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Georgia Football

Kirby Smart: The SEC is Not for the Faint of Heart

September 24, 2020

Opening Statement
“I am looking forward to seeing my dear old friend Sam Pittman. It’s a long time coming. This offseason in terms of our players being excited and the uncertainty involved in this year. I know our guys are certainly extremely excited to go play. I don’t know if we are going to get much better without playing. We need to go play so we can find out where we are. We are excited to go play Arkansas.”
On what he has noticed from the previous weeks of college football and what he has learned and can take as far as the new atmosphere in college football...
“I haven’t talked to many guys about that. I’ve definitely watched a lot of games. The first thing that pops out and that usually does every year—the special teams, the plays. The first weekend it seemed like there was a lot of returned kicks for touchdowns, blocked kicks, so a lot of special teams game/plays that were major factors in games. We tried to highlight that and show it to our players. It does seem that there are more soft tissue injuries, meaning guys are pulling things and getting injured—so your depth—of course your depth is a factor all the time with COVID and the pandemic going on. It seems more prevalent that you’re going to have to play more players because of the conditioning level may or may not be there. I do think we are fortunate that we haven’t had to play in what you would consider ‘the hot part’ of the year, it usually happens early in the season and it seems a little cooler. So that helps with the conditioning factor. That’s the biggest change to me. I think without spring practice you’ve got more errors and mistakes exposed if you are not prepared.”
On his thoughts concerning the three week delay for the SEC and  the allotted practice time resulting in less contact putting those teams to an advantage conditioning wise...
“Yeah, that’s probably a good point. I haven’t thought about it that way. But, there’s probably some merit to that—sometimes sloppiness is because you are not prepared and not ready and you haven’t had time to that stuff. Of course they started earlier than we did. We started later than they did. We all kind of had the same practice buildup. I know the minicamp was helpful for us in terms of getting our guys more prepared to play. I certainly think that the luxury they gave us spreading the practices out over a large number of days has allowed us to stay more healthy than in the past.”
On his impression of Rakeem Boyd along with other Arkansas personnel...
“Rakeem Boyd is as good as there is in the SEC. This guy has proven that he is a really good runner, physical runner, intelligent, smart. He sees the field. Any offensive line coach, like a head coach like Sam Pittman, is going to [have] a great offensive line unit. What they were able to do with a really tough run league, our league, last year—was as tough against the run as there is—he put up really good numbers. As far as Coach [Kendal] Briles, I have always had respect and watched everywhere he has been. As an offensive-minded coach, he creates a lot of issues. It’s like constant pressure because there is never a breather. They talk about it being warp speed, but it is that constant pressure of number one: balls vertical down the field, spacing of the field making you play the full 53 yards—in the tempo that they do it, it’s tough to defend especially if you talk to other people that have had to defend it.”
On what factors come into play in building a strong team in the SEC...
“It starts with the belief in the people in the organization, and the belief in each other. It always starts with that. It starts with a core foundation in your weight room. A belief that you are going to compete and you are going to get better. Every game is different. It’s not like—everybody wants to go out and win every game when you are building a program. You are trying to build the trust, faith and confidence in the organization and the people in the organization that you’re going to get better. Each step you take is a better opportunity. It’s not a league for the faint of heart. I can promise you that. It’s a tough, physical league.”

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