Kirby Smart talks QB plan for next game

ATHENS, Ga. -- University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart said don't expect many changes in the team's quarterback plans next week.

Highly-touted freshman QB Jacob Eason came off the bench to help the Bulldogs defeat North Carolina in the season opener Saturday, 33-24.

In the game, Eason completed eight passes on 12 attempts for 131 yards and one touchdown. 

Lambert completed five passes on eight attempts for 54 yards, and had no touchdowns.

In a news conference Monday, Smart said, "The quarterback plan is very similar to last week right now. We're going to continue to rep both of those guys, give those guys a lot of work, and make a decision as to what we're going to do, whether it's later in the week, or game time. Both those guys will continue to work, and that's the most important thing that they can continue to grow and get better and develop so that our offense can grow and develop and get better."

UGA plays Nicholls State Saturday at noon in Athens.

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More of Smart's comments at Monday's news conference (courtesy of www.georgiadogs.com):

Opening statement...

"Before getting started I'd like to mention that September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. We will be wearing a helmet sticker this week to support the Curing Kids' Cancer program. I know childhood cancer is badly in need of funding, and this is a way that the University of Georgia as well as all of college football can provide awareness to the Curing Kids' Cancer program so we will be participating in that.

We've watched the tape. We're very proud of the way the kids competed in the last game. We told them we'd give them 24 hours - good, bad or indifferent, and 24 hours is up. It's time to move on. It's time to get our team better, and there are a lot of areas of improvement that we need to improve on. I've heard the mantra that it's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems. There's nowhere more evident than that tape of that. You went to sleep thinking you played well, you watch the tape and you're sick to your stomach because there are so many things we did wrong that we need to improve on. The good thing is we get to show the kids that. We'll do that today and we'll get moved on to Nicholls."

On how he reacted to an emotional first game...
"I slept good. I had to get up early and watch the tape. I went to bed right when we got back and got up and watched the tape like a normal Sunday so we could get moved on to Nicholls. That's the most important thing, to figure out where we've got to go from here. Rest is important, and I was able to get good rest."

On so many teams using multiple quarterbacks...
"I think every situation is different. Everybody's got their own quarterback situation. A lot of quarterbacks are different on these teams I see play from time to time. In our case right now we're growing. We're trying to get the best unit we can get out there. We're trying to do what each one of these quarterbacks can do. It'll be based on exactly that - what they can do and what's going to be good for the people around them. It won't be based on what's going on in college football, it'll be based on what's best for us."

On quarterbacks being ready to play as freshmen...
"Probably more than 15 to 20 years ago, but in the last five to 10 (years), since the advent of high school seven-on-seven, they see so much more, they throw so much more, they've seen a lot of the defenses before. There's a lot more prolific offenses out there in high school football. More teams are throwing in high school football. The wing-t has gone away. There's a lot more spread element in high school, and high school programs are feeder programs. I certainly think quarterbacks come in with more ability to play early."

On particular areas of improvement...
"Everywhere. I'm serious. Anywhere. It didn't matter if it was protections, running back protections, o-line protections, more physical at the point of attack, ID'ing the "Mike" (linebacker), defensive line running to the ball, pass rush, secondary leveraging the ball, linebackers keying things properly, punters kicking the ball where they're supposed to kick it, it really didn't matter. We've all got a lot of improving to do."

On the quarterbacks...
"The quarterback plan is very similar to last week right now. We're going to continue to rep both of those guys, give those guys a lot of work, and make a decision as to what we're going to do, whether it's later in the week, or game time. Both those guys will continue to work, and that's the most important thing that they can continue to grow and get better and develop so that our offense can grow and develop and get better."

On Elijah Holyfield and Sony Michel's availability...
"We think Elijah (Holyfield) was really close. He could've played, but it was a situation where he didn't get many reps during the week. We're going to try to get him a lot of reps during the week so that he can be able to play in the game. Sony (Michel) again will be up to the doctors. It's a matter of when they'll clear him. When he gets cleared he'll be able to play."

