Georgia’s season may have ended on a dud but the reality is the Bulldogs were a quarter of good football away from making a second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance. As tough as that is to swallow, it’s something Kirby Smart is still hung up on as his team is about to start spring practice in Athens.

Of course, Georgia did not have a good fourth quarter against Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship Game as the Crimson Tide managed to outscore the Bulldogs 14-0 in the final leg of the league title game resulting in a seven-point victory for Alabama. Georgia’s predictable letdown in team’s Sugar Bowl loss to Texas added to the sour ending to the season.

With Georgia set to begin spring practice in the coming days down in Athens, Smart is still having to answer questions regarding his team’s poor finish to the season.

“We played well for the most part against Alabama but we didn’t finish the game….for whatever reason. They made some plays and we didn’t have the hob-nail boot mentality (that said) ‘We’ve got them on the ropes, let’s knock them out.’ We didn’t do it,” Smart said according to Tony Barnhart of TMG College Sports.

“From that point on, when we didn’t do that (beat Alabama) it was a struggle. We didn’t practice great for Texas. We practiced hard but we didn’t prepare and have the kind of passion we needed and that falls on us as coaches. Texas played harder than us.”

That much was evident as it took a late score by Georgia in the closing seconds of the game to even make the Sugar Bowl a one-score game. While the Bulldog fans that made the trip to New Orleans to watch the Sugar Bowl went home disappointed, there’s reason to believe that loss will only serve to motivate Georgia this offseason.

Turns out, Smart’s team, which is one of the most talented — if not the most talented — in the nation can’t just go through the motions and expect to win against quality opponents. There’s no doubt Smart will hammer that message home this spring to refocus his team as they prepare for what could be a special season in Athens.

As the old saying goes, you learn more in defeat than you do in victory.