“For me, personally, it’s not a lot,” Smart said on the shutout. “For the defense ... I want that reward for them, I want it for the coaching staff, for Dan (Lanning), (Glenn) Schumann, Tray (Scott), Charlton (Warren), all the GAs and assistants who spend countless hours staying up there and game-planning for every little thing that you could get.”
That reward isn’t tangible, but it serves as validation for everyone up the line. When you pour that much time into something and it doesn’t fully pay off, it can be draining. When you get a near-perfect result though, it’s gratifying.
“Any time the third-stringers get in there and they don’t get the shutout, then we don’t get the shutout,” J.R. Reed said. “And we haven’t had a shutout in a long time. When you get that, it’s such a good feeling.”
So 55-3 or 55-7 may not seem like much of a difference from 55-0, but it’s a pride thing. Giving up those few points can change the mood entirely. It really isn’t about the score. It’s about the energy that goose egg on the scoreboard gives you.
“I’ve been in a lot of games that end sloppy and you give up that touchdown and you feel deflated,” Smart said. “But it’s nice to walk out of there with a shutout and reward the players who got to play and that played to the standard that we’ve got to play to.”