Getting the shutout, it’s a pride thing for Georgia

Georgia defenders Tyler Clark (from left), Tae Crowder, and Monty Rice sack Arkansas State quarterback Logan Bonner during the first quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Athens. Georgia shut out Arkansas State 55-0.  Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia defenders Tyler Clark (from left), Tae Crowder, and Monty Rice sack Arkansas State quarterback Logan Bonner during the first quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Athens. Georgia shut out Arkansas State 55-0. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

With a little more than six minutes to go, up 55-0, a Georgia victory — a blowout of Arkansas State really — had been completely sealed.

The mood along the Georgia sideline was gleeful, relaxed and upbeat. The younger players were getting their opportunity to play and the starters got a chance to rest and cheer them on. It’s something that happens only every so often, and the Bulldogs were glad to have gotten the chance.

“I was so excited,” Tae Crowder said with a grin. “We are all a family, so whoever’s out there, we’re behind them, and it was just a great feeling watching them.”

Yet around that six minute mark, head coach Kirby Smart wore the same face he does in every game; one of constant focus and frustration. Despite an astounding lead, Smart wanted to preserve Georgia’s shutout for the morale of those on staff who constantly chase defensive perfection.

Combined ShapeCaption
VIDEO: Georgia routed Arkansas State and hosts Notre Dame next Saturday night. Video by Chip Towers.

“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.”

Like our Facebook page

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.”