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Georgia Football

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart: "I'm Never Satisfied"

October 16, 2021
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ATHENS - Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart talks about the Dawgs’ big 30-13 win over No. 11 Kentucky. 

Opening Statement...
I’m proud of our guys today. That was a really physical football team we played. Every single  time we play them, it’s tough. They play tough hard-nosed football. They do a tremendous job, all three phases. They don’t make many mistakes. When you have a team like that, you have to beat them methodically. It’s tough. They’ve got a really good football team. Proud of our guys. I thought out DNA showed through. Our DNA continues to repeatedly show up. Composure, connection, resiliency, and toughness. Those qualities come through in this team. At halftime, nobody was panicked, nobody was nervous. We said, he’s it’s a physical football game. We’re going to stay aggressive and keep coming at them. Give them a lot of credit. They’ve got a good football team, but I’m proud of our guys and the way so many players have risen up and rose to the occasion.”

On Todd Monken rides the run or pass depending on what is working?
“I think he’s done an incredible job when you think about the guys he’s had in. He’s taken tonight end and made them multiple. He’s taken backs. He’s taken wide out that weren’t necessarily early season starters and done a really good job. When you think about it, he’s called the game with players not plays. When you dial up 19 and 84 and 4 and 3 and 5, he does a good job of keeping defenses off balance.”

On the kick blocks and decision not to take the penalty that led to blocked field goal...
“Yeah, we practice blocking field goals. We practice that all the time. We’ve been really close this year, we just haven’t gotten any. I guess you’re talking about the penalty that we could have accepted and backed them up further. At that point and time, they’re doing us a favor by kicking a field goal when we have the lead. All we were going to do is give them two more shots possibly at the end zone or one more shot at the end zone and a field goal. A field goal is doing us a favor so I don’t see it as an advantage to back them up to give them another shot at the end zone. I always think we have an opportunity to block a field goal because we’ve got people that care about points. We say that field goal block is part of red zone defense. You want to be a good at red zone defense? Then block field goals. There’s nothing worse or more demoralizing than to get a field goal blocked.”

On the 22 play TD drive by Kentucky...
“I was talking to Dan during the drive, we’re eating clock, we’re fine, be patient. It wasn’t like it was strategy. They were doing a good job. They were keeping us off balance, they were nickeling and dime-ing us. It’s different when you have four downs. I don’t know how many times they used four downs, but you have to play third down differently because in reality its second down and fourth down becomes third down. We didn’t get them to fourth down maybe once, and it was real short, but I love the way our guys played. They take so much pride. They started a saying on the defense, not in our end zone. They fought tooth ad nail, but give Kentucky credit. They got in there twice.”

On Stoops calling timeout...
“I had a problem with our players. A player runs on the field undisciplined; we blocked in the back on the return there. We could have returned that kick for two points and that would have been great for the defense if we had scored, because we take pride in it. My problem was our reaction to the moment and not keeping a good level head on our shoulders. Mark’s got a job to do, he’s trying to compete and score. Why not? That’s what he came here to do, to win the game and score points. I respect that.”

On offense opening up in the second half...
“It wasn’t like we said ooh, we’ve got to throw the ball. We didn’t say that. We had some good runs in the first half; we had some negative lost yardage that put us behind the chain. But I say it all the time – be aggressive. Take what they give you and if they continue to lower the safeties and put them in the box … they were intent on not letting us run the ball. I think we could run the ball, but if it’s easier to throw it, and it keeps them off balance … we did a good job in the passing game, although we didn’t do as good in the passing game early as maybe we should have.”

On the defensive stand at end of third quarter and end of game...
“It’s just pride. It’s pride in performance and the standard of excellence that we want. It doesn’t matter if it’s offense or defense or special teams. If you go out there you compete at your highest level to be the best in the country. And that doesn’t change. That doesn’t change regardless of the scoreboard, the situation, the time in the game, it doesn’t matter. When you play like that it kind of makes it where your focus is on getting better, not on stats and where you land. Our kids, offense, defense and special teams, played really hard. I did not think that we had the kind of special teams we needed to affect games.”

On Kendall Milton’s fumble recovery, and what will you do this bye week...
“Yeah the play by Kendall might have been the play of the game, because it was a momentum swing, it was like one of those that hey if we don’t get that ball, everyone (is like), ‘Oh we turned it over, demoralized.’ And to jump on it, I thought it was an incompletion, I thought why is everyone chasing after it? But we talk about it all the time, if you don’t know, if they don’t know they’re gonna let you play, so get on it, jump on it. And he did a great job of that. He was really good today, did a good job, he always does.

“In terms of the next week, I don’t know, we’re gonna get back to work on Monday, we’ve got a lot of things we think we can improve on. We’ll put this game to bed tomorrow, and we’ll work on opponents for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all of our upcoming opponents. And we’re gonna visit with our team and say, Hey you gotta make a choice: Do you want to flat-line, stay where you are, or do you want to continue to ascend and get better. Because there are a lot of things we need to do to get better. And we also need to get healthy.”

Can a defensive player win the Heisman, and is there one you could promote?
“You know I don’t know the answer to that. I would probably have said before the season that’s impossible. Because statistics lead you to believe that it’s always going to be an offensive player, in terms of number they put up. I thought it was amazing last year that a receiver won it. I never thought it would happen again, because it’s a quarterback’s world, and that’s the world we live in and play in. But I certainly think when you look at the draft people look at it different. What is the Heisman, the best college football player, the most dominant, the most valuable. You can go through all these things in terms of that, and we don’t really care. We let you guys decide that, and I respect it. But it’s not something we look for. But I’ll be honest with you, the guys on our team are so bought into their roles, and as long as they do that we’ll keep getting better. My biggest fear is the guys looking into that and not the total team success.”

On explosive plays opening things up on offense...
"Well it probably allows you to go 2 of 7 on third down and still win the game. You know you see that stat and it's spooky. But when you hear what you just said about the explosives, that's big. We want to be an explosive football team, we feel like at full strength with our wideouts we can be really explosive. We thought coming into the year we felt that was one of the strengths of our team.  It's been an injured portion of our team. We have quarterbacks to get them the ball, we have an offensive line that can protect. We have good backs. We just have to keep building and getting better and playing cleaner football. I felt today was one of the least clean offensive football games in terms of not giving up negative plays and those kind of things. Just hurting drives. But we accompanied that with explosive plays.”

On the defense being mad about the two touchdowns...
"I don't know that they'll be mad. They'll take the input the coaches give them. We'll watch the tape and say why did they score. And if they beat us on the calls and they did we did better in executing, we tip our hat to them. If we didn't play real well they'll clean it up. I know this they played hard and run to the ball and that is a really good football team. So I don't know how they'll react but we'll make sure they understand the truth. The truth is, sometimes teams beat you and sometimes you give it to them. I don't know exactly, I got to watch it and see because some of those drives were pandemonium.”

On what has stood out about this defense...
“The buy in, there’s no selfishness. Probably another thing that has stood out is the way they practice. My favorite part of the day is when you go into a meeting and all the kids say, ‘Give me a nugget. Give me a nugget coach. Give me a nugget.’ They want Dan (Lanning) and Schumann and Muschamp and Addae and Tray Scott to give them a nugget. A nugget is a note that might help you in the game. ‘They’ve booted to their left ten more times than they’ve booted to their right.’ I’m gonna take that and use that some type of way to make me better. ‘When this player lines up here, this is the play that’s coming.’ That’s a nugget. They embrace those things. There’s a lot of College Football teams that go into a meeting and it’s like Charlie Brown. ‘Wah wah woh wah wah woh wah.’ We don’t do that. We entertain. We play music. We challenge. We make guys stand up. There’s teaching. Now, please don’t mistake it for not having good players. We’ve got good players. But those things combined help, and I appreciate our staff, offense, defense, special teams, for the way they coach our players and teach our players.”

On the development of tight end room...
“Coach Hartley’s done a great job. First it starts with recruiting. Go get great players, and then get them to buy in to the team and buy in to blocking and buy in to being selfless, and then, buy in to making plays when you get an opportunity. I think Coach Hartley, Coach Monken, the whole offensive staff puts the plan together off of our play action. Our tight ends are weapons. They’re size guys, they make plays down the field. And let’s give Stetson some credit. He threw a ball in down there on Fitz(Patrick) that was a great play. And then Brock’s play in the end zone, and then he hit Darnell which, if he’d thrown it a little bit higher, he probably would have caught it and ran with it. We’ve got a good, talented tight end room, and as long as they buy in to the team first concept, then we’ve got a chance to be successful. Brock missed a couple of blocks today. He missed a big, key block there on a play that hurt us, probably could have put the game out if we score there. Instead we kick a field goal.”

