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Georgia Football

UGA Football Kirby Smart Pumps the Brakes on Carson Beck Doubters

September 4, 2023
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ATHENSUGA Football coach Kirby Smart said Monday that he wanted the Georgia offensive line to play batter, and that the coaching staff “has to do a better job” with in-game adjustments.  

Opening statement …

“Onto Ball State for us. I think they've got a really good football team. I don't know coach Mike Neu well, but going to get to meet him. Got a lot of respect for their conference. We played Kent State out of this conference last year, and the MAC has done an incredible job of creating a good football environment and some really good football teams. So we have to put last game to bed this morning, which we don't usually get to do on Monday. With no school we were able to jump ahead. This afternoon we'll jump straight into Ball State and get these guys going and get prepared for them.”

On the offensive line’s performance…

“Probably less on them and more on us. You know, the team did a good job -- TN Martin did a good job changing some things up. We had some plans to handle some things a different way and they did a couple things to hurt us. Probably hurt our offensive line more than our offensive line didn't play well. We probably got to do a better job helping them out, in-game adjustments and things like that. I did think they did play better in the second half. They pass protected well throughout the game, really the first half and the second half. We didn't run the ball particularly well in the first half and that probably led to some of the issues we had.”

On the improvements needed from week one…
“There are so many things we can get better at, and every coach in the country is saying that you get better -- from game one to game two is the biggest jump you make. Is if that's the case, then there is a lot of areas to improve in. Certainly turnovers on defense, pursuit angles. We got cut back on several times. Offensively ability to be explosive in the run game. Convert on third downs. There is a lot of things. Special teams, I didn't think -- we didn't dominate the game in any way on special teams like we're capable of. I can't pinpoint one area.”
 
On Ball State running back Marquez Cooper…
“Really physical, downhill, power runner, good back. Our guys were talking about him just this morning of how powerful he was and how ironic it is you're playing against him again at a different school in the same conference. We have a lot of respect for him.”
 
On the defense’s rhythm…
“I think rhythm is a weird thing on defense. I don't know that -- rhythm to me is three and out, three and out, three and out, three and out. That's not realistic. Like that's not going to happen in today's day and age. People have ability to get first down, they're so explosive. There are so many different ways to run offense. You can go really fast. You can play on the perimeter. You can trick people. You can go right at people. There are just lots of options. Offenses are so much more elaborate now that than have ever been, so defining rhythm for a defense is not necessarily easy. I mean, rhythm to me is havoc related. Like when we would be in our best rhythm was when we would be creating the most havoc. Tackles for a loss, PBUs, interceptions, sacks. We didn't hit our havoc goal the other day. We played decent on defense, but you can't hit your havoc goal if they get the ball out in 2.1 seconds. It's hard to do that. You got to bat balls. You got to force turnovers, and we didn't do those.”
 
On E.J. Lightsey…
“Yeah, he's dealing with an injury. Golly, my mind just went blank. I can't remember what EJ's dealing with exactly, but he's had some shoulder pain, some back pain from a high school injury, and he's been fighting that. We're hopeful to get him back.”
 
On differences between walk-ons and scholarship players…
“I hold walk-ons in the highest regard, and as we recruit them we explain to them that they would not be treated any differently. They will be treated just the same and afforded the same opportunities. I think if you asked the walk-ons that question, and we had a kid stand up in one of our connection meetings and I thought he did a tremendous job, explain to everybody what's it's like being on a walk-on. He might tell you that's different. You don't get the first shot. You have to really earn it. Truly earn it. You have to go out there and work and be part of the scout team and just outwork people. We've had some guys do that. We showed Prather Hudson examples all the time. First year I was here he was busting long runs repeatedly on our defense and he earned his way to a scholarship, and really good player. We have a lot of opportunities for that. So when it comes to team meetings you sit by your class, not by your hierarchy in the locker room. I hold walk-ons in high regard. It's very personal to me that they get treated just like everyone else. I can't say that they'd all say that, but I certainly try to do that.”
 
On the run call late in the first half…
“Bad deal, man, bad deal. To be honest with you, just a missed cue, not knowing how close it was to the goal line, and probably be making a decision too fast. We spend a lot time on those moments like that and I take a lot of pride in those moments. Should never happen. Should never happen. But making a decision really fast sometimes you don't make the right decision. We had enough time. We actually got the ball snapped without losing any time on the clock, but the decision was thinking it was probably closer than it was and it cost us at least one play.”
 
