ATHENS — Kirby Smart laughed. Asked Tuesday night after practice whether the Alabama team Georgia is playing for the SEC Championship on Saturday is that proud program’s best of all time, Smart could only chuckle.
It didn’t seem as though he thought the question was funny or stupid. It seemed as though he thought the query had some validity to it. He seemed to be laughing at the absurdity of just how good the No. 1 Crimson Tide is.
“They’re really good,” he finally answered. “I mean they have a good team. They’re explosive. I don’t see the weaknesses. … Everybody talks about the kicking game, but they’re explosive. They’re really talented. They do a good job and they’re playing at a really high level. I mean, really you can say they’ve been tested. Thing is, when they get on top of you they know how to finish. They attack teams. They’re constantly attacking. I mean the pressure’s never off.”
Smart went on from there. It was clear, after several days of poring over video of Bama in action this season, he’s duly impressed with the current team. But he also slipped in there a mention that he believes his squad is pretty good, too.
“I had several coaches after the games we played this year who said, ‘Man, y’all put pressure on people in every area, there’s no phase of offense, defense, kicking game, there’s always pressure,'” Smart revealed. “That’s Alabama. They’re just really, really good on putting pressure on you, whether it’s offensively or defensively or special teams. There’s so many ways they can win the game.”
Smart was with coach Nick Saban at Alabama for most of what is being characterized as perhaps the greatest run in college football history. The Crimson Tide won four national championships, three SEC championship and played in six SEC title games during Smart’s nine seasons there. Smart won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach when Bama had its only undefeated season under Saban in 2009.
They’re saying the 2018 Alabama team (12-0) may be even better than that one, and Smart didn’t necessarily disagree.
But he did say he was happy that the Bulldogs will be in position to compete with Alabama again and defend their 2017 SEC Championship. When he accepted the Georgia head coaching job in December of 2015, Smart said these are the types of games he wanted the Bulldogs to be playing in with regularity.
“I think becoming relevant and significant is every game,” Smart said in the team meeting room at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. “When you play on national TV, when you play in the SEC, you have a chance to be relevant and significant every week. But certainly this is a ‘Wall Game.’ It’s for a number. It goes up on these walls in here and if you get to put numbers up in here, especially on that side of the room (pointing to his left, our right), it’s special. And that’s what you’re playing for, you’re playing for a championship.”