Kirby Smart shares his thoughts on Georgia football game times, how Bulldogs will replace Dan Jackson

Georgia football-game times-recruiting
5-star EDGE Sam M'Pemba plays for IMG Academy in Florida. He is a MAJOR target for Georgia in the 2023 class. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)

Georgia is one of just two Power 5 teams in the country to not have a home night game to this point in the season. The other is Virginia. The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs only have one home game left, coming against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Nov. 26.

While the fan perception might be that the lack of night games has a negative impact on the atmosphere in Sanford Stadium and possible recruiting benefits, Georgia coach Kirby Smart doesn’t see it that way.

From a recruiting perspective, what Smart cares most about, he actually prefers the 3:30 p.m. ET.

“If you had to set a perfect time for recruiting, it would probably be 3:30. It gives you time to visit with them afterwards,” Smart said. “You actually get to see them. The night game, number one it is not great for your team. You are sitting around all day. You get more time with the recruits on the front end but less time on the back end. The 3:30 gives you time on the front end and the back end, but I am not complaining or looking for anything.”

As it stands, Georgia has the No. 2 ranked recruiting class for the 2023 cycle. The upcoming game against Tennessee will be another massive showcase for the Georgia program. The Bulldogs will likely have a massive haul of prospects on campus, as was the case with Georgia’s game against Auburn.

As for those prospects and setting up visits, Smart hasn’t thought that far ahead. He’s much more focused on the task at hand. Georgia plays Florida this week in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We deal with it the week of. Guys reach out and want seats and want to come, but it is not something that I am worried about,” Smart said. “It is not like I am checking the list. I am worried about playing Florida. That is the feature at hand. I am not concerned with that. We have staff members who deal with that and we talk about it the week of.”

Replacing Dan Jackson

Smart confirmed on Tuesday that safety Dan Jackson would miss the rest of the season, as the junior safety needs surgery to repair a foot injury that first became an issue in the game against Vanderbilt.

Related: Kirby Smart on Jalen Carter, AD Mitchell injury status entering Florida: ‘I don’t feel great about either of them’

Jackson was a key piece of the Georgia secondary. Jackson started the season-opener against Oregon but was replaced by freshman Malaki Starks. Jackson would play the free safety spot in Georgia’s dime packages, as well as a number of spots on various special teams for the Bulldogs.

Georgia will still start Starks and Chris Smith at safety. But it will take a village to replace Jackson and what he brought to the team.

“The rivalry means everything. To coach Smart, to the team, to the people last year. Even two years ago, we still go off on that, how we lost in 2020,” Dumas-Johnson said. “We still got a chip on our shoulder going into that game. We’re still trying to play for those seniors that lost in 2020.”

Georgia did avenge that 2020 defeat last season, beating Florida 34-7. The Georgia defense that day nearly had a shutout until a late Emory Jones touchdown run finally got the Gators on the board.

Dumas-Johnson still is slightly miffed the Bulldogs couldn’t keep Florida scoreless

“We won,” Dumas-Johnson said. “We almost held them scoreless, and when we gave up the late touchdown the defense was pretty mad about those seven points we left on the field.”

Florida boasts a potent rushing attack led by Anthony Richardson. The Florida quarterback has made it a habit of ripping off long runs this season. Dumas-Johnson and the Georgia defense will need to be on their toes on Saturday.

“It’s the scrambles. It’s the draws, the converted runs, where he takes off that he’s really elite at,” Smart said. “I mean, they’ve got some 60 and 70 yard runs that you might say is a designed run, but it’s not. It makes it really hard to defend, because most coaches try to defend the pass by covering people and the worst thing you can do sometimes is cover everybody and this guy take off because it puts your defense all spread out around the field.”

Jamon Dumas-Johnson still bothered by loss to Florida

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