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Coach Smart and No.1 Bulldogs Gear Up For The Gators


Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during a press conference at the Butts-Mehre Building on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

ATHENS, Ga. --- University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with a pair of defensive players previewed Saturday’s SEC matchup against Florida. The Bulldogs and the Gators kick-off at 3:30 p.m. ET in Jacksonville, Fla. at TIAA Stadium.



On Tuesday, Coach Smart, senior Latavious Brini and junior Travon Walker offered the following comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

On Jordan Davis’ impact…

“It's very impactful. I guess that doesn't help the description. I mean, he is valuable. And I think when you talk about running the ball in the league we're in you have to be able to have some sort of run game. You don't have to be dominant in the run game. You got to be able to run the ball and he makes us have more third and seven to twelves than we have third and two to fours. And just statistically when you have third and two to four which we had an inordinate amount against Kentucky and struggled some because they did a nice job on second long, it affects the game and when you have third and seven to ten, it helps you. Jordan is a heavy impact on that because it's tough to run him. It's tough to run the ball when he's in there. I think what he's done, he's made himself quicker, more agile, and his weight fluctuates from time to time, but he's much more effective when he's under 350. And he's taken it upon himself here lately to really work to be under 350. And I noticeably can tell a difference in him when he's 350 or less. I know that seems like a lot but he's been higher than that.”

On discussion of Jordan Davis as a Heisman Trophy candidate…

“I think it's unfortunate that defensive players don't get mentioned for it. I'm not necessarily advocating Jordan. I'm advocating defensive players because I feel like the NFL values that and if you look over time, outside of the quarterback position, which they have to draft and they get drafted every year, four to five guys on average at quarterback, outside of that you have defensive players taking the top 10 every year because they can change the game when there’s pass rush or corner or somebody locking someone down or whatever the position may be, but it is what it is and it's an award that has become quarterback, receiver, running back heavy and an ultimate respect for the for the award, but certainly some defensive players across the country deserve some kind of recognition. It's almost like you wish you could take one every year to New York as a defensive player because it's such a great event.”

On playing with two quarterbacks…

“Between the ones and the twos reps you can get plenty of reps for two quarterbacks. Our ones get a little more than our twos, but you know you can go 50 50, you can go 70 30, 60 40. We prescribe that as the week goes on. Carson Beck has taken less reps this week because JT has taken more reps, and the combination of Stetson and JT is to get them both prepared, because there are two quarterbacks right now.”

On JT Daniels’ progression this week…

“He’s looked good. He's done a good job. I would be remiss if I could tell you everything he did today. That's why when we hang up this call, I go in and watch it and see it visually with my eyes. A lot of time at practice, I'm watching it from a defensive perspective then at night I’m watching from a quarterback perspective and also talking to Coach Monken (Todd Monken) and the offensive staff about it, but he's done a good job. I wouldn't say that there's been a lot of limitations, it doesn't seem like there's been limitations in terms of what he can and can't do.”

On the secondary this season…

“They’re doing their job. They've been effective at keeping our edges and in run support, because a lot of people have tried to get out on the edge on us to avoid the interior run game. We've given up some explosives. We've given up some 50-50 balls, but they've been the beneficiary of good rush and they've made some plays when they've gotten opportunities. Those guys have made some pics, Chris (Smith), Lewis (Cine), Kelee (Ringo), and DK (Kendrick) have all made them and you punish people when they make mistakes, and you got to capitalize on those when they happen. We have not played our best game in the secondary, we've not played perfectly, and we're not where we need to be. But, you know, we're a work in progress there. And the front has helped us buy some time to do the work.”

On dropped passes…

“I certainly don't feel good about drops, because those are just things for other people to see in the future. But again, I don't really know what you're referencing there.”

