ATHENS — Kirby Smart was in a playful mood Saturday night after his football team looked more like the national championship contender it was expected to be with a 27-6 win over Auburn.
“They were terrible last week, so something must have happened,” Smart said, asked about the offensive line’s improved play.
“The Wizard of Oz came and saw them and gave them all courage and ability, and they played better.”
Smart, of course, was being facetious, though it would be hard to deny that there’s no place like home for Georgia when it comes to dominating the rival Tigers.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) have now won seven straight over Auburn in Sanford stadium, and the Tigers haven’t managed more than 10 points between the hedges in their past five meetings there.
Smart, now a gaudy 9-4 against Top 10 teams, felt his defense could have played even better.
“I didn’t think we finished well, I thought we had four or five missed sacks and just couldn’t get him on the ground, credit his athleticism,” Smart said. “We don’t usually give up a lot of third downs, and 7 of 16, we don’t meet our goal.
“The first drive of the second half was not up to our standard.”
The Georgia defense allowed Auburn just 216 yards and 39 yards on 22 rushing attempts.
The level of focus and intensity with which Georgia took the field on Saturday night was up to par, however.
The Bulldogs scored on their first four drives in charging to a 24-0 lead while smothering Auburn QB Bo Nix.
“We didn’t do anything different than we did for Arkansas. …. we went through our normal routine,” Smart said, asked to contrast the Auburn win to the sloppy first half at Arkansas the week before.
“They had one more game under their belt, that probably helped, (and) we executed at a higher level, which we didn’t do against Arkansas,” Smart said.
“There’s not like a magic speech or (special) motivation — the men in that room rust the men in that room and they trust the coaches and the listen to us.”
Smart told his team last week it’s never as bad as it seems, and he’s making sure to let them know after dominating Auburn it’s not as good as it seems, either.
“I attribute it to the fact that we didn’t have a ton of penalties, although we had too many, and we didn’t turn the ball over,” Smart said. “It’s not rocket science.”
Perhaps not, but there were some who wondered how the Georgia offensive would operate with former walk-on Stetson Bennett under center.
Bennett answered that question and his critics with a 17-of-28 passing performance that went for 240 yards and a touchdown. Bennett was an uncanny 7-of-10 passing on third downs for 109 yards.
“It wasn’t an evolution of the offense, it was an execution of the offense,” Smart said. “It really boils down to our ability to execute and not shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday at home against Tennessee. The Vols (2-0) have won eight straight games dating back to last season.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart 10-3-20