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Georgia Football

Kirby Smart Reacts to Jordan Davis' Big Day, and Getting Ready for Georgia Tech

November 20, 2021
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ATHENS - Kirby Smart talks about the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs taking out Charleston Southern Saturday on Senior Day in Athens. 

Opening Statement...
"I’ll start with the seniors, today was the day to honor them. This was one of the coolest atmosphere’s I’ve been a part of as far as honoring the seniors. I’d also like to mention the Military Appreciation Day and the halftime performance by the Redcoat band, and all the in-game recognition as well for all the armed forces and all the vets. It’s a tremendous honor what they do for us and our country. I can’t say enough. We wouldn’t have a chance to have a Senior Day if it wasn’t for the military and the sacrifices they make."

On Jordan Davis and his relationship with the Redcoat band...
“I think it’s a special honor. He’s got a lot of friend outside of football. Jordan is a worldy person and he’s got a lot of friends in the Redcoat Band. He had brought up about having the opportunity to go over and honor them for what they’ve done for our team, the program and the university. They came up with a plan to do that and asked me if it was good. I thought it was a great idea for the seniors to pay their respects to the Redcoat seniors because they also have people who won’t be back at Sanford Stadium. I thought it was a tremendous honor and what better way than to have No. 99 up there conducting the band."

On giving Jordan Davis the play to score the touchdown...
“It was to score. We’d been in that package the whole time and (Todd) Monkey came to me and said he’d been begging to get the ball. He and Jalen (Carter) put a lot of work in because they have to go down there, work on those plays then we make them make up the plays they missed with the defense. It’s a commitment for them to go down and work on offense. Jalen told us he wanted to catch a pass, so we flexed him out and let Jordan get the ball. We worked on ball security with him this week.

"To be honest, I didn’t think we’d get a chance. It was almost fate that he got the opportunity because we weren’t going to do it in the middle of the field. The opportunity arose, I thought it was a great idea and he handled it well.”

On desire to get better every day and dealing with circumstances of today and what wanted to see...
“Just honor the seniors. We had a really short message and talked about our book and what we’re writing and what the next chapter would hold and I told them I wanted them to name the next chapter because I didn’t want it to be a boring or monotonous chapter and they said sent off and that was the name of the chapter to send these guys off right, at least in Sanford Stadium and I thought they handled that well. I thought they played to a standard and they gave a lot of guys an opportunity to play. If we let the team hang around and play sloppy, we don’t get to play a lot of players that deserve the right to play. There were probably 10 or 15 walk-ons that had never played a snap and some of them have probably taken somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 reps on our practice field. They got to play a snap because of the effort of guys that played to our standard."

How can it help the walk-ons who got to play the rest of the year?
“Well, it can give the walk-ons a great experience of positive momentum. When there’s good morale on your team with guys that played they certainly give better effort in practice. I know the picture we’ll get in practice will be better. Then some of the younger players got a chance to play a lot of snaps. A lot of times you find out where you are because a lot of times you hear how good they are and maybe when they go out and play against Charleston Southern and they don’t do as well as they think they should that maybe they should go back and get to work and get to work in the weight room, get to work in the class room, get to work in nutrition, maybe take their reps a little more serious. I think we’ve got some guys that maybe learned that today.”

On Davis touchdown and no guarantee, you’ll get that situation in a game. Any question you’d do it when guy goes out at 2? How was it executed?
“Monken said on the headphones if we got—I don’t remember what the play before was—but we thought we might score there. We didn’t score and we said if we got inside the 2 we would do it and as fate would have it I think it was on the 3. He didn’t hesitate and he did it, but it was probably a little far out for the first one and thought he almost scored there. But Coach Monken decided to call it again. I figured they knew what was coming but I don’t know if it mattered. He was going to get his. He was going to get that ball across the goal line any way he could.”

Nolan Smith and Chris Smith...
“Nolan’s elbow from last week, he was a no-contact guy, but he ran around at practice, gave good effort and probably could’ve gone if he had to have gone. But it was bothering him some. I think he’ll be fine for next week.

“And Chris had a weird deal on Wednesday or Thursday, he had a bone bruise on his knee. His knee kind of buckled, really a non-contact injury, just knee buckled, and he was not cleared, not ready to go. But we think he will be fine.”

Dom Blaylock and George Pickens...
“Not sure on George. He’s still not completely cleared yet. He’s got to his percentages on his knee, on his testing. He’s got jumps, he’s got cybex, he’s got about 15, 16 tests he does, and when he hits a certain percentage we think he’ll be able to get cleared. But we don’t know when that’s going to be. It’s a matter of the strength in there, and making sure he’s safe.

“And Dom, Dom had the flu this week, we thought we’d get him back, and we got him back on Thursday maybe, he’s very smart, he’s very intelligent, he was able to jump right into the gameplan. And he was coming back as we kind of lost Kearis at the back end of the week, Kearis was battling the flu a little bit. So those two guys kind of shared that spot. We just want to give Dom some confidence, confidence to go out and play, catch the ball, get tackled and hit people, and do some of those things. Hopefully he can spin this into some momentum.”

