Head coach Kirby Smart addressed some concerns after the 36-17 win over the Florida Gators. Despite Georgia winning by 19, the head coach noted things on both sides of the ball that still need work. However, Smart did compliment his team and some individuals for being as tough as they come and buying into the program.
“They’re very resilient, and they had to listen for two weeks about everything that is wrong with them, everything they did wrong and everything they hadn’t done right. That was probably the motivating factor because at the end of the day they get affected by what people say about them,” Smart said. “We went to work, and we did improve in some area. But we are most undoubtedly a work in progress because we have a lot of areas to improve. We got to continue to play better on defense, but we created some turnovers.”
Georgia forced three fumbles and recovered two of them. The Bulldogs also intercepted a pass once during the game. Smart stated the team needed turnovers and the staff preached it and made sure his guys knew that Florida was a team that’ll commit turnovers and a lot of them.
“We talked about it all the time, our defense against their defense. So we put the two defenses against each other and say hey why do they have more turnovers than us? So why can’t we get these turnovers, why can’t we force these turnovers,” Smart questioned? “Turnovers come in bunches, and we got a good bit of them today.”
Despite getting the turnovers and holding Florida to 19 points, Georgia still gave up 170 yards on the ground which brought up one of Smart’s significant concerns.
“Rushing defense concerns me. Tackling. I get frustrated but there are so many times we have two people in the right position, one blocker two people, and the guy with the ball in his hand beats the guy to the leverage he shouldn’t get beat. If we have two on one we should win that battle,” Smart stated. “We felt like at halftime we had like eight second and longs, so we won on first down, but we had like 3-4 third and ones again. So we’re a work in progress there.”
One of the reasons Georgia continues to struggle on rush defense is likely due to the lack of experience on the front seven. David Marshall and Daquan Hawkins-Muckle are both still out with injuries forcing young bucks to step up and be there for the team.
Smart notes that even though Georgia has a young team, the youngsters are already surpassing expectations.
“We got a lot of young guys on our team. I was sitting in a meeting last night and Mel’s [Tucker] going to call out on three guys to do what we call signal callers which is going over notes of the game that we make the players present to the team,” Smart explained. “Jordan Davis stands up and goes over short yards and goal lines, Brenton Cox stands up and goes over the pass rush plans and Tyson Campbell stands up and goes over the tricks and gimmicks… Those three true freshmen played a lot of snaps.”
Two of those three guys started against the Gators. Davis got his first career start as a Bulldog Saturday and with the way he plays with a purpose, that start number should continue to increase. Smart continues onto say that having youth on a team can be a good thing but also something that can be frustrating.
“Youth is a good thing because they listen and they learn, but they also grow up and get better. It’s frustrating because there are plays out there we have made in the past that we didn’t make in this game,” Smart said. “Youth should never be an excuse.”
Smart then calls out the defensive line as a unit. He made it known that the defensive line must step up this coming up week and the rest of the season.
“Those guys as a unit, that’s the group that has to step up for us,” Smart notes. “That DL group has to control the line of scrimmage, be dominant so we can play the style of defense we want to play and they did a better job today, but we have to clean up tackle in the second level better.”
The head coach didn’t forget about the offense when it came to concerns. Smart kept it simple when it came to what his offense needs to improve on for the last few weeks of the season.
“Obviously on offense, we’re still a spark plug here, and we will explode, and then we will go dry for a second,” Smart said. “We have to be more consistent offensively and the goal line work obviously the red area we’ve got to find a way to get the ball in.”
Smart undoubtedly knows what this team needs to work on and it seems the defense has a long way to go in the last four regular-season games. If the team wants to keep its playoff hopes alive, that run defense needs to find a way to stop an overly confident Kentucky Wildcat team.