Georgia head coach Kirby Smart gives an interview to a reporter after the conclusion of the second half of Georgia’s home opener against Murray State University in Sanford Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 7, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs won 63-17. (Photo/Jason Born)

Arkansas State is a good football team. 

At least, that’s what Kirby Smart and the rest of No. 3 Georgia’s program have said this week. On the surface, the Red Wolves seem like another tune-up leading into a clash against Notre Dame on Sept. 21. 

But the Bulldogs aren’t taking Arkansas State lightly. Smart isn’t totally satisfied with how his team has played through the first two weeks. When asked what he wants to see the team improve this week, Smart quipped:

“How long you got?” 

Penalties are at the top of the list. Georgia has racked up 15 flags for 155 yards through two weeks, which is hardly ideal. 

This week brings a similar threat to last. Arkansas State will spread out its offense and use a balanced attack against the Bulldogs. 

The Red Wolves are 1-1, most recently beating UNLV on Sept. 7. The team averages 36.5 points per game and quarterback Logan Bonner has already thrown for 608 yards and six touchdowns. The Georgia defense has taken note. 

“They’re a very great team,” junior defensive back Mark Webb said. “They’re a very good passing team. They want to spread you out.” 

Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless has been the biggest weapon in the passing attack. The redshirt senior has hauled in 16 passes for 281 yards this season. In the loss to SMU, Bayless snagged all four Red Wolves touchdowns. 

“He goes up and gets the ball,” Webb said of Bayless. “He makes plays. When it’s just one-on-one, he’s a very good 50-50 ball catcher.” 

Saturday’s game will not pose the same threat as an SEC game. However, it will still be a chance for the Bulldogs to grow. Last week, Georgia dipped into its depth chart and this week should allow for more of the same as long as the starters take care of business. 

“I feel like [Arkansas State] is really fundamentally sound,” defensive lineman Michael Barnett said. “I feel like we need to out-execute them in that realm.”

Smart said he isn’t sure how the Bulldogs will fare come noon on Saturday.

“We are going to find out,” Smart said. “It’s going to be a real test.” 

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