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Smart, coordinators talk with media Saturday

Kirby Smart
Photo: Steven Colquitt/UGA

ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney and defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Mel Tucker, met with media members on Saturday. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Kirby Smart 

Opening comments … 

“As you know, it is Fan Day. We are excited to have the opportunity to get out in front of our fans and let them watch us practice and see a typical practice of what our kids go through. The good part is we get to go to the stadium to do it, so our players are excited about a new venue and a chance to get out in front of the fans and compete. It always energizes them when people are watching, so we are excited to have the fan base out and we encourage as many people as possible to come and visit with our players afterwards. It’s always good to get back with these fans. They are always good to us, so we are excited about that.

We are entering Day 6. We have been in pads for three days now — two of them were pads and shorts and then one was full pads yesterday and we will be full pads today, so it is our fourth day in pads. Our team is progressing well. Any time you get a chance to compete and go against each other the cream starts rising to the top and you start finding out more about guys. We certainly have alot of guys who are young and talented, but they are a little bit confused, too. We have to do a great job as coaches of bringing those guys along and keep developing them and teaching them, because the initial instinct of a kid this young is to get disheartened, or upset or frustrated at times. We can’t let that happen with these young kids. We have to continue to let them grow and let them know that it is a 27-practice process that they have to go through and they are not going to get it overnight. I think some of them are starting to do that. We have good leadership on this team. I am challenging them to lead every day. I do not think we had the kind of practice we needed to have yesterday, although it did not go bad. Up until yesterday we had really good practices. We will come back around today with you guys there and the fan base there.”

On offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and the challenges he faced last year and coming into this season … 

“I have always had a lot of respect for the work Jim has done. I think you look at his career as a whole — you see the places and the job he has done. He has been in some interesting situations from Arkansas, heavy run, to Tennessee — one year we played them and could not slow them down from throwing it because they had a guy who could throw it and pretty good wideouts. So, he has been very versatile in his past . He was not able to do that last year. We were not in a position to be that. We were in a transition and it was tough. I think he will be the first to admit that we did not live up to the expectations we wanted last year. That is not the standard we expect at Georgia. He recognizes that. We acknowledge that. We have to do a good job of analyzing why was it that way, why wasn’t it the way we wanted, what are we going to do about it. That is what we are worried about now. We are not worried about last year at all. We are worried about what is going to happen now moving forward — what is the growth of Jacob Eason? What is the the growth of Jake Fromm? The wide out position, the offensive line position, getting more girth and getting bigger and more physical. So, that part of it, at least with the sheer numbers, absolutely not. Not where we need to be. I think we all acknowledge that.”

On if there are instances during fall camp he feels like he is running out of time before the season …

“That is interesting you say that. I think, not right now, but as it gets closer you feel that way and you don’t want to front load or back load the schedule. You are trying to go at two peoples’ pace. We have a team of guys that have been here for a long time, good senior group. Then, we have an influx of younger guys that you are almost having to do a pace of two different units. You can’t load them up too much but you also have to bring in the younger guys and challenge them mentally. We have walkthroughs each day that we are saying ‘ok, this half of the walkthrough is this pace, this half is this pace,’ and there are two different groups you are trying to teach and bring along. So, I feel good about where we are. Certainly, as you get closer to a game, you will be saying ‘did we get everything we have to do?’ We have a checklist of everything we have to do before the first game and we try to hit all of those situations we can.”

On the overall offensively philosophy at Georgia and if it has changed since last season … 

“The first thing you look for in the offense is balance. If you cannot run the ball in critical situations in a game, you are usually not going to win the game. Does that mean you need to lead the SEC in rushing? No. Not necessarily, but that means you better be able to run it when you have to —  you have to be able to run it fourth and inches, third and one, goal line situations and the red area. If you cannot run the ball in the red area, you are going to get beat. You have to be able to run the ball some in the red area. At the end of the game, you have to be able to run the clock out. In 33 percent of our SEC games, you are going to have to be able to run the ball, so that toughness and that mentality has to be there. But we all know that the spread element that has taken over college football, being able to make looser plays and make it harder on defenses to defend is much better. Between those two things you want to have balance. You want to get your football players the football. Who are the best guys with the ball in their hands? Who are the best blockers in space to get those guys the ball? In our world, we talk all the time about must-run situational football versus first, second down, out in the open field. How can I get my playmakers the ball? I think when you do that it makes your more productive and you do score more.”

