Bulldogs turn up intensity before Rose Bowl

As Kirby Smart walked to the podium to address the media Monday morning, nothing seemed amiss. That is until he began speaking and a hint of rasp was detected in his voice.

No he wasn’t sick. In fact, after only three days of Rose Bowl practice, Smart was losing his voice.

And there’s a reason why.

“Intensity,” Smart said. “That’s probably why you hear my voice is hoarse right now.”

Thinking back to Georgia’s spring practice, one word that kept coming up wasn’t “intensity”; it was “complacency.” Even in the spring, Smart didn’t want his team to get complacent. Now heading into Georgia’s biggest game in years against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff, Smart is meeting any form of complacency with intensity.

“I am trying to make sure that they understand that you can’t acknowledge the pats on the back,” Smart said. “You can’t embrace that, and you can’t feel good about yourself.”

It has been a little more than two weeks since Georgia’s last appearance on a playing field in the SEC Championship Game. Isaiah Wynn said that knowing there was a long break coming up after that gamemeant a lot to the Georgia players, even before the game concluded.

“It gave guys a chance to lay it all out on the line during the SEC game, just knowing that you had that little bit of down time for a week’s span,” Wynn said. “Now everybody is fresh, and we are looking forward to really getting back out there.”

Before getting back out on the field, there were two weeks of studying, finals and award ceremonies, and the senior gala.

It was Smart fighting against complacency.

“Obviously, winning the SEC championship is a great honor and they will have that for a long time but they can’t be satisfied,” Smart said. “I think that is what makes the difference in the playoffs, how you approach this layoff in the perspective with which you view it.”

During this time and in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 1 showdown, Smart said the coaching staff is taking the measures needed to avoid contentment.

“We are using every resource we have to make sure that they take advantage of this opportunity,” Smart said. “We are challenging them each day.”

It’s a challenge that is felt through out the entire Georgia roster, with Smart running a “camp-type” practice this week. This means the focus is on everyone, both the starters and non-starters. Everyone feels the effects of “camp” because it is a time to work on the individual improvements of each player.

And with this camp-like attitude, players said it’s the difference between playing to get by ― with mistakes and miscues ― and playing with composure.

“Coach Smart does a really good job of making sure that we stay locked in, focusing on getting better,” Lorenzo Carter said. “A lot of teams get sloppy coming into the bowl games but he wanted to make sure that we focused on ourselves, making sure that we do what we need to do to be sharp.”

And while so much has been accomplished so far this season, Georgia isn’t letting off the gas any time soon, even if it means Smart loses his voice.

“We have accomplished a lot of things but we have to keep building on that,” John Atkins said. “We can’t get comfortable. We don’t just want to go to the Rose Bowl. We want to win the Rose Bowl.”

Never miss a minute of the Georgia Bulldogs. Subscribe to myAJC

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in UGA / DawgNation

Has UGA’s SEC run helped Mark Fox? Listen
Has UGA’s SEC run helped Mark Fox? Listen

The Georgia Bulldogs won their opening games at the SEC Tournament, but is that enough to keep Mark Fox in Athens? WSB-TV sports director Zach Klein and AJC sports columnist Jeff Schultz discuss Georgia’s run and Georgia Tech’s one-and-done exit at the ACC Tournament in the newest episode of their “We Never Played the Game&rdquo...
Georgia among four states that supply most NFL draft picks
Georgia among four states that supply most NFL draft picks

It could be another big year for Georgians in the NFL Draft. Led by Gainesville, Ga., quarterback Deshaun Watson (Texans, 12th overall), 27 players from the state of Georgia were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. That was more than Florida (26), California (25) and Texas (24).  Only one pick was a Bulldog, Isaiah McKenzie (Broncos, fifth-round)...
Georgia Bulldogs first-round picks: By the numbers
Georgia Bulldogs first-round picks: By the numbers

From Frank Sinkwich in 1943 to Leonard Floyd in 2016, the names of 30 former Georgia Bulldogs have been called during the first round of the NFL Draft. A few more could be taken in the 2018 NFL Draft (April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas). Here are a few numbers to consider: • Four Bulldogs -- Sinkwich, Charley Trippi,  Harry Babock and Matthew...
UGA’s Sony Michel reveals the four words that inspired Rose Bowl comeback
UGA’s Sony Michel reveals the four words that inspired Rose Bowl comeback

Georgia running back Sony Michel took to “The Players’ Tribune” to write a note to the University of Georgia, fans and teammates as he heads off to the NFL Combine and Draft. In his piece “Thank You, Georgia” released Thursday, Michel reminisces about his time with the Bulldogs, specifically his game-winning touchdown...
What Mark Fox said after Georgia’s loss to South Carolina
What Mark Fox said after Georgia’s loss to South Carolina

Columbia, S.C. - The Bulldogs lost at South Carolina 66-57 Wednesday, possibly ending their hopes for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Here’s what coach Mark Fox said after the game: “We made some very poor plays. Our point guards made some very poor decisions in the first half. We threw two balls away that never should’ve been thrown...
More Stories