ATHENS — Every Tuesday, Kirby Smart comes into the production studio on the second floor of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall to brief the media on that day’s practice. The Bulldogs’ locker room is located directly below, and at the outset of Smart’s remarks you could just make out a little commotion seeping up through the floor.
At that point, during Smart’s opening remarks, he was talking about how Monday’s practice was pretty good but Tuesday was not.
“Today was so-so, not to my level of expectations by any means,” Smart said staidly. “But we’ll keep pushing them.”
Throughout Smart’s 12-minute remarks, the noise below gradually increased. By the end of the session, it had grown to a full-blown ruckus. It got so loud that members of the press began to laugh. One reporter finally asked Smart what in the world was going on down there.
“Locker room,” Smart said sharply. “They’ve got more excitement than they did at practice, that’s for sure.”
Smart tried to smile when he said it, but his face was having none of it. You could tell he was perturbed on some level.
Tuesday represented the first full day of preparations for the upcoming Missouri game. Monday was reserved for correcting mistakes that had occurred in the Nicholls State game. That surely proved a comprehensive undertaking considering the struggle that was the 26-24 win over the FCS visitors.
Tuesday was the getting-down-to-business day for the Tigers. Tuesday was for implementing the game plan for first- and second-down situations, for short-yardage situations, for goal-line. Wednesday, they’ll get to third down and special teams.
The Tigers (1-1) just put up 647 yards and 61 points on Eastern Michigan and have the type of receiving corps that gives secondary coaches nightmares. Sixteenth-ranked Georgia (2-0) opened as touchdown favorites.
Folks around here have looked at this one as a routine “W” for a while. Just a stop along the way to a monumental matchup against Ole Miss in Oxford. Smart is not one of those folks.
His determination this week is evident. His mood is dour. His sense of humor remains back home inside the top drawer of the bedside table. He’ll take it out later.
Flaws that Smart and his staff have been seeing for weeks were unmasked for all the world to see this past weekend and they are working feverishly to get it cleaned up.
Smart’s news conference wrapped up abruptly and he disappeared in a quick walk out the side door. But the noise continued below.
And then it stopped.
Who was saying what to whom was unclear, but there was one booming voice that drowned out all the others. Then there was silence.
Laughing and cutting up, it seems, will have to wait until Sunday. If then.