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December 30, 2017

Kirby Smart

Pasadena, California

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: To be honest with you, it was probably the first night staying at the hotel when I got the job, and we had official visits coming over, and I got to meet the players. I remember meeting Isaiah Wynn and some of the guys that were hosting the recruits. As I met the prospects, I was meeting our players, and that was like, wow, this is real. It's official.

It's been a joy to go back to your alma mater and get a chance to be the head coach. I think you never quit learning. I think any head coach would tell you he's been a head coach for 30 years, you still learn things. That's been the case for me in year two. It's been enjoyable. You're much more comfortable in year two than you are in year one. But you're nowhere where you need to be either in year two.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Not really. The way I look at it, all the years I was defensive coordinator was what would I do in this situation? You're already doing it, and you're trying to make those decisions. Every game you watch as a coach, you're not watching the ball or a player, you're saying what would I do here, what would I do there, trying to avoid critical mistakes. So you try to prepare yourself for that all your life.

Q. Coach, what are your thoughts on Baker Mayfield and the stuff that's going on and how that might impact your preparation for Monday's game?
KIRBY SMART: I don't see that impacting our preparation at all. I mean, we've got guys sick too. It's just not as big a deal because they didn't win the Heisman. So it is what it is. We're preparing for Oklahoma with Baker Mayfield.

To be honest with you, I didn't even really know what was going on other than the last two days everybody has made a big deal about it. So it hasn't been a big deal for us.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I think anytime you're preparing for a game that's three and four weeks out, you've got to be really smart how you manage your time. You start on a team too early, they get tired of it. You start on it too late, you're not prepared for it.

They're going to do things they haven't done. We're going to do things we haven't done. It's how you adjust in the game. Because you can only do so much in one game.

So in my history, I've found you can overprepare for these type things, and you get further away from fundamentals. And that's what you've got to do. You got to block, tackle, possess the ball, get turnovers. All the other stuff, all the other preparation is overrated when you get into the Xs and Os too much.

Q. What are the challenges of preparing to try to stop a Heisman winner?
KIRBY SMART: I think you relish the challenge of stopping any great offense. You don't stop a player. They've got a great back that won a Heisman, he rushes for 300 yards a game, you might do great to hold him to 200.

They've got a great quarterback that makes unbelievable plays. Every game I go back in his history and watch, he has a wow moment, he has a wow play. He's really good at that. I think it's how you handle those plays and how you handle their success that allows you to be successful.

Because he's going to make some plays, so you've got to go out and make your mind up that, hey, when he makes one, how are we going to respond to it and handle that the right way? But it's easier to prepare for that than a team that's 110th in offense, because you get your kids more excited.

Q. (Question off microphone).
KIRBY SMART: It's been really tough management. When you think about sometimes handling success is much tougher as a coach than handling failure. It's easy to coach after you lose to Auburn for the first time because you've got everybody's attention. You beat Auburn a second time and now you're dealing with a different set of circumstances.

We've had to really manage that, manage that with our players. The recruiting really hasn't been a distraction. It was tough having an early signing period, but a lot of that time our players were doing finals, working out, not really focused on Oklahoma until it got time to focus on Oklahoma.

For the most part we've been working on us until the last two weeks where we started working on Oklahoma.

Q. Do you feel like this is where you thought you would be right now?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I've said repeatedly this year, we look at every year independent of the previous, and our job is to get the best out of our team, our university, our kids each year. We're trying to get the best out of this group that we can get. That's all we think about.

We don't really look at it are we where we need to be in year two? Are we where we need to be in year three? We just want to get the best out of each team that we have. And every team is different.

What's made this team the most different has been the leaders, the seniors. They've been tremendous. I hope that every group after will follow some of the same things they did and just make it better. That's the hope as a coach.

Q. (Indiscernible) is that something you focus on?
KIRBY SMART: We focus on that, we talk about openers, opening drives, what are teams' tendencies, what are our tendencies, how do we break those tendencies.

But at the end of the day, it's not going to be the first drive or first quarter that dictates this game. It never is. It may be how you respond to the first drive or how you respond to the first quarter. But the response is much more important in adjustments than what they actually do, because they're really talented. They've got a great offense.

