So much for Holiday cheer, huh? Kirby Smart started out his press conference on Saturday night with the pleasantries of wishing everyone happy holidays and hoping that everybody got to enjoy quality time with family that has been rare during the pandemic we are all currently navigating. Then, the question came about an “official list” of opt outs. Kirby Smart then gave his now 2 year old line on the bowls in saying, “I’m focused on the guys who will play,” before coming with a direct assault of media outlets who initially reported players like Azeez Ojulari, Mark Webb, and Richard LeCounte as not playing in the bowl game.
To be fair, major media outlets tend to have well placed sources and are correct more often than not, but Smart in particular seemed to take offense to the lists that had been put out as fact. Also, due to the massive amount of circulation of the lists and nobody challenging the authenticity of the reports until said point in time with Coach Smart’s comments, I assume the reports on Webb and LeCounte had been true, although I had never heard or seen any official word on Azeez. Azeez also isn’t Senior Bowl eligible like Mark Webb is, so that made waiting to say anything about him potentially not playing easier to hold off on. At any rate, Georgia faithful get good news for the Peach Bowl, a senior safety and star edge defender are playing against undefeated Cincinnati.
2 morals to the story here folks. First, don’t take anything for gospel in the Georgia program until it comes from the mouth of Kirby Smart or the official communications team of Georgia football. Everyone has their “sources” and it’s the job of media outlets to try to drive clicks and make predictions, but ultimately the buck stops with the former first team SEC safety turned head football coach for the Georgia Bulldogs. Secondly, The narrative about Georgia not caring about this bowl game is a falsehood. If Ojulari, Webb, and LeCounte had decided to skip the game, or even if they change their mind and still do, they should shoulder no blame at all. Each have played their guts out for Georgia and totally within their rights to think about their own futures. Ojulari could be a potential first round pick!
It shows that by in large, players healthy enough to play will and that the amount of those opting out or injured for the Peach Bowl is much smaller than anticipated. Having Ojulari and Webb to combat Desmond Ridder’s dual-threat quarterback style will be huge for the Georgia defense and a presser like that one Kirby Smart held last night could serve as a shot in the arm to the Dawgs. Recruits I talk to tell me all the time that they love Kirby Smart because he’s a “players’ coach”, he solidified that reputation even more on Saturday.