SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Yes, Kirby Smart saw Dominick Sanders’ comments this week about not caring about Notre Dame’s tradition, and vowing that the Georgia defense should “punish them from the start.” And yes, Smart had to have a little talk with his senior safety about what not to say in the media.
Then Sanders and the Georgia defense went out and backed it up.
Georgia’s defense put forth a dominant performance, holding Notre Dame to just 55 rushing yards, and 265 total yards, in a 20-19 win at Notre Dame Stadium. As Georgia’s offense puttered along, the defense picked up the slack, forcing two turnovers, including the one that clinched the game.
“We have the No. 1 defense in the nation,” Georgia junior receiver Terry Godwin said. “Any offense that goes against this defense, they’re going to have problems.”
Four days earlier, Sanders had made some uncharacteristically eye-raising statements, answering when asked about Notre Dame’s tradition: “I don’t really know anything about them and I don’t care.” He also said: “This is just a regular game, and we’re going to come out and punish them from the start.”
It was surprising since Sanders, a first-team All-SEC pick in 2015, has been one of the team’s regular media representatives, which means Smart trusts him not to say those kinds of things.
“I think Dom will be the first to tell you that he really kind of misspoke, he didn’t handle that the right way,” Smart said after Saturday’s game. “It’s not what we do. We don’t talk about teams in the media. We don’t do that. We’re not going to give ammunition to them. I told Brian Kelly that. It’s not indicative of us or our program. And I talked to Dom about it. Dom understands. He knows how we do things.”
Then Smart added:
“He played his butt off today because I told him he had to if he was goning to say all that.”
Sanders had three tackles and was credited with one pass break-up.
Senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter was asked if the rest of the defense wanted to back up what Sanders had said.
“Oh yeah definitely. That’s the goal every week,” Carter said. “That’s no different no matter who we play. Our goal is to come out and dominate the opponent.”