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Georgia Bulldogs' Kirby Smart: “We're as Banged Up As We’ve Been Since I’ve Been Here.”

October 5, 2021
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ATHENS - Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday that the Bulldogs are trying to recover from a slew of injuries. 
 
On preparation for Auburn and limitations due to rainy weather…
“Yeah, messy outside, we actually got to go outside a little bit so that was good, but it was, it was wet, but it wasn't unbearable. So we got to go outside and a little bit, and we've been inside, but the problem with inside is the turf wears on your legs a little harder so you don't like being on turf every day. You want to be able to go in and out or switches in and switches out but we've kind of had to be in more, because we only have the one grass field so that's been tough but the preparations been great. I thought the guys had good energy today. Good practice. We're still banged up and beat up, probably as we've been, I don't know I feel like as much as since I've been here, I don't remember having this many guys injured at once since I've been here, but the guys worked hard and they're buying into the plan and executing it.”
 
On return of injured wide receivers…
“We have a chance on all three (Dominick Blaylock, Arian Smith, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint). They were both out there running the day hitting 18, 19 miles an hour so they weren't going full speed but they were moving around. Rosemy’s probably got the best chance, and then each one of thems got a chance to make it back but they're not taking a lot of reps, they're hitting walkthrough reps, staying in the mental part of the game and then you're going to see if they can clear, you know by Thursday or Friday.”
 
On concern from road game noise…
“Always concerned when you go on the road in the SEC. You look across the league right now and I can give you four or five games with examples of first road trips for teams, and what's wrong is used to have 25 percent of your team that had not been on the road and now we're at probably 50 percent that hasn't been on a true road game and that kind of environment because of COVID last year so you're seeing the impact of that, whether it's, our game or Kentucky Florida, Alabama Florida, all the games, Ole Miss Alabama, they're all over the place. So we try to just teach and learn from it but inevitably, you may have mistakes, you may make mistakes and you got to overcome those and you can't let one mistake compound things and make it worse. So that's what we've talked about and we're trying to talk about the threats to us playing well and be aware of them. And then, conquer them in practice, so that you can go out in the game and play with confidence.”
 

On the return of Tykee Smith and Darnell Washington…
“Tykee and Darnell are both working really well, we're not limiting their reps anymore. They're probably not 100% in terms of speed, but they're getting there and being on the turf affects them too, it's a different kind of surface so with a foot injury, it bothers them more than probably anywhere than anybody. I think Tykee is much closer, he took more reps today. Again, it's not like just ability he has ability, it's him understanding the defense came back in, getting full speed reps is different when you start covering a guy running 19, 20 miles an hour at you, and that's the biggest thing is getting him back comfortable doing that. Darnell was really more effective last week than I thought he would be and he's been able to take his reps this week so he’s moving in the right direction. Biggest thing with Darnell is getting him in playing shape.”
 
On key to development of the defensive line…
“The key is work, and growth I mean Devonte Wyatt was not the player that he is now when he got here, I can assure you, Jordan (Davis) wasn’t either. Travon (Walker) has worked a long time really hard, you go back to his freshman year, he made some like splash plays but he didn't play first and second down much he played a lot of third down. And he's grown as a player to be much better against the run and being able to play first and second down. They've grown, but that growth has nothing to do with what they were rated coming in, they've all improved. I think Tray (Scott) does an incredible job of development. That’s part of football is finding the right person to recruit and then being able to get them, and then being able to develop them, and that's, that's a key ingredient that Tray has done.”
 
On JT Daniels’ injury…
“I don’t know about finessing it. My first question with Ron (Courson) is he going to aggravate it and hurt worse, right by not doing anything, and he said basically it’s a muscle injury. So anything that bothers it you don’t want to do, but anything that doesn’t bother it, you want to continue to do he’s able today to go out and do some soft toss, it didn’t bother it and that’s the same protocol he did with that. It was not a complete shutdown, there’s exercises he can do in our training room that are bands, and throwing motions, and things that don’t hurt him. That don’t bother him. As long as it doesn’t bother him then we feel like we’re getting improvement, gradual improvement. And that’s the key because the last thing I want to do is push the envelope, reinjure, go back, then the constant cycle of that. So we’re not trying to finesse it to the point that ‘hey we throw him out there,’ we’re trying to get him to do what he can without getting injured and I’m not the expert of that, I can assure you. I do listen to what Ron says and he also consults with other people.”

 
On memories from quadruple overtime at Auburn in 1996…
“Yeah, it was a tremendous game, a tremendous atmosphere what I remember. I mean that was a big-time comeback of epic proportions. It was a crazy finish to regulation. I remember that then just remember, didn’t think you were ever going to stop going out there, you didn’t think anybody was ever gonna stop anybody. Then we finally had a chance and end up stopping Dameyune Craig on like a sweep so it was a wild game. I don’t remember specifics of it, it was so long ago. Yeah about 330 pounds doing a cartwheel down the field, that’s when you knew he was going to play in the NFL a long time, talented dude. Those games are always, I felt like the Georgia Auburn games are always like that, you’re in you’re out.”
 
