Georgia’s Kirby Smart likes Bulldogs’ 2025 SEC schedule

Trevor Etienne (1), Tate Ratledge (69) and another players during Georgia’s practice session in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Trevor Etienne (1), Tate Ratledge (69) and another players during Georgia’s practice session in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

ATHENS — For the first time since the SEC introduced its scheduling plan for the 2025 football season, Georgia coach Kirby Smart was able to let his feelings be known.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced last week that the league not only would be sticking with the eight-game model it has utilized since 1992, but also revealed that the 2025 slate simply would be the inverse of what was decided for the expanded 16-team conference in 2024. That is, all the home games in ‘24 would become away games in ‘25, and vice-versa.

That, Smart revealed, is fine by him.

Me personally, we got one of the toughest road schedules in the country,” Smart said of playing road games at Alabama, Texas and Ole Miss this fall. “I’d like to see it flipped where we would have the opportunity to have our fan base have probably the best home schedule in Georgia history.”

The Bulldogs also play Kentucky on the road this fall. In ‘25, those four teams will come to Athens. Florida, as always, will remain a neutral-site opponent.

Another element of the “temporary” scheduling model is SEC teams have to play at least one Power 5 non-conference opponent. Georgia opens this season against Clemson at Mercedes-Benz Staduim on Aug. 31 and in 2025 will open on the road against UCLA in Pasadena, California. The Bulldogs will continue to play Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale for the foreseeable future. So, that’s covered.

The SEC has for many years discussed expanding to a nine-game conference schedule, plus a major non-conference game. Those conversations continue, Sankey said, but won’t happen at least until 2026 or at which time the league’s new broadcast rights deal with ESPN has been completely renegotiated.

Smart’s leaving those discussions to others.

“I don’t give a flip about the model,” he said Tuesday during his weekly spring practice update.”They presented us a multitude of opportunities. The most continuity is in doing this for two (seasons). Let’s see what it’s like; let’s see how things play out; let’s see what the CFP becomes with however many teams are going to be in the playoff. Does that designate us to go to nine? Does television have something to do with that? There’s a lot of unanswered questions and to have a little bit of continuity in knowing what you’re going to get, I’m fine with that.”

It’s ‘Julio’ to Bulldogs

He came to Georgia from Webster, Texas, as a highly touted cornerback with the name Julian Humphrey. But to the Bulldogs, he is and will forever be “Julio.”

Humphrey explained the transformation Tuesday in his first practice-day interview at the Georgia football complex.

“So, Julio came from back in high school whenever I played receiver,” said Humphrey, a third-year sophomore for the Bulldogs. “My favorite receiver was Julio Jones, and it just kind of stuck with me ever since I got here. Nobody ever calls me by my real name anymore.”

Humphrey now is making a name for himself as a cornerback. Odds are he’ll become a starter this season. He almost did last season before a late-season shoulder injury sidelined his progress.

His roommate Daylen Everette is expected to start at one corner. Humphrey and Daniel Harris are expected to battle it out for the corner position previously manned by NFL draft prospect Kamari Lassiter.

Regardless, Smart assured that both players are staring at major playing time this fall. As for Humphrey, he said the 6-foot, 190-pound speedster practiced with the “ones” most of last season as Lassiter’s injury issues kept him out of practices every week all season.

“That really helped me develop, working with the ones alongside Daylen every day,” Humphrey said.

The Bulldogs almost lost Humphrey to the transfer portal after the season. He said he found himself homesick after returning home to Texas following the bowl game. But after announcing his intentions on social media, Smart, Will Muschamp and new cornerbacks coach Donte Williams talked him into staying at UGA.

“They were saying that this will be a big year for me,” Humphrey said. “This is my year. I thought about it and I wanted to be developed rather than just being home for year. So I stuck it out.”

Speed in secondary

Georgia has speed to burn in its secondary. Most of the defensive backs made names for themselves in track as well as football. Asked which of them would comprise a 4x100 team, Humphrey declared himself the anchor.

He said his UGA bio incorrectly lists his best 100-meter time as 10.5 seconds.

“I don’t know why they have that up there,” he said. “I actually have a 10.2 and a 20.6 in the 200. So, I’d have to be the anchor leg and Daniel Harris would have to be the second leg because that’s the next fastest.”

Rules would not allow Arian Smith to be on the DB’s 4x100 squad, but Humphrey admitted he would have to defer the anchor leg to the senior wideout if he was.

“Arian’s like a 10-flat,” Humphrey said. “He’s a different kind of fast. He ran with (Georgia track star) Matthew Boling.”

They said it

Some of the best quotes from Tuesday’s media day:

“Julio’s nervous right now, so I had to go first.” – safety JaCorey Thomas on him and Humphrey deciding who’d take the podium first

“It’s one of my favorite things. I like running into people, over people. It’s just my mentality. Their mouthpiece better be in ‘cause mine’s going to be in and I’m coming for you.” – 6-6, 330-pound guard Micah Morris on pulling

“Always has this great energy, always has a smile on his face in the locker room. We embraced him when he got here and we’ll continue to.” – offensive tackle Earnest Greene on running back Trevor Etienne, who was arrested Sunday and charged with several driving offenses

“It they stay the same, then it did no good to come back.” – Smart on the return of senior defensive linemen Warren Brinson and Nazir Stackhouse

“Both are great coaches, but the thing about Donte, he’ll put cleats on, he’ll put a helmet on, put gloves on and do the drills with us. He’ll get out there and do all the drills and show us how it’s done.” – Humphrey on the differences in Fran Brown and new cornerbacks coach Donte Williams, who came to UGA from USC