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Coach Smart, Logue, and Ringo Discuss Final Stages of Preseason





ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, junior Zion Logue and redshirt sophomore Kelee Ringo met with media after practice Tuesday evening and offered the following comments regarding the last week of preparation heading into the 2022 season.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

On the storms affecting today's practice...

“We got about a third of the way in on the field which, we wanted to be outside all day today, and unfortunately, we got sent in with lightning. I don't even know what time it was, I would say about a 1:30 practice, and we had about a two hour practice. We were getting in about a third of the way through, so we got to get most of it in out there. But when we went inside, it was no issue. We transition easy in there and we had red area today, and that made it even easier, because when you do red area, we don't need to use as much as the field. So to have to end in the indoor, that was fine.”

On the freshman starting in scout team...

“Well, it's a culture here that we create through years of doing it. It's not a freshman thing, it's a team thing. So many guys embrace it. We've had Sony Michel and Nick Chubb go down there and work wildcat. We've had countless guys go down there and work. We show them clips, whether it's Mecole Hardman, Elijah Holyfield, Isaiah Wilson, you name it. Last year, George Pickens was on the scout team for three weeks. So, it's not seen as a demotion of any kind, it's seen as development. We take pride in developing players and the best way to develop is to go down there. JT Daniels did it while he was injured and he came back from it. They've been great. They do a good job of pushing and understanding the culture of how practice goes of competing.”

On his pregame routine and managing life outside of football during the season...

“I don't know that I really have a pregame ritual or routine. I think if you get a superstitious habit, you might not be able to follow it all the time. You have different venues you play in, different times you play, everything changes. So, I like to be flexible and adjustable, and it's not always the same. We eat pregame meals at the same time, but outside of that, I try to change it up in terms of what I think about what I do pregame. There's a checklist you go through, but you all heard Adam Wainwright talking to the night, he's the pitcher for the Cardinals, and he's talking about how if you got something that you just can't break, that's superstition, and that can be a negative. That can be a detriment to your mindset. We try not to do that. So we don't go with superstitions. We just try to prepare ourself best we can be ready to play before the game.”

On waking up in the middle of the night and being focused on football...

Yeah, I've been that way since I was a small child. I mean, everybody wakes up in the middle of night sometimes, and sometimes you're thinking about football, sometimes you thinking about how you can do it better, be a better parent husband, father. Yeah, that happens.”

On how Robert Beal Jr.'s experience last season helped to prepare him for this season...

“It's built his confidence up. I think he's very confident in the system now and we're very confident in him because of the playing time he's earned. He did a tremendous job at the end of the year, and he's had a really good camp. I mean, he's playing physical, playing tough. I think he realizes this is a big opportunity for him. So very pleased with what he's done and the work he's done.”

On Javon Bullard's fit on the defense and his progression as a player...

“Well, he has tremendous toughness. He has tremendous competitiveness, he's very physical. He loves the game. He's been a ball hawk all camp for us. The consummate team player that does whatever you want to do on special teams, and he comes to work every day, and he's improved. Probably could have played more last year, but maybe he wasn't quite ready, and he's earned it through spring practice and fall camp. He's earned the opportunity to go out there and compete with those other guys and get playing time.”

On where the defensive coordinators will be during the game...

“We'll decide that closer to the game. Both of those guys will be very involved.”

On Dominick Blaylock's fall camp and how he looks heading into this season...

“I don't think he thinks about the 'normal fall camp.' Day-by-day, he's giving his best effort and making our team better and competes every day. He's another guy that just works so hard. I don't think he over-analyzes it and, again, thinks about superstitious things, because those are things he can't control. What he does control is how hard he works for us, how consistent he plays and his toughness. It kind of takes on the personality for our offense, of being a guy that never complains.”

On Kelee Ringo's fall camp after his historical play in the national championship...

“I think Kelee's done a great job. You worry about a play like that going to a guy's head or maybe not realizing his deficiencies and how he can improve on them. We had several talks in the offseason and he embraced it. He was the to first admit, 'No, I'm not where I need to be.' He had some plays in that game that weren't so good. He admitted that, he said, 'I can improve and that's what I want to do.' He's been a leader, he's been an everyday work guy, and I'm expecting him to have a great season because of the work he's putting in. He's worked really hard to be a good player.”

