Kirby Smart met with the media in Jacksonville following a 43-20 win over the Florida Gators. His quotes are italicized.
Opening Remarks: We came in with a mindset of mission, team, and me. We talked about it all week. We wanted to put the mission first and the team first, then me last. I thought we had a lot of guys do that today. We knew we could play winning football. I think this team is improving and getting better. We're still not where we need to be. I was certainly proud of the competitors that went out and fought today. I was proud of our fans. They supported us even though we didn't start the way we wanted to, but we responded and played well. We were able to control the line of scrimmage, which is ultimately the difference in this conference. If you can win the line of scrimmage, you got a chance.
On Carson Beck: I don't worry about Carson, but apparently, you guys do. I don't worry about Carson. He's very confident and calm. He understands football. He's never really high or really low. He's studies real hard. He puts a plan together and makes good decisions. He's continued to improve by not putting us in bad situations. There are things that aren't on the stat sheet that I don't have time to explain that he does an elite job of doing...run checks, looks, putting us in the best play, the decision to throw the RPO or hand the ball off. There's not really a value you can put on that. I know, as a defensive coordinator, there's not much worse than feeling like you got the right call, and he moves the back and tight end, and he runs it, and you've got a ball call now...that's tough.
On the Georgia vs Florida Rivalry: You can't win the East without going through Jacksonville most of the time. This year, it might not work out that way. In years past, we show them the stat that 8 of the last 10 have come from Jacksonville. When you're building a program, you've got to be the best team in your division. Florida's certainly been that historically. They're one of the best teams in our division.
On If Anything Was Said After Florida's First Drive: Not really, we're kinda getting used to that. We gave it up against Vanderbilt and South Carolina. There's not a lot of panic in that group. They certainly need to rectify starting the game better. The comfortable part is nobody panics...if you had some mistakes, some anxiety, or hadn't played in two weeks. Give them credit they threw the ball to a really good playmaker. We talked all week about Wilson...he's a really good playmaker. They do a great job utilizing his skill set. We didn't do a great job stopping him. It wasn't like there was a panic mode. It was can we control the run game, and if we can control the run game, we'll eventually slow down the throw game.
On the Offense Without Brock: I tell people this offense isn't built around one player. It's really built around the defense. That's the beauty of it.. you don't have to have just one guy. Brock is certainly extremely valuable because you can scheme plays where he is the guy. Well, today, there were plays we ran with Brock, with someone else playing in those spots. It's not always Delp. I thought Delp did a tremendous job, especially with momentum early in the game...to go up and make that catch.
On Florida's 4th Down Call: I'm not surprised at all they went for it. I had a staff meeting before the game, and I told them I thought this game was going to come down to some short-yardage situations. I said, typically, when you play Billy, he's very aggressive in terms of analytics. He believes in it. He has a lot of 4th downs he's going to go for on, and we're going to win some and lose some. We're going to go defend them. We're going to work really hard on that. I told the offensive staff if it comes down to a 3rd and 1 or 2 or 4th and 1 or 2, we're going for it. It was still early in the game where you could still overcome that play. It was certainly a big momentum play. If we had our eyes in the right spot, we thought we could play it.
On the UGA Defense Havoc Plays: Well, they gave us an opportunity to. You know, drop back pass you get a chance to. We didn't get a lot of opportunity for that in earlier games. The more they drop back and pass, the more we'll be able to get to them. The defensive staff did a great job. They put some new wrinkles in that really helped in terms of getting pressure. I think there was one call we got 2 TFLs and a sack just off that one call.
On the Blocked Punt: Huge play in the game. Our special teams staff came up with it. We wanted to be aggressive and were. They actually gave us a formation we hadn't seen, and Joenel made a great play. You only get two out of that because they punted to us, and we didn't do anything. It wasn't as significant as you would like a blocked punt to be.
On How the UGA Machine Works: It's really about the retention of our staff and our players. I mean, we have lost some really good players and really had some injuries. I think the total effect is our kids believe. There's a culture in our building of discipline. We don't beat ourselves, and we have a quarterback that gives us an opportunity. We have defensive players that work really hard. It's a recipe for you to have success. The margin of that success is certainly wins and losses for you guys, but for me, it's the character of the kids I get to coach.
On Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins: He was back during the week. He's not completely healthy. We shut him down for 6 weeks, and they felt it was time for him to come back. He said Coach, this foot is either going to give or it's not, but I'm not going to keep sitting... I've got to go play. He felt really good this week. I don't think he's in very good shape, but he was an added boost for us just morale-wise to get a guy back that we can think could've had one of his best years. I was really proud of him to get that sack fumble.
On Ladd McConkey: I think it came at a right time. With Brock out, we need Ladd to step up and make plays. We've got to keep him healthy because he's such a weapon and a competitor. The yards after the catch is what he does best. You've got to give the OLine a lot of credit for the protection to get it to Ladd.
On Amarius Mims: I talked to him a little bit before the game, and he felt like he was close, but it wasn't completely ready yet. He gets another week of rehab, Monroe is getting better with these reps, and Truss is, too.
On Outside Noise: I don't even hear it. I mean, I literally don't, so I don't address it. I think they hear it because they're on their phone 24/7. It bothers me that they may hear that, or they may feel anxiety or pressure from this win thing. At the end of the day, the quickest way to lose it is to think about that. When you think about attacking somebody and coming after them every play with the mindset of Friday the 13th, they kill Jason, and he keeps coming back. You have to keep thinking the way so you're not paranoid about that. I don't see it or hear it, but I know it's out there. Someone before the game texted me saying people predicted that we were not going to win today. Where's that coming from? You're supposed to be my friend. He didn't like to recruit, though.
Kirby is talking about Dan Mullen in the last few sentences.
Photo Courtesy of Charles Jordan.
Edited by Will Morrison