ATHENS — Kirby Smart indicated Georgia football will not be holding back against Ball State on Saturday, any more than the Bulldogs held back against UT-Martin.
“We approach every game the same,” Smart said on the SEC Coaches teleconference, when asked if UGA might take a more aggressive approach with the pass game now that Carson Beck has one start under his belt.
“Maybe that’s a misnomer, people think you hold things back offensively, defensively or special teams,” Smart said. “We don’t hold anything back because we don’t know that we’ll be able to hold things back.”
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs are a 42-point favorite over a Mid-American Conference Cardinals’ team that held a 7-3 lead at Kentucky entering into the second quarter of what turned into a 44-14 loss.
Georgia, meanwhile, utilized a conservative game plan filled with short passes and runs designed to set up deep shots.
That was the head coach’s decision, and it was up to the new offensive coordinator to work within those parameters, as Smart explained.
“When we went into the game tonight, I talked to the offensive staff and talked to the defensive staff and was like, ‘Look, we’re going to lean on our defense because we’ve got so many guys who had not played on our offense,’ " Smart said.
“With expectation being talked about, everybody thinks you’re just going to walk out and roll over these teams. That’s the ‘it’ll be 40 to nothing by halftime,’ and then it’s not, you get tighter, guys get worried. I’m over that.”
That said, Smart held his players — not his play caller — accountable for not executing better.
“We have to do a better job running the ball to set up who we are, which is shots and play-action,” Smart said on the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network, revealing the offensive personality he’d like to see from first-year offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
“It’s hard to do that when you’re not running the ball successful.”
Smart said at halftime the FCS team was “kicking our ass up front,” a message that was surely delivered to Georgia’s much-celebrated offensive line in the postgame and throughout this week.
Beck drew a solid review form his head coach, though his performance was by no means perfect as he missed on a couple of throws and on another occasion failed to identify an open receiver in the end zone.
“Poise, confidence in the pocket, understands the check system, where to go with the ball, when to get us out of the play and just get rid of it, I thought he did a really nice job of that,” Smart said, asked to encapsulate his takeaway of Beck’s first start.
“He had had a couple passes he missed that I think he’d like to have that back, but he hit a lot. Outside of that, he managed and handled the game well.”
Smart’s messaging was clear, and it’s likely Georgia will continue to work toward the offensive identity the head coach is looking for, even if some fans are expecting something different.