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Georgia Football

What's the Key to Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs' Season? Nick Saban Knows It

August 3, 2021

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ATHENS - It probably is the key to the season for Kirby Smart and his Georgia Bulldogs

Can the Dawgs score more than they have in the past? Smart, a long-time assistant for Alabama coach Nick Saban, very well could be the best defensive mind in college football. His units on that side of the ball have been as good as it gets over the last five years. 

But college football changed, and Saban and Alabama changed with it. Gone are the days of Bama playing so-called Games of the Century that resulted in both teams scoring a combined 15 points. 

The last two times LSU and Alabama have played the winning team scored at least 46 points. It’s like today’s college football is a different sport than what we saw in 2014. 

“It used to be if you had a good defense, other people weren’t going to score on you,” Saban said in October. “You were always going to be in the game. I’m telling you. It ain’t that way any more.”

The problem for Kirby and company is that he starting building his program when it wasn’t so obvious offense wasn’t going anywhere. In 2016, Dabo Swinney’s Clemson had been really good at scoring, but they got blistered at times becuase good defenses stopped them from scoring 30. Florida State, which won it all in 2013, did so with one of the top defenses of the last decade. The Noles had a rare one-two punch at the time of being dominant on both sides of the ball. 

Jimbo Fisher’s achievements were dismissed in the SEC because it came from the ACC. 

Alabama was changing, too. By 2015, Kirby’s final season in Tuscaloosa, the pocket quarterback and power run game combination was coming to a close. In fact, college football was requiring more of its quarterbacks besides handing off and making an occasional throw. 

Quarterbacks had become the star. 

Fast forward to 2021, and Kirby Smart has a potential star on his roster at quarterback. He’s had that before. This time is different for two reasons - it is obvious that the returning star at quarterback will be the starter; and the program has its first no-brainer offensive coordinator since Mike Bobo’s day back when dinosaurs roamed the earth in 2014. 

Explosion? Aaron Murray told me that he expects it. 

More points? Buck Belue has said is on the way. 

Big plays? Eric Zeier believes that, too. 

No word on Corey Phillips’ take on everything, but he’s probably thinking that Georgia will score a lot this fall, too. 

The question, really, is if the Dawgs can score enough. They did so against Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl. That was the best defense the Dawgs faced in 2020, and perhaps the best one since Georgia has seen in a while. 

Still, as good as the Bearcats’ defense was, scoring in the 20s (with a few of those points coming from Georgia’s defense) isn’t going to cut it this fall. Clemson, Alabama and whoever comes after that is going to score. Cincinnati couldn’t. Football is tackle seven on seven these days, and if you can’t stop that enough, or if you can’t score more you will lose. 

That’s not an opinion - it is a fact. Just ask Saban. 

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