Saban and Smart

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban and Georgia Head Coach Georgia head coach Kirby Smart shake hands after the game on Oct. 17, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by University of Alabama)

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was not the first of Nick Saban’s proteges to foil his perfect coaching record against former assistants. Smart and the Bulldogs fell 41-24 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, becoming the 22nd consecutive team within Saban’s impressive coaching tree to come up short. 

Saturday night’s loss to Alabama marked Smart’s third time losing to Saban since becoming Georgia’s head coach. The Bulldogs led at halftime in each of those three contests.

Smart gave the Crimson Tide credit for their performance and said Georgia simply did not play as well as Alabama.

“I think it has a lot to do with players, calls, execution, a combination of a lot of things,” Smart said during a virtual postgame press conference. “I know this, if you turn it over three times in the second half, and they don’t turn it over any, you are probably not going to win.”

Despite Georgia suffering its first loss of the year, the Bulldogs still control their own destiny moving forward. Losing to Alabama does not eliminate the chances of Georgia competing for an SEC title this season.

The Bulldogs still have important games on the schedule, including Florida and Kentucky, which can help their push for championship contention.

“Our destiny is still controlled by us, which is how you want it,” quarterback Stetson Bennett said. “If we win out, we will probably see those guys, or somebody else, and we will be in the SEC Championship, so everything we want is still ahead of us.”

Georgia remains atop the SEC East standings at 3-1, as does Alabama in the SEC West at 4-0. Florida did not play this week because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the team but remains the toughest challenger in the east.

Aside from Tennessee, the Bulldogs still have games against every SEC East opponent on their schedule. The Alabama loss does not have Smart’s group discouraged.

“We have a great team, man,” safety Richard LeCounte said. “The team who played better tonight won. It’s not really a demoralizing thing.”

LeCounte said the sky's the limit for Georgia, and that there’s nothing they need to worry about going forward because of the lone loss to Alabama. The senior said Georgia will go back to the drawing board to fix its mistakes, including the coverage busts that led to explosive scoring plays for the Crimson Tide.

“It’s just a little bump in our road,” LeCounte said. “We are here to learn from our experience and get better so next time we’ll be good.”

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