On junior fullback Christian Payne's play Saturday...
"A while back when I said we didn't use fullbacks he was mad at me, so he took it out on me during the game. In our mind, he was the Player of the Game (Saturday). It was good you noticed that because we think a lot of him. He practices really hard and gets no credit. I'm glad you noticed it because he really played well, he played physical, he did a lot of good things on tape. We're rewarding him as one of the offensive players of the week. He does that every day so it's no surprise to me. But he does have great value in this offense with what he does, and he's done a good job for us. He's a really competitive, tough guy."

On the kicking situation...
"They'll continue to compete for that job. That job will always be open for competition. How they kick during the week is important to know. Right now, (William) Ham is our field goal kicker."

On his sideline demeanor in week one...
"I really don't know what they're seeing because I don't think of it. I just do what I've always done. I don't think about it beforehand, it's just what naturally comes out. We'll see if it continues. It's not something I think about a lot. I just want to help the kids play well, so anything I can do to help that - I want them to see the energy and the passion for the game."

On how Nick Chubb has changed since overcoming his injury...
"It's hard to compare old Nick to new Nick. I saw him for one game (last year). I think it's really hard any time you do comparisons. I think he's the same person from within, obviously. He's such a tough, physical competitor. It's hard to say. On the physical attributes he's added a little bit of weight, but we're hoping it's the right kind of weight."

He did a really good job this offseason with Coach (Scott) Sinclair he added to his bench and his squat and a lot of those areas he got stronger. He feels much more conditioned and stronger as a running back. It was evident that he was able to run through some tackles in the fourth quarter because he's such a powerful low body guy."

On the offensive line...
"We thought those guys played really hard as a unit. That's the number one thing. We didn't want to be complicated, we didn't say you have to make every call right, that you've got to make every step right. We just said that you have to play physical and you have to play hard. They did that. We've got a ways to go in that group to get to where we need to go. We've got to play with more power. We've got to play with more consistency. We've got to sustain longer. They got a little tired during the third quarter. We've got to sustain longer. I thought Tyler (Catalina) held up well. He made a dumb, bonehead decision that could be really costly on the personal foul late in the game. It was his first time playing in that kind of environment. It was loud there, regardless of what side of the ball you were on. He had to play with the noise, and it was his first time really doing that. That's good, but we've got a long way to go up front. If we're going to be a very good run team against the SEC defenses we're going to play against, we've got to be more physical. We've got to be able to move people. We're not as big on the interior as teams that run the ball traditionally are."

On David Marshall, Brian Herrien and the rest of the freshmen...
"Somebody said we had 11 true freshmen play, which, to me, is a lot. I think we had more than that play last year but the game is a little different. Eleven true freshmen playing in that kind of game is pretty unique in my opinion. It was a tight game, back-and-forth. We knew it was going to be that way. We knew the guys that played were going to play. I thought David did a nice job. Tyrique McGhee, give him a lot of credit he came in and played some special teams. Jaleel Laguins played on special teams and did a great job, things that kind of go unnoticed. Charlie (Woerner) and Isaac (Nauta), to play in that environment, you find out a lot about guys. And what we found out was it was their first game. A lot of them played like it was their first game. I know Brian (Herrien) had a nice run, but there's a lot of work Brian's got to improve on to be the kind of back that we're going to give reps to, especially when we get Sony (Michel) back. Those guys are fighting for playing time and they've got to play better than they played on Saturday to earn that. That's for all of the 11, they've got to do that. There's some other players that probably would have played if the game wasn't as tight as it was. We were really close to putting others in who we may get to see this Saturday or we may not. We'll have to see how it goes."

On sophomore OLB D'Andre Walker's play...
"He's super valuable for us right now because he's the one guy on kickoff. He was that way last year. When we came in last year and took over he was the one key cog in the middle who we knew people didn't want to have to block that guy. First of all, he's really strong, he's really fast, and when you're really strong and really fast and you weigh 225, 230 pounds, it's a problem for the kickoff return team. We have to use him. We're trying to get him more involved in the defense because he creates a mismatch problem. He's very similar to Lorenzo (Carter) in some of the things he does. But he's got to be more dependable in terms of a defensive aspect, but he's a weapon now on special teams because he's really fast and really physical and gives us great effort."