On if Jacob Eason worked on mechanics at the Manning Camp … 

“It’s more of an experience where he is actually a camp counselor with young kids, but then they have quarterback workouts, the way I understand it. Peyton, Eli, Cooper and Archie are all good friends of mine. They have throwing sessions where, after the kids are gone, they go out with the college guys and workout. It’s really probably more intellectual for Peyton and Eli to sit and meet with those guys and visit with them, but they do go out and throw. Now, mechanically, I do not think they are trying to mess with anybody mechanically. They are more talking about body position, the way you take care of yourself, the way you behave on and off the field, the way your team views you as a leader – a lot more intangible things than mechanical things.”

On what he has seen from junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson during fall camp … 

“Trenton has always been what we call a stack monster, meaning you are in the stack — the stack is where the 10 people are, the o-line and the d-line all bunched in a stack. When the ball gets thrown on the perimeter, the best thing Trenton does is he turns and he runs to the ball really fast, so his cover down on short passes and going to get the ball. He is a great energy guy, so I have been pleased with where Trenton is. I think Trenton would be the first to tell you he has to work on his block protection, how he strikes the offensive lineman and the ability to control his gap. He is really quick and he is really athletic, but he does not always control his gap, so he is trying to improve on that. As far as knowing what to do, Trenton is an upperclassmen now. He knows what to do and he practices really hard.”

On what situation would cause him to redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Fromm … 

“I don’t know that you even think about that right now. You have to let things happen as they happen. It is not a conversation where you go in and say, ‘ok, what do we have to do to let Jake Fromm redshirt; what do we have to do to make Jake Fromm play?’ That is not the consideration. The consideration is  we have to develop Jake Fromm as fast as possible because, as of today, he is one play away from playing. We don’t think like that. We don’t think ‘oh, we are going to redshirt this guy.’ I don’t think that is the way to really look at it. I think it is a lot more of can Jake continue to grow at the rate he is growing? Can he make the throws and make the decisions we want him to make? Can he run the offense, can he execute the offense, can he lead the offense the right way? If he continues to do those things, he is competing for everything, if not just for who is the backup, who is the third, are we redshirting him? We don’t really get into that analyzation. We look at it as what’s going to give us the best to have him ready to play first game.”

On the Georgia Way program … 

“I’m sure a lot of you have heard about it. If not, you have probably seen it on the internet — The Georgia Way. Leigh Futch, Carla Williams helps Leigh out. They do a tremendous job. We have kind of amped that up because the only thing we can give back to our players outside of just a degree and great intangibles of being part of an organization is the ability to go out and get jobs. So, we want our guys more prepared for that and most colleges start that at year four – senior year, junior year. We are taking freshmen, we are taking sophomores because there is no experience like walking in to a place like we did that night at the expo where every employer is there and they are introducing themselves and interacting with them. We had each guy take a class on how to act in the interview, how to behave, how to introduce yourself because those are things we are giving back. I’m getting a lot of feedback from old lettermen who call and say ‘this is the way it should be; you need to do this because maybe I was not prepared.’ We want them more prepared and that was an unbelievable event that we have had so much positive feedback. We had two or three guys offered jobs at the event and it was a great networking opportunity. Some of these players that may be NFL players are already in communication with an employer hoping to get a job when they are done. That’s what it is all about — giving back to our guys when they are done.”

On the development of Chauncey Manac … 

“This is a guy who continues to make plays in practice and we have the same debate — is he a outside linebacker, defensive end. The way college football is now, not NFL, but college football is such a space game. Chauncey is slippery, he is hard to block, but when we run down hill runs at him he is not as effective. He is not big enough to hold up, so you have to decide what role does he have. He certainly has a role on this team because he has a really uncanny ability to get on and off blocks, to make plays, to cause disruption. He is still learning our system. He does not know it exactly right, but right now he has been working at defensive end. But, you have to remember, 50 percent of our outside backers are defensive ends, so is he this one or this one? Really, he is a little bit of both. We are just putting him in that room so he gets that experience more often in there. He could always move back. You would like for him to be about 260, but he is really not quite that weight right now, but he is doing a good job.”

On the major breakdowns of the defense last season … 

“The biggest thing was red area. We make no bones about it. When you are ranked 121st in the red area in the country it is not acceptable. That in and of itself affects scoring defense. If you take 10 of those opportunities and you hold them to a field goal, that is four points per those attempts — that’s 40 points. It changes your entire complexion, so the red area is one of the most evident. Also, creating sacks, generating pass rush is important. We gave up too many plays per game but it was down from what the year before was. So, our goal all the time is what can we improve. We gave up less explosive plays, but we did not do what we needed to do in the red area. We thought we forced turnovers adequately — to be second in the SEC in turnover margin. But the big thing for us is tackling in space, being able to affect the passer with our pass rush and then red area defense were the big areas we have to improve on.”

On former Georgia player Terrell Davis going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame …

“First of all, an unbelievable class act. I can still remember my first day here. My locker was over near his and, of course, everybody thought I was a walk-on kicker when I got here, and he kind of took me under his wing and took me out to practice. My locker was right next to his, so it was a unique experience for me. Of course, at that time he was Terrell Davis, not TD or the Super Bowl MVP. He was not all that. He was always kind, one of the best smiles and one of the best in the business. He is a class act that I have always had a lot of respect for. I would run into him over time because of a lot of NFL Network events at Pro Days I have been apart of. We are just happy to have him be a Dawg. He represents Dawg Nation the right way, and what a great person he is.”

On Davin Bellamy … 

“Consistency in performance is the No. 1 thing. Davin is a kid who has been in the program a long time. He understands the defense — he knows it inside and out. Does he compete at the right level? You know we had a speaker come in and talk about your ability to compete and your ability to be tough, and we ask our kids every day ‘what is your CT score?’ Is your CT score a 10, which is really, really rare or is it 1? We try to challenge these guys each day with their CT and this is something we do with Davin because he can be here, here, here, here and if he dips one time it’s not playing to his standard. Davin is a tough guy, he is not afraid of contact. We want to develop more pass rush out of those guys. He knows that. He wants to be better at that. Last year, with Ledbetter out, he played a lot of the same role that Chauncey Manac has had where he had to move inside and play against bigger people, but we want consistency in performance from him.”

On if the defense has practiced better so far in the fall compared to the spring … 

“Yeah, they have. Yesterday, it was not just defense. It was a total ‘I am out here in the heat, I’m tired of hitting each other,’ that kind of thing. It was too early for that. There are no ‘poor me’s’ in football. They have to push past it. It’s not every body, it’s a few guys, but a few guys affect every body. So far, they have been out there competing hard — both sides of the ball. It certainly has not been like the spring was. This has been more of a stoutness, more competition, a lot more good players who are competing against each other. So what’s happening is the quality of your 3’s, the quality of your 2’s has gone up a little more and we are seeing really good competition. But, no, it has not been lopsided. Up until yesterday, I have been pleased with how the defense ran to the ball, how they competed — a lot of energy — but we have to continue to do that every day. It is not a four-day process. It is a 27-practice process.”

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Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker

On the young talent in the secondary, especially freshman Ameer Speed’s skill set…

“He has a rare size, which is a good thing.  He has good length.  He’s got really good balance and ball control.  He has good athletic ability, runs well and he loves football.  He’s got the talent that we like to work with and he’s working really hard at his craft right now.  I’m really fired up about his up-size.”

On a general assessment of the defense…

“I think we have a lot of returning starters, so the expectations are going to be high.  The expectations are going to be high here at UGA every year.  It’s really not about that, it’s about us living up to our standard, how we want to play, and reaching our full potential.  Our guys are working extremely hard to get better at every position.  At the “star” position we have several guys that are taking reps there.  We have Aaron Davis, Deangelo Gibbs, Tyrique McGhee, and Jarvis Wilson all taking reps at that star position, so we want to figure out who can help us the most there.   Maurice Smith did a great job for us last year and we need to replace that spot.”

On the progress of the secondary….

“We have Malkom Parrish, Dominick Sanders, and Aaron Davis, who are all seniors and guys that have played a lot of football.  They know what’s expected and I’m leaning on those to be leaders for us back there.  Deandre Baker has some game experience so we’re looking to become more cohesive and work better as a unit to make more plays.  We have seven freshman so we have to teach those guys what to do and develop them as a unit.  We tell them ‘no child left behind’.  We have to make sure everyone knows where to go by the time that game starts.”

