During the week of practice, it is customary for many of your big-time football teams to pipe in loud music or a jet engine roar to simulate the din of the crowd on game day.
Because there are important secrets to harbor, the media is almost always banned from the bulk of these practices. So, it is only guesswork when wondering if Kirby Smart maybe does something a little different.
So much does the Georgia coach mention the “outside noise” that assaults his team, it would be no surprise at all if that is what he amplifies during drills.
You know, while the fellas scrimmage, feature some of the common complaints that appear in the media, both social and antisocial, only at ear-splitting volume. On a continual loop, just blare out comments like:
“Hey, Fromm, I see Justin Fields’ name on this Heisman watch list, where’s yours?”
“Just wondering, is James Coley’s play sheet a postcard? I mean, how much do you really need to write out, ‘Run, run, pass?’ ”
“I don’t want a game manager for a quarterback, but I’d sure like to have one for a head coach.”
You know the litany. All the usual kind of critiques foisted, unfairly or not, on the nation’s sixth-ranked team. People just seem to tilt toward the negative, even more so when following a team of vast potential that already has lost once to South Carolina.
In the giddiness of a very nice victory over Florida on Saturday, Smart let it be known on several occasions just how much this “outside noise” is on his mind. Even amidst all his claims of blocking out that very cacophony.
As when he spoke of the Georgia half in the stands in Jacksonville: “Just proud of the support our fans provided for us — even if they didn’t think Jake could throw the ball.”
As in one of his very first postgame comments: “I really thought the players embraced the challenge, blocked the outside noise. We know that we control how we play. We control what we do by how we play. And the outside noise is just that.”
As in more noise-related news, related to the previous loss to South Carolina and a lackluster output against Kentucky: “I never doubted this team. Our team doesn’t listen to the outside noise. We had four turnovers and played really poorly against an SEC opponent (South Carolina) and then we played in an absolute monsoon (against the Wildcats). ... There was not a doubt.”
As when he launched into a seminar on the importance of running the ball, in the face of critics who see the Bulldogs offense lacking sufficient pizzazz: “If you don’t run the ball in this league, pass-rushers will chew you up. When they see pass every play they’re feast like sharks in the water. They’ll attack. You got to keep them honest, you gotta wear them down. I know y’all don’t believe in it and y’all think it’s boring and y’all hate it and it’s not explosive but in this league you gotta have the threat of that in order to sustain.”
And, finally, as when speaking about his quarterback Jake Fromm, who like every other quarterback in the land is the subject of harsh and unblinking scrutiny: “He has had a lot of people who have questioned him. And he is a chip-on-his-shoulder guy. Y’all have seen it over and over again, where people doubt and continue to doubt, and he continues to rise above.”
All in all, postgame in Jacksonville represented the perfect opportunity for Smart to hold this one-sided debate with all his faceless detractors and win on every count. A moment he obviously relished.
It is clear that for Georgia to get where it wants to be, there are five opponents in the way: Missouri, Auburn, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech and Everybody Else (as in the “outside noise”).
Just as it seems obvious that the coach and the quarterback and pretty much everyone else within the inner circle feed off the noise. While on one hand he says the Bulldogs block it out, this coach, like so many others, employs negativity as an important motivational tool. Never doubt a good us-versus-them approach.
So, in conclusion, it seems the duty of every good fan to join the choir and contribute to the outside noise. It only makes this football team stronger.
Coach Kirby needs you. Don’t let one good victory Saturday deter you. Keep carping and nit-picking and finding flaws where perhaps they don’t exist.
That should come easily and naturally enough.
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