Georgia Football: Nolan Smith said he reached out to Mel Tucker about Michigan.
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Nolan Smith hits up Mel Tucker for advice on Wolverines

Any little tip can help.

So, when Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith learned that Georgia would be playing Michigan in the College Football Playoff at the Orange Bowl, he reached out to an old mentor: Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker.

The former Georgia defensive coordinator obviously knows the Wolverines well. So, knowing that the Spartans were the only team to defeat Michigan (12-1) this year, Smith admitted Tuesday he hit Tucker up for some advice.

Although Smith never actually played for Tucker, it was the current head coach of the Spartans who helped recruit the Savannah native to Athens.

“I try to talk to Coach Tuck, but he’s a head coach now and has a lot on his plate. But we texted,” Smith said. “He told me straight up we should be able to go in there and give it a good shot. Hopefully, he’s right and the things we talked about I can transition over to how we play our game.”

Michigan State defeated the Wolverines 37-33 back on Oct. 30.

In that game, the Spartans did a good job against the Wolverines’ talented running game, limiting leading rusher Hassan Haskins to 59 yards on 14 carries and held Michigan without a rushing touchdown.

Bulldog defenders definitely took notice.

“I have watched some film from that game where they beat Michigan,” defensive end Travon Walker said. “I’m not sure how much the coaches have talked to Coach Tucker, but I have watched that game.”

Covid precautions being taken

With a potential spot in the national championship on the line, the last thing the Bulldogs want is to have a Covid resurgence jeopardize those plans.

That’s why Smith and Walker both acknowledged Tuesday that the team is going back to wearing masks whenever inside the team’s football facilities.

“It’s mostly just wearing masks in the building. That’s a big thing we have going on for us now. I know everyone thought we were done with the masks, but now the masks have come back. But anything to win games,” Smith said. “It’s all about keeping our team safe. A lot of guys are about to go home to their family. I’m going home to see my grandma, I’m going hunting with my uncles. I don’t want to get those people sick.”

A recent resurgence has sports teams across the country concerned.

Tuesday, it was reported that the Texas A&M football program has halted operations due to a recent spike within the team.

Walker said that’s the last thing anybody at Georgia wants to have happen, so that’s why precautions are being taken now.

“We don’t want to lose any players to something we can kind of prevent, which is putting back on our masks,” Walker said. “It’s by choice, but the type of team that we have, a lot of guys don’t even want to risk missing this game because it’s so big for us. Because of that, a lot of guys are putting back on our masks on our own.”

Though not on staff, Jarvis Jones apparently lending a hand

During Tuesday’s Zoom, Smith indicated that former Bulldog All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones was back with program after a two-year stint as a graduate coach.

However, that is apparently incorrect.

UGA officials confirmed to UGASports that Jones is not a member of the football staff. Sources do confirm, however, that Jones been at practice for a few days this week.

“Jarvis is doing a great job right now helping with my angles and rush moves. I’m so happy to have Jarvis back on the staff and back with us,” Smith said. “He was here, but now he doesn’t have class and he’s here every day. He’s helping us on the sideline, and he helps us in the game. I really appreciate that. He’s helping me tremendously.”

A former first-round pick, Jones’ words obviously carry a lot of impact with defenders like Smith. The Columbus native is the school’s single season record holder for sacks with 14.5 in 2012.

“He’s a former first-round pick,” Smith said. “What more help do you need?”

Quotables

Nolan Smith on the team’s sentiments ahead of the Orange Bowl: “New life. I will say that, new life. Coach Smart has even said it, ‘It's a one-game season.’ What we did before, congratulations and what we did before it is not that bad, we can always learn from our mistakes. But it is new life, it is one game, and you have to win to advance. I think a lot of guys are ready to work and we're happy we have this opportunity. A lot of people watch Georgia football for a long time and a lot of people didn’t get this opportunity that we have had and now that we have it, we have to seize it.”

Travon Walker on the chip on the defense’s shoulders: “After that game (SEC Championship), we had a lot we wanted to improve on. There’s a chip. Our defense has to step up this game and make a statement.”

Nolan Smith on watching Georgia in the Rose Bowl and playing in this year’s Orange Bowl: I mean yeah, when Lorenzo (Carter) blocked that field goal and we went into overtime and Tae (Crowder) did that thing at half-time, I watched the whole game. I watched the whole game and a lot of people counted us out, but we came back. But I'm really excited, and I'm happy to be on this stage and part of the Georgia team that made it to the College Football Playoffs. I will be able to tell this to my kids forever let alone. But hopefully, we can win it.”