Huck’s Corner – Expectations for Kirby Smart’s 1st Season

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Huck’s Corner – Expectations for Kirby Smart’s 1st Season

Kirby Smart is a tenacious coach in practice
Kirby Smart

One of the major storylines in college football this year is Kirby Smart entering his first season as Head Coach for the Georgia Bulldogs.  Depending on which publication you read, radio program you listen to or TV show you watch, the expectations are all over the place for Coach Smart’s first season.  So what should be the expectations?

Let’s start with a look at recent history.  There are 10 head coaching jobs in college football that are considered elite, Georgia being one of them.  Each of these programs have the resources to be amongst the nation’s elite programs year in and year out.  These programs also have hired highly respected coaches and their first year success has varied.  See below:

Alabama – Nick Saban – 7-6

Clemson – Dabo Swinney – 9-5

Florida – Jim McElwain – 10-4

Florida State – Jimbo Fisher – 10-4

Georgia – Kirby Smart – ?????

LSU – Les Miles – 11-2

Ohio State – Urban Meyer – 12-0

Oklahoma – Bob Stoops – 7-5

Southern Cal – Clay Helton – ?

Texas – Charlie Strong – 6-7

Nick Saban, Jim McElwain and Bob Stoops walked into a teams that had talent but were a complete mess in terms of discipline left by their predecessors.  Jimbo Fisher, Les Miles, Urban Meyer and Charlie Strong all replaced legends of their respective programs and had big shoes to fill.  Dabo Swinney took over a team lacking talent from a regime that never quite lived up to expectations.  These different situations led to a mixed bag of results and none of these situations are very similar to what Kirby Smart is facing.

Mark Richt left behind a roster with above average talent that had struggled to reach their potential during his tenure.  This is also his first time as a head coach.  Everyone on the list above with the exception of Dabo Swinney, Bob Stoops and Jimbo Fisher had been head coaches once before taking the reigns as head coach of their respective teams.    Also, Kirby Smart is a defensive coach joining Bob Stoops, Nick Saban and Charlie Strong as the only coaches with a defensive background to receive a head coaching position at one of the Top 10 programs.

The fact that Kirby Smart is a first time Head Coach at Top 10 program and the fact that he comes from a defensive background are considered disadvantages by many.  First,  as he is a first time head coach he is going to have to make a number of decisions he has never had to make before and is likely to make some mistakes.  Second, as a defensive coach, he has more a fiery demeanor on the sideline and can be quite emotional which is considered a liability in a head coach, especially when they are a first year coach having to make important decisions.  Too much emotion in one way or another could lead to bad decisions in key moments.

While it would seem everything is working against Kirby Smart, there are arguments to be made to the contrary.  Kirby Smart has been the apprentice for the best coach in college football history in Nick Saban and Smart has undoubtedly learned many lessons and soaked in a great deal.  Also, I would argue that only Urban Meyer and Les Miles inherited rosters with more talent than what Georgia returns for Coach Smarts first year.

So where does that leave Coach Smart?  It’s still anyone’s guess.  That said, I want to hear from you.  What are your expectations for Coach Smart’s inaugural season?



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Matthew “Huck” Pasek was born into a family of Georgia Bulldogs. Huck’s father, Gary, graduated from UGA in 1976 and became a high school chemistry teacher at Peachtree HS in Dunwoody, GA where he coached alongside Georgia High School football legend T. McFerrrin. Gary’s love of football, especially Georgia football, was passed along to his son. Huck lives in Belmont, NC with his wife, Whitney, and works in Financial Services Litigation. In his spare time he is an avid golfer, movie fanatic and habitual traveler to St. Simons Island with his wife “just to get away”. The moniker ImYourHuckleberry arose from his favorite movie, Tombstone, and character Doc Holiday’s famous line, “I’m Your Huckleberry”. Matthew was never one to shy away from a confrontation or debate, thus the nickname instantly stuck.

18 responses on “Huck’s Corner – Expectations for Kirby Smart’s 1st Season

  1. ed603

    What drives my optimism after the change of coaches, is the school of thought the coach was trained in. CMR trained under Bobby Bowden, and his school of thought was recruit elite SKILL players. The line was almost an afterthought. He always said “if I have the best skill athletes, I can beat your team.
    On the other hand, CKS trained under Nick Saban, who has the philosophy that if I control the LOS, then I can beat you on the field. From what I see in his coach hires, and his recruiting, CKS wants to control the LOS, and then game plan to take advantage of whatever skilled folks you have on hand. I think with that thought process in place, we can win 10 or 11 games this year, and more in future years as he builds on the line play.

