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  • Writer's pictureDAWG NEWS DAILY

Smart, Bulldogs Preview MSU Game

Coach Kirby Smart Opening Statement... Yeah, we opened our start of work on Mississippi State today. Took a day in the bye week to work towards these guys. Very different. Really different in two ways. Different defensively. Their defensive coordinator does an incredible job. Different kind of scheme than we faced before. And then offensively, obviously, they're very different. And people would probably think they're similar to Tennessee. But they're really not similar to Tennessee. So it's become a third week of facing a different kind of offense in terms of what they do offensively. And very, very few of our calls and schemes carry over from one week to the next when you play this offense. So it's a new challenge for our guys. And I know our guys will be excited getting ready for it. It's an extremely tough place to play. A place I've been many times. Their environment is electric. It'll be at night. And their guys play really hard and they're really physical. We saw that, you know, a couple years ago, here at home against them. I guess it was during the COVID year.” On Mississippi State’s differences from 2020 game… A lot more experienced quarterback. You know, that was the kickoff for him. And he played really well in that game and kind of got a lot of confidence playing against us. I don't know how many games he's played since then, but a lot. He's broken a lot of records. He's very intelligent. He doesn't make mistakes. He uses Coach Leach's offense to his strength. And they understand, very similar to last week, triple options. They know who they are. They have answers for what they do. They're usually one step ahead in their answer than you are because you don't play against them but once a year and they do it all the time. So they have exposure to everything every defense has tried on them. And, you know, their quarterback is very experienced. And that's the biggest difference. Defensively, they may not be the same players they were because a lot of players are gone. But they are extremely physical, disruptive. The defensive coordinator does a great job. Zach Arnett does a good job of it.” On the team maintaining composure following a big win… “We just don't talk about it much. They understand it's wasted energy when you talk about it. And you guys want to write about it, do all that. You just focus on Mississippi State. And, like, what do we have to do to play well against them? What do we have to do to play well on the road in the SEC? Those are the focus. That's nothing but a number and a distraction and it's irrelevant. It just really doesn't matter. They see it. But they don't get it discussed around here. Because I think the more you talk about it, the more attention you bring to it.” On the secondary facing Mississippi State… “You'd be mistaken if you think they're just throwing it. Because they’ve got some really good backs and they're really physical upfront. And they space you out. There's more gaps in the run game. They're really gashing people running the ball this year. And I think that's the biggest difference, is they are committed to running the ball and being physical upfront. And people have the wrong demeanor when they go to play this team that, ‘Oh, man I'm going to go out here and pass rush and get all these sacks.’ They're not going to let you do that. No. 1, they pass-cover really well. No. 2 they run-scheme really well. And they’ve got good backs. So it's not going to be a deal where it's all about secondary. Secondary's got to play well every week.” On Robert Beal’s status… Robert had a stinger and feels good. We'll see. I mean, I hadn't seen him today. But I feel good about him being able to play.” On AD Mitchell and Amarius Mims… “The update is we're hoping to get each one of them back this week.” On young players utilizing talent and development… “We recruit based on talent and instinct and character. Things like that. But you develop everybody that comes here. So when they come, they become part of the development. We teach our scheme. We teach our scheme in the spring. We teach it in the summer. We teach it again in fall camp. And then we teach it again throughout the season. And the more you teach and the more you expand someone's brain, the more information they can handle. And we try to push the limits of the expansion so that they can hold more and they can do more. And it doesn't matter where they come from, when they get here, what age they are, or what their rating was. We just take the guys that choose to be part of it and we try to develop them. And whether you're a first year, second year, or third year, fourth year, they get better. I mean, NFL scouts come, they want to see a player get developed. They want to see you've improved. They don't say, ‘Well, your juniors are all good. They're ready to go.’ No. There's a lot of things they can get better at. There's just more things the first-year and second-year guys can get better at. And we just try to prep the way that the young players get a lot of reps so they're ready when their turn comes.” On creating a mentally and physically tough team… “We hit mentally tough and physically tough. We hit a lot. So they get that speech before they come. Because I don't want to lie to them. So we tell them, ‘We're going to be in pads Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And we're going to be physical. And we're going to practice physical, we're going to be physical in the spring. We're going to be comfortable being physical.’ So that's agreed upon when they come. On Jalen Carter’s impact and the non-safety against Tennessee… Does it matter? I'm worried about Mississippi State, to be honest. The Jalen question: I don't know how many snaps he played. I didn't check it. We count it. We do production. We know how many points he made. He certainly was productive in terms of tackles, calls, fumbles. He was -- the first time this year -- I won't even say he was 100 percent healthy. I would say the first time this year he was above 90/95. Because on the very first play of the game against Oregon, he took a tough ankle injury and has not really been 100 percent since. And he's committed to getting back and he's worked really hard. So I don't know how many snaps he played. He didn't play perfect. And he needs to get in better shape to be able to play more snaps. But he has taken ownership in working on that. That was the big thing for him coming into the season is, ‘How good of shape can you be in to play a larger volume of snaps?’ Well, we've had this great fortune of getting a lot of dudes ready around him because he hasn't been here. So it's like a luxury to have him back and have him playing well. He still has a few things he's got to work on in terms of playing the right way within the plan. But he played really well the other day and we need him to continue that.” On lessons taken from the Tennessee game… “I think maybe some confidence from them. But it doesn't carry over. There's nobody we'll play these next three games in the regular season that's really like that. You watch the tape, it's different. It's very different. On Kendall Milton playing in the game and the “hurry-up defense” … “Kendall Milton has worked his tail off. He practiced much better last week, although I wouldn't say he was 100 percent last week. He practiced much better. He got better as the week went along. We felt more comfortable. Going into the game, we felt like he was going to be able to help us if we needed him to. And Daijun was a little dinged up. Kenny was a little dinged up in the game. So it gave us an opportunity to play Kendall. And he stepped up and did a nice job. So I'm hoping that Kendall can get back to 100 percent this week because we need him and the others for the stretch we're on. And as far as the hurry-up stuff, everybody has a way for practicing for it and there's no perfect way. So you do the best you can. It's hard to simulate.” On Warren Ericson and Devin Willock… “Warren does a great job playing each week. He's a guy that can play all five positions. He's very versatile. He's very experienced. He's a leader of that group. He commands respect of the men in the room because of the time he's done and, really, the way he works. He has an extremely valuable role on our team, starting on punt because he makes a lot of calls for our punt team and he does a tremendous job of that and then his versatility. Devin, I thought, did a good job. I challenged Devin to play with more confidence. He's got to play with confidence and play like a starter. And he really gets good movement on people. And his size allows him to do some things. He can recognize some things probably a little quicker. But you can tell, he came out with a demeanor of playing physical and I think that's probably what he does best, is play physical.” On the team’s experience with crowd noise… “It's a huge competitive advantage. That's why there's a home and away. And that's why I always say in the SEC, it's greater than NFL, other than playoffs, because the environment is not the same in any conference, division, level of football as it is in the SEC when you play on the road. And I've been in this conference for 20-something years. And I've seen it. I know what it does in terms of the effect it has on pass rush, the effect it has on momentum. And it's something you really can't measure. So you have to prepare the right way. It's a firm reason why I believe in practicing with crowd noise throughout the year because both sides of the ball need it.” On the Mississippi State environment… Loud. I mean, they're passionate. I can't say that it's unique because every SEC school, I feel, is that way. You guys were there at Missouri. It was loud, it was passionate there. It's a rural community that everybody comes from afar and everybody's sold-out and in love with their football team. That's what they have to hang their hat on, their pride in, which is usually indicative of all SEC schools. But especially there. Being in Tuscaloosa for those years, it was right there right down the road. There's a lot of pride and they're really physical.” On the team replacing Nolan Smith… “A lot of the guys see it as an opportunity. Probably inspired and motivated some guys. And others, you know, were inspired with an opportunity to play against a good team, play at home. But I felt good about our guys stepping up. We certainly need Robert to be healthy because otherwise we're going to be really thin at that position. But the other guys are growing and getting better.” On Kenny McIntosh’s performances… Kenny always does a great job as a runner. He had some elusive runs last week. He breaks tackles downfield. He had a lot of those against Florida. He's running the ball really well this year. Sometimes it's not there, and he makes the most of it. And sometimes it is there, and he makes more of it. And I'm pleased with all those guys' performances.” On MSU’s defense… “They're aggressive, relentless, experienced. They’ve got, like, seven or eight starters back. Disruptive with the way they move and do things. This is different. And it stands out. But you better have a good plan because they can take what you do away from you quickly.” On finishing the game with the rain… Did we take the air out of it? Yes. But did I question doing that? No, not based on the circumstances. I certainly didn't intentionally question it because I think that was the play in the moment because the conditions changed. And you have to be smart when you're coaching. It could be wind, it can be rain, it can be anything. It can be an injury. But you have to be smart. When you see two exchanges with two guys, their backs hardly ever fumble. And our backs very rarely do, too.” On MSU coach Mike Leach… “I enjoy being around him. I don't know him that well. Probably as well as I know some others because he was out west for a large time I've been coaching here. But he was at