Wednesday News and Notes
Cade Mays is the first to tell you that he and the rest of Georgia’s ballyhooed offensive line did not play their best game last Saturday against South Carolina.
That’s something that must change when the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1) host Kentucky (3-3, 1-3) Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.
“The best thing about college football is you get another opportunity this Saturday,” Mays said after practice Wednesday. “We’re learning from our mistakes. We obviously didn’t come out and execute the way we needed to, but this Saturday we’re going to do that.”
Last week’s effort appeared to still be gnawing at the sophomore from Knoxville.
“It definitely woke us up and let us know that we’ve got to perform better,” he said. “We’re looked at as one of the best, if not the best offensive lines in the country, and we’ve got to go out and prove that every Saturday. If we don’t, what everybody says doesn’t matter.”
Mays acknowledged there’s plenty that needs to get fixed.
Pass protection and a higher percentage in short yardage comes to mind.
“What comes to mind for me is third down,” Mays said. “Third down, red zone, we’ve got to have high percentages in those categories, goal line and stuff like that. If we have high percentages, it means we’re executing at a high level.”
That wasn’t the case on Saturday.
“We just didn’t execute the way we needed to. Four guys would have a great play on one play, one guy wouldn’t,” Mays said. “That’s the way football goes, but you’ve got to have all five guys on the same page; all 11 guys, really. It takes all 11.”
Georgia’s offensive line could have a different look when the Bulldogs host the Wildcats Saturday afternoon.
With Justin Shaffer (neck) out indefinitely and Solomon Kindley (ankle) still a bit gimpy, Mays may find himself starting at left guard.
“I’ve been working every place as I always do. I’ve been rotating back and forth but it’s not very difficult. In that game I was one play at right guard, the next play at left guard. You just go with the ebbs and flows of the game.
Jackson says hand is improving
Wide receiver Kearis Jackson said the left hand he broke in the opener at Vanderbilt continues to improve.
“My hand’s doing pretty good. I’m still doing extra work outside of the training room, putting my hand in a bucket of rice every day before I go to sleep to strengthen up my hand,” he said. “So far, I’m in good shape. I’m getting all my strength back, so that’s good.”
The Bulldogs need Jackson at full strength as soon as possible.
Injuries have been an issue for Georgia’s wide receiver corps, the latest occurring to grad transfer Lawrence Cager who is not expected to play Saturday due to ailments to his shoulder and ribs.
He could be out longer than that, meaning plays like Jackson will need to step up in order to fill some of the void after breaking two bones in his hand on Georgia’s second offensive possession of the fourth quarter.
On the play, Jackson made the catch for a 32-yard gain, before losing the football after a hit from Commodore safety Tae Daley.
“I caught the ball and as soon as I turned around the guy hit me. I don’t know if that broke my hand or not, because as soon as he hit me all I was thinking about was getting to the end zone,” Jackson said. “I saw the guy had a club; I don’t know if the club broke it, I just saw the ball. I wasn’t worried about anything else. I feel I let my team down by fumbling the ball but that won’t happen again.”
Self analysis part of the routine
The question was posed to Kirby Smart earlier this week – do Georgia coaches go back and look at what went right and what went wrong during the previous games?
Of course, they do.
That also applies to his use of Georgia’s remaining timeouts at the end of the first half and in regulation of Saturday’s double-overtime loss to South Carolina.
“Looking back, we do self-analysis all the time. The biggest thing was the two two-minutes before the halves that we had an opportunity to score,” Smart said. “We've been really productive in those. We've been really aggressive in those and done well. And we ended up with a long field goal opportunity before the half that ended up getting blocked that Rod [Blankenship] might be able to make, might not. But we thought we managed those really well.”
Or did they?
According to Smart, Georgia has an analytics group that sends the program information each week of what to do, although ultimately the decision when to actually use timeouts ultimately is his responsibility.
“The only consideration that we have is sometimes when to burn timeouts strategy wise. And philosophically, we go meet with people. We met with NFL teams. We met with SEC officials before the season,” Smart said. “When you get a first down, do you call a timeout or do you not, because sometimes they're going to burn four seconds on you regardless.”
“A couple times we've had first downs this year that we've had an abundance of timeouts, which means we're managing our timeouts right to even have them to use late in the half, late in the game and you have to make a choice on whether you use it after a first down. Some people would say, well, I'll just clock it or I'll just run a quick play, which at Alabama we had a philosophy of run a quick play sometimes, but that burns more time than possibly calling a timeout where you'd go to the half with timeouts. And we've had some situations in the past where we did that. So, we’ve felt very comfortable how we used those. We just have to be more effective and efficient in two-minute, and that's really been one of our strengths, not one of our weaknesses.”
Earlier, Smart took his turn on the weekly SEC Teleconference.
The following is what he had to say:
On how the team has responded since Saturday:
“They’ve been great, in really good spirits. Monday and Tuesday, we acknowledged we’ve got to do some things better and they’ve bought into that to be honest with you. It’s been good practices and the focus has been really good.”
On Kentucky tailback Kavosiey Smoke:
“Physicality. He blocks well, he runs, has a good pad level. He’s like a younger version of Benny Snell. He doesn’t go down at first contact, he’s a yards-after-contact guy. I remember him well coming out of high school and know he’s a really good football player. You can see the kind of toughness and energy he plays with during the game. I’ve seen him jump receivers for not blocking and bring really committed to being physical.”
On Kentucky’s defense after losing a number of players last season
“They had a senior-laden defense. They were probably, in a long time, had the most four-year seniors across the board, were a very veteran group. It seemed like those guys had played there forever. And there’s still four or five of them and a couple guys who have subbed in-and-out that are still there and playing. They have a lot of similarities to last year’s defense as far as scheme. They’ve probably been a little more of four-down than three-down and that’s a slight change for them.”
On Georgia’s team from a leadership standpoint
“Probably one of the best we’ve had. As far as offensively, we’ve got really strong leaders on that side of the ball and they do a tremendous job. There’re so many guys with experience – D’Andre (Swift) has led, Jake (Fromm) has led, Andrew (Thomas) has led, Solomon (Kindley) has led, I mean there’s really a good core group of guys there. Defensively, it’s probably done a little more by committee and by coaching staff. There’s probably less guys there. Obviously J.R. Reed has had a big impact, Monty (Rice) has, Tyler (Simmons), Azeez (Ojulari) is stepping into that role as a young player, probably a little more offensively than defensively, but they both have worked really hard. A big part of leadership is the accountability and having the right attitude to approach people the right way. I feel like our guys have done a great job of that.”
On talking to Rodrigo Blankenship after Saturday’s game
“We all grabbed him immediately afterwards because I love the kid, I love what he stands for. There’s not a guy on our team that prepares any harder or goes through a better routine of how to prepare for things than [Rodrigo]. He sets a great example for young player in work ethic and the way to grind. There’s not a lot you can do or say to make him feel better but you just love on him, you let him know that you’re there for him and that we’re a team and we’re all with him and it’s not all on him.”