On the defensive play on Saturday...
"We've got to play with better technique. We've got to tackle better. It's always your fear the first game that you don't tackle well. That's exactly what it was. We did not tackle well, especially on the edges and the perimeter. We've got to do a much better job of tackling. We've got to put those kids in those situations. It's like that first scrimmage where you go in and you tackle live, and you worry you'll have a lot of missed tackles. We didn't have a lot of them but we weren't tackling Sony (Michel), Sony wasn't out there. Nick (Chubb) was getting limited reps. Brian Herrien had a pretty good scrimmage, he was similar to (North Carolina's) No. 8 (T.J. Logan). It showed up. We did not tackle where we need to tackle to play well on defense. We've got to address that and improve on it."

On injuries...
"Isaiah Wynn should be able to practice today, I think he's good. We've got some guys dinged up. Riley Ridley has an ankle sprain. He might be limited today. Chuks (Amaechi) is good. Dinged up during the game, but should be fine."

On tight end play on Saturday...
"Those 200 and however many yards that Chubb got, there were three tight ends on the field for half of those. I would assess their blocking as good. Could show some improvement, but they were blocking some big men. North Carolina had some of the best looking front guys I've seen in a long time, especially the two interior guys. They were grown men in there, and Jeb (Blazevich) had to block some of those guys. That part was good. Isaac (Nauta) dropped a ball that he's frustrated about. Make no bones about it, he ran a great route to get open. He was on their corner. He ran a great route to get himself open, had a great chance to get a catch and he didn't. Like I said, they're freshmen. Freshmen have to go out and play. It's a great experience for them. Sometimes you learn more valuable lessons by losing. Sometimes you learn valuable lessons by winning. But like I said, those freshmen have got to grow and get better for us to go where we need to go. They've got to grow up. The tight ends are included in that because two of those guys are freshmen."

On Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy...
"I thought they played with good effort. Lorenzo (Carter), he's a guy that's always giving great effort. It's never been about effort with Lorenzo. He runs to the ball, plays hard. We always demand that he plays more physical. I think he continues to work on that part of his game, but he gives us an element of pass rush and he gives us an element of being able to chase guys down. We don't have a lot of guys like that. I think he graded out with good effort. He could've played a little better physically. Davin (Bellamy), he we're asking him to give us a lot. Davin's playing Lorenzo's position, he's also playing other guys' positions. Davin plays really hard. He doesn't get to the ball as good as Lorenzo, but he plays hard. He plays physical. If we continue to improve on that, if he continues to improve on his technique, he'll improve our overall defense. Both of those guys played hard. Look, guys, we've got to play better on defense. There were some points that (North Carolina) left on the board. We didn't get any turnovers. There were several times that if (the Tarheels) get in the red area and get touchdowns, the game is different."

On the defensive game plan this past Saturday...
"(North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky) is going to scramble if he wants to scramble. The big thing for us was stopping the run, making them one-dimensional. We really didn't do that. They had some long runs that broke out on us. We tried to force them to be one-dimensional. There's certain coverages that we wanted him in the pocket, we wanted him to stay in there, because we were man-matching behind it. So much of our rush is tied to our coverage. I think there's a misnomer out there that people think `oh, they don't get any pass rush.' Some of that is never by design, but when they have seven people blocking three, you're not going to get a lot of pressure. Sit down and we might be covering. When we bring pressure, we usually get pressure. It's just a decision of how many times you want to do that in the game. How susceptible do you want to make your guys outside? It's something we've got to progress at and we've got to do a better job of conversion, meaning when they do pass the ball the defensive linemen convert into pass rush mode. Look, guys, we don't have the same rushers we had last year. There are some guys who could really rush the passer that are gone. It's going to be a key for us to try to manufacture that in other ways."

