ATHENS — Kirby Smart didn’t spend much time celebrating the Sugar Bowl in his Jan. 1 postgame press conference before sending an offseason message.
“The future’s only bright if those guys continue to work because there’s a disease that creeps in at Georgia where kids believe they are better than they are and they read their own press clippings,” Smart said, asked to extrapolate on the performances of young stars in the 26-14 win over Baylor.
“When you’re not hungry, you become average. And some of that, I think, has affected us in the past.”
So it is that UGA director of strength and conditioning Scott Sinclair and his staff were part of a shared video of what could be considered “Hunger Games” of sorts, featuring players competing in furious head-to-head drill work.
The intensity is clear, and the mission is obvious, the Bulldogs looking to find an edge they have not exhibited collectively in earnest since 2017.
Georgia has gone 23-5 over the past two seasons, including a 5-1 mark versus Top 25 teams last season.
But the Bulldogs have lacked the physical dominance they asserted in 2017, when Georgia played like the best team in the nation throughout most of the season.
Alabama, of course, backed into the College Football Playoff that season despite a double-digit loss to Auburn and not playing in the SEC Championship Game.
The Tide prevailed in the national title game when a veteran UGA secondary failed to follow assignments on a now-infamous second-and-26.
Smart put the loss behind him long ago, saying he wouldn’t allow himself or his program to “get beat twice” by the disappointing defeat.
The loss, however, represents just how close this Georgia football program is to winning a national championship as Smart enters his fifth season as head coach, his culture fully in place.
That could have something to do with what appears to be the most physical and intense offseason of the Smart Era.
Of course, Sinclair and his staff are still keeping it fun, as evidenced by jumbo nose tackle Jordan Davis closing out the video with his dance moves.
As interesting as the offseason has been with staff changes and the addition of high-profile graduate transfer quarterback Jamie Newman, it’s clear special things are happening in the weight room and the House of Payne, as well.
@GeorgiaFootball Compete Video
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) March 2, 2020