Dan Lanning, defensive players preview National Championship game vs. Alabama
UGA football defensive coordinator Dan Lanning and two players, Nolan Smith and Quay Walker, spoke with the media on Wednesday about the College Football Playoff National Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Georgia and Alabama will square off on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. (Buy Tickets). The game will be televised by ESPN at 8:00pm ET.
Below is a transcript of the virtual press conference which was provided by ASAP Sports.
Q. I know you don’t care much about what outsiders say, but a lot of people were talking about your defense being historically good before the Alabama game. What have you got to do to kind of cement its reputation the second time around?
COACH LANNING: Just play the brand of football we’re able to play. Our guys take a tremendous amount of pride in the way we work and the work we’ve put into this season. But it doesn’t take anything exceptional or extraordinary, just do what we know how to do.
Q. You dealt with this some at the Orange Bowl, but obviously the no sacks against Alabama last time, and a lot of the narrative was that Georgia didn’t try to pressure the quarterback that much. But I certainly don’t look at it as educated as you do, but it looked like you guys were trying to do some stuff to get to him and just couldn’t get to him. How important is it to get pressure on Bryce Young this time? And what about just the whole factor of it’s just a month later; do you do a lot of different things or do you try to do the same things better?
COACH LANNING: Ultimately we want to create pressure. We want to be able to get after Bryce. As far as how to do it, I don’t want to give away our secrets yet, but wait until the game to figure that out. We want to generate pressure.
And certainly there’s a lot of different ways you can do that. And he’s really good at avoiding the rush. And they did unique things to protect him. We have to attack it a little bit differently, but how we do that, there’s a lot of different ways we can do it.
Q. When you’ve been at a fair amount of different places, small-school guy as far as football yourself. When you’re at Alabama for a year and now at Georgia, it’s going to sound silly, how much do you notice how much better the players are, but when you see, when you get to a place like Georgia and you’ve been at other places, what’s that moment of like, oh, my, this looks different from some of the other places I’ve been? Obviously you know that going in, but when you actually see it and are part of it, does it sort of hit you in a way that’s a little different when you get there?
COACH LANNING: Yeah, I mean there’s a big difference. There’s a big difference. Ultimately I think one of the biggest things that’s different, especially in our league and playing against a team like Alabama, is in the trenches, up front with the defensive line and offensive line, the speed on the field.
It’s all relative because every football field is 100 yards, right? But the size and the speed is a tremendous difference.
Q. Nolan Smith was on here earlier and shared how emotional he got losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Is that the player you know that pours a lot into what he does? And at the outside linebacker position, kind of a second question, what are you leaving behind when you go to Oregon, the guys coming up that can take the next step?
COACH LANNING: Nolan is an emotional guy, but that’s one of his greatest strengths. He takes so much pride in what. He does cares so much. That’s one of the things that’s made us unique this year is how many guys on our defense and our team that care. And obviously you want people on your team that care.
I’m excited about what that room will look like going forward. Probably not for the first game next year, but they’ve got some good guys in there — Chaz Chambliss, Nolan has a great opportunity to make a decision on what he wants to do going forward. MJ Sherman, and obviously there’s some young talent that’s getting brought in there as well.
Rob Beal has a decision to make as well. So some of these guys have tough decisions to make. I know that’s not their focus right now. And we signed some young talent in that room also. So it will be a good room.
Q. How do you go about preparing for Alabama’s wide receivers, the younger guys who don’t have a lot of film on them? And how do you adjust your defense when John Metchie was injured in that last game?
COACH LANNING: They have talent at wideout, even loading Metchie, those other guys have come in, have shown they’re obviously really capable and successful players. But it does change your plan. You’ll have to do some things differently.
I know we brought a lot of speed over from the offense at times. We’re able to use guys during certain periods to extend the field and push it down the field. And we’re getting a really good look from our look team because we’re able to use those guys.
So, ultimately it doesn’t change everything you do when they have different people plug in and playing, but there’s an awareness on where certain guys line up and what they do when they line up there.
Q. Nakobe Dean told me you were the first-ever coach to see him when he was in high school and you were at Memphis. He said you told him you just wanted to put eyes on him, probably not gonna get you here but might get you down the road. What do you remember from that first meeting with Nakobe?
COACH LANNING: Ultimately, I was at Memphis at the time when I first learned about Nakobe Dean. He had a great head coach Brad Boyette, who I was a big fan of. That was my area, recruiting Mississippi when I was at Memphis. Got to go down there see him.
Everybody talked about what kind of player he was. That was evident on his film. He played the star position, outside linebacker as a freshman. Played really early. But what was impressive was all the things off the field for Nakobe. His academic standing, the leader he was in his community. This guy did homework nonstop. When you talked to him recruiting, he’d be, hey, coach, I appreciate it, but I’ve got to get off the phone. I’ve got to get back to homework.
And it’s just his work ethic. He’s a great example the way you do anything is the way you do everything. Nakobe really lives by that standard — the same way he gives off the field, the same way he is in the classroom is the same way he’s on the field.
I have a lot of fond memories of going, of recruiting Nakobe. And now having him as a player. And I was excited to get to Georgia where we had a chance to get him.
Q. You don’t have to worry about going against Brock Bowers for another nine months anyway. But as a defensive coordinator, when a team has a tight end as good as Brock Bowers, what does that do to your mindset and to your scheme heading into that game?
COACH LANNING: Brock’s a headache for the other team. I’m glad he’s on our team. In a lot of ways Brock is like having another wideout out there on the field, obviously. He’s extremely talented, does a great job catching the ball in tough situations.
I think he’s developed a great amount of trust with Stetson and in the offense. And he’s really done — Coach Monken has done a great job moving him around and using him in a lot of unique ways. You definitely have to treat him different. You can’t treat him like your standard tight end.
Q. We hear a lot about Kirby Smart and his ultimate competitive side. Any memories you have of him, anything behind the scenes that you can tell us what he’s like in practices or in games?
COACH LANNING: It doesn’t matter what it is for Coach Smart. I love his passion. And I’ve also said that I think your players take on the energy that you put out as a coach. And Coach Smart has tremendous passion, whether it be team run on a Tuesday in practice, or if it’s Saturday out there on game day, he brings it every single day. There’s never been a day I walked off the field, well, Coach really wasn’t really out there. No, that’s never happened.
And you see the same thing around his family. Whether he’s playing basketball with his son or whatever it is, the guy just likes to win. And that resonates through our program.
And he prepares to win. It’s not something where you roll the ball out think you’re going to show up. He’s willing to do the work it takes to be successful. So I think he realizes that when you compete it’s not just you compete on game day. You have to compete in the way you practice. You have to compete in the way you prepare, the way you analyze data and results.
And you see that constantly from Coach Smart. It’s something certainly I’ve learned being here, but he wears it on his sleeve every day and I appreciate that.
Q. Going back to Nakobe Dean for a second. We’ve seen him recognized for what he’s been able to do on the field this year. And it seems like every Saturday or Friday, for that matter, that he’s playing he shows up. What have you seen in the evolution of him as a player throughout this season?
COACH LANNING: I think he’s attacked a lot of things that we thought he could get better at. Coach Schumann does a phenomenal job with that linebacker room, not just Nakobe but Channing and Quay Walker. These guys have played at a high level all year.
Nakobe has improved in his coverage ability in my mind. He’s really taken pride in being an explosive blitzer. And he’s created a lot of havoc plays with that, the way he’s played. The physicality that he plays with, this guy tackles in practice and he works really hard to practice to be a good tackler. I think that’s something he’s improved on and you seen.
But he’s just a lot more efficient overall with his movements. And that comes with reps — the more you play the more successful you’re going to be. And I think you see that with him.
Q. Is there a position group that traditionally shows more leadership than others? And who are some of the best leaders you’ve had in your career on that side of the ball?
COACH LANNING: That’s a good question. Ultimately, I don’t. I don’t think there’s one. Leaders — a lot of times you can say you want to identify them as a coach. But the reality is it’s the players who identify them. It’s who they follow. It’s who they see do it each week, each day.
I’ve been here before where we were really led by guys in the back end like J.R. Reed. It’s been every position group that I’ve been around. We had it, last year I think, we had a little more leadership there at the corner position. Right now you’d say really, we have leaders there on the defensive front with linebackers and the D line.
But every year it’s a different group and the reality is the players follow the guys that lead. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of good ones. This team has as good as any that I’ve ever been around.
I think Coach Smart mentioned it earlier this season, but it’s the first time I’ve ever been a part of a team where we came off after a big win and our players in the locker room talking about what do we have to do better literally right after the game. Call the entire team up and I think that’s unique. That’s certainly special.
Q. Not to relitigate the pass rush strategy too much, but it seems like you all had a choice of do what maybe what other teams have done against Alabama to success earlier or kind of stick with what had worked for you all the first 12 games. Is that too simplistic a way to sum it up or is that close to what you saw it as?
COACH LANNING: I don’t know. I think we watched film pretty close and tried to see what’s successful against a team. And I think they had good answers and played better than we played that day.
I think we’re always pretty multiple and have a variety of ways that we can attack teams. I think we’ve carried that into every game.
To go back and look at that game, we tried to attack in a lot of different ways and they were more successful than us. You’re going to have answers, and they had better answers that day than we did. But we’ll build off of that.
Q. Wanted to ask about Travon Walker and the defensive end position. It doesn’t seem to lend itself to the same sort of sack numbers. I know everybody kind of plays their spot. But could you share the importance and responsibility of that end position in Georgia’s scheme? And if you could elaborate on just Travon and what’s made him so special?
COACH LANNING: I mean, ultimately I think one of the things that makes our defense special is they’re willing to accept whatever role it is for that game for us to be successful. And Travon is a great example of that.
That being said, what makes Travon special is his athleticism. He’s got special talent. He’s very unique. I think we’ve all mentioned several times that he was a high school basketball player and really successful.
But his ability to move. I think you saw in that last Michigan game, he’s starting to play with another brand of physicality as well, and that’s starting to show up. And that ultimately, to me, was one of the pieces of his game he can improve on. And he’s done a great job of that, embracing that challenge to the physical of point of attack.
But he’s got speed. He’s got the ability to drop in coverage, he’s got the ability to rush the passer. And I think that production comes with that over time.
I’ll say this most team knows where he’s at. And there’s probably something to be said about that as well.
Q. With this being your last game at Georgia, what are you going to miss about coaching at this place? And specifically with this defensive group, what are you going to miss about coaching them?
COACH LANNING: Ultimately, for me, coaching is about relationships. And I love these players like I love my family. They’ve just been so good to me. I wouldn’t be near the coach I’ve been or had the success I’ve had in this profession if it wasn’t for these players. So I’ll miss that a lot. I’m going to miss the coaching staff. There’s a great bond on our staff.
I really enjoy the guys I get to work with every day. I don’t feel like I go to work; I feel like I’m going to do something I love each day, which is a pleasure. But to me the people, ultimately I’ll miss the people.
Certainly excited about new adventures and really excited about the group of men and caliber of men that we have on our staff and the players.
These players are great kids and super talented. So excited about that situation, but you’ll always miss the people you work with and the people who helped get you where you’re at now.
Q. I know you can’t move the Atlanta Metro area to Eugene. But what can you bring with you from your time at Georgia, philosophy, strategy, maybe apparatus, that you can rebuild at your Oregon as far as recruiting, as far as recruiting is concerned?
