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Coach Smart and Players Preview Clemson Game



ATHENS, Ga. – University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with two players, offered the following comments to preview Saturday’s season opener against Clemson. The Bulldogs and Tigers kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET in Charlotte, N.C.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

“Yeah, we are excited to open up with a big-time game, a top-5 opponent, just excited to go to Charlotte. It is a great home base for our fanbase, we have a lot of Georgia alum that live in Charlotte, it is a place that we have not gotten to travel to very often. Playing Clemson is a traditional rivalry in the history of Georgia-Clemson games and I know everyone is excited about it, we certainly are. We will find out a lot about our team, we have been able to play ourselves for 20-something practices and now it is time to go play someone else and find out a lot about ourselves.”


On rotating centers impact on the quarterback…

“I don’t think it puts a big burden on the quarterback, most people’s centers make those calls and the quarterback has the ability to override or change things. Regardless of which center has been in there in fall camp that is his id, his decisions and the quarterback can override it. It would be tough if you had a completely new center or a center, or a guard that did not make those calls and you made him the center. That can be tough if he is not making the calls and all of a sudden he has to go make them. We have two guys and that is what they have done for an entire year. They both worked a lot at center last year so they have done it for a quality amount of time. There is no greater pressure on JT (Daniels) regardless of which center is in there because he trusts both of those guys.”

On the difficulties of judging your tackling progress…

“It is impossible. You tackle live and everybody does it differently and in different amounts. You are only allowed to do it a certain amount per the NCAA but some people don’t even maximize that because of the safety issues involved with it. I think pretty much everyone in the country would tackle live at a scrimmage but you’re allowed to do it in some practices as long as it is not 50 percent or greater of that practice. But you get better at tackling by tackling. We tell our guys all the time that it is harder to thud someone the proper way in practice than it is to tackle somebody. Because thud, we don’t want them grabbing jerseys and slinging guys down or doing that. We want them to step on their toes and get chest-to-chest and thud them. A quality thud is harder than a tackle to get a guy to the ground where you can grab a body part, sometimes that can make it tougher if kids do it right. Obviously, in a game, the speed of a game and the quality of athletes you are going against sometimes is better than the look squad. So it shows up a lot, it shows up a lot, it shows up a lot in space. I think it is one of the most critical parts to this game is who is going to tackle well in space and who prepared the best to tackle in preparation for the game.”


On the potential of the wide receiver position…

“Well, we are young, we have a lot of guys that are just gaining experience. Then we have some guys with experience that are bouncing back from camp time, they weren’t available or were injured. So we are kind of in a different spot in receiver, more different than we have been in the past. But I am excited to see them go play. There are a lot of young players that have played well in camp and we are excited to go see them go play.

The way Clemson plays you, they are aggressive. There will be opportunities and you have to take advantage of those opportunities. They do a great job with their pressure packages and their disguise packages of attacking your protections. So you have to do a good job at quarterback knowing when and where to take your chances and take your shots.”

On Clemson’s offensive pressure…

“I think any good offense keeps the pressure on you. We have faced a lot of good offenses in the SEC and we have faced Clemson in the past as well in my history of seeing those guys. They do a great job of number one they have great skill players and when you have good skill players the pressure is always on. I mean they have had incredible wideouts as they do this year. They’ve got elite backs that can catch the ball in the backfield. And they have really good tight ends especially this year because they have a veteran group. The pressure comes from the players, it is not just the schemes. They’re an attacking offensive group that knows how to get the ball in the perimeter in the run game. They know how to run the quarterback. They build plays so that if you are stopping one thing, they have a compliment off of that same thing. They build their play-action game each week to where their play-action game is married up with their run. So if they have a really good successful run you better believe they are getting ready to come back with a play-action to come off of it to get you to bite on it. We talk about eye control, eye violators; everyone in college football right now is attacking defenses' eyes. If you take your eyes off of the right thing for a second it can be an explosive play. So they do a good job of attacking your eyes.”

On the middle linebackers…

“Well that is a hard question to answer, it is a good group because they have some depth. We have been able to rotate some guys in through that core. I mean we have a MACK and MONEY position and a MIKE and WILL position. They all marry up. So you say ‘what's the difference?’ They are really interchangeable. We have gotten to the point in our defense where you can’t really have guys that just play one because of injury or a guy that has to go play the other one. So, the two are really interchangeable really to the point where we don't even take them and line them up anymore like we used to. We tell them ‘you’re left and right, you have to be able to play both.” So whether a team has trips to the field or two-by-two, we let our linebackers play. They have to understand the coverage multiples based on where they line up. As you’re talking specifically about those players, Nakobe (Dean) is an alpha guy, the leader of the group, communicator, and does a really good job. Quay (Walker) has come so far since getting here. I mean his development from the time he got here to now and just the way he has changed in terms of ‘man I am not playing, I am frustrated,’ to being an alpha leader. He went through some injuries in camp and missed some time but he is getting back now where he is comfortable, healthy and we have been really pleased with him. Channing (Tindall) is a veteran guy that has played really well for us. Channing is really fast, athletic, and can run. Those three guys kind of head up the group. Then Rian Davis, Trezmen Marshall had a good camp. Then the two young kids are going to be good players; I am excited about Jamon (Dumas-Johnson) and Smael (Mondon). They are both going to have very big roles on special teams and have bright futures. Smael is very intelligent and has been a surprise this camp. Whether or not he gets snaps at inside backer is yet to be seen based on the other guys. But he is certainly talented enough and he is a very good special teams player.”


#23 | Jaylen Johnson | Jr. | WR

On the confidence level of the wide receivers despite injuries…

“Injuries are a part of the sport, and we know that. That’s the thing that’s so cool about this team and so good about this team, we’re so deep at the receivers position, really at all positions. It’s a next man up mentality, so when one goes down, it’s just time for the other to step up.”

On his transition from being a walk-on to a scholarship player…

“First, you can never be too satisfied. You have to come out and prove yourself every day. It kind of clicked last season. I really felt like I was confident in my ability, confident in my athletic ability, and I really felt like the game slowed down for me because I had a complete understanding of the offense and everything around me.”

On Ladd McConkey…

“Ladd (McConkey) is a guy who’s going to come to work every day just like the rest of the receivers. He’s a great guy off the field, and on the field, he’s a great teammate. He’s going to give it 100 percent every play and every rep. I’m just excited for him.”

#81 | Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint | So. | WR

On chemistry with JT Daniels…

“Chemistry has been great. I believe we’ve really clicked on a great level. We’ve been working all off-season on our chemistry. Not only myself but other receivers, we’ve all been working together. We really feel like we have a chance to be able to perform. Go out there and do what we do and play Georgia Football.”

On his recovery and his return…

“During the time of the injury, I was told I would be out for at least four-to-six months. At the time it didn’t really hit me that it would be that long but after surgery it really hit me. The process has been long, a very tedious process, having to wake up every morning and getting treatment. Just working the little things trying to get it back right. I feel like that process really helped me get into the right state of mind to prepare myself, not only prepare myself but my teammates.”

On the mindset of the wide receiving core given the injuries….

“I don’t think we have anything to prove. We just want to go in there and do what we were training this whole offseason for – just to go out there and do our jobs. Compete at a high level, be physical out there, and the most important thing is to be together while we do it.”