From the outside, you might think that Georgia’s defense put in another solid performance. The Bulldogs came out with three interceptions, the South Carolina held for just 306 yards and the Gamecocks didn’t find the end zone until late in the fourth quarter.
Most of Georgia’s regular defensive contributors had long since left the game when Luke Doughty found Trevon Kenyon in South Carolina’s first points of the day. However, when South Carolina set off fireworks to celebrate the result, it was a louder reminder that Georgia had not done its job.
To understand why Smith is not happy with the end of the game, you need to think about the situation in which many of these players find themselves. Daylen Everette may not be Georgia’s first corner of the field right now, but this time around a year ago Kamari Lassiter wasn’t.
In last year’s games against Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Missouri, Georgia was so far ahead that it gave players like Lasseter, Jamon Dumas Johnson and other major contributors a chance to get significant reps. Late in those games, these players were tasked with getting those teams out of the end zone.
This mission helped them step in for the stars of last season in 2022.
“I think the benchmark that was created last year and left a legacy, it was a really special group,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “And that is still about our building, not the heroism, but the fact of the way they practice and the way they have done. And there are a lot of kids trying to imitate these guys who are gone. And they are good kids to emulate.”
But don’t start comparing Dumas Johnson to Cuban Dean or freshman Mikel Williams to Travon Walker. Lest they again attract the ire of Smith, Georgia’s vocal leader.
“It frankly frustrates me,” Smith said of that kind of comparison. “These 10 guys (Dumas-Johnson) and 2 (Smael Mondon) are working hard and not working hard to be like Nakobe Dean and the other guys who were here last year. They work really hard to be themselves and that’s one thing I say to the players.”
Smith, Dumas Johnson and the other members of the Georgia Defense know they have a high standard to play for. One that was created before Smith tied the pads to Georgia.
Despite greater levels of success in the last two seasons—Georgia won the National Championship last season and is looking totally fine this season—inside things haven’t changed much for the Bulldogs.
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He still wants training to be harder than gaming. The Bulldog still wants to keep you out of the end zone. It would be an effective and explosive crime.
Names and faces change for Georgia, but the level of play hasn’t. This is the Georgia standard. And why Smith knows Georgia should keep seeing her for 60 minutes, regardless of the opponent.
“Nick Chubb and Sony talked about it all the time,” Smart said. “Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, they all bought that. The first year I wouldn’t say they bought it because it was really tough and I don’t know they reaped the fruits of it. But from then on they were kind of convinced that ‘this is what we are,'” That’s how we’re going to do things.” It’s just kind of the way we do it. They sell that to each other. They sell it to young players so we don’t have to.”
Nolan Smith perfectly sums up Georgia’s defensive football effort