DAWG NEWS DAILY
OC Todd Monken Believes UGA will bring it's Best to National Championship Game.
The media got a second chance in just over a week's time to speak to Georgia's coordinators on Wednesday. That meant a second opportunity to talk to Offensive Coordinator, Todd Monken. Coach Monken touched on Stetson Bennett's previous games against Alabama, Brock Bowers, and UGA "Checking all the boxes" when it comes to fit. Below, Dawgs News Daily provides everything Monken had to say in unedited format.
Q. Wanted to tap into a little bit of your past experience in college and the NFL. When you joined Georgia, is part of the allure being able to work with so many guys who are sort of the potential to be future NFL players? You've worked at many different levels. I'm wondering being drawn back to Georgia, part was, hey, this is where all the best and future NFL players go?
COACH MONKEN: I think you hit it on the head. You want to be at a place where you have no barriers to success. And that starts with being able to get great football players. Working with a great staff, an elite academic institution and being right down the road from Atlanta.
So when you're recruiting players and their families, we check all the boxes. You want to be a place where you check all the boxes. And that was the University of Georgia.
Q. Doing a story on Brock Bowers. How soon before he got on campus did you realize that he was going to have such an impact on your offense? And how have you made him a better tight end, and how has he made you a better offensive coordinator?
COACH MONKEN: The first part of it is, first of all, you saw his work ethic. I spoke about that a week ago about how he's wired. So we don't have to touch on that anymore. He's wired the right way. He works awfully hard at his craft. He only knows one speed.
So right away we knew he'd be able to contribute. Did we know to this extent? Of course not. But once we saw him work, his skill set, we knew we had a chance to have somebody that we could rely on. And as he's continued to develop -- Coach Hartley deserves a lot of credit, one for recruiting him; two, for developing him.
We've just tried to continually move him around, put him in position to make plays. He's embraced that. He works awfully hard. He has a lot more to do with what we do in terms of how he works and how he prepares than I've had to do with his progression, and that's just because of the way he's wired.
Q. As great as Stetson was the other night, as really as good as he's been, there's obviously two games against Alabama that are kind of a blot on his resum�. Do you see anything kind of common in those games that is instructive about this one, or did you see those two games as just kind of separate from the rest of what Stetson does?
COACH MONKEN: Well, I mean, I don't see it as those two games are going to predict the future. I don't see it that way. I see it as he's played, I don't know how many games at starting quarterback, and like any player they've had their moments where they haven't played up to what they believe their standard to be or we believe that standard to be. It just so happens to have come in the second half against the team we're about to play.
But we just need to understand that the first two halves of each of those games was outstanding, and I've said that before. He has everything we need to be successful offensively. And our issues with turnovers aren't his issue, particularly. That's everybody in this country -- if you turn the ball over you're not going to win, no matter how you do it.
The first turnover a year ago was a batted ball that was out of his control. The second interception was a tipped pass on an end cut that went directly to them. The third one was a poor decision.
So the bottom line is I can do better as a coordinator to put him in better position to be successful. He understands that. Our team understands that. So I expect him to play well just like I did last week.
Q. In that vein, you have an extensive NFL background, playing another team in close proximity just a few weeks later. Tell me a little bit about the decisions on what to change, what to do different, what to keep the same. And maybe have that same thing seem different and that kind of stuff. Seems pretty complicated.
COACH MONKEN: Well, you're right, it is a little bit different. You do get that in the NFL with your division teams where you play them twice. And sometimes you can play them relatively close together like this is.
And we played them last year. So we've got enough film on what they want to do and they're not going to change. They're successful for a reason for what they do and so are we.
If you're constantly changing what you do and your identity, I don't think you're going to be very good at anything. So obviously we take from the things that we did well and build on that and the things we didn't do as well. And obviously there's calls that we had that in both games or other opportunities that we didn't get called.
So we're looking forward to the opportunity and the shot at it. And they're going to get our best, I can promise you that.
Q. How do you best quantify the improvements when you're talking about Stetson, that he's made from last year to right now being starting quarterback?
COACH MONKEN: Obviously, second year in the system. Being around us as a coaching staff, what we do offensively is big. And just playing. I think we forgot at times that he really hadn't played a lot of football here. And I think being around the same players.
I think the consistency that we've had at times that we've tried to get the ball to those guys have helped. But to me he's matured in terms of understanding what we want to get done. And also just playing. There's just the reps that you get in practice and then games that get into your memory bank, whether they're scars or things you've solved or decision-making, I think all comes into that.
And the longer you play -- a guy like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or those guys or Ryan Fitzpatrick -- some of the things they do now they didn't do early on in their career. That develops over time. And they continued to improve their game and their understanding of what we want done.
Q. You were pretty emphatic of your support for Stetson last week when talking about JT. Stetson's got 10 touchdowns in the last three games. I wondered if there was a point where, I don't know what the word is, that you trusted him more to go downfield, to do more things, or is that overestimating it?
COACH MONKEN: Oh, I don't know. I mean, I think the hardest part is the way our season has gone. Our season, we've had a tremendous season, and for a number of those games we put ourselves in position to where we didn't need the quarterback to make plays in the second half of games. So people could look at that and say, well, why didn't you take the opportunity to continue to get more reps or get other quarterbacks opportunities.
