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Nick Saban coined the phrase “rat poison” for when the national media praises a team for being elite, alluding to the idea that all that attention can get to a player’s head.
Kirby Smart and his Georgia Bulldogs have been among the nation’s elites since 2017, but this 2021 squad may be his best team yet.
And with that level of talent and dominance comes media praise. Georgia is ranked No. 2 in the two major polls but is considered to be right there with Alabama as America’s top program this year.
There’s no question that all this praise can get to a player’s head, especially when we’re talking about college students. So the objective becomes – how do you keep a group of kids focused on the goal at hand and not let all this attention prove harmful to the on-field product?
“Is it going to affect them? Is it going to poison them? I hope not. I certainly hope not,” Smart said. “I think that the standard of being elite is what keeps them from becoming poisoned. When you compare yourself against greatness, there is a certain standard you have to reach and it supersedes the opponent.”
Georgia has been nothing short of elite this season, especially on the defensive side of the football. At 5-0, this defense ranks No. 1 across the board and has allowed only 16 points all year….that’s an average of 3.2 points per game surrendered.
Who is the guy at the top? Is it defensive lineman Jordan Davis? Linebacker Nakobe Dean? Is there a lone superstar on this defense that’s allowing them to reach these incredible heights?
Smart does not think so. Instead, he thinks that the lack of a single superstar is what makes this unit so special.
“The buy-in by this group has been good,” Smart said. “The cohesion… Who is the superstar? I don’t think you could name one superstar really on this whole team. When you have that, you have a lot of guys that buy-in.
“I think personalities outside of our world and our family want there to be a superstar. Want there to be one guy, but there’s not. Not on this team. It’s done by committee across the board.”
Georgia has another opportunity to prove it’s worthy of all of this attention when it takes on Auburn in a top-20 matchup this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.