Posted: 10:09 am Friday, September 30th, 2016
By Jay Black
There was only thing that would break up the unanimous support Georgia’s rookie head coach would get from his supporters in red and black.
And Kirby Smart knew what it was when he was hired.
Everybody loves the new guy win or tie.
Now the new guy has been beat, and the grumblings are underway. It didn’t help that it was a bare-bottom spanking.
The Twitter machine and the radio shows exacerbate the finger pointing, but that’s life in the SEC.
Kirby Smart’s first loss was Georgia’s worst in five seasons. Whoever you want to blame, the Dawgs had no chance in Oxford. Ole Miss was better. Bottom line. However, if the Dawgs got anything out of that loss, it’s that there is no hiding from the fact that this team has flaws.
Now the real test of this new coach begins. Can you fix these problems? If so, how quickly?
The real skill in a coach — or any leader — is how well do you adjust to your surroundings. To borrow a line from Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
It’s easy to have a system and a strategy and think the system will always win out. But you don’t have anything without the players. The players can only do what they can do. Are you stubborn or are you flexible? Can you improve a situation that is not ideal?
The best coaches know how to put their best plans aside and fit the bricks into the holes they are given. Great coaches make great adjustments. Whether it’s halftime or halfway through the season, do you have the ability to recognize the problem and find the proper solution?
I was very impressed with how Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker handled the Missouri game. Georgia was well on its way to getting boat-raced back to Athens. UGA’s top two defensive minds found some way to turn it around (a strange collection of running plays didn’t hurt either).
Last week, no chance. Ole Miss didn’t make any mistakes, and right now they are on a different level.
But now you’re back at home with a clean slate and a team that should be giving it’s undivided attention.
Tennessee is very good, but they can be had. See the video of…well every team they’ve played. Butch Jones has to be feeling about his team, exactly what Kirby Smart has said about his.
“We haven’t played a great game yet and we’ve won a few.”
On paper, Tennessee is better. It has the proven quarterback, better running backs (if Nick Chubb is out), receivers, bigger lines, defensive play-makers, etc. Georgia really doesn’t have any of this (if Nick Chubb is out).
And yet they are only a three-point underdog (for whatever that’s worth), but it sure doesn’t feel like it does it?
Kirby Smart keeps calling this game an “opportunity to face a really good team” one week after you got embarrassed.
The best way to get over pain is to get right back at it and overcome it.
But is one week too soon? Can Kirby find enough Band-aids to patch his teams problems in six days?
Rebuilding is slow and so far very few players have taken the leap. You’ve got Isaiah McKenzie and Christian Payne and that might be it.
I don’t know if Georgia can win tomorrow. The Volunteers might have had their “ahh-ha” moment in the second half against Florida and might be ready to live up to the expectations that have been set for them.
They are the better team.
What I need to see tomorrow is exactly what Kirby Smart said on Monday.
“My end goal is to get each guy to play his best game this game,” said Smart. “What do I have to do play better? The areas we are deficient in, how do we improve them.”
Is it too corny to say, a moral victory would be a good thing? Should Georgia people accept, just getting close? If the Dawgs look much better is that good enough, even if they aren’t good enough to beat the Vols?
Maybe last week is what everyone needed to be reminded that Kirby Smart can’t work miracles. All he can do is make improvements. That’s what everybody wants is an improvement over what was here.
Improvements take time.
The question now is, how much can Georgia improve itself after an embarrassment? It’s the difference between having just “one of those games” or “one of those seasons.”
The honeymoon is over Kirby. Everybody loves you until you’ve lost. Now you’ve been had.
The adversity has arrived. So where do we go from here?