Kirby Smart met with the media on Monday ahead of Georgia’s game on Saturday against South Carolina. He discussed the upcoming matchup with South Carolina, Georgia’s offensive goals and injuries to key players.
Assessing the Gamecocks
South Carolina’s 2-3 record doesn’t completely paint the picture of its season. Losses to North Carolina, Alabama and Missouri don’t bode well for their résumé, but the Gamecocks put up 459 yards of offense against the Crimson Tide and dominated Kentucky 24-7 thanks to a pair of 100-plus yard rushers in Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle.
Kirby Smart is impressed with how South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has helped it improve through the first five games.
“They’ve gotten better throughout the year,” Smart said. “They’re healthier, number one. They’ve got a lot of guys playing at a high level.”
Smart views the Gamecocks as a complete team that presents challenges on every level. Against Kentucky on Sept. 28, the South Carolina defense allowed only 212 offensive yards and held the Wildcats to 2-of-15 on third down.
“They put pressure on you in three phases — offense, defense and special teams,” Smart said. “They do a great job up front defensively. They’ve got a lot of big guys and more big bodies than they’ve had in the past, and they’re healthy.”
Explosive goals on offense
The Bulldogs put up 526 offensive yards against Tennessee, and quarterback Jake Fromm went 24-of-29 for 288 yards on Saturday. While Smart said he was happy with Georgia’s offensive production, he still wants more explosive plays.
“We have a goal of one of every eight plays to be explosive,” Smart said. “In this game, we were 1.1 out of 8.3, so we missed our goal offensively of being explosive. That’s our standard.”
So what must the offense do to meet Smart’s standard?
“Being explosive is a lot of things,” Smart said. “It’s blocking downfield. It’s winning one-on-ones. It’s speed, vertical speed versus horizontal speed. There’s a lot of things combined in that.”
Smart has full faith in his team’s depth. Even after starting defensive lineman Jordan Davis went down with a leg injury in the first quarter against Tennessee, Georgia only allowed 70 rush yards against Tennessee.
“I didn’t see a huge difference when [Jordan] wasn’t out there,” Smart said. “The things he impacts are the run game, and we were able to control the run game pretty well. The play he was in there, we actually had a run come out.”
Cornerback Tyson Campbell is still dealing with a foot injury from Sept. 14 and didn’t travel with the team to Knoxville on Saturday. Smart said Campbell will attempt to practice Monday but that Smart will know more about Campbell’s status by the end of the week.
Offensive lineman Solomon Kindley is expected to practice Monday after recovering from an ankle injury suffered against Notre Dame on Sept. 21.
“We thought if [Solomon] had to go in the game, he would have been able to go,” Smart said. “We have him practicing today.”