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Kirby Smart Praises Brock Bowers in Post Game Press Confernce

Will Morrison

Kirby Smart gave his post-game remarks to the media following a 27-20 over Auburn. Smart's quotes are italicized.

Opening Remarks: A lot of credit goes to Auburn and their atmosphere. I told a television station afterward that it's an incredible atmosphere every time we come here to play. They have one of the most loyal fan bases there is. I have a lot of respect for Hugh and the job he's done. Obviously, we didn't play our best game today, but we're a very resilient team. I'm proud of the way we competed. We got to continue to get better... that's the most important thing for our team. There were a lot of things we did wrong and a lot of things we did well. We're not going to get where we want to go if we don't get better, so that's the biggest thing. 

On What He Told the Team Following the Game: I was proud of them. Resilient as hell. Competed. The leadership of this team has shown through twice. You don't know how many times you're going to be able to do that when you turn the ball over, and you give people extra possessions. You just can't do that. Good football teams don't do that. Good football teams don't let people run the ball on you for 200 yards. That's one of the things we knew that they could do well. I thought they really ran the ball well, and they used the quarterback and rushed the ball on us. We can't do that, and we have to be able to run the ball better too. I'm proud of the way the guys fought. 

On Brock Bowers: Bowers did what he does. That guy is amazing. It's a wonder why you don't go to him every play. People know he's there. We try to find creative ways to get him the ball. You know we need guys around him, and they have. Daijuan stepped up, Ladd made plays for a guy that didn't practice much this week, and RaRa made a hell of a conversion on a third down. A lot of guys we made plays. We need more playmakers around Brock so that people can't isolate him.

On Carson Beck: I thought Carson played better in the second half. I never felt like he was rattled. That was a concern coming in is if he would be rattled by this environment. 

On Ladd McConkey: For how much he practiced, I thought we got way more out of him. I was worried about him being a little rusty. He's so confident. He played in this stadium the last time he was here, if you remember. He made some big conversions today. All I can do is hope there's no setback from this, but he continues to get better. 

On How Much This Win Meant For Him: They all matter. They all feel good. We put so much into this. 16-18 hour days for 5, 6, 7 days, and these kids work really hard. There's a lot of buildup, and then when you have a situation where you're behind and you come back and win on the road, it says something about your team and your character. Nobody panicked. I don't know how good of a team we got...I really don't. I don't sit here and claim that we have some unbelievable team. I do think that our team believes in each other, we connect, we step up when we need to step up, but we can't keep turning the ball over. 

On The QB Run Game Giving UGA Problems: Well, they got misdirection plays, a lot of which we practiced. Number one, you get an extra hat with a running quarterback, we all know that. Unless you have really elite defensive linemen, linebackers, and safeties that are filling and fitting just perfect, one missed fit is an 8-9 yard run. In the past, we haven't struggled with that kind of run game. They hurt us. They copied some things UAB did, and we expected that. That's what's disappointing, you expect it, and you don't stop it. We have to help our players. We have to get better on defense. 

Smart said it was disappointing to get the ball out of the half, and then you give the ball away. "It's tough to overcome that," Smart said. He said it was different than the South Carolina game because they had the momentum to start the second half but gave it away in this one. 

On Peyton Woodring: He was big. We've been putting a lot of pressure on him in practice, but I don't know if that simulates it. There's nothing that simulates what he had to do today. I told the team after the game he begs to do the pressure kicks in practice, and he made them in the game. I think the kid has something special to him. 

On UGA's Offensive Third Down Success: Unbelievable job by the offensive staff. You go 8 for 10 against air it's incredible. It's hard to do that in our league with the defensive players they have and rushers. They had a good plan. They did an incredible job. We take a lot of pride in third down and red area being elite in the country. Our offense is starting to create an identity of being good at that. 

Smart believes there isn't a lot of separation between any team in college football this year. He also added that he doesn't think his heart can keep handling these tight games. 

On Brock Bowers' Heisman Campaign: I hate getting into those man. I hate getting into that debate. I'm worried about our team, and so is he. Who can argue that there is a better football player anywhere in the country. The guy has the greatest toughness and grit that I've been around. He'll do anything you ask him to do for this team. I got a lot of respect for that guy as a competitor. 

On the Auburn Defense Shutting Down the UGA Run Game: Well, they strike blockers. Their defense coordinator does a great job here. He does multiple defenses... plays 3-down and 4-down. They play physical. They strike. They did a good job. We left some plays out there now. They didn't always stop us as much as we stopped ourselves from turnovers and self-inflicted wounds. We did run the ball well on the perimeter. I thought the fastball helped take the crowd out of it sometimes. Look, to have a quarterback start on the road for the first time at Auburn and not have a procedural penalty or delay of game is pretty remarkable. I thought we handled that really well. We didn't shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties. 

On Kentucky's Game Against Florida: That's Mark Stoops' team. They're going to be physical. He's a defensive coach. They run the rock. I always say our kids are the most sore they've ever been after playing Kentucky, and it was that way last year. It was a blood bath last year up there. It'll be the same way. I have so much respect for the way his team plays. The back they got from Vandy is a very good player. 

On How to Make This Team a 4 Quarter Team: I wish I had the answer to that. We're trying. I don't think we started poorly... I really don't. I think we finished well. We have started games well. It's not a consistent poor start. We did some things well on defense early, and we moved the ball well on offense early. At the end of the day, we score more points in the second half. 

On Carson Beck's Composure: I told y'all he's never flustered. He's like that. He's a calming voice out there. He got rid of a couple balls. He took off and ran a couple times when he needed to. The closest he came to putting us at risk was when someone didn't do their job in the front, and he almost got sacked and tried to throw it away, and the kid should've picked it. At the end of the day, Carson's a competitor. I've seen him do this since high school. He's got the right make-up. 

On What He Learned From the UGA Offense: They can be really good when they execute. It's just hard to execute for 10 or 12 plays. You have to have an explosive and catch a 5-play with a 60-yarder or a 6-play with a 30-yarder, and we were missing those. We missed Delp down the middle early, and that was an explosive play. We had a couple that I thought were really close for Brock, but they did a good job defending them. They get a couple of PI calls that advanced them, and we missed out on a couple. I can't argue with the call, but we need some of those to hit. 

On Daylen Everette: He's getting better and getting more confident. He and Julio are having a great battle. I think Julio practiced really well this week, so he got to play a little more. They continue to get better, and Kamari is playing well. 

On Ladd McConkey's Usage: He's a full go but can't go every snap. If you don't practice, you can't go out there in that heat and play. It was a situational deal. We were going to put him in and do some run plays with him and some pass plays. On third down, he was big. He runs certain routes really well. We're going to use him as freely as we need him. 

On Maximizing Possessions: We don't talk about maximizing them, but we work all week to maximize them. It's not like we go, let's minimize this possession. Everybody wants to maximize possessions, there aren't enough of them. If you don't have three-and-outs on defense, you're probably going to have a few of those. I'm disappointed in our run defense like we didn't stop the run well, but you know what they're physical, and they got 3-4 backs in the backfield, including their quarterback. That's the hardest you'll see running the ball. What I'm disappointed in is we have a third down, we're playing man to man, and a guy's got the quarterback, and he leaves, and the quarterback runs. We had them backed up. That cost our offense 40 yards of field position. Those are the hidden yards. You can't just give them gifts... make them earn things. 

Photo courtesy of Charles Jordan. 


Edited by Will Morrison

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