On Tyrique McGhee preparing to play at both STAR and corner positions…

“Well he did that a year ago. He played corner on both sides and the “star” position and he handled that well.  We just map out his reps everyday.  We script every rep in practice.  A lot of times we’re doing work on both fields and have a lot of guys working at the same time.  We have to make sure he gets his “star” reps and his corner reps on both sides and that hasn’t been an issue so far.”

On the evaluation of the edge rushing, sacks, and quarterback rushes from last year….

“We need to give better pressure overall to affect the quarterback from the edge and also pocket push.  We have the guys that can get that done, so I think with a good coordinated pass rush, all four or five guys working together to fill the rush lanes, we can get that done.  That’s a point of emphasis for us to raise on defense where we need huge improvement.  Minus yardage plays is another area where we need huge improvement.  Pass rush, red zone efficiency, minus yardage plays- all those things we need to improve.”

On the need for improvement in the red zone…

“The major breakdown is execution.  When we go back and look at the tape, on defense if one guy does not do what he is supposed to do you’re going to lose the down, probably.  There is a huge emphasis on execution.  We repped the low red zone a lot more in the spring and we’re picking up where we left off this fall.  There are some scheme things that we’re looking at that we can do to help our players.  Our goal is to be much improved in that area.”

On his perception of a dominant defense he’s had in his coaching career and how Georgia can get to that level…

“When I coached at Ohio State we won the national championship and we were pretty good on defense there.  In Jacksonville in 2011 we were in the Top 10 there and at Alabama two years ago we were pretty stout.  We’re just really about this group and what we can achieve. We talk about ‘what is our identity going to be this year’.  Every year you have a new team.  It’s a new defense.  We’re working to be at our best and I’m pleased with how the guys have worked.  We didn’t get as much done yesterday as we could have, so we’re looking for a big day today.”

On John Atkins in the nose guard position…

“You want to be very strong up the middle, just like baseball, so you have to be strong at the defensive tackle, inside linebacker and safety.  You have to be stout and John is an anchor for us in the middle.  He doesn’t get a lot of credit, he’s not going to be flashy.  As long as he’s consistent and he can anchor in the middle for us, that’s what we need him to do.”

On Trenton Thompson emerging as a leader…

“Trenton is a lead by example guy.  He brings a tremendous amount of energy to the field.  He is very, very destructive and runs to the ball.  He is very consistent in that matter.  When you have guys that lead by example, that really shows the way for the other guys.”

On Tray Scott improving Thompson’s game…

“Tray Scott has come in and done a tremendous job.  He is a technician.  He is very good at coaching and teaching in a progression of the run and pass rush.  I think the guys have grown to like and respect him.  They are taking to him and I feel like we have a chance to have a strong unit.”

On Roquan Smith’s impact on the defense…

“Roquan has come a long way.  He is playing really, really fast right now.  He’s showing outstanding leadership for us. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and he’s a guy that see a lot of plays in the run game as a blitzer and in coverage.  I like his ability to be an all-around player.  He loves football.  He’s a student of the game.  He’s a good leader for us and he has high character.  He’s a guy that’s going to lead the way for us and we’re going to need him to be consistent.  I except him to do that.”

On how many guys he plans to play with many returning starters and talented newcomers….

“I think in some games last year we played 18 or 19 guys.  We need to have a strong two-deep in the secondary, especially.  We’re usually in nickel or dime, probably about 80 or 90 percent of the time, so we usually have five or six defensive backs in the game. To have a lot of depth there we have to develop the young guys.  Those guys have to be ready to go because you’re always one play away from being in the game.  It’s next man up.  We’re going to rotate a lot of guys on the defensive line.  We want to play as many guys as we can.  Guys that have a role, you get more buy-in, you have a better team chemistry, so we want to get all of these guys ready to play.  As we practice and as we scrimmage, eventually we will know who we can count on to go out there to play for us, whether it’s the starters or the next man up.”

On developing guys in the secondary and the skill set of Deangelo Gibbs….