On Jarvis Jones…
“Yeah, internal discipline. It's a personnel matter and I really can't comment further on it.”



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On Daijun Edwards and Ladd McConkey’s status…
“Daijun, we think he could have played in that game. He practiced. He warmed up. He did everything leading up to the game. He had this injury before. I can't remember if it was Vanderbilt or maybe Florida during the off week last year. Very similar injury. We feel good about him. I haven't seen him practice today so I don't know that. But I feel pretty about about Daijun. Felt like he could have gone last week.
Ladd, he's day-to-day. Thought he might be able to go last week and he wasn't. It was really a game-time decision. Didn't feel good on Friday, so we held him on Saturday. He's running today, but he's dealing with some back pain that's been lingering for him.”
 
On Carson Beck’s performance…
“I don't understand. I mean, I don't understand you guys sometimes. I thought Carson played -- I thought just like I did when I looked at it -- I came in there and talked to y'all Saturday night. I thought Carson played really well, composed. I'm trying to think of the throws that you were just awful our erratic and I didn't see that. The one third down he admittedly threw the ball a little bit behind Dom thinking Dom was sitting down and Dom broke in, which Dom was correct and he missed him on that throw. Outside of that there will be incompletions in games. There will be looks that maybe they fool you with, you didn't see in the scouting report. But his run check game, his carrying out his fakes, his decision in the pocket, him throwing the ball away, I thought the guy for a first start, played really well.”
 
On Mekhi Mews and if walk-ons have been awarded scholarships…
“I'm not big into the talking about the scholarships and doing that. We have multiple guys who have got them. Outside of the one time I think Notre Dame locker room we awarded Rod and learned a valuable lesson in that, that I don't think that's always worth the publicity that you get. I think sometimes you can do more damage than good with guys that may feel like they deserve one. We keep that internal, and if it gets out, it gets out. Dan and Mews have been tremendous. There is another 20 walk-ons that go out and practice so hard every day that you don't get to see because maybe they don't have quite the ability or not quite as far up the depth chart. So I really respect all these guys. It's a credit to Mews, who came in here and wanted an opportunity to compete, and he earned it. We saw him in high school and he was high on our preferred walk-on list and he earned it. He came out and really competed and did a great job. I think everybody on the team will tell you he's earned what he has gotten with the way he practices.”
 
On the quarterback’s freedom to make changes at the line…
“There are perimeters you give them. There are runs that have checks, runs that have checks from run to run. There are checks that have checks from run to pass. There are certain looks you're allowed check the pass. Every week we package those, but not every play has those. There are sometimes you're going to sit back, as you can do and we can do as coaches, second guess and say, he should have thrown that ball because it had an option to throw. Then there is the check to a throw, which completely is different than a run pass option. So it's complicated and elaborate, but he did what was coached to do and did exactly the things we wanted him to do. They got two outside, we're checking this. Okay, they got this, we're doing this. He followed those, and he's already done that. He did that all last year under Coach Monken. He did it in practice because he had to be ready to play. If they got this ready we can't do this play. We got to go over here and do this play. Not every play has that. Some plays are fast ball. Some plays are are speed break. Every play his its own identity. He's very bright and understands it, and we're lucky we can do some of the things we can do because he's like Stetson in that way that he's been in the system long enough to handle the volume.”
 
On C.J. Allen’s performance…
“Yeah, the praise I have for CJ Allen is his ability to handle information and play within our defensive scheme at the signal caller position. That position, you go comb the country you're not going to see a ton of freshman linebackers out there playing making the calls. That is impressive. As far as how he played, I think he had some jitters. I think he was nervous. A lot of our guys were. Anxiety there. You got to go out and play in your first college game. I can't imagine going straight from high school to being out there and playing, and he got afforded that opportunity and he played okay, but he's really bright.”
 
On Brian Kelly’s statement about Georgia last night…
“Says you're one week away fro humility. All it says is how are we going to practice today.”
 
