Wednesday News and Notes from UGA
Smart on Salyer's left tackle debut
Jamaree Salyer made his debut at left tackle last Saturday against Arkansas and, overall, head coach Kirby Smart was pleased with what he saw.
“Jamaree did a good job. I thought he helped lead the group. He’s probably got a little more experience than the other guys,” Smart said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “He’s still relatively new to the position; he’s worked really hard at it.”
Both of Salyer’s previous two starts came at right tackle for the Bulldogs, including team’s Sugar Bowl win over Baylor.
This, after graduating from Pace Academy in Atlanta as the nation’s top-ranked guard according to Rivals.
But after the departure of good friend and former teammate (both in high school and at UGA) Andrew Thomas, Salyer was moved over to left tackle, which figures to be his home on the Bulldogs’ offensive line for the rest of the year.
“He’s going to get challenged more and more as the level of competition goes up. We know that's one of the toughest places to play in the SEC. There’s nobody perfect over there. We lost two first-rounders on the edge, and you realize it’s a tough league to play in when it comes to that,” Smart said. “But he's really played hard, he's conscientious about it, and he goes against really good pass-rushers every day in practice."
More quarterback talk
Wide receiver Kearis Jackson did not drop any hints on who will be the quarterback on Saturday. But whoever does will need more help from his teammates.
“I felt I didn’t do a great job of keeping guys comfortable. This week has been different. All the quarterbacks have come out with a different attitude, one to get ready and another to get better,” Jackson said after practice Wednesday. “Everyone knows our performance last week was not acceptable. This week, we have to go out and play fast and make sure we do everything the right way.”
Jackson’s comments echoed those earlier in the day by Smart, who was once again asked about his quarterbacks on the SEC teleconference.
After addressing the topic on Monday and Tuesday, the first question from a national reporter during the SEC teleconference was about the pecking order between Stetson Bennett, D’Wan Mathis, and JT Daniels for Saturday's game.
Smart, obviously, did not bite.
“With D’Wan, he’s working, he’s continuing to get better. He’s growing as a player and learning from his mistakes,” Smart said. “But we’re trying to get the players around him to play better, too—something that will allow him to have success,” Smart said. “The same thing with JT. He’s continuing to work; he’s doing a great job. I’m glad he’s cleared. He’s able to play now, and we’re excited to see what he does.”
On Tuesday, Smart offered an update on the injury status of tight end Tre' McKitty and offensive lineman Clay Webb.
McKitty, who underwent arthroscopic surgery just over three weeks, ago, has a chance to make his Bulldog debut against Auburn after missing the opener against Arkansas.
Webb, meanwhile, remains questionable after what Smart deemed to be an ankle injury.
Wednesday, Smart was asked about wide receiver Tommy Bush, who did make the trip to Arkansas. Although he didn't offer a specific reason, Smart indicated Bush’s absence was in fact health-related.
“It just depends on how deep it needs to go with injuries and things like that. We’ve got five guys that we feel comfortable with. The good thing is, the young guys are getting a lot of reps. Kenny was dinged up in camp, so we were able to get Kendall (Milton) and Daijun (Edwards) a lot more reps because of that. I’ve a lot of confidence in all five of those guys. They work hard and do a good job each day. Not saying we're going to play all five each game, but we’ve got confidence in all five of them.” – Smart on how deep he will go with the running backs.
“He’s done a great job; he’s worked really hard, and that was one of his goals for the year. Obviously, he was able to pin some more people inside the 10, and he was able to do that with the help of some really good gunner play.” – Smart on Saturday’s performance by Jake Camarda.
"I would think so. I think it's that way all the time. It's that way in coaching and it's that way—when you're coaching against maybe a school you went to, or that you played at—I've always said that. I thought that that was a factor in some of our games last year. Certainly, that's the case. It doesn't necessarily mean we didn't want them. We wanted a lot of those guys and got beat! It's a matter that you play with a chip on your shoulder, because it's your home state and you probably have more family at the game. Sometimes, not always in Auburn's case, you have kids that are closer to Athens than necessarily Auburn—that's not always the case with them. Yeah, I think it's certainly that way. It would be no different with the kids we have on our roster from the state of Alabama." - Smart on Georgia players on Auburn being extra motivated for the game.