Tag Archives: Kirby Smart

So much for the everybody knows it was Saban’s defense narrative.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that Kirby gave a coaching lecture at the Texas High School Coaches Association Convention..

If you’re looking for a remarkably deep dive into what he had to say, click here (h/t Chris Brown) and strap it on.

Smart’s lecture was broken into several parts: 1) the evolution of his defensive scheme; 2) winning 3rd down; 3) TFL study (how to get more of them); and finally 4) a question and answer session. What I really enjoyed about Coach Smart was the fact he was willing to admit he needed to change. Many coaches, especially at his level, can get comfortable after a lot of success, but that breeds complacency. He had several comments on how he needed to adjust his defense to what they were seeing and encouraged everyone to go and visit people to gain new ideas and insight on their particular scheme. Don’t be a dinosaur – adapt or die!

That’s Smart’s overall philosophy in a nutshell, but if you’re looking for specifics, here you go:

Most know that Saban and his proteges base out of his Match 3 coverage Rip/Liz scheme, but Smart has discovered that you have to adjust not only the overhangs (Saban likes his outside leverage) but also how the CF safety plays (MOF). I’m assuming a lot of this change came after he went and met with current Texas DC Todd Orland when he was at Houston. This wanting to adapt came after Ohio State scored 42 points and beat Alabama in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. Tome Herman, former Houston HC and now Texas HC, was the OC for the Buckeyes at the time. Interesting stuff.

  • Smart is moving away from the DEEP middle third safety (unless D&D calls for it)
  • The “High Safety” (FS) now plays the RPO (think like a high low hole player -Quarters guys should be familiar with “robber,” and if you are in Big 12 country the 3-safety Dime).
  • The safety sits at 10 yds and is like a “High Rat” or robber player reading the QB. He will take the inside RPO to let the LBs fit run. Think of it as a funnel. The overhangs are outside leverage and funneling everything to the safety who is sitting at 10 yards reading the QB.

This is an interesting idea because it allows your ILBs to be late. Smart referred to it as similar to Tampa (think an inverted Tampa). The way I see it, it is like what the Big 12 teams are doing with their 3-safety (Dime) looks, but from a Sabanistic perspective (Rip/Liz). I love the way he adjusted the scheme to fit what he knows.

Notice the references there to what Big 12 defenses are doing.  Looks like Kirby may already be a step ahead of Lincoln Riley’s perception of Georgia’s defense.

Because of the way he was aligning his Ni, Spread teams could force his hand and get what they wanted. He noticed a lot of teams were going FIB and dictating where the Ni was depending on his front. If Smart had his 4-down unit in, teams knew the Ni was going to the passing strength, so they played relatively normal. When he would go 3-down, the Ni would now go to the field no matter what and he was getting a heavy dose of FIB. If he tried to leave a hybrid package on the field and switch from 4 to 3-down, but teams would tempo to get him to play “Palms Up Defense” because his verbiage was too long.  This changed the way he thought about his defense: 1) he needed to cut verbiage and 2) he needed basic rules for alignment – the Ni always goes to strength.

  • The Change:
    • Smart figured he must be able to line up versus tempo
      • Eventually switched to pass strength in every package (alignment)
      • Started using one-word calls
    • He tried to devise ways to keep alignments consistent even when switching packages
    • Simulate tempo in practice
      • “Fastball” starts versus formations – this is like a pursuit drill:
        • Team aligns to a formation
        • The ball is snapped and thrown to a spot on the field
        • The team runs to the ball. The whistle is blown and they must get lined back up
        • Repeat with a different formation (x4)
        • He would add scouts and work leverage on the ball versus screens and “pop” or snag routes
    • Don’t line up and play “vanilla.”
    • Design a field/boundary and match-up defense. This allows you to give different looks and the players know where to go instantly by the call.

I hope nobody tells Todd Grantham about this.

There’s plenty more there and you should read it all if you’re interested in learning more about what goes into designing the Georgia defense.

If you want more of a tl;dr analysis, Ian Boyd’s got you covered.

If Georgia winds up not missing Roquan too much this season, Kirby ought to be coach of the year.



Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

Some good stuff here:

Kirby Smart needed outside help.

