ATHENS — Kirby Smart knows it is a problem. He’s also not doing anything different to really fix the issue either.

There’s only so much that can be done about Georgia’s red zone defense.

“Yeah, we’re doing the same thing we’ve done every year. So the result’s been different, but the process has been the same,” Smart said. “We’ve tried to make a bigger emphasis on it. When you say try to do anything different, just trying to do more of doing it right. Like, eye control, doing your job, stopping the run, those things.”

In 2022, Georgia ranked second in the country in red zone touchdowns allowed at 38 percent. Opponents scored on only 67 percent of their trips into the Georgia red zone last season, which ranked second in the country as well. Georgia’s 2021 defense ranked first in both of those categories.

This season, Georgia’s defense is giving up a touchdown on 76 percent of its trip in the red zone. That ranks 125th in the country. Its 88 percent score rate in the red zone ranks marginally better at only 100th in the country.

This issue would be much bigger if teams were finding themselves in Georgia’s red zone more often. Georgia has seen only 17 drives reach the red zone this season, which is tied for sixth in the country.

Despite the defensive red zone issues, Georgia is still giving up just 14.8 points per game. That ranks seventh in the country and first in the SEC.

Georgia isn’t ignoring the issue. Even with the personnel losses to the NFL in recent seasons, the Bulldogs still have plenty of defensive talent that can throttle opposing offenses.

Players have made it very clear in recent weeks this is something Georgia is committed to rectifying.

“Man those conversations are long and tiring,” Georgia defensive end Mykel Williams said. “That’s something we work at hard. We take pride in our red zone defense here. This year hasn’t been played to the standard. We’ve given up too many touchdowns in the red zone. We constantly work to fix that.”

In the win over Florida, the Gators didn’t reach the red zone until their 10th drive of the game. By that point, it was a 36-7 game. The Bulldogs though gave up a touchdown on that drive. Florida followed it up by scoring on its next trip to the red zone.

Georgia will get a chance to show how improved it is in this area. Missouri ranks first in the country red zone scoring rate at 97 percent. The Tigers do only rank 30th in touchdown rate as they score touchdowns on 67 percent of their red zone drives.

“I would say the biggest thing is just us,” Georgia safety Malaki Starks said prior to the game against Florida. “There’s nothing that opponents are doing, there’s nothing that we haven’t seen before, nothing we can’t stop. It’s more of just an us thing and that goes back to communication, all being on the same page, just the little things.”

Georgia’s defense has largely been great this season. It ranks first in the country in third-down conversion rate allowed at just 25 percent. The Bulldogs rank first in the SEC in rushing defense and second in pass defense.

And there’s a belief that going forward, its red zone defense will resemble Georgia’s other units.

Mykel Williams talks Georgia football red zone defense