3 things from Kirby Smart: offensive identity, defense snubbed, injury update

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is on the verge of starting his fifth season as the Bulldogs' head coach.

ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said he’s “not falling into that trap” of overlooking a seemingly overmatched opponent this Saturday at Arkansas.

The Bulldogs opened as a 24.5-point favorite over the Razorbacks in the 4 p.m. game on Saturday in Fayetteville. The last time Georgia opened as a 24.5-point favorite over an opponent was last season, at home against South Carolina.

Third-year quarterback Jake Fromm was picked off three times and Lou Groza Award-winning kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed two field goals in a home loss between the hedged of Sanford Stadium.

This version of Georgia is likely to have a quarterback and kicker starting their first career games, on the road, with new schemes and position coaches.

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The Bulldogs had the No. 1-ranked scoring defense in the nation last season, but Smart brushed aside any talk of his unit being over-hyped.

That was the first of three takeaways from Georgia’s Tuesday night Zoom session.

Defensive chip

It’s pretty clear Smart and the Bulldogs felt overlooked on the coaches’ preseason All-SEC team, when only two Georgia players were name preseason first-team All-SEC.

Senior safety Richard LeCounte and junior nosetackle Jordan Davis were the only preseason selections.

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“It depends on who you ask, I didn’t think we had a lot of preseason hype with our defense in terms of All-SEC guys,” Smart said. “I would think that all the better defenses are somewhere else, because I don’t know that we put but two guys maybe? I don’t know. Richard and Jordan were the only two I noticed on the accolades.

“For us to have all the great players, they’re certainly not getting recognized that way.”

Identity equation

For all the talk of what the Georgia football offense will look like — and the preconceived notions of what Smart wants it to look like — it’s really quite simple.

“It’s built around what we think we can do and be most successful with the players we have,” Smart said. “Certainly, [we] study a lot of teams that were successful last year, as we do every year. [We] look [at] what we have similar to other teams that might have something similar to us—meaning if there is an elite receiver or an elite tight end or maybe [defensive] backs or a really good, featured quarterback.

“Whatever it is that we think we can simulate with the players we have that teams have been successful with.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Smart’s intent to control the line of scrimmage with a run game.

“We have to be able to run the ball to set up other things,” he said.

Injury update

Smart said he would not reveal if or how many Georgia football players might be sidelined by COVID-19 results. The Bulldogs get tested three times a week, including on Friday before leaving for road venues.

Smart did reveal that graduate transfer tight end Tre’ McKitty is not expected to play at Arkansas on Saturday.

McKitty, from Florida State, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Smart indicated on Tuesday quarterback JT Daniels was not yet cleared to play, a sign that redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis would likely take the first snap.

Daniels underwent ACL surgery last September and had an arthroscopic procedure performed on his knee to clean up scar tissue last January.

Georgia sophomore receiver Dominick Blaylock (knee) and freshman defensive back Kelee Ringo (labrum) are out for the season.

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