ATHENS — Kirby Smart had his game face on following Wednesday’s practice, at times, downright edgy.
The fourth-year Georgia football coach is typically no-nonsense when it comes to media sessions, but there was an added edge with the season-opening game less than a week-and-a-half away.
“We weren’t very good Tuesday but we had a better practice today,” Smart said. “The leaders stepped up, challenged them to have a better practice. I thought they had a better practice today.”
Good thing, because positions remain up for grabs at most every spot on the team, it seems.
Smart elaborated on several position battles, some more unexpected than others, such as in the secondary where Eric Stokes has yet to lockdown a starting job.
“He (Stokes) is in competition right now, there are four guys out there at corner who are competing and he knows that he has top step up and play well every day because you’re only judged based on your last play,” Smart said. “He’s challenging for one of those starting positions.”
Sophomore Tyson Campbell has been running opposite Stokes with the Ones.
Freshman Tyrique Stevenson has been nicked up but he’s one of the other corners pushing for playing time, along with junior college transfer D.J. Daniel.
The “star” position — the fifth defensive back — is another heated competition between Mark Webb and Divaad Wilson.
“They’ve both done a good job, they’re both competitive, both of those kids probably deserve to play,” Smart said. “They’ve worked really hard, and they’re different. They’re similar, they’re similar in body types, they’re physical, but they’re different and they’ve both done a good job.
“We hope to be able to keep guys fresh and play the best guy. Sometimes you’ve got to go with the hot hand and sometimes you’ve got to go with the guy who had the best week of practice.”
Smart said Tyrique McGhee, who played the Star last season, is playing more corner because the Bulldogs want to go bigger and more physical at the position.
“I expect Tyrique to play a lot, but Tyrique is a very dominant special teams player who can play strong safety, free safety, star, money, and corner, very unique player,” Smart said. “A utility guy who can play a little bit of everything and we expect him to do that and he’s in competition to get playing time at, really, all positions.
“He really hasn’t played much star because we’ve got those other guys reps.”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart