Kirby Smart 'too busy' to concern himself with big expectations this season for UGA program
HOOVER, Ala. — UGA football coach Kirby Smart
name dropped a couple of well-known Americans Tuesday during his more than 27 minutes on the big stage at SEC Media Days: Henry David Thoreau and Quavo.
The latter is a popular Atlanta rapper and big Bulldog fan. He texted Smart advice to share with players about being selective when making deals now allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness: Don’t be thirsty.
Smart went to the writings of Thoreau, the 19th century philosopher, for the heightened expectations for a program that is among the favorites to win a national title this season, something it hasn’t done now for 41 years: “Success comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”
That, Smart says, is him.
“I'm too busy trying to do the next thing,” he said. “I'm too busy trying to take the next step to give our team a competitive advantage to really worry about expectations.”
Georgia returns eight starters on offense and five on defense from a team that went 8-2 and won the Peach Bowl.
The Bulldogs took big hits in the secondary but addressed that by adding experienced transfers in nickel back Tykee Smith from West Virginia and cornerback Derion Kendrick from Clemson.
“Those two guys bring an immense amount of experience,” Smart said.
So does nose guard Jordan Davis, who also made the media rounds at the Wynfrey Hotel Tuesday and for the record said: “I don't think Kirby could name a song that Quavo has been on.”
Georgia’s quarterback situation with JT Daniels, who went 4-0 as the starter last season and put zing into a lackluster passing game, is a big reason for the Bulldogs could make a run rat their first playoff appearance since 2017.
“It’s cool when they say you’re good, it’s cool when they say you suck,” Daniels said, ”it really doesn’t matter either way. You go out and play football.”
Whether Daniels can give Georgia a Joe Burrow or Mac Jones type season en route to a national championship game remains to be seen.
The Bulldogs are as deep as perhaps any team at running back.
George Pickens, the star wideout, is now running in a straight line after spring surgery to repair a torn ACL.
“George has made great progress,” Smart said. “When you see George out there running it gets you excited but you also realize that running straight line is a lot different than playing football. He’s still a ways away.”
Arik Gilbert is a pretty good pick-up to give Daniels another weapon in Pickens’ absence after transferring from LSU.
“The only problem is there’s only one ball,” Daniels said. “We’ve just got so many guys. And it’s not that Arik’s just another guy. Arik’s very special, but a lot of our guys are very special. It’s a great problem to have.”
The tight end is being groomed to play wide receiver.
“With Arik, anytime you can get a skill player that can do things with the ball, you're always looking to be dynamic,” Smart said. “You look at teams that have won the national championship recently, they're most dynamic on offense and at the skill positions.”
Daniels invited nine of his pass catching targets to his home state for a getaway in Southern California in May. They got in some football work but there was time to kick back, too, during the 10 days they were out there.
“We had a good time and hung out,” he said.
Getting the right five guys to start will be on the to do list this preseason.
"It's thick,” Smart said. “It's going to be a battle and we've got to figure out the right guys.”
Daniels sees his role as being “the primary distributor,” for an offense that includes playmakers like running back James Cook, wideout Jermaine Burton and tight end Darnell Washington.
.“We've got to stay healthy, we've got to protect the quarterback,” Smart said, “and we've got to find more skill players to make plays for us.
Georgia is looking ahead to 2021 moreso than behind where it’s won a lot of games, but hasn’t lifted up that ultimate trophy for decades.
As another Thoreua quote put it: “Live the life you’ve dreamed.”
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