ATHENS — Kirby Smart alters his approach each spring, but 2021 is considerably different than any of the previous seasons under the Georgia football coach for one reason: The offense is better than the defense.
It’s a challenge Smart seems to relish, as he’s known best for his defensive wizard, and he self-admittedly spends more time with the defense than the offense.
Bulldogs’ fans are sensing a change to the offensive philosophy — talked about and anticipated other seasons, but truly coming to fruition — might actually occur this fall.
It’s not because Smart has turned over a new leaf for changed his philosophy on winning football games.
It’s because Georgia’s talent dictates that the offense play a different style, and Smart went out and hired a coach who could make the most of the personnel in second-year OC Todd Monken.
Here are three things Kirby Smart has said this spring that have been most telling:
1. Georgia offense will be a chameleon
Smart’s comments on what the offense will look like without George Pickens (ACL) were telling:
“I think Brock Bowers, I think Darnell [Washington] fits, and James [Cook], Zamir [White], Daijun [Edwards] and Kendall [Milton]— you’ve got a lot of guys who we’ll try to find ways to get the ball to them. I don’t look at it as receiver pressure. I look at it as an opportunity for other guys to step up and do some special things.”
Transfers are not how to build a football program, but when a program is on the verge of losing five defensive backs to the NFL draft — two of them underclassmen — needs must be addressed. Smart and his staff are looking inward first.
“ It’s a need-based deal. We have needs- defensive back is a spot that we’re thin at. We think that we have very capable, good young players in the position, but we don’t have a lot of experience. If you get an opportunity to gain experience …. we would not decline the ability to look at the option there.”
3. The greatest offensive concern is the line
The Bulldogs ability to build the next great championship offense — following in the footsteps of explosive CFP title teams at Clemson, LSU and Alabama — requires excellence at quarterback, receiver, in the backfield and especially on the offensive line. Without great offensive line play, quarterbacks don’t have time to throw, receivers don’t have time to get open and backs don’t have lanes to run through.
“Across the board we’re not the same offensive line that we’ve been in terms of experience, so we have to be able to improve in that area and we have to be able to protect the quarterback …. Not a total rebuild, but we have a lot of rebuild in the offensive line. Some of the best things we do offensively come off play-action and Pass Pro, so we’ve got to be able to do that.”