Two days til game day: Smart, players meet the media

Dogs 23-point favorites over No. 11 Wildcats

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart with media on the Southeastern Conference’s weekly teleconference call while Kearis Jackson and Warren Ericson offered post-practice comments.

Head Coach Kirby Smart Opening Statement… “We are excited for a great matchup at home against an undefeated Kentucky team. I have a lot of respect for what Mark (Stoops) has been able to do there. A tremendous job developing players. Every time we play them it is an extremely physical game. I know our fan base will turn out. We’re excited to have another big-time matchup at home.”

On Brock Bowers role… “Same as it’s been all year. To execute and perform at a high level, which he has been able to do. Play against some different kinds of defenses. He’s done a tremendous job. He’s had two of his best games, these last two games in terms of physicality and execution. I’m really pleased with his work ethic and the things he’s been able to do.”

On preparing for Kentucky’s defense… “It’s tough. They have a lot of different looks. They match their fronts with their coverages. They change up their coverages. They have three high looks, quarters looks, and really good disguises. They have some twitchy guys upfront. You have to be physical. It’s hard to play-action those guys because more depth in their defense in terms of how deep they play. They prevent a lot of that, and they confuse you. Their looks are very similar. You have to have a smart person to know where to go with the ball, and execute all around.”

On preparing for a physical stretch of games… “They are all physical in the SEC. If a coach tells you it’s not physical, he’s lying. I can assure you when I say it is going to be physical, there is not a game in our league that’s not. That’s just the way it is. Tough, physical games. A lot of really good players in our conference that you go up against on the line of scrimmage. In terms of what’s looming after this game, it has no outcome on this game. It’s not like you sit there and say ‘oh we have an off week next week’. That has no bearing whatsoever on how we prepare for this one. It’s really all about Kentucky at this point.”

On the recruiting impact of having Gameday at back-to-back home games… “I think we will see. We certainly get more attraction of players wanting to come to the game. They’re probably more of an infatuation with saying I want to go to the game because Gameday is there than just I want to go to the game. I think it helps bring attention and kids certainly like that show. In terms of it being on campus, more excitement, those kinds of things. They don’t get much direct involvement.” On Will Levis… “Toughness, a quick decision-maker, the ability to run, and having to defend the 11th man. He’s a really good zone-read runner. He does a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the belly and reading it a long time. He’s very accurate in his decision-making in terms of pull it. He’s a physical runner and puts his shoulder down. There are 10-15 times this year where he’s willed himself to a conversion. That is challenging when you have an extra guy that can do that.”

#10 Kearis Jackson | Jr. | WR On working through injury to return to wide receiver… “It’s been a long four months, especially coming back off knee surgery. I’ve been getting myself back into the role as playing receiver, getting back to feeling like 100%, and just getting better each and every day. With my teammates, especially with the quarterbacks, getting that chemistry back down. But being able to be back out there with my team, I just missed it so much.”

On the play of the wide receiver group… “Guys have been making plays. You can tell by watching them just trying to score. We’ve been very explosive at the receiver role, more explosive since I’ve been here. It’s the fact that what we’re doing each and every day at practice is translating over to the game. Especially those games that I’ve missed watching on the sidelines and seeing those guys compete, like I said translating over to the game. It’s fun watching. I’m excited what this team has done to this point.”

On playing special teams not receiver… “For one, I didn’t feel too comfortable with that brace on, I wasn’t 100% yet. The coaches felt confident enough that I could go back there and catch the punts. That’s the main thing about punt returns is being able to secure the ball. The coaches felt confident enough for me to be able to do that and that’s the main thing as long as it’s just securing the ball. Being able to play receiver, my routes weren’t what I want them to be at, so I didn’t want to put myself out there trying to go play 100% knowing I can’t do that. So, it’s about more so what can I do and what can I put on film. I didn’t want to put any bad stuff on tape, so if it meant to sit out four or five games, then so be it if the next time I do get on the field I could be 100%, that’s the most important thing.” #50 Warren Ericson | Jr. | OL On the offensive line this season … “This season there’s been some highs and lows. We’ve been able to run the ball well these past two games which has been huge for us. That’s always a point of emphasis. We try and take every game to be the best we can and play the standard we always try to set.”

On Kentucky… “They are always one of the most physical games that we play. They’re hard-nosed, they’re tough, just like our defensive and offensive lines. The line of scrimmage is always tough guys that are trying to get down, get dirty and play the physical style football that we try to play.”

On being ranked No. 1… “Obviously seeing that, it’s great and it’s something we all strive to be but then again this is the seventh game of the season. It’s not the national championship. We’re not at the end of the season yet. What we have to do is we keep taking every single day, every single week and to continue on with this progression. We must take time and keep getting better. It’s the most important part. I don’t think anything specific to me has changed except for that fact that I want to continue to work hard and continue to focus on Kentucky.”

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