ATHENS – A relaxed Georgia football coach Kirby Smart sounded very light with the week of preparation his Bulldogs put in before their trip to Tuscaloosa on Friday.
Smart’s No. 3 ranked Georgia team (3-0) plays at No. 2 Alabama (3-0) at. 20 Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium (TV: CBS).
“They’ve been focused and they’re excited about the game, there’s a little more attention and focus,” Smart said at his coaching show. “Focus is easy in a game like this, attention to detail is there.
“It’s fun because you feel like you can do more, share more information, because they̵
The Bulldogs tunnel vision is being tested this weekend like never before, as they learned the Halloween weekend they thought they would have will now be filled with a dinner game against Kentucky.
Georgia is instead from next Saturday with the league changing its schedule due to Florida’s expanded COVID-19-related stop in activities.
Smart said before traveling to Tuscaloosa that the team would be locked inside the game with the tide and shared some keys to the game.
Georgia’s offense has yielded more points (7) against opponents in its six opening games and second half than it has scored itself (6).
Amazingly, the Bulldogs have gone backwards on three of their six drives that have opened play or the second half and turned the ball over twice.
“I think we need to start better and do some better things when we get revenue,” Smart said, reflecting on how his team fared against Tennessee.
“I think a lot of the calm went in the locker room without scoring (at the break after stopping twice from Vols’ 1-yard line.” We had to run through the final zone where we were stopped on fourth down .
“Not getting the points out of the (that) deflated.”
Georgia’s offense went backwards on the first two drives in the second half after the defense gave it field position at the Vols’ 15 and 36-yard line, but was able to convert the turnover to field goals.
It’s always a staple for Smart, but there’s extra significance to an Alabama defense that thrives on keeping opponents in unfavorable down and distance situations.
“When you play Alabama, it’s what kills you. If you’m second-and-14 or third-and-15, you just can’t succeed,” Smart said. “There are probably 10 games in that (Ole Miss) game where they should have a sack or it’s a busted game and (QB Matt Corral) gets the ball to the line for scrimmage and he makes it manageable.”
A good driving game at first down helps keep the defense guessing along with neutralizing pressure.
“It’s huge when you can run the ball, there are a lot of things you can do to keep them off balance, it sets up the play-action pass, it makes them play you differently,” Smart said. “Driving is the key, but it’s something SEC teams are trying to take away.”
Smart said there is a tendency for some teams to not even bother running the game, but added that an effective ground game “slows down rushers.”
Georgia’s head coach sees progress in the team’s basic game.
“I know no one in our league who just comes out and runs hard on people. It is difficult to do that, ”said Smart.
“Especially when they fill you up, but we have a young O-Line that is still growing. I still think we have really good backs and we have an ability in the intermediate pass that we have not had before. ”
PROTECT THE PASSENGER
Georgia has No. 1 defense across the board, but Alabama has the country’s No. 1 offense, and Smart does not take anything for granted.
“You’d better hurry well, and you’d better not give them a long time, because they will eventually find a way to open up,” Smart said, asking about TIde’s pass game. “They have a good distributor and gun slings, and they have talented wide angles.”
Smart has known DeVonta Smith since he went to Alabama football camp. He got to know Smith even better after Smith committed from Georgia and came back to haunt them in the College Football Playoff Championship Game with the game-winning touchdown.
“DeVonta, everyone knows, seems to have been there forever,” Smart said. “They lost two picks in the first round and it’s still the strength of their team if that tells you anything.
“The game we played two years ago, Jaylen Waddle made games everywhere on the court, we had Mark Webb and Eric Stokes covering him, so those are the same guys,” Smart said. “Both of these were significant players before.
“(John) Metchie’s child has played well, people have tried to take the others away, and he has exposed them.”