ATHENS — Kirby Smart is taking his lumps from frustrated Georgia football fans after failing to get over the hump against Alabama — again — in last Saturday’s 41-24 loss to the Tide.
Smart dropped to 0-3 against his mentor, Alabama coach Nick Saban, with the peculiar twist of having led at halftime of all three games against the Crimson Tide.
That makes Smart 39-4 in games where Georgia has led at halftime, with those three of those losses to Saban and the other coming against former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.
The No 4-ranked Bulldogs are idle on Saturday before returning to action at Kentucky at noon next Saturday.
Smart indicated Georgia’s offense, which ranked sixth in the SEC, might work to tone things down a bit moving forward.
“We can’t get in a boat race where we’re trying to outscore people,” Smart said. “We have to play our brand of football and help Stetson (Bennett) with the people around him, is probably the No. 1 thing.”
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Bennett, a former UGA walk-on and junior college quarterback, continued to work with the starters last week even while Smart took a longer look at D’Wan Mathis and JT Daniels, who is working to recover from offseason knee surgery.
Smart chooses who will start at quarterback, but beyond that he explained his role working with the offense is more in a scouting capacity.
“It’s not so much as game-planning, as (seeing) what gives the defenses problems, because you’ve gotten to the point now where you’ve seen the SEC defenses so much, you know the coordinators, you know their tendencies,” Smart said on his coaches show on Thursday night.
“You see how other people, offensively try to attack those defenses, and that’s where I try to contribute to the offense, is just on personnel of the defense, or who might be a weakness, or schematically what might be a weakness by formation.”
Smart has made no indications a chance is imminent at quarterback, saying on one hand he feels “great” about Bennett, while also pointing out the shortcomings that led to his team falling short against Alabama and getting shutout in the second half.
Bennett ranked 7th in the SEC in yards passing per game and 13th among league quarterbacks in completion percentage entering into Saturday’s games.
“We executed in the first half at times, and at times we didn’t, the offense sputtered early,” Smart said. “I think people would say we played well in the first half, but there were a couple possessions we wasted.
“We get a holding call on a bubble (pass), we get a battled ball interception, we get stopped,” Smart said. “And then second half, a couple of really good drives where we come out and answer the bell and move the ball and do things, and then we turn it over in the red area. We throw a pick, we sputter out, so there was good in both halves and bad in both halves.
“We didn’t score in the second half, had too many drive-killing decisions that can’t happen, and those things hurt you.”
Smart said he was encouraged by the team’s abbreviated work week, as they practiced Tuesday, Wednesday an Thursday before being allowed to travel back to their homes for the weekend.
“They have a great attitude, that’s the number one area,” Smart said. “You check that box. If you don’t have a good attitude and enjoy work, it’s hard to go to practice every day.”
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