It was the second day at the SEC Media Days in Nashville, where SEC teams meet with beat writers and reporters to talk about hopes and strategies for the coming college football season.
In the SEC, they like to say “It Just Means More.” In Georgia, the Georgia Bulldogs’ turn at the podium meant more to the visiting press to gleam some news about what’s in store for the Dawgs this season, coming off of two consecutive championship seasons. One that could be more competitive than previous seasons, thanks to the Dawgs’ tough schedule.
UGA Head Coach Kirby Smart spoke first, telling reporters that the team has not yet settled on a holder or a kicker for the coming year and that the team is still deciding who will do what. He was also non-committal about freshman defensive back Kyron Jones playing running back.
“We discussed it,” said Smart about the Jones question. “Didn’t feel like it was favorable for the kid’s career. Probably debatable if it was good for the team because we have depth problems at DB as well.”
Smart said that although he gets involved with what the defense does and what the offense should be like, he does not get intricate about the design of plays. He leaves that to his coaching staff. He said that there would be no complacency in his organization and he wanted his players to be clear-eyed and laser-focused on the team’s goals this year.
He told the press he used the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team as an inspiration for the Dawgs.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) July 18, 2023
“Better never rests,” he said. “That organization [All-Blacks] over 100 years is the most successful team there is, and if you want to have sustained success, you better beat out complacency.”
Talking more about the players, Smart stated that Tennessee transfer student Len’Neth Whitehead was no longer with UGA’s program, saying his conditioning level was not up to UGA’s standards. “He’s got to improve his conditioning level. Even when he was at Tennessee, as I understand it, he was injured a lot of time,” he said. “He’s got to get in shape and go into a competitive room and earn it.”
Smart brought along with him three UGA football team members Brock Bowers, Kamari Lassiter, and Sedrick Van Pran to the presser. He said it was tough to pick just two representing athletes to represent UGA this year becuase he felt there were so many on the squad who could be great examples of what Smart wanted to show. “The work really hard. They’re selfless. They’re team players. They love football. They embrace not being in the limelight, and that’s important for me.”
Smart answered a question about whether having such a depth of Media Day candidates says the team is “ahead of schedule” in showing leadership. “There’s no schedule for leadership,” he said. “Last year this time we weren’t where we are now, and two years ago we were probably ahead of where we were both years in terms of guys coming back and expirence.”
After Smart spoke to the larger press, some reporters asked indiviual questions of him and his players, and this was when questions about reported player conduct off the field arose. Smart was asked about what he felt should be done about agressive driving among athletes in light of a recent tragedy earlier this year that clamed the life of a UGA Athletics staffer and UGA football player. He said players caught superspeeding would forfeit money and take a defensive driving course. He emphasized that he believed supserspeeding and street racing were unacceptable actions.
Player Sedrick Van Pran was asked about the speeding issue. “We’ve made some mistakes and we own those mistakes and it’s a matter of accepting that and moving forward.” He was then asked about he and other players discussing off-field issues together. “A part of me felt like we were letting the University down a little bit,” he said.
Smart also stated that name, image and likeness is overtaking fancy training centers and other considerations in athletes picking potential schools.
In addition to UGA, Alburn, Vanderbilt and Missisppi State were spotlighted at Media Day today.