COACH LANNING: One of the big benefits of Oregon is it’s a national brand. We can go anywhere in the nation and be able to sign players. But I think you can just bring that relentless pursuit that we operate with day in, day out here and the organization behind it. We can bring the mentality of how we play football to a certain level.
I’ve been fortunate to have high-quality experience in my team here, whether it be at Georgia or Memphis or Alabama or some of the other places I’ve been able to visit and coach. So taking all that out there I think will be really important. The biggest thing is just learning from that experience. Not any situation is the exact same. But recruiting ultimately, at the end of the day, comes down to work. And it’s going to take work to get great players at Oregon. And we have the ability to get great players there and great players should want to come there.
Q. It seems like in the past few years few people have been able to solve Alabama. LSU and Clemson had their chances to get one over Alabama. But does it feel like there’s almost this accumulated pressure on Georgia given how many swings this team has had against Alabama in consequential games, and also just the added pressure, it’s happening again in a national championship, and there’s that whole 41 years thing hanging over your head too?
COACH LANNING: None of that is hanging over our head. At the end of the day, we want to go perform to the best of our ability. We want to execute at a really high level. But ultimately it’s not about them. It’s about us. We want to go play our best game. If we play our best game, we feel confident that we can win that game.
That being said, they’re a really good team and they deserve all the credit in the world for everything they’ve done over time. But so are we. So we expect a good game. We expect a tough challenge, but there’s no more pressure outside the room than the pressure we put on ourselves to perform at a high level. I know that. I know how much our players care, how much our coaches care. We have a great plan, and we need to go out and execute, and I think we can do that.
NOLAN SMITH, LB
Q. The last time you played Alabama you guys got zero sacks. It appeared from my review of the game, it’s not from a lack of trying. You guys were doing some stuff, trying to get to the quarterback. What has to happen different to generate pressure on the quarterback? And how important is generating pressure on the quarterback against Alabama in particular?
NOLAN SMITH: We say all the time here the best rush is the best coverage, and we’ve got to get to the quarterback. There’s nothing else about it. Last game, we did not do that. And I know a lot of people felt hurt after that one.
I hold myself and my room accountable and also the D line. It’s our job as pass rushers to get after the quarterback and we didn’t do that. The difference between this game and that game is we just have to do it. We have to find a way. I believe in our coaches. I trust in the plan that we now are talking over still to be able to do that.
Q. You’re a guy that grew up in the state of Georgia. What would it mean for you guys to get it done, end the 41-year drought?
NOLAN SMITH: I think it would mean everything. There’s a lot of kids born and raised in the state of Georgia and this is one you’ll never forget. I always talk about leaving a legacy to my kids, but this is the ultimate.
Kind of like a lot of people go to the program just because of their father and everything. I want that to be my son’s choice. But ultimately this is my goal and my dream, to point at my son, son, this is what we done here. We’re born and raised here, so why wouldn’t we want to do that?
Q. Heading into the SEC Championship, there are obviously many people who lauded your defense as historically good and then questioned that evaluation of it after the SEC Championship game. What do you say to those critics who kind of doubted how good you guys were because of how Alabama played? And what needs to happen the next time around to cement this defense’s place in history?
NOLAN SMITH: Obviously one of a couple of things is getting pressure on the Q and just being that relentless front that we always are.
Every year, inside the box, the front seven at Georgia has always been relentless, and we always do things right and we always play the run and it’s a privilege to rush the passer. That’s one of the things we say here.
We’ve just got to go do it this game. There’s nothing else need to be said and nothing need to be done other than trust the plan and go do it.
Q. With this being Dan Lanning’s last game here, what has he meant to your development and how has he helped the University of Georgia?
NOLAN SMITH: As far as helping the University of Georgia, man, it’s crazy the things he do and the scheme and the philosophy he brought to SEC and Georgia as far as us slanting, us moving gaps and just being relentless up front and doing a lot little with a lot more. We call it playing a couple of gaps, two-gapping and stuff like that.