They'll have a good plan. Lincoln does a great job. We're going to have to react and respond to whatever they do.

Q. (Question off microphone).
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I think the kids are excited. They're getting to the point now where I think they're ready to play. You can do a little too much at times and make it overkill. I think our guys have practiced well. They're excited, excited to be here. Gotten used to the time adjustment, and it's time to go play now.

Q. What are some of the things that you can do to (indiscernible) your quarterback?
KIRBY SMART: Everybody tries something different. The big thing he has to rely on is an ability for our offense to run the ball. As long as you have some run game, it makes things a little bit easier on him. But people pressure him, people drop eight, they try to disguise coverages. He's a bright kid. He watches a lot of tape.

You can't reinvent a defense. There's only so many you can do. So he's seen most of them. It's not the defenses that get him, it's the players within the defense. If they can be successful rushing the pass or covering our people, that makes it complicated for Jake.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: No, I don't think you can ever get caught up in speed with an offense like Oklahoma's. We can have a year to prepare, two years to prepare, one day to prepare. They've got good football players. They've got the Heisman Trophy leading on offense.

What you do is go out, prepare the best you can, you give your team the chance to be successful. You have the ability to change things up, and you respond to what they do. That's all I've ever been coached to do. That's all we're going to do, and we'll do the best job we can against what I think is obviously the most explosive and potent offense in the country.

Q. It's been a pretty incredible road trip so far. What's it been like to be here?
KIRBY SMART: It gives me tremendous pride to be an alumnus of the University of Georgia. When you get to see that, when you come out of Notre Dame Stadium and you see that red and black and you see the streets here lined with it, you see the hotels lined with fans, I think it just shows how passionate and how hungry our fan base is for success.

They love the Dawgs, and they've been really good to us this year. They've really helped us in some tough environments, which we'll need them on Monday as well.

Q. Would you describe the defense as a brotherhood? It seems lately those guys have been responding to things off the field, and how they come together?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, we've got a defensive unit that's very senior laden. They've played here for a long time. I can remember back three years ago when I was at Alabama and we played them. A lot of those same kids were backups or starters on that team.

So I can't always say that they're the most talented, but I can say they're probably one of the most experienced defenses I've coached. They've been really great leaders for our offense. For our young offensive players, they set a tone, they set a tempo, and they do have each other's back.

But more than important than that, they care about each other. They practice the right way. They've been a joy to work with. I think Coach Tucker has done a tremendous job of bringing out the best in that unit.

Q. Speaking of the Georgia legacy, you talked about bringing back two players to talk about the year?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I think anytime you have a great alumni base, you lean on that. Because the message sometimes can become dry, the same. So when you bring Omari Hardwick in and all the players see him and they recognize, oh, my gosh, I didn't even know he played here, he was a teammate of Coach Smart's, they were good friends, and to see him, that's really special. Garrison Hearst is another one that is just a special Bulldog. Terrell Davis. We've got so many good backs. A lot of those kids grew up idolizing Terrell Davis.

So to have those guys speak, I think it opens the kids' ears a little better. They lock in. They're like, wow, this is a former Bulldog. I could see myself being like him one day.

So they're great role models, and they're great alumnus.

Q. When will the team picture be?
KIRBY SMART: Team picture will be tomorrow. They'll get to see it then.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: There are a lot of things I still can't talk about confidentiality-wise. But one thing that stands true is we're going to support our players. We're going to try to help them as much as possible, and do all that we can. That's true of Natrez as well.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: It's tough management. It's tough management for anybody. It's the same way down at the Sugar for those guys. I think you've got to be smart as a coach; that you've got to put everything you've got into this game. It's a one-game season right now for us. If you win, you happen to get another one. But if you don't, it's over.

So I think that's really important, the way you manage that. But you can only manage that when that clock strikes zero, and you worry about that at that time.

Q. Is that something that you don't really understand until the playoffs start? Going to those bowl games, you know in your head, okay, this is not the end now? Or is it like, oh, now we understand?
KIRBY SMART: We had the same thing when we played two years ago in the Cotton. So I've dealt with it multiple times, the not knowing if you have another game or not.