Any walk-ons you want to call out who you saw great things?
“Well great things to me were getting on the field. I really believe that. A young man who works really hard for us, we call him Sarge, Haggerty, he’s been here a long time, he’s a tight end and works really hard, he got to go out and play. Matt Brown, who is one of our most decorated great players, he went out and did an internship this summer, Matt Brown is one of the best walk-ons I’ve ever been around in terms of he never complains, all he does is complete and give great effort. Blake Watson is a guy who’s a tackle, I can’t tell you how many snaps he’s taken on that scout team and he got to go out there and play, just did a tremendous job. Jalen Kennerly, a nickel, Tyler Milachis, there were a lot of guys that got out there to play, and I was proud of them.”

Getting off to a strong start and any concern after the first possession...
"No. I wasn't concerned. That's part of football, right? You have the ups and downs and you respond to it. Our guys have really matured. They understand that there's four quarters to a game and they're not going to have any game decided on the first opening drive. Would certainly like to start better and start faster but a ball got tipped and guy made a good play."

What is it about this senior class that makes fans want to celebrate them like this...
"I just think they've been through so much. They had a COVID experience and a lot of them chose to come back because of that. So there were guys who didn't get their senior day that came back to get it. I think what they've done in terms of leadership and affecting other players on our team, their overall record over four years, some of them five years. Everybody is in kind of a different spot out of that group. I'd venture to say that there's a lot of guys who might be out there next year. But you know what? They'll be really good leaders by then and I hope we get some of them back and they can help impact our season next year."

How valuable it is to get some rest for the starters this late in the season...
"I think it's important but I think these guys are built to play the game of football. So what one quarter, two quarters does for them, I really don't know. I think the time to get the rest is during the week of practice. We try to have high-intensity, lower volume and really get after it when we get after it. We did some good-on-good periods this past week to really keep that competitive level but, you know, I mean, it's hard at the end of the day to get something out of that game once you get that lead. You're trying to gain confidence in your offense, defense, and special teams and get some confidence in your backups. But the starters, there's not a lot they can do once we extend the lead."

On if he sees a common thread between championship teams he’s been a part of...
“It’s hard to do comparisons. It’s really hard because everyone’s so different. If there was one DNA trait of all those teams it;s usually leadership and composure. Yeah, I feel like this team has that, but I’ll be honest with you, the last two or three teams we’ve had I felt like had really good composure and really good leadership. I don’t know what makes this team set itself apart from any championship team I’ve had or what makes it similar. I take each one in its own. Every team has its own personality and you start fresh every year. What I love about this team is that, since the start, they have responded to every challenge. There’s never been, ‘Man, I don’t know if we really want to practice today coach.’ They’ve demanded that players be where they are supposed to be, workout when they are supposed to workout, and practice the way that they’re supposed to practice. I thought this week was great because we got to spend a little intentional time with the leaders and really say, ‘Hey, we’re getting ready to go into this tough circuit. Let’s get ready. Thank you for what you’ve done so far in terms of leading, but now is when it matters the most.’”

Hard to quantify but what has Jordan Davis meant to this program...
“You said it, it’s hard to quantify. It’s impactful. He has this personality that people embrace. If you don't know him, you’ve missed out. I wouldn’t say that he’s the best kept secret now, but he probably was for three years. He’s just funny, has a great sense of humor, great work ethic, great leadership. He cares. He stands up and tells the team how much he cares about them and how he’ll do anything for them. I’m really proud by the way he’s handled this season because a lot of guys, when they come back, they don’t necessarily handle things the right way and he’s done that.”

On how pleased he was by the senior celebration...
“It was great. I thought the fans did an awesome job being here. It’s hard when you go down that row, shaking those hands and taking those pictures. First of all, there were so many of them. It’s tough. Imagine that being a Tech game at home, which it probably will be next year. It’s a lot harder depending on who you’re playing to be in that mental position. It was just a much better fit this year with this game.”

On playing as a massive favorite every week...
"It's a lot of credit to those guys. If I said the same message every week, over and over, it would fall on deaf ears. They would say well, 'I've said this game was going to be tough, well that game was going to be tough.' They've responded really well. Outside of this week, Monday and Tuesday, we've probably had some of our best practices on Monday and Tuesday. My concern is it towards the end of the year and we're going to lose that edge on Monday and Tuesday or is it because we're playing Charleston Southern. I told them on Wedensday, we can't practice like this and continue to get better. When you get to the end of the year, it's the end of the year you get remembered for. March Madness, which team is playing at its best in March. When are you at your hottest? We're trying to get better. We wanted to have rhythm today. It was important that we went out and didn't just play it close to vest. We went out there and went after it and played an aggressive game plan.

"These guys have been excellent responding to adversity. We've been on some tough road games and had some tough games here and there. I'm proud of the way they handled everything but there's still a road ahead."

On playing Georgia Tech this coming week and that providing more energy in practice...

"I think our leaders will do that, I really do. I think they'll respond. They talked after the game and wanted everybody locked in. It takes a lot of pressure off me when they're saying it. When they speak, people listen. I think they'll handle that right. We got a lot of kids from the metro Atlanta area, they got an opportunity to go play in front of their home and their families, all those folks. It's one of those hotbeds of recruiting for us so I know they'll be fired up for the opportunity."

 

 

 

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