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Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia and Smart pass the stress test


Kirby Smart called the technical details of his head-coaching debut "a comedy of errors." He couldn't get the headsets to click back and forth. (As a defensive coordinator, he cared not one whit what Alabama's offensive schemers were discussing.) He had to a coach a whole team, meaning he couldn't caucus at length with a particular group.

Apart from that, everything was A-OK. Georgia got tested by a good opponent. Georgia passed its test and beat a good opponent. If you're a head coach in your 101st game, that's exactly what you'd want. For an HC in Game No. 1, it was manna from heaven.

Much has been written, some by yours truly, about Georgia's 33-24 victory over North Carolina on Saturday. Nick Chubb looked great. Jacob Eason looked good. The Bulldogs defended well. Special teams need work, but when have they ever not?

The bigger question, though, is this: Who in the SEC East looked better than Georgia in Week 1? Tennessee nearly lost to Appalachian State. Florida led UMass by three points after 45 minutes. Missouri lost to West Virginia. Kentucky lost to Southern Miss. South Carolina won only because it played Vanderbilt and both sides couldn't lose.

That doesn't mean Georgia is a lock to win its division. Tennessee figures to get better. (If it doesn't, it could be 2-5 Oct. 15.) Maybe Florida, too. The other four look as bad if not worse than advertised. We say again: There aren't many losses on Georgia's schedule.

The opener against Carolina figured to be one of Georgia's toughest games. The Bulldogs trailed by 10 and won by nine. To borrow from John Lennon on the rooftop: They passed the audition. They look legit.

Super fun reading:

For UGA and Smart, it was the best of openers.

Was that Lambert's last start for Georgia?

UGA holds its nerve and wins No. 1 for Smart.

A Big Orange scare again makes us wonder about Tennessee.

With Lambert, Georgia is banking on no surprises.

A big game in Week 1: That's why Smart's here.

The smart money is on Smart and UGA.

Kirby Smart says little, reveals less.

Predicting Georgia's season game by game.

Preseason Top 25: Clemson at the top, UGA No. 13.

Why Smart's Year 1 has breakthrough potential.


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.