We still do all those same things that the old Bama used to do. If you know anything about football they created the first generational defense. But we’re just doing it a little different, I’d say. And we move gaps and we try to have gap responsibility. And our backers know where everyone is supposed to fit. And it’s a little orthodox, but I mean it obviously is working and I love it.
Q. Getting back to that first game, I know Coach Martin [phonetic] mentioned how that game humbled everyone. That was his word. And perhaps let everybody know that maybe the team, defense, whatever, maybe not quite as good as everybody thought they would. What was practice like knowing that, leading up to Michigan, now moving forward to Alabama next Monday night?
NOLAN SMITH: You can only judge a man by what he does next and how hard he gets hit and gets back up. I think we got hit pretty hard. And I thought we got up pretty well because guys didn’t sweat it from day one. Guys said we know we need to work, we know we have an opportunity of life. And now that we’re here in the national championship, I think we bounced back pretty well. Now it’s time to go finish the job. That’s all it is that needs to be said and be done, go finish the job and finish what we started.
Q. Seven quarterback hurries against Michigan. Really since the Florida game you’ve been on fire. How much, did something click or are you just seeing the game? Has it all slowed down because the second half of the season you really turned it up a notch, it appears.
NOLAN SMITH: I’d say the game slowed down but also the plan. The plan that our coaches implement is just — it’s one thing that we can understand it but it’s another thing to execute the plan at a high level.
A lot of guys go in day in, day out and to understand the plan but can you execute the plan at a high level? That’s one thing we talk about being here, just being able to play fast and trust the plan and know what you’re doing, it helps a lot. It helps a lot.
Q. Could you take me back to freshman year, ECV, you, Nakobe and Travon, what was the room like that you guys shared? And did you dream about moments coming up? And what makes you guys so tight?
NOLAN SMITH: We all didn’t graduate early. And I know one thing, that was Travon. So it was me, him, Trezmen, and I mean we’re so close we almost did everything together as far as all our classes were the same.
That’s when things went COVID freak out, you couldn’t have so many people on the buses. We used to get on the bus, We were packed like sardines riding to class. We did almost everything together. It built a connection just alone by itself.
When we came in our junior year, Coach started doing the skull sessions and we started even talking to each other more, hanging out more and doing things more and it just built the connection even more.
I still remember all three of my roommates. We drove to see one of Travon’s basketball games in high school in Thomson. I know that’s one thing we did our freshman year because on the weekends we was, like, wow, we don’t have mom and dad to tell us what to do. Most of the weekends we just laid in bed because we were so tired from workouts. After that we started doing things together and it became really fun.
Q. You said a second ago about Alabama kind of laying the blueprint kind of for your success, but in a little bit different way. How do you think that this group right now that’s on the field is laying the blueprint for some of these freshmen and sophomores and the recruits coming in kind of moving forward?
NOLAN SMITH: I’d say 100 percent thing that we’re doing now and that’s as the leadership group is showing them how to work. We say hard work works at Georgia, but some kids just get here and think it’s all hard and they won’t — they’re just doing this for no reason. And there’s a reason. It’s a reason that we run the gasses after practices, and there’s reasons we do 20s, certain things that we do. And it’s a reason to do that.
And I think guys are starting to buy into that. And you see the effect when guys, when a lot of guys buy into the strength team program and we all say one plus one equals three, when you have that mindset as guys that most unselfish guys and the best defense ever and we’re still unselfish, I think that’s just the best thing ever. And that lays the blueprint by itself and just things on how it needs to be done.
Q. Could you take me back to kind of the end of that SEC Championship game. And I know you guys have talked about it being a wakeup call and being humbled, but what was the emotion after that game? What were you feeling once the clock hit four 0s and that one was in the books?
NOLAN SMITH: Want the honest to God truth? I cried. I’m 20 now. I’ve been playing football since I was 4 — 16 years, haven’t won anything. Haven’t won a championship. I won a couple of bowl games but anything big, any championship I never won yet.
And that’s one thing that keeps me going. That’s just something in the back of my head that I know that keeps me driving and I just want to win. I could care less how it gets done, how pretty it looks; I just want to win and play ball.
Q. Obviously you weren’t around on that 2017-2018 team that last played Alabama in the championship. But seems like they’ve been a thorn in Georgia’s side, maybe not one of the team’s typical rivals, but one of circumstance in the last few years you always end up playing Alabama in these big consequential games. Do you think there’s a mental block or do you think there’s just this, I don’t know, different way of viewing Alabama compared to different opponents based on their history against you?
NOLAN SMITH: I’ll say this, I said it when I was a freshman: Every man wakes up puts his pants on one leg at a time. There’s no such thing as a mental block. The key word is in your head. That’s mental. You’ve got to go out and do it, get it out of your head.
I don’t think it’s a mental block, I think the first time we played them we gave up a couple big plays. You change three plays in the game the game could be different. One of those plays were on myself. I should be more aware to jump on the ball instead of pick it up and run. You can’t have small mistakes in those big games because it’s a game of inches.
As we watched the film over and over again with our coach’s comments we learned it’s a game of just small inches.
Q. For someone your age, 1980 may seem like the middle ages. But I don’t know, how much do kids at that program hear about that team and that season, what it did, and is that any motivation at all to drive you to build that kind of legacy?
NOLAN SMITH: 100 percent. To be the first since the drought, I tell people, you’ll be a Georgia legend no matter if you’re from inside the state of Georgia or outside of Georgia, you’re going to be Georgia legend. We came in to be legendary, be special, leave your mark.
Like I say, I want to bring my kid back and tell him this is what I did. I want to leave my mark. I don’t just want to be another University of Georgia player.
Q. As a follow-up to that, I’m wondering if you watched the national championship game between these two teams a few years ago as a Georgia kid and top prospect. And if you did, where you were and what you remember about watching it?
NOLAN SMITH: Oh, man, I remember the first time I watched the Rose Bowl, I was just sitting on my couch, just me and my mom. We had it on TV. I was just watching it.
If we block this kick, this could be crazy. And I actually played football, so I know about blocking kicks at the end of the game. That stuff can really happen. When Lorenzo did it, the outside linebacker, wolf pack, I was absolutely jumping and screaming and I was so excited.
And when Sony ran it in, I said, oh, that’s a rout. We’ll see you in Atlanta. For the Atlanta game I stayed up there — I didn’t go because it was too much for me. I don’t like all those people and all that stuff. But I watched it. And I was tuned in from the first quarter all the way to fourth quarter.
And just the thing I remember about that game is just the people, the atmosphere, through the TV you can feel it. And especially during this game, you can feel it, too.
Q. Wanted to ask you about coming to — you’re a Georgia guy, so I’m sure you had some ties to want to come to Georgia. You come to Georgia as a huge recruit. You don’t play a massive amount early on. I’m wondering how much benefit did you feel you would get from just being surrounded by so many good players? I think so many players look for that early playing time but that clearly wasn’t you. How much benefit do you get from practicing with those guys and just being surrounded by so many good players, even though it might limit your playing time?
NOLAN SMITH: For number one to start is Azeez. Azeez, I feel like he took me under his wing even though he wasn’t always like a big guy when he came in. Azeez, Adam, they took me under their wing. They showed me how to work and they showed me you just trust the process, this and that. And I never thought about leaving because I knew this is where my mom wanted me to be. This is where I wanted to be. I came in just made the best of every day and tried to work and get better.
I mean, I’m a Georgia boy, I love the state of Georgia. As far as going anywhere else other than being here, I don’t know, I wouldn’t think. But seeing those guys work and how they did things day in, day out and being Georgia kids, it just helped me a lot and it kept me centered to say guys still want to be here and guys still want to do this, why should I think about leaving and be selfish. I just think that’s selfish.