On if he was satisfied by the way the team finished the first half and came out in the second, all in response to Kentucky’s score...
“I’m never satisfied. I hate to say it, I hate that word, but I’m not satisfied. I’m pleased with the effort. We’re going to have adversity guys. You’re not going to play in the SEC without adversity. It’s about how you respond to it, and I didn’t think our guys blinked. Nobody was panicked. Every game is not going to come out and jump all over people. They’ve got good players, they’ve got good plans. I thought these guys came out and played really hard against us. It was a hard fought game. We feel like if we can keep choppin wood, eventually, we can make more plays than the other team. I just don’t know how long that’s going to take. But we believe that no matter how long it takes, we’ll make those plays.”

On what he saw that made him confident in the no panic approach...
“The players were talking to each other. They were talking about composure, they were talking about settling down. There was nobody really rattled. They had the first possession of the game, and we ended on taking a knee so we were a couple of possessions short of where we wanted to be. We knew what we could do to improve. They had one really good drive on offense. There was no panic there. Make adjustments and go play.”

Impact of stopping the run and making Kentucky one-dimensional...
"Yeah, that was big. Any time you can control the line of scrimmage, it's huge. I still don't know run stats because, again, we talk about this every week, they throw the sacks in there. So in my mind, they ran the ball better than most people do against us. I'm not looking at 27 for 51. I'm looking at 27 for whatever the rush was. We did not give up explosives. We tackled well. I thought, on these guys on the perimeter, when they spit that ball out to one (Wan'Dale Robinson) you better get two guys there. Because a one-on-one tackle with one is tough. We controlled him. Fifty percent of his touches so far this year were explosive plays. That's crazy. So that was big for us to limit that."

Sorting out the Stetson Bennett vs. JT Daniels situation when both are healthy...
"We evaluate that position like we do every single position. We go to practice, we do third down period, we do two-minute, we ask questions in meetings, we do everything just like a normal position. We evaluate that position just like we do corner, left tackle, everything. Now it is different in the management of it. I get it in terms of reps and things, but we evaluate the same way. I'm proud of the way Stetson played and I'm hopeful that JT gets healthy as soon as possible.”

Are you trusting Stetson Bennett more now than when he started...
"We never didn't trust Stetson. I don't see it that way. I don't see it as, oh, they opened up the offense for Stetson. I can go back, case in point, to games where he threw the ball quite a bit. There's been games where we didn't throw it with him but it wasn't a lack of trust. I think of Kentucky last year. I felt like we ran the ball every play last year against Kentucky but it was what we could do to win the game. It's what we thought gave us the most success. I remember the opening drive against them last year, I think we ran the ball every play down the field. It wasn't a lack of trust. We trust Stetson. I thought Stetson threw the ball in the Alabama game. He threw the ball in some other games so it's not like a maturation process. It's more about what the defense is giving us and who's healthy on offense.”

On Jordan Davis' impact on Georgia's defense...
"Godzilla-like. He's impactful. He's the immovable object. When he buys into staying healthy and keeping his weight down, he's a really good player. He has bought into that. He understands it's important and the young man is under a tremendous microscope in terms of media, for a d-lineman. Maybe not for a quarterback, but for a d-lineman, he's under a microscope. He does everything he can to the best of his ability. He works hard for us and he's been impactful in stopping the run and allowing us to play alternative coverages that you can't do sometimes when people can run the ball on you. He's definitely a bright spot and, more importantly, he's very entertaining in meetings and he's a great personality. People who don't know him should get to know him because he's just fun and fun to be around. Embrace him.”

Stetson's improvement at quarterback...
"Experience, a better defense. Fe’s grown up some. He threw the ball away today on a third down, that was smart. I don't know, y'all tell me because I thought the guy played pretty good last year. He got beat by the National Champion with him at quarterback and we didn't play real good on defense. Then he was playing pretty good against the team that won the SEC East and then he took a shot and hurt his shoulder. I don't know that this is all a new premonition that he's just all of a sudden gotten better. I think he's a very effective quarterback, very bright, he can run with his legs. He understands what Monken is trying to do."

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*DawgPost.com has teamed up with Fanatics to connect our readers with the best selection of officially licensed UGA fan gear out there.  If you purchase through our  links, we will earn a commission that will support the work we do on this site.

 

 
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