Smart talk

Go ahead and find yourself twenty or so minutes of me time this morning, because you’ll definitely want to give a listen to Stewart Mandel’s excellent interview with Kirby Smart.  (Mandel’s introduction starts at the 17:00 mark and the interview itself kicks in at about 18:30.)

When done right, as this one is, an advantage a podcast Q&A has over one you read in print is that it’s easier to gauge how involved the interviewee is in the discussion.  Kirby seems a little withdrawn at the start, but you can sense he becomes more engaged in the conversation at the point when Mandel asks him about, ironically, what kind of offense he prefers to run.  That level is maintained until the interview’s end, when Mandel asks a couple of questions that Kirby prefers not to discuss.  And doesn’t.

Feel free to draw your own impressions from their conversation, but here are a few things I took away from it:

  • The vision thing.  Obviously, there’s a big difference between preparation and implementation, but if there’s one thing that shines through the entirety of the interview, it’s that Kirby has a very clear idea of what he wants to do in running a football program.  I suppose it’s no great surprise that someone who’s worked closely with Nick Saban for more than a decade has both a big picture in mind and a sense of how to go about achieving it.  While we don’t know how Kirby the game day coach will fare yet, we have seen the way the staff has been recruiting since his hire; listen to what he says about recruiting mid-way through the interview and match that up with the way the staff has been pursuing recruits since the changeover.
  • The return of the alumnus.  He’s given a lot of thought to how coaching at the school where he played impacts things, especially on the recruiting trail.
  • Quarterbacks.  The conversation about offense morphs into a more specific discussion about the quarterback position and that’s where things get most interesting, starting with Smart’s ideal, who, essentially, is Deshaun Watson, a pro-style quarterback with the ability to escape when the pocket breaks down.  The most revealing moment in the entire Q&A is when Mandel asks Kirby if he currently has a quarterback on the roster who fits the bill in that regard and Kirby replies after a moment that he doesn’t.  Which isn’t to say that none of the three currently battling don’t have their redeeming features – Smart goes on to list those for each of them.  That’s the part you should listen to most closely, especially if you intend to watch their G-Day performances to get some kind of idea of how the battle is shaping up this spring.  I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that I came away from listening to that feeling (1) Lambert has a stronger chance of being the starter on opening day than many of us might think and (2) Smart’s comment about Ramsey’s footwork shouldn’t be taken as some kind of sly remark about his punt work.
  • Transition.  Listen to what Smart says about how he and Tucker approached the question of terminology with the change in defensive coordinators and compare that to what Richt and Schottenheimer said and did post-Bobo.

Anyway, enough of me rambling about it.  Go listen and let me know what you think in the comments.


Filed under Georgia Football

11 responses to “Smart talk

  1. The other doug

    I think the part about a Watson-esque QB being what he wants is a recruiting pitch. Later he says the guys on campus are not watson-esque, but they have elements. Then he says Eason played basketball, Ramsey ran the wing T, and Lambert can’t run for shit. So, he basically says two of the three have pretty good legs and moves. He says they can run but not designed runs, but earlier he says the beauty of Watson isn’t designed runs, but that he can scramble when the play breaks down.

    I’m thinking recruiting pitch.


  2. Go Dawgs!

    Kirby really missed a real opportunity by not coming up with some reference to his new job coaching at the University of Montana. I guess he’s not a GTP reader. Sad.


  3. 92 grad

    Listen to stew and Bruce talk after the interview and it will drive you bonkers. These guys talk like they’d be more at home whining about the new golf ball and those dang oversize tennis rackets.

    Anyway, nice to hear Kirby, being a former teacher myself I can relate to what’s important to him right now vs. what settles in in year 2 and 3. I will say this, talent being equal, I’d go with Kirby over booch and miles in the “who got out coached” battle type games.


  4. DawgPhan

    The question after the interview about the over/under on winning a sec title was interesting.

    No way Smart is here 5 years and hasnt won a title. I think everyone involved knows that is the case.

    But the trying to out bama bama thing is spot on.


    • ltrftc

      Hmm… Initially I agreed with this mentally, as we all know that is the goal, but, let’s say over the next 5 years, Kirby has us dominating the east and we are in Atlanta 3 out of the next 5 years and truly in contention all but maybe this year. Then let’s imagine that in those championship games we run into Bama each time and the games are epic but we lose. There’s an outside shot that we make it to the CFP even in that scenario assuming the rest of the season looks strong.

      I can’t see us getting rid of Kirby in that scenario and would still validate what they were saying.


      • DawgPhan

        anything is possible. I am sure there is a scenario where kirby can not win the SEC Championship in the next 5 years and still get a 6th year, but there might only be a handful of those scenarios.


      • rchris

        I agree with Itrftc on this one, and I’ll go one further. If Kirby is consistently fielding better teams than Richt every year, say 10-3 as a floor and 12-2 as a ceiling, even if he never wins the SEC outright and only occasionally wins the East, then he won’t be let go. There’s a limit to how much Fulmering a program can do and still attract quality coaching candidates.


  5. DawgPhan

    If you go back and listen to the 3/30 podcast about UGA becoming too restrictive there is a mention of this blog.

    trigger warning: there is FOIA talk on that one, but the mention comes really early in the podcast.


  6. I lol’d when Kirby said he wasn’t a “SME.” I hear that term get overused so much in the corporate world.