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Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart looks down after a play at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. The University of Georgia football team played against the University of Florida for their eighth game of the season. (Photo/Christina Matacotta)

Kirby Smart met with the media on Monday ahead of Georgia’ matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday. Smart discussed Kentucky’s defense and updated the status of injuries, among other topics.

Kentucky’s stout defense

Kentucky’s defense has been impressive this season. The Wildcats haven’t allowed more than 20 points in a game this season, and they rank 10th in the country in total defense.

Smart praised the Kentucky defense, noting how experienced the Wildcats are on that side of the ball: eight of the defensive starters listed on their depth chart are seniors.

“They do a tremendous job of playing team defense,” Smart said. “They're very organized, disciplined. They know the game plan; they know what they're going to take away and they do it.”

Smart also praised senior linebacker Josh Allen, who has 56 total tackles this season and 10 sacks, matching Georgia’s team total this season.

“They've obviously got one of the best pass rushers in the country,” Smart said regarding Allen. “He's what you want when you design a three-four defense. He's your prototype guy, and he has been disruptive to everyone in this conference, and everybody you talk to talks about how good a player he is.”

Jeremiah Holloman’s improvement

Sophomore Jeremiah Holloman led the Georgia wide receivers against Florida with four catches for 48 yards. Holloman’s two touchdowns and four catches were both career-highs.

Holloman played in just two games last season, but this season he has developed into a force on offense amid a successful group of receivers.

“Everything has been gradual improvement,” Smart said. “He had some good games early in the year, if you all remember.”

Smart praised Holloman for his versatile contributions, noting that his hard work has paid off recently as he has gotten more opportunities to contribute.

“J.J. is the epitome of if you work hard, good things will happen to you,” Smart said. “So he blocks consistently, because he controls his blocking. He doesn't control where the ball is thrown, but he controls his blocking. He controls how he practices, because you control that.”

Injury updates

The Georgia offensive line got banged up against Florida, as Andrew Thomas went down with an injury before returning in the fourth quarter. Solomon Kindley also left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.

Smart said the offensive linemen who went down with injuries Saturday should be able to practice this week.

“I think we're pretty clean across the board on the offensive line,” Smart said. “All of those guys are fine.”

Ben Cleveland, who suffered a fractured fibula against Missouri, will get some work in practice this week, but Smart said he doesn’t know if he’ll be cleared to play against Kentucky.

Smart also said he doesn’t know yet if junior defensive lineman David Marshall, who has been out with a foot injury since Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt, will be able to play on Saturday either.

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