Alabama’s defense had just been shredded for 42 points and 537 yards in the Sugar Bowl by the eventual national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. A defense that had been top 5 in yards allowed per game six years in a row finished 12th nationally. A unit full of future NFL Draft picks looked a step slow, finishing 59th in pass defense.

So Smart, then Alabama’s defensive coordinator, gave Tom Herman a call.

“You talk about evolution and adjusting to the competition, for us that meant talking to coach Herman,” Smart, now the head coach at Georgia, said during a coaching lecture at the Texas High School Coaches Association Convention. “We said, ‘Give us everything you got. Help us, be honest. Tell us where we stink.’”

They “stunk” where they weren’t supposed to stink.

That meant facing a fact – Alabama was built to stop a thing of the past.

“We’re built for big, physical, eight or nine in the box. How are you going to stop the run?” Smart said. “That’s a dinosaur.”

Smart’s lecture began with a chart of Alabama’s starting lineup during the 2009 national championship game. Featured prominently were nose tackle Terrence Cody (365 pounds) and inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (260 pounds). Smart flashed to another slide displaying his 2017 equivalents to that All-American pair, John Atkins (305 pounds) and Roquan Smith (225 pounds).

The dinosaur age of Smart’s defense involved stopping 21 personnel and two-back sets. That’s what Hightower and Cody were built for. In the age of three and four-wide sets, Atkins and Smith represented an evolution. The recruiting prototype changed for Smart changed from big run stuffers to more agile prospects capable of running in space.

I would have loved to have seen Kirby’s reaction when he first realized what he had in Roquan Smith.

Anyway, read the whole thing.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Rock me on the water.

Needless to say, there’s been plenty of angst in certain corners of Dawgnation in reaction to Jack Jake Fromm’s summer injuries, enough that beat writers have felt compelled to write stories reminding us that there’s no rule student-athletes have to be bubble wrapped during the offseason.

Appearing at former NFL head coach Bruce Arians’ Georgia Celebrity Golf Classic at Lake Oconee, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said what Fromm did during his offseason isn’t much different than what he did when he was in college. Therefore, there isn’t any blame to be passed around, especially for an injury that isn’t a big deal.

“We do what we do as kids,” Smart said. “I did the same thing when I was playing. A lot of people do that. I don’t think you live your life scared and worried about that. You want to be safe, you want to take precaution, but you don’t want things like that to control your lifestyle.”

A nice, measured response there from Kirby.  Also from Kirby:

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Georgia’s head coach was trolling some folks.


Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

Things Kirby and Saban hate, from someone who ought to know

Don’t know how I missed this clip before, but it’s Mike Bobo talking about what Alabama and Georgia were up to on the opening series of the national championship game.


Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

Play to play

While I give Kirby credit for being on the side of the angels when it comes to graduate transfers, let’s not pretend he’s entirely selfless.  He’s a head coach, after all.  He’s paid big bucks to win, which in the SEC means fielding the best roster he can assemble.  So when a somewhat obscure walk-on, third-string quarterback who’s never taken a live game snap announces his departure from the program, leaving a gaping hole in scout team preparation for this season, you can’t blame Kirby for doing a Saban-esque reflection on what that says about human nature.

Smart, attending this year’s SEC spring meetings in Florida, said much of the movement among college quarterbacks stems from what he sees as a learned impatience at the high school level. Smart said he has observed quarterbacks’ families searching for high schools for their sons to play for as freshmen and sophomores. When that sort of immediate playing time doesn’t materialize in college, those players are leaving earlier than maybe they would a decade or longer ago.

“They’re positioning from eighth grade to ninth grade, ‘Where can I be the quarterback in ninth grade at this high school program?’ ” Smart said. “And when they go shopping and searching, they find a place they can go. A lot of them start for three or four years (in high school), where it used to not be that way. It’s now trickling up to us.”

… But the fact that Georgia won’t go three deep on scholarship at quarterback is a bit baffling to Smart.

“That’s crazy to me you’re not going to have that,” Smart said. “It’s a me-now society. They want the self-gratification. They want to know they’re going to be able to play. It’s different than any other position on the team. Every other position on the team, other than maybe kicker, they know they can have another role.”

Kind of like how coaches stay forever at the places they get hired at.

