SMITH COLUMN: Bulldog Report, Vandy
Published 10:30 am Thursday, October 13, 2022
Georgia’s dominating 42-10 victory over Auburn was not a masterpiece, but it was a reminder that the football Dawgs of Kirby Smart can hunt.
These Dawgs are still growing and maturing. They are not great right now, but they have their sights on making the four-team playoff at the end of the regular season. After slap-in-the-face resistance from Missouri, which could turn out to be a good thing, his players are absorbing the reality that when he told them in Columbia that in the Southeastern Conference, if you want to win championships, you better be ready to play every Saturday.
The mental is as important as the physical when it comes to preparing to play in the SEC. The theme of his remarks following the Auburn game were laced with emphasis that reflected how important it is to practice with an edge, continue to respect your opponent and underscore improvement.
Becoming a better player through hard work, discipline and respect will always be the Smart mantra. If you realize your potential, you can do more for the team. Championship success comes with graphically connecting with the objective of making oneself a better player; improve from one week to the next; underscore weight training, second effort and togetherness — all simple and elementary admonishments, but like an old-fashioned remedy, it stands the test of time.
You could compare football practice to that of a golfer. If a golfer wants to win big, he has to come up with a “repeatable swing.” To develop a “repeatable swing,” you must, in addition to having ball striking technique, spend time on the practice tee.
A football player who practices with improvement being the centerpiece of his objective will likely be able to make the big play in games.
When one takes even a cursory examination of the lineup sheet before a big game, you note that the other team has 350-pound linemen who have ability. They have quickness and they have speed. If they have an edge mentally, then it can be a long day.
How does Texas A&M lose two games the Aggies expected to win —Appalachian State and Mississippi State — and barely beat Arkansas but almost beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa last weekend? With Alabama, the easy answer is that Bama quarterback, Brice Young, did not play against Texas A&M. You could also say that there is more parity in the game than ever.
Stetson Bennett’s 64 yard run for a touchdown was one of the most exciting runs by a Bulldog quarterback in recent memory. A cursory look back and you find his scoring jaunt ranks third for quarterbacks all time. Kirby Moore scored on an 87-yard run in 1967 in Sanford Stadium and James Ray went 84 yards against the Gamecocks in 1971 in Columbia. Stet’s dash for Glory is next.
Bennett’s play has always been characterized by his speed and quickness. A quarterback’s feet can be a defining factor in his winning a starting job. Stetson’s ability to stay alive, when the protection breaks down, has served him well.
Quarterbacks, at least on the collegiate level, don’t have to be the prototype players (6-4 in height or more) that we have seen with the Manning boys Peyton and Eli and their nephew Arch. The run-pass option game was made for Stetson who has touch on the ball, a strong enough arm and an ability to escape the defensive rush — all complemented by his canny sense of what to do to make plays.
One of his key fans of late is former Georgia quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, who has already been in the ear of his old team, the Minnesota Vikings. He wants the Vikings to take a close look at Stetson, understanding that he can do the one thing that a quarterback has to do which is to “make plays.”
“A quarterback has to make plays and to make plays, you have to have what I call the ‘chip,’” Tarkenton says. “You have to be creative, you have to have good feet and a sense of timing. I really like this kid and think he can play in the NFL.”