Smart updates QB status as Dogs prep for Kentucky

No. 1 vs No. 11 Saturday in Sanford Stadium

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with a pair of defensive backs previewed Saturday’s Top 25 matchup against No. 11 Kentucky. The Bulldogs and the Wildcats kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET in Athens, Ga.

On Tuesday, Coach Smart, Redshirt Sophomore Dan Jackson and Junior Lewis Cine offered the following comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

On James Cook’s reception during the Auburn game…

“Well we thought that I got told from the box that they thought he caught it, but I was trying to ask the official because they typically review those so you don’t have to burn your challenge or anything like that because they’re reviewing every play and the official just said that he dropped the ball when he landed, he went out of bounds, he never had possession of it but I don’t know. Coach’s copy it was hard to tell what happened on it, James (Cook) thought he caught it but I don’t know that he would have had the first down, maybe you know better than me. I thought it would have been like right at it right just short, and we’d had a tough call to make because the point differential there was worth the two score. That was the big decision but we’d already decided if Zamir (White) didn’t score on his, we were gonna go for it on the one that he broke loose. Because the point differential was completely different so that three points was big to make a two score game.”

On the defensive front on creating pass rush…

“Well, I mean there’s several games they’ve gotten a lot of pressure. We haven’t pressured a lot this year at all but we really didn’t pressure a lot last year, we’ve gone away from, you know, there’s a lot more move in NFL football with offenses. Offenses have gotten more complicated, they’re different, lot of simulated pressures. So, it means you bring somebody and drop somebody which some people would call a fire zone but we call it simulated pressures because it’s usually only four guys rushing sometimes three guys rushing and they allow you to play simpler coverages where you don’t have to get really complicated and worry about a bust, and the front has helped us do that, but we’ve changed a little bit philosophically, whether we got a great front seven, an average front seven, or poor front seven we probably be doing what we’re doing. So it’s not a matter of them changing us it’s more what we have to do to defend these type of offenses.”

On the captains…

“Well, you have to be accountable, you have to have a voice of leadership. You have to have earned it in the offseason, and we’ve probably got some, a lot of guys deserving that haven’t done it, Because we’ve got some really good leaders. But we talked about it each week, you know somebody that we think has to positively affect somebody, somebody has to play really well that week, or you know maybe they’re from that state a lot of different ways to go about being the captain but ultimately I want them to be able to affect the other players, and have an effect on. We let them share messages and talk, throughout the week and they take a lot of ownership in it, and I’m very happy that we got the guys we’ve got that can kind of share that role, and share that burden. You want your best ones always out there but sometimes it’s hard for us to figure out who the best ones are.”

On the injury front…

Yeah, Ameer Speed doesn’t look like he’s gonna be able to make it back this week. Dom (Dominick Blaylock) still not back, Rosemy (Marcus Rosemy) I think looks good this week, he’s taken a lot of reps he’s been working like I said I thought he looked good in warm ups the other day as the hope that we had when he was warming up. Jermaine Burton’s done well and worked, repped and he hasn’t taken the volume that he would normally take but he’s hitting his speeds, so feel good about him. There’s so many I can’t even think of rest. Chris Smith’s been able to practice, he’s in a black jersey. He’s not contact right now, but he’s moving good, and staying in shape. Jamaree (Salyer) is kinda the same way, he’s conditioning and working out and watching the periods and I think he’s going to be good but he’s not able to take all his reps.

On difference between fire zone, zone blitz and simulated pressure…

“Fire zone is zone blitz. Simulated pressure is not fire zone. Simulated pressure is, you’re simulating, you’re pressuring, but you’re really not because you’re only rushing for. Fire zone is zone blitz and you’re rushing five usually. Simulated pressure is rushing for and there’s a lot more people doing that then there are rushing five and offenses have morphed, you rush five guys or six guys, they’re just gonna throw the ball out to relief. It makes no sense to run it because you’re not gonna be right, they’re not gonna like hand the ball off and let you rush five or six guys, they’re gonna throw it out to a flare and then you’re short a man. So, you’re constantly trying to calculate a way to get pressure but not take the risk where they just spit the ball out and it’s on the perimeter and you don’t have anybody to tackle.”

On the offensive line’s performance without Jamaree Salyer…

“Competed well, really physical. It became a different kind of game at that point. I forget exactly when Jamaree went out, I know it was the first half. But in the second half, it really became a physical game, and I thought they played really hard, all those guys played really physical. They’re gonna face a different kind of defense this week than last week. All of them were probably a little bit undersized and really quick and athletic. These guys are big physical guys at Kentucky, they got a lot of size, a lot of different looks defensively. They throw a lot of different looks at you.”

On Tykee Smith…

“He knows the defense, he’s very bright. He’s intelligent. I don’t know that he’s 100%. He’s been out there, he’s been practicing, he’s been competing but you know it’s just tough for him when you come back from that injury. Darnell’s (Washington) a little bit different because the quick twitch and the speed is not as critical with Darnell. He’s able to play with power on a lot of plays and Tykee has to be able to run, cover, and all those things. And again, I thought he had a nice practice last week and we were able to get him in so, he covered three or four kickoffs, he made a nice play on the ball. Hopefully, he’s in better shape this week.”

On Ladd McConkey…

“Yeah, he did it all last year, I mean he was on scout team last year with the whiteouts we had and thought he was a really good player. I mean we take reps, he went against all those really good players we had last year on the secondary and I knew he was gonna be a good player then. A couple times last year that he got in the rotation, and he was working with the twos and threes and I can’t remember what happened, he got banged up or I can’t remember what it was, he sent me a text, he was like, what I gotta do to get back where I was and I just told him keep working. In spring, he got a lot of opportunities, he made a lot of plays in the spring, he made plays in the spring game, he made plays in fall camp, and he made plays in the summer. I mean he’s a playmaker, and he’s done a good job, you can count on Lad to be full speed all the time so I just think he’s a good football player and he gives you everything he’s got every day.”