It’s a shame Kirby has to deal with so much self-gratification.  Obviously, this is what every parent wants to hear:

“I’d argue if you were the parent of a quarterback that you would say, you know what, where is my son going to get the best development? Where is he going to get the best reps, where is he going to learn to play the quarterback position like it is in the NFL, not necessarily play first. Where is he going to learn to play the position, sit in the meeting room where they teach you protections and the things they are going to learn at the next level,” Smart said. “They don’t draft you at the next level just based on your play performance, they want to see what system you played in, where you played, and did you grow as a quarterback. They want to know have you learned? But it’s tough keeping them around. They want to go where they can play right away.”

The selling doesn’t stop there.

“You’ve got to sell it to them that it’s about the team. It can’t be just about you, even though there is a me generation, a me society,” Smart said. “I think sometimes when you explain it to them, this is what’s best for you, then you can help them understand what you’re doing what you’re doing.”

I bet it’s news to Stetson and his parents that he’s throwing away his big shot at playing in the NFL one day.


Filed under Georgia Football

It never hurts to ask.

I’m not sure what it is about the SEC spring meetings, but they sure seem to bring out the snark.

He’ll be here all week, folks.  Try the veal!


Filed under Georgia Football

The honorable Kirby Smart

You know, for someone who was accused of doing obscene things to his old boss on the recruiting trail with a whiteboard, Kirby Smart sure played things above board when it came to offering Maurice Smith a chance to play in Athens as a graduate transfer from Alabama.

TRO: Given that great experience, what was the reason for wanting one more stop before your college career ended?

Smith: I saw it an opportunity when coach Smart and coach Tucker told the team they were about to leave and go to Georgia. I had never received an offer from them — it was one of the few schools who never offered me. Once coach Smart told me, I wanted to make the move and transition…

TRO: Did coach Smart (Alabama defensive coordinator) or coach Tucker (Alabama defensive backs coach) let you know before they took their jobs with Georgia that they may be moving, and that there would be interest in bringing you along if they did move? 

Smith: Honestly, it sounds funny, but we never even spoke about it. My relationship with coach Smart at ‘Bama was not what it could have been — it was not that strong or close. He recruited me out of high school, but once I was there a couple of things happened and went the route they did just because of him. It wasn’t like I didn’t like him or anything like that. I just didn’t understand what was going on.

Before the National Title game, we knew he was leaving, but he never spoke about it. Obviously, there were the little things: “You do what you do, and you will have success”. That kind of thing. But in terms of a conversation about me following him, that never crossed our minds.

The funny thing is, before the National Championship, once they both knew they were leaving, I kind of knew that we would end up crossing paths, but I never thought it would be in college. Georgia wasn’t even my first choice!

I was actually interested in a couple of other schools. One day my mom came up to me and was like “what would you think about going to Georgia?” And I was like “I dunno”. I wasn’t too fond of it: they hadn’t recruited me; I hadn’t been; I didn’t have a close relationship with coach Smart. I ended up speaking with coach Tucker, he had been one of my favorite defensive backs coaches. Once that happened, I thought about doing it and took a visit. After that it took off from there.

That’s about as straight up as it gets.  Not that there weren’t a few assholes involved in the story.  It’s just that all of them were located in Tuscaloosa.

TRO: Walk us through your transfer process?

Smith: Well, to start, I remember it was after the spring game — a couple of weeks after — I had ongoing thoughts about maybe I should explore different options. That’s what I ended up doing.

I went into coach Saban’s office and told him I wanted to look into other schools. He was like “what do you mean? Transfer?” I told him no, I just wanted to look at options. He didn’t take that lightly; he didn’t know my motive. He kind of went into tank mode, in the sense that he was asking the staff “why is Mo trying to leave?”

I never told anyone I wanted to leave, just that I wanted to explore options. I forget what it’s called, but I was trying to get the release so that I could speak to schools or something like that. That’s when it went south real quick. I was kind of surprised. I didn’t know where the madness or confusion had come from, because I hadn’t asked for a transfer.

The practices went on, and next thing I know things went even more south: coach Saban is telling me I’m not able to come into the facility or workout with the team if I’m going to leave.

Once that happened, things got real ugly.

And that was a week before he even thought about transferring to Georgia.  Nice.


Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules