Kirby Smart sees different Florida team under Dan Mullen
A little more than a week before Georgia and Florida will meet in Jacksonville, Georgia coach Kirby Smart offered some of his first extended in-season comments about the Gators.
On Wednesday’s SEC Media Teleconference, Smart said he Florida is athletic on defense, has great coverage guys, huge on the defensive line and the Gators brought in wide receivers.
“Those are added dimensions, and that’s on top of the guys they had,” Smart said. “The backfield, I’m sure Dan is pleased there. The turnaround is no shock to me.”
Smart also sees improvement in Florida QB Feleipe Franks, as he’s gotten better with more experience.
“He is protecting the ball, has better playmakers,” Smart said. “When you have an arsenal like that, plus the run game, it makes you a weapon.”
Looking to improve at midseason and following the LSU loss, Smart said the Bulldogs need to improve tackling in practice.
“We monitor how many snaps we get so we don’t overwork anyone but the only way to do it is to go out there and do it,” he said. We have to get bigger when we tackle.”
Smart said OT Andrew Thomas is still battling an injury and is not 100 percent, though some assume that’s the case. Thomas was “rolled up on” during the LSU game, but continues to be a leader, Smart said.
On the offensive line as a whole, Smart said he evaluates every day to improve.
“We have some guys that have done well, some guys that have struggled,” he said. “Our freshmen struggle at times, there are some great pass rushers in this league … we have to be able to get the ball out quicker when that happens.”
Smart was asked about what he utilizes from Nick Saban from his time working with the Alabama coach. Smart said there are similarities with day-to-day operations, but not much is different than other schools.
“The message and physical development may vary but what we do here isn’t that much different, it’s about what you do and the attitude you do while you do it,” Smart said.
Smart added that Saban is a great leader of men, and his strength is his ability to organize and demand excellence.
“It works sometimes and it hasn’t others,” Smart said. More important, can you recruit, that’s key?”