Sunday, November 06, 2016

Transcript: Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart Players Rodrigo Blankenship, Javon Wims, Maurice Smith Post-UK Game Comments

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart


Opening statement …
“I have a lot of respect for that football team we just beat and their coach. I know a lot of people talk about them being Kentucky, but that’s a good football team. They’re an extremely physical football team. They know how to run the ball and they run it really well and they play really hard on defense. So, make no qualms about it, that’s a god team. And I’ll brag on my team a little bit: They never quit, they fight as hard as any group I’ve ever been around and they just challenge each other. They challenge each other on the sideline and they respond when adversity hits. I can’t thank those kids enough for that because it’s been tough and those guys bought in and really have done some good things. I’m proud of them.”

On his level of confidence and strategy going into the game-winning drive … 
“Well, Jim (Chaney) and I after the kickoff concluded that we were going to be patient. Our goal was to give us a chance to win but not give them a chance to win, which is tough because you go out there and run it a few times and punt, then you question everything; you go out there and throw it, the clock stops, so you have to call plays that can be successful. Nobody panicked. The clock was rolling a lot, but every Monday and every Thursday we do that drill. We give them situations, and sometimes it’s less time and sometimes it’s more time. But I think Jacob (Eason) managed it well. He made some good decisions with the ball. We threw and caught the ball on that drive. Imagine that. Throw and catch. We threw and caught the ball. When we do that, we’re a balanced team. And when we’re a balanced team, we’re a good team. But when we don’t catch it or we don’t run efficiently, it hurts us. But, I was proud of the way the kids executed in that situation; even Sony (Michel) during the last run. We told him to get what he can get. If he can get in the middle, get in the middle, and he did. And I’m also proud of Rodrigo (Blankenship). Who would’ve thought after the spring game and everything else that that guy would hit four field goals? I’m so happy for him because he has worked so hard. He’s been drilling those things in practice lately, so that’s why we’re willing to put him out there.”

On Blankenship hitting the last field goal …
“The last one? I knew he was going to hit it. The 49-yarder? I was hoping.”

On Blankenship’s character after losing the job as kicker and getting it back …
“Maybe it was just a bad coaching decision. Maybe he should’ve been kicking the whole time. But, he’s a high character kid and I appreciate all he does. He never stops. They had a lot of challenges in camp where we would try to challenge them to see who could kick better. He didn’t win all those, but he was resilient about it. He kept coming back and he now -- all we need him to do is kick off better. That’s what I want him to do: I want him to kick that ball off in the end zone.”

On his confidence in Blankenship …
“He does that in practice. So, it’s easy to show confidence in players who do things well in practice. People think practice doesn’t matter. Practice matters. He has hit a lot of field goals in a row at practice and the team almost gathers around and they just count them out. If he gets five shots, he’ll make all five and everyone is going nuts. He’s just really in rhythm, and I think a lot of that credit should go to (Trent) Frix too. He whips that thing back there fast, gets plenty of time and Jacob is a really good holder. But the kid has ice in his veins right now. He’s doing a really good job.”

On Eason in the fourth quarter …
“I don’t know that anything happens as much as we let it happen. We give them a chance to take over the game and do that. He does not feel pressure. That’s just the kid. He has a very calm demeanor, which is what you want a quarterback to have composure wise. He really doesn’t get flustered, and I’m proud of him for that. Hopefully he can grow and develop from that.” 

On coaching (Isaiah) McKenzie tonight …
“McKenzie is a thrill a minute. I was more upset with him about not calling out the ball rolling on the ground next to our player. That’s something that we control, something that Isaiah controls, something we practice. You point at the ball. You let the guy know it’s there so he gets away from it. Well, he didn’t do that so I was upset about that. Now the ball rolling down there on the 1-yard line, that’s going to happen. If you can’t catch it, it’s going to happen, and he was trying to be aggressive and make a play when he tried to catch it. And I thought it was pretty close to catch interference, but they didn’t call it so it wasn’t and he ended up fumbling one there. But, again, the kid is an aggressive, really-hard-practicing kid, and he sets the identity for our special teams a lot of the time.”

Georgia Players


Rodrigo Blankenship, Freshman, PK


On not having missed a kick in a while …
“I’m just trying to take it one kick at a time. That’s the only way to go with kicking really, you just take it one step at a time and you move on, and short-term memory after every kick. Whether it’s make or a miss, you’ve got to treat it the same way and be able to move on to the next one.”

On the attempt that counted when UK had one timeout left …
“You’ve got to be ready for anything. So taking my steps back, I’m just thinking, ‘I’ve got to get a smooth swing and knock it through.’ Timeouts, I mean, it’s a part of the game.”

Javon Wims, Junior, WR


On his performance as an individual and the team as a whole …
“Just whenever plays were there to be made, when my number is called I have to make them. I have a responsibility to my teammates. You know, we work hard in practice, and my number was called, so I just went and made plays.”

On the big game next week vs. Auburn …
“Oh yeah, that’s another really good team. There are no breaks in (the) SEC. We have another tough opponent next week. We are going to have a really good week of practice leading into it.”

Maurice Smith, Senior, DB


On UK going with a freshman in the Wildcat formation …
“Oh yeah, we knew they were coming. I mean you have got to give your hats off to them. I mean, they played great and they really gave us a challenge that was physical and I think we just outplayed them. Finally we showed that we could play, and this is a good win for the team.”

On how the turnovers were in the second half …
“Oh, it was big. You know, Coach always says that turnovers come in bunches, and we knew that once we got one that the second one would come. We just have to keep fighting, stripping at the ball, and I think we really got lucky and blessed with the one that (Jeff Badet) caught because it just fell in his hands. But it was just a big blessing.” 

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