ATHENS — When Kirby Smart walked into his first meeting with the Georgia football team on Sunday night, there was nervous, stone silence.
“Really quiet,” said sophomore tight end Jeb Blazevich, laughing on Monday about it. “We all sat up straight, looked at him. We all respect him already because he’s our head coach.
The talk with the team “wasn’t extremely long,” according to quarterback Greyson Lambert. It was just Smart addressing the team, and one thing he said jumped out to a couple players who were available to the media on Monday.
“He told us it’s not a big difference between us and Alabama, except the margin of error,” sophomore linebacker Davin Bellamy said.
Smart held two fingers an inch apart, according to Blazevich, to signify how close that margin of error is. So the message was that there was basically as much talent in that room as there is at Alabama.
“That’s what he told us last night, and I think that’s what we all believe. We’re all being recruited by both teams,” Blazevich said. “We’re looking forward to the changes that might get us to that.”
“We have enough talent to beat anybody, but we just didn’t go out there every play and do our job right,” Bellamy said.
Smart has spent the past eight years as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, but he knows the situation at Georgia about as well as anybody who’s been away that long could. He remained in touch with many current and former Georgia coaches, including close friend Mike Bobo, and recruited more than a few current Bulldogs.
There was also that 38-10 Alabama rout of Georgia in early October, which was actually tied 3-3 early in the second quarter before a series of individual plays, including a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown.
Smart saw that up close, but it’s been a refrain in several Georgia losses over the years.
“We know we could’ve played better. And we definitely have enough talent to be able to compete with anybody in the SEC,” Bellamy said. “It’s just those little things we need to fix. And I think he’s bringing that to our attention, it kinda got everybody locked in.”
Blazezvich compared it to what strength coaches usually tell players when they’re in the weightroom: Doing that one extra repetition isn’t going to get you stronger by itself, butt doing it enough times will set the right mindset.
“There’s very few people that go the extra mile, that go 110 percent,” Blazevich said. “A lot of people only go 80 percent and nobody can really notice the difference. But the difference is in the results. He’s saying we need to bump it up a lot more. That margin of error is very small and we need to get over that.”