Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart spoke with the media Saturday after the Bulldogs’ scrimmage session, touching on a variety of topics from personnel to his experience playing golf at Augusta National.

Here’s a look at what Smart had to say.

On the scrimmage as whole:

“I was pleased with the effort and enthusiasm at the scrimmage. It probably was not the best execution we have had from an execution standpoint offensively or defensively. But I thought the effort and enthusiasm was good. We did have some rain and some wet ball, and it was really good to practice in that. Every year we end up with a game that has a threat of that or some rain, and I thought the players handled that well. We got a good number of snaps. We were not able to finish in the stadium, but we did get to finish back in the indoor. But the kids played hard. I don’t think we tackle well enough defensively, and I think it is just one of those things in this sport that you need to tackle every day to be good at tackling, but you can’t tackle every day to be safe. It is a fine line of trying to create good tacklers and staying safe. That is something that we are very cognizant of and try to handle. But I thought the players played really hard and executed well.”

On the running backs:

“We have been a little dinged up there with Kenny (Mcintosh) out. We’ve had other guys out and we are trying to get all of those guys back healthy, it’s been tough. Anthony Summney has done a great job. A couple of those guys have done a really good job filling in with Kenny out. James (Cook) and Zamir (White) have been very steady hard workers. I thought Kendall (Milton) did a really nice job today with some physical runs. We had a couple third and shorts or fourth and shorts that he was able to convert as a big back and do some things. They are all working really hard on their protection. That is one of the areas that we have really targeted this spring, in terms of pass protection and pick-ups. A lot of people want to come after JT (Daniels) and be aggressive and blitz and do things, but we are going to ask for people to really pay for that. The way to make people pay is to block it and pick it up. but I am pleased with what those guys have done.”

On defensive lineman Jordan Davis’ performance this spring:

“Jordan has done a good job; Jordan’s biggest issue is conditioning and weight control. He knows that and has worked really hard on that. We have to get him to cut some more to be really elite. The game of football is played so differently now and there are certain games that he is a much larger factor in, and some teams can make him a no factor if they are spraying the ball out or throwing the ball a lot. With those plays it is harder for him to be a contributor when the ball game speed is up. So, it is critical that he gets in the best shape of his life. Part of the reason he decided to come back was to be in great shape so he could create some more value and that is one of the things that he is working on.”

On the priorities of the scrimmage:

“Second (and) ten, third down, end of game scenarios, three or four different clock management situations, a 1:50 no time outs when you have to score, a 1:50 no timeouts and must get a first down to win the game, which happens in our conference a lot. So, we did a lot of game simulations and end of game scenarios besides our typical scrimmage moving on the field.”

On West Virginia transfer DB Tykee Smith:

“I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to comment or not. I think I may be able to, but I’ll just use that as my reason for not answering. The DB’s are coming along. We have a long way to go, but we’re getting there. I haven’t seen any regress. That’s the good thing, but if we’re on a one-mile journey, we just hit the first quarter. We have a way to go. We have to figure out who it is. We have guys in that position who have been beat up and haven’t been able to practice. We’re already thin and already young. If you miss practice time, that’s hard. We’re trying to grow those guys up. We’re in constant search or our best lineup. I will say this, every one of them wants to get better and every one of them is trying to get better. We have flashes of some good plays. Consistently, we have to improve. We have to improve the consistency in the secondary. That starts with tackling. That starts with eye control. It’s not just the corners. It’s the safeties as well. It’s communication. All those things are critical. We’re not where we need to be, but I didn’t expect them to be. We have a way to go.”

On playing golf at Augusta National:

“On the Masters front, I would just say blessed. Just to have an opportunity to play there is just once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s probably one of the happiest days that I’ve had in terms of being able to experience it with my father. Being able to go there and play one round, that was really incredible. It was one of the highlights of he and I being able to play golf there once.”

On linemen Xavier Truss and Broderick Jones:

“For left tackle, Truss has played there the most and has worked there the most. He’s continuing to work. He’s gotten better. With him, so much of it is communication, demeanor, body language, fight, and he’s improved in all those areas. I’m very pleased with where he’s heading and what he’s doing. The competition is there. We have guys competing. Jamaree [Salyer] is taking reps there, and we still have Broderick [Jones] and Mims, so those guys will battle. Broderick [Jones] and Mims are both working right left. That’s a spot that’s always going to be open, but Truss is getting most of the reps there until we figure out who the best five are.”