On defensive challenge in facing a mobile quarterback…
“The defensive challenge of facing a mobile quarterback is how long you have to cover and how creative you have to be. There’s plays that are eight seconds long. You know our guys on average play up, I don’t know, three, four second plays a long time. I mean, eight-second plays a long time and he can extend plays, he can win with his feet. No BoBo (Mike Bobo) is very creative with quarterbacks that can run so some quarterbacks that run can’t throw, so he can throw and run. So it adds an extra element that sometimes the design runs are easier to defend then one when you think it’s a pass because it is a pass and he takes off. So it’s tremendously hard, I don’t think people understand how good of an athlete this guy is. It’s been reported to me that he’s hit 22 miles per hour on GPS, we don’t have but maybe two receivers on our team to get 20 miles per hour. So, he is a really good athlete. 
 
On Jack Podlesny’s confidence…
“Well he’s a hard worker, he has a routine he goes about, and he’s just a tremendous kid and individual, and success story. I think the psychological disposition of kickers is always you know maybe different than normal, the normal position players, and he goes through, you know, it's like a hitter you get slumps and you hit and lows and you try to always air on the middle, never been too high, never been too low. I think he's brought himself back he's kicked really well. We've seen kick more in practice and be doing games, he's been really consistent, just very thankful that you know, he chose, he chose to come here as a walk-on and earn a scholarship because we'd be in a tough way without him.”
 
On Stetson Bennett’s back injury…
“He’s looked good. He’s lower back still bothers him he has to get treatment on it but it's not to the point of affecting his performance right now, we have to be careful with him. And he's done a good job getting treatment on and stay on top. He's also got a big knee laceration from last week but hadn't affected performance or anything but he's done a good job. Stetson’s a savvy vet, he understands the defenses, he’s very intelligent, and a lot of the football he’s had to learn is through other quarterbacks by sitting back and watching them. I think he enjoys getting an opportunity to go out there and do the things he's done.”

 
On Adam Anderson…
“Size, speed, athleticism, great get off, I mean elite get off. He is just long and fast. You start looking at it and the comparison for me has always been Leonard Floyd with him. I saw Leonard for so long and recruited Leonard back when I was at Alabama. Adam has a lot of those traits. His biggest issue has probably been bulk and weight and gaining weight. He’s gained a lot of muscle mass. I am so proud of Adam’s maturity - he has just matured so much. He’s become a leader in the classroom over at Rankin and he was a guy who didn’t love school initially and he has bought into the program and all the things that go into it. He is a very special person to this program.” 
 
On importance of Georgia crowd noise at road games…
“It is always important. I doubt that they are going to be able to take over the stadium, I can assure you of that. The home crowd at most road games, there’s always a pocket of them, there’s a little small pocket where they put all of the visitor crowd. They stick all of the visitors, I think of it in the Georgia stadium, you know right where they are. You know if you’ve got noise coming from there its probably not a good sign. I don’t know how much they can impact the game, but they can definitely impact our players and the momentum. You know, you want to feel like you’ve got support when you go into a place like that. A lot of kids play well on the road because they feel like its them against the world and sometimes that’s the best mentality to have when you go on road games, but each player is different psychologically.”
 
On preparation for loud environments with false noise…
“Yeah, we use it every week. We use it for home games because our defense has to play in incredible noise and we can’t communicate so we do it in fall camp. It’s fun for the kids. Sometimes they don’t want to hear me and (Coach Todd) Monken and us yelling at them so they enjoy the crowd noise because it silences us.”

 
On Payne Walker…
“Well, we would be in trouble without him and (William) Mote. They’ve done a tremendous job. Nobody knows their name until they screw up. I mean every good snap, I have never heard one of you guys say, ‘Man, Payne Walker did a hell of a job snapping this game’, but yall are going to be the first to bring him up if he doesn't snap it good. So he is like a thankless job, he doesnt get an opportunity to be thanked for what he does because it's just expected - it's just understood. I don't take that for granted, the work he and Mote put in. They are great leaders in our organization, they do a tremendous job for us.”

 

On becoming elite in causing turnovers…
“I’ve been trying to figure it out for twenty-five years, bud. I am still looking. If I can figure out that solution, I can bottle it and we will both make a lot of money. I am not going to give you coach speak, I don't know how to do it. But I can promise you this, we are trying like hell everyday.”

On coaching Stetson Bennett…
“I don't look at coaching him any different from anybody on the team, I really don’t. I mean, Stetson’s got thick skin. He’s a tough kid. He grew up in Pierce County, he’s been coached hard, he’s been reprimanded, he stands up for what he believes in, he argues his point. If he thinks he was right, he usually has a good reason for it. I appreciate the way he approaches things. All the quarterbacks, I mean, it's not a sensitive subject if I think they are wrong then we tell them. We are trying to make them better and we have done that since he’s been here. He’s got good moxy and good confidence, good composure. You don't see him real rattled very often. He handles success and ups and downs really well so I think he has got good wiring for a quarterback.”

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