But if you really look at it, Oklahoma has been that way. We've been that way since the first Auburn game. So it doesn't change. It's the same. It's just a longer gap between the one game.

But it's been a win-to-stay-alive for pretty much every team in the playoffs. So that's not new to us. It's either win or go home. I don't think that changes your mentality or your preparation. If you start thinking about that, you're thinking about a result instead of thinking about what do I need to do to play my best? At the moment the clock strikes zero, you turn your attention to what may or may not be next.

Q. How difficult is it to identify who is where on the offense?
KIRBY SMART: I don't know if it's who is where as much as it is who are they? And what you said is true. Flowers is one of the most unique players I've ever seen. He reminds me of a kid we had at Alabama, Jalston Fowler. He's a tailback, he's a fullback, he's a tight end, and he's a receiver. He is a great asset to an offense. He's a perfect pro because they're going to throw the ball to him, catch the ball. He can do it all. I mean, he averages 14, 15 yards a catch.

I mean, it's amazing the way they use him, and it creates problems for you match-up-wise because you don't know if they're going to be an opened-up spread team or if they're going to be a power running-at-you team. Then you throw in the fact they've got Andrews as well, who is the hardest match-up probably in all of college football.

So I think they've got a great, perfect storm. These two unique players with a quarterback that's phenomenal. A great back and two wideouts that are as fast as we've played. So when you combine all that, it's really unique what they can do offensively. So it's been a really tough preparation for us.

Q. I was talking to Coach Stoops, and one of the things he said was -- I said, Georgia is kind of traditional. He kind of laughed and he said, They throw a lot of formations at you and it's tough to identify what they do to. Without giving away any secrets, how do you run a traditional offense?
KIRBY SMART: I agree with Coach Stoops. We're not a traditional offense. People want to say that because of our statistics. But anybody in college football is not traditional anymore. Not to me. Traditional to me was I-back field. That's not traditional anymore.

The norm is to be -- Oklahoma opened up, but not to have a Baker Mayfield, Andrews, Dimitri Flowers, wideout they've got, they're really incredible with the people they've got and the people they've got to play. They're very versatile, and it will be some tough adjustments for them as well.

Q. How you doing today?
KIRBY SMART: Who are you, and who are you working for?

Q. I'm with Channel 2 Sports, and I'm the reporter today. You know, a couple sources have been hearing that there might be an offensive play where I could catch a fade route, so we want to know if there's any truth to that.
KIRBY SMART: Absolutely. We've got this new play where the tackle becomes eligible, we sprint the quarterback out and he's got to throw it backwards. It just so happens that he's not going to be the tackle that does it.

Q. Well, you know what, Coach, we appreciate you for your time, playa. Have a good one.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I think nightmare is a good adjective. I don't know. We've reviewed the tape. We've talked about it. I don't like looking at it, for sure. But they did a great job of tempoing us, changing things up. They just played more passionate, more energetic.

It wasn't like there was anything they did that we haven't seen before. It was just unbelievable scheme. It was their players wanting to win the game more than we did. And that was probably the most disappointing thing or frustrating thing. It just seemed like they were playing a step ahead of us all the time. But that's a lot of credit to Coach Stoops and the preparation he had for that team.

Q. I was going to ask you is there anything at all (indiscernible)?
KIRBY SMART: Lincoln wasn't there then. It was not the same offense. It was the hottest quarterback I probably ever played against, second to Johnny Manziel, and he did a tremendous job of making throws in that game. There were some things that didn't matter. I mean, we had them covered, they made plays and they did a great job.

But two different teams, two different times. But obviously, we've looked at that, we've prepared our team for that and tried to get ready for that.

Q. It's pretty unusual in this day and age for a guy like James to pass (indiscernible). I guess the offensive staff has a lot of bright minds. Can you talk about James and that decision by him and that staff?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, first off, I think it's more the norm nowadays, the lifestyle of coaches. Lifestyle is more important than just title. I think I went through that at Alabama where I passed a lot of opportunities up that maybe I could make a parallel move or maybe even an advancement, but I did it for lifestyle because I enjoyed living where I was living. My family was happy and I was making money.

More and more coaches are making more money than they ever expected to. So why do I have to move for monetary gains? I want to live somewhere where the best lifestyle is. I want to live somewhere where I can go to great schools and work for somebody I want to work for.

