• DAWG NEWS DAILY

Georgia Focused on Arkansas



The Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice Wednesday, Sept. 23, in preparation for the first contest of the season at Southeastern Conference opponent Arkansas, in Fayetteville, Ark.

Georgia travels to Arkansas to face the Razorbacks Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m., ET, on the SEC Network. Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference and provided an update on the Bulldogs. Following practice, Warren Ericson and Jamaree Salyer offered these comments on the contest with Arkansas.

Selected comments from Smart and the student-athletes follow:

Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement

“I am looking forward to seeing my dear old friend Sam Pittman. It’s a long time coming. This offseason in terms of our players being excited and the uncertainty involved in this year. I know our guys are certainly extremely excited to go play. I don’t know if we are going to get much better without playing. We need to go play so we can find out where we are. We are excited to go play Arkansas.”

On what he has noticed from the previous weeks of college football and what he has learned and can take as far as the new atmosphere in college football...

“I haven’t talked to many guys about that. I’ve definitely watched a lot of games. The first thing that pops out and that usually does every year—the special teams, the plays. The first weekend it seemed like there was a lot of returned kicks for touchdowns, blocked kicks, so a lot of special teams game/plays that were major factors in games. We tried to highlight that and show it to our players. It does seem that there are more soft tissue injuries, meaning guys are pulling things and getting injured—so your depth—of course your depth is a factor all the time with COVID[-19] and the pandemic going on. It seems more prevalent that you’re going to have to play more players because of the conditioning level may or may not be there. I do think we are fortunate that we haven’t had to play in what you would consider ‘the hot part’ of the year, it usually happens early in the season and it seems a little cooler. So that helps with the conditioning factor. That’s the biggest change to me. I think without spring practice you’ve got more errors and mistakes exposed if you are not prepared.”

On his thoughts concerning the three week delay for the SEC and  the allotted practice time resulting in less contact putting those teams to an advantage conditioning wise...

“Yeah, that’s probably a good point. I haven’t thought about it that way. But, there’s probably some merit to that—sometimes sloppiness is because you are not prepared and not ready and you haven’t had time to that stuff. Of course they started earlier than we did. We started later than they did. We all kind of had the same practice buildup. I know the minicamp was helpful for us in terms of getting our guys more prepared to play. I certainly think that the luxury they gave us spreading the practices out over a large number of days has allowed us to stay more healthy than in the past.”

On his impression of Rakeem Boyd along with other Arkansas personnel...

“Rakeem Boyd is as good as there is in the SEC. This guy has proven that he is a really good runner, physical runner, intelligent, smart. He sees the field. Any offensive line coach, like a head coach like Sam Pittman, is going to [have] a great offensive line unit. What they were able to do with a really tough run league, our league, last year—was as tough against the run as there is—he put up really good numbers. As far as Coach [Kendal] Briles, I have always had respect and watched everywhere he has been. As an offensive-minded coach, he creates a lot of issues. It’s like constant pressure because there is never a breather. They talk about it being warp speed, but it is that constant pressure of number one: balls vertical down the field, spacing of the field making you play the full 53 yards—in the tempo that they do it, it’s tough to defend especially if you talk to other people that have had to defend it.”

On what factors come into play in building a strong team in the SEC...

“It starts with the belief in the people in the organization, and the belief in each other. It always starts with that. It starts with a core foundation in your weight room. A belief that you are going to compete and you are going to get better. Every game is different. It’s not like—everybody wants to go out and win every game when you are building a program. You are trying to build the trust, faith and confidence in the organization and the people in the organization that you’re going to get better. Each step you take is a better opportunity. It’s not a league for the faint of heart. I can promise you that. It’s a tough, physical league.”

#50 Warren Ericson | Redshirt Sophomore | OL

On his spot on the line and how team depth has raised his anticipation level week-by-week...

“Week-by-week I want to be ready to go, COVID-19 adds an extra factor, as well as injuries. I’ve been working at all three interior positions and I’ve been getting ready for this game.”

On Coach Sam Pittman & Matt Luke and the relationships he has with them…

“They are both great men. Coach [Sam] Pittman recruited me here, now he’s at Arkansas, and we respect him. Same thing with Coach [Matt] Luke—he’s done a great job getting to know us and applying his enthusiasm into the offense. Coach Luke is huge on making sure we have a good life. He’s very involved in our lives and any mental health related things that we’re going through. He wants to be aware of it so he can help us get through it.”

On what freshmen are catching his eye…

“All of the freshmen have done a great job at competing. It’s a grind for everyone, especially the freshman. There isn’t one in particular that has caught my eye, but I know that for years to come Georgia’s offensive line will stand firm.”

On if he is curious to see how Coach Pittman does in his first game as a head coach…

“I’m very curious, he will always have a special place with me. Every player, staff and faculty love Coach Pittman. I am interested to see how he does and I wish him the best of luck as he goes on. I know he is going to do well.”

#69 Jamaree Salyer | Junior | OL

On Coach Pittman starting the “Yes Sirrrr!” celebration with his commitment to Georgia...

“Oh man! It was funny. That was a fun day for me just to see that guy and his face light up. [Coach Pittman] has a smile you really can’t hate on. He’s got good energy. He has always been that way. It made me really happy. It made my mom really happy. He good at building relationships—that’s what he was best at. He just made me feel happy—to see him light up and how happy that made him.”

On the anticipation of potentially making his first career start at left tackle...

“I am excited to go out there and compete. I am a competition guy. I like going out there and competing. I know they have good edge rushers, and I am excited to see what they got. I worked really hard for this moment. I worked every day during quarantine to keep my weight down and working on my technique. I am really excited to go out there and compete—just to be able to compete against somebody else instead of having our defense every day—it’s exciting.”

On his continual support of Coach Pittman...

“Of course [I support] Coach Pitt[man]. He has always been great to me. He’s been great to my family. He always treated me with the upmost respect here. I got a lot of love for Coach Pitt—I would tell him that right now if I could talk to him. I love to compete against him. He’s always been special to me—always will have a special place in my heart because he poured a lot into me when he was here. I got better. We had a great relationship. I would love for his team to have success. I am not upset with his decision. He did what was best for him and all I can do is wish him the best. I hope they have a great season. I am excited to compete against him.”

On the advice Andrew Thomas has given him...

“Of course! We worked out a lot during quarantine. He had a big matchup this weekend himself—he played against Khalil Mack. He had some good reps too. I was excited to see him go out there and compete. It got me really fired up because we worked out together. Just to see him go out there and play two pretty good games. Last game he kind of had a little rough patch, but pretty well for a rookie. Just to see him go out there and compete was really fun. It’s fun to see him progress. I’ve seen him go from middle school to high school, high school to college, and college to the NFL—the highest level. It’s fun to watch him compete. We talk all the time—probably once or twice a week. We just check in on each other. As far as advice, he pretty much gave me everything he had as far as over quarantine and working out. I am excited to see where he goes.”