Coach Smart met with the media today so put a cap on the Auburn game and put his focus on Kentucky. Smarts quotes are written in italics.
Opening Remarks: I'm looking forward to playing a really physical Stoops team. Every time we play these guys, they're physical. Kentucky and Georgia is just a physical physical football game because they brand their football behind that, and so do we. I got a lot of respect for Coach Stoops and the program he's built and the job they've done.
On What Prevented Pre-Snap Penalties Versus Auburn: Composure is a big part of it. I thought we would have some. We simulated having some and getting backed up and not letting it spiral. I thought Coach Bobo and his offensive staff did an incredible job. You take a quarterback who's never played on the road and start at Auburn and not have procedural penalties...you have good organization, good substitution patterns, and good snap count variations. I thought they did a good job managing that. That's not the issue now. I'm worried about Kentucky now, and they got a really good defense.
On Ray Davis and the Kentucky OLine: He's an exceptional back. As good of a back as I've seen in a long time. The guy is smooth, explosive, he pass protects really well, and he protects the ball. He's aggressive in the way he runs. It reminds me of Swift... he's just a little bigger. He has a lot of the same cuts. They do a tremendous job blocking for him. It's not all him. It seems like Kentucky always has a back. Their backs run really physical, but they're committed to running the ball. They do a great job at the point of attack.
On the Kentucky Defense and What Stands Out: The defense they run is very unique. You don't play a lot of teams just like them. They have a lot of overhangs, what I call depths in the defense. They have people in the second level all over the place. There's not a lot of free yards out there. They make you earn everything you get. They're massive upfront. They play 3-4 and 4-3. The teams that play odd fronts they do a really good job of stopping the run game. They have a really goods scheme. It's not to easy mimic.
On What He's Learned About Carson Beck: Most quarterbacks that start for the first time, you maybe don't know enough. I felt like I had this relationship, and I knew Carson. I don't feel like I've learned a lot because I knew a lot. He's been in the system and played. Not played in that environment...I'm not trying to exchange experience, but I've been around the kid. He's been in the program. He's been in the offense. I've seen him have good days on third down against our defense and have bad days. I'd seen him make good decisions with the ball. He's really efficient. I guess the only thing I've learned is he does have natural composure. I already thought that because that's the way he practices. He doesn't get flustered very easy.
Smart says the UGA Offenses Identity has been up and down in the red area. He says they've been really good on third downs. Smart added that there are a lot of things they can work on.
On UGA's Edge Play: Well, we got to do a better job. I actually felt a bit better after I went and watched the tape. I was riding home on the bus in a state of depression about our ability to stop the run. My dad always said it's never as good as it seems, and it's never as bad as it seems. When I actually got to watch it...we struck blockers and played the run well at times. We didn't fit some plays well that they did and give them credit. We probably didn't work some of those enough out of the formations they did. They did a good job scheming that up. We got to a better job of that, make no mistake about it. We have good run fitters.
On the UGA DL: We have a lot of the same defensive linemen this year that we had last year outside of Jalen, who didn't play most of the year. We have plenty of good defensive linemen to do things and execute. We just don't have disruptive people. You have to find new ways to do things defensively to try and get people negative plays.
On Ladd McConkey's and Kendall Milton's Health Status: We're really trying to get them in shape now. We feel like they're healthy is a matter of can they get in shape without wearing down their legs. You don't really got in shape in season. You're either in shape or your not and those guys haven't had the chance to gain stamina in practice. We try to do it other ways. You do all the things you can do, but we're trying to get them healthy and into the game for more snaps.
On the UGA Run Blocking: You gotta help them. You gotta help them in a lot of ways. You can't tell me there's another offensive line that's out there just moving people and mashing people. Defensive linemen have leverage. You have to find ways to get double teams. Running the ball in the SEC is the hardest thing to do. Kentucky just did an unbelievable job of doing it. Outside of that performance, it's just not easy. I can't pinpoint one thing we have to do better, but there's a lot of things we got to do better. That's not just an offensive line job. There's perimeter blocks, tight-end blocks, there's getting in the right play, and then there's running back reads...they've got to do the right thing too. There's a lot of shared responsibility, starting with me.
On His Evaluation of Georgia's Guard Play: Depends on what front they were in. They have different fronts. You have a covered guard and then an uncovered guard. We had a couple mistakes in there on a couple pass pros. We had some good plays. Auburn's defensive line played extremely hard, like every one of them will. They played with really good pad level and leverage and didn't give up movement. I think across the board, our offensive line and defensive line have to play better. That's essentially my assessment.
On Peyton Woodring: A lot of confidence in Peyton. He is wired the right way. He was a baseball player, and he pitched. When you have these kids that played multiple sports, and they've had pressure on them in other environments...I'm a big believer in having to sit on that mound and throw strikes. I've been out there and know how hard it is to do it. He's having to do that and kick it in front of 93,000 people. That's not easy, and he's a true freshman. He did a nice job...going through his process, breathing, and handling things well. I told him he's got 10 people out there with him, and he's got 74 others in the locker room that love him whether he makes it or not. It's unconditional love. He needs to know that and be able to relax and kick. I was very proud of him the way he handled it.
On Roderick Robinson: He's still dealing with an ankle injury, so we will see how he goes this week.
On Smael Mondon's Growth: Probably in his leadership. He's been a really good athlete, and he came in as a really good space player. He's got tougher. He's grown as a blitzer. He's a quality leader. He's not afraid to confront guys when they aren't doing things right. You learn to appreciate as you coach longer the guys that hold people to a standard, so I don't have to.
Smart's Assessment of the ILB Room: It's hot and cold. We've played good for a while. We've had a few mental busts. We misskeyed a few things. They (Auburn) did a good job of quarterback misdirection. That's what people do now in football. You've got to figure out which way the play is going. We did that well some and didn't do that well some. We've got to do a better job.
On Lawson Luckie and Pearce Spurlin: They're cleared, but they aren't where they need to be physically and mentally to play SEC play. They're trying to get there. I mean guys, this a grown man's sport. To put a guy out there just because you guys had him ranked as 4 or 5-star doesn't mean he's ready. It's physical out there. Those guys are getting better and getting closer. How many freshmen did we play the other day. A kicker. A linebacker. I can't think of many others.
On Brock Bowers' Ability to Block: It's the most underrated part of his game. Just turn off the catches and go watch this dude block because he tries to put them in the ground. He has an extreme amount of power in his core. He's a really powerful weapon as a blocker too.
Photo courtesy of Charles Jordan.