What Georgia coach Kirby Smart said about Michigan football on Sunday

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Georgia was undefeated until it ran into a buzzsaw that was the Alabama Crimson Tide. Now ranked No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, the Bulldogs will face off against No. 2 Michigan, the home team in the Dec. 31 Capital One Orange Bowl.

UGA’s head coach Kirby Smart met with the media on Sunday via Zoom to discuss the matchup, and had nothing but good things to say about the job that the Wolverines have done in 2021 and says he has a lot of mutual respect for head coach Jim Harbaugh, as well as his family — noting his relationship with Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean, who is married to Harbaugh’s sister, Joanie.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Michigan and Coach Harbaugh’s team,” Smart said. “Got to see a little bit of their game last night and I’ve seen a few of their games on TV throughout the season when we had some late kicks and they had some early ones. Got a lot of respect for the job he does, always respected him as a college coach and pro coach. Obviously, with his brother-in-law being Tom Crean, Tom and I have grown to be good friends and I have mutual respect for their family.”

As far as general impressions are concerned, though Smart caught some of Michigan’s emphatic 42-3 win over Iowa to win the Big Ten championship, he says he really doesn’t have much of an idea about what the Wolverines do from a schematic standpoint.

Instead, he notes the leadership he saw watching the postgame interviews, and says that paints a good picture about the maize and blue.

“It would be really unfair to say that, we just found out we’re playing them. The biggest thing I noticed was the physicality they played with last night, the leadership they had,” Smart said. “I was thoroughly impressed with the interviews that I saw among their interviews postgame. I think you can always tell where a team stands and what they’re all about by what they talk about, the messaging. To hear those guys talk after the game was really impressive. They’re a senior-laden, senior-driven team that leads it that way.”

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Of course, the big man on defense is the one everyone is on high alert for.

Team captain Aidan Hutchinson has been getting a lot of Heisman Trophy buzz in recent weeks, but Smart wasn’t particularly familiar with him being down in SEC country. However, he managed to get a dossier and thorough primer on Saturday night from an unlikely source — his nine-year-old son.

“No. 1, I was really impressed with his interview last night and then again today,” Smart said. “I caught him on — I forget who he was on, but the College Football Playoff coverage. You can tell high motor, high intensity, serious, just a talented player.

“It’s funny: last night when I got home, I turned the game on, was watching it. I’ve got a nine-year-old son that loves college football. He watches everything, YouTube. He was telling me about Michigan’s players, and that’s the first guy he started telling me about. I’m like, ‘How does my nine-year-old son know about Aidan Hutchinson?’ He knew everything about him. He was giving me all these stats and I was pretty amazed, because I really just started to find myself (learning about) Michigan last night. And he was talking about Aidan.”

Michigan and Georgia will kick off in the Capital One Orange Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff semi-finals on Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. EST.

List

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