ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart came off the practice field Tuesday afternoon saying he’s concerned with some of the Bulldogs’ best players.
“As I look out there, there are a couple of guys that you’d say, ‘OK, this is a guy who played really well last year, and he’s not playing to the level that I think he can play to,’ ” Smart said. “That’s probably one of the scariest things that could happen to our team.”
Georgia football is the No 4-ranked team in the country according to the coaches’ poll. But the head coach is by no means comfortable with the notion that his team is practicing like it needs to with the season fast approaching.
“The biggest concern I’ve got is that the best players play the best, and that probably hasn’t happened so far in camp,” Smart said. “We’ve got some guys that I consider to be really good players that aren’t playing up to their potential. But we’ve also got a lot of players that were twos and threes last year that I think are playing pretty well.”
Smart, in a not-so-subtle way, seems to be warning the veterans that he means it when he says no starting positions are safe.
That’s to be expected when one considers Georgia signed the No. 1-ranked class, even if some veteran players have apparently ignored their head coach’s warnings.
“There’s only a few spots where you’d say ‘That guy is pretty solid starter,’ “ Smart said. “Well, some of those guys aren’t practicing the right way, and we’ve done as much as we can to encourage them to practice better because the competition that’s out there is way more increased, it’s more intense, there’s more good players across the board.
“A lot of them don’t know what they are doing, and they have to figure that out, but they flash … you see a guy flash, he has it in him if he knows what to do, we just have to coach him up to the point where we make it simple enough where the best players can play.”
Smart said at the start of fall drills that he would be putting more pressure on his assistant coaches to raise their intensity and get the most out of the players.
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Smart seemed to follow up on that notion with an interesting quote in Tuesday afternoon’s media session.
“It’s not superman’s fault if he can fly and he doesn’t take advantage of it,” Smart said.
One thing that’s clear, Smart is running out of patience with certain players, and he’s putting them on notice.
“The good news is, in a lot of those positions, there’s a guy just as talented behind him that’s scratching and clawing or maybe just got here and is fighting for playing time,” Smart said.
“That excites me because they are really eager to learn and they are fighting to learn, where sometimes you get a casual nature about you if you think you know everything or think you kind of understand everything, so we’ve had to have some talks about that with some guys.”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart