Kirby Irked by UGA Defense

ATHENS - On moving day in Augusta, the Georgia football team’s defensive coaches back in Athens may have wished they were watching golf’s first major instead of how their players performed on Saturday.

“Who’s winning the Masters?” Kirby Smart said before giving his take on his team’s second spring scrimmage.

Smart is now the Bulldogs’ head coach but his background is as a defensive guy, including the last eight seasons as defensive coordinator at Alabama.

So naturally he wasn’t too pleased with what he saw on that side of the ball in Sanford Stadium.

“We either have a long way to go on defense or we’re better than I think on offense,” Smart said. “I don’t know how to answer that because the offense, I won’t say dominated, but they definitely won the scrimmage.”

That was disappointing, he said, because in the last practice on Thursday the coaches challenged the defense because the offense had its way on Thursday as well.

Spring practice might typically offer an up-and-down see-saw but that hasn’t been the case despite the uncertainty at quarterback.

That race - to nobody’s surprise - Smart confirmed probably won’t be decided until August.

The rotation remained the same: Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey working with the ones and twos, and freshman Jacob Eason with the threes and twos.

All get a big stage with Saturday’s 4 p.m. G-Day game.

“I need to use this game to judge because this hopefully will be a real game environment,” Smart said. “We do have to figure out how we want to manage it because there’s obviously two teams and there’s three quarterbacks so you do math. Do you let the two guys go with the ones and Jacob go with the twos. We’ve got to talk about that with the staff. We may even roll those guys so they’re not on one team.”

No statistics were provided for the closed scrimmage, but Smart said the No. 1 offense had the upper hand against the No. 1 defense and ditto when it was No. 2 offense vs. No. 2 defense.

“It is what it is,” Smart said. “We can’t sugarcoat it. …Just a poor performance all together.”

The defensive line is thin after knee injuries that will keep Michael Barnett and DaQuan Hawkins out for the rest of the spring. Smart said the loss of seniors including Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, James DeLoach and Chris Mayes is being felt and there were only a couple of sacks.

Unlike the first scrimmage, the running game picked up with Sony Michel having a couple of “nice runs,” and Tae Crowder running physically, Smart said. The passing game was just “OK” after a better showing a week earlier. Senior wideout Reggie Davis was a standout.

Missed tackles and penalties due to a lack of discipline contributed to the defense’s woes.

“ I was really disappointed all together with the scrimmage and I told the kids that,” Smart said. “Frustrating. Some explosive plays we gave up. …We’ve got too many busts. A lot of confused kids.”

Inside linebacker Tim Kimbrough returned to scrimmage after being excused Thursday for what Smart said were “some academic issues he had to focus on. …We allowed him to miss practice to focus his academic situation that he’s in.”

Smart also updated a couple of linemen missing from practice.

Redshirt freshman Mirko Jurkovic has been out after surgery to repair a disclocated kneecap. Reserve defensive lineman Joseph Ledbetter is “just not with the team right now.”

Georgia’s depth at running back took another hit Saturday when walk-on Nick Moore, the former Boston Red Sox minor leaguer, sustained a “slight MCL” injury. Wide receiver Shaquery Wilson got some running back work in “special situations.”

“I’m glad we did,” Smart said, “because we would have run out of backs today.”

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