ATHENS — Kirby Smart has built his share of highly ranked defenses, this season’s Georgia group believed to be among the best of them.
The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring defense, total defense and pass efficiency defense, with their run defense ranked sixth in the country.
But Smart, in his sixth season as Georgia’s head coach, has made it clear he’s not resting easy with No. 8 Arkansas en route to Sanford Stadium for a noon showdown (ESPN).
The Bulldogs are an 18-point favorite, but they are playing an Arkansas team that has wins over two ranked teams in Texas (then-No. 15) and Texas A&M (then-No. 7).
Georgia has one win over ranked competition this season, beating then-No. 3 Clemson 10-3 in the first game of the season.
“I don’t know that we’re playing to our full potential, and we’re going to face better offenses than we’ve faced,” Smart said, asked about his team’s defensive success. “So we’re not buying into all that hype.
“We’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better people than we’ve played, so I think the verdict is still out.”
Smart’s self-assessment is fair when one looks more closely at the offensive rankings of the teams Georgia has faced through the first four games of the season:
• UAB ranks 79th in total offense.
• South Carolina ranks 116th in total offense
• Clemson ranks 121st in total offense
• Vanderbilt ranks 123rd in total offense
The Razorbacks, meanwhile, rank 20th in the nation in total offense .
Smart has challenged his team to respond.
“These guys will answer the bell, or they won’t,” Smart said, “because we’re going to play against a really good team and a really good offense on Saturday.”