On the wide receivers:

“The depth has taken a hit obviously with George [Pickens], and Jermaine [Burton] got to run around and do some things. He didn’t scrimmage, but he got to do a lot more, and he’s getting a lot more flexibility. Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint is getting really close. He’s out there running around, doing walkthroughs. You seem him on the side getting to run. You know that he’s close to being healthy. Dominick [Blaylock] is on the side running. You know you have guys there that have experience and have done a good job. It’s really a valuable time for the younger guys to get an opportunity. Kearis [Jackson] has been very consistent. Justin [Robinson] has made some plays. He continues to grow and get better. Adonai Mitchell has made some plays. Jaylen Johnson has made some plays. Ladd McConkey made some plays today. Those guys continue to grow, get better, and compete. Demetris Robertson had some good plays. I’m fired up. I wish I had all of them because I think that competition would be good to see who the top guys and the starters are, but a lot of the young guys are catching up t the old guys really fast with the work that they’ve been doing.”

On the offensive line’s performance so far this spring:

“It’s hard to measure as a whole in the spring. I would reserve judgement on today until I see it. We had some pressure inside and I don’t know if it was guys getting beat or guys making mistakes. I don’t know which one it was. We had a couple times where there was a tough call whether it was a sack. We’re obviously not life, so you’re trying to judge that and gain speed. The depth, I hope, is there.We’ve had traditionally really good depth in the offensive line. I can’t say if it’s any better or worse. We’ve got who we’ve got, I think we’ve got one more man coming in terms of offensive line. But, the beauty is, we’ve got guys out there that are getting better and competing each day, so we’ll see where we are but we certainly have not arrived or are where we need to be.”

On the advantages of being an early enrollee and their performance so far:

“The biggest advantage would be acclamation to college, to college life, to going to class, to the speed of the game, to just being a college student. There’s no bigger change in your life than when you leave high school and go to college. And to do that in the middle of your senior year is much tougher than maybe, just dipping your toe in the water in the summer, and just easing in the shallow end coming into the fall. Whereas they go complete dive in the deep end when they come in here in January. So, the trend is there. Covid was a major factor this year because nobody wanted seem to want to stay in second-semester of their school and wanted to get to where they were going so they could start their college career. A lot of kids are saying they’ve got a better change of graduating with one additional semester. So, whether you think you’re a three-year guy or a four-year guy, three and a half and four and a half is much bigger than three and four. So, they gain one more semester – 15 hours towards graduation. That tends to be the trend and I don’t think that trend will change.

On linebacker Rian Davis:

“I’ve been very pleased with Rian’s growth. His attitude, demeanor, understanding of the defense, and toughness have improved. Last year I would’ve said, ‘man he might be a liability to put in the game.’ Now, I’m not sure that he’s not very comfortable going in the game. You’d like to be able to play more than two inside-backers, you’d love to have four guys, if you want to gain early function and play, and we’ve rarely had that. We’ve been very fortunate to have three, not always four, and we’re getting to that point. So, he’s a pleasure, he’s been so much more coachable. I think he’s going to be an impact player on special teams. I thought he made a couple plays out there today that were very special plays. We’ve moved him around, so it’s tough on him. We’ve done some different things on third down, we’ve tried to develop things on third down that he can do – similar to what Adam does, because Adam brings so much value. We need more people like that with some of the guys we lost last year.”

On defensive back Dan Jackson:

“Dan’s intelligent. Dan’s smart. I don’t know how many people actually know Dan – he’s a young man that’s a walk-on in our program. He got into Georgia on his own, he’s a great student – just to do that is pretty incredible. He’s smart. He tested well. He runs fast. A lot of people assume if you’re a walk-on you can’t run, but he’s fast. He’s smart. He’s getting better every rep. It’s so important to him, you know, it matters to Dan. I don’t know how he played today, but I know he’s gotten better with every practice.”

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