Coach Kirby Smart addressed the media on Monday in the first press conference of the Bulldogs’ 2017 Fall Camp. Smart had a lot to say and seemed fully charged and ready for camp. His opening remarks showed his excitement for the upcoming season as well as his expectations for the players and the team.
“I’m thrilled for this day to get here. Excited to find out how a lot of these new guys learn,” Smart stated. “These practices are not easy. The idea is to create adversity for your team, find out who the leaders are and we’re going to do that. “
He goes on to mention six goals for camp the team can work on before the first game. Smart hit on the special teams and new hire, Scott Fountain.
“We certainly have some goals for this camp. You know, the areas of concern and areas of improvement for us, special teams would be No. 1. We’re going to try to change some things up special teams-wise, as you guys know, from a quality control standpoint, Scott Fountain has joined us. I think he did a tremendous job at Auburn, always has… We’ve got to improve in our kicking units — that’s punting, kickoff coverage, return game, everything. But we plan to do that, and we’ll do that in camp.”
The next goal on Smarts list is throwing the ball more efficiently. He goes on to explain if you throw the ball effectively then it will open up the running game, which is key when there is Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Brian Herrian, Elijah Holyfield, or D’Andre Swift in the backfield.
“Offensively, throwing the ball more efficient is a big goal of ours,” Smart states. “Because I think if you throw the ball efficiently, you’ll be able to run the ball with the backs we’ve got. When you can’t throw the ball, it makes it hard. It doesn’t matter who your backs are.”
Smart then transitioned to the offensive line and stressed how important it is to have a successful line when improving the passing game is the goal. Smart stated his excitement about the opportunity for the guys on the line.
“I think it’s going to be a really key, integral part for our success to figure out who are the best eight, who are the best 10, how many do we have that can play winning football on the offensive line, and you can’t find that out on day one,” Smart said. “You can’t find it out on day two because you’ve got still shorts on, but you start seeing who can learn and who is really serious about it early on.”
Red-zone offense and defense were the next two goals on Smart’s list. He voiced his opinion about it not being where it should be. He was brutally honest about the red-zone area defense and how it was the worst the team performed on that side of the ball. The red-zone defense is something the team spent a lot of time practicing on last year, and then even more in the spring. Smart made it a point that it will be a primary focus this fall.
“The red area offense was not where it needs to be,” Smart says. “We have to score touchdowns, and we have to cash the ball in, which when you get in the red area, and the field shrinks, you have to be able to run the ball. You’ve got to be able to run the ball because the throwing area is very short.”
Smart’s last goal he talked about during the press conference is the pass rush and creating turnovers. Despite the team being in the positive last season, he added it as a goal because it’s something that defenses always emphasize.
“Then obviously the pass rush, creating turnovers, things that you always emphasize on defense, we’ll continue to do that,” Smart noted. “That was one of the areas that we were actually positive, almost reached our goal in, was the turnover ratio. So giving up 19, gaining 27 — that’s the window you want to be in. Now, sure, I’d like to be better than that, but that’s the window you’d like to be. There were so many other areas that we were deficient in that we’ve got to improve that. And we think we’ve done that through getting a good group of freshmen in here and also developing our older players.”
Check out the full press conference:
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