Kirby Smart questions whether his players know what it takes to be great
After spending the previous eight seasons on Nick Saban’s staff in Tuscaloosa, without a doubt Kirby Smart knows what it takes to consistently win at a high level in the SEC. While the new head coach in Athens may have the necessary experience, whether the Georgia players do or not is currently up for debate.
While calling in as a guest on the latest ESPN Championship Drive Podcast, Smart expressed his concern that his players may not yet understand what it truly takes to be champions.
“I don’t think our players realize how hard they have to work to be great,” Smart said on the May 18 podcast. “I think pushing them to do that and pushing them harder and making them realize they can do more is a big part of our job as coaches. They’ve got to understand they can work harder than they’re currently working and they can take more reps and they can do the reps the right way at a high rate.
“Obviously, we’ve got to improve the overall talent level and depth, but more important than that, it’s going to be whether or not these guys push through the ceiling and go through what they think they can and take the roof off it and go work a little bit harder. We start up June 1 with our entire team. It’s important to have good summer workouts and meet the demands of the program.”
It’s unclear if Smart has formed that opinion based on his short tenure in Athens or if he’s referencing the Bulldogs’ recent history of coming up short after heading into the season as the favorites to capture the SEC East division. Fortunately for UGA, the talent is in place to win now and the mentality Smart is asking for can be attained before the season arrives.
Judging by the 93,000-plus turnout at the spring game, the fans are more than ready to see a mental makeover from the team and are hopeful Smart can deliver that dog mentality. If the Bulldogs are able to capture the division title as an underdog this season, there won’t be any doubt that Smart’s work in reshaping the team’s psyche will be complete.