I think that's the recognition of that for James; that he wants to be successful, yeah, he wants to be a coordinator, yeah, he wants to be a head coach, but he also recognizes he's at a point in his career where he's got the flexibility to make some decisions that are best for his family.

He's done a tremendous job. Our offensive staff has done a tremendous job as a whole. There are a lot of ideas and input that come from a lot of people on that side of the ball.

But at the end of the day there was no major change in our offense as there was major change in our ability to execute, block, run plays, throw the ball, catch the ball. A lot of that had more to do with it than just the Xs and Os.

Q. Just your second year as head coach, and here you are. Lincoln Riley, his first year, and here he is. What is it like to have this kind of success this fast?
KIRBY SMART: I think it's a lot of credit to the players that were here. Some good seniors here. I think it was a lot of credit to our staff and strength staff coming in and bringing great energy and enthusiasm, trying to create a culture of expectation that we expect more ourselves than what the media or anybody else expects of us. And I think it comes from a lot of hard work.

I'm very pleased with where we are, but we have not arrived. We've got other goals in mind. Each and every year will be independent of the previous.

Q. You come from a Nick Saban system and all the time you spent with him. How beneficial do you think it is having that type of mentor for you?
KIRBY SMART: Anytime you work for a great head coach, it makes you a better coach. I think you're always learning as a coach. I look at Coach Saban and Coach Stoops, those guys are like sponges. They go travel around every off-season, and they go meet with people to see how other people are doing it.

That's what I learned from Nick, you never arrived, and your way is not always the best way. So if you can go do it a better way or what fits your team the best, that's the best thing there is to do.

I think that Lincoln and I are both not egotistical to the point where we think this is because of us. We know there is a lot more involved in it.

Q. It seems so ironic now that Bob Stoops talked to your team earlier this season. What do you remember about that, and what can they use from that for this experience?
KIRBY SMART: I remember it vividly, but I doubt our players remember anything because they last about two seconds. At the time it was very meaningful because it was a message coming from someone that is an iconic figure and they all recognized. A lot of them were recruited by him.

But past that, that's it. I was worried that his brother was going to get pissed at us from Kentucky that he talked to us. Because that was looming down the road. I certainly wasn't thinking all the way this far.

But he did a tremendous job. It's just so good hearing him give a message because it's different from my message.

Q. What was the message you gave him?
KIRBY SMART: We were just focusing on each week and being the target. Because at that point we had gotten to the point where we had won some games. We were moving up in the rankings. He's dealt with that success, handling success much more than our program had.

Q. When your young quarterback, and on the other side (indiscernible), how do you handle him not trying to play (indiscernible)?
KIRBY SMART: I don't think you have to worry about that with Jake. He understands that's not who he is. That's not his MO. That's not his style. He's not trying to match him. He had to play behind his defense some this year, and that's what we encouraged him to do. Make some good decisions. Let the offense work for him. He doesn't have to be a spectacular playmaker.

Q. In terms of recruiting, did you try to talk Jacob Eason into staying?
KIRBY SMART: Chip, come on, why would we even bring that up right now? Why is that a conversation right now?

Q. I'm just asking.
KIRBY SMART: That's great, that's great. Jacob Eason has been the most loyal teammate, one of the best teammates there is. Best thing about him, he's worried about this team. He's worried about a game in two days, and that's what he's worried about. Because just like the game at Ohio State, he could be in this game. That's not a big concern of ours right now. I'm not even thinking about talking to him. I don't think that's important.

What's important for this team and we owe this team the credit they got here and they're focused on Oklahoma. That's our focus.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Doesn't mean a thing. I mean, they've got another quarterback. The first player of the West Virginia game, you know who their quarterback was? It was not Baker Mayfield. He ran for about 70 on that play. So they've got a really good quarterback that backs him up. That's not a concern for us because we have to prepare for Baker Mayfield. And I fully expect Baker Mayfield to be at his best. The guy is a winner. He is a gunslinger. He's every defensive coordinator's nightmare.

He's a tremendous player. He won the Heisman for a reason, and I love the way he competes. I've got so much respect for the guy the way he competes. So I'm looking forward to the challenge of having to go against him. I hope he's able to be at his best. I certainly think he will be.

