ATHENS — One of the bigger challenges Georgia coach Kirby Smart appeared to face was when veteran coordinators Mel Tucker and Jim Chaney left his staff.
How, many wondered, would Smart go about replacing two of the best minds in college football?
It turns out it was easier than many thought. Smart looked inside his staff and promoted from within, elevating quarterbacks coach James Coley and outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning to coordinator positions.
The staff of the nation’s preseason No. 3-ranked team got a lot younger and more energetic. It did so without losing much in translation.
“It’s really been an easy transition because we have new coordinators but we don’t; the coordinators we have were here last year on our staff, they understand what we’re trying to do,” Smart said in a sit down interview with ESPN this week.
“It doesn’t mean we’re doing everything the same. They have their personalities, and they have great personalities.”
Indeed, the players rave about Coley and the so-called “juice” he brings to them on a daily basis with his energetic approach.
Lanning, meanwhile, is so intense he screamed himself hoarse two days into fall camp.
Smart likes the way the players have responded.
“I think the players embrace change sometimes because it provides a new energy, a new juice, and the guys really like that part of it,” Smart said. “So far it’s been great. We some creativity on offense, and a lot of energy on defense because we have a lot of guys back, so that part has been exciting.”
The competition on Smart’s well-recruited team is deep and the goals are set high.
Most importantly, the Bulldogs have maintained a positive vibe and championship mindset.
Undeniably, the team is bought into Smart and his staff.
“You play hard for your coaches and you want to impress them,” Smart said. “There’s a lot to do with the coordinators, but there’s also a lot to do with the young men that are listening to the coordinators, because they are buying into each other.”