Valdosta State when I was in high school. And his staff recruited me to go to Valdosta State from right down the road. So I know he was there at that time. And I know a lot about him and followed his career because of Coach Hatcher and because of the air raid kind of family. But I have a lot of respect for what he does. He's evolved, too. He's not stayed exactly the same. Their backs and their commitment to the run -- the so-called just air raid. And he's brought that physicality, really, to the SEC in terms of what he does.” On the team moving forward from the win… “No matter who you play, you have a process and we're not going to go do anything different today than when we played Vandy, Auburn, Kent State, Missouri or anybody else. Because when you treat it differently, you make it different. So that's not what this program was built on. We do it week-to-week and we worry about the opponent that week. And it's not what you want me to say, not what you want to write, but it's true.” On Javon Bullard’s performance… Played really hard. Tackled well. He's physical and he's passionate about playing the game. He didn't play perfect, now. He grabbed and held a couple times and got called. But he played hard. He understood the game plan and he executed it.” On Marvin Jones, Jr. and Chaz Chambliss… The best news is they got to practice going into it. Because of the loss of reps and it kind of got dispersed out among those guys. So they were better prepared because they were one notch up. So they were a little more prepared for it. Still didn't play perfect. The key is keeping those guys healthy.” On the team battling the flu… “A couple guys have been battling the flu. Went into the game that way. And a couple tried to push through. I had a couple walk-on guys that were out. But, you know, we had two or three going into the game that we were worried about. They seemed to come out all right. I haven't seen them today. But I'm sure they'll be fine.” #5 Kelee Ringo | R-So. | DB On the interception against Tennessee… “Obviously it’s a great feeling to get your hands on the ball as a defensive back. We don’t get too many opportunities. Being able to make the most of those opportunities is something that we really try to keep building on throughout the entire secondary and our defense.” On the play he brought in the interception… “It was more of a feel thing. Just looking at the receiver and seeing his demeanor, the way he is looking for the ball. When the ball goes up in the air, the receiver’s eyes get a little bit bigger and you can try to see if they are trying to locate the ball or not.” On the team’s mindset going into the Mississippi State game… “We’re going to focus on Mississippi State more this week, honestly more than we ever have. Just continue to keep everything the same way we have been for every other game. We know that they have really good threats outside and also a pretty good quarterback as well. Honestly, just try to not let anyone get behind us, keep working together and stick to the game plan as we have been before.” #84 Ladd McConkey | R-So. | WR On playing through injuries... "I think when you play in the SEC everybody's banged up throughout the week so it's just something you’ve got to get through and play through. It's not just us, every other team has to deal with it too." On traveling to Starkville this weekend... "They're a great team and playing there is definitely not going to be easy. Crowd noise is going to be a factor, something we have to work on this week. Just going in with the same mindset. It doesn't matter who we're playing. We treat every week the same. Just going out there and doing what we do. That's all we're focused on right now." On going against Javon Bullard in practice... "He's so scrappy and smart too, so playing against those guys and all our other DBs every day, it really challenges me and all the other receivers and tight ends. Getting to go against those guys throughout the week I think it really helps translating over to Saturday. I feel like I'm seeing the best in the nation every day. To be able to go against them and be able to translate on the field, I think it definitely is a huge factor for us.” On what makes Georgia a mentally and physically tough team... "I would say really just our practice habits and what we've worked on since fall camp, since winter workouts last year. It's something we pride ourselves on. Coach Smart always says we have to control the line of scrimmage to win the game and I think our guys up front do that week in and week out. They start it off and then we help them out with it." On Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint... "Marcus has been a huge factor since he got here. Obviously getting hurt his freshman year and then being able to get back in the end zone this week, that was awesome. He works so hard every single day, every week, so for him to be able to get in the end zone and to see how much joy it brought to him it shows how much the hard work is paying off. For him to be able to do that, there's not a guy that's more deserving than him I feel like." On his touchdown against Tennessee... "It's something we've repped for awhile. We hit it last year a couple times. Not just me, a couple other guys too. It's something we've worked on for a while and then they just thought it was the right time to call it. I had a good field position too. It worked out and it was good.” On what has changed since the start of the season for him... "Really just staying locked in. Not letting one play affect another one. That's something I've been trying to work on, just staying level headed throughout the game. Don't get too up, don't get too down. I've just tried to get back to the basics a little bit and just lock in on the ball. I don't think it's a catching ability, it was a mental thing with me. I'm just not locking in fully, so I feel like that's something I really focused on, and I've been trying to work on more."



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