Georgia head coach Kirby Smart walks down the field. The Georgia Bulldogs lost in double-overtime to the South Carolina Gamecocks with a final score 17-20 on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Gabriella Audi https://gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

Kirby Smart met with the media on Monday ahead of Georgia’s game on Saturday against Kentucky. He discussed the Wildcats, play calling and injuries following the loss against South Carolina. 

Cats versus Dogs

Kirby Smart made it abundantly clear that the Bulldogs are focused on their next opponent and won’t let the loss to South Carolina linger. He mixed up his phrasing, but Smart projected some form of “our focus is on Kentucky” over 10 times on Monday. 

The Wildcats do pose some threats, including quarterback Lynn Bowden who was forced to convert from wide receiver. 

“It's very different when you look at third down with him having the option to run or throw,” Smart said. “He creates a difficult defending mechanism.”

Smart said he chatted with his team about staying motivated after the loss and that the feeling isn’t new to the veteran team.

“Each year we've had to deal with [losses] at different times from different opponents. And they acknowledge that,” Smart said. “What's more important is that our team gets ready for Kentucky and gets ready to go play than talking about the rest of the year, because we have to worry about Kentucky.” 

Protective play calling

Georgia opted for a Hail Mary at the end of regulation instead of cutting kicker Rodrigo Blankenship loose for a near-60-yard field goal attempt. Smart was on Nick Saban’s staff in the infamous “Kick Six” Iron Bowl. He said that outcome was not at all on his mind at the end of the game. 

“Absolutely not,” Smart said. “Has nothing to do with it. Has to do with normal football. No coach in his right mind with eight seconds thinks he can't get another play off … Nothing there.”

Smart admitted that Georgia did not do a good job in the two-minute offense. Georgia had three chances for points in a two-minute situation but failed each time. Smart did think that he and the coaching staff managed their timeouts well. 

“We felt very comfortable how we used those,” Smart said. “We just have to be more effective and efficient in two-minute [situations], and that's really been one of our strengths, not one of our weaknesses.”

Injury updates

Georgia is still hurting. Offensive lineman Justin Shaffer will not play on Saturday and fellow lineman Solomon Kindley is day-to-day. Offensive lineman Ben Cleveland is a little “beat up” per Smart, but Smart does not expect it to linger. Smart isn’t making excuses, though. 

“We got a couple other guys that are beat and banged up, but everybody in the SEC does,” he said. 

Wide receiver Lawrence Cager has been nursing a shoulder injury and was hurt in the South Carolina game. He likely will not play against Kentucky. 

Cornerback Tyson Campbell has been out since the Notre Dame game and is still recovering from a foot injury. 

“[Campbell] feels like he's almost back,” Smart said. “He can run, plant, point, drive, but the pressure, the torque it takes to hit someone and drive off of it where he's feeling somebody's pressure, that's what he's struggling with … There's nothing you can do to speed that up.”