Georgia football-kirby smart-Kelee Ringo-tennessee
November 5, 2022 Athens - Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart celebrates with Georgia's cornerback Kelee Ringo(5) after Georgia beat Tennessee in an NCAA football game at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, November 5, 2022. Georgia won 27-13 over Tennessee. (Hyosub Shin /

WATCH: Kirby Smart, Kelee Ringo share heartfelt moment after beating Tennessee: ‘Thanks for believing in me’

If you want to know why Georgia players respond so well to the hard coaching by Kirby Smart, all you have to do is look at Kelee Ringo and the moment he shared with Smart after the 27-13 win over Tennessee.

Ringo had been publicly questioned in the run-up to the game by an anonymous coach in an ESPN piece. There was also audio that trickled out of practice with Ringo Yet there was Ringo, locking up Tennessee’s wide receivers and making one of the plays of the afternoon as he intercepted a pass by Hendon Hooker.

After the game, Smart and Ringo found each other. The Georgia coach jumped into Ringo’s arms, with Ringo thanking the Georgia coach for believing in him.

Smart did though let drop another example of Ringo growing in confidence. He told reporters after the win over Tennessee that Ringo asked to personally cover Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, who torched Alabama for five touchdowns.

Related: Georgia football winners and losers following statement win over Tennessee

The Georgia coach told Ringo that wasn’t the plan and Ringo, to his credit, trusted in the vision laid out by Smart and the Georgia defensive coaches.

Georgia’s defensive backs were the first team all season to keep Hooker from throwing a touchdown pass, an impressive feat as Tennessee entered the game with the nation’s top scoring offense.

Ringo spoke earlier this week about tough coaching and how it has made him a better player. That was on display Saturday and likely will be going forward as the Bulldogs take on a potent Mississippi State passing offense this Saturday.

“The main thing is listen to the message not the tone,” Ringo said. “A coach like that has a lot of emotion throughout the game. After my freshman year, I didn’t. If you can go through those things with that level of fatigue, being able to adjust in those situations, I feel like it’s a lot easier to work when you have 90,000 people screaming at you on Saturdays.”

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