Kent State
22
Final
39
(1) Georgia

Kirby Smart responds to comments made by Kent State coach: ‘Probably watching last year’s tape’

Georgia football-Kirby Smart-Kent State-Sean Lewis-last year
091722 Columbia: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and players take the field to play South Carolina in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Columbia. “Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com

ATHENS — Kirby Smart is aware of what Kent State coach Sean Lewis had to say about his team and program.

The Georgia head coach respectfully disagreed with the assessment made by the Bulldogs’ upcoming opponent.

“Sean Lewis [Kent State head coach] is probably watching last year’s tape saying that, because there were a lot of really good players on that team last year,” Smart said in his Tuesday press conference. “This team, we are young. We have a lot of mistakes and a lot of things we need to clean up.

“I get it. If I was him, I would be saying the same thing, but I know different.”

On Monday, Lewis lathered praise onto the Georgia program. For a team that has already played No. 18 Washington and No. 6 Oklahoma, Lewis went above and beyond to establish that Goergia is in a class of its own at this point in the season.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s the greatest collection of talent that has ever been assembled on a football team because of the work that coach Smart, his staff and the tireless, relentless effort that they’ve put in to building a program to an elite, elite level,” Lewis said on Monday. “It’s a tremendous test, a tremendous opportunity. They’re uber-talented.”

Related: Kirby Smart is going to hate what Kent State coach Sean Lewis said about Georgia football

Georgia has outscored its first three opponents by a combined score of 130-10. It is a 46.5-point favorite over Kent State this week and the Bulldogs hold the No. 1 ranking in both the AP and Coaches Polls.

Lewis is hardly the first opposing coach to try and gas up Smart and the Bulldogs. Gus Malzahn did while at Auburn and even Nick Saban was extra effusive of his praise of Georgia prior to last season’s SEC championship game.

It’s a tried and true tactic by opposing coaches, as Smart explained.

“So when they upset us, they beat somebody good. I mean, that’s what they’re doing,” Smart said. “They believe they got a shot to come in here and and beat us and you want to build your opponent up the same way.”

While many might go ahead and chalk up another win for Georgia entering this week, Smart refuses to allow his team to look past Kent State. The Georgia coach raved about the job Kent State has done so far this year, especially in its ability to hang with Oklahoma and Washington.

Kent State did play in the MAC championship game last year, and it’s also worth pointing out that the closest game the Bulldogs have played so far this year came against FCS-foe Samford.

Smart and Georgia know this team has not yet proven to be the championship-winner that the 2021 team was. That comes in time, with reps and experience.

The Georgia coach hopes his team uses Kent State this Saturday to take one more step towards accomplishing the same things the 2021 team was able to.

“I respect his program. When you turn on a team’s tape and you watch special teams, you find out within five minutes what kind of team they are,” Smart said. “They are some of the leaders in the MAC in almost every special teams category, they have a great offensive system that utilizes a really talented quarterback, they have good skilled players, and they have a unique defense that’s hard to prepare for.

“I have the utmost respect for what they’ve done, they’ve played probably one of the hardest schedules in the country.”

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