UGA has as much behind-the-scenes drama and storied characters as any other top team in college football, but you rarely hear about it because coach Kirby Smart runs such a tight-lipped program.
However, some of the fascinating moments that propelled the Bulldogs to last year’s national championship are starting to surface as the coach and players do interviews in preparation for the upcoming season.
Why did UGA win last year’s national title? Because the Bulldogs had one of the best defenses in the history of the game – with an NFL-record five players selected in the first round of the draft.
On Tuesday, Smart shared a grand story that summed up the spirit of his special defense during a Q&A session at the Texas High School Coaches Association in San Antonio. He was asked about how he teaches his team to play physical.
Smart told the audience that about halfway through last season, he became concerned about the amount of team injuries. Smart met with his staff, and they ultimately decided that they would start practicing on Thursdays without pads to give the team some rest.
After the first practice without pads, one of the team’s veteran leaders, linebacker Quay Walker, walked over to Smart with something to say:
“Coach, you done got soft as hell -- we ain’t never took these pads off on a Thursday,” said Walker, via 247sports.com’s Chris Hummer.
Smart thought Walker had a good point, and pads returned to the last practice of game weeks: “If we want to be physical, we have to be physical. There ain’t no faking it.”