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Georgia Football

Will Georgia's Kirby Smart Assert His Dominance on Saturday?

September 23, 2020

ATHENS - Kirby Smart has an opportunity to assert his dominance on Saturday. How can he do that? Open the 2020 season with a convincing victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

This is the first time that Smart will face a team who is led by one of his former assistants, and Sam Pittman does not have an easy task at hand in his first game.

One of the biggest storylines of Georgia’s season opener against Arkansas is the coaching matchup between Smart and Pittman, who is the former offensive line and associate head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Pittman spent the last four seasons on staff at Georgia before returning to Arkansas for his second stint, this time as head coach of the Razorbacks. 

Smart is not too concerned about Pittman and his staff’s familiarity with Georgia's program.

“I don’t put a huge premium on them having been part of the organization. I look at it as they’re coaching their team; we’re coaching our team. There’s not a lot of trade secrets in football,” he said.

Georgia is going to focus on Georgia. Smart and the rest of the staff are going to view this as another game that needs to be prepared for, and he does not seem to be overly worried with who is coaching the other team. 

He has preached that execution and communication are going to be vital for the team to succeed, and they are focused on that. 

“We have a different offense than we had last year and a lot of the connection to our program was on the offensive side of the ball with Coach Pittman,” he said.

The Bulldogs have a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken, and Saturday will be the first time anybody will get to see how much the offensive system and play calling has been altered. Pittman had a lot of involvement with Georgia’s offense, but the combination of past experience with the team and film from last year may not be as useful for Arkansas as it may have been in a different season. 

The impact that Pittman had on Georgia’s program cannot be overlooked. He was one of the main recruiters for the team and had excellent relationships with the players. His reputation as an offensive line coach precedes him. 

That line at UGA has been impressive over the last few years and much of the credit for coaching and recruiting that spot goes to Pittman.

“As far as what kind of mark he left on our program, I think that’s evidenced by the offensive lines we have had,” Smart said. “He was a really good recruiter. He was a relationship-driven coach. His players just love him and they all enjoy playing for him.” 

Clearly, Pittman was an integral part of the Georgia football program the last four years. Incoming OL coach Matt Luke will have to figure out how to replace Pittman, and that will not be easy.

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