What No. 1 Georgia said about losing to Auburn, 40-17

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn dominated No. 1 Georgia 40-17 Saturday in one of the biggest wins in the Gus Malzahn era.

The two teams could meet again on Dec. 2 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta if the Tigers beat No. 2 Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium in two weeks.

“Whatever is destined to happen is going to happen,” Georgia running back Sony Michel said. “We are just going to focus on our next opponent. We aren’t going to overlook any opponent. We played a great team tonight, and we are about to play another great team next week.”

Here’s what else Georgia had to say about the game:

Coach Kirby Smart

  • Summary: “First off, give a lot of credit to Auburn and Gus’ staff. They did a tremendous job. They were more physical than us on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Every SEC game that I have ever been a part of, if you lose the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, you don’t have a great chance of a good outcome. I thought it was a momentum game. We certainly lost the momentum there with some really uncharacteristic penalties. Throw that in with the fact that they were more physical than us, they controlled the line of scrimmage, were able to run it at will, and they stopped our run. So you shake their hand, tell them they did a good job, and we have to pick it up and go get better. Kentucky is not going to feel sorry for us. So humility is always a week away. This team will answer and respond the right way because we have some good leaders in that room, and they want to improve upon what they just showed.”
  • On the lack of success offensively after the good first drive “We had a big conversion on that drive, and that’s what you need on these guys. You have to get extra downs. They are hard to run the ball on. They were hard to run the ball on that drive, because that’s what brought up the third down. I thought we executed well there, and then after that we didn’t execute well. We struggled to get off of press-man. They do a good job of getting their hands on you, and they just whooped us up front. The bottom line is we couldn’t move them.”
  • On if he was surprised that they struggled on the things he preaches every week: “Yes. The out of bounds penalty, the halo penalty and the ‘jumping over the ship’ penalty were uncharacteristic. We never do that. We never ‘jump over the ship.’ I talked to them about that. That’s what’s disappointing because it was out of character, and in a hostile environment I resorted to things I don’t normally do. That’s the disappointing part, but that’s not what won or lost the game. It was the line of scrimmage and their physicality, but what made it so lop-sided were the undisciplined penalties.”
  • On if the team can learn something from this: “I certainly think so. You learn from every experience, positive or negative, and we are going to learn from this one. We have to play our brand of football. We have to execute. We have to be disciplined. We don’t have to play perfect, but we have to play smart. Riley [Ridley]’s play over the middle, that changes the momentum of the game, and we didn’t make the plays. At the end of the day, you give Auburn credit. They did a great job, and they were more physical than us. That’s the bottom line.“
  • On the change of momentum after the muffed punt by Mecole Hardman that led to an Auburn touchdown: “It’s tough on Mecole [Hardman]. He catches hundreds and hundreds of those punts, and he knows that he wanted to run up and get under it and didn’t get his arms tucked. Mecole is a really good player. He’s is going to make a lot of plays around here, and he’s starting to develop and gain confidence with what you saw today. You saw some of the return game that he is capable of. He wishes he had it back, but that’s part of football. Mecole is going to have things that happen to him in life that are going to be a lot tougher than that.”
  • On his decision to run the ball at the end of the first half instead of throwing: “It was not a good decision there – probably a mistake. If we had it to do over again, we would’ve definitely thrown the ball. The thinking was that we didn’t want to get knocked out of field goal range, but we should have thrown the ball, no doubt.”
  • On why the undisciplined mistakes came in this game specifically: “I can’t put a finger on it. Honestly, we preach it hard. It’s part of our program. It’s part of what we do every day – making sure every kid understands the discipline you have to play with. When you lose that discipline you get what you had here tonight, and that’s undisciplined, foolish penalties. When you play a good team you can’t get away with that. You can’t give them an extra drive. It exposes you when you have undisciplined penalties because you’re playing longer, you’re getting less chances to run the ball and wear them down. We didn’t tackle really well tonight either.”
  • On Jake Fromm dealing with Auburn’s pass rush: “I thought [Jake Fromm] made some good decisions. Jake is a battler. If he showed anything tonight it was that he can move in the pocket. They have some good rushers. That front is a really good front. We showed the ability at the end to still be able to move the ball and throw it when they had the good rushers still in. At the end of the day, I thought Jake played well. He played hard and made good decisions.”
  • On a possible discussion about passing the ball more often: “There’s always a discussion about that. Part of it is because there were some sacks involved in there, too. But there’s a discussion every drive. With Auburn, if you throw it every play, you will get in trouble because they have really good pass rushers. The threat of running the ball has to slow down the pass rushers, and we tried to maintain that threat. I just don’t think we did a good job.”
  • On what was uncharacteristic of Georgia’s defensive play: “First characteristic is that they have good players. They have a great back who is very patient behind the line of scrimmage. We talked about it the whole week. [Kerryon Johnson] waits and then he bursts. He is a great running back, and he totally bellowed our defense. I have a lot of respect for his toughness and the offensive line’s toughness. We didn’t keep our edges well. He bounced out and made some plays. They are hard to defend. With all that said, we did not play that well defensively. We did not get off the field with the punt. We just gave them a lot of things. They punched us in the mouth, and we did not respond to it. We did not stop the run like we are capable of.”
  • On what was happening with Georgia’s offensive line: “They were more physical than us, on both sides. They played more physical than us in both ways. I always say in coaching ‘it’s not as bad as it seems, and it’s never as good as it seems.’ We will watch the tape and there will be some plays that we missed, as well as some opportunities that we missed. At the end of the day, you have to credit Auburn. They came out and played more physical than we did.”
  • On Riley’s missed catch: “I don’t even think it matters. We didn’t catch it. I’m not looking to blame anybody. I actually think it was an opportunity missed, and it was one of several opportunities that we missed. We have to give Auburn credit. They have good players. They played really physical football, and they dominated us.”
  • On how the defense handled Auburn’s fast offense: “At times, we were able to give them a couple of negative plays on fast-pace plays. They do a great job at trying to create chaos. We have to do a better job as coaches to help our guys to get lined up and be able to keep responding to the fast pace. That’s always a challenge. It’s not my first time playing them that we had to worry about tempo. We know what comes with it, and we have to do a better job preparing for it to give our guys a chance.”
  • On the team talk he gave the players after their first loss: “The season is not built in one game. This team will be defined by how they respond, not by how they did tonight. We have a lot of leaders in that room that need to go play a really good Kentucky team next week. Our whole deal is how you respond to some adversity. Things did not go your way, but how are you going to respond? That is all across college football, and you have to respond the right way.”
  • On getting back on track after a loss: “It’s a wake-up call for some of those guys. Auburn had a better game plan and they beat us physically. Our job is to respond the right way and move on now to Kentucky. You don’t want Auburn to beat you twice. You go get ready to play Kentucky.”

Running back Nick Chubb

  • On Auburn’s defensive line: “It is hard to tell right now what went wrong. Those guys just came out and played hard.”
  • On why it was tough to run against Auburn: “They play hard, fast and physical. They did a lot of great things against us.”

Running back Sony Michel

  • On his personal foul and discipline issues: “Discipline is something that we have to focus on. We just had some undisciplined penalties, including myself, and that can’t happen. We have to take full responsibility. Passion gets mixed in with emotions and sometimes you make bad decisions. You have to eliminate those to win games.”
  • On Auburn’s defense taking the run away: “They were more physical up front. Our goal is to come out and be more physical, and we didn’t do that today. We need to go back and fix that and move on.”

Wide receiver Javon Wims

  • Looking ahead: “They are a good football team, and we just have to stick to getting better.”
  • On the Georgia offense putting too much pressure on the defense: “We have to do a better job putting us in better situations. Auburn has an unbelievable defense, but there was a lot of things we normally don’t do that happened tonight. We had a solid game plan and made some solid adjustments early. Auburn was just the better team tonight.”