ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart knows better than anybody there comes a time when an offense has to step on the gas.
But people expecting to see wholesale changes from the Bulldogs’ offense against LSU in the SEC Championship Game (TV:4 p.m. Saturday, CBS) will likely be disappointed.
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“You can’t change who you are completely in a week,” Smart said on Tuesday night. “Certainly we’ve got different groupings, different packages, different use of guys.”
Georgia’s personnel dictates its philosophy.
“We’ve got a lot of big guys,” Smart said. “We’ve got tight ends, backs, receivers, just not as many as we’ve normally had, but I don’t think there’s going to be a major wholesale change in a week.”
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) have been winning with a formula that largely consists of dominant defense and an efficient offense that most often refuses to beat itself.
“The No. 1 thing that indicates success is, don’t turn the ball over, and (two,) get explosive plays,” Smart said. “We’ve been good at one and we’ve been just okay at the other.”
Georgia is up against what Smart referred to as his “greatest challenge” in facing No. 2-ranked LSU (12-0) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
The Tigers feature arguably the most explosive offense in college football with Heisman Trophy favorite Joe Burrow at quarterback and two 1,000-yard receivers.
Smart’s offense, meanwhile, is adjusting to playing without its top two receivers at the start of the game. Lawrence Cager underwent ankle surgery last Friday, and George Pickens is suspended for the first half of the game.
But even when both receivers were healthy, Smart played to the Bulldogs’ strengths — the offensive line and dynamic running of D’Andre Swift.
LSU and Alabama, likewise, are playing to the strength of their talents, Smart explained.
“We’re not built like those two teams, we’re built very differently, and that’s not always by nature,” Smart said. “It wasn’t like all of a sudden Alabama decided they were going to throw the ball all the time. They got a stellar group of wideouts in one gathering. It’s like they all came in at once and became really good players.
“Same thing at LSU. I mean LSU, they’ve had good wideouts over the years. But they have a really stellar group at the same time, along with a transfer quarterback who has been impactful. So I don’t know that philosophically both those guys made huge changes, as much as they inherited two quarterbacks who are unique, who can do special things, and they’ve got some special players around them.”
It’s another example of why a team’s job recruiting is never done and every recruiting weekend matters.
One or two players can’t just make a difference in a game, they can also make a difference in a team’s philosophical approach and game plan.
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