Q. A lot of the Big 12 players have a chip on their shoulder. What do you think about that, and do you ever have to say, look, these guys deserve to be here or whatever it is?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, we don't broach that subject because the tape speaks for itself. We've never tried to kid our kids by saying, oh, this team's unbelievable or this team's not good. We just say look at the tape. Here's the tape. You judge for yourself. Oklahoma's play speaks for itself. We played a TCU team last year that we thought was physical. They came out and stoned our offense for essentially three quarters. We played up-tempo teams before that scored a lot of points. Like you referenced earlier, the Oklahoma team three years ago, that was a good Alabama defense that got torched.

So their play speaks for itself. It stands alone the fact they have the No. 1 team in college football and explosive plays. We know they've got physical players on defense. They've got great pass-rushers on defense. So we don't have to get in there and do all that sales job, because our players are smart. They know that Oklahoma's got really good talent.

Q. Is there something to be said if you guys play physical and run the ball there is a big chance you'll win?
KIRBY SMART: I think that's the case in any game. We go play in SEC, I look at Oklahoma as one of the top SEC programs we'd play in our conference. So when you go play those, you better win the line of scrimmage. We learned the hard way against Auburn that we didn't do that. They're just as talented as those guys. They're as talented as the teams we play at the top of our conference. They've won their conference, so probably more explosive.

So the challenge is there. We don't have to sell that to our guys, I don't think.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: I don't know that you can do that because we haven't faced a quarterback like this this year. I don't think it's fair to make comparisons. I don't think you can do that. I think they're ultra talented, and they do a great job on special teams, and they play fast.

Q. Have you seen the team elevate?
KIRBY SMART: I think it's slowly heightened. You're building up to a spot you want to be at before the game. You don't want to peak here. You don't want to peak here. You want to be right before the game at the right spot. And they're slowly climbing to that.

Q. What is your focus and intensity message to the students?
KIRBY SMART: Keep the main thing, the main thing. Don't listen to you guys. Don't think about the roller coasters. Keep the main thing the main thing. As long as you don't lose the main thing, then you can be at your best.

Q. When the kids go out on the field, what will the excitement and intensity be?
KIRBY SMART: I think to be at your best, you can't practice that way, you can't play that way. You've got to have high emotion, but you've got to have a controlled aggression. You can't be stupid. Can't play out of your mind.

Same way for coaches. You make good decisions with oxygen in your body. So when you start getting all hyped up, you lose your mind sometimes. So we want to make good decisions, make good adjustments, and that's what we'll ask our kids to do.

Q. How much did your dad impact the kind of coach you are? Not just the way you are, but the coach you are?
KIRBY SMART: I think he had great impact, especially early in my career as a player. Then when I left and started taking jobs, probably the biggest impact my dad had was choosing to take a job or not take a job. Choosing to go from a defensive coordinator to a graduate assistant. Take a step back, take a step forward. I've always leaned on him for that. It's not been Xs and Os. It's been advice. Ways to manage your team, ways to manage a player. Ways to manage your staff.

That's the biggest thing I've taken from him is the management style and the confidence level to go forward and not look backwards. He's been really good helping me with that.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, first of all, we've got tremendous team speed. We've got an unbelievable safety that's played, it seems like forever. I can't say their pass-rusher's name because it's too hard to say for me. But he's an unbelievable player. I met him in person in Disneyland. He's a tremendous athlete. One of the best pass-rushers we've played. He can wreck a game.

They play fast, physical football. I know Coach Stoops. We've met with him several times defensively, shared ideas. Their staff does a tremendous job. Got a lot of respect for the way they play. The fact that they score so quick and they play in so many games that are lopsided because of their offense, it allows them to play a different way defensively. They may give up some numbers because they don't have to play to shut you down. They do a great job as a staff.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: I wouldn't say that was right. I was looking to hire a complete staff. I think the coordinator always has a lot of input as to who the O-line coach is. There was no order of selection. It was more these are the people I'd like to target. What do they like, who do they like. That kind of thing.

