By now you may have seen this clip of Kirby’s Postgame speech to the team after Georgia’s 40-13 slow-motion defenestration of the South Carolina Gamecocks.
"We’re not practicing to beat somebody, we’re practicing to beat !" —@KirbySmartUGA @GeorgiaFootball #SECInside pic.twitter.com/z3bLCE7eGd— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 22, 2021
I think we can all agree he doesn’t literally mean “win all the games”, though admittedly that’s a nice idea, too. What he’s referring to is a sentiment to which fans in red and black can relate. Georgia looked significantly better than South Carolina in this game, yet somehow didn’t look nearly as good as we all know this Bulldog team can look.
Coach Smart has urged his team to “play to a standard” for several years now, by which he means that he wants his team to measure itself against what he expects out of them and what they can ultimately be, not against other teams. Wins and losses are an incomplete barometer. The better question is “Did you execute up to your potential on every play, from the opening kickoff to the last snap?” If not, as Kirby implies in this clip, you still have things to work on. It’s really a variation on the theme of “The Process” that Nick Saban preaches and that Kirby spent his formative coaching years implementing: if you buy into the team system and maximize your potential every day the results will take care of themselves.
Especially, as observers of the Crimson Tide know, when you’ve got a loaded roster. In this moment, with the talent, depth, and experience present in Athens the Georgia Bulldogs have the makings of a national championship team. But to do that they must play up to their own potential every week regardless of who is on the other side of the line. It’s not good enough to play every week trying to beat somebody. They need to practice and prepare every week so that they’re good enough to beat everybody.
It’s a high bogey for which to shoot. But it’s one that makes sense now. It’s the zeitgeist of Bulldog Nation. It belongs on a teeshirt (oh hey, somebody already did that).
But also a bumper sticker and a billboard and maybe a tastefully done tattoo. Because I think it captures nicely where the Classic City Canines are as a program.
They can in fact “beat everybody.” So long as they don’t beat themselves. And that’s going to be the challenge for this team over the next couple of weeks, to continue to show up and execute well, to make a habit of excellence, even against teams they could beat without their best stuff. If they continue to do that, beating everybody in a very real, non-metaphorical sense remains a possibility.