home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


December 29, 2017

Mel Tucker

John Atkins

Roquan Smith

Pasadena, California

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the Georgia defense press conference. On stage to my right, we have defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, linebacker Roquan Smith, and nose guard John Atkins.

Coach, we'll start with an opening statement from you.

MEL TUCKER: Yes, this is a unique opportunity for us to play in such a historic game and such a great venue against an outstanding opponent. Our guys have done a really, really good job focusing and preparing. We have a standard here that we have set, and they have performed to that standard so far in our preparation.

Oklahoma has an outstanding team, so it's a huge challenge for us defensively.

The Rose Bowl organization has done a great job. The hospitality has been outstanding. They have treated us in a first-class manner, as we expected, and we're really excited to be here.

Q. For all of you, how is Oklahoma's offense different from what you see most of the time during the regular season?
MEL TUCKER: Well, I think, for one, they have an outstanding quarterback. He's elite, and he really makes those guys go. You don't see quarterbacks like that every week, regardless of who you play.

They go extremely fast. Everyone's at the point of attack, defensively, on -- and with their offense, they do a great job schematically. They're very well-coached. They have a physical, offensive line that's played a lot of games together, and the weapons outside, receivers are dynamic playmakers. They're a spread team that's committed to running the football. So I think that makes them unique.

Q. Roquan, I know you've been asked this a hundred times already, but you're going to be playing on the field that you would have been playing on had you stayed committed to UCLA. Does that feel weird? Does that feel fun? How does that feel?
ROQUAN SMITH: It doesn't feel weird at all. It was something I did like a while ago. But I don't really think about it from that aspect. I just think about it just playing for the University of Georgia.

It's a great opportunity for me and my teammates, coaching staff to be able to play on a historic field. So I don't think about it more so like me and what I almost did or something like that.

Q. We all talk about Baker Mayfield and think of him throwing the bomb down the field. Talk about this running game. It's not the weak point of that offense it doesn't seem?
MEL TUCKER: No, they're committed to running the football. They've done a good job in every game they've played this year of running the ball. Their run game sets up their play action, and so it's a challenge for you.

They have really good running backs. Their offensive line is physical, they're big, and they're multi-dimensional.

So it's going to be a challenge for us defensively to make sure, first and foremost, that we can stop the run and try to make them one dimensional if we can. So that's a big part of our challenge.

Q. Roquan, you are arguably the best linebacker in the country. Is there a player that ten years ago or when you were in high school you really wanted to model your game after that was a college player, not an NFL guy?
ROQUAN SMITH: Well, I would say sometimes I do, but like more so I know my own play and whatnot. But there's many guys I looked up to. To name one would be like shorting a lot of guys.

So I feel like I can learn many things from a lot of different linebackers. So I feel like I pick up things from many others, not just like one in particular.

Q. Mel, is there someone that he reminds you of, a great college linebacker?
MEL TUCKER: Oh, you know what, that's a great question. Roquan is unique to me. I've seen a lot of linebackers over the years that are really good players. Spending ten years in the NFL, you see all types of guys.

He has the unique combination of speed, football IQ, and physical play, and he loves the game. I think what makes him really special is that he is very, very coachable and he's a great teammate.

At Georgia, our program is built on shared responsibility with the coaches and the players. So trying to build a consensus of what we do and how we do it, and when you have guys like Roquan and John-John that are great players, they lead the way for us in being great team guys. Not just great football players, but just great people. Guys that care about the group and not -- very, very unselfish. I think that's what makes Roquan unique as a linebacker. He can do it all on and off the field.

Q. Mel, I think professionally you're kind of thought of as an NFL guy. It's been a few years now that you've been back in the college game. I just wonder how you like it, and what kind of adjustments and transitions have you had to make in your life about it? Your long-term future, I know you've been a head coach before, would you like to be a college head coach or an NFL head coach?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, well, you know, I started off in college. I spent eight years in college at a place like Michigan State, LSU, and Ohio State before I went on to the NFL. I never intended to be in the NFL for ten years. It just kind of went by pretty quickly.

But I've always had an affinity for the college game because of the relationships with the players, the recruiting aspect. I really, really enjoy just being able to see a player, maybe a sophomore, junior in high school, recruit them and see them all the way through their senior year in college and on into the NFL. So that's what's really rewarding for me.

The adjustments I had to make, not a whole bunch. I coached the NFL guys the same way I coach the college guys, technique and fundamentals, and wanting to play smart, fast, and physical.

I would say probably a little less time at home, a little bit more time on the road recruiting is probably the biggest challenge. But it's been great. My focus is here at Georgia and this game. My personal aspirations in terms of career, that's really not part of my focus right now.

Q. Roquan and John, you guys have been a great defense all year. You played great players. Can we get your thoughts on Baker Mayfield, and also the match-up between the front sevens of these two defenses? Talk about matching up with OU's offensive line, and talk about that match-up, if you could, please?
ROQUAN SMITH: I think it will be a great challenge for our defense and whatnot. We know they have a great offense out there, but we feel like we have a great defense as well. We know they have a lot of playmakers all around the field in every skill position and also from the offensive line.

So I just feel like it will be a great opportunity to show what we can do versus a really good offense in OU.

JOHN ATKINS: Kind of piggybacking off what Roquan said, with us, it really starts in practice, how we come out to practice and attack the day, how we keep on going on practicing. If you build on that practicing, by the time you get to the game, it should be easier.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297