On Earnest Greene III’s first start…
“Yeah, it's interesting, I was talking to him going out there. In my mind I see him like this. Man, he's been out there all spring, competed, played. He is in his second or third year and you forget that that was his first game in I guess two years from high school, and he has not had to play -- he didn't eve get to play -- you think about the guys that got to play last year in the games we had the lead. He never got that. Now, my expectation is that he plays to the level of a starter, and he flashes at time to be sudden, quick, do everything right, and then he had a couple plays where he didn't. I'm like, you know what? That's no different than CJ Allen, no different than Dillon Bell was last year. He's going to go through those WTF moments I call them. It's inevitable. He had a couple, but he also had a couple really, really good players. I'm excited about what he can do if he continues to grow and get better. He can't have those moments.”
 
On Kendall Milton…
“Kendall is dying to get out there. The guy has a great heart, great soul. He loves this program, he'll give anything for this program, and it kills him not to be out there. He has not been able to practice most of camp due to his injury. We're dealing a little bit now with, all right, how does he stay warm and able to do it. When he's used to playing, right, he plays in a rotation at running back, but he played on all the special teams. Now he's not doing that. When he's not in on offense, he sits over there, gets cold, got to stay warm, goes in at halftime, leg tightens up, and doesn't have what I call the camp stamina.
He didn't really go through camp. He worked out, ran, did what he had to do, but he could not get himself in playing shape just by camp. So we're really battling that now to get him back right. I think he said himself, if you asked him, I'm running 92%. That's what he quoted it as. I don't think his stamina is at 92%. I think when he is 100% conditioned he's at 92%, and we're trying to fight that to get him back.
It's a delicate line, right? Do you bring him back and try to play him and get him in shape, or sit on the shelf and you don't get carries. That action he got the other day was like scrimmage one and scrimmage two, because he didn't get to play in those.”
 
On settling the players’ jitters during a game…
“Yeah, I don't think you can say it's up to a coordinator to settle the players. You certainly can call it conservatively to try to figure out where we are, where are the guys are. You got two backs that have never played, never carried a ball. You got a quarterback that's never started. You got two starting receivers I know of out, one that's played a lot, and Meeks is out. So there is a lot of the new pieces of puzzle. I have high expectations for all these guys, but there is a little anxiety there and a little bit of let's figure out where we are. When you take the gloves off and say, all right, let Carson go play, then he goes and he plays well. Those guys did, too. Thing about CJ Smith and Rara and Dom for the plays they made, and it's different for Rara and Dom. I can't explain it, because they made plays in our league but they haven't made them here.”
 
On Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint’s status…
“Marcus is going to be available to play. The number one think we miss is leadership. The guy is incredible as a leader, and he stands up, admits when he made a mistake, and he is one of the toughest, most competitive -- like the practice today for him will be look the Super Bowl, and every day is like that for him. He sets an example in that room that I think embodies our receiver room. I haven't been around n receiver room that actually cares as much about blocking as these guys do, and they do that because their leader has that personality.”
 
On Smael Mondon, Jr.’s status…
“He's close. We felt like in some sub situations he would be able to play. I thought he -- I didn't chart it so I don't know, but I know the play you're talking about over on our sideline. That's the only one I remember. But he feels good, feels healthy. It's another one of those deals can he get in shape by running and playing without wearing his legs out and staying pressure. He looks good out there and we expect him to be able to play. He was cleared to go this week and it was one of those we were going to be safe as we could.”
 
On the outside linebacker group…
“Well, we didn't get to see a whole lot. In the run game I thought they did a good job. Chaz had several good closes, several good plays, setting edges. The things that hurt us in terms of quarterback run was not always on them. We got hurt on quarterback runs several times. It was couple times linebacker, one time the safety. It was different things. I don't think -- we didn't really get a chance to drop back pass and say, can you get home in 3.5 seconds. 50% of sacks happen after four seconds. I don't know if they had a pass that lasted over four seconds. So it's just the same song, different year of if the ball is going to get out quick, what are your answers and how can we grow those guys. We need growth in that room because there is this big level race. Like all the guys kind of in the same spot and no one has done that, and we need somebody to step up in there.”
 
On initial thoughts about Ball State…
“Very impressed on both sides of the ball. You're right, 7-3 they're up on Kentucky in the second. I watched the game and I am like, man, these guys are a really good team. We had watched them in the off-season because we wouldn't have but one game on them, and the young quarterback's playing really well. They do a good job mixing it up in terms of bringing the athletic quarterback in. They've had some tough injuries, but they have a really good football team.”

 


 
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