ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart recently revealed that he didn’t feel like his Bulldogs were really tested until the postseason.
Alabama beat Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game, taking advantage of two turnovers including a Pick-6.
“It was the first time we had really been tested,” Smart said. “We had some guys who felt they were out of shape and weren’t ready to play, and we really focused on that.”
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The Georgia defense dominated the regular season to record-breaking proportions, setting a modern-era record with only 6.9 points per game allowed during the 12-game regular season.
It took a fully-loaded Alabama offense, featuring Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and 1,000-yard receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie, to push the Bulldogs around.
Smart noted his team responded well to the SEC title game loss to Alabama after some frank discussions.
“We talked about the cold hard truths, and the truths were we didn’t play well in the red area, we turned the ball over, we were really bad on third down,” Smart said during his appearance this week on Birmingham’s WJOX radio
“Those were all things we felt we could control, so we focused on those things, and we knew we had to get better. We had to step it up.”
Georgia did just that, pounding Michigan by a 34-11 count in the CFP Orange Bowl Semifinal before beating the Tide in the CFP Championship Game 33-18.
The players certainly deserve the credit Smart doles out, but the head coach should get recognition for keeping the Bulldogs’ together, too.
In addition to having to face the same opponent twice, Smart also had to manage a defense that knew it would be losing coordinator Dan Lanning to the Oregon Ducks after the season.
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Georgia, coincidentally, opens next season against Lanning and the Ducks on Sept. 3 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.