couple that just weren’t the easiest catches but really focused on it and was able to get us the first downs.”

“You see Fromm, Fromm had a few catches in the game. His first touchdown catch on the scramble. There was a lot of good things from those two groups there. As wide receivers, it goes back to being consistent. It goes back to the consistency piece for all of us. But we made some plays in the game at the tight end and running back position which is good. We need to keep utilizing them. And then get our wide receivers involved in there and they did make some plays but need more consistency from that standpoint.

“And then just continue to build on what we’ve been doing. Build on this last game. What did we like, what did we see that was working for us, what are the things that we can get better at, what are the personnel that we need to have in the game? And then really focus on that and still continue to run the ball. It doesn’t take anything away from that. We still want to run it. And towards the end of the game we were able to when Jarquez Hunter hit the big run that created a spark — a lot of momentum there. And then we were able to finish that drive. I think some of those drives allowed the run game, the ability to kind of get going, and were able to make some plays at the end of the game which were big for us.”

On playing from behind in the fourth quarter the last three games…

“Yeah, well, that’s not ideal. We’re not challenging ourselves like that and saying: ‘Hey, let’s get behind and really dig ourselves out.’ That’s not the mentality we want to go in with. Like every team in America, we want to start fact. That’s something that we have got to do a better job of. It just comes down to execution by everybody. We have to have really good plans to start fast. We’ve got to execute. We’ve got to have that mentality coming out of the locker room.

“Sometimes guys got to feel their way around and just see -- I don’t know, maybe see how hard the other team’s playing. But, you know, when your mindset’s right, you come out and you’re ready to play and you’re ready to play at your highest level. Whatever that is, whatever you’re capable of, and some guys did that. Some guys didn’t, but some guys did that, but as the game went on we got better. The key is, you know, we want to start faster, and we want to play that way through four quarters, not three. And, you know, that’s still -- that’s a challenge. I think all that is how you come out to practice, it’s how you get yourself prepared in meetings. You know, there’s some guys that sit in meetings that are on the edge of their seats and they’re taking notes, they’re locked in, they’re answering questions, and you’ve got some guys you got to remind all the time to get the notebook out and sit up and pay attention. You know, what do you expect on Saturday? Like, if that’s how you prepare, then you’re not just going to turn it on on Saturday. You’ve got to turn it on every single day. Then Saturday is just an extension of that.

“I think some of that has to do with, you know, just the slow starts. We better figure that out because we’ve had to come back, and we’ve been able to do that, but that’s not a good formula. You want to come out and start fast. You want to play hard, and you want to keep yourself in the game if not put yourself ahead in the game and then continue that and finish a game. We’ll see where we’re at this week. I’ll know more about that on Tuesday when our guys come out there. You can tell -- when they come out of that indoor and we get on the practice field, there’s guys who are going to be running out there. There’s guys who are going to be walking, and you’ll have an idea of how we’re going to start practice. The emphasis will be there again to start fast. It’ll be every single day. We have to get it done -- we can’t just talk about it.”

On incorporating Bo Nix’s scrambling ability into the gameplan…

“Well, yeah, scramble drill, that’s from day one, that’s something that we’ve installed even back in spring. You know that’s going to happen not just because it’s Bo Nix; because of any quarterback in the country is going to have to scramble so you want to have some type of answer.

“His ability to scramble, we saw it. He’s very elusive and did a great job in that game. Again, that’s not how the play’s drawn up, but there’s going to be things that guys are going to do in games where they go and make plays, and that’s exactly what he did. And there’s some structure to it where guys have a chance to get open and try to find the open area. But we like to be able to set our feet. We like to be able to get the ball out of our hand, and sometimes the defense has a lot to say with that. And they did: they provided pressure, but Bo made some great plays. He got out of some tough situations and made things happen on some fourth downs.

“You know, he ran the ball well when he needed to. There was a couple designed runs in there, but he ran the ball well. He made plays with his feet when he had to, and I thought when he got a chance and we protected well he could get the ball out of his hands. He threw the ball well. We had some drops in there that we have got to make those catches moving forward. And so, there was some good things from that standpoint. But you look at him, and the guy can make plays and he did. That’s not how you want to draw everything up. There is that ability, so you continue to work those things. They happen in practice, and then hopefully we can continue to capitalize on some of those plays in games.

“But, want to put the plan together where he can go out there and just operate, play quarterback and then when things do break down, be able to go make some really good decisions and some plays if that’s possible and continue that moving forward.”

On challenge of facing Georgia’s defense…

“Yeah, their front seven is really good. Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, those guys are really good players. They’re physical up front. Everybody wants to try to run the football, and so you still want to be able to run it. You’ve got to be able to handle those guys up front. We’ve got to do a great job at o-line, tight ends being able to get up to those linebackers as well so you can run it. So that just in itself is a challenge.

“They play hard. They’ve got good technique. They’re physical, and so that’s what we have to make sure we’re prepared for as we go into this game.

“No different, I mean, I thought you play against some good teams. And we saw it against Penn State. We’ve seen it against LSU. We saw guys even against Georgia State playing hard on the defensive front. And a lot of defenses, that’s where it’s set up, is you have D line and your front seven, and I think a lot of teams want to be set up like that. And then your back half, you’ve got good players back there, and they can move those guys around and do some different things with them. So, from an offensive standpoint, we have to practice at a level where we prepare ourselves for that and still be able to run and protect and just know that those guys are going to pose a challenge. Every single play, we’ve got to be ready for that. So how you prepare yourself as you go out there every single rep in practice that you get, and you try to play hard, and you try to make sure that you’re fundamentally sound; you’re doing your job and got the right calls, and everybody’s on the same page so that you can execute whatever your assignment is.

“You’re going to get a one-on-one, and you’ve got to find a way to win the one-on-one. That’s why you do individual. That’s why you spend time in the weight room. That’s why you do all those things, so at some point when you get a one-on-one, that’s your chance to use some of the techniques and things you learn, but it’s also ... you just as a football player. That’s your chance to try to win that one-on-one, and that’s a great challenge and I think why a lot of guys play the game, is we get in those moments. ‘Hey, it’s me and you,’ and you get to go out there and challenge yourself to try to win those battles.”

On status of T.D. Moultry for Georgia game…

“I don’t know if T.D. will be here or not this week, and I’ll leave it at that. As far as our front seven goes, no different than what I just said, you know. He asked me about Georgia’s front seven, and it’s no different for us. We’ve got to play really well on the D-line and at linebacker, at the linebacker position, on the edges with our guys. So that’s no different. You’ve got to set yourself up to play the run; you’ve got to put yourself in a position that you can get some pressure, and that’s no different than I think any other team in the country, really. And it’s just a matter of really playing hard, playing with great technique, understanding what it is that we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to attack from a defensive standpoint. And then just flip it around, you know, those one-on-one matchups.

“That’s why you do all that work is to try to win those one-on-one matchups. When you get those situations, and that’s the challenge as a football player. When you do, you’re trying to make a play. You’re trying to make something happen. You’re trying to do your job. But you’re also trying to make a play and win that one-on-one that you’re in, so that’ll be the focus and a continuation that really going this week, it has to change week to week. We have to get better at it.

“That’s really what it comes down to, and a lot of what I’ve said every week is really the same things. We’ve just got to keep getting better in the areas that we keep talking about every single week, that these are the things that are going to get us where we want to go. And that’s got to be the focus, and we can’t skip over that until we can get some of those things really focused on, honed in, and we get everybody better at it and doing it at a consistent level, then you can get on to a few other little details but those are the fundamentals of the game that every single week, you got to stay focused on and doing it at a consistent level. Then you can get on to a few other little details, but those are the fundamentals of the game that every single week, you’ve got to stay focused on.”

On Derek Mason’s in-game adjustments…

“I think Coach Mason and the defensive staff, I think that they’ve worked well together at halftime and being able to communicate what’s happening. I think they’re doing that as the game goes on. You can hear him, there’s a lot of communication that happens during the game of just seeing how the offense is trying to attack you. There’s really good offenses that defenses have to face. And every single week, they have a plan of how they’re going to try to attack that defense, and I think, one, from a defensive standpoint, you’ve got to be ready to play. You’re on point.

“You’re on high alert for just about anything early in the game, because the offenses have, they have their plays, they probably their scripted plays. They probably rep those, and they know that plan going into the game. There’s probably a few offensive coordinators that just kind of pull it out of their — out of their hat, just call plays. They have a plan, let me just say that. They have a plan going into it, so you got to try to figure that out from a defensive standpoint. Also, you got to come out ready to play. That’s a big part. You got to come out ready to play. Understand there’s going to be some plays that they execute; they’re going to get the ball to some of their playmakers. You got to tackle, and you got to be in the right position. You got to be in the right gap. You got to do the right things in coverage. So, as the game goes on, then you see how we’re operating. And sometimes it’s not what the offense is doing. Sometimes, we might have screwed it up, and then it’s just getting it right.

“It’s not so much about them as it is us at times, too, and you get it just right, whatever that position is or leverage, and that changes the outcome of the play, and you’re able to be more successful on the defensive side. But you got to see that—so back to the staff and to the players—you got to see that, you got to communicate it, you got to know it. You got to know the scheme, how you’re supposed to play that scheme against a lot of different things on the defensive side and then be able to make those adjustments very quickly and go, alright, that’s it; this is what we need to do. It continues all the way through the game, especially on the defensive side of just that process until the game’s over.”

On if Auburn needs two defensive gameplans based on which quarterback starts for Georgia…

“Probably so. There’s some of that. Um, but again, I—you ask that question, are there two separate gameplans, but you have a gameplan and I think you understand there’s different players, and it’s not just the quarterbacks; I mean, look at when they put different tight ends in the game, when they put different tailbacks in the game. There’s things that, from a defensive standpoint, you need to be ready for when they’re utilizing different personnel. Quarterback is one of them as well. You’re going to have a structure, you’re going to have a gameplan going into it, and there’s going to be tweaks, adjustments you make from it, but the most important thing is that we play sound, physical defense and we have our guys in the right position, that we communicate and that we do a good job in tackling and taking advantage of our opportunities when we can with some one-on-one matchups and find ways to win those.

“As far as how much they run it, I don’t know what their offensive gameplan’s going to be against us. They seem to be a team that they got a good balance, they got good personnel, and they got two really good quarterbacks, and they’re able to get guys the ball. So, that’s running, throwing—we’re ready for all those things or will be by the end of the week. Then, most importantly, what are we doing? Where do we need to be? What’s our process and communication each and every play? And how do we get ourselves lined up and ready to go out there and just get all 11 guys doing their job in the game? That’s going to be the most important thing on that side of the ball.”

On cornerback Jaylin Simpson and edge defender Eku Leota…

“It was good to get Simpson out there and play. I thought he played well, and we needed him. So, he did some good thing in coverage, so that was a positive. Eku, it was good to have him out there. I mean, this is why he came here, to be in the game. He did some things off the edge that were positive. I also think that his presence out there, both those guys, I think that helped us on the defensive side because it shows that we have some depth. It shows that some guys can step up and play in those positions, and you need that. One of the keys to being successful is you got some good depth and good players at the position so guys can in and out of the game…

“Some guys might do something a little bit better than the others. Maybe that’s what we need from that particular player or that coverage or at that time, whatever the situation is and getting both guys in there. I thought Eku got some pressure on the quarterback. There are some good things he showed off the edge. Simpson being in there, he showed some good things of just being able to stay with the receiver in good coverage and be in the right position. This week we built from there. We take that experience from those two players in particular, they take that and add it to what we’re doing this week. It helps us with our depth. It helps us with our game plan. At the same time, if guys are playing well, it helps us with our competition on our team where I think that brings out the best in everybody. You’ve got a little competition for positions. Maybe we can be just a little bit better because of that.’

On decision to hire Mike Bobo from South Carolina…

“I have said this about Mike. I have a lot of respect for him and I got to compete against him at Boise State when he was at Colorado State. So I watched the things he did offensively. I have been able to get with him before we were ever head coaches when I was at Texas and we talked about quarterback play. It was some scheme, but it was also just talking about teaching the quarterback position and the fundamentals and those types of things. He and I feel very much the same about a lot of those things and teaching that position. I think that’s an important part of playing well at the quarterback position. Just the philosophy of taking things we’ve both done and how we apply that to Auburn and really create this Auburn offense. That has been good. It has been good to sit in there and have conversations about different play ideas and what’s going to fit and what’s going to work best.

“As the season goes along you kind of see things with your own personnel. I even think that, not even just being new, every year you have different players. You have different guys that step up. You have different levels of ability that guys develop over time. You learn that as you go throughout the season. There’s some guys you kind of know what to expect, but that’s not always the case either. Some guy had a great year the year before and maybe it’s not going as well because everybody knows who he is. He has to elevate his game. The same thing that player did the year before is not good enough for the next year. There’s got to be more that goes into it. He understands that and I think we see things a lot the same when it comes to things we want to do on the offensive line of the ball.

“The staff has really done a good job of providing input and information. It’s not just one guy, it’s the staff. It’s everybody bringing everyone’s ideas together deciding ‘this is going to be the game plan and this is what will help us succeed and be the most successful in the game.’ We put that together and practice that. Come gameday, as a playcaller, you look for those things that are going to help us create the momentum we need to go down there and score touchdowns. The bottom line on offense, that’s the goal. You score touchdowns. You’re always trying to go out there and score. You’re always trying to put points on the board.

“Field goals are nice, and we’ve got a hell of a kicker. He’s a great player and we’ve got to do a great job for him. We’ve got to protect and we’ve got to do all those things because he can put points on the board. From an offensive standpoint the mindset of everybody on that field and in that staff room is to score points. You want to score touchdowns. How do we do that? That’s the goal every single day. That’s what we’re trying to do every single practice. We’ve got to do more of that. We’ve got to do it earlier. That’s a great challenge for us this week. We go face a really good football team that is undefeated. Got a hell of a coaching staff. We have to do a great job from our staff to put our guys in that position to get touchdowns and go make plays and start fast and be consistent through four quarters and find a way to win.”

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