This is a strange criticism.
Smart was then asked why the secondary’s play has frustrated him through the preseason.
Smart had a simple response to the question.
“Well, it’s when the other team throws the ball real far down the field and then the other team catches it, and we don’t make the play,” Smart said. “It concerns me. That’s it. I wouldn’t say it’s often. But if it happens once I don’t like it. Right? You don’t like big plays. It’s good for the offense to make some of those…”
The reason I find it strange was because preventing the big pass play was one of Georgia’s strengths last season. The Dawgs were second in the conference in opponents’ pass plays of more than 20 yards and third in more than 30 yards. There’s only one defensive back from last season who’s gone, Maurice Smith, and while he had a great 2016 season, it’s hard to think he was the sole reason for success. (Besides, it’s reasonable to think the front seven, with another year under their belts, are likely to be even better contributors this season.)
So, are we supposed to accept this as a sign that the receiving corps is a greater threat this year? Is this Smart’s way of motivating his returning defensive backs? Or is somebody just grumpy on general principle?
Then again, maybe they’ve done such a good job of fixing the red zone problems that Kirby’s moved on.