Roster turnover has Georgia’s Kirby Smart not worried about complacency

Georgia coach Kirby Smart speaks at SEC Media Days in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Georgia coach Kirby Smart speaks at SEC Media Days in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

College football players taking long breaks in the offseason is largely a thing of the past.

Still, the first day of preseason camp Thursday marks a ramp-up in football activity, with summer classes coming to a close and football the sole focus as UGA players stay in a hotel for this stretch.

“Our guys are ready to grind. … It’s kind of when the toughness, the mental and physical toughness starts to take place for your roster and your team,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Thursday. “There’s no way to really build for it other than to do it. And that’s the stage we’re in. We’re really focused on getting better. We’ve got a lot of good players to replace, and a lot of good players to replace them with.”

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In the wake of a record 15 UGA players drafted by the NFL from last season’s national championship team, Smart said he spoke to his players Wednesday about the “remarkable” number of snaps to replace. Turnover, however, is the main reason Smart isn’t worried about complacency in this group.

Many of the high-production players from last season’s team have departed, and now it’s time for different guys to step up and patch those holes. So, there would be no reason for current players to rest easily.

“I’ve been on national championship teams that won it all that I was concerned about complacency because there was a lot of (players) back,” Smart said. “We don’t really have that problem. So it’s not a problem inherent to us in terms of complacency. … I worry about complacency every year for a guy that started and played for two years. But that was regardless of the record. Like, it didn’t matter if you won eight games, 10 games, 12 games or 15 games. You worry about a guy being comfortable that has started multiple years and can he grow.”

But that’s a totally different story than players who are looking to get more playing time this season and prove themselves.

“I know the guys who haven’t played are hungry,” Smart continued. “... Whether we win or lose every game this year, it’s not going to be because of complacency. It’s going to be because of the outcomes and what we did on the grass to make that possible. But it won’t be because of complacency.”

Credit: Sarah K. Spencer/AJC

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Senior defensive back Christopher Smith talks about the Bulldogs not getting complacent after winning the national championship last season.

Credit: Sarah K. Spencer/AJC

Senior defensive back Christopher Smith, who played in 12 games last season (11 starts) also spoke on how the Bulldogs are staving off feelings of complacency.

For Smith, it’s not a difficult task, having seen firsthand what it takes to win it all.

“The main way I fight it off, I knew the work that it took for us last year, we are going to have to put the same amount of work in this year to get back to where we want to be,” Smith said. “It’s not going to be handed to us. Coach Smart does a great job of preaching not staying complacent, not being complacent. The thing with our team, we either get better or worse. We want to choose better, so we can be better every day. That is only going to come with hard work.”