Just when I think I can’t be surprised, Dennis Dodd, of all people, writes the most anti-narrative piece about Georgia of the offseason. And it all begins with Kirby Smart’s obvious road block.
The question is being asked wrong. Instead of inquiring whether this is the year for Georgia, consider the man ultimately in charge of answering that question. More to the point, Kirby Smart has 24 of them — years, that is — on the legend he is chasing.
During his rotation through the 2021 SEC Media Days on Tuesday, the Georgia coach barely mentioned Alabama. He certainly didn’t mention Nick Saban, who at age 69 has to yet to lose to a former assistant (11-0).
Forget about those first five years of Richt versus first five years of Smart comparisons and try this one on for size.
Sure, Kirby had more to work with than his mentor did, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Saban’s built a monster in Tuscaloosa now and it’s Smart’s responsibility to deal with it. He’s certainly putting the pieces in place to do so.
For the first time under Smart, offense is leading the way for the Dawgs. Quarterback J.T. Daniels is hoping to play his first full season since breaking out as a freshman at USC in 2018. This is a big deal because, as Smart likes to say, Georgia finished ranked No. 7 playing three quarterbacks last year in Daniels’ absence.
The difference might be Georgia is now explosive on offense. And explosive is all the rage. Why plod when you can strike quickly and often? The Dawgs led the nation with 4.5% of its plays being either runs of 10+ yards or passes of 30+ yards, both better marks than Alabama’s quick-strike offense.
Smart has hit the transfer portal like a gangster, landing LSU pass catcher Arik Gilbert, West Virginia safety Tykee Smith and Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick. Even with the loss of leading WR George Pickens, Gilbert is a huge boost for the Dawgs. The former Tigers tight end has convinced Smart he can play receiver. Good luck defending that at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds … along with 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end Darnell Washington.
The defense is absolutely loaded. Senior nose tackle Jordan Davis returned to a unit that led the SEC in average yards per play. “I just wanted to savor the moment because I feel like I didn’t really savor my last season,” Davis said.
Saban being Saban, of course, it’s not like Alabama has been asleep at the switch this offseason, either. Is it enough to hold off Georgia? It’s hard to pick against ‘Bama until Georgia actually does it, but I do feel if Smart knocks at the door long enough, sooner or later it’s bound to open. In any event, I’d rather embrace that outlook than swallow the narrative du jour.