I understand guys leaving programs to go do bigger and better things and more playing time, but crazy now that guys are considering leaving programs just because the NIL deals. And that’s just not about football. Football is a team sport. And I say it all the time it’s the ultimate team sport, you’ve just got to sacrifice a lot.
I get that a lot playing defense, I’m not an offensive player. I don’t want the ball in my hand a lot of times, I just want to do my job for my team.
QUAY WALKER, ILB
Q. What do you have to do to control the Alabama offense? Seems like when they went against Cincinnati they learned how to control them a little bit, but the experience helped them at the end. What do you have to do to make that not happen at the end of the game on Monday?
QUAY WALKER: We’ve just gotta do what we’re capable of doing, executing on a high level, communicating to one another and just doing things that we need to do on the back end and the front end as well.
We just pretty much can’t give up no plays like we did in the SEC Championship. We gave up a lot of plays by a few busts, you know what I’m saying? Things like that. In order for us to do what we have to do manage the quarterback pretty good, rushing, and set the quarterback as well and finish where it’s supposed to be.
Q. What made it so difficult to get to Bryce Young in that first game?
QUAY WALKER: To be honest, I really can’t say. It was pretty much just the way we rush. And we got really, really close a couple times. But at the end of the day you’ve just got to finish getting close. Pretty much the main thing at that.
Q. With this being Dan Lanning’s last game at Georgia, what kind of impact do you think he’s had on this program in the four years that he’s been here?
QUAY WALKER: Pretty much we enjoy Coach Lanning, all of us have enjoyed Coach Lanning since he came in. I remember like yesterday, he just got onto the staff, the day he came in my house — it was actually during recruiting time, I think I want to say around late December, November, whenever. Probably January or something like that. He played a huge impact as well as all of our other coaches as well. Going to miss him. So I hope that answered your question.
Q. A question on the pressure. It looked like watching the game it wasn’t for lack of trying. You guys put some of your pressure packages on and just didn’t get there. How much of it was them thwarting what you were trying to do and how much of it was sometimes it seemed like you guys dropped a lot of guys in coverage?
QUAY WALKER: I pretty much say pretty much it just fell back on us. I think we had everything dialed up pretty good, but sometimes it works and sometimes it don’t. But more than likely I think in that game it worked, but like I said earlier we just couldn’t really get home.
We were there, what not. May be a little smaller (indiscernible) that we had to do to get better in order for us to do what we had to do to get a sack or get him down or whatever the case may be.
The whole game, the game plan was pretty much pretty good for us in what we did by dropping the coverage and showing all types much things and stuff like that. But at the end of the day he’s a pretty smart guy, so just gotta play football.
Q. What do you remember — obviously you weren’t on the team then — but of the 2018 national championship game, did you watch it and what did you remember? And also have you guys heard a lot about that at all now that there’s a rematch?
QUAY WALKER: Only thing I remember watching, watched the whole game. It was a pretty good game. I know we came out with the lead at first. Things started to change later towards the game. But other than that, no, we haven’t talked about that or even in the past game or whatnot.
Besides us talking about our mistake that we made in that game and things that we gave up, but other than that, no, nobody hasn’t talked about that game.
Q. You hear and read a lot that, schematically, Georgia has to do this differently, defensively it’s got to do that defensively. Is it really that simplistic or is it just a matter again of just executing — no missed tackles, no busts, et cetera?
QUAY WALKER: That’s it. That’s the only thing we have to do, is worry about us, tackle well, rally to the ball, communicate, what not, so we won’t have these type of busts that we had in our past game. Something we have to do is just play our game and everything else should take care of itself and play out fine.
Q. For 12 games your defense was lauded as historically good. And then the SEC Championship game took some luster off of that. How much does your defense still have to prove in your mind?
QUAY WALKER: At the end of the day, we just have to prove to ourselves, me proving to those other ten guys that I’m out there on the field with and the offense as well as a whole team. We have nothing to be worried about about proving to anybody else outside of this building, outside of this team.
