ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is not easily impressed, so praise was somewhat scarce relative to the 45-0 final score.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (1-0) have their sights set on repeating as SEC champions, and Smart recognizes there won’t be much margin for error if that’s to happen.
Certainly not as much as Austin Peay afforded, with the Governors limited to just 63 scholarship by virtue of their FCS status.
Georgia out-gained Austin Peay 508-152 in yards and raced out to a 38-0 lead at halftime in front of the announced crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium.
But Smart was about as honest about the situation as any coach could be.
“We’ll play better teams, let’s all be honest. We’ll play teams who have more talent, so we’ve got to be able to execute at a higher clip,” Smart said. “Some of those plays that were 2 or 3 yards might be lost-yardage plays against somebody else. We can’t have those negative plays offensively.
“Then, defensively, we were soft on a couple of runs where they got 4 or 5 yards. We can’t do that on second-and-medium and second-and-short in our conference. I think the biggest thing we got today is experience. Because we had a lot of players play today that didn’t have experience that gained experience.
“We’ve got to grow up, and we’ve got to grow up fast. The road in front of us is not easy. “
Georgia plays at South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday in an early season SEC East Division showdown that has some picking the Gamecocks to pull an upset.
The Bulldogs’ game against Austin Peay, however, was never in doubt.
Georgia was so overwhelming that both coaches agreed on a 10-minute fourth quarter, and the stands were only half-full by the time the clock expired on a 90-degree Saturday afternoon.
“Our players played hard in spurts,” said Smart, whose Bulldogs scored on their first six possessions and didn’t punt until the third quarter.
“I thought there were a lot of young guys who had a lot of jitters that needed to get those out,” Smart said. “Certainly, we need to improve and we’ve got a lot of areas we need to improve in.”
Smart was pleased by his team’s shutout, which included a 37-yard Austin Peay missed field goal and the Governors turning the ball over on downs at the Georgia 28.
“I’m not one to shed light on a lot of positives; I didn’t think we played to the caliber that we probably should have, but I thought, defensively, when you have a shutout, in this day and age, it’s hard to do,” Smart said. “Especially against offenses that are in formations and rocketing and orbiting, it makes it tough to defend.
“Our kids played hard and that’s what we ask them to do.”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart