MAC-action is coming back to Sanford Stadium to take on Georgia football. It’s Monday of a game week, so we all know that means it’s Kirby Smart press conference. Smart talked to the media about this week’s opponent, Ball State, and last Saturday’s game. Here are some of the highlights of what was talked about.
Offensive line “woes”:
A lot has been made about the offensive line play in last week’s game. I have been one of those fans worried by the performance the O-line displayed last week. Smart said it was more about what UT-Martin did and less about the offensive line’s failure to execute. Furthermore, Smart put the blame on the coaching staff for how the offensive line played. Smart said that UT-Martin changed things schematically, and the coaching staff should do a better job helping out the offensive line. Overall, Smart was pleased with the O-line’s play, especially pass blocking. To be fair, the offensive line did do an excellent job at stopping UT-Martin’s pass rush. Smart also was asked about Earnest Greene, who made his first start Saturday. Smart said he played well and forgot that Greene was making his first start. However, Smart said there are still “WTF” moments with Greene, just like all the younger players playing significant snaps.
Where the Dawgs need to improve:
Many in the fan base were unhappy with how the Dawgs played all last weekend and on Labor Day. Mainly, the complainants have been directed at Bobo and the offense. Smart said that the team needs to improve in all phases of the game. Defensively, Smart said the pursuit angles on defense needed to be worked on. Several times in the game against UT-Martin, the defense gave up yards because the tailback would cut back on an over-pursued defense. That can be easily fixed. But Georgia’s defense needs to work on their angles. That could potentially be the kiss of death in SEC play.
Furthermore, Smart talked about how the defense needed to create more turnovers. Looking back at the game, Georgia had a few opportunities to create a turnover and did not capitalize. Turnovers are weird sometimes; some years, you get a flurry of them, and then others, it seems you can never get one. Hopefully, this is the latter.
Smart said they needed to be more explosive in the run game on offense. I think Kendall Milton’s run of 37 yards was the longest of the game. While I agree with Smart, the depth of the running back position probably limits the explosive runs that Smart wants. So, it is safe to say it won’t be fixed this week. However, it should be something to watch when Georgia gets to week 6. Smart also said that the offense needs to be better at converting 3rd downs. I don’t know the percentage of 3rd down conversions the Dawgs had, but it felt like a lot. On almost every drive, Georgia faced a 3rd down.
On special teams, Smart said they needed to be more dominant. I have no idea how a team can be dominant on special teams. That is why Kirby Smart makes all that money, and I write blogs for a living. Whatever the metric they use for dominating on special teams, evidently, the Dawgs failed to get a good grade.
Ladd McConkey is day-to-day. McConkey has had a back issue throughout fall camp, and the injury stopped him from playing on Saturday. Hopefully, McConkey can return this week to knock the rust off before the Dawgs take on the Gamecocks next week. Daijun Edwards could have gone Saturday against UT-Martin, but they decided to hold him for another game. Edwards is back with the team and should be able to go this Saturday.
Kendall Milton, who is not 100%, Smart said Milton said he is more like 92%. Smart commended Milton on his love of the program and Milton’s toughness to push through injuries. The coaching staff is trying to figure out how to keep him healthy and figuring out how to get him in game shape. Because Milton missed most of fall camp, he is not in shape, according to Smart.
Also, Marcus Rosmey-Jacksaint is back from an Internal suspension. We still have no idea what the internal suspension was, but I can give an educated guess. Smart said that Rosmey is the leader of the wide receivers because he works hard. Smart added that Rosmey is one of the team’s toughest and most competitive players on the team. On another note, Mondon will play more snaps this week. Last week, Mondon was in one snap. Smart said Mondon is a full go.
On Carson Beck:
Smart said Beck played well and did not understand the criticism the media and fan base had hurled at Beck. Smart said Beck did everything the coaches wanted out of him. He played with the system, was composed, and made excellent decisions. Smart added that Beck is a bright football mind and is like Stetson because he can handle a lot of volume of the playbook. If anybody is criticizing Beck for poor play, they don’t know football. Beck played well and missed some throws. It was his first start in four years. I am sure throughout this season, Beck will only get better. I believe the Dawgs have their QB of the future in Beck.
On Ball State:
Smart said that Ball State played Kentucky hard and the Cardinals are a good football team. Kentucky, much like Georgia, looked sloppy early in the game. So, while Ball State might be a good team in the MAC, I am unsure if they can make the Dawgs sweat one out. Given how Georgia played last week, the Dawgs will probably play better. Ball State does have a familiar face at running back. Marquez Cooper, who played at Kent State last season, is now the feature back at Ball State. Smart said that the Georgia defense has a ton of respect for Copper because of how tough of a runner he is and how well he played against the Dawgs. Hopefully, the Ball State game is unlike last year’s Kent State game. My heart can not handle that much anxiety and anger.
On Brian Kelly’s post-game comments:
If you are unaware, Kelly said this post-game after losing to Florida State: “For some reason, we thought we were somebody else. That we were the 2-time national champion Georgia Bulldogs or something. I don’t know what we thought, but we were mistaken.”
Smart was asked if Kelly’s comments were flattering. Smart replied in the most Kirby Smart way, saying, “humility is a week away.” Smart added that Georgia football has to worry about how they practice, not about quotes. I have to say, it is nice that Kelly holds Georgia football in that high of regard. But his obsession with the Dawgs is a little weird. Kelly has mentioned Georgia a few times, and it is always about how LSU is trying to get on their level. LSU isn’t anywhere close to Georgia yet. Sorry to Brian Kelly, Georgia wouldn’t lose to Flordia State, especially by that wide of a margin.