Georgia coach Kirby Smart said on Monday that he doesn’t see any self-satisfaction from his team four games into a season in which the Bulldogs are attempting to do something that hasn’t been accomplished in 87 years: win three consecutive national championships.
“I think the focus level each week has been good,” Smart said. “The results always haven’t. But the preparation is what’s more important to me. Like I actually put a lot of value on Monday to Friday — mental makeup, disposition, practice habits, improvement. You know, we’ve repeatedly said we want to be elite at getting better, and I’ve really been pleased with the progress that we’ve made.
“So that makes me feel comfortable that there’s no complacency there.”
Replacing a number of key players from last season, including 10 NFL draft picks, has resulted in some uneven performances, particularly on offense, where Carson Beck has taken over for longtime starting quarterback Stetson Bennett.
Beck’s six passing touchdowns — three of which came Saturday against UAB — is the third fewest of all starting quarterbacks in the SEC. But he has done a good job taking care of the football, with only one interception.
How he responds in his first SEC road game at Auburn on Saturday, Smart said, is anyone’s guess.
“That’s something that we’re going to find out,” Smart said. “I don’t think you know. I think he’s been through some ups and downs. He’s certainly been against good defenses like Auburn has. He goes against our guys. It’s different when it’s live. So you gotta find out how he responds to that, and I’m very confident in Carson’s ability to communicate, to understand things. He’s been in our system. You know, you only get good at these situational football things by playing football for a long time. And he’s been with us for a while doing it. This is his first chance to do it on the road.”
The Bulldogs currently rank 51st in the FBS in red zone efficiency and are tied for sixth in the SEC in explosive plays.
Although it could be a while before Mims is back in the starting lineup after having tightrope surgery on his ankle, getting McConkey back is increasingly possible.
McConkey, who led all receivers in catches last season, hasn’t played yet this season.
“He’s going to be able to come back to practice this week,” Smart said, “and we’re going to be able to do some more things with him. How he does in those things will determine whether or not he’s able to play. We had kind of a two-week advised shutdown. He’s done that, and we’re expecting him to be able to go out there today and do some things, but noncontact early in the week and try to move to that.”
On Monday, Auburn coach Hugh Freeze said that Smart has “it rolling” at Georgia and, “Thank God we’re in Jordan-Hare [on Saturday].”
“They are one of the gold standards in college football right now,” Freeze said. “They are recruiting a top-three class every single year. That is hard to compete with, and they are well coached. You have to give them credit. I know it’s a rivalry game, but the truth is the truth. He has built a dang good football program there.”