Showing 1 - 5 of 5 posts found matching keyword: kirby smart

In 2014, Georgia Tech won in Sanford Stadium on a last second collapse by Georgia. Two years later, here we are again. Mark Richt was fired exactly a year after his mistake. Is Kirby Smart on the same path?

Georgia Tech 28, UGA 27

First of all, a word about Georgia Tech. The much maligned Paul Johnson brought crafty play calling and superior discipline to Athens and beat a team with superior talent 28-27. Congratulations. See that it never happens again.

Now back to Smart.

Before the season started, a friend asked me what I thought of Kirby Smart as the new head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. At the time, I wasn't nuts about some of the bad habits he brought over from his former employer (including hiding from the press, influencing the Georgia legislature to exempt his program from sunshine laws, and resisting the transfer of student athletes). However, I said I'd wait until the season ended to render an opinion. The season is now over, and I remain less than optimistic.

Fact: Despite playing all four of them most years for the better part of a century, Georgia has never lost football games to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Georgia Tech in the same season before. Not under Richt, not even under Donnan. Add in that we only squeaked by Auburn because they ran out of players and it gets worse. That's an incredibly inauspicious start to the Kirby Smart era.

All season, I've heard about how Georgia is losing because its talent is lacking. Somehow, that never came up while Richt was coach. Smart started the season with Heisman hopeful Nick Chubb, his talented roommate Sony Michel, and the most talked about quarterback recruit in the SEC. He ended the season ranked 12 of 14 SEC teams in total points per game. Maybe former Defensive Coordinator Smart needs time to adjust to learning to coach offense, but his defense still finished 7 out of 14 SEC teams in total points allowed. Maybe, as his defenders claim, Smart doesn't have the players with the skill sets necessary to play "The System" he brought over from Alabama, but that's not the fault of Richt or the kids he recruited. That's on the coach who chose a system and failed to adapt it to suit the talent he had available.

I hope that the problems of 2016 represented growing pains for a rookie head coach learning on the job. The good news for Smart is that it will be hard to do any worse in 2017. That is, unless he's determined to lose to Auburn, too.

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UGA played their first home game of the Kirby Smart era against 50-point underdog Nicholls State University. Unfortunately, no one told Nicholls State. The entire Bulldog Nation has to hope that it wasn't indicative of how future home games will unfold.

Nicholls State 24, UGA 26

Full credit to the Nicholls State Colonels. If not for one single play in the 3rd quarter, when their senior QB (who wasn't even their starter at the position — that would be freshman Chase Fourcade, who played a pretty great game) fumbled a ball that UGA returned for a quick touchdown, they would have won the game outright. Instead, they only managed to play to within 2 points, losing 24-26.

Their defensive line held Georgia's offense and Nick Chubb in check all afternoon. The Georgia players and staff didn't help themselves, continuing to make the same sorts of special teams mistakes that were named among the reasons that former coach Mark Richt was fired. Late in the 4th quarter, after Nicholls scored their 24th point, Smart replaced first-time starter Jacob Eason with Greyson Lambert. As the fellow to my left yelled, it wasn't Eason's fault that Nicholls was scoring points.

If a lowly FCS school like Nicholls can stymie the (formerly) number 9 ranked Bulldogs, UGA might be in real trouble when they start SEC play next week against Missouri.

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Word on the street (or at least the word via the AJC) is that the Seiler family, owners of UGA's beloved Uga mascots, is looking to inject some fresh DNA into the winnowed Uga bloodline. Future Ugas should be smaller and look more like the bulldogs of yesteryear. Good for them. Our mascots have been getting far too heavy, and the breed has serious health issues that need to be addressed if it's going to survive into the 22nd century.

There are some other Bulldogs that could use some new blood, too. Greyson Lambert has officially been named as starting quarterback in today's season opener versus North Carolina. Coach Smart has been hinting at this heavily for months now, so it comes as no surprise. It's a shame that Smart hasn't learned from history.

Lambert, as all Bulldog faithful recall, was not spectacular last year. In fact, I blame Mark Richt's firing on his decision to waste a year on the arms of Lambert, Bauta, and Ramsey in anticipation of incoming wunderkind Jacob Eason. Richt learned the hard way that high expectations plus lackluster performance are a fast track to a pink slip.

Eason, Smart says, isn't ready to start yet. He's playing it safe, putting in the proven commodity. Lambert is experienced. If he wins, no big deal. He's also terrible. If he loses, no big deal. That's the kind of selfish coaching decision you like to see: no matter what happens in the game, coach can't lose. Yet another indication of just how much we've lost by ash-canning Richt.

Sink or swim, there's no time like the present to learn how to play the game. If Eason is as great as they've been saying, let's get him some game experience that counts at the start of the season when losses mean the least. When Bulldogs need new blood, procrastination isn't an option.

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Saturday, Georgia had a packed house at its first G-Day Game under new coach Kirby Smart. Let me restate that: 93,000 people watched a Georgia football scrimmage. Wow. As recently as last season, it was hard to get 93,000 people to watch a game.

So why did so many people turn out for practice? Was it a chance to see what changes Smart might bring to the game plan? Was it excitement over incoming freshman quarterback Jacob Eason? Was it because seats were free? Was it Ludacris' pre-kickoff "performance"? Probably some combination of all the above.

Did I go? No. Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased that 93k people could be bothered to show up to support a team in transition. But I'm not bothered that I missed out on anything, either. After all, it was only a practice.

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Mark Richt gambled that he could survive the 2015 season with a crop of lackluster quarterbacks in the hopes that he could reach current high school senior Jacob Eason on the other side. Many thought that Richt's firing would send Eason to choose another school, but new hire Kirby Smart worked hard to re-close the deal.

It worked! Eason has re-committed to be the University of Georgia's 2016 quarterback. After two years in the wilderness, UGA will have a quarterback again. Cue the fireworks and parades.

Cause I have a Peaceful Eason Feeling and I know you won't let me down

Now let reality set in. It will be hard enough for Eason to live up to the years of hype UGA fans have been sold. Worse, to justify Richt's firing, he'll be asked deliver a national championship to Athens sooner rather than later. That's something Eric Zier, Mike Bobo, David Green, Matt Stafford, and Aaron Murray all failed to do.

Good luck, kid. You're going to need it.

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To be continued...

 

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