On Nakobe Dean…

“Yeah, he’s a signal-caller, he makes all the calls, he’s a tremendous leader. When he speaks, people listen, plays so hard, practices so hard. You see why he plays well, because of the way he practices. He embodies what we want a great leader to be at the University of Georgia, in terms of academics on the field, off the field, just outstanding young man all the way around. He’s gotten so much better and he were able to give him a lot of calls and commands that make us right in the way offenses are. Nakobe’s really smart, he can put us in the right call and a quarterback does a lot of times.”

On Broderick Jones’ performance so far this season…

“Broderick did a nice job. Broderick came in and that was part of the reason we’ve been developing Broderick is because we think he’s a talented player. Jamaree’s (Salyer) played really well at tackle for a long time in the SEC, and we’ll put the best five out there that gives us the best chance to win.”

On stopping Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez…

“Yeah, he is super physical. Dude is one of the hardest runners in our conference. His pad level, his strain, his drive, his power, it’s like hitting a brick, man. People bounce off of him and they have for years. I told our guys, ‘you have to get his cleats out of the ground” because he is not stopping. Yards after contact is why. They don’t have a very long second-and-long reel. Their second seven to ten reel is shorter than anyone we have ever faced because they don’t get in them. He’s a really thick, heavy back that you have to be a willing tackler. He gets to the second level quickly.”

On the dynamic of this year’s team compared to previous seasons...

“Not really because I don’t really think of the players as stars. I don’t see it that way, I see it as a team without an ego. They buy in, and you know, we’ve got good football players, by all means we’ve got good players. We have guys who are going to be draft picks, but I don’t feel like we have ever had that guy. Even with Nick and Sony, they shared a lot of that spotlight and I don’t get into the ‘star’ part, I sell team values and we do that through the off season. I feel like this team has really bought into that, they don’t really want that. There’s not really anyone out there that’s saying, ‘look at me, look at me, I need more attention’ they deflect it - they don’t want to go do the media, they don’t want to go do those things, they want to win, is what they want to do, and that’s what matters.”

On the Kentucky team compared to last year…

“Yeah, their defense has always been tremendous to me. They had, I don’t know how many guys they had drafted last year. They had an unbelievable defense. They have a lot of those guys back. The biggest difference in their team is the quarterback and the offensive system is different. They have always been physical, their offensive line last year was physical. We lost three or four d-linemen in the game and at one time we were playing three true-freshman out there. It’s just bloody when you go against those guys and its both ways. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way they play. Their last year’s team physicality wise, but they’ve got a lot of weapons starting with their quarterback and Wan’Dale (Robinson) and they’ve got tremendous talent all around those guys.”

On Chris Rodriguez’s recruitment…

“I remember him coming out, we evaluated him, looked at him. And to be honest, I don’t remember which class he was in as in who we signed that year, but we evaluated him, talked about him. He’s a really good back, he really fits what they do in terms of downhill, physicality, punishing runner.”

On JT. Daniels’ practices...

“He got to throw a lot on Monday. I want to say he threw 30-40 balls and he got upwards of 30 yards. He felt pretty good, took some snaps. We didn’t do a whole bunch on Monday. We didn’t do as much as we normally do. And then today, he probably didn’t do as much and so he was a little more limited. He did some snaps, threw the ball some. We are kinda going off Ron’s (Courson) protocol - he has him on a pitch count daily and we are following that and we check and see if he swells or has any soreness after it. The good news is that he hasn’t had any soreness the last two days, not extensive soreness and we were able to go back the next day. He hasn’t been able to do a whole lot, but a little more than he did the week before.”

#47 | Dan Jackson | RS So. | DB

On his rise to the defensive rotation...

“In terms of my rise, I would say this spring is when I felt like I had the best opportunity. Ever since I got here, I have been wanting to contribute, but I would say this spring.”

On his process of deciding to come to Georgia...

“Coming out of high school, I had a really good senior season. Before that, I did not really get many looks or offers. I had some smaller offers my senior year from schools like Mercer and Air Force. They came late. I reached out to Coach (Charlton) Warren, and he offered me a preferred walk-on spot here, and UGA is where I have always wanted to come, so I could not pass that up.”

On the blocked punt against Arkansas...

“It was something that we worked on all week during practice. I feel like that is what really led us to be able to block that punt. We had two shots at it, really, but we were able to execute on the second try, thankfully.”

#16 Lewis Cine | Jr. | DB

On limiting Auburn’s opportunities...

“Auburn is a good team too. They are going to get plays. They game plan like we game plan. They are going to get some here and there too. Coach Smart tries to change some things up and fix some things up, so they do not get yardage, but Auburn is a real good team too.”

On the Kentucky game last year and the physicality that they bring...

“The whole Kentucky team is a very strong team. They are strong up front. They have a good run game. (Chris) Rodriguez is a very strong back. He runs very hard. He refuses to go down, so it is definitely a challenge, but it is a challenge that we are looking forward to.”

On the adjustment after Chris Smith was injured...

“It was unfortunate that Chris went down from the game, but we prepare for everything in practice. Everybody gets reps to make sure that everyone is locked in just in case a guy gets hurt. Give credit to Dan (Jackson) for coming in when he did and keying in and making the calls.”

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