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Smart: Vanderbilt “played harder than us.”

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Comments from Kirby Smart following this afternoon’s disappointing loss to Vanderbilt*.

A few thoughts:

  • Smart’s 100% right that special teams largely made the difference in this one. There were enough screw ups on offense and defense to bridge that one point gap. But special teams was a source of constant frustration, as it has been throughout the season. Georgia lost the field position battle in the first half badly, and the kickoff return to start the second half was just awful, sucking out any momentum Georgia might have built.
  • Kevin Butler, who’s serving as a graduate assistant this season, talked a little about this on the post game show. The frustrating thing from Butler’s standpoint is that the special teams mistakes we saw today were things the players in question have been coached on. But the coaches can’t do it for them.
  • The sequence of events before halftime makes sense to me, sort of. It was a chess match of sorts though, and Derek Mason ended up playing it pretty well. Vandy very nearly had no one back to defend a Hail Mary and also was nearly called for having 12 men on the field but in the end neither happened and Georgia’s half ended with a whimper, not a bang.
  • As coach implied, the offensive line kind of is what it is at this point. Big, aggressive defensive fronts will stuff this group consistently and they’ve just got to scheme around it.
  • I understand completely Smart’s thinking on why you don’t just run into the A gap on that fourth and one play. I don’t understand why you’re running outside with Isaiah McKenzie in that situation. All the speed in the world is irrelevant if he gets hit behind the line and goes down. Go with the 220 pound back who’s gotten a lot of yards after contact during his career.
  • I’m glad Kirby Smart is just sick over this one. He should be. Even in rebuilding years and even under new staffs losing to Vanderbilt just isn’t acceptable to Bulldog fans. Never will be. Those are just the expectations, fairly or not.
  • Kirby’s not alone in his nausea. I feel for the guy primarily because I get the sense that he is coaching his butt off and seeing results here and there. But young football teams are notorious for taking two steps forward then one step back, and today was a gigantic leap in the wrong direction. Losing isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Lack of effort is. And there’s no question that this one was not a great mental or physical effort from some guys on this team, including some veteran football players who have to be better than that.
  • Yes it was a short week. Yes Georgia’s played a series of physical football games. But as a former coach of mine was fond of saying, “Don’t tell me about your BS. I’ve got BS of my own to deal with and everybody else does too.” Or, as winning wedding crasher Jeremy Gray put it, “No excuses. Play like a champion.” The thing that unnerves me about this game was the lack of mental toughness. Because that’s a really tough thing to develop, and I’ve seen a lot of flashes of it this season, then suddenly we looked like we had already started planning for the bye week. Not good. Not good at all.

*I don’t know why I included that adjective. What other kind of loss to Vandy is there?