Bulldogs Hold Scrimmage At Sanford
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia football team scrimmaged in full pads for two hours at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. Afterward, Coach Kirby Smart spoke with the media about a variety of topics.
General thoughts on the scrimmage … “I thought we had a good scrimmage. I was pleased with effort and enthusiasm. That isn’t always the case in scrimmages as one side might over shine the other. I thought defensively we started out really well. The No. 2 defense went against the No. 1 offense and held them to field goals early, and the No. 1 defense kind of dominated the No. 2 offense early, but then when we got going on the No. 1-on-No. 1 we had good competition. Between the defense and offense, I thought the inconsistencies showed up some times in sustaining drives offensively and explosive plays on defense as we gave up some explosive plays. We don’t need to be doing that on defense. They executed hard, There was a good mix of run and pass, and it was physical, which was my goal – to have great effort and bring physical toughness and we did that. (Jake) Camarda did well in the punt game and Rod (Blankenship) made the field goals we asked him to make. We had competitive situations in the red area and the offense did well. I thought D’Wan (Mathis) did some good things with his feet. He was able to break contain and get out and move around. He got better today. He has some improving to do, but he got better today. Overall I was pleased with the effort of the guys.”
On the quarterbacks … “It is a competition. They (Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis) have split the snaps 50-50. Stetson got action with ones and little bit of twos. D’Wan got some with twos and some with ones, but mostly with threes. They have gotten the same number of reps but not with the same groups.”
More on Mathis ... “I have no expectation he’s going to come in here and conquer the verbiage and the words that we have by scrimmage one. So, you know Stetson Bennett has the advantage of having been in the offense before. Every quarterback we have has to get better. Every player we have has to get better. D’Wan has a lot of growth because he hasn’t been here, he hasn’t taken reps. I was very pleased with where he was today. I’m taking it that he is improved and he has a long way to go, but I am pleased with where he is right now. And we tried to simplify for it him today so he can go out there and play football and we could evaluate him at where he is now, not giving him the same menu that Jake (Fromm)’s got."
More on Fromm ... “It’s obvious he understands things. There’s probably times that you have to be careful that he doesn’t get bored. I know defensively he knows every call we make, he hears the call, he’s already got his call, he knows what the next step is from getting their call and our call half the time. But, that’s part of growth. That’s part of him kind of implementing his leadership to our offense to use the experience he has to say, ‘You know what, we’re not executing well. We’ve gone three-and-out against the two defense. That’s not who we are.’ And I think you see him inserting himself more as he’s gotten more and more comfortable with it. I think he’s done some good things with the ball and he’s got to make good decisions with the ball which he’s done thus far.”
On if there was a ‘wow moment’ in the scrimmage … “Not really. Matt Landers had some drops that we were frustrated with that, but then all of a sudden he has a couple really good plays, so again that is some of the inconsistencies that we need to get consistent about in order to get to where we need to go. We are looking for wide receivers to step up and he made a couple really good plays, but the average play you should make everyday, he didn’t. We need him to grow up for us to be a good offensive football team. We have to have vertical outside threats. Tyler (Simmons) and J.J. (Holloman) are playing well, but it is not going to get done just by them. The Matt Landers, the Trey Blount, the Kearis Jackson types have to step up, Demetris (Robertson). They have to step up to make us dangerous on offense.”
On importance of guys here taking advantage of spring camp prior to others joining in the fall… “That is very important, but the question is who are they? Some of the guys at the position that have started have to get better and grow, and learn new plays maybe like Coach (James) Coley is doing, but at the end of the day I know Charlie Woerner has played a lot of football here. I know D’Andre Swift has played a lot of football here. They are going to practice, they are going to play, they are going to get better, but they aren’t trying to prove something. Whereas the guys that are trying to prove something are the guys that have someone else coming in and he’s not proven. He has to take advantage of it, because come fall the reps will be marginal or are going to the new guys to find out what he can do. So you have plenty of opportunities if you are Matt Landers, Tommy Bush, Kearis Jackson, and all of those guys. It is the same way at DB, it’s just that we have no defensive backs coming in, but we are getting a ton of reps for guys that we want to find out where they are.” On the special teams … “I’m trying to find returns. Probably judgment, making decisions, catching the ball, securing the ball ... so, return game is probably the most vital. It was a strength last year and it was a strength mainly because we had experience. We’re working on it all. We’re working on coverage units, return units, we’re trying to improve kickoff coverage. We did them all today.”
On Azeez Ojulari … “I think he’s transitioned really smooth. I think the bowl practices for he and Divaad (Wilson) and some of those younger players has almost made them like an experienced vet because they got all that work and they were able to go play the whole game like a starter. That helped his confidence now. He’s playing better. Not where he needs to be, he’s got to get more physical, he’s got to go play on Andrew (Thomas) and Isaiah (Wilson). But, he’s playing a lot better because of what he did for the bowl game as opposed to just starting now.” On the running backs today … “Good. I mean, we didn’t have them go live until today so today was their first chance. Early on in the scrimmage there wasn’t a lot of places to go. It was tough sledding out there because the defense was playing really well. They were once again probably bigger weapons out of backfield in the air than just run game. We had some nice runs, but to be honest with you the most explosive plays out of the backs came by Brian Herrien catching the ball out of the backfield, the linebacker bust, boom 30 yards. (D’Andre) Swift catching the check down, making the guy miss. The things you guys have seen them do is not the overpowering run game that you might expect.”
On the upcoming G-Day Game … "I think the University of Georgia fans love this game. I certainly don't expect anything less. I'm not sitting here proclaiming that everybody has to come to the game. I think we've got a really good football team coming back. I think we've got an exciting team. I think that that is an opportunity to showcase the talent of 14 new freshmen that just got here that people want to come watch and see. It certainly has impact on our recruiting. We're going to have some of the best players in the country coming by to G-Day, because they want to see what the atmosphere is like in Athens, and I just think that's just the nature of the beast when you're at the University of Georgia that fans want to come to watch it. It's a free chance to watch a game."
On if the defensive line has ‘difference makers’ … "I think Tyler Clark's a difference maker when he wants to be, when he's playing really hard and playing quick. In a very unique way, Jordan Davis is a difference maker. He's not explosive-quick, but he's a mountain of a man. He's hard to move, and in the SEC, you need a guy like that. If you saying an elite three-technique guy that's quick and twitchy, we don't have that right now. We're certainly trying to recruit it, but we've got some edge guys, and when you count defensive line and sometimes count the defensive ends, I thought all of them played with a fast motor today. They played really explosive."
On whether it’s possible to be pleased with a spring football scrimmage … "I think it's never as good as it seems, it's never as bad as it seems. I heard that a long time ago. You leave the scrimmage thinking, 'Man, that was a great scrimmage,' and then you go watch it and you're like, 'Oh, we've got a long way to go.' And then when you walk off the field feeling like you're terrible and that you're not very good, you watch it, and it was better than you thought, so I try not to get on the emotional roller coaster of it. We're going to watch the tape, we're going to evaluate it, we're going to move some guys around, we're going to try to get the best 11 players every situation we can get. We're going to try to grow our young players. We've got some young players that don't know what to do, and that's not their fault. We've got to get them ready to play, so I don't feel any type of way coming out of it."