Kirby Smart talks initial CFP ranking, Robert Beal, Hendon Hooker's poise
Georgia checked in Tuesday night at No. 3 in the initial release of the College Football Playoff rankings.
The Bulldogs won’t have to wait long for a chance to improve their standing. They play host to top-ranked Tennessee on Saturday.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart won’t be looking to use his team’s No. 3 ranking as motivation, however.
“Not really. I know the players see it,” Smart said Wednesday during the SEC coaches teleconference. “… We’ve dealt with this so long now, last year, going on, knowing it doesn’t matter. It matters how you play. We try to put our focus on things we can control. … All we can control is how we play.”
If the Bulldogs are going to win Saturday, finding a way to slow down the vaunted Volunteers offense will be paramount.
That task starts with defending Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker.
Smart was asked Wednesday what has impressed him most about Hooker’s play.
“Probably his composure and poise,” Smart said. “He has great composure and poise in the pocket.”
Smart also talked Wednesday about the job that Robert Beal has done at linebacker since taking over for the injured Nolan Smith.
“Robert’s been tremendous,” Smart said. “He’s gotten a lot better. … His toughness always shows through. A great, consistent worker. This year, he’s played a lot of snaps already, so it’s not like he’s new to it.”
Georgia and Tennessee are set for a 3:30 p.m. (ET) kick off on Saturday. The game will be televised by CBS and the Bulldogs are currently 8-point favorites.