Q. What was the process with staying in (indiscernible)?
KIRBY SMART: I knew him from going against him. We didn't have each other's cell phones or talk. We had mutual respect. I always remember he would come up to me after games at Arkansas, and he would give our team and players a lot of respect.

I have a lot of respect for the way his O-line has played at Tennessee and Arkansas. So there was a mutual respect, but not really a mutual relationship.

Q. Now looking back a couple years, what do you think about that decision?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, it's one of the best decisions I've made. He's an unbelievable person, first and foremost. He and his wife, Jamie, are tremendous people. They brought a lot of credibility to our program, to our administration. Great recruiter. The players like playing for him.

Always judge a coach by two things: How hard do your players play for you? How well do you recruit?

And he does both of those tremendously well.

Q. Players worry when you change a coach every two years. What have you done to change it, and how has that changed?
KIRBY SMART: I think that's a harder question to answer in words. I think the kids may be able to answer it better than me. I think the biggest thing is making sure there is a message that goes top down. Making sure everybody in the organization is held accountable; that we develop these young men both on the field, off the field, in the classroom the right way.

The only way to do that is through a management structure that everybody buys in. That can become trite at times, but to me it should never get old. Keeping that fresh, keeping the message fresh. Having a different way to say the same thing. Bringing people in your organization from outside that can help deliver the message a different way is tremendous help for our kids and our players.

That's the culture change more than anything. It's not just a talent level. It's not just recruiting. It's how we practice. It's how we meet. It's how we lift. It's how we do everything we do.

Q. (Indiscernible) for a long time when you took the job, it was not the program it is now. Where did you see the program at the time, and where did you see it going?
KIRBY SMART: I always thought Georgia was a tremendous job opportunity. Number one thing is the university and education you get to sell to recruits is second to none. The placement and location to good players. It's the number one thing a coach looks at is what is the five-hour radius. How many players are playing in the NFL or playing major college football in that radius?

Georgia is one of the top programs in the country in proximity to good programs. So when you've got a good product and good people around you to go recruit, it's a recipe for success.

Now you've got to have a lot of other things. You've got to have people supporting you from administration. You've got to have a great staff. You have to be able to keep a staff, and we've been lucky right now to do that. I think the more success we have, the more opportunities people on our staff are going to have.

So the more successful you are, the much harder it is to sustain that success. And that's what we're having to deal with right now. That's a good problem to have. It's a lot better than the alternative.

Q. Could you dial in a little bit on how you overhauled the recruiting infrastructure? It's almost like it's its own ecosystem. It's more than just adding staff and jobs and details. I'm wondering now that you've had this last class established there, how happy are you to install that system?
KIRBY SMART: Well, I don't know that I'm happy with it. I have a good structure that I believe in, and I believe personal relationships make you different. You have all these people in your organization from -- doesn't matter if it's a cleaning assistant, everybody in that organization brings value because they interact with prospects and their families.

That's one of the biggest differences when I meet with parents in the end. They say, You all made it personal. We felt the personal touch. Well, the only way to make it personal is to have enough people so everybody can find somebody they relate to. So if we have enough people in our organization that can relate or touch that one kid, then we've got a good chance.

Because, look, we've all got good weight rooms, we've all got great facilities in the SEC. What makes you different is the relationship building. We've been fortunate to have a structure and infrastructure that evaluates talent, that gets the talent to the facility. Once they get to the facility, how do you treat them different? When they leave, do they feel special? Do they feel like they were better off coming there than going to the rival school?

And you can't sleep on that. Because I think these new staffs we're getting, they're going to have that same energy that we had. So it's very easy to get comfortable, complacent. I've talked to our staff about year two, year three, year four, the team that's on year one gets ahead of you because they're putting more juice into it. We can't lose that juice, and that's been a big emphasis.

Q. One of the nuances they've talked about is maybe taking film and condensing it for guys. Is that fun to have that energy around?
KIRBY SMART: What's great is they're great idea guys. They're young, they're energetic. They're trying to move up in the world, and they're students. They come in and say, Coach, it might be better if we do this. Where other people I might work for may not listen to a dog pounder. I'm trying to listen because that guy can relate with a kid better than I can. He knows the music they listen to. He knows where they want to go. He knows what they want to see on an edit.

