ATHENS – The calm football coach in Georgia Kirby Smart sounded very calm with the week of training that his bulldogs put in before their trip to Tuscaloosa on Friday.
The No. 3 Smart team in Georgia (3: 0) plays No. 2 in Alabama (3: 0) at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium (TV: CBS).
“They were focused and excited about the game, there is a little more awareness and focus,” Smart said on his coach’s show. “The focus is easy in a game like this, the attention to detail is there.
The vision of the Bulldogs Tunnel is being tested this weekend like never before, after learning that the Halloween weekend they thought was coming out will now be filled with a lunch game against Kentucky.
Instead, Georgia will not work next Saturday, and the league will shuffle its schedule due to the prolonged suspension of activities in Florida related to COVID-19.
Smart said before leaving for Tuscaloosa that the team would be locked in the game with the tide and shared some keys to the game.
Georgia’s offense dropped more points (7) against opponents in their first six games and the second half than it scored (6).
Amazingly, the Bulldogs came back on three of their six shots, which opened matches or second halves and turned the ball around twice.
“I think we need to start better and do some better things when we get a turnaround,” Smart said, reflecting on how his team handled Tennessee.
“I think a lot of the calm went into the locker room without noticing (at halftime, after being stopped twice from the 1-yard line of Wals.” We had to pass the end zone, where we stopped in fourth place.
“Not taking the points out of it (there) was deflation.”
Georgia’s offense came back in the first two drives in the second half after his defender passed position on the field at the Wals line at 15 and 36 yards, but managed to turn the turnovers into field goals.
It is always a key element for Smart, but it has the added importance of protecting Alabama’s defense, which thrives on keeping opponents in disadvantaged situations down and away.
“When you play Alabama, that’s what kills you, if you’re second and 14 or third and 15, you just can’t succeed,” Smart said. “There are probably 10 plays in this game (Ole Miss) where they must have taken a sack, or it’s a punched game, and (QB Matt Corral) brings the ball to the line of contention and he makes it manageable.”
A good first down game helps maintain the defense, along with neutralizing pressure.
“It’s great when you can control the ball, there are a lot of things you can do to keep them in balance. “The running game is key, but it’s something SEC teams are trying to take away.”
Smart said there is a tendency for some teams not to even bother to play, but added that effective ground play “slows down the speeders”.
Georgia’s head coach sees progress in his team’s ground game.
“I don’t know anyone in our league who just goes out and beats people. It’s hard to do that, “Smart said.
“Especially when they work, but we have a young O-Line that is still growing. I still think we have really good defenders and we have an ability in the intermediate pass that we haven’t had before. “
TAKE THE PASSENGER
Georgia has the No. 1 defense, but Alabama has the nation’s No. 1 offense and Smart doesn’t take anything for granted.
“It’s better to hurry well and better not give them away for a long time, because eventually they will find a way to open up,” Smart said, asking about the TIde game. “They have a good distributor and gunsmith and they have talented advertisements.”
Smart has known DeVonta Smith since he went to football camp in Alabama. He got to know Smith even better after Smith was hired by Georgia and returned to chase them into the College Football Playoff championship game with the game’s touchdown winner.
“DeVonta, everyone knows, looks like he’s been there forever,” Smart said. “They lost two choices in the first round and it’s still the strength of their team, if that tells you anything.
“The game we played two years ago, Jalen Waddle made plays all over the field, Mark Webb and Eric Stokes covered it, so these are the same guys,” Smart said. “Both have been important players before.
“The kid (John) Bear II played well, people tried to take the others and he exposed them.”