Now that Georgia is 4-0 after last week’s 31-3 win over Mississippi State, the accolades are starting to pour in for Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs.
Many in the national media are getting into the act.
ESPN’s Paul Finebaum, for example, immediately lauded the Bulldogs as a team to watch. Other pundits are also singing Georgia’s praises.
A jump up to No. 7 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 also has tongues wagging.
However, the Bulldogs – at least so far - don’t seem to be buying into what those outside the program are saying.
Running back Sony Michel says he and the other seniors on the team won’t allow it.
“When you’re winning in life, life in general, you tend to want to be complacent and I think that’s when Coach, the leaders, kind of have to step up even if they don’t want to,” Michel said. “You’ve got to go harder, you’ve got to grind harder and you’ve got to make things tougher. We’ve got to put ourselves in situations that you don’t want to be in if you want to continue to move forward.”
Head coach Kirby Smart certainly seems to be taking a “work harder” approach.
When asked at the conclusion of Monday’s press conference if he was happy with the team’s tackling, he quickly shot back “No” before walking away from the podium.
“I think we do a good job of trying to keep guys humble and not to focus on the past,” Michel said. “The past is the past and we try to move forward. We’ve got to focus game by game and this week it’s Tennessee, so the only thing we can think of is Tennessee.”
Another message? Don’t overlook the Vols, a team which has struggled offensively four games into the year.
“We just need to keep buying into what Coach has done,” Michel said. “Each week I think he has a great message for the team and I’m sure it’s going to be something that players don’t want to hear. But, at the same time, they’ve got to buy in and we’ve got to trust the process.”
Michel says he’s fine
Michel was limited to just seven carries against Mississippi State, but said the ankle that kept him out of the previous game against Samford is no longer a problem.
“It felt good,” Michel said. “I was able to go out there and play football, good enough to run the ball a couple of times, to help get good yardage, put the team in good position.”
Michel said he felt fine to get more, but with Georgia’s backfield depth, there was simply no reason to overdo it.
“It was a coaches’ decision. I don’t think I needed more carries to help this team,” he said. “I felt I got enough for the game and was fine on going with that.”
• Elijah Holyfield did not play against Mississippi State, but Smart brushed off the notion that something may have been wrong.
“He just never got an opportunity to,” Smart said. “A lot of guys didn't play. Shoot, we want to get him on special teams, get him involved, we just didn't get an opportunity.”
Secondary getting it done
Smart was asked if he thought his secondary was finally buying into what Mel Tucker was teaching, and if that was a reason for the perception that their play has improved.
“Well, they bought into it last year. I don't think it was a situation of being against the philosophy because I'll be dead honest with you, the philosophy didn't change a whole lot. Because the guy (Jeremy Pruitt) that was here before was similar in nature to what we believe in,” Smart said. “So, there wasn't a change in philosophy. I think they have had a lot of reps on it.”
Smart also credited his front seven for helping the play of his secondary, which picked off its first two passes of the year in Saturday’s game against Mississippi State, with Deandre Baker and Dominick Sanders getting one each.
“I think Deandre Baker is playing pretty well. I think we have had a lot of other positions by committee because we've had to rotate some guys all over. I certainly think pressure and loss-yardage plays, tackle for loss has helped the quarterback make a quicker decision,” Smart said. “So, the play of Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and the guys up front do have an effect on the back end. We have to continue to improve in the secondary because we see lapses every week in practice that can't happen in games.”
Fromm tabbed the SEC Freshman of the Week
Quarterback Jake Fromm was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after completing 9 of 12 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia’s 31-3 win over Mississippi State.
On the year, Fromm has completed 43 of 69 passes for 650 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception.
This and that
Kickoff for Georgia’s game scheduled for Oct. 7 at Vanderbilt has been set for noon Eastern Time. The game will be televised on either the SEC Network, ESPN or ESPN2. …If the Bulldogs win Saturday, it will officially be the program’s 800th victory in school history. …The last five meetings between Georgia and Tennessee have been decided by a touchdown or less.