A Push or Complacency?

ATHENS - Kirby Smart said Tuesday that his defense is either complacent or that his offensive line is pushing people around.

It certainly could be both. 

“One of two things has happened,” Kirby said. “Complacency has set in (for the defense), which I mentioned before, or our offensive line is moving people better. (The offensive line) is certainly moving us more than I am accustomed to.”

That’s probably true. Then again, Kirby and company are probably not used to seeing a UGA offensive lineman winning a fight with much of anyone since he took over. If the offensive line is getting any sort of push that would be a new thing in Athens. 

Consider just how difficult a time last year’s offensive line had in producing holes or really any sort of surge for star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. 

And we know those two know how to tote the rock. Remember when Chubb ran for 266 yards against Louisville? Remember when Chubb had 100 yards or more in every game he started in from 2014 to 2015? Sony? He had 1,161 yards when Chubb was hurt in 2015. 

Those guys can run. We know that. 

What we also know is that they struggled to run in 2016.  Chubb started 14 games in a row from 2014 to 2015. He had 13 100-yard games, and then got hurt after the first play of the Tennessee game. Then came the 2016 season. Chubb started 11 games, but only had 100 yards or more five times. Michel only had three 100-yard games last season. 

The Gators, Ole Miss, Nichols and Vanderbilt stuffed the Dawgs’ run game last year… Nichols and Vanderbilt. 

The point? Kirby is seeing two things at the same time, and while its likely that the offensive line is finally moving people, its also possible that the defensive line is complacent - both could be true. I know this… the second-year head coach has been limited in his complements of the defensive line unit this spring. 

Keep in mind that he fired long-time college and NFL defensive line coach Tracy Rocker in the off season. If that didn’t get the message through to his group of big men perhaps his complacent message will.

“A lot of the same defensive players are out there,” Kirby said Tuesday. “Defensively we are still not where we need to be. Probably the most disappointing thing is the run defense.”

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