Kirby Smart: Georgia looks forward to playing ‘Top 10’ Florida
ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart is all about improving his Bulldogs during the bye week.
But the fourth-year UGA coach has seen enough of Florida to expect a challenge in Jacksonville on Nov. 2.
“I think our whole team is looking to the opportunity to play at Top 10 team in Jacksonville, regardless of how we have played or what we have done offensively, defensively or special teams,” Smart said on the SEC teleconference on Wednesday.
“You’re always looking forward to playing a Top 10 team that’s a well-coached good football team.”
It will be the second Top 10 matchup for the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs this season when they play the No. 7-ranked Gators.
Georgia beat Notre Dame 23-17, in the first non-conference matchup of Top 10 teams at Sanford Stadium since 1966 on Sept. 21.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 21-0 win over Kentucky last Saturday. It was a game that saw Jake Fromm complete 9-of-12 passes for a career-low 35 yards amid windy, rainy and cooler conditions.
Fromm had a career-high three interceptions the week before in a 20-17 overtime loss to South Carolina, leading some outsiders to suggest there may be a trend.
Smart, however, indicated on Wednesday he wouldn’t evaluate the passing game’s performance against the Wildcats the same way he would judge the breakdowns against the Gamecocks.
“With the Kentucky game probably the biggest struggle is it was tough for anybody to palm a ball, throw a ball and effectively, catch it,” Smart said. “We had DBs dropping balls all over the place out there. It was tough on both sides of it.
“When you go back to South Carolina there was a lot of passes in that game for a Georgia football team.”
Indeed, Fromm attempted a career-high 51 passes. It seems in hindsight, Smart clearly felt was too much.
At that, two of Fromm’s interceptions were the result of receivers’ failure to execute. One perfectly thrown ball in overtime popped out of the hands of the intended target. On another interception, the receiver ran the wrong route.
Smart made it clear there was plenty of blame to go around.
“Some of it was route running, some of it was quarterback decision-making, it was a lot of things,” Smart said. “But there was a lot of opportunities in the South Carolina game to throw it, and some it was continuity and chemistry, and some of it was accuracy, and some of it was protection. So it was a combination of things.”
Georgia is still working to iron out the wrinkles on offense and defense.
Smart said on Tuesday the defense was “atrocious” at times in its win over Kentucky.
“Our guys are preparing for just getting better right now, we’re going to see the doctor, as I call it, because we’re trying to get better at everything we do, not just Florida,” Smart said.
“We’re working on Georgia more than anything these practices to try to get fundamentally better.”