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  • Writer's pictureDAWG NEWS DAILY

Home Opener Approaching for Bulldogs

ATHENS, Ga. — The third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs moved one day closer to their home opener with Murray State by holding a two-hour workout in full pads Wednesday.

Georgia (1-0) plays host to Murray State (1-0) on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. A special pregame ceremony honoring former Bulldog coach and athletic director Vince Dooley will begin at 3:30 p.m. when the field will be named for him. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

Before practice, Georgia coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference and provided an update on the Bulldogs and facing the Racers. Selected comments from Smart are below:

Head Coach Kirby Smart

(Opening Statement)

“We’re excited to have our home opener, and I know our fans are really pumped. We’re going to be naming the field after Vince Dooley, legendary coach and athletic director. I know a lot of people are excited about this home opener just for that occasion alone. Murray State’s got a great program with a really good coach that I’m good friends with in Mitch Stewart. They do a tremendous job there. They throw the ball around, and our guys are excited to get a chance to go out there and play them.”

(On the play of Georgia’s defensive line in the season opener)

“The group we got is getting better; they have grown up. They have got themselves in better playing shape earlier in the year, playing with quickness. We still had some breakdowns in contain and couple breakdowns in line movements where we got hit with some runs.  We’ve got a lot of area for improvement, but overall, they played really hard, and that’s the one thing that we talk about in that game is that let the mistakes be on us. You own your own effort, and I thought they played with good effort.”

(On the tackling versus Vanderbilt last Saturday)

“It could improve. We had some space tackling with guys reaching out and not trying to tackle with their feet closed and wrap up. We had a couple plays where the back pushed the pile and continued to churn out yards after contact. We pride ourselves on not giving up yards after contact, and their back did a nice job of doing that. We got a lot of area to improve on tackling-wise.”

(On the play of the offensive line including 325 rushing yards versus Vanderbilt)

“We got to protect the quarterback better. We took some shots on our quarterback that were unnecessary. We had some ill-advised communication and busts that are not indicative of an offensive line that’s played so many games and starts as these guys. I think the guys played hard and physical, but we got to play smarter and protect better.”

(On running back Zamir White’s debut)

“He really enjoyed the game. He was energized to get the opportunity to go out there and play. He’s waited so long and there’s been such a buildup and so much coverage of it, he was excited to break the glass and get started.”

(Any quintessential stories when you think of Coach Dooley)

“The biggest thing that sticks out is that my wife worked in the athletic department before I was married to her, and she was always one of his favorite student-athletes. He enjoyed watching her play basketball. It was always unique once we got married that he always came and told me that my wife was one of his favorite all-time players. That meant a lot to me that he cared enough about women’s basketball to really watch her and follow her career.”

Meanwhile after Wednesday’s practice, redshirt freshman tight end John FitzPatrick and redshirt sophomore wideout Matt Landers visited with the media. Here’s a few of their comments:

John Fitzpatrick

(On how his "Fitzmagic" nickname came about)

“The Fitzmagic nickname started with Coach (Todd) Hartley. Obviously, we have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who I claim is my uncle sometimes and some people believe me. But, Coach Hartley started it and Coach (James) Coley carried it on. During a practice one day I made a grab or something, when I stuck out my hand and just prayed that the ball would stick and it stuck. So, from then he's been calling me Fitzmagic.”

(On what he learned from the Vanderbilt game)

“I think there are a bunch of positive takeaways. I saw us running the ball very well. I saw each position group leader stepping up. We did what we were supposed to do. We came out strong. We could have continued throughout the second half. We got stuck on a few third and fourth downs. But, there was a lot of takeaways. We just have to keep on improving."

(On how challenging Vanderbilt’s fronts were in the last game)

“I say for Jake (Fromm) that was easy, because Jake is a genius at that stuff. For me, this being my first time it was a little more challenging. Just spending more time in the film room just watching extra film as much as I can.”

Matt Landers

(On adjusting to playing at this level)

“I have to just put in a lot of extra work. There are times when I didn’t feel like doing that, and I still had to get up and go get it.”

(On playing special teams)

“In high school, I didn’t really play a lot of special teams, and I didn’t know how serious it was until I got here. When I got here, I really locked in and finally bought in and just being a help to the team.”

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