“Deangelo has very good size. He’s athletic and strong.  He’s a guy that can do a lot of things in terms of block protection, but he’s also athletic enough to give you what you need in coverage.  Ameer Speed has very good size.  He’s a quick study.  He’s usually a tell-him-once type guy.  Richard LeCounte is a see-ball-get-ball type guy.  He plays very, very fast and is very instinctive.  He’s a guy that flashes out there.  All of those guys, at some point in time, remind why they’re here.  We have to develop all of those guys and try to get them up to the point where they can go out on the field and play winning football for us.”

On freshman contending for the cornerback position…

“It’s kind of early for that.  All of the guys that we brought in at corner will be able to help us.  It’s just at what point will they be able to help us is the question.  It’s a day-to-day deal with those guys because they have to learn what to do and how to do it before they can go out there in the game and help us.  I’ve been pleased with all of the guys that we brought in so far.  In terms of a lock-down corner, I’m not sure what the true definition of that is, but we need guys out there who can win the one-on-ones and win the contested battles.  I think we have the guys that have the potential to do that.”

On Kirby Smart’s progression as a coach…

“Coach Smart is the same guy day-in and day-out.  He is very consistent. He is very passionate.  He is very knowledgeable.  He has a very high expectation and a high standard.  He’s been like that since the time I met him.  Going into year two, we feel like we have a really good, cohesive staff.  We like working with Coach Smart and he has confidence in us to build it and get the job done.”

On freshmen linebackers, Jaden Hunter and Nate McBride…

“Those guys, Monty Rice, too, they all have good up-size. They have good size, they all run well and they all want to be good players.  You can tell, just by the way they go about their business, that they pay attention in the walk-thrus, they’re very serious about it.  You can see those guys getting better and better as we go. They have some pretty good players in front of them to learn from.  I think we have a pretty good chance to have a good unit right there, we’ll see.”

On Jaleel Laguins moving from inside to outside linebacker…

“He has the skillset to be an outside linebacker. He has a really good straight-line speed and he’s very, very strong.  He’s showing the ability to pass-rush and you can never have enough rushers on the edge.”

On Chauncey Manac’s ability to play defensive end, outside linebacker, or a hybrid role…

“We like Manac.  He can relate to us athletically.  He has a really good body, he’s strong, athletic, and showing some pass-rush ability.  He can rush outside.  He can rush on guards and centers inside and he’s very, very tough.  We don’t have an issue with him playing and holding up on the run game, but giving us some pass-rush and being able to affect the quarterback.  He’s a guy we have to continue to develop.  He’s a young guy.  We have a lot of young guys, but we see marked improvement in him.”

On Dominick Sanders fighting injury throughout last season…

“Dom is doing well. He’s one of our leaders.  He’s very consistent.  He plays fast and practices hard.  He is very attentive in the meetings.  He is a good guy to be around.  It’s a privilege to coach guys like that because he brings a type of energy and passion to the game that energizes me as a coach.  I want to bring it every day for him, to help him get better.  Injuries are a part of the game.  At some point in time everyone is going to be a little nicked up, but he is a very tough guy and he is going to push through and do whatever he can for this football team.”

On Tray Scott’s coaching technique and philosophy….

“Tray Scott is a high energy guy.  He really does a great job as a teacher in motivating and developing players, which is our job as coaches.  He is really sound in the fundamental aspects of the game to teach in progressions.  There is no waste of motion with him on the field, in the drill work- whether it’s in walk-thru or during the special teams period.  He is extremely organized.  He knows exactly what he wants to get done and holds those guys to a high standard.  He is doing a really good job for us. He’s a good coach.”

On having Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter back….

“We’re really excited and glad that these guys decided to come back. I’m a resource for these guys.  Anyone who has any questions about anything on or off the field, I’m more than willing to help and that’s including the NFL.”

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Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney

On offseason tweaks and things learned…

“Well yeah, I think after the conclusion of last season and not having production that we wanted to have, you do a lot of soul searching and a lot of visitations with a lot of people. What’s fresh and what’s new. I’m a big video guy. I like the cutting edge of the NFL, it is always fun to me. I thought Atlanta did a wonderful job last year, so studying a lot of their stuff was fun. I’d rather not get into all the college teams we looked at, but we did a lot of that extensively. Visited a lot and tried to freshen up ideas. For me personally, it was fun to do. It was time to do. It was much needed for me, a little freshening up of everything, this offseason.

