Calculated side of Kirby Smart triggered late third down gamble
ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart said there was no decision to make in heat of the moment last Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.
Third-and-7, ball at the Bulldogs’ 35 with the clock stopped at the 2:53 mark with UGA holding a 24-17 lead.
Most everyone expected a run up the middle that would run time off the clock before a punt and reliance on the SEC’s No. 1-ranked defense to keep Florida out of the end zone.
But instead of “conservative” Kirby, Georgia fans got a dose of “calculated” Kirby, a play designed for tight ed Eli Wolf to get open past the first down marker had been set aside for the occasion and practiced the day before during a walk-through session.
“There wasn’t a lot of contemplating; there wasn’t time to contemplate,” Smart explained on Tuesday night. “You’ve got 40 seconds, you’ve really got less than that where you’ve got to get the play in, get the call in.
“The decision is made – I told y’all – every decision is made, every decision we make, we try to make before the game.”
Smart has explained how his team has an extremely detailed play chart, with calls set aside for most every situation.
UGA offensive coordinator Jame Coley and QB Jake Fromm had earned the head coach’s trust throughout the action, converting on 11 of 16 third downs to that point in the game.
Coley and Fromm were spot on again, and Wolf reeled in the 22-yard catch for the first down that effectively put the Gators on ice.
“You play the game well before the game, and you make those decisions well before the game,” Smart said. “We have a Friday walkthrough that we do, there’s about 30-40 items in it, that was one of them, and we did we did exactly what we did in the Friday walkthrough.
“We had rehearsed it, we had practiced it and they understood the plan. It was just a matter of executing it.”