Go time, explosive play the key


ATHENS – It’s hurdle football time, and Kirby Smart says it’s time to go.

“I want to see relentless effort,” Smart said on his coach’s show Thursday. “I want to see the poise and the football brand of Georgia.

“We are very grateful to play and I want to see us play our best.”

The Auburn Tigers (1-0), ranked No.7, present a tall order for the Bulldogs ranked No.4 at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN).

Smart has been measured throughout the week knowing Georgia essentially had a mulligan in last Saturday’s 37-10 win at Arkansas.

The Bulldogs recovered from a 7-5 halftime deficit, overcoming 11 first-half penalties and inconsistent play in each group of offensive position.

“We had a lot of stuff to work on, (but) I was happy with the way the guys worked hard, especially Monday and Tuesday,” Smart said.

“We will find out on Saturday…. we have a test. “

Here are five things to watch out for in Saturday night’s game against Auburn at Sanford Stadium:

Play big games

Smart is looking for big offensive plays against Auburn

Georgia got the upper hand on Auburn’s offense early last season when Dominick Blaylock scored the opening touchdown on a 51-yard catch as the UGA took a 21-0 lead.

The Bulldogs, however, couldn’t handle a game over 26 yards against the Razorbacks.

The Georgian version of Air Raid was impressive in many ways: the UGA led the SEC in games (89) and most players in catching a pass (12).

“At the end of the day, you want to be explosive one in eight games,” Monken said at the start of the fall drills. “You watch about 10 per game. “

RELATED: Todd Monken Shares UGA Offensive Goals

Monken identified a 12-yard run or 16-yard pass as explosive plays, of which Georgia had seven last Saturday in 89 offensive plays.

Prevent big games

“We cannot give up explosives,” said Smart. “Arkansas didn’t have the outside weapons that Auburn has.”

And yet, the Razorbacks hit for a 49-yard touchdown to top off a 91-yard drive and take a 7-0 lead.

The game started to turn sour for Georgia when Azeez Ojulari lost his content on his passing run, allowing QB Feleipe Franks to come out of pocket and buy some time.

Safety Richard LeCounte was caught eye-catching in the backfield, allowing a receiver to slip behind him for the long touchdown pass.

That can’t happen against Auburn, who has much better receivers than Seth Williams and speedster Anthony Schwartz.

Offensive efficiency

Smart attributed the struggles of last Saturday’s first half to cumulative efficiency, with several different players missing assignments and not performing early.

“We always say that in attack it takes 11 people to function effectively, and if you have a step offline you can’t overcome it,” said Smart.

“I’m looking for excitement, we need to play better offensively.”

Smart pointed out that the loss of three junior offensive linemen to the NFL is taking its toll.

“When juniors leave your program it’s hard to replace them because the offensive line is a developmental position,” said Smart. “This is how quickly you transform these (young and new) guys.”

Georgia also need to deal with the football against an opportunistic defense from Auburn who had a plus-3 turnover margin in their 29-13 home win over Kentucky.

Stop New Auburn

Smart defenders in Georgia have kept Auburn 14 points or less in four of the last five meetings.

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That bodes well when you consider Gus Malzahn is 1-16 at Auburn when his teams score under 20 points.

Smart, however, points out that new Tigers coordinator Chad Morris has given Auburn a different look.

“I’ve seen a lot of nontraditional Auburns,” Smart said. “I feel like I watched Auburn more than any college football team because of the overlap,” coming from (Alabama) west to east.

“It was the most different Auburn I have seen, much more conventional in protection, routes, structure…. I think Chad will bring a lot, and he has a quarterback to do it.

Efficient QB management

Smart said he was involved in the offense, which put him in the middle of the quarterback’s derby decision.

RELATED: Why Stetson Bennett Is The Favorite To Start Home Opener

From all indications, junior Redshirt Stetson Bennett will start on the heels of his 20 of 29 pass performance that scored 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in just over 30 minutes of work.

JT Daniels sophomore redshirt has been licensed and should be available.

Smart also said he trusted red-shirted freshman D’Wan Mathis who started last week’s game.

Until Daniels is comfortable and confident on his rehabilitated knee, the QB’s situation will remain fluid and require careful and efficient management to keep the Bulldogs in the win column.

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