On challenges in the last two years…

“I think that to rate it is difficult from other jobs. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. Try to go to work and you try to do a good job as you possibly can. You try to put the pieces to the puzzle so you score enough points to win. Ultimately that’s my job to work within Kirby’s philosophy to score enough points to find victory. It’s been challenging, no question. Any time you’re playing a young quarterback, that’s a little bit challenging, trying to figure out what you can and can’t do as early as you possibly can, and we’ve gotten a lot closer on that. I feel like Jacob’s done a good job, and we know one another a lot better now. Challenging? I don’t know. I think this job is challenging whether you’re in your eighth year or first year. Much is given and much is expected. We’re expected to be at our best everyday, and that’s my expectation of myself also. As far as more difficult than others, I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s true, we just go to work and do the best that we can.”

On Sony Michel’s role…

“That remains to be seen. We don’t know yet on the systematic part of it. I think Sony has very good hands, and has the ability to do that, to catch and do stuff. Will we do that? It’s probably going to depend on the opponent if we feel like we can gain a strategic opponent. Sure we’ll do about anything we have to do to do that, but I think the point being that he is a talented young man that can do many things. And Nick also, you guys know Mr. Chubb, who’s a fine football player. We’re blessed to have both those guys. It’s always interesting when you have two when the expectations are to put them both out there a lot. I don’t know if that’s always the best way to go. As long as they get their touches at the end of the game, that is the most important thing.”

On using past experiences…

“It’s difficult. I think I shared this with you guys postseason last year. When things aren’t going that well, or going as well as you’d like for them to go, you question a  lot of things. You’ve got to really, in the offseason, look back on yourself and make doggone sure you’re not the reason and make sure what part of that you played. You do the best that you possibly can, and I understand that from years past. First years in the program are inevitably tougher than others, but you can’t blame that. And no one are you going to say, well okay, all the problems that we have are only because of the first year. That’s not true at all. I had a big part to play in that, and my job was to the freshen things up and take care of my responsibility when it comes to that, because ultimately, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the bus stops here when it comes to production of offense.”

On Jacob Eason’s potential…

“I’ll tell you what, there is not much he can’t do when it comes to throwing a football. He’s a talented young man. Every day he works more and more things with changing plays and letting him have more freedom. He is not Drew Brees, he’s not in his 16th or 18th year, or whatever year he’s in – he can’t call the whole ball game, but he’s learning more and he’s getting more power within the offense as we go. I’d say his limitations are how big a scope of offense you go right now while he is still a work in progress.”

On red zone offensive progression…

“All spring, coach has put us in the position to be successful. I think in the offseason, we did a lot of studies on that to find out what went wrong, and inevitably there was something different a lot of times. You love it when you look back and you can critique any job and you find one problem that you get to solve and all of a sudden, that solution production results change. That wasn’t necessarily our problem in the red zone, we had a lot of different little issues. So we make sure we’re doing the right thing. We put our bank of plays together as early as we possibly could. We have been working on those plays continuously since the start of spring through the summer. The kids have been out there all summer working on them too. So we’re putting in a bunch of time in. All you can do is emphasize your weaknesses and try to get them improved, and I think by putting time in, you’re demonstrating that you are doing the best you can to get better down there. Ultimately we need to run footballs more efficiently down in the red zone. I think we’ll be able to do that.”

On Nick Chubb saying first time he’s had same offensive coordinator two years in a row at Georgia…

“I think any of y’all’s jobs, it’s no different. If you work with someone for two years, then you are more familiar with who they are and how they behave than you are the first year. There’s more comfort that comes with that. With offense, it’s all about language. With our kids, I’ll say a word now, I’ve said it before, but they understand what that word means now. The familiarity within the language of what we use is refreshing. I can talk to Terry, Nick, Sony, and all the older kids, and they get it. I can go call a player and maybe we haven’t worked on it in awhile, and they understand the recall of the offensive terminology is refreshing. With Nick, I feel the same comfort. It is fun to come out here and look out there and see the same people. That’s good to see. I like that.”

