ATHENS – It’s time for football in the hedges and Kirby Smart says it’s time to go.
“I want to see relentless effort,” Smart said during his coach’s show Thursday. “I want to see the calm and the branding of Georgian football.
“We are very grateful to play and I want to see us play our best.”
The figure n. 7 classified Auburn Tigers (1-0) represents a significant challenge for the # 1 Bulldogs. 4 classified at 7:30 pm Saturday (TV: ESPN).
Intelligence has been measured throughout the week, knowing that Georgia essentially mulliganed in last Saturday̵
The Bulldogs recovered from a 7-5 deficit in the first half, passing 11 first-half penalties and inconsistent play in each offensive position group.
“We had a lot of things to work on, (but) I was pleased with how hard the guys worked, especially on Monday and Tuesday,” said Smart.
“We’ll find out on Saturday … we have a test.”
Here are five things to look out for in Saturday night’s game against Auburn at Sanford Stadium:
Make great comedies
Smart is looking for big offensive plays against Auburn
Georgia took over Auburn’s offense early last season when Dominick Blaylock scored the opening touchdown on a 51-yard hold as UGA built a 21-0 lead.
The Bulldogs, however, failed to manage a game longer than 26 yards against the Razorbacks.
The Georgian version of the Air Raid was impressive in many ways: UGA led the SEC in the plays (89) and most of the players got a pass (12).
“The bottom line is you want to be explosive one in eight games,” Monken said at the start of fall drills. “You’re watching about 10 per game.”
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Monken identified a 12-yard run or 16-yard pass as explosive games, of which Georgia had seven out of 89 offensive games last Saturday.
Prevent the big shows
“We can’t give up on explosives,” said Smart. “Arkansas had no weapons outside Auburn.”
Still, the Razorbacks struck for a 49-yard touchdown to complete a 91-yard scoring drive and jump out to a 7-0 lead.
The game started going wrong for Georgia when Azeez Ojulari lost containment in his quick pass, allowing QB Feleipe Franks to get out of his pocket and buy time.
Security Richard LeCounte was caught eye-catching in the backfield, allowing a catcher to slip behind him for the long touchdown pass.
That can’t happen against Auburn, who has notably better receivers in Seth Williams and speedster Anthony Schwartz.
Smart attributed last Saturday’s halftime fights to a cumulative actual, with several players not receiving assignments and failing to perform early on.
“We always say that on offense it takes 11 people to operate efficiently, and if you have a step out of line, you can’t get over it,” said Smart.
“I’m looking for some excitement, we need to play better offensively.”
Smart pointed out that the loss of three junior offensive linemen to the NFL has its price.
“When you have juniors leaving your schedule, it’s hard to replace them because the offensive line is a development position,” said Smart. “It’s how fast you spin those guys (young and new).”
Georgia must also take care of the football against an opportunistic Auburn defense that was more than 3 in revenue margin in their 29-13 home win over Kentucky.
Stop New Auburn
Smart’s Georgia defenders have kept Auburn at 14 points or less in four of their last five fights.
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This bodes well when you consider Gus Malzahn is 1-16 in Auburn when his teams score less than 20 points.
Smart, however, points out that new Tigers coordinator Chad Morris gave Auburn a different look.
“I’ve seen a lot of non-traditional Auburns,” said Smart. “I feel like I’ve seen Auburn more than any other team in college football because of the overlap, coming from (Alabama) from west to east.
“It was the most different Auburn I’ve seen, much more conventional in protection, routes, structure…. I think Chad will bring a lot, and they have a quarterback to carry it.”
Effective management of the QB
Smart said he was involved in the attack, and that puts him at the center of the quarterback’s derby decision.
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By all indications, the Stetson Bennett junior red jersey will start on the heels of his 20-for-29 passing performance that scored 211 yards and 2 TDs in just over 30 minutes of work.
The second year of Redshirt JT Daniels has been licensed and is expected to be available.
Smart also said he had confidence in the red jersey freshman D’Wan Mathis who started last week’s game.
Until Daniels is comfortable and confident in his rehabilitated knee, the QB situation will remain fluid and will require careful and effective management to keep the Bulldogs on the winning streak.