I’ve written a couple of times before about Kirby’s defensive philosophy/approach, here and here. I’m going to dive back in with what may be the most extensive analysis of that I’ve seen (h/t Ian Boyd).
When you talk about Kirby, the defensive guru, everything obviously starts with his coaching mentor, Nick Saban. But that’s just a beginning point; Smart isn’t a Saban clone, at least not completely.
My primary reason for studying Kirby Smart’s defense was in finding out how much he would keep from his near decade-long boss, and how much he would truly carve out on his own. Would he be simply Saban 2.0 – now with improved media relations? Or would he deliver a distinct defensive philosophy that was entirely his own? The answer, of course, is somewhat in between.
In many ways, defensive coaches are molded by the offenses they face. Saban, for example, spent a lifetime facing a litany of offensive schemes at both the collegiate and NFL levels, which in turn has led him to his near omnivorous approach to defense. There is almost no front, coverage, or blitz missing in Saban’s mental library, and he is thoroughly prepared to use them all if the situation demands it.
Smart’s defense, by contrast, appears more molded by the proliferation of the spread offense that coincides with his coaching career. His defense is more condensed, more streamlined, more focused. In short, Smart’s defense appears to have fewer individual play calls, but with more checks and adjustments built-in…
It’s an excellent, in depth piece that goes into tremendous detail with personnel, sets and adjustments. It took me over an hour to go through, so set aside a little time when you get the chance and read it all. It’s well worth it if you’re trying to understand what Georgia tries to do on defense, which, by the way, is nicely summed up at the end as…
In many ways, Smart does not see predictability simply as a mistake, but a symptom of an even greater sin: complacency.