On Eason’s mechanical tweaks …

“I think that every quarterback has to work on that, and it is like a golfer’s swing, I liken it to it. You can go out on the practice round and have the prettiest swing on earth, but when the pressure hits, how are you going to handle it? So you work your hiney off in the offseason to get your face right, get your fundamentals right, your lower body. Taller guys tend to be a little Bambi-ish, because they’re longer limbed. It’s tough to get these big tall kids to work within a cylinder. The taller and taller you are, it’s harder to do.  To get Jacob’s base under him, he’s worked on that all offseason and all summer, and I think he’s done a good job. And we’re seeing a little bit out of the football field, and what you got to find out, Can he handle that under duress? And we are seeing that now.”

On production comparisons…

“I don’t know about production, but I know he is more familiar with what is going on. He’s a better football player now. He has more command over the offense right now. Will the production show up? I don’t know. I want to win games. And if we have to run it 60 times, or throw it 60 times, I want to be able to do either one. So I have expect him to be a better football player as a sophomore than he is a freshman, but statistically, I don’t know how that will relate to Aaron [Murray] and Matthew [Stafford]. Hopefully he has a big jump, because I’d like to see and that would help us a lot.”

On quarterback depth…

“Brice is good because he gives us added depth as someone who understands once again the offense.  As far as depth charts, I’ll leave that to Kirby and your own assumptions on where that all plays in. Jake’s doing good too. That quarterback room is a lot of fun right now. I’m tickled Brice [Ramsey] came back. Personally, I like him a lot. I think he brings a lot of football savvy, and I think he helps the young kids. He’s a comforting role in there, because he wants to be there right now. That’s fun for us. I’m tickled to death in that quarterback room. Jake Fromm is a competitive kid, as you all well know. We’ve all watched him compete and go out there and compete everyday. With all the competition we have, we are all going to get better, including me. So that’s a good thing about this room. I like it. It’s competitive. Our job and I think Georgia’s job and everyone’s job is to make sure that room stays as competitive as it can for a long time. You want to have a good solid football program? Keep that room really nice.”

On the offensive line, specifically freshmen…

“I think everyday they’re getting more reps. They are getting the same amount of reps as the number one’s do, the two’s do, and the three’s do. They’re in the huddle a lot, and they’re out there getting a ton of work. We’re doing a lot of evaluation. I thik Ben’s doing a good job. He’s competing he’s butt off, as are all those freshman kids. It is a little too early, I think in about six to eight practices, I’ll be able to tell a lot more. Because with the installations we’ll start throwing down, we’ll be able to play a lot faster. I like the count level we see in all those young kids. I don’t believe there’s a kid there that we go ‘Oh my goodness, what were we thinking?’ These are kids that can move, can bend, can twist and have the stature that we’re looking for. How quick can they learn the technical side and be productive the way we need them to be remains to be seen. But as we see one week in, I’m very tickled with those kids, and I think they’ll all be competing to be in that depth chart and to be on that bus.”

On Jay Johnson’s contribution…

“Jay’s been around a lot of different offices also. Jay’s a body guy. He’ll set in. He’s looking at that thing from 10,000 feet too. And he gets to step back when I’m dealing with quarterbacks and watch, and see things that I may not see so up close and personal. Our relationship’s fantastic, and I really lean on him a lot for his expertise. He’s been around a lot of good football. He understands that I like his perspective on things. It’s from up down, and ‘what are you thinking here?’ and ‘where are you going?’ and ‘what’s second base if we do this?’ He’s play-called. When you’ve set there and called as many plays, you appreciate that other guys have done that too. Same thing as James. Those guys all help a lot.”

On receiving core progression and having options…

“We’d like to be able to do that, no question. We’ve got to throw the ball more accurately. We’ve got to get open better. We had too many drops last year. When the passing game’s not good, it’s so easy to go with one position, but ultimately, on our season, we all had a lot of room for improvement. The freshmen we’ve got in, we’re expecting those guys to add the added depth that we needed. Just looking at our offense, and when I’m sitting here addressing them in this room, there is just more depth and more stature. It’s a pleasing thing to be able to watch those young kids and when they’re running so well. With the competition in the room, and the ability to run, we’ll be able to push the ball more better. We’re optimistic.”

On the slot position…

“I’ll start with Terry [Godwin]. I think Terry’s done a wonderful job. He’s put a few pounds on. He’s gotten stronger. He looks a little faster to me. Terry, once again, is familiar with the offense, and he’s doing a wonderful job out there. I think he’s got exceptional hands. I think his mind’s in a great spot. I think his attitude’s fantastic, and I love how he’s working right now. With that said, Terry is not a big kid, he’s not a giant guy, so we need depth in that room. God knows what’s going to happen. The slot position is catching balls with the big boys. Here comes Mecole [Hardman]. You bring Mecole in and you’ve got a different kind of player. You’ve got an exciting and electric kid that can do a lot of things. He’s still learning the position but I’m really pleased with his addition in that room. It gives us some more vertical strategy and things like that because he can run and he can catch the ball. He has a high football IQ. He gets the game. Whatever we put him in it doesn’t take him a lot of reps to figure it out. Now, as we move into [Ahkil] Crumpton, I don’t know yet. He’s catching punts, and he’s doing a wonderful job. I don’t watch much of that, but from what I hear in the staff room he’s done a good job. I know what limited I’ve seen that he has good hands good speed. Who knows yet. That remains to be seen, but he can catch and he can run, so that’s a damn good place to start.”

On communicating with fellow staff…

“We work a lot of hours together on that offensive staff. Trying to empower those guys to say more. I tend to have a stronger personality and they got to understand they can say whatever they want, anytime they want. So me trying to back down and listen more. It’s not used much. I’m guilty as anybody in that. You’ve got to listen. We’ve got a talented offensive staff, and I have to listen to them and power them to bring more ideas in and sort it out. My job is to sort our their ideas and make sure we’re using the good ones. But I’m blessed to have those people with me, and I love them and they work their hineys off. They went into the offseason with the mindset of how we’re going about it, so it’s been good. I’m pleased with that.”

On Kirby’s philosophy…

“Just because you grow up coaching on defense doesn’t mean you don’t have the developed philosophy of offense. I would never go anywhere and work in physicality as the cornerstone of your program, that’s what I personally believe in. At age 55, that will probably never change. Balance, you’ve got to have that. You have to win situational offense. All these things, we’ve never had a debate. If I want to do something that’s a little crazy, then I’ll go ahead and ask him. But I’m too old to be fighting over little teeny things. Because we believe in the foundation of what we’re doing here, and we’re collectively 100 percent behind that. Physicality, balance, get your good players the ball, and win situational offense. Don’t turn the damn thing over. All those things are the cornerstone of who we are, and there’s never a debate on that. We both feel very strongly about that.

On the slot position’s versatility…

“We woke up one morning and realized we have some kids that can do different things. So why not look at them doing those different things? How much that will go one way or another remains to be seen as we’re putting game plans together. Right now, with Terry out there in the slot, who knows what will take place. If we need more physicality, maybe somebody else will do it. Right now, we are who we are, and we’re going to go in that direction. It is fun to have kids that can do multiple different things.

On using the entirety of the tight end unit…

“It’s a competition with who wants to play. Ultimately, that’s what has been fun. I look at a bunch of different wide receivers, and it’s young kids, competing. The tight end room, competition. Quarterback room, competition. Running back room, competition. More linemen coming in, competition. That makes us all better. They have a great attitude about it. They understand that they aren’t all going to play but they’re all competing with one another. How do you get them on the field? Whoever earns the right to be on the field. That’s the way I look at it. We’re always going to play the best players. Whoever’s the best at doing that past, that’s the guy who will ultimately play. They are all a little bit different. So we’ve been able to find room for most of them, and I expect that won’t change.”

On the offensive line position battles…

“I don’t think anything is as firm as everybody wants to make it right now. I am reluctant to point out that one spot is more competitive than the other. Ultimately, Sam is trying to find who the five best players are in front and play them. That’s where we’re at right now. We are trying to sort all that out. We’re probably several practices away from coaches sitting down to make those tough decisions and move some people around and do some different stuff. But right now, it is all about who we think we can win with now.

On importance of a third quarterback in that room next year…

“Ultimately it is tough. You add another super quarterback in that room, and the following year will be even tougher. But that’s part of being a championship football team. You’ve got to be able to go out and recruit and convince kids that this is where they belong. And I think quarterbacks are understanding this is a solid offense that can help them as they try to move onto the next level of football. So we’re always going to try to be competitive as we can and how many quarterbacks we take is completely up to Coach [Smart]. My job is the recruit the best I possibly can and put the best players we can in that room. Collectively, we’ll do that well. We understand the importance of working with one another to make sure we get the best players.

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