So we've got a structure that's like any business. The more juice you have, the more youthfulness you have, the more ability you have to move up in the organization, the better off you are.

The problem we're running into is many of them are getting plucked away by other places. So you're constantly trying to replace those guys. That's hard to do. You've got to hang on to good people within your organization. Especially ones you feel like you've trained. You train them and you get them ready for the next step, you want to keep them there. That's a good, unique group, and they're hungry to be successful.

Q. How many hours a week do you spend recruiting?
KIRBY SMART: In season I probably don't spend enough. I'm big on who we're playing. The best thing you can do for recruiting is win. So let's do what we've got to do to do that.

We commit a couple hours every Friday to watching tape. We commit a couple hours to talking to recruits on Wednesday and Thursday. But outside of that, that organization is running independent of us throughout the year so that we're making the best decisions. We want to make the best decisions possible for each kid on who we take and who we don't take. I can't spend a lot of time in season on that. I just don't have enough time.

Q. (Question regarding Jacob Eason.)
KIRBY SMART: Well, it was tremendously important. He didn't become an a distraction or detriment to the team. He competed and fought and helped Jake Fromm understand some things early on.

I don't think you can give the guy enough credit for handling things that way. It shows his maturity level, but it also shows what kind of person he is on the inside, because that is not an easy task.

Q. Are you proud of the fact that you have (indiscernible)?
KIRBY SMART: I want to have the most competitive defensive backroom in the country too. I want to have the most competitive offensive line, so it's not just that position, it's every position.

Q. Bringing in a kid like (indiscernible)?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, it tells them that without saying it. I think they understand it. That's why they came here. They each came here with a different starting quarterback at the helm with the hopes of competing for that job.

Q. (Indiscernible) was it just the unknown?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I think what makes him unique is not his scrambling ability. We've all played quarterbacks that have scrambling ability. It's his ability to keep his eyes downfield while he's scrambling. Most guys go in run mode. He can run mode or throw mode while he's scrambling. He's got an uncanny ability to have a defender in his face, freeze the defender, and still make a whip throw 40 yards down field and a completion.

So he's very unique in his ability to do that. I think that's what makes him the most different.

Q. Is that why it's making a difference (indiscernible)?
KIRBY SMART: Well, there's quarterbacks that have played five years ago that can scramble. I think he's different in that he can make the throws down the field different than other guys. Even a Johnny Manziel, he was a nightmare to defend, but he didn't always keep his eyes downfield and make throws that this guy can make. That's what makes him so stout and strong. He's physical.

Q. For guys like Justin, are you seeing more advancement early on from some of those guys?
KIRBY SMART: Oh, yeah, sure. That's a development that more and more kids are able to do that. Anytime the game evolves, so do the quarterbacks. There are certainly more and more of those type guys that can make plays with their feet.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, I think anytime you get to put your university in a position to be on every ESPN commercial, the College Football Playoff, you're selling to the nation that the University of Georgia and really the country is one of the best institutions out there.

From an academic standpoint, life after football, everywhere we go, people chant "Go Dawgs." That's not just in the State of Georgia. That's nationwide. We've been very fortunate to have a university that supports us this way. And to put a really good product out there in football, it just makes it that much more of a complete package.

Q. When was the last time that you bought roses for someone and why?
KIRBY SMART: Wow, that's a tough question. I would say my wife, last Valentine's, because I love her.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: His ability to close quickly. I think his tacklers, when you freeze, you miss. He never freezes. Most guys want to stop and react. He takes the stop out and he forces the runner to make a decision quicker than they want to.

So his closing speed is so fast that I don't think a lot of running backs are used to that. It's like, oh, he's on me, and then he's got me. That's what's most unique about him is how fast he is. But he's not a stop, open my hips, go tackle. He's a close and splatter.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, he's gotten better at it. He came in as an extremely good athlete. We didn't teach Roquan how to close. He's become a better, more confident player in the system. I do think the more you play in the system, the faster you play. I've seen some young linebackers get paralyzed through the years, whether it's Rueben, Reggie, C.J., they only got better and the systems built for that position to be really successful. So he's been more successful because he understands it. But the talent just takes over when he goes out and plays.

