D’Andre Walker speaks candidly on Kirby Smart, Sugar Bowl, Tech ‘rivalry’ and more
UGA outside linebacker D’Andre Walker has kept a low profile since suffering a groin injury in the second half of the SEC championship. He also missed the Sugar Bowl, and had to pull out of Senior Bowl due to the same injury.
Maybe the likable Walker missed the media, because he had plenty of candid things to say on Friday’s “Rich and John” Show on 92.9 The Game. Walker is currently training for workouts in front of NFL scouts. Here goes:
On Georgia Tech rivalry: “Georgia Tech is an easy win. I mean, it has been an easy win. That’s pretty much why they fired their coach if it wasn’t. That’s like a field day for the University of Georgia. That’s not really a rivalry because we beat them all the time …”
On Kirby Smart following Mark Richt: ”When Coach Smart came over, I just think he brought a different mentality to the program: It was win, work hard, win, do whatever it takes, and stay out of trouble. I think everybody bought in. He (Smart) was much younger than Coach Richt, so he was able to relate to us on a different level than Mark Richt. It was time for change. It was good timing and it was a good change.”
On if UGA was prepared for Jalen Hurts: “The first time we played Tua (in the national championship game), I don’t thnk we prepared for him because honestly we didn’t. Going into halftime, Coach Smart was like ‘Tua is fixing to get in the game.’ Somehow he knew. It was crazy … I went into the locker room, and I was like ‘Who is Tua?’ This year (in the SEC Championship), I think we were very well-prepared … and I feel like when I got hurt, the whole game changed. When I go back and watch the game, I got hurt in the third quarter with six minutes left. After that, they were still calling blitzes that we had set up to Tua, but when Hurts came in the game, like I said, we were still calling blitzes. He should’ve called a timeout, got everybody together, and we probably would’ve won that game.”
On UGA’s effort in the Sugar Bowl: “I knew that question was coming. But I don’t think they were giving maximum effort in that game. I feel like they felt like they didn’t have anything to play for. We thought we were going to be in the playoffs, but we didn’t. I feel like they didn’t take the game very seriously. And then … me not being out there, that was another big thing. Deandre Baker wasn’t out there as well. Everybody’s mindset had pretty much altered, and it was getting ready for the next year.”
Was there any divide in the locker room because of Jake Fromm and Justin Fields? “No, no, never. If anything, it was the coaches that had the hardest decision to make. Each guy came in every day, and worked hard. They were trying to better the team and better themselves. That’s all that really mattered. They both were amazing guys and players as well.”