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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart yells at Georgia defensive back DJ Daniel (14) during the second half of the University of Georgia vs. Vanderbilt University on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Nashville Tennessee. The Bulldogs defeated the Commodores 30-6. (Photo/Gabriella Audi www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

Kirby Smart met with the media on Monday and discussed how the team needs to get better ahead of Saturday’s Murray State game, the development of Brian Herrien and some injury updates.

‘Still a long way to go’

It’s the beginning of another long football season, so don’t expect the Georgia football team to be shouting about their accomplishments any time soon. Smart said the team took some positives and negatives from the Vanderbilt game.

“We’re not comfortable,” Smart said. “There’s things we didn’t execute well. Blocking on the perimeter — we had some good blocks on the perimeter but we had some missed blocks on the perimeter. Tackling — we had some really good tackles, then we had some really terrible tackling.”

The last time Georgia played Murray State was in 1945, when the Bulldogs outpaced the Racers 45-0 under head coach Wally Butts. Murray State, a school located in southwest Kentucky, beat Pikeville 59-20 in its first game of the season.

Smart said some players who didn’t make the 70-man travel roster are eager to get more playing time. But the Bulldogs aren’t making any assumptions, despite the ESPN matchup predictor indicating that Georgia has a 99.8% chance of winning. Smart praised Murray State’s up-tempo offense.

“We hope that a lot of guys can play, but we don’t know the outcome of the game,” Smart said. “You’re assuming that you get to play more guys. We get to play more guys in practice, that’s what I do know.”

At practice this week, the coaching staff will emphasize the importance of reducing unnecessary penalties and mistakes.

“We have so much work to do from a discipline standpoint, timing in the passing game,” Smart said. “Lots of things to work on. Our focus is us.”

Brian Herrien gets more reps

Georgia’s rushing game got even more attention after its 30-6 victory over Vanderbilt. First-year offensive coordinator James Coley didn’t mess with the Bulldogs’ traditional gameplan, giving the ball to the running backs almost every time he could. 

There was one thing different on Saturday, though. Senior Brian Herrien started on the team’s first play from scrimmage before the coaching staff subbed in D’Andre Swift, the expected starter.

Herrien had 245 yards on 50 attempts all of last season. Against Vanderbilt, he ran for 65 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries. He was a three star recruit in the class of 2016 out of New Manchester High School in Douglasville, Georgia. Academic issues complicated things as he was enrolling at Georgia.

Smart said Herrien plays with a chip on his shoulder. 

“Brian is a worker,”  Smart said. “He’s earned the right to get these carries. Because last year, he didn’t get as many opportunities as he probably wanted. Looking back, maybe we should have gave him some more opportunities.” 

Injury updates

Redshirt freshman receiver Kearis Jackson will be out about three to four weeks after breaking his hand in the fourth quarter on a reception, Smart said.  

Freshman inside linebacker Nakobe Dean is still not 100%, and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer should be back soon, but is still questionable.

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