ATHENS — Kirby Smart was in a noticeably upbeat mood following Tuesday’s practice, always a good sign for Georgia football during a game week.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs play at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday against Vanderbilt in Nashville in a game they’re favored to win by three touchdowns.
Smart, opening his fourth season as head coach, qualified his remarks by saying “nobody in the country knows what they’ve got until hey go out there and play.” He also pointed out Georgia has some young players taking to the big stage for the first time.
There was much to be gleaned from Smart’s presentation, as usual, including a warning shot that the Bulldogs’ offense might light up the scoreboard.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday night’s press conference
Style points matter
Maybe it was losing a beauty contest to Oklahoma in the eyes of the College Football Playoff Committee (which included the Oklahoma AD as one of the judges).
Or maybe Smart realizes high school stars like to play at schools where they can win a Heisman Trophy.
Or maybe, and more likely, Smart realizes Jake Fromm needs as many reps as possible to get in sync with his new receiving corps.
But when Smart said he wants his offense “to be explosive, we want to score points,” the interpretation here was that Georgia may not take its foot off the gas as it often did last season.
“I think in college football nowadays you’ve gotta be able to score points,” Smart said. “You look at the best teams in the country they can do that. So we’ve got to be able to score points.”
James Coley on sideline
Smart said new offensive coordinator James Coley will begin the season calling plays on the sideline, likely the better to communicate face to face with Jake Fromm between series.
It’s interesting that Coley was in the press box next to Jim Chaney who was calling the plays last year, considering he was the quarterbacks’ coach.
Wouldn’t it have benefitted him to be on the field with Fromm last year, too?
Likely, so perhaps it’s also a matter of Smart wanting to be able to communicate face to face with his offensive coordinator during the football game,
“We’re open to looking at it different ways,” Smart said, “but right now that’s probably what we’re going to do.”
The prediction here is Coley ends up in the box by the end of the season.
Georgia’s blossoming inside linebacker either has a problem making his appointments, or he was receiving late or extra treatment in the training room on Tuesday night.
Either way, Rice has missed two of his past three scheduled press conferences. Considering Georgia only scheduled two players on Tuesday and Smart is all about discipline and making meetings on time, it’s curious.
The good news is Rice is scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday, so his absence was not injury related.
There is, however, no doubt how much Rice means to his coaches and teammates.
Senior safety J.R. Reed is a team captain and the spirit of the defense. But Rice, at inside linebacker, is at the heart.
“He’s smart, he’s bright, he plays with toughness,” Smart said Tuesday. “His future is bright as far as being a leader for our defense and we need him to play well.”