I was wrong with my score pick for this game. I picked South Carolina to score 14 points, but my thinking also included 45 minutes in production for the Bulldogs. Where did I go wrong? South Carolina’s defense was better than I thought. But as Kirby said in his post-game presser, “That’s how games are in the SEC – physical. South Carolina has a really good football team.”
Everyone around me (photographers and other media members) was shocked when Georgia opened the game with an onside kick attempt. When Blankenship squibbed the ball, my first thought was that the attempt to was out of character from the way the staff has called games so far this season. Georgia has been extremely conservative, thus onside kick attempt against a quality SEC opponent to open a game seemed almost reckless in the moment. Like everything about this program, the tactic had clearly been thought through and presented to the team as another sign of the staff’s confidence in them to handle any adversity should the kick fail.
Both in player interviews and then Kirby’s press conference there was a common explanation. J.R. Reed in his post-game interview said it very clearly: “We want to be the hunters, rather than the hunted.” Georgia will not sit back and wait for its opponents to out-scheme it. Coordinators at Auburn, Kentucky and Tech now have to wonder – what’s next?
Kirby also commented about his opening gambit::
The defense saved the ol’ ball coach there. But we said all week we were going to be aggressive. We saw something and felt it was there and felt it was the right thing to do. South Carolina made a heck of a play. Thankfully our defense stopped them and they missed a field goal. That was a good stop.
That call certainly was aggressive, Coach Smart. After listening to the players, I think the surprise opening kickoff was a good move. The whole hunter/hunted Is an excellent idea to keep the team focused. Taking the initiative, being aggressive, and avoiding conservative play was the plan and the players loved it. It showed the players that the coaches have confidence in them to make the stop if the attempt failed. The team stayed focused, got down to business and remained undefeated. Nothing else matters.