Two Kirby quotes from this piece about the culture change at Georgia that I appreciate:
Smart was asked Monday if he knew enough about how things were at Georgia to think if something major needed to change.
“I wasn’t concerned with the way it was before, I was only concerned with how I saw it being,” Smart said. “I thought that was important. It’s nothing about before, because I wasn’t here. It was more about the way I felt good practices should be done.”
This is the kind of thinking that’s always made me feel more optimistic about Smart than about Smart’s bosses. I’ll take “do it the way I believe works” over “I think the program plateaued” every day of the week and twice on Sundays because the former is an indication of a mind that has a clue about how to achieve while the latter is just taking a shot in the dark without any real plan of how to get better.
Smart indicated that it may have been harder to implement harder practices last year because of the roster. The team wasn’t fully at the NCAA scholarship limit of 85, as it is this year, and the overall depth is better. Many highly-rated members of the 2017 recruiting class, for instance, can’t crack the two-deep. Five-star tackle Isaiah Wilson appears headed for a redshirt.
“From a depth standpoint, you have to have good numbers to be able to practice things that you want to practice,” Smart said. “We had to work to get toward that and we’re still striving to get what we need from a scout-team standpoint, a rep standpoint, a physicality standpoint. We’re trying to improve that everyday.”
I’ve made no secret about my feeling that Richt’s roster management was his Achilles heel, but maybe I didn’t think all the way through the levels of impact that had on program building. Necessary depth for tough practices and the luxury of redshirting five-star offensive linemen are things we’ve never been able to take for granted with this Georgia program; indeed, so ingrained has my perception been about how things were done that I almost have trouble believing that this kind of stuff is real now, even as I’m starting to see results on the field.
Here we are, though. Maybe what it takes to turn a battleship around in the right direction is having all hands on deck.