On David Marshall and the freshmen defensive players...
"David (Marshall) played probably more than those other guys because David is the most different. David is not a 300-pounder. Michail (Carter), Tyler (Clark), Julian (Rochester) are. Where are we shortest at? The edge type (player).  (Jonathan) Ledbetter being out, Chauncey Rivers is not here. David Marshall's role got thrust more to the forefront. He became a bigger factor even in recruiting because he was different than what we have. We're short at that position. We're not short at the big body position. We're short at the edge type and the guys that can hold up and play at 260. We don't have anybody from 250 to 280 (pounds), we've got like two guys. We've got really big or we've got small. David, we forced him to grow into that role. Tyler (Clark) didn't play many snaps, Michail didn't play many snaps. Those guys are practicing the right way, and if they continue to do that and get better then they'll get opportunities. They're good football players, they just didn't get an opportunity the other night. It didn't present itself."

On Chubb's workload...
"I think that'll be game to game. We'll go with the hot hand, whoever that is and what style defense they're playing. Are they thick inside? Are they thick outside? What do we have to do to change it up and open them up? You just can't become predictable. That's going to change game by game and how those kids practice during the week."

On Jack Davis and the icons of Georgia football...
"Me personally, I didn't actually know who he was until towards the end of my career as a player when you started seeing the drawings. I know he would do one for the team every year and we would sign them at picture days and things like that. I always thought that was really cool to know who he was. As I left, it became more evident when I came back and we won the SEC and he did the different paintings and different pictures. I always thought those drawings were really cool. As far as our players go, during fall camp we always try to have someone come back in the offseason. We have people come back to speak to them as former players. But I can't think of any icons that we've addressed with them. To be honest with you, I don't think we have. We spend so much time trying to educate them and keep them out of trouble that we didn't spend much time there."

Comments from players:

Junior FB #47 Christian Payne
On Coach Smart's thoughts on the fullback position his role on the team...
"He has full confidence and me and I have full confidence in this team. I'm not looking into it that much. I'm just looking to do my best and work hard everyday and help this team win -- that is all I'm worried about."

On how the rushing attack would change with the addition of Elijah Holyfield and Sony Michel...
"It will work really well. We have a ton of backs here at UGA that are more than capable of being a part of this offense, so the more the better."

On what it was like to witness Nick Chubb's successful return...
"Being a fullback is like being the eyes of a running back. So if I'm in there and I see him make a big run, it does feel really good and I know I had a part in it."

On Nicholls...
"They are fast on defense. They have a lot of returning starters and they are a young team. This will be their first game so you know they have spent all fall camp preparing for us. You know they will give their best against us."

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Junior TE #83 Jeb Blazevich


On Saturday's difference in the rushing and receiving game...
"We were put more into the run game, in terms of, that's the majority of our (tight ends) job on Saturday but in terms on the passing game, we did need to get open. I know personally I ran two routes that I could have done a better job on. At the end of the day, that's what this week is for, to go over those mistakes and continue to progress."

On one word to describe Coach Smart's energy and style...
"Consistent. He is the same at practice as he is in meetings.  It's not like just on Game Day when there's people there that he's just going to get energized for. He has a bunch of energy and he's consistent."

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Senior DB #2 Maurice Smith

On transferring to the University of Georgia...
"I felt like I had a better opportunity to come play here...I felt like I had a better chance to play and make an impact here. Coach told me I was going to have to work for everything, and that he was not going to give me anything. He told me I had a good chance of playing for the defense, but as far as starting, that was something I had to do on my own."

On his relationship with Alabama players...
"It's still strong. What people don't understand is that bond is never broken. I still talk to those guys daily. I check on them, and they check on me. Our relationship is still strong."

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Junior OLB #7 Lorenzo Carter

On keeping the intensity up from UNC to Nicholls...
"We respect everybody. Nicholls has a great offense, quarterbacks, running backs. Their offensive line has been their strength. We have to take every team seriously. Everybody is going to go out there and play their hearts out and you have to respect them. If you sleep on them, they can really effect you."

One word to describe Coach Smart's energy and style...
"Fire. He is always fired up. He is going to let you know what you have to do and he is going to be direct."


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