Kirby Smart after Georgia football spring game: ‘We’ve got to get better in the secondary’

Georgia football-secondary-spring game
During Georgia’s G-Day spring scrimmage on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, April 16, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

ATHENS — That Georgia has to replace so many of its defensive stars from the 2021 Georgia football team should not come as a surprise.

But seeing how thin the Bulldogs were in the secondary on Saturday was a bit jarring. And even more indicative of where Georgia has to go if it is going to get back to the College Football Playoff.

“We’ve got to get better in the secondary to go where we’re going to go, and we’ve got some guys coming, but we’ve got to get the guys that are here to go to here, and that’s our job as coaches,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.

We knew Georgia would need to replace Lewis Cine and Derion Kendrick entering the day. We didn’t know promising sophomore Kamari Lassiter would miss the game with a stomach bug. Georgia also saw Javon Bullard exit with a shoulder injury of some sort. Add in that starting safety Dan Jackson was in a white non-contact jersey and demonstrates how little depth is in the Georgia defensive backfield.

And it could’ve been worse had David Daniel-Sisvanah gotten ejected for a targeting penalty he was called for in the first half. Fortunately, there are no ejections in spring games.

Georgia does have three seasoned members in the secondary in Kelee Ringo, Chris Smith and William Poole. Ringo started at cornerback and had a nice pass breakup on a ball intended for Ladd McConkey. Poole started three games at the star position for Georgia last season, but because of the Lassiter absence played at the outside cornerback position. Smith was once again back at safety.

“I feel like I have great potential to be one of the best players at my position,” Ringo said. “Every single day I’m just looking for something to get better at. Just continuing to out in work.”

While Georgia’s defensive backs did give up a few big pass plays, they also made some as well. Bullard and Nyland Green both came down with interceptions on the afternoon. Daniel-Sisavanh had a key pass breakup that led to a Trezmen Marshall interception late in the game as well.

Georgia brought in Kendrick and Tykee Smith last offseason to bolster the position. The latter missed spring practice as he is recovering from an ACL injury but he is expected to return for the fall.

“We have to get better. We’ve got to physically get better, so we’ve got to lift in May, we’ve got to work out in May,” Smart said. “We’ve got to get some guys academically in a good place. The guys that want to be here, we’re going to coach them. The guys that don’t, then we’re not going to chase after them.

Kelee Ringo, Chris Smith discuss young Georgia football secondary

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