  2. IYH_BI

    Colonial Dawg IYH_BI It is not fun to watch your team come out flat to a rivalry game and get completely manhandled…especially when amongst so many obnoxious Gators.

  3. rugbydawg79

    IYH_BI rugbydawg79 Huck  It is true that I am overly optimistic every year – one at a time– but with some luck and avoiding injury (and a great Freshman) it can happen – it is great having you at BI.

  4. WeSavedOurselves

    If we dramatically improve in stopping the run and provide consistent pressure on the QB, I like our chances for winning 11+ games. I have supreme confidence in this coaching staff.

  5. Colonial Dawg

    IYH_BI Colonial Dawg  The actual focal point of the trip is to see my 8 year old granddaughter, but I always make it that weekend because my son gets to see 1 game a year and we make it that one.  The last 2 have been not so much fun…….

  6. Bulldawg Bob2

    For a young football team, the first half of the schedule has some tough games. The opening contest vs. the Tarheels in the Dome and then back-to-back long road games to Mizzou and Ole Miss. I think Georgia should win up in Columbia, Missouri, but Ole Miss could be a tough one.
    Then Tennessee comes-a-call’n to Sanford, and they are a good team.
    It’s very possible the Dawgs could be 2-3 headed into Columbia, South Carolina for game six. However, I don’t think Georgia loses more than 3 games this season. They could finish up winning 7 in a row, with a big win over the Gators in Jacksonville.


    I have concerns about our depth in the trenches. I am really concerned about our kicking game, which If you’ve ever seen my post is a pet peeve of mine and is directly responsible for 6 to 8 points per game and there are a lot of games decided by less than that margin. However, if we can stay healthy and chubb is anywhere near his previous level then I believe 9 or 10 wins is easily achievable. IfEason starts and him and Chaney develop quickly then 11 wins and a shot at an SEC title is possible. Like I said to someone yesterday. My biggest hope for this season is to see a hungry, mean, focused dawg team when they arrive here in Jax. Thanks for your write ups huck and again welcome to BI!

  8. IYH_BI

    DawgByte The lines of scrimmage and special teams!! Glad to hear someone say that.  If we improve and become more dominant in those areas there is no doubt this team will be much more formidable each and every week!

  9. IYH_BI

    rugbydawg79 Winning them all is a bit overly optimistic in my opinion, and as I said below, 11 wins would be fantastic!

  10. IYH_BI

    Colonial Dawg That sounds like a fantastic trip!  I think people argue that if you make decisions in the heat of the moment when you are too emotional you may make the wrong decision.  And yes, I too am looking forward to the Cocktail Party and maybe finally, out muscling the Gators for once?!?

  11. DawgByte

    Colonial Dawg I agree on your emotion comment. I understand why Huck said what he did, but I think modern players want to see emotion from their head coach. That was a constant theme during the Richt era. They seemed to play at Richt’s emotional level, which in many cases was FLAT.

  12. DawgByte

    What are my expectations for Kirby Smart?
    I think we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn’t hope Kirby could bring some Saban magic to our program. That means national championships. How realistic is that? I don’t know, but this season will give us some clues. 
    In the short-term I want this team to play tougher at the point of attack. Football is won or lost in the trenches, so I want to see improvements across the OL, which means the ability to move people off the blocks on short yardage situations. Defensively, I want to see our DL stuff the run and our edge rushers get after the QB. We need more sacks and more TO’s. I also want to see improvement in our Special Teams. IMO Richt was very inconsistent with ST’s and in a handful of games decisions on ST’s cost us the game. Who can forget the squib kick against Tech? Argh!!!
    Lastly, I think our talent level is equal to or greater than last years, so I would expect 10 wins this season.

  13. rugbydawg79

    11-2   however if old lady luck is with us – Eason progresses, we stay injury free- We can win them all ! WOOF !

  14. Colonial Dawg

    I love the energy that Kirby shows.  I don’t get where it is a disadvantage.  I am optimistic…..maybe cautiously optimistic.  Every year at the end of October I fly to California and my son and I watch the WLOCP together.  This year I’m really looking forward to it!  Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!

  15. CRDawg

    I am very optimistic about the coming season.  I think the intangible problem the Dawgs has faced has been in the area of motivation.  I think Kirby is the perfect coach to turn the program around.  I think the fiery demeanor will work in the teams favor and get them to rise up at critical times.  11 and 2 win the East, loose SEC championship game.