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Georgia Coach Kirby Smart Breaks Down Game-Saving Time Out

January 1, 2023

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ATLANTA - Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs had plenty of key plays in the second half that led them to a massive 42-41 victory over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl.

The 76-yard touchdown to Arian Smith got the Bulldogs to within one possession mid-way through the 4th. Brock Bowers with a matrix-like 4th down reception was one of the biggest plays in the game. The countless 4th quarter throws that added to Stetson Bennett’s legacy.

Each play down the stretch was critical, but it was Kirby Smart who made one of the biggest calls of the game.

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Down 11 with 8:58 left to play, the Buckeyes had a 4th and 1 at their own 34-yard line. They lined up in a different punting formation than Georgia was used to seeing on film, and even with 12 players on the field, they snapped the ball and appeared to have picked up a massive 1st down.

But they snapped it just a second too late. Smart saw the formation and called arguably the greatest timeout in Georgia history.

That timeout saved Georgia in the moment and forced Ohio State to punt. The Bulldogs took full advantage on their first play of the drive with Stetson Bennett finding a wide-open Arian Smith for a key 76-yard touchdown.

And just like that, Georgia was down just three after a successful two-point conversion. Georgia took all the momentum, and they carried it for the rest of the game.

Smart spoke about calling the critical timeout after the game.

“They just were not in their traditional formation”, Smart said. “A lot of teams carry that speed break. They come up the line quick. Everybody's lined up tight. And we've seen it in the SEC. A lot of teams carry it, and you try to practice it, but it's another thing when they actually do it and execute it. So it was one of those gut reactions that I didn't think that we had it lined up properly to stop it, so we called timeout.”

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That’s what happens when you have a national-championship winning coach on the sidelines. A lot of coaches can recruit well and develop, but game management is just one reason why Kirby Smart is currently the best coach in college football.

Smart’s coaching instincts came in with the game on the line, and it saved Georgia’s season. If the Bulldogs do finish the season as national champions, Smart’s timeout will be one of the key moments across the entire season.

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