Kirby Smart rips No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs’ practice performance

ATHENS — Kirby Smart ripping his team for poor effort in a practice the week the Bulldogs play Samford could be chalked up as predictable rhetoric or a motivational tactic. But, calling it “one of our worst practices” of the year, Georgia’s coach insists it was nothing of the sort.

“I’m sure you’ll think it’s a message for me to wake them up; I’m just telling you the truth,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ second practice of the week. “That’s all I come in here and do, give you truth. The truth is, we didn’t practice real good today.”

As usual, Tuesday is Georgia’s most intense practice day of the week. It’s a full-pads, full-contact workout, with a good bit of installation and competitive 11-on-11 mixed in. In the locker room, it’s known as “Bloody Tuesday.”

But the Bulldogs didn’t get what they were looking for.

“To be honest, I don’t know where we are,” Smart said. “I was really pleased for the way they approached (Monday). We had a lot of competitive periods, and they had a great practice that made a lot of guys better. (Tuesday), it was not so enthusiastic. It wasn’t to the standard of what we need. We have another day tomorrow to get it better.”

A modest drop in focus this week might be expected. After a physical preseason camp, the Bulldogs spent the last two weeks of August in intense preparation for Saturday’s opener against then-No. 11 Oregon. Georgia’s hard work was rewarded as it rolled to a 49-3 victory. The Bulldogs (1-0) moved to No. 2 from No. 3 in two opinion polls earlier this week.

Returning to Athens for Saturday’s home opener, FCS opponent Samford (1-0) is on the docket at Sanford Stadium (4 p.m., SEC Network). The Southern Conference member, though well-coached under one of Smart’s early mentors, Chris Hatcher, the Birmingham, Ala., Bulldogs aren’t expected to offer much of a challenge. Georgia was installed as a 52-point favorite this week by

Asked what was the chief reason for his disappointment, Smart shrugged, “just the energy.”

“Yesterday was great; yesterday was as good as we’ve had,” he said. “We’re flying around and competing. We did a lot of good-on-good drills. Today, it dragged from the beginning. It was not the tempo that I expect. We talk about playing to a standard. There’s a standard at Georgia. The No. 1 thing that you do at our place is you go out on Tuesday and practice really physically, if you’re going to be any good. We have some guys that didn’t bring their own juice today, and they need to do that tomorrow.”

The best news for the Bulldogs is they exited the season-opening win without much in the way of injuries. There was concern that senior safety Christopher Smith might have injured his left shoulder when he separated a would-be Oregon receiver from the ball on a bone-jarring pass breakup. That was just one of several highlights recorded by Smith, who also had an interception and six tackles on the way to being named SEC co-defensive player of the week.

“Chris Smith is perfectly fine,” Smart said. “He practiced all day today; he’s good. (Cornerback) Nyland (Green) has a hamstring that’s bothering him. It happened late in the game. He doesn’t even know when. His hamstring is hurting him. He struggled today.”

Georgia will finish installing its game plan for Saturday on Wednesday afternoon on Woodruff Practice Fields. But Smart indicated he may switch up the routine some to make sure he has the players’ full attention.

“We might change the order of it,” Smart said. “We might change who we do it against; we might change the tempo of it. We challenged them really hard today, and some of them answered it. Some of them didn’t. We have to get more guys to answer the call.”

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