Kirby Smart met with the media today to preview the Ball State game this upcoming weekend and talk more on the UT Martin game.
Kirby starts off the press conference by saying that practice has been great on Monday and Tuesday. The weather in Athens wasn't as hot as expected, so the team had a full outdoor practice today. He states that the coaches challenged the team to have a better week of practice and "So far we've done that, but we've only done 2 of the 4."
UT Martin got the ball out of the quarterback's hand quickly this past Saturday, and Kirby was asked if the speed at which the QB gets rid of the ball affects recruiting. Smart says, "To win football games, you can't throw the ball in 2.1 seconds every time." He then says in your later downs, and when you play more sophisticated teams, they're going to drop back and throw, and you have to be able to pressure the quarterback. "We see that the further up we go," Smart adds. He says teams that feel outmanned on the offensive line front tend to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. He finishes this by saying, "You have to have people that can rush the passer."
After being asked if he saw any growing up from AJ Harris, Nyland Green, Julian Humphrey, and Daylen Everette on tape, Smart says, "They probably grow up more in practice because they get challenged more." He says they played a lot more physical than he thought they would, especially Green, Harris, and Humphrey. "Nothing really stood out, but I thought they played with great confidence," Smart adds.
In the injury department, linebacker Raylen Wilson is back in a black shirt and practiced the last two days after hyperextending his knee during fall camp. Smart says, "It's great to have him out there, but I don't think he's 100%." Smael Mondon played some last weekend, but Smart says they're still ramping him up slowly to full game snap quota. Daijuan has looked good and has practiced but is still wearing a knee brace. Ladd has not practiced with the team so far. "He's ran routes, ran, and cut, but he hasn't been taking any hits," Smart adds. Jackson Meeks is also recovering nicely from his injury. "He's out of a boot and back on the real grass," Smart says. He does add that Ladd seems to be ahead of him.
Smart says the plan was for Dylan Fairchild and Micah Morris to get some playing time early in the game. He says Morris needs to play with more consistency. "He has the ability, but there's days he doesn't do his assignment, and that worries you," Smart adds on Morris. He also adds a quick note that he trusts Austin Blaske to go out there and play.
Xavian Sorey had his first start as a Georgia Bulldog this weekend, and Smart says, "He did some good things but had a few mental errors." He said the anxiety of playing in that game and starting was a daunting task for Sorey. Kirby says he played hard but did miss a few run keys and walkaways, but he's pleased with his development and has been very coachable.
Kirby was asked if he noticed any differences with the new clock rules in College Football. He says he didn't really notice a difference in this game but expects them to show up in tighter games. He says he can't say anything specifically on the topic until he sees the new rules in effect more.
Smart then spoke on the importance of having someone in the middle of the defensive line that's a game changer. He says you always want one of those violent and twitchy players up front but also want someone who's an anchor and can take up double teams. "You need both," Smart says. He says he has players on this team that can be disruptive but doesn't know if they can't consistently do it and stop the run as well. He wants to make sure that UGA has more of those guys than anyone else in the country.
When asked who Malaki Starks reminds Smart most of, he says HaHa Clinton Dix, Dominic Sanders, Lewis Cine, and Richard Lecounte. Smart then adds that Starks is a little bit different than those guys in the sense that, "He's the one guy that could go out there and play corner." Kirby adds that he has a speed and coverage skill set that most safeties don't have.
He says Georgia's focus on stopping the run has helped UGA limit explosive plays. Kirby says, "Do more with less." He then says that when you're a dominant run-stopping team with fewer men upfront, you can put more players on the field to defend the pass.
Kirby was asked how Javon Bullard looked in his first start at safety. He says he doesn't think he has a big enough sample size to judge that yet, but did say he tackled well and was in the right place at the right times. Smart says once the downfield shots come, he will have a better understanding.
He says having Tramel Walthour back for another year is big for Georgia. Kirby states that the RB room has more depth than the position group that Walthour plays in. He also adds that if it weren't for Walthour, UGA would have to play undersized backers to fill that position.
CJ Smith is going to be a very big player for the Georgia Bulldogs this year, and Smart says there were multiple times during practice that Smith made him say, "Woah." He says that CJ mirrors a lot of what Arian Smith did in his early years. Once he put together 12-14 practices in a row, Smart noticed that he was going to be very good. "We knew we were going to get someone that can really run if he could put the rest of the traits together," Smart adds on Smith.
When the media spoke with Mykel Williams on Monday, he stated that UGA was a team-oriented pass-rushing unit. Smart was asked if that is used against them any on the recruiting trail. Smart says, "We usually fix that by showing them how many we've had drafted, and that is silenced." He adds once they throw up the stats off all the guys that have been drafted and the spot they were drafted at, "They don't say anything."
Edited by Will Morrison