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Georgia Focused on Final Road Trip of the Season Against Missouri


Photo: Tony Walsh

The Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice Wednesday, Dec. 9, in preparation for a top-25 matchup against Missouri, on Faurot Field in Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.

The Bulldogs and Tigers’ kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m., ET on the SEC Network. Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference. Following practice, Warren Ericson and Jake Camarda offered these comments on the matchup with Vanderbilt.

Selected comments from Smart and the student-athletes follow:

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…

“Our team is excited to get back on the field and go play. We missed last week and have a really hot Missouri team we have a lot of respect for. Eliah [Drinkwitz] has done an unbelievable job with those guys and have them playing really well, really hard. You can see that they’re well coached. They have a lot of talented guys on defense and offense. I think their quarterback [Connor Bazelak] is playing very well.”

On how the cold weather will impact the game this week and if it makes him alter a game plan…

“Not really. We don’t control the weather. We practice in it all the time here. It’s been cold this week. We’ve been practicing outside, inside. We have to go inside a little bit, not by choice but because our fields base is under construction. We alternate who gets to go outside. We’ve told our team all along, that’s not something we can control. We worry about things we can control, and we control how we play and the guys playing in the game won’t be thinking about the weather—they’ll be thinking about the game.”

On whether he played in any cold weather games while at Georgia…

“Oh yeah. We had several. There was one at home against Auburn. I remember we played and it was really cold. What qualifies as cold to me is when you can see your breath. So, if you see that then it’s pretty chilly.”

On what he has thought Eliah Drinkwitz has done with the program…

“He’s done a tremendous job. He’s a really good football coach. I think when you look at his track record, he’s done really well. Going back to his NC State days, he created a lot of issues and conflicts for defenses and then at Appalachian State he did an unbelievable job, as you know, winning against SEC and ACC schools. He’s a really good football coach, a really good motivator, you can tell the guys are buying in and playing hard for him. He has a tremendous staff. His quarterback is playing, like I said, he’s really impressive to me because his composure and accuracy, he also throws a really good ball. He’s a good enough athlete to get out of trouble when it gets in there, he’s extended some plays and ran for first downs. I just think Eliah has done a good job coaching them. Their defense is so different to play against. They’re very different defensively compared to most defenses in our league.”

On Alabama quarterback Mac Jones…

“He’s one of those quarterbacks that has really, really good composure. He understands what he’s getting, he’s well coached and he has good players around him. He does a tremendous job making good decisions. Very rarely, do you see him make any mistakes and when you play football and you eliminate mistakes, you play clean football and at a high level, and they’re obviously functioning at very high level right now.”

On how hard roster management has been this year and will be going forward…

“It’s more different than any year in the past because you’ve combined eight different factors. Whereas, it used to be really one factor, with early signing day maybe a second factor. Then, all the opt outs and transfer rules have made another factor. Juniors out early, which has always been there but is happening at a higher rate, made another factor and seniors with the ability to stay added another factor. It’s just basically, you can worry about it all you want, but you can’t really control it. You might be able to talk to guys and try to help yourself out but at the end of the day, you can’t control it so you have to sit back and let the numbers fall where they are and do the best job managing it after it becomes more solid.”

On whether there are any changes from a coach’s perspective that can help that roster management…

“I think people have been trying to figure it out for a long time. There are people who felt like an early signing day would bring about some of these problems. Some of them are created through—look, not everyone has the same problems. The SEC is probably one of the highest conferences in terms of juniors out because we have the most talent every year in the draft. Not every conference is dealing with that because they don’t have juniors coming out so that manipulates the numbers more than anything. I think this year isn’t a great year to judge because you’re not going to have COVID every year, right? You’re not going to have seniors that can come back with eligibility every year. That makes this year harder to manage, but yet you can’t say there should be a NCAA rule that should be put in place to answer it because it’s never been done.”

On what similarities he sees in Florida and Alabama’s offense…

“Not a lot. They’re very different in my opinion. They’re both extremely explosive and extremely talent but beyond that, I don’t think there are very many similarities, I think they’re very different styles.”

