ATHENS —Georgia coach Kirby Smart isn’t looking for pity, or excuses, or any other reasons that might explain why his offense failed to score a touchdown in the 10-3 win over Clemson.
It comes down to execution, as far as Smart is concerned, and he made it clear on Monday that his Bulldogs weren’t up to par in one key respect in the season-opening win last Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.
Georgia (1-0) looks to take a step toward being a better version of itself against UAB (1-0) when it plays host to the Blazers at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sanford Stadium (TV: ESPN2).
Quarterback JT Daniels was 22-of-30 passing for 135 yards with an interception against Clemson, while the backs combined for 115 yards rushing on 30 carries.
Georgia was 7 of 15 executing on third downs but the offense bogged down to the extent of generating only 3 points despite five trips into Clemson territory, two in the Red Zone.
“There’s a standard that’s always set here, and we didn’t play to that standard on offense or defense in terms of execution,” Smart said. “Now, results, you could say the defense did, but in terms of execution, we didn’t play to our standard.
“In terms of guys doing their job, I do think, in my years of coaching, there is a certain number of times something has to happen for a guy to be able to function and do it right.”
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Smart cited one instance against Clemson where two freshmen and a sophomore failed to line up properly and/or execute.
“We have a play where Brock Bowers misses a block and Arian (Smith) lines up wrong, AD (Adonai Mitchell) is in the wrong spot and doesn’t block the right guy, and the play is unsuccessful,” Smart said.
“Well, those three players – and you guys probably think of Arian has an experienced vet, well, I look at him as really a freshman, because this time last year he was in rehab – so, there’s three players on one key play that all do the wrong thing, and now, we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Smith also took time away from football so that he could run track during the offseason, something that put him behind others in his sophomore class.
The offensive line, Smart said, had their moments of inconsistency, as well.
“Some of that had to do with uncharacteristic busts on run plays, as in, ‘Why in the world would you block in that direction on that play?’ “ Smart said, lamenting how his run game sputtered at times.
“Some of that was youth. Some of that was anxiety. Some of it was inexperience, and some of it was what Clemson did. We can play much better up front and then be better in the run game.”
Burton not in shape
Smart revealed much-ballyhooed receiver Jermaine Burton, who missed blocks and had just 2 catches for 11 yards, is not in game shape.
“We’ve had roughly 45 practices (spring and fall), and out of the 45 practices he’s practiced 10-15 times,” Smart said. “He missed a lot of time … he’s not in game shape. He’s not at game speed. We’ve got to improve that and work on it.”
Burton has been somewhat injury-prone in his early career, suffering a hyperextended knee in spring drills and a sprained ankle the first day of camp.
Georgia has been missing some of its most talented receivers on account of injuries with Kearis Jackson (knee) unable to line up wide, along with Dominick Blaylock (knee), George Pickens (knee), tight end Darnell Washington (foot) and Arik Gilbert (personal).
Smart, however, refuses to factor that in as it doesn’t do anything to help improve the team.
“All the talk about the weapons that he does and doesn’t have is a moot point,” Smart said. “That’s what everyone wants to talk about and you can make excuses for me, for JT, for coach (Todd) Monken, but we’ve got good football players.
“We have to take the football players we have and be explosive. It doesn’t matter who is out there. That’s just pity or something. We have to be explosive. We have to get better at it.”
The Clemson Game Plan
Smart said Georgia did achieve many of its objectives against the Clemson defense, but no often enough.
“The way they played us and what our game plan was to protect JT and get the ball out, have some different protections, and some different things,” Smart said “The game plan was to not get in third and longs. We didn’t get in many third and longs. How many sacks did we give up guys? One. Check Clemson’s average (sacks) per game.
“The game plan was to be efficient and be in manageable down and distances. Get the ball out of JT’s hands. I feel like we did a good job of doing that. We didn’t do it consistently enough to score points.”
Smart the positive out of all of this is that Georgia has the potential to get better once the receivers start lining up property and the other players execute with more consistency.
“It frustrates me, because we did that, and we practiced that — we showed that look,” Smart said. “How can you see yourself doing it here and then not do it here?
“(But) it also excites me, because it is not a lack of ability. Some coaches have to go out, and they could not do any better than they did. That is not the case with us, because we have the ability.”