On how he praises a player but pushes them to become better...

“You just be honest with them. He'd be the first to admit the play doesn't define the player. I think so many people, they want to do that, but he can't let that moment that do that to him. Otherwise, he's limiting himself to plateauing where he is, and he can still ascend. He's a young player, he's only really played two years of football with us. He has a lot of things he can improve on and that he's worked really hard on. He's gotten so much better with his tackling and his physicality, and he continues to improve on that.”

On how to balance celebrating last year's successes but turning the page onto a new season...

“I think the experiences there [at Alabama] helped me because I don't see it that different. We won one in 2009, I don't know when the previous one was there, but it was not recent. I think anytime you win one, you turn the page, and it's built around the culture of your program. If your program is just built on instant gratification and wins and patting people on the back, then you're probably going to struggle more, but it just was never about that here. It's been about the process of how you develop players, how hard you work. It's never been about telling guys how good they are but telling guys how good we can be. Since we've come back from that game, we've turned the page and focused. The distractions have been more outward, in terms of media and that stuff, not inward in terms of our team. They're not thinking about last year, they realized this year is going to be done based on its own merit.”

On where Arik Gilbert is coming into the season…

“It is hard to measure because I think the sky is the limit in terms of his talent and things. The consistency and performance he has to have, he has to have consistency in practice. That is something he needs to work on and strive on. Nobody wants it more than he does.”

On Oregon’s wide receiver core and his knowledge of the players…

“Sometimes they can be good and bad. Maybe you know too much. It is the same way with Dan (Lanning). He knows a lot about our guys. Players change. Players get better. Players grow up. Maybe they are not the same person they were. I don’t like taking information like that and making assumptions off of it. Certainly, get personnel and talk about guys. You watch the film, and the film speaks louder than what a coach’s comments are. We put a lot more value on the big eye in the sky than what people say about the players.”

On Kenny McIntosh this season…

“There are two guys who are pretty explosive that aren’t back there. I have always thought that Kenny was explosive and had great vision and is one of our best runners. He has just had more opportunities. There has probably been more holes out there with some of those guys gone, so you start to see some flashy plays by him. I think he has changed his mentality. He is certainly a more thought about leader. He has inserted himself into that role more. As far as his play on the field, Kenny has always been a hard worker and a competitor.”

On his pregame music and Stetson Bennett’s pregame playlist…

“I listen to music, but I sadly don’t know the names of the songs or the specifics of them. I am not superstitious where I have to listen to a certain thing. I couldn’t tell you about them. I might listen to those songs, but I couldn’t tell you if I did. I do like what I listen to, but I don’t really know what it is.”

On his relationship with Charles Winslette…

“He is quite the character. He has been a long time Bulldog fan. He played baseball here and has told some great stories. He is a guy who we used to meet with that helped with the option and things like that. He was probably the most disappointed guy when Paul Johnson stepped down at Georgia Tech. He felt like he was out of a role. He was a guy who always, in the offseason, we would go to clinic with. He is good friends with my dad. They played each other at South Georgia. He has been around and coached a lot of places in his career. I have a lot of respect for Coach Winslette and the job he has done at Georgia High School.”

How the brand of playing Oregon will impact recruiting…

“It is awesome to play these kinds of games. Obviously, they are a well-respected program, a well-liked program. The recruits love the infatuation with the uniforms and Nike and all of the stuff it means. It is a big stage to be on. I am sure it is mutual for the. It is an opportunity to increase your national exposure and your national recruiting.”

On Dan Lanning and Tosh Lupoi’s coaching styles…

“Tosh is a really great football coach. He is passionate, he is energetic. He knows who the players are going to be. They are going to run through a wall for he and Dan. They are both really similar in their motivation skills with players. They are great coaches because they are great men. They make practice fun. They make meetings fun. They make work fun. They are going to do a great job. Those players are going to buy in and run through a wall for those guys. Tosh has done a great job. Historically, where he has been, they have been great on defense.”

