Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart directs players during football practice on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs will play their first game of the 2019 season away at Vanderbilt on Saturday, Aug. 31. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart met with the media on Saturday after a scrimmage at Sanford Stadium. He discussed explosive plays from wide receivers, red zone stops on defense, and provided injury updates on key defensive players .

‘Explosive’ play from wide receivers

Kirby Smart was much more pleased with the players’ effort during Saturday’s scrimmage, compared to last week when Smart said the first-team offense and defense played with less spirit.

“They started out a lot faster, a lot more competitive,” Smart said. “There were some explosive plays in the scrimmage, and I was proud of the competitive toughness.”

Smart said he was especially impressed by the wide receivers during Saturday’s scrimmage. He named graduate transfer Lawrence Cager, freshman George Pickens, senior Tyler Simmons, junior Trey Blount and redshirt freshman Kearis Jackson as players who made “explosive” plays, which Smart specified as “over 12 or 13 yards” per reception.

“Last scrimmage, it seemed like the backs out of the backfield had some big plays, but it was the wideouts as a group [who made big plays this week],” Smart said. “I’m very pleased with that group’s effort, toughness, resiliency, pushing through, contact toughness.”

Red zone stops on defense

While the receivers were able to connect for big plays on Saturday, Smart said the offense wasn’t completely dominant in the scrimmage.

“There were some really competitive goal line periods,” Smart said. “Everything was pretty even across the board when we did ones-on-ones, so I thought that was good.”

The defense specifically held their own in the red zone. 

“We had some big stops,” Smart said. “We had a couple of red area stops where I thought, ‘Man, they’re just driving down the field,’ and then, boom, we hit the red area. If we play really good in the red area, it gives us a fighting chance.”

Injury updates

Freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean is banged up and wasn’t able to scrimmage Saturday, Smart said. Dean didn't participate in warmups during the eight-minute viewing period prior to the scrimmage. Smart wasn't concerned about the five-star’s injury status.

“[Dean] is going to be fine,” Smart said. “He got out there and moved around some, did some stuff.”

Senior defensive lineman Julian Rochester is still recovering from an ACL repair and is limited in contact play, splitting periods with the team and the trainer. Fellow senior defensive end/outside linebacker David Marshall also splits his practice 50/50 with the trainer, Smart said.

“Julian and David are both older players, fourth-year players, who are not 100%,” Smart said. “We’re trying to control their volume of reps, also giving some of the other guys reps, but they’ve practiced each day.”

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