At the end of the day, we’re the only ones that matter and what it come down to. So other than that, our main focus just needs to be on worrying about us and how we can get better as a team and be able to do what we need to do in order for us to get a win on Monday.
Q. Working on a story on Brock Bowers. Wondering how soon did you realize he was going to make as big an impact as he has. And is there one play either in practice or in game that really stands out for you as Brock leaving his mark on the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs?
QUAY WALKER: Pretty much as soon as he came in, as we started doing conditioning, summer conditioning and doing those type of things. The way he pushes himself, the way he stood out, probably wouldn’t be able to tell he was a freshman just coming in, the way he worked.
But, yeah, I think he pretty much is wired different in the way that he’s built and the way that he came in and started working. He’s made a ton of plays. The plays you see him making in the game are the same plays he makes in practice.
Q. What is it about the linebacker position that drew you to it? I don’t know what age, I don’t know when you started there, but that seems to be the center of most defenses.
QUAY WALKER: Are you saying what made me start playing linebacker?
Q. What drew you to it to play that position?
QUAY WALKER: Actually, it started in high school. One of my coaches, Coach Shelton Felton, I was playing offense at the time. And the next thing you know I think I was real physical on the offensive side. He mentioned I’m going to switch you to defense. By the time I switched to defense, before I even want to say played a down of defense, it was already out that certain colleges what not just because of my size and everything like that.
That’s what pretty much started me playing defense, linebacker, I think to answer your question, about me being real physical on the offensive side of the ball.
Q. The hit that Chaz Chambliss had the other night, obviously he was ejected from the game. What was the reaction in the locker room when he took down that back and just kind of showed his skill, and how important is he for the future of this program, especially with some of the younger guys?
QUAY WALKER: I can’t say in the locker room, but I know on the sideline we were pretty hyped about it. Great hit. Chaz is a person who works really hard and has a bright future as well. A lot of those guys come in, work each every day just seeing the older guys, the leaders. Seeing the way we work, it pretty much affects them and drawing them in, coming in getting better each and every day and forward on towards the future.
Q. How did you process the SEC loss to Alabama, what were your emotions immediately after that game?
QUAY WALKER: I felt pretty bad. Since being here I’m 0-3 against them. So that felt pretty bad. But knowing that we didn’t have any sacks, knowing we didn’t have any sacks on defense, any turnovers, more than likely you’re not going to win that game if you don’t do those types of things.
So at the end of the day I pretty much already knew. They were pretty much the team that day we didn’t execute on those types of things. As bad as I want to say it hurt, it did I kind of pretty much already knew why we didn’t win the game. I knew the mistakes we already made that led up to that.
Q. We’ve overheard how Kirby Smart is the ultimate competitor. Do you have any stories, any memories behind the scenes about him and his ultra competitive side?
QUAY WALKER: No, I don’t know pretty much have any memories about it. But I know I have a lot — there’s a lot I can say I just can’t tell you one off my head. I think everybody knows how Coach Smart is without me telling you. I think you can see it from the outside.
Q. Quay, we heard that Stetson uses a flip phone. He’s gotten a lot of criticism this season. Seems like he actually bounces back pretty well. Is he somebody that is not really involved with what people are saying about him and he just likes to stay focused, and is having a flip phone part of that?
QUAY WALKER: Stetson had a flip phone before that, before we started the season, I want to say. But Stetson don’t really pay too much attention to what’s being said of him. We don’t either. So like I said earlier, I think for the question, the main thing is for us to worry about all the guys that’s there because nobody else matter and their opinion. At the end of the day whether you’re doing good or bad somebody is going to have something bad to say about you anyway regardless. I think it’s the main focus, the way he approach that just cancel out the outside noise, major props to him for that.
But yes, having a flip phone — I don’t think you really care too much about the outside noise and social media.