On Thursday, after spring practice, Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart spoke to the media as the Dawgs keep preparing for the upcoming G-Day scrimmage game.
Smart discussed many things, but there were some key points from his press conference that intrigued us. After losing 15 to the NFL Draft and a handful more in the transfer portal, this spring has been about finding the team’s identity, new leadership and filling voids while some players continue to heal from injuries.
He had a lot of positive things to say, but as he usually does, Smart kept it honest as well. There is no sugar coating when it comes to Smart, and by now, it’s a good thing because the media knows where it stands.
Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart breaks down these key points in his latest press conference.
One of the biggest areas that normally come into question during the spring is leadership. Who is stepping up and being a leader on the field for the team? Smart loves players who are willing to step up and be leaders because they usually work their tails off to make big things happen.
In Thursday’s press conference, he mentioned a handful of names stepping up in some shape or form in the leadership category. One name he said that excited us was Jamon Dumas-Johnson because the linebackers, especially the inside guys, need someone to lead since Nakobe Dean went to the draft.
He mentioned Sedrick Van Pran, Warren Ericson and Broderick Jones as guys on the offensive line stepping up in leadership roles.
Kearis Jackson was another name he dropped from the offensive side of the ball. Then, of course, someone who took on a leadership role last year, Nolan Smith, was another name he mentioned. It was also good to hear Kelee Ringo as a name in the leadership discussion.
Really a lot of guys you can just see them trying to assert themselves and encourage more than discouraging,” Smart said during his Thursday press conference.
The media cannot talk with Smart without mentioning the quarterbacks, and Thursday saw a few questions directed toward that topic. This time around, it was what he would be expecting out of them in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“You could come back in 10 years from now and it’s going to be the same thing as it was last year—decision-making, accuracy, leadership, intangibles—great quarterbacks are accurate and they make good decisions,” Smart said. “If you can make good decisions and be accurate, and you have good football players around them, then you’re going to be a pretty good football player.”
Smart needs a quarterback who can run the offense and make plays themselves. They need leadership qualities themselves, but his answer was fantastic because good quarterbacks have been doing the same things for decades.
This spring is slightly different from others, at least for the media and fans. For the first time in 41 years, the Dawgs are defending national champions, and that evolution didn’t happen overnight. It took Smart six seasons to get over the hump, and in that time frame, the Dawgs went from being a solid football program to being one of the most feared in college ball.
However, Smart hates comparing things because each year, there is a different team out there on the field. Some of the players may be the same, but that doesn’t mean that as a collective whole, it is the same. Personalities are different, injuries happen, and other things happen, so to compare is something everyone but the coaching staff and players do.
Since Smart got to Athens, the comparisons to Mark Richt began and continued six years later. Even though Smart has won a national championship, those things will still happen.
“We take a lot of pride in trying to do things well, in terms of our discipline, toughness, all those,” Smart said. “We tried to do that for a long time. It wasn’t just me, it was the first staff I hired. The men that left helped set that standard and the men that come in have continued that standard.”
Smart put it beautifully because that standard has been the thing that stands out the most with him. His players know what he expects out of them, and if they cannot do it or handle it, then they transfer.
“We’ve been pretty consistent,” Smart said. “That’s one of my big pet peeves, is how consistent can you be in your performance, in the way you work. And it shows in wins and losses and also the players we develop.”
Accountability is one of his favorite words, and he uses it often because when players hold themselves to that standard, success comes. Last year’s team showed what holding themselves accountable can do for a program, and we all saw them win a title.
Consistency is another word that he loves, and it shows through his team. That group last year knew what they needed to do to win a championship, and they made it happen. Now it’s time to find a way to carry that same mentality over with the 2022 group.
Smart is now in his seventh year with the Dawgs, and it seems he understands what it takes to stay a contender every year, so now he and his staff can continue to implement that.
Georgia football has a loaded team full of talented players ready to show that the Dawgs aren’t a one-and-done team. Spring is when those key foundation elements like holding yourself accountable and staying consistent come into play because if you do those things now, it’s easier to do them when the season rolls around in the fall.