Kirby Smart kicked off SEC Media Days ready for his Georgia football team to “Do More” and eager to put a bumpy offseason in the rearview mirror.
The Bulldogs are listed among national favorites despite a depleted receiving corps that took another hit last month when junior Jeremiah Holloman was dismissed from the team as the result of a domestic-violence incident.
There also has been attrition with players transferring and the departure of the coordinators from Smart’s first three seasons at the helm.
Still, Smart made it clear he expects more out of his program this season coming off back-to-back SEC Championship game appearances and a trip to the College Football Playoff Championship game following the 2017 season.
“We understand how close we've been to taking the next step, and although a 24-5 (record) the last two seasons is good, it's not good enough,” Smart said. “It's not where we expect to be at the University of Georgia.
“Our mission is to bridge that gap, you know, by the actions we take, hence the (slogan) ‘Do More.’”
One of the first things Smart did Tuesday was clear the air on the timeline of Holloman’s dismissal.
The incident occurred in April 2018, but the victim did not report her allegations that she was struck by Holloman to the UGA Police until June 2, 2019. Holloman was not questioned by police until June 6, at which point he admitted to the offense.
“Early June we were made aware of a police report,” Smart said Tuesday, “and we took immediate action.”
The victim has not wanted to press charges, the case is inactive, and Holloman entered the transfer portal June 26, five days after Smart announced his dismissal.
Georgia football is ready to move on.
“We knew going into the fall one of the areas we need to work on was receiver,” Smart said, “and that’s just more glaring now.”
The Bulldogs start preseason camp without their top five receiving leaders from last season, three receivers and a tight end having been selected in the 2019 NFL Draft.
That places more pressure on third-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm , who appeared as unflappable in this media presentation Tuesday as he is in games.
“The key this whole offseason has been to do more, so we’ve been doing a lot more in the weight room, and in conditioning, and in every single way possible,” Fromm said. “It’s going to hurt a little bit (losing Holloman), but there’s a lot of guys in that room who are scratching and clawing and working every single day to make a difference.”
Smart filled his coordinator positions from within after Mel Tucker left to become head coach at Colorado and Jim Chaney split for the OC position at Tennessee.
James Coley takes over an offense anchored by a powerful offensive line, while Dan Lanning heads a defense determined to create havoc with multiple pressure packages and fronts.
Georgia’s depth at quarterback and tight end is lacking after backups Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Luke Ford (Illinois) transferred in January.
The spring session had its share of distractions, as well.
A string of six arrests in six weeks involved misdemeanor charges, triggering multiple team meetings before things settled down in April.
“There’s been a lot of times we’ve had to come together as a team,” Fromm said, “and it’s made us stronger.”
The Bulldogs figure to need every ounce of that strength. Alabama is, once again, expected to stand between Georgia and its quest for what would be its first national championship since 1980.
“We just have to get over the hump, the bottom line is really simple, you’ve got to finish what you start,” Smart said. “I have a lot of respect for their program, but also a lot of respect for ours. … I think we’ve got a really good football team.
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