Is this “the year” for Georgia? Either way, Kirby Smart turns 24 to catch up with Nick Saban – .

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Is this “the year” for Georgia? Either way, Kirby Smart turns 24 to catch up with Nick Saban – .


HOOVER, Ala. – The question is poorly put. Instead of asking if it’s year for Georgia, consider the man of last resort to answer this question. Specifically, Kirby Smart has 24 – years, that is – on the legend he pursues.

During his rotation through SEC Media Days 2021 on Tuesday, the Georgia coach barely mentioned Alabama. He certainly didn’t mention Nick Saban, who at 69 has yet to lose to a former assistant (11-0).

Instead, Smart immediately disarmed a room filled with sports writers by quoting Thoreau.

“Success comes to those who are too busy to seek it,” said Smart. “It’s Henry David Thoreau. For me, that’s it. I am too busy working. I’m too busy trying to do this next thing. I’m too busy trying to take the next step to give our team a competitive edge to really worry about expectations. “

Just a guess, but maybe a philosopher who died 159 years ago was never aware of the Alabama-Georgia rivalry.

A quick update: this may be Smart’s best Georgia team. Bulldogs are loaded at virtually any position. But for them to beat the Crimson Tide and win the SEC for the second time under Smart, Bama will have to get back into the field a bit.

Whether Georgia wins or not, it certainly has happened. There is a feeling among those who pick the Dawgs to win the SEC East – and the SEC as a whole – that the tide simply cannot replace six first-round draft picks, a Heisman Trophy winner (DeVonta Smith) , Winner Doak Walker (Najee Harris), a Johnny Unitas Award winner (Mac Jones) and Joe Moore Trophy (best offensive line) winners.

Or can they?

That’s part of the reason we’ve gathered here this week to answer the biggest question of media day: is it year for Georgia?

Short answer: it is not mandatory. At 45, Smart has many AS (After Saban) seasons to chase after the championships.

Long answer: Patience might as well be a dirty word in the SEC. Five years after the start of the Smart Era, the Dawgs have won 52 games, one SEC title, three New Year’s Bowls and won the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. We all know how it ended.

The Dawgs even have their own wrestling hashtag: #unfinishedbusiness.

If you really want to put yourself in the shoes of a Georgia fan, remind them that six SEC teams have won 15 national championships since their team last won it all (1980).

But for the first time since coaching against his former boss, Smart could finally have a better team than Alabama. Don’t ask for clarity in July. The ultimate answer could come until the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship game in about 4 and a half months. This is how the two teams are built in a similar way.

Seasons as head coach 3 5
Division titles 0 3
Conference titles 0 1
National title appearances 0 1
Playoff record 0-3 4-2

Saban and Alabama were in doubt before following staff losses after a national title. Then something always seems to happen. This year, Saban dove into the transfer portal landing Ohio State wide receiver Jameson Williams and linebacker Henry To’o To’o, a tackle from Tennessee.

Smart likes to say that when it comes to a schedule, there is no schedule. The ultimate price will come. Finally. So far, here’s what we know:

For the first time under Smart, the offensive paves the way for the Dawgs. Quarterback JT Daniels is hoping to play his first full season since entering freshman at USC in 2018. That’s a big deal because, as Smart likes to say, Georgia finished seventh playing three quarters. last year in Daniels’ absence. .

The difference could be that Georgia are now explosive on offense. And the explosive is all the rage. Why walk when you can strike quickly and often? The Dawgs led the nation with 4.5% of their plays being either runs over 10 yards or passes over 30 yards, two better marks than Alabama’s quick offense.

Smart hit the transfer gate like a gangster, landing LSU wide receiver Arik Gilbert, West Virginia safety Tykee Smith and Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick. Even with the loss of WR frontman George Pickens, Gilbert is a huge boost for the Dawgs. The former Tigers tight end convinced Smart he could play the role of receiver. Good luck defending that at 6-5, 250 pounds… with 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end Darnell Washington.

The defense is absolutely loaded. Senior nose tackle Jordan Davis returned to a unit that led the SEC in average yards per game. “I just wanted to savor the moment because I feel like I didn’t really savor my last season,” said Davis.

Georgia chose this moment because it starts in Charlotte against Clemson. The risk is minimal – long term. Georgia has adopted the planning of such adversaries as a philosophy. When college football qualifiers thrive, there is little downside to playing with the top 10 teams. Going forward, 10-2 and 9-3 will get you into the playoffs.

Future non-conference opponents include Oregon (2022), Oklahoma (2023), Clemson (2024) and UCLA (2025-2026).

” I am watching him [expanded playoff] go in that direction, ”said Smart. “I want the strength of the schedule to work in my favor. ”

With that kind of vision, the answer to the ultimate question this week might be sight. You may have to squint to see it. As long as Saban is around, Smart has already beaten him. By years.

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