ATHENS — Alabama delivered a wake-up call to Georgia football the last time the Bulldogs took the field, 41-24, and now coach Kirby Smart is calling for another one.
Smart is more worried about getting off to an early start at Kentucky at noon next Saturday than the slow starts his team has had at the beginning of games and second halves this season.
The Bulldogs are 2-3 in SEC noon kicks under Smart, with losses to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
Georgia in SEC Noon kicks under Kirby Smart
South Carolina 20, Georgia 17 (OT)
Georgia 43, Missouri 29
Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 14
Ole Miss 45, Georgia 14
Vanderbilt 17, Georgia 16
“We haven’t played in that time frame (in 2020), and that’s a time frame where you’ve got to kind of get used to it,” Smart said. “You’ve got to get comfortable with it, get used to getting up and going. Our kids don’t operate like that.
“It will be important the Thursday and Friday leading up to that they get a good sleep schedule.”
The Bulldogs offense has been asleep at the start of games this season regardless of kickoff time when one looks at the productivity chart.
Georgia has yet to score a touchdown on a game-opening drive this season.
The Bulldogs’ opening game drives:
at Arkansas: 3 plays, 6 yards, punt.
vs. Auburn: 3 plays, minus-6 yards, punt
vs. Tennessee: 2 plays, minus-25 yards, fumble
at Alabama: 3 plays, 10 yards, interception
Smart bushed off the question when asked about the opening drives when asked at his press conference last week.
“I don’t know that that’s exactly true in all games,” Smart said, “because we had a couple of games where we started moving the ball really well.”
Georgia’s opening drives to start the second halves haven’t been much better:
at Arkansas: 6 plays, 33 yards, fumble
vs. Auburn: 10 plays, 67 yards, field goal
vs. Tennessee: 4 plays minus-1 yard, field goal
at Alabama: 5 plays, 17 yard, punt
“It’s something we’ve got to execute better, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s the first quarter or the third quarter,” Smart said. “It’s throughout the game, and if you chart our drives defensively or offensively and you say, ok, a penalty on defense sparks a drive for them because they convert a third down. On offense, a penalty prevents a drive because you’re first and 20 or second and 15, those are things that you’ve got to remove.
“It doesn’t matter what quarter it happens in. It only matters what did you do to cause the penalty? What did you do to have a mental error or a missed assignment? And that’s what we’re trying to improve.”
Four of Kentucky’s first five opponents have failed to score on both their opening game possessions and opening possessions of the second half.
Ole Miss, which beat the Wildcats 42-41 on Oct. 3, was the sole exception, scoring on both the game-opening drive and opening drive of the second half.