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  • Writer's pictureDAWG NEWS DAILY

Smart, Bulldogs Talk Prep for Ole Miss



ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, sophomore defensive back Malaki Starks, junior offensive lineman Tate Ratledge, junior defensive back Kamari Lassiter, and senior wide receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint met with the media on Tuesday evening after practice and offered the following comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart On how practice has been this week...

"It's been good. Had two good days. Intro to Ole Miss yesterday, then some regular down stuff today and do some more third down red area tomorrow. They've been locked in and it's a tough prep because they do a lot of different things offensively and create a lot of problems on defense. I mean they create TFLs, and they create a lot of havoc. So, trying to stay ahead of the sticks and ahead of the chains. They do a good job, so it's been good prep though."

On making any defensive adjustments for Jaxson Dart's running abilities...

"No. Once he is a runner, he's no more protected than running back. I mean, we're going to tackle him like we tackle backs. He's physical. Their backs are physical. They're all hard to tackle in terms of size and stature. You get over 210 to 215 pounds and they're running 4.4s, 4.5s, it's physical, and he lowers his shoulder and competes to play. I have a lot of respect for the way he runs, but in terms of us tackling him, he's going to be you know, like we do a back."

On Brock Bowers' practice updates...

"He's working hard. He's doing all he can in terms of trying to get himself in shape and get better. I mean, he's back running now on dry land and we're hoping that he keeps getting better. That's this kind of the MO on this injury, you know, every kid we've had so far that's had it: week one they do this, week two they do this, week three they do that. ​He's right on schedule for the things he's been doing."

On the pain tolerance of tightrope surgery...

"I never had it either Anthony so I can't answer that. I don't know. Some guys say it hurts worse than others. [Lawson] Luckie shared his experiences with Brock and Ja [Jamaal Jarrett] had two of them. Cash [Jones] had one. Now [Amarius] Mims obviously had won. So, from what I hear, it's more painful in the beginning and it's like a roller coaster ride. It has its ups and downs and moments, and you continue to push through it, and you get better as you go."

On what Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint's journey has been like...

"Yeah, when we recruited Marcus, we knew we were getting that kind of kid. He went to a great school down in South Florida, St. Thomas, and he's a great kid. He comes from a great family. He's very passionate about football. You know, I don't know when you rank leaders at Georgia, there's been some great ones since we've been here in terms of the command and respect that they've earned by what they've been through and what they've done. He would be right there at the top of those guys in terms of when he speaks, people listen. The way he competes and his toughness and his effort. He upholds our culture. He begs to be on special teams. I mean, he just embodies what you want a Georgia football player to be, and I have a lot of respect for him as a competitor."

On any similarities between Lane Kiffin's defense at Ole Miss and his defense at Alabama...

"Well, he doesn't have the exact same players he had at Alabama. So, I think he's done a good job making his scheme his scheme and there's similarities, but you don't just do the scheme. No defensive coordinator just goes 'Oh, well I'm going to cookie cutter this, this is what I do, this what I believe in.' You do what fits your system. He's taken the players he has there, and he's made them better on defense. They fly around and they attack the ball. They do a lot of really good things. They're just not they're not the exact same players that they have in Alabama in terms of just sheer size and numbers, but they are very talented in what they do."

On impact Sedrick Van Pran has had as a cornerstone piece to the program...

"Character, leadership, charisma, heart. He's not afraid to speak up. All the great leaders we have this year learned two years ago from a great leadership class. That leadership class learned from a really good [class]. You learn from those before you, and those that laid the foundation all the way back to Nick [Chubb] and Sony [Michel] have trickled down to everybody else. So, when you have good core people, you're not going to win every game. I mean, it's just not going to happen. You're not going to do that. If you put good people in your program, you demand excellence, you hold them to a standard, and you pay attention to every little detail, eventually you get pretty good leadership out of people. We've been bearing the fruits of a lot of work that we put into these players really from COVID to home."