On successfully defending the wheel route against Florida…

“You'd have to define a wheel, I know that the layman's term for you guys is a wheel route, but there's a lot of different ways to describe that wheel route. And they really did a great job and we did a really poor job of covering and 90 percent of that is eye control. If you look at the right thing, then you tend to cover the thing, now there's also the eye control, then there's the making the play. So sometimes you just don't make the play and the guy's better than you and he goes up and gets it and there's not even covering them, which is a lack of discipline or we're not doing a good job as coaches of helping them in terms of what we play, but I can’t tell you it won’t happen again because they run the same plays this year as they ran last year. We're not changing our entire defense because of that. We've got an answer for it. But there's things that can hurt you when you just play for the wheel that can hurt you in other ways. I certainly don't want to give up explosive plays, whether that's a back out of the backfield, a tight end, a receiver, whatever it is, we're gonna do all we can to make sure that doesn't happen but they also lead the country in rushing yards per attempt. So you can only protect the wheel so much when they're running the ball for six and seven yards a clip.”

On Nakobe Dean and Roquan Smith comparison…

“I don't like comparisons. I'm just not a big fan of them. I don't really think they're always fair. I do think that Nakobe (Dean) has done a great job. He's the commander in chief of making our calls. He's very physical. He keys things really well, a very instinctive football player as Roquan (Smith) was as well.”

On Adam Anderson’s role against mobile quarterbacks…

“Adam has given us the luxury of having a really fast athletic guy, but the best thing Adam does is rush. And I think the best thing Coach Lanning (Dan Lanning) has done has allowed him to rush. There were times early in his career that we asked Adam to spy and run down the quarterback and chase him down and that's not a lot of sack production when you do that. He's freed Adam up to do what he does best, which is rushing against the other team's offensive tackle. I can assure you, there's a lot of teams that didn’t like seeing Adam spy over rushing on their tackle. So, he's done a good job of doing that. He's also become a more complete every down player where he can play first and second down and do some more things.”

On Arian Smith and other receivers’ health…

“Yeah, we are hoping to get Arian (Smith) back. He’s been closer each week. It's just a lower leg contusion that’s been bothering him when he plants and runs, but he is much closer this week, but he’s been on about a fifty percent pitch count. He’s been repping with the twos, he’s getting reps and I think he’s looked better this week than he has in the past. We hope that continues throughout the rest of the week. Jermaine (Burton) has been bothered by the groin, he’s fought through that. He’s not 100%. Justin Robinson’s got a little bit of a hamstring now so he’s banged up. Dom (Dominick Blaylock) is still out. So I feel like we are better off than we were going into the Auburn game, but I don’t feel like we are near where we need to be in terms of wide receiver. But I do think Arian will be back and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint has done a great job this week and Jermaine has been out there practicing. Of those three alone, they are a huge boost.”

On dealing with Dan Mullen’s offenses...

“The best thing about Dan Mullen is that he has packages of plays to accentuate his playmakers. Whether is was Kyle Pitts, Kadarious Toney, whoever it might be, he always had...even at Mississippi State where he might not have has as many playmakers as he’s had at Florida, he knows how to get them the ball. He does it in ways that he creates confusion, he moves people around. I think he’s gotten better, there’s times when he was at Mississippi State when I thought he had done the same thing for a long time. Now, he’s got more presentation to what he does and did a good job of that last year. I mean we all learn from other people so it’s like there is a copy-cat element to what we all do - defensively and offensively. He’s taken what other NFL teams and other college teams do well and added it to his offense to get his players the ball.”

On favorite Halloween candy…

“Sour Patch Kids.”

On Florida quarterback run success…

“Well they are probably faster than KJ (Jefferson). They have an offensive line that is really big. They have a run game scheme that is built to allow the quarterback to run. Dan (Mullen) doesn’t abort the run, he uses the run game to set up his play-actions and when you least expect it, he runs the quarterback. Those guys are just really good runners. It is a different dynamic between those guys and KJ. KJ is a big physical guy, those guys are elusive and powerful and they throw the ball well too and have a good supporting cast around them - I’m talking about the wide-outs.”

On using last year’s loss to Florida as motivation…

“Yeah outside of the tape, of using the tape of the plays we may see repeated or the looks we may get because a lot of the coaches are the same, not a lot. I don’t try and use those extrinsic things, I just, I have never had great experiences with that. You count on emotions to do that. I don’t want the players’ emotional the whole time. That’s what the fan wants, but I want them thinking about what they have to do to win this game and last year’s game has nothing to do with this year’s game.”

