ATHENS — Kirby Smart knows all about great defenses, having built some dynamic units at Georgia and historically great ones in college football history.
The 2011 Alabama defense, which Smart directed as coordinator under Nick Saban, was ranked the “Greatest” in college football history by Athlon.
The current Georgia defense is making a case to enter the conversation, too, as it enters a 3:30 p.m. game on Saturday against Kentucky (TV: CBS).
“I love the way they compete, game in and game out,” Smart said on the ESPN College GameDay Show on Saturday.
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“We’ve got some really good players up front that have led us and they practice that way and that’s why we have success.”
The 2011 Alabama defense, part of an 11-1 BCS National Championship Season, led the country in every major statistical category.
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That Kirby Smart-led defense allowed 183.7 yards per game, 8.2 points per game and pitched 3 shutouts.
This season’s Georgia defense is yielding 202.7 yards per game, 5.5 points per game and has 2 shutouts.
Smart compared the two before the Kentucky game on Saturday.
“A lot of similarities, we’re maybe not as big as we may have been in the past,” Smart said. “But we’re much quicker, we’re athletic, we’re built to handle some of these offenses today, the ones you see.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the execution of the plan.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, who has led the Wildcats to their first 6-0 start since 1950 when Paul “Bear” Bryant was head coach, said his team will stay true to its identity against the Bulldogs.
“We have to be Kentucky, we can’t be anything else,” Stoops said. “We have to be us. We have to be a great version of us.
“We have to be physical, we have to run the ball and we have to take our play-action shots,” he said. “We don’t need to be superman today, we just need to be the best version of ourselves.”
Smart said the Wildcats’ offense features many of the same elements of the Los Angeles Rams and can put defenses in challenging situations.
“A lot of condensed sets, (with) a lot of motions and shifts,” Smart said. “They force you into some tough decisions. Whether you’re going to play zone or man, they do a really good job.
“A lot of the LA Rams offense shows up in this offense, but they have not lost their toughness.”
Kentucky’s offense is led by coordinator Liam Coen, the former assistant quarterbacks coach of the Los Angeles Rams.