10 things new Georgia coach Kirby Smart must do better than Mark Richt
The love affair with the Georgia faithful is still going strong now, but new Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has his work cut out for him if he aims to keep it that way.
Here’s a look at 10 things Smart must do better than his predecessor, Mark Richt, if he wants to stay on the good side of Bulldogs Nation.
1. Win an SEC Championship: The Dawgs haven’t won an SEC title since 2005 and haven’t competed for one since 2012. That was the major reason Richt was canned, so Smart had best keep that in mind. Winning alone isn’t enough without championships to go with it.
2. Consistently beat Florida and Georgia Tech: Nothing gets the Dawgs faithful in a huff quicker than losing to the hated Gators or their in-state rivals in Atlanta. That holds true all the more when, as has often been the case, Georgia boasts more talent overall. Winning the right games matters, too.
3. Catch up to Alabama: Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has made life hell for the rest of the coaches in the SEC, but beating him won’t be easy. Georgia, however, is one of the few programs that has the available resources and talent to possibly knock Saban from his perch. Saban, however, has never lost to one of his former assistants, a fact no doubt not lost on Smart.
4. Avoid the annual trip-ups to lesser teams: Every year, Georgia seemed to lose a game it absolutely had no business losing and those stinging losses always proved costly.
5. Better develop quarterbacks: It’s ironic that Richt is a former quarterback who came to Athens with an offensive coordinator background, yet struggled to develop quarterbacks after Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray left. That inability and a couple of recruiting misses came back to haunt Georgia this fall. The defensive-minded Smart will need newly-hired offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to earn his money with top recruit Jacob Eason and the rest of the quarterbacks.
6. Have more say in the team’s overall direction: Richt at times appeared too passive in the offensive play calling this season, and that determination to not look over Brian Schottenheimer’s decisions may have been the wrong one.
7. Keep the state’s top quarterbacks at home: As if watching their own quarterbacks struggle weren’t bad enough this season, Bulldogs fans took added umbrage every time a Clemson highlight came on TV showing Gainesville native Deshaun Watson lighting it up for the Tigers, the nation’s undefeated top-ranked team. Oh, what might have been.
8. Be fiery: Toughness is a trait Georgia fans respect and they want to see it from their coach as well. That’s not to say that Richt wasn’t tough, but a little more fire and brimstone might have worked better this season than Richt’s laid-back persona.
9. Hold players accountable: If somebody is consistently not getting the job done, find another player who will. Richt’s loyalty was commendable, almost to a fault this fall.m
10. Make sure the personalities of his staff mesh better: Georgia had its problems on the field, but the reported bickering among coaches – especially centering around former defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt – certainly didn’t help things.