Q. What was going through your mind when (indiscernible)?
KIRBY SMART: Well, first thing that went through my mind was thank goodness we got Jake Fromm because he had a really good spring and really good camp. It wasn't like we were going, oh, no, we don't have a backup quarterback. It was more we have a good situation here. We have two guys we feel really good about.

Our first concern was Jacob's health. Because when you get a knee and a guy starts hobbling, the first thing I saw was that, and I thought, oh, gosh, it buckled. So I'm very concerned about ACL, MCL, what's going on here. His health was the biggest thing.

Then knowing we've got to play a really tough defense, we'll worry about what's going on after this game after this game. But we've got to get through this game. And App State, we had seen what they had done to Tennessee. So I was very concerned with us managing Fromm to get through the game.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: It's gotten tremendously better. I think the growth from year one to year two has been tremendous. The only way it could have been more was to get him playing time. We weren't able to do that a lot. But to watch him in practice, his mobility, his confidence in the system, his arm strength. He's improved. We get to see it every day in practice. Unfortunately, everybody else doesn't get to see it.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Probably the number one thing that brought me to hire Jim was his experience in our conference. He had been very successful. He led the conference in rushing, he led the conference in pass. Won at Tennessee, won at Arkansas. When somebody does that, you have to ask yourself, what is their identity? He had the ability to be both. Every good offensive coordinator I know uses all his best players.

So he had done that at two different places. I was very confident in his ability to be successful in this league.

Q. How would you describe him as a coach?
KIRBY SMART: He's got a great personality, very bubbly, hard working, helps me tremendously as a head coach on decision-making day to day, great with the kids. Very passionate about what he does.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Well, I expect it to be up-tempo, expect it to be explosive. A lot of great offensive players on the field on both sides of the ball. I expect it to be a great game.

Q. You have a lot of players that sense a difference back in summer, back in spring, in terms of the intensity of those practices. You've been around a lot of these type of things. Did you see the same kind of thing step up in competition from year one to year two in the spring and summer?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah, the depth looks much better. So as the depth got better, the competition got better. Guys were having to work harder to keep their jobs. So as this guy got closer to this guy, this guy got closer to this guy, it just made everybody better.

Now, could I say we'd be at this point? I don't think that's fair to say. I thought we'd have better leadership. I thought we had better focus. I'm proud of the way they competed. I'm really proud of the way they showed resiliency after the first Auburn game. I think that's indicative of your off-season program.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: I can answer it for you. We want to keep the main thing the main thing. So it's real simple. It's not really hard, it's not complicated. We just want to keep the main thing the main thing.

You guys are not the main thing. This event is not the main thing. We want to keep the main thing the main thing. It's our baby. We want to own the baby. The baby is the burden. The burden of taking care of the baby is do your job so the team can be successful. The only way to be successful in this kind of environment is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Q. What is the main thing?
KIRBY SMART: Well, the main thing would be what your objective is. If you're the offensive lineman, it's to dominate the guy in front of you. If you're a defensive back, it's to stay in front of the receiver. But the main thing is the main thing.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: Confidence, I mean, the guy believes he can make every throw. He's seen every defense known to man. He's made every check known to man. He knows how to check and adjust.

The hardest thing in that league is to block great pass-rushers. He gives you the flexibility if you can't block them, he can run, he can create time. So it's more like Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre where he's not trying to outrun them and break tackles. He's just trying to buy you four extra seconds to throw the ball. He's tremendous at doing that.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: I don't know what's wrong with his immeasurables. He's stick, he's physical, he's durable, he's not going to get hurt very often. He's plenty tall enough. Look at Russell Wilson. So I don't know what would be wrong with his immeasurables. As far as I know, these NFL teams are drooling for the guy.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
KIRBY SMART: David Marshall has been a tremendous asset to this team. He brings a toughness, a work ethic. He's a quiet leader. Just the way he practices, he's made us a better unit.

Q. Kirby, how important was it for you guys to get James Coley to come back on staff, considering he had an offensive coordinator job he didn't take?
KIRBY SMART: I think anytime you get an opportunity to advance your career or grow as a coach, it's really important that you handle it the right way; that you're very selective in the way you go about it. I think it shows a lot of commitment that he decided to stay.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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