Kirby Smart: Georgia football had no panic, kept chopping through slow start in 37-14 win over Georgia Tech

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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

ATHENS — It might be easy to attribute Georgia’s slow start on Saturday to the Bulldogs having a target on their backs and getting Georgia Tech’s best shot.

But Kirby Smart wasn’t having anything to do with that sort of convenient logic after No. 1-ranked Georgia finally pulled away for the 37-14 win over the Yellow Jackets.

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“Everybody is like ‘oh, you’ve got a target, you’re the hunted,’ I don’t believe in that,” said Smart, who donned a tie once worn by Vince Dooley for his post-game press conference, honoring the UGA legend the day after the school held a memorial service in his honor.

“I think everybody gets our best shot week-in and week-out,” Smart said. “I think it’s about us being the attackers, and us being the aggressors.”

Perhaps, but Georgia’s lead over Georgia Tech was a scant 10-7 at halftime, and the Yellow Jackets were out-gaining the Bulldogs 187-153 yards at the half.

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“We probably didn’t start as fast today as we have in the past,” Smart said, “but you’re not going to start every game with guns ablaze.

“We had to respond to adversity once again.”

Kenny McIntosh led the way for Georgia, rushing for 86 yards on 12 carries and catching two passes for 91 yards including a career-high 78-yard catch-and-run.

The Bulldogs’ players said Smart delivered a motivational message at halftime, and Georgia proceeded to dominate, out-gaining Tech 253-69 over the final 30 minutes.

“I think it was just sticking to the plan,” Smart said of the Bulldogs’ second-half surge.

“We talk all the time about trying to outscore our opponents in the fourth quarter, and win the fourth quarter every game,” Smart said. “(So we) don’t hit any panic buttons, they (Georgia Tech) were doing a good job.

“We know the more times we snap it, the more advantage we’ve got.”

To that point, Georgia scored two touchdowns within the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, going up 37-7 to put the game out of reach.

The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 111-43 in fourth quarters — and 215-76 in the second halves — this season.

“That helps give them confidence,” Smart explained, “knowing that no matter what happens in the first quarter, you’re going to be ok, and you have to keep chopping.”

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