Kirby Smart is not a fan of the path of least resistance. In any moment of any game, he has proven that if an opportunity to be aggressive is there, he will take it.
Last year against LSU it was a pitch to Rodrigo Blankenship on a fake field goal. In the SEC Championship against Alabama, it was the notorious fake punt to Justin Fields.
Both ended in disasters, but that hasn’t deterred Smart. In Georgia’s 19-13 win over Texas A&M, he again showed his risky behavior with an onside kick early in the third quarter. Like the previous two scenarios, the attempt didn’t pan out for the Bulldogs. Not because it was a bad play call, but because Tyson Campbell let the wet ball slip away from him as it bounced toward the Aggies.
“[Blankenship] hit a perfect kick,” Smart said. “We just didn’t execute it and it’s frustrating because we worked really hard on that.”
It didn’t end up altering the game, but it showed a continued tendency in Smart. No matter what stage, he and his staff will look for those kinds of opportunities. Whether they’ve tried it in a game before or not doesn’t matter. What does matter is if the opportunity is there, and if it is, it’s an easy decision for Smart.
“I’m big on how do you gain one possession in a half,” Smart said. “We have a big staff so we’re constantly looking at what opportunities we have to gain a possession ... that was an opportunity to gain a possession that we thought was there and it was.”
This aggression is almost innate for Smart. It comes in the art of trying to be unpredictable to your opponents. If you can have your opponent on their heels in any way possible, then you gain an advantage, even if it’s slight. If you don’t do that, then you’re giving the other team the upper hand in Smart’s eyes.
“I don’t know that you learn that,” Smart said. “I think it’s important to always make people defend you. So if you just take the casual position that ‘I’m not going to try and get every advantage in a game,’ then you don’t take advantage of the game.”
It’s hard to predict what kind of trick Smart has up his sleeve for these upcoming weeks. That leaves Georgia Tech, LSU and even Georgia fans scrambling to figure out what it will be and when it will come — and that’s just where Smart wants them to be.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.