On any indication that CJ Allen and Raylen Wilson would step in and contribute early in the year...

"I don't know that I can sit here and say anything set them apart to make them able to. You don't know if a guy's going to be a place a freshman until they get here and see how they learn and process. They were both bright kids and they were both really talented kids. So physically, they had the gifts to be able to play but I mean, within our defense, there's a mental rep count you got to get and luckily, they had all spring. They got it down in the spring, then they had all summer and they've had all fall camp. Raylen would be probably at least where CJ is or ahead if he had not had the injury in camp. That set him back, but he's caught up really quickly and they're both really good athletes."

On his relationship with Lane Kiffin and if it brings any uniqueness…

“No. I have a lot of respect for Lane, I told you that. He and I shared seats next to each other at Alabama for two years, I guess it was, maybe three. I don’t ever know how long we were there together because it all runs together, but a lot of respect for him as a coach. He was a head coach at a really young age. He taught me a lot of things about what he believes in being a head coach and doing it your way. He’s certainly had a unique experience in terms of the places he's been able to work as a head coach, and he draws on that. There are times we share ideas or GPS numbers or whatever, but there’s nothing outside of just a really good friendship and respect.”

On Branson Robinson’s rehab and if he will be ready by spring practice…

“You know, I don’t know the answer to that. The closest thing we had was Rian Davis went through this the one year, and it’s a long, arduous process. I can’t answer that. I think he’ll probably be cleared, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to go through live tackling and everything.”

On where he wants to see Carson Beck continue to improve during the season’s final stretch…

“His leadership to continue to improve and exert his confidence and put his touch on his personality with those guys is something. He’s into all the ball stuff. He could be cleaner on some things in the pocket. He could be cleaner on some protection things, but he’s going to make mistakes because we put him in a position to make three to four decisions every play. So he’s not going to be perfect, but I can accept that. I just want him to continue to grow as a leader and commanding of the offense.”

On if NIL and transfer rules have created more parity in college football in recent years…

“I think so. I don’t know. I don’t think we’ll know the totality of NIL and portal until we look back from a five to ten-year window. You can’t really have enough substance to judge that, but there seems to be more parity. I don’t know. Teams don’t have as deep of rosters as we used to.”

On if the fanbase can have an even bigger impact on the Ole Miss game through noise…

“Yeah, they can have a huge impact, and we need them to. I’m counting on them to have a huge impact. Look, Ole Miss has played in some tough stadiums, not only this year but last year. They’ve gone across the SEC West and seen all the tough places to play, and it’s not going to be foreign to them to play in a tough environment. We certainly need to create it for them, and we need to create problems for them on defense and make it hard for them to play against us, along with the crowd. The crowd needs to have an impact and pull in the same direction for our players.”

On Javon Bullard’s impact on the team…

“He’s a great leader. He has heart and soul. He and Kamari [Lassiter] have such passion for the game. They compete against each other every day in practice, and they’re both physically tough. They love football. They’re at the edge of their seat every meeting taking notes. They love nuggets. He’s just a great kid and a great leader who loves football.”

On Ernest Green, III’s progression throughout the season…

“He’s done a really good job. He’s come into a league it’s hard to play left tackle in. He’s played really well. He’s had his snafus, he’s had some mistakes, he’s had some jumpy moments. But I think the fact that he’s played through all that and playing with more and more confidence – we’ve really challenged him to get in shape to be able to play four quarters at full speed and give max effort, and I think he’s taking that on and really working hard at it. He’s very contentious about working that stuff.”


#24 Malaki Starks | DB | So.

On what stands out the most about Ole Miss’s passing game and how they’ll prepare to face the Rebel offense Saturday…

“Their depth and the pace that they go… they are a very fast temp offense. They’ve got guys that can go get it and guys that can move in and out of the slot. Just the depth that they have at the positions and the abilities that the guys have; we just have to be able to match up and be able to run with it.”

