Kirby's Non-Relax Policy

ATHENS - It was the biggest applause line during Kirby Smart’s introductory press conference.

“I will be hands on with the whole program,” he said. “I mean, I am going to be involved with everything. Demand excellence, and make sure you get that. That’s what being a head coach is about, and that’s what I am ready to do.”

People are still clapping. Someone may have just run through a wall… 

Meanwhile, Smart gave a glimpse behind the curtain (or wall) Tuesday when he met with the media. He talked about two players who either fell off a cliff or disappeared in 2015… Brice Ramsey and Lorenzo Carter. That those two became virtual ghosts last season shows that talent only gets you so far - you have to do something with it along the way as well.

But as I wrote earlier this spring, I figured those two (and Greg Pyke) might benefit the most under the change from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart. If Tuesday's meeting with the media is any indication, Kirby is “hands on” and “involved with everything” in a major way.

Smart was asked if Ramsey was still punting, and offered up that the junior signal caller has been working with the No. 1 offensive unit (and is still, sadly, the program’s best punter). That’s not something that was readily available for reporters to see in the media’s open periods. Smart just told everyone - and added that he had spoken with Ramsey earlier in the day - telling the Kingsland native that he “relaxes a little too much.”

Then he said that Carter “will relax on you” if he’s not challenged.

Relax may as well be a cuss word at UGA now. Needless to say its not a compliment.

Kirby wasn’t just pulling back the curtain - he was yanking it out of the way for the whole world to see: Hey, this is what I am doing to try to get through to these guys because they are important.

Ramsey was the presumed starter at quarterback last season before, and let’s be honest here, Brian Schottenheimer took hold and drove UGA’s offense into the ground. Carter was given the UGA Newcomer of the Year Award in 2014, and proceeded to total half the amount of tackles and half the amount of starts in 2015.

If those two could flush 2015 down the toilet I bet they would.

But Kirby knows those two are critical pieces to the puzzle in 2016, and it appears he’s ready to challenge (otherwise known as “coaching”) them to be their best. Kirby gave these blunt assessments of those two.

First Carter:

“A lot of people told me that Lorenzo wasn’t tough enough to stick his face in there - the sophomore slump or whatever it is,” Kirby said. “We’ve challenged him to be more physical, and for two days he’s done that. (Lorenzo) has done a good job giving extra effort. I have been pleased with what he’s done so far, but he’s a guy you are going to have to push and challenge because he will relax on you.”

Then Ramsey:

“I’ve really been presently surprised with Brice. I talked with (Ramsey) today before practice. I said: ‘Brice I think you are too casual. I think that you relax a little too much. I need you to be more assertive - take more of a leadership role. Show me that it means something to you. Show me that you want it,’” Kirby said. “He’s been trying to do a better job of that. I really don’t have a baseline comparison for that - I’ve really never seen him before at the leadership role. I think he’s got to improve that. But he did roll in there with the No. 1s today to make some throws. We thought enough of him… that was kind of the plan originally when Jim (Chaney) and I sat down was to make sure that before the first scrimmage (that Ramsey and Lambert) went with the No. 1s and with the No. 2s.”

Anyone who has spent time around Ramsey knows exactly what Kirby is putting his finger on - he has to be motivated. He’s a little too California Cool. Ramsey has to be coached. Maybe coached isn’t the right way to put it. He has to be screamed at; maybe that’s what he’s used to. Anyone who has seen Ramsey throw a football knows that he can’t be an afterthought in this quarterback fight.

Anyone who has spent time with Carter knows that he’s not like a lot of the other football players. Maybe 2014 came too easy for him. Maybe he thought 2015 would be easier still. But Davin Bellamy all but left him in the dust, and we were all left to wonder what happened to the former 5-star player.

Both of those guys, and perhaps many more in silver britches, must be pushed). Quite frankly, they were either not being used correctly, indifferent to their circumstance or didn’t believe in what they were being told any more. One way or another their absence in 2015 was noticeable, and was a huge red flag about what was going on last season.

But I get the feeling that Kirby has the attention of both of them.

Different guys have to be coached different ways - that’s one of the major challenges of coaching (or management). As an actor would say: “What’s my motivation?” It would be nice to think that we live in a world where a one-size-fits-all approach to coaching works, but that’s Fantasyland.

Kirby has already shown in his brief time in Athens that he can capture the imagination of recruits. He’s trying to capture the imagination of important players who fell off a cliff last season. And while coaching Ramsey and Carter (or any player) might not be the easiest thing to do, sometimes coaches have to have a little toughness as well.

In Kirby’s case he’s doing it with a hands-on approach.


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