On Jalon Walker preparing for his freshman year…

“He is tough, man. He is a physical player. He is really smart. He is picking things up. He has helped us in multiple roles. He is playing inside backer. He is playing sub-rusher. He is a talented kid. I love Jalon. He is a coach’s son, so I am always particular to those guys because I grew up in that environment. He is so respectful and does things the right way. He represents us in the right way. He is going to be a hell of a player.”

On what role Daijun Edwards will play…

“He is not a support back. He is one of our guys. He had a great camp. He has toughness. He is a guy that works so hard. He is running the ball real well. He has had some really flashy, good plays. He is a guy that we are expecting to have a good season. I am really excited to see what he can do.”

On if there are players who have stepped into leadership roles…

“There are so many. Cedrick Van Pran has done a great job. Jamon Dumas-Johnson has done a great job. Kelee (Ringo) has done a great job. Kenny (McIntosh) has done a great job. At the tight ends, Darnell (Washington), Brock (Bowers), Broderick (Jones), Warren Ericcson. It is a lot of guys, and it is not where it is done by two or three people. It is done by a committee. Last year’s group helped showed these guys how to do it. They have embraced how to do it. We haven’t had any real adversity. You find out a lot more about your team once you have had some adversity.”

On how much work it will take to get the program to where he envisions it…

“I was just talking to the team about this concept of where you think you have arrived. You never do that. When would I ever say that we are where we need to be? That doesn’t exist at this level, it is not on a continuum. You have to keep going. We are not there. We are not close to there. You have a lot of work to do. That is always going to be the case because you are always trying to be the best. When you start thinking, ‘Okay, I have things where I want them,’ that is the first sign of you getting complacent and the first sign that you are going to get bit. That is not what we want. I want to teach the team to be the best team they can possibly be. By going out and having the best organization, recruiting the best football players and having great people on your staff, you give yourself the opportunity to get a really good football team every year at the University of Georgia. You have all of the support and all of the things that you need to be successful. You just have to use them the right way, and we try to do that the best we can.”

#96 Zion Logue | Jr. | DL

On his comparison to Jordan Davis...

"Our defense is built to play the same. Yes, my body is different than his. He is a little bit wider, and I am a little bit more slim, but I have to take a little bit of things he did and try to put them in my game. I have to do it a little bit differently, so I would say it is a big difference - it's not technique-wise."

On Jalen Carter...

"I think we play well off each other. I think we complement each other very well. We both know the system very well, so we know how to talk to each other. I think that plays a big role in it.... He's a very quiet guy, but he's also funny at the same time. He has his own way of being funny and a fun-loving guy. When it's time to work, he knows how to flip the switch and get read to go to work. I think that's a unique thing about him."

On his bigger role in the defense...

"I think I'm ready. I know I'm ready for it just like other guys in the room like Nazir, Tyrion, and guys like that. I think it's a big challenge for us. We are still preparing, and I think we are all ready for it."

On how practice prepares him for games...

"I would say, for our defensive line coach, practice equals the game in reality. Whatever you do in practice is more likely to come up in a game. You take every practice rep seriously, so when you are in a game it's just like second nature and you are out there reacting. I think the way we practice here and prepare definitely gets us ready for games."

#5 Kelee Ringo | RS - So. | DB

On Kamari Lassiter...

"Kamari is a really good young player. He is continuing to learn and build, and he is getting a little bit better playing time than last year. I'm really excited to see what he is going to be able to do and be able to help us."

On his conversations with Coach Smart after the national championship game...

"I always try to stay positive and find room for improvement. I feel like one thing that can put things in a bad situation is to be complacent and feel like you have arrived - that's one thing that Coach Smart has said. We're always trying to find something to improve and just know that you can always be better because there's no limit to where our enemies can get to."

On his own improvements...

"Specifically, at the cornerback position, there are a ton of things that you can get better at. Specifically, the ball in the air, staying tight in coverage, being able to work your feet at the line of scrimmage, being able to get hands on receivers, and just being work on our timing between the quarterback and the receiver. Those are the few things that we have been working on throughout training camp."

On Oregon...

"I'm looking forward to playing against Coach Lanning. They have a great team over there. I'm really focused on how we are able to improve as a defense and be able to counter a good amount of what they're trying to do, as well. We're just trying to come out on top at the end of the day.”