On what Missouri does different defensively compared to the rest of the league…

“They don’t play the same front that most of the conference plays. A lot of the defenses in the league come from the same tree, they’re not that way. They play a bare front; they play a lot of man to man and they’re really good at doing it. So, it’s like the thing is you say, ‘Well if you know what they’re going to be in, then you should beat them.’ Well, that’s not the case with Missouri because they do it sometimes better than you can attack it. It’s very different. You don’t get cumulative of reps that you would get when you play somebody and can say ‘we can use this because we used this during the year.’ They’re just very different. It’s kind of just a stand-alone.”

On what he has noticed about linebacker Nick Bolton…

“He is a player. He’s a thumper, he’s a tackler, he’s physical, instinctive. I think everyone across the conference knows that. You talk about linebacker play; this guy is as good as it is in our conference when it comes to sideline to sideline. He loves the game; I love the way the guy plays. He gets after it. He’s been very impressive.”

On what Monty Rice has meant to his program…

“First off, he came in as a great kid, very, I would say introverted, and he’s going to leave much more extroverted and he came from a great high school program. He was under Roquan’s [Smith] tutelage. I felt he always wanted to hang around Roquan and really looked up to Roquan in terms of developing. He’s become a vocal leader like Roquan was, where he’s not afraid, if someone isn’t doing something right, he’s one of the guys who isn’t afraid to call him out on it. He’s very passionate about football and doing things the right way on the football field.”

#90 Jake Camarda | Punter | Junior

On being a Ray Guy Award semifinalist…

“Yeah! Would it be cool to bring another piece of hardware to Athens? Absolutely. When it comes to my goals, really my goal is this year to come in and be as consistent as I possibly could, and just help our team win football games. At the end of the day, if I can do that and help our team win more games that’s really the most important thing to me.”

On his impressions of Scott Cochran being the special teams coordinator, and what he knows about him now that he didn’t know at the beginning of the year…

“Coach Cochran, he is great to play for. He is someone who came in, and you kind of had no idea what you’re expecting and what you are going to get out of it, especially him coming from being a strength guy. You really just kind of—alright I guess we are going to see how this goes. It’s turned out to be really great. I think he’s done just a really good job. He does a really good job handling our room. I think he is a really great coach. I have really enjoyed getting to be a player under him. It’s been a good time and a lot of fun so far.”

On if Coach Cochran’s strength coach background manifests in any way as a coordinator now…

“You know, his strength coach background, I personally think it’s interesting because I can and a lot of specialists now can pick apart his brain a little bit to see different things that he thinks about and that he does. It’s really cool to see the different knowledge he has so we can try and apply that to our game and try to use that to further our skills.”

On what his mindset is when Georgia’s offense is on third down…

“I never hope that our offense doesn’t convert third downs. Obviously, if our offense is converting third downs than we are playing good football, and we have a really good shot of winning games. On third down, the position I am in I have to be ready and prepared really for anything and any situation. I just have to make sure I am really prepared, and in the right mindset—have the mindset that you are going to go in and punt, but at the same time are you rooting to go out there? Not necessarily, because that means the rest of the guys on the field wouldn’t have come through. You really want the guys on the field to come through for you because those are my teammates and I want them to do great.”

#50 Warren Ericson | OL | Redshirt Sophomore

On how prepared he is for being called up as the starting center on Saturday…

“It’s kind of how my mentality has been every single week since the season has started. Whatever I can do to just be ready for this game and play, that’s what I want to do. I am going to be ready no matter what. If my name is called or it is not, I am going to be there and just be ready to go into the game.”

On if he feels any similarity to this week as the week preparing for the Sugar Bowl last year…

“Football is just football like it always has been. You want take each week and prepare and take each day and try to get better—that’s the main objective, is to get better and be feel ready to be on the field when your number is called.”

On how he is preparing for a cold-weather game this weekend…

“Oh yeah, 100 percent. We are full-on ready to embrace that and have accepted that challenge with what the weather is going to be. Georgia is a little different than Missouri as far as the temp[erature] goes. But, yeah just like you’re talking about the O-Line in sleeves and no gloves. We are prepared for whatever we are going to face.”

On if he is able to review and adjust his snaps and see visual evidence…

“I would say as far as the visual evidence part goes, I would say on film is where you will see it. If you are having a particular bad day at snapping, coach will be like, ‘Hey you have been high this day or wide this whole entire day.’ That way you can figure out how you are going to adjust it or it can be just one particular day where the quarterback will be like, ‘Hey I had to reach a little back.’ Then you have to remind yourself of that before the next ball and see if you can do anything to adjust it.”