I raised the question last week if Rodrigo Blankenship’s sudden prowess on the field goal front might have had the consequence of making Kirby Smart less aggressive on offense — after Auburn, Georgia’s scoring average from game seven on dropped again, by the way — but Ed Aschoff writes something that might be a legitimate rebuttal to that line of thinking.
Smart is more confident in his own process before, during and after games. He’s more comfortable with “game-time stuff and game-time decisions.” The simple aspects of deciding whether to run or pass on certain downs don’t stress him as much. He’s learning when to be conservative with his timeouts and when not to be. Smart’s finally staying a step ahead of his counterparts in certain aspects of games — not all of them, but improvement is improvement for the rookie head coach.
This might sound elementary, but the little things and the hints of evolution have gone a long way for a team that was 4-4.
You saw it perfectly in two trick plays he ran near the goal line with Terry Godwin going from runner to passer. While neither worked — the first one was intercepted and the second, which would have officially ended the game, was knocked out of quarterback Jacob Eason’s hands in the end zone — it showed some great progression on Smart’s part. Smart wanted to be the aggressor, and it showed that he isn’t scared to take a major risk for a potential major reward in a huge game.
“You wanna run the ball in third-and-fourth at the goal? No, we want to find a way to get it in,” Smart said of the trick play.
If you know you’ve got a competent place kicker at your back, maybe that contributes to more aggressive play calls in the red zone. Though Smart never got the chance to call for a field goal after that first trick play was blown up. Something to watch going forward, maybe.