Not in my mind. My mind was to win that one game in particular and get off the field without injuries. And so that's probably the hardest part when you try to look at throwing the ball down the field in terms of the opportunity. Our defense played so well.
And so I think that's probably a little unfair that we didn't trust him to throw it down the field. It was just a matter of opportunities, I think, is more than anything because the way the games went.
Q. You talk about Georgia checking all the boxes in terms of resources and recruiting area and facilities and everything else. Were you aware they hadn't won a title since 1980 when you got there? How much have you heard about it and what would it mean to end it?
COACH MONKEN: I had not because I really, in a lot of ways, that didn't factor into it because I knew what the place was like now.
And I knew the success that they had and were awfully close in previous years to that. And that's what you can ask, is just an opportunity to put yourself in the tournament or in position, I guess, the best way to put it.
So I just knew that the opportunity to get really good players, a leading academic institution, Atlanta being right down the road, unbelievable support, and I think that's where you want to be.
Q. I wanted to ask about your time with the Buccaneers. I'm sure you learned something every stop you've been at. What about your time with the Bucs has helped you become a better coach at this level?
COACH MONKEN: Well, first of all, I loved my time at Tampa, the three years I was there working for a close friend and mentor, Dirk Koetter, gave me an opportunity to come back to the NFL as an offensive coordinator. We still have a place down there.
But the organization was first class, the Glazers treated me with unbelievable respect. The front office was tremendous. What I remember is unfortunately we just didn't get it done; we didn't win enough games. But really enjoyed the players. We had a great nucleus of players.
I learned a lot in terms of how hard it is to win in the NFL. And I shouldn't say I learned that. I knew that anyways. But it's hard to win in the NFL.
But the bottom line is we didn't win enough games, but the relationships that I had with everybody as part of the organization and the coaches and the players was unbelievable.
Q. Being a guy that grew up in the Midwest, what would it be like to coach this game in Indianapolis? Will you have family coming from that part of the country? And being a play caller in the national championship game, does that excite you as a guy who has been doing that for a long time?
COACH MONKEN: I don't miss the cold. That part doesn't excite me. Thank God the game is indoors, so that doesn't factor in it. Sure, it's always nice to see family come and see us play, but we obviously don't control that.
But I'm excited for the game. I'm excited for our players. This is about our players and the opportunity that they have in front of them that they've earned. And they've earned this by the hard work they've put in starting at the end of last year. This is a year-long process. And our guys have been through it to get to this point and to have this opportunity.
And it's everything that we do it for, everybody has this initial goal going into it. And our guys have worked incredibly hard to get to this point and have trusted in the message that we've sent and they've carried that out for the most part throughout the year. So I'm excited to see them play.
This doesn't come around very often, this opportunity to win a championship. So I think our guys are excited. We've started off the week the right way and we'll see.
Q. On Brock Bowers, how do you approach Alabama playing the second time now and trying to stay a step ahead of them presumably with them trying to stop him after the impact he had in the first game?
COACH MONKEN: Oh, I don't know. I mean, we'd be guessing. We'd be guessing at certain things they would do to stop a particular player. We've got film from the last few years of them playing some really really good players. You go back to playing LSU a couple years ago with the receivers they had and Joe Burrow, and they did a couple of things to kind of change that up a little bit but the reality is they're good because they do what thy do.
Sure, do they understand an opponent's really good players and what you want to do schematically? Of course. But they knew that going into the last game. Obviously he had a number of catches, but they knew that going into the last game.
So we don't anticipate a heck of a lot different. But maybe just in terms of where he's located or different calls based on formation sets and what we do to get him the ball. But outside of that, to think that they're going to line up two guys over him and double team him would be a stretch.
Q. Obviously we see you operating the 10,000-foot view from the press box. But on the sidelines we see JT engaging Stetson and we hear Kirby talking about the quarterback room. I think you mentioned it. How important is that and as far as the in-game adjustments for those quarterbacks to communicate?
COACH MONKEN: I think any communication can be positive or negative depending on how it's presented and what you're telling a player. It can be a positive or negative for me; it can be a positive or negative from any interaction you give a quarterback, from a confidence standpoint, an awareness standpoint, from what you're expecting to see or what you've seen.
All of that is a plus. I think JT will do a great job in a very tough situation of embracing that part of it and doing everything he can to help Stetson and us in game prep and being ready should the opportunity arise. And Stetson has done the same even when he wasn't playing.
So, I do think those guys staying involved in the game and the information that we give them is critically important throughout the game.
Q. From your years in the NFL and major college football, where would you rank Will Anderson's ability to wreak havoc on opposing offenses and (indiscernible) preparation?
COACH MONKEN: Well, you certainly want to know where he is. It's not just from pass-rush standpoint. He does a really good job, if you get into the zone read game, where he tries to hit you at the junction point and try to disrupt from the open side.
So -- and he plays with relentless effort. I think he has a tremendous skill set. They do a good job moving him around and he plays with relentless effort. Those are all good signs of a player that you've always got to be aware of where he's at and the matchups that you have.
And like any team, they're no different, just like with him, just like last week, you gotta be careful about getting yourself in a drop-back passing game at any time and putting yourself at risk.