At Kirby Smart‘s Tuesday presser, he mentioned that the past week that he’s seen a lot of energy out his team, and can tell they are itching to get back on to the field Saturday against Tennessee. He also expressed that his team has been able to do more “good on good” than usual.
When Smart refers to the phrase “good on good” he means that the competition at practice has been at a high-intensity level. He preaches to his players that there is competition at every position, and this motivates them to perform their best so they can hold on to their depth chart spots. But at practice when they run the “good on good” period that means that it’s the first-team offense versus the first-team defense.
During the bye week, Bulldog players were motivated to improve in the areas they needed work on. Plus, with Tennessee being an SEC East rival they were pushed even harder because of the higher-level competition the Volunteers bring.
“We get a lot of chances to do a lot of good on good because of the similarities in the offense and defense, so the players like going against each other a little better.” Smart said. “You get some overlap, you’re able to run some plays that both teams run. We practice against each other anyway. We see a lot of the same plays most of the time anyway, so we see a lot of the same plays most of the time, but it does allow you to go a little more good on good and you get the guys more competitive reps.”
Smart knows that both teams aren’t spitting images of each other, but knew that the bye week was a great time for his starters to get some reps in battling against each other.
The two staffs are similar because a lot of Tennessee’s coaches have spent at Georgia, and vice versa.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt spent time at Georgia under former head coach Mark Richt. After Smart was named head coach at Georgia in 2016, Pruitt then took over his job as defensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban for two seasons.
Tennessee coaches Will Friend (offensive line), Kevin Sherrer (special teams and inside linebackers), Jim Chaney (offensive coordinator), and Tracey Rocker (defensive line) all had coaching stints at Georgia. Sherrer, Rocker, and Chaney all served under Smart in Athens.
Georgia coaches Sam Pittman (offensive line) and Charlton Warren (defensive backs) both spent time at Tennessee, but their time in Knoxville doesn’t really fit the narrative about the Bulldogs running their starters against each other in practice.
It’s mainly the combination of Smart and offensive coordinator James Coley versus Pruitt and Chaney. A year ago, Coley served the role “co” offensive coordinator with Chaney.
On Monday, Smart downplayed the idea that any of his former coaches on the Volunteer staff had any advantage of what his team is capable of doing. Nor did he mention that it was a benefit for Georgia, but acknowledged that both staffs are pretty similar in a lot of ways.
“They get the same thing,” Smart said. “I told the players, our offense is not exactly like theirs, our defense is not exactly like theirs but there are similarities.”
Georgia takes on the Tennessee Volunteers in Neyland Stadium at 7:00 p.m. on October 5th.
Here is the video Kirby Smart’s Tuesday post-practice press conference: