ATHENS — Kirby Smart is still looking for leaders. Apparently they have been hard to find.
Georgia’s first-year head coach was asked after Tuesday’s practice, the Bulldogs’ seventh of the spring, if any players had distinguished themselves as leaders on the team.
“No,” Smart said flatly. “I’ll be honest with you, the only two guys I notice leading on defense would be Quincy (Mauger) and Dom (Sanders). They take a lot of pride in it; they try to lead. But that’s going back to the predominance of youth on the team. I don’t think a lot of them know how to. I think you’ve got to develop that leadership.”
Mauger, a senior, and the junior Sanders are both returning starters at safety for the Bulldogs. Inside linebacker Tim Kimbrough is the only other senior currently slated to start on the defense.
It apparently has been even harder to find leaders on the offensive side of the ball. Georgia returns seniors Brandon Kublanow and Greg Pyke on the line and Greyson Lambert at quarterback. Junior tailback Sony Michel is the leading returning rusher and scorer.
“I wish Sony would step up and become a little bit more of leader,” Smart said. “Pyke and Kublanow both try to. Greyson has made some attempts at it. We’ve challenged them to challenge each other. I’ve told them over and over, ‘you’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,’ and leadership starts with that, too. I mean it’s not comfortable to lead somebody a lot of times. A lot of guys aren’t used to doing it.”
Overall, Smart was more encouraging about the team than he was at his last post-practice briefing last week. But he still is viewing his first Georgia football team with a highly critical eye.
“Still way too many errors, way too many mental mistakes,” Smart said. “We’ve stopped installing so there shouldn’t be an overload of information. We’ve got to try to stop and review it and get the young players — and the predominant amount of our team is young players — we’ve got to get those guys where they can play winning football. But they’re trying, they’re pushing out there.”