On what makes a good player at the STAR position...

“Well, it's a position that has morphed. There’s so many perimeter screens and every play has three plays on it which is why you see scoring going up because the offense can be right more often. The star is in the crosshairs of all of those plays. He’s the guy they’re reading, he’s the guy they’re blocking, he’s the guy they're blitzing, he’s the guy they're throwing off of, he’s the guy they’re box counting. So having a tough, physical guy that is six-foot 205 pounds that can run, that can cover, they don’t grow anywhere, you don’t just find them anywhere. That position is critical. It keeps your edges, it sends everything back to the big guys. It does so many things in defense. Number one, you better have two guys that can play it because it’s like playing linebacker nowadays in terms of the contact that is created from that position. You’ve got to be able to take on guards, to take on tackles. You’ve just got to be tough and physical. It’s a tough position. (Latavious) Brini has done a good job. Losing Tykee (Smith) hurt because he was going to be able to spell Brini some. Javon (Wims) has done a great job embracing that and he’s still growing and getting better.”

On Travon Walker’s contribution this season…

“He’s an extreme part. He is a freak of nature when it comes to athletic ability for that size. I do not know how many years that it will be before I coach a guy who is that big that can run like that and has really good stamina with great toughness and effort. His stats may not be the best in the world, or they may not be what Azeez’s (Ojulari) are, but he is playing really well. He is playing really physical. He is playing a lot of snaps, and I am really proud of what he is doing in terms of leadership for our team.”

On incorporating mobile quarterbacks in the future…

"I would love to have the perfect quarterback that runs a 4.5 (40-yard dash). He is 6'4". He reads things. He is great in the pocket. I would love to have that, but I am not saying that I have to have that. I have to have the guy that gives us the best chance to win. Within our system, does it require the quarterback to run? I think that all quarterbacks have to have some mobility. There is not a really good quarterback that you see playing in the NFL that does not have a form of mobility. All quarterbacks have different levels of that. As long as you do not sacrifice decision-making and accuracy, which are the two greatest components of a quarterback, then yes, I want a runner. For every ounce of decision-making and accuracy that I lose, I am willing to give up some running ability."

On JT Daniel’s movement and adjustment to practice...

Watching Monday's practice, I thought that he handled that well. Today, I want to reserve judgement until I see it from the actual tape. There is nothing there that I noticed is a problem for him. He moved around in the pocket and made some throws. I did not see all of the periods, because I am not in both locations. I will get ready to watch that now and see how he does tomorrow, too."

#36 | Latavious Brini | Sr. | DB

On how his role changes with playing against Florida...

"The role does not change. I just come out here and execute my job and the assignment that the coaches give me each week."

On Javon Bullard and the challenges of the STAR position...

"Like I say, every day is a challenge. Every day that you wake up is a challenge. I embrace the challenge. Javon is actually a great young player. He has accepted his role to step up. He is just doing a great job and is accepting the challenge very well."

On Jordan Davis off the field...

"Jordan Davis is one of the sweetest people that you could ever meet. His smile can bright up a whole room. That is the craziest thing that people really do not know. He is so big on the field, but off the field he is just a loving person."

#44 | Travon Walker | Jr. | DL

On having Jordan Davis available against Florida opposed to last year...

"Like I always say, Jordan is a great person to have on the inside, because he is a big guy. He takes up multiple blocks. That frees up a lot of guys, and it makes the ball bounce outside more. It helps me out to make more plays."

On sharing the glory on defense...

"Just being able to play with a lot of these talented guys, everybody is a great player, so of course there is not one person that is going to get all of the shine every game. It is really an honor to be around all these guys. Different players get shine every week, and that says something positive about the defense."

On what makes Tray Scott a good coach...

"Coach Scott is a guy that is not just all about football. He wants to see us succeed outside of football and on the football field as well. Just him being that type of human being and wanting the best for you, you cannot really beat that, because he wants to see you succeed in every part of life."