Kirby Smart: ‘We’re very familiar with Dan Lanning and a lot of guys’ at Oregon

Credit: AJC

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Georgia coach Kirby Smart took a break from participating in the Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf event to discuss the 2022 opener vs. Oregon.

Credit: AJC

ATHENS – Georgia coach Kirby Smart made his annual trek to Lake Oconee this week to compete in the Peach Bowl Challenge at Reynolds Plantation. And for the first time all year, he didn’t win.

ExploreThe drought is over: Georgia is national champion again

Smart’s Bulldogs won the College Football Playoff championship Jan. 10 with a 33-18 win over Alabama, and they won the NFL draft with five first-round picks and a record 15 players overall selected last weekend.

But the best that Smart could muster on the golf course was a fourth-place finish out of 11 teams. He and former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville played together in a two-man scramble format that paired active coaches with “legends.”

They were battling for shares of a $330,000 charity purse. Smart and Tuberville each received $12,500 for their respective foundations. The winners were Randy Edsall and Houston Nutt – neither of whom is an active coach, by the way – split $70,000.

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Georgia football coach Kirby Smart competes in the Peach Bowl charity golf tournament on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Greensboro, Ga. (Paul Abell/Abell Images)

Credit: Paul Abell

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart competes in the Peach Bowl charity golf tournament on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Greensboro, Ga. (Paul Abell/Abell Images)

Credit: Paul Abell

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart competes in the Peach Bowl charity golf tournament on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Greensboro, Ga. (Paul Abell/Abell Images)

Credit: Paul Abell

Credit: Paul Abell

Smart’s golf game probably is the furthest from the minds of most Georgia fans. They probably want to know what the Bulldogs are doing to prepare for defending their championship next season. That will start Sept. 3 with a highly anticipated matchup against Oregon in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Smart addressed both during a brief interview interlude during the golf tournament.

The Ducks will be, of course, under the direction of first-year coach Dan Lanning, most recently Georgia’s defensive coordinator. So, that’s an extremely intriguing factor.

“We looked at them in the spring and kind of studied those guys,” Smart said. “It makes it awkward, you know, with the new head coach. You can look at the film and everything, but you’re really looking at who the players are, more than anything. We’re very familiar with Dan Lanning and we’re very familiar with a lot of guys on his staff. Their offensive coordinator (Kenny Dillingham) was at Auburn and also at FSU, so we looked at those (teams). But I have a lot of respect for Dan and what he did for our program and I know he’ll do a really good job there at Oregon.”

Early betting lines have Georgia favored by 15 points.

ExploreGeorgia makes history with 15 selections, most in a seven-round NFL draft

As for how the Bulldogs’ offseason has been different after winning the program’s third consensus national championship, Georgia fans likely will recognize Smart’s remarks.

“You worry about complacency; you worry about guys thinking they’ve arrived,” Smart said during the 6½-minute interview. “I didn’t think our guys did that. We’ve got a shrunk window, a shorter window, so we had less time to prepare, one less week to lift before spring practice because we played an extra game in the season with the playoff game. So, injuries have played a factor. We probably had more guys out this spring than we ever have before.

“But the biggest thing is to not worry about that. We don’t defend a title. We start new with a new team and we’re trying to develop new chemistry to see what this team is going to be.”

Smart also joked that his golf game was better during than pandemic than it is now, after things have gotten back to normal.

UGA began entered spring semester final exams Thursday, so the coaches will have no interaction with the players through next week. Graduation is scheduled for May 13 and grades will be posted May 16.

Between now and then, it will be mostly golf for Smart. While keeping a close eye on the transfer portal, of course.

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