Georgia players Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Ameer Speed were part of good-on-good during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Kirby Smart practice update: Leaders must elevate intensity, George Pickens progressing

ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart did not like what he saw at Monday’s practice, and he added that Tuesday’s practice wasn’t much better.

“There was a relaxed atmosphere and not that, I don’t know, killer instinct, that I’ve seen on some Mondays,” Smart said following practice on Tuesday night.

“It was a little frustrating for me because we’ve had really good practices. I don’t know if that was a relief from the Tennessee game, or about who we were playing, I was not pleased with it.”

It might be human nature for the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (10-0, 8-0 SEC) to look at this week as a breather with FCS Charleston Southern on the opposite sideline for a noon game that fans will need to stream via ESPN-plus.

The most recent and only time Georgia played the Buccaneers was in 2014, when Mark Richt was still coaching the Bulldogs and Smart was at Nick Saban’s side as a defensive coordinator.

Georgia beat Charleston Southern 55-9 that day with former UGA quarterback Hutson Mason throwing two touchdown passes to Chris Conley and Nick Chubb running for two scores.

Smart, however, does not tolerate any sort of complacency at any time, having built a culture where maximizing time and effort in the most proficient manner is the expectation.

Smart is among those who subscribe to the theory that you are getting better or worse each day.

One of the keys to this team’s historic start to the season — the first unbeaten SEC campaign since 1982 — has been the team’s week-to-week improvement.

“It’s definitely something you worry about, in terms of playing to get better,” Smart said, asked about the tendency for teams to play to the scoreboard or adjust their effort based on the opponent.

“I’m trying to reach out to the leaders and make sure they handle that the right way.”

Injury Update

The news on receiver George Pickens sounds promising, though Smart still doesn’t have a timeline set for the standout receiver to return to action.

“We’re doing a lot of good on good, meaning we’re practicing less against the scouts this week and going against ourselves and giving each other good looks,” Smart said of Pickens, who suffered a torn ACL last March but has been back running routes for more than a month.

“(Pickens) has been going against our one defense some, we do 7 -on 7. He’s doing very similar things, but probably more of it, in terms of more reps and more volume.

“He’s still in a non-contact jersey and practicing with us.”

Smart said that Kendall Milton, who is dealing with a sprained MCL, is running but doubtful to play against Charleston Southern. Milton has been targeted to return against Georgia Tech from the onset.

Receiver Dominick Blaylock, who dressed out for the Tennessee game but did not play, has had a setback with the flu and did not practice the past two days.

Smart said offensive guard Warren Ericson (flu) returned to practice on Tuesday after missing Monday.

Defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, who fell to the ground for extended amounts of time more than once on Saturday, said his ribs were bothering him at the time. Wyatt said he feels fine this week.

Stetson Bennett finalist

Quarterback Stetson Bennett is one of three finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which goes to the outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.

Bennett, who is from Blackshear, Ga., joins Arkansas’ Grant Morgan and Troy University’s Carlton Martial as the three finalists. The finalists will be honored and the winner announced at 8 p.m. on Dec. 6th at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark.

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