Mel Tucker: "We’re Still a Work in Progress"

MEMPHIS - UGA Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker met with the media before the Liberty Bowl on Tuesday.

University of Georgia Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker opening statement:

“These guys have had a good couple days of practice. They’re really a fun group to be around and they’re excited to be here. They love to practice. They love to prepare. They love the process, so we’re just excited about the opportunity.”

Tucker on the UGA defense:

“We’re still a work in progress. Our guys play hard and they learn how to run to the ball and how to take the ball away and they play together. They’ve grown as a defense over the season and we still have a lot of work to do.”

Tucker on how the UGA defense has improved this season:

“Just playing together and being sound fundamentally, and just understanding that you can’t give up big plays if you want to be a great defense—just being sound and solid, playing together, good communication, understanding the scheme of what we’re trying to do defensively. The guys have grown and it’s a really fun group to coach.”

Tucker on things the UGA defense did well this season:

“I think we played hard. I think you know our guys are going to play 60 minutes and give everything they have out there. That starts with being in great condition and playing hard every snap. I think our guys understand that you have to take the ball away, so attacking the football, forcing takeaways and working to win the turnover margin is important.”

Tucker on adversity:

“We challenge all of our guys everyday. You learn from the good things and the bad things and work to move on. I think all of the disappointments that we’ve had this season, we’ve learned from those. We’re excited for this opportunity coming up.”

Tucker on having two weeks of practice to prepare for TCU:

“A lot of our young guys got work in while we were back home and we did a lot of two spot work and got a lot of reps. We were able to develop some of our younger players. Once we honed in on the TCU game plan, I think all of our guys have stepped up to the challenge. There is a certain way we want to practice, a certain way we want to prepare, and our guys understand that. They’ve been focused and I’ve seen improvement across the board.”

Tucker on Dominick Sanders:

“Dom (Dominick Sanders) is a fun guy to coach. He shows up everyday. He’s the same guy and he’s very consistent. He loves to practice and he loves to compete. He loves to make plays on the ball. He’s very instinctive and he has great energy. He’s one of our leaders; he’s played a lot of football for us. It’s a privilege to coach guys like that.”

Tucker on Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy returning for their senior seasons:

“I think it’s always good when you have guys that want to come back to the program. Those guys are really good people. They’re excellent football players and they have room to grow. We’re going to help them do that here.”

Tucker on struggles in the red zone:

“It’s been a focus for us. Obviously, we need to execute better in the red zone and do a great job in game planning. That’s been a major focus for us. We work on red zone almost every day.”

Tucker on Tyrique McGhee’s status:

“I can’t say much about it. He has been a guy that has gotten better throughout the year. He’s a young guy. He pays attention, practices really hard and has a good mental toughness. He’s an excellent athlete and he’s a guy we have confidence in.”

Tucker on TCU’s Kyle Hicks:

“He can do it all. He’s an excellent runner. He’s targeted quite a bit out of the backfield and can line up as a receiver, so he’s one of those guys that is any every down back that can do everything well. He’s one of the best backs I’ve seen in some time. He’s a guy you have to know where he’s lined up at all times. He’s very, very dangerous. You don’t see many guys like that week in and week out. I think he’s a special player.”

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