Everything Brian Kelly said after SEC Championship loss to Georgia

The Tigers showed fight in the second half, but it wasn’t enough against the top team in college football as they lost to Georgia 50-30 on Saturday night.

Jayden Daniels had to leave the game in the second half after he was clearly limited with an ankle injury, but both he and backup Garrett Nussmeier surpassed 200 passing yards, the first time LSU has ever had two quarterbacks do so in the same game.

Nussmeier’s 294 passing yards was also the most Georgia has allowed all season.

There are certainly positives to take away from LSU’s performance, but at 9-4, coach Brian Kelly’s team has nothing to do but sit and wait to learn its bowl destination, which likely won’t be in the New Year’s Six.

Here’s what Kelly had to say after the game.

Opening Statement

“Congratulations to Kirby Smart and the University of Georgia on being the SEC champs. They were the better football team today. Proud of my team. Proud of the fight that they gave today. We were just a little short. Some key plays obviously in the game were pivotal. Obviously, the special teams play early. Inability to get off the field on third down. Fourth down, a couple opportunities that we had to convert. In its totality, you’re talking about five or six plays where, could have, would have, should have, right?

“The best team won today. I love the way our guys competed. They fought. That’s who they are. That’s the identity of this team all year. Unfortunately, we were not clean enough in some of those areas against the No. 1 team in the country. When you’re playing the best team in the country for an SEC championship, those things are going to come back and affect the outcome. But as I told them in the locker room, we’ve got a great foundation. It’s a young football team that will take this lesson and build off of it. So excited to have the opportunity to coach ’em.”

On allowing the touchdown on the blocked field goal

“Obviously we did a poor job coaching. It’s our responsibility to have our guys alert in that situation. They were not alert. That falls on coaching. That falls on my shoulders. I take full responsibility for that.”

On if Daniels was limited coming into the game

“No, I thought he started off really well. He was throwing the ball accurate. The early drive, obviously, he looked good, poised in the pocket. It was second quarter, when he stepped up in the pocket, he got rolled up on.

“It was a reinjury, reinjured the ankle that had been injured. But, no, I think he felt good, looked good. Our assessment was that he was moving the team in the manner that we wanted him to. It was just a matter of getting rolled up again.”

On if Georgia going for two to get to 50 surprised him

“Not really. I don’t get too caught up in what other teams are doing. It’s not my job. It’s my job to stop them, not to figure out whether they should go for two or not. No, I really didn’t give it much thought.”

On if this means team has a long way to go

“Not really. I mean, look, I’m not going to sit here and say would have, could have, should have, like I said in my opening comments. If we just do a little bit better job on a field goal situation, take seven (points) off the board, it’s 43 points, maybe we convert that, it’s 37.

“You got a one-score game, you know what I mean?  Now you got a one-score game going into the fourth quarter, we get stopped on fourth-and-inches, that’s a pretty close game. The divide is not huge, but we got work to do. As I told our guys. It’s 24/7. It’s not just on the field. It’s how we do things away from the building. It’s every day in the classroom, in the community.

“All the little things that are going to allow us to be more aware and to be better communicators and have an attention to detail in all those areas. We got to continue to develop our football team. This foundation is really strong, and we’ll be able to continue to build on it. But I don’t believe that the gap is something that we can’t continue to close and get back here again next year. That will be our goal, to get back here and to win it.”

On Garrett Nussmeier's performance

“Yeah, he did some really good things. He’s called upon to come in and be aggressive, which he was. For a guy that’s coming in off not playing a lot of football, really pleased. Look, there’s a learning experience out there. There’s some throws that obviously he’d like to have back. Look, he’s got a quarterback mentality that he wants to be aggressive. As Malik said, he’s pushing the ball down the field, giving these guys a chance to make some plays down the field, and they did. Sometimes there are plays where they’re 50/50 balls, but he gives them a chance to make some plays. He did a nice job with that.”

On team's goals in coming weeks

“Well, they got exams. They got to take care of their academics. So, first and foremost, academics. We’ll give them a chance to rest up a little bit, get them in the training room, some weight training. We have our end-of-the-year banquet where we’re going to celebrate our seniors on Sunday, thank them for what they’ve contributed to an SEC West championship. We’ll do exit meetings with our players, what they’ve done well, what we can do better as we look towards another game, as well. We’ll practice next week. Again, there are other things that are as important as recruiting, and that is your team. We’re not going to rush off and forget about our players and the development of our players at this very crucial time, as well.”

On how team will move forward from disappointing finish

“Well, I don’t think there’s anything that can take away from what this team accomplished on the field relative to winning an SEC West championship. They won that on the field. What I think it does is it brings into light clearly the progress that we’ve made and the things that we have to continue to work on.

“I think for everybody, it clearly defines who we want to be and that we’re not there yet. That’s okay. You know, that’s okay. We’re not happy that we’re not the SEC champs. That’s not what we wanted today. We wanted to win this game. But we know where we’re at. We’ve clearly talked about what we need to do to be the SEC champs. That’s okay. We need to go to work and get better at the things necessary for us to be better collectively, individually and as a football program.”

 

Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire