HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The Georgia Bulldogs finished 2018 11-3 (7-1 in the SEC) and a trip to both the SEC Championship and Allstate Sugar Bowl. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were on the losing end for both games, first to Alabama and then to Texas.
Kirby Smart enters his third season as head coach since leaving Alabama as a student of Nick Saban. And that time studying under Saban has not left Smart since.
Saban is currently undefeated against his former assistants, including two wins against Smart.
“I’m well aware [of the record],” Smart said. “Am I confident someone will beat him? Depends on how long he coaches.”
Smart will try to win the SEC East for the third straight year as well and possibly make a run for the National Championship again.
The biggest loss for Georgia this year would be the dismissal of wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman. Holloman was kicked off the team following a 2018 assault allegation.
“Very unfortunate. I wish JJ the best,” Smart said.
He was expected to be the Bulldogs’ top option for quarterback Jake Fromm in 2019.
Fromm, however, looks to keep improving as a passer this season. He finished 2018 with 30 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions.
“We have great guys in great positions, definitely for our offensive line and running backs,” Fromm said. “Help propel this offense to the next level. That’s really going to help.”
Smart doesn’t think the loss of Holloman will affect Fromm from having a great year.
“I think he’s kind of embraced this challenge now with this young group of receivers to grow those guys,” Smart said.
Georgia will likely remain a balanced offense considering they led the SEC in rushing with nearly 239 yards per game a season ago.
Defensive back J.R. Reed hopes to bounce back from a slight dip in 2018. He still finished with 66 tackles at the safety position, however.
Smart spoke very highly of Reed, especially when discussing the importance of transfers coming into a new team, which Reed is a product of.
“He does things the right way,” Smart said. “He commands respect of the other players, and he’s been an asset to our program.”
Reed said he stayed for his senior season for one thing.
“I want another crack at the SEC, and I want another crack at the National Championship,” Reed said. “I don’t care who it is or what opponent is there, I want another crack at that SEC Championship and that National Championship.”
The motto for the Bulldogs this offseason has been ‘Do More’ and one player who has embodied that has been offensive lineman Andrew Thomas.
“A big thing for me, it will be like 11, 12 o’clock at night and I just go on the treadmill and just run,” Thomas said. “Just to make sure I’m staying up on my cardio…just to be in the best shape I can.”
Thomas was named to the All-SEC second team in 2018 and will try to make it to the first team this season.
Despite his leadership qualities, Smart said the lineman doesn’t like to talk a lot, but that today was the day to change that.
“I told him today as we got off the plane, ‘Andrew, you’re going to have to talk today,'” Smart said. “And I think he’s excited to do that.”
Thomas has started every game since coming to Athens.
The Bulldogs begin the 2019 season at Vanderbilt August 31.