ATHENS — Kirby Smart didn’t lean on the fact that Georgia won. The first-year head coach opened his postgame news conference by talking as if the two-point win over Nicholls State was a loss.
“A very disappointing performance on our half. That starts with me and the entire staff,” Smart said. “We did not play with the intangibles, the enthusiasm, the passion, the relentless energy that we expect. We hold these kids to a standard of excellence to do it, and we didn’t do it today. Very disappointed.”
Smart was also asked if he sensed during the week that a flat performance might be coming.
“There was concern for me when the rankings came out,” Smart said, alluding to the Bulldogs vaulting to No. 9 in both the AP and coaches polls. “That’s always a concern for me.”
Smart said the practices gradually got worse from Monday to Wednesday. (The rankings came out Tuesday morning.) Smart said he didn’t see the right focus in Wednesday’s practice.
“But I thought coming into the game I thought we’d play better, certainly,” Smart said.
Smart cited Mike Krzyzewski, who he quoted as saying there was a need for positive energy and positive feedback when a team struggles.
“So we obviously struggled today,” Smart said. “I tried to be positive with the guys and let them understand that we can’t have these kinds of performances. When you perform like this, without the passion, the energy and the enthusiasm, all the intangible things that we sell our program on, that’s what happens. You have a poor performance.
“So it’s disappointing, obviously. It’s something we’ll be able to learn from.”