Best of Kirby Smart's opening press conference
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kirby Smart was introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Georgia during a press conference held on Monday. Here are some of the highlights:
On when he felt prepared and ready to be a head coach and on any challenges of stepping into that role:
“I think the growth you get from working at a place like Alabama and with a program under Nick Saban, it helps me immensely. A lot of people have said why not take a smaller school head job? I honestly feel my growth was better being in a large program, being around Coach Saban and learning how to manage a lot of the tough situations you deal with in the media. So for me, the most difficult thing for me is the timing of this and trying to move forward and grow and get the recruiting going.
“But as far as the challenges they present, it's there for every head coach in the country. It's no different for anybody hitting the ground running. Put your nose to the grindstone and deal with one issue at a time. That's what we plan to do here as a staff.”
On things he might implement at Georgia from his time at Alabama:
“The process is hard work, that's what it is. It's hard work through commitment and doing things the right way. A commitment to excellence on the field, off the field, in the classroom, and every social aspect we have for our players. The only way you achieve that is by getting a great organization, a great support staff, surrounding yourself with great people and great coaches. That's what I hope to do here at the University of Georgia.”
On his message to the Georgia team on Sunday night:
“I spoke to the team last night. I talked to them about the same things I just talked about here, having a commitment to excellence off the field, especially right now studying for finals and making sure they stay committed to the classroom. Finishing this season the right way with a chance to win 10 games, which helps in recruiting.
“I spoke to those guys about doing the right things off the field. If they can continue to do that, they can be successful. But I talk to them about change. I told them, I guess it was 20 years ago, I sat in the same place they were and had a new coach coming in. The uneasiness about having to prove yourself again and start over sometimes as an upperclassman is tough. I want to be here for them for that. We're going to challenge them and demand toughness and effort out of every person and every aspect of their life. We're going to push them harder than they've ever been pushed. But I think to be excellent, they have to do that.”
On instilling confidence in the Georgia fans that the team will move forward and be in a better place fairly quickly:
“The only thing I can do is look forward. I've tried to assemble the best staff possible to go out and get as much depth and good players as we can in recruiting. Make sure those are the right kind of student-athletes that will make right choices and decisions when they get here. Then to get back here in January and get back to the grind assembling this team and making this team the best it can be.
“I firmly believe that you can take and develop players and you can show improvement within a team, and we need to do that here.”
On whether he will be more hands on with the defense, not leaving it to assistants:
“Oh, no, I'm hands on with the whole program. I'm going to be involved with everything. I mean, for me, that's one of the biggest strengths I think I have as a coach is managing the whole thing, being involved in special teams, being involved in the offensive and defensive sides and being involved with coaches. The big thing is making sure everybody's on the same page. Demand excellence out of everybody and make sure you get that. If you don't, you've got to make a change.
“That's what being a head coach is about, and those are the hard, tough decisions you've got to make, and that's what I'm ready to do.”
On his offensive philosophy:
“I think a lot of offenses, we've tried to defend have been difficult. The media would say that the spread teams are Alabama Kryptonite, but I would argue it could go either way. I think offensively, you have to have balance. You want to be able to run the football and throw the football. It's proven overtime that if you're one dimensional, you'll eventually get stopped.
“So to have balance, you've got to have good depth on the offensive line, especially in this conference. You have to have big, grown men that need lots of depth, because it's hard to get through it without having injuries. But we want to make explosive plays on offense, which means you have to have good skill people.
“To me, you have to recruit great skill people. They're here in the state. They're here within a five-hour radius. You've got to go get them and get them in your program so you can make explosive plays. I think that was lacking in somewhat last year here on this team. The perimeter guys, you want to be able to make explosive guys.
“So to do that, you've got to be great on third down on offense. So those three target areas you have to have. Now to say are you going to be spread or are you going to be pro? I don't think you can pigeon hole yourself into that. I like to think you've got to be both in both situations. You've got to utilize the talent you have on your team. What kind of players do you have on your team? What does it set up to be successful? Do you have a lot of good tight ends? Do you have a lot of good backs how about using those guys? You get the best players the ball. I've learned that from the coaches I've worked for. They've been the most successful when the good players got the ball. So you need to go get good practice players and get them the ball. That's what we plan to do.”
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