ATHENS —Georgia football coach Kirby Smart continued to work with his defensive backs at Friday’s practice, bringing another level of intensity to the football field.
“He’s the boss, he’s the head man, so everything he does is more intense, you feel it more, you’re moving more, you’re giving all you got,” Bulldogs cornerback Eric Stokes said. “With him, you better real deal tighten up.”
Smart has always worked primarily with the defense, but with former secondary coach and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker moved on as head coach of Colorado, the Bulldogs’ head coach has assumed those duties.
Not that the next game wasn’t already personal.
The last time Smart was on the opposite sideline of Tom Herman the Texas coach was Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and Smart was running Alabama’s defense.
The result was a shocking 42-35 Buckeyes win, with Herman’s offense lighting up Smart’s defense despite having to use a third-string quarterback.
Smart is doing everything he can to avoid a repeat of that when the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play the No. 15 Longhorns (9-4) at 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Smart indicated that’s one reason freshman Justin Fields is still working with the team despite carrying on conversations with other coaches and programs interested in taking him as a transfer.
Fortunately for Georgia, Texas is not one of the schools Fields is reportedly interested in, as Ohio State is believed to lead that list.
Stokes, meanwhile, isn’t going anywhere after emerging as one of the top cover corners in the SEC.
“It’s the next game so we’ve got to prepare, we’ll still go out there and play the best ball that we can,” Stokes said. “Even though it’s not a playoff, we still want to win.”
Georgia football CB Eric Stokes