KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Kirby Smart uttered something very profound during his press conference following Saturday’s 41-0 rout of Tennessee.
If you read my game story from earlier Saturday, you’ll recognize the words, but it bears repeating in this column because it’s so true.
“If you form good habits, good habits will start to form you,” Smart told the gathered press.
You know, that’s actually pretty good. It’s also quite true.
If there was ever any doubt about the culture Smart continues to build in just his second year as the Bulldogs’ head coach, there shouldn’t be any more.
That culture Smart has talked so often about building in Athens? It’s definitely starting to show.
“Culture in practice is what creates games like today and buying into that,” Smart said. “Right now, the kids are buying into that because they are seeing the results.”
This is starting to get fun.
People ask me all the time what it is about Georgia that’s different than what’s been seen in previous years, and the reason is quite simple.
It’s Kirby Smart.
In the 18 games since he’s been Georgia’s head coach, there’s a different vibe inside the Butts-Mehre that’s unmistakable – the Bulldogs no longer hope to win, they expect to.
“That’s why we play so hard, come out every day and attack the day,” cornerback Tyrique McGhee said. “It’s about believing in yourself and that’s what is happening.”
Here’s what’s also striking – this team is not satisfied. Especially on defense.
Georgia had just avenged last year’s heartbreaking loss to Tennessee, handing the Vols their first shutout since 1994, a span of 289 consecutive games.
While players were quite aware and obviously very proud about that fact, there wasn’t a player spoken to after the game who tried to make a bigger deal about it than necessary.
When Lorenzo Carter was asked if he was going to check out the Internet to read up on the Bulldogs’ big win, his answer was emphatic.
“No,” Carter said. “Coach Smart tells us y’all (media) can smile to your face but be backstabbers the next.”
In other words, Georgia’s players are following the lead of their head coach. Nobody is taking the team’s current run of success for granted.
Smart likes to say his team is just “chopping wood” and that certainly seems to be the case.
But these days, the wood being chopped is being done with mightier swings. These Bulldogs are expecting to topple bigger trees.
That’s a culture change, folks.
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at AnthonyDasher1.