ATHENS — Kirby Smart knows that road games can hit different, especially at a place like Auburn, which has earned a reputation as one of the most difficult road venues in the SEC.
Smart, who is 8-3 all-time in Jordan-Hare Stadium as a player and head coach at Georgia, and assistant coach at LSU and Alabama, wants the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs to have the right mindset.
Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) was challenged by South Carolina at home this season, falling behind 14-3 at halftime at Sanford Stadium.
The Tigers’ (3-1, 0-1) fans would create an environment much less forgiving should the Bulldogs fall behind again, and Smart knows that.
“I want them to have great composure and understand good things are going to happen, and bad things are going to happen, we have to play the moment,” Smart said, asked on his coaches show about the team’s mindset entering its first road game of the 2023 season.
“We’re gonna hunt — we’re not going sit back,” Smart said. “It’s our job to go on the aggressive and go on the attack, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Here are four things to know about Georgia’s rivalry game with Auburn at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday (TV: CBS).
Red Zone focus
Auburn leads the SEC and is sixth in the nation in Red Zone defense, while Georgia ranks 11th in the league and 92nd in the country in Red Zone defense and is 9th in the SEC and 58th in the country in Red Zone offense.
Those numbers do not sit well with Smart and the issues have been addressed in practice.
“We haven’t played the real red area defense that we’re capable of,” Smart said. “We work hard on that area, and we improved that are on offense,”
Georgia was 6-of-6 scoring on Red Zone opportunities in the 49-21 win over UAB last Saturday.
Smart said there are “obvious” areas on the Georgia defense that need work, despite the unit ranking third in the SEC and 17th in the nation.
“We need to tackle better, we need to communicate better,” Smart said. “There are areas we need to improve on in cardio, and having guys being able to play more snaps and have guys play longer.
“Those are all things we can work on, and we have.”
The Georgia win streaks are reaching elite status, as the Bulldogs have won 21 straight and can tie the 22-game win streak of Urban Meyer’s so-called “Swamp Kings” of 2008-09.
The Bulldogs also have a school-record streak of 31-straight regular-season wins dating back to a loss to Florida in Jacksonville in 2020, and their 22-game home win streak are two shy of tying the mark set by a Herschel Walker led UGA between 1980-83.
Auburn leads the SEC with eight turnovers forced through four games and is one of only 11 FBS teams in the nation that have returned both an interception and a fumble for a touchdown.
Smart has emphasized ball security for his Bulldogs, who have lost two fumbles and two interceptions this season.