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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Kirby Smart said Tuesday he has noticed a few freshmen hitting a "wall" halfway through spring drills.

Georgia football: Kirby Smart on ‘the wall’ and which freshmen have hit it this spring

ATHENS – Kirby Smart was a little bit of everything Tuesday during his Georgia football post-practice media briefing.

Annoyed. Frustrated. Mad. Perplexed. Accountable. That’s because two more arrests added to a bad string for his team. A team that has set its sights on championships later this fall should not be having these level of hiccups in the spring.

The Bulldogs practiced well on Saturday. They didn’t match those efforts on Tuesday. It added to the drudgeries of the day.

“Today was the first day I thought we were dragging a little bit,” he said of Tuesday’s session. “Practice seven [and] I don’t think we got the enthusiasm we needed. A little windy but we didn’t connect on some things offensively. [On] Defense we were sloppy.”

His talented group of freshmen midyear enrollees are now at the halfway point of spring drills. This is their first acclimation period to college football.

Smart said that it is common for freshmen to finally “hit a wall” during their first spring. That’s what he has noticed in a few areas of the field.

“They always kind of hit a wall,” Smart said.

He calls it “information overload” and some of his most mentally strong freshmen and experiencing that.

Nakobe Dean-UGA football-Georgia football
Kirby Smart seems to be around the ILB and OLB spots during key stretches of spring drills. That’s where a lot of young potential impact players for the Georgia defense like former 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean are working and learning this spring. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“I’ve noticed that with Nakobe [Dean] some,” Smart said. “I’ve noticed that with [freshmen inside linebackers] Rian [Davis] and Trezmen [Marshall] when they are out there.”

The head coach also noticed the same things with the new faces in the Bulldog secondary. That would be freshmen early enrollees Lewis Cine and Tryique Stevenson. Both of those guys were rated among the nation’s top 5 prospects at their positions.

“Definitely with Lewis and Tryique,” he said. “They are at the point where it is like their head is just spinning. But that’s okay. We have a method to our madness. The method is you throw it at them and they get some of it. OK, then they are going to get it again in the summer and they are going to get it again in fall.”

That “method” is to look to see more and more retention with every application of all the terminology and calls for the back end of the defense. It also means this staff will sometimes teach without their honors student back there to correct everyone on the fly.

That’s not the way the staff wants their young guys to learn. The SEC is a swim-or-sink league. The Georgia coaches would rather seem everyone dip their heads below water right now and in fall camp.

“We don’t teach at their pace,” Smart said. “So we’ll do drills and say ‘Hey, J.R. Reed is not going to be in this period. Let’s get Lewis [Cine] extra reps.’ Jake Fromm might not take eight reps this period. He might take four. Let’s get Stetson [Bennett IV] and D’wan [Mathis] four more.”

“We’re trying to grow our team through spring practice and be really smart about who gets the most practice reps.”


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