Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has a raw, direct nature that only allows him to get into so much coach-speak.
So while Bennett occasionally parroted the company line “that was a good football team” on Saturday, the Mailman also delivered some truths.
“I don’t know if we were awake to start, it was a noon kick,” Bennett said.
“Interception, fumble, dropped punt, just can’t have those.”
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The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs moved to 4-0 with a 39-22 win over a 1-3 Kent State team from the Mid-American Conference.
Coach Kirby Smart told his team all week the Golden Flashes were a “good team,” also admitting in a press conference it would be one of his toughest sell jobs to convince people of that.
“You guys may have a preconceived notion,” Smart told media, “but we have the actual tape.”
There are also actual scoreboards, and Washington beat this same Kent State team 45-20 and Oklahoma exposed the Golden Flashes by a 33-3 count.
“Good” is a relative term, and while no one expects any coach to say they faced a bad football team, it’s OK to say you had an off day.
MAC conference teams are 1-49 again the SEC (Toledo beat Arkansas 16-12 in 2015) since 2010, and Kent State is 0-17 all-time against the SEC.
Texas A&M beat Kent State 41-10 last season, had four turnovers including on a punt return — didn’t punt and dropped a TD pass.
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For more perspective on the talent disparity between the programs, Georgia has had 44 players drafted into the NFL over the past five seasons.
Kent State has had 42 players drafted in the 102-year history of the program — none drafted since 2014, and none currently on NFL rosters per OurLads.com.
The bottom line to Smart’s post-game rationale was two-fold:
One, he doesn’t want his football team to lose its confidence and get down on itself, and,
Two, Smart is the son of a coach, and he is always a gentleman when discussing the other team’s staff and players.
Kent State did play a good game.
The Golden Flashes do deserve credit for showing up and showing out against the No. 1 team in the nation.
But it’s accurate to acknowledge Smart’s team didn’t play up to its standard and collectively lacked the focus it displayed in last week’s 48-7 win at South Carolina.
The players know. They always know.
“We have to bring more energy,” Javon Bullard said. “I felt like we were lackadaisical as a group; the pregame warmups really wasn’t like our usual pregame warmup.”
Linebacker Smael Mondon, another first-year starter, was also unsatisfied with the win.
“It was small things,” Mondon said. “Turnovers and we played sloppy at times.”
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Bennett, sharing a message the head coach gave the team in the locker room, summed things up perfectly.
“Coach Smart said sometimes you do need to win ugly,” Bennett said, “and I agree with that, but we’d rather not.”