On the Tennessee game last year and how fans and the environment affect the defense and their communication…

“That Tennessee game last year was different. We fed off their energy and we communicated very well. The whole point of defense if verbally or nonverbally, being able to communicate. That is something that when the noise does pick up, we have to be able to handle it. I think last year versus Tennessee we did that very well, so we have to be able to do it again because I know our fans are going to show up just like always.”

On how you prepare for your own home crowd noise…

“We really use the speakers in the indoor, the crowd noise that we use in the indoor to just make it more difficult to communicate. They get very loud, so it helps a lot. But just emphasizing the need to communicate. The speed that they go, and we practice with, you have to be able to nonverbal signal and verbal signal. So, just the way we practice is probably the best thing that helps us get ready.”

#69 Tate Ratledge | OL | Jr.

On handling Missouri’s defense. . .

“A lot of it has to do with remembering what’s happening during that play, so when you go on the sideline, you can make judgements and decide what they’re doing to give something away, so they can get it back up to the box. I think a lot of it involves just getting big. There’s a lot of times when you’ll be half on a half on a combo, half on a linebacker, so it kind of just depends, and having to deal with both at the same time. You’d like to get off a combo play and pick up a linebacker, but it doesn’t always work like that. I think a lot of it’s having a mindset that it’s going to happen and you know it’s coming, and dealing with it the best you can.”

On where the offensive line is in terms of run blocking. . .

“I think we’ve improved a lot over the year, and with that being said, there’s a lot more that we need to improve on. I think there’s some stuff that bothers us, and there’s some stuff that gives us trouble, and we work on it a lot in practice which really helps us. But yes, I have seen improvements from us as a whole group and individuals, so it’s been good to see.”

On Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint’s progress over the years following his freshman year injury. . .

“He’s really stepped into a leader role, and I think he did a really good job in that time of staying in during rehab and improving himself. He’s waited his turn, and now that it is his turn, he’s stepped into that leadership role and now he’s a big vocal voice of our offense and our team. I think he’s done a really good job.”



#3 Kamari Lassiter | DB | Jr.

On moving into the star role against Missouri...

"I did kind of do a little bit of star when I first got here my freshman year when I first got here, and then I focused on corner for a long time. It was really Coach Fran [Brown], and he was like, 'I want our three on their three.' He asked Coach Smart, and the coaches felt good about it. They just taught me then game plan, worked with me all week, had some extra meetings, and just stuff like that. Going out into the game, I felt pretty confident to just go out there and fight for my brothers."

On competing against high-level wide receivers...

"It's just the level of competition. You come into a place like Georgia to play at a high level and play against the best players in the country. So, whenever you get the opportunity, you always want to make the most of it."

On what he's learned from watching film for Ole Miss...

"Ole Miss is a team that prides themselves on having really good skill players. They have a really good quarterback, really good running backs and really good guys on the outside. They can do a lot of tempo, so just being able to prepare for those weapons and a lot of tempo for their game. That's something we have to work on."


#1 Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint | WR | Sr.

On the emotions he’ll be feeling on senior day…

“This weekend will be breathtaking, to just see how fast time flies, it’s been a journey. Seeing where how far I’ve come from my freshman year until now, I’m just excited for the moment and thankful for the opportunity. Emotions are going to be high, but at the end of the day we have a job to do.”

On his favorite moment in his time at Georgia…

“Probably my first touchdown ever in my freshman year, that is definitely my favorite moment. I don’t care if I got hurt on that play that one is still my favorite.”

On what stands out to him about the Ole Miss defense…

“They’re a really good defense, they try to disrupt the run, they’re number one in the SEC in causing turnovers, and they’re number two in recovering fumbles I think. So, they’re a really good defense all around especially against the run. We just have to go in with a plan of action to find a way to attack and neutralize their way of play, so the run game can be efficient for us. We just have to go out there on Saturday and do our job and do our 1/11th.”


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