Smart talks running backs and the importance of recruiting well in the SEC

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Georgia announced Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart would become the new head coach. CW | Layton Dudley

Tyler Waldrep

The colors are different, but the position Georgia coach Kirby Smart finds himself in isn’t. Sure he has more decisions to make in Athens than he did in Tuscaloosa, but he was hired to continue doing what he’s done for years- put players in a position to win SEC games and recruit.

“Certainly there’s a great deal learned over the last 11 years,” Smart said. “Ways to handle certain situations, ways to handle players, ways to improve your team. That will always stay with me.”

The SEC is a line of scrimmage league and Smart is taking steps to win that battle in both the present and the future.

“One of the things that, in my history, has been very important, to sign enough big bodies to dominate the line of scrimmage,” Smart said. “And those are the hardest positions to come by now. When you go look, those big guys don’t grow on trees. You got to go find them. There’s not enough of them out there to supply the entire SEC. So finding the big defensive line that can dominate line of scrimmage is critical to your success in the Southeastern Conference.”

Smart has a defensive background, but he hasn’t overlooked the importance of building an equally strong offensive line at Georgia. In fact he said having three returning offensive linemen will be critical for his team’s chances of success in 2016. That doesn’t mean SEC defensive fronts and the potential for injury won’t keep him up at night.

“I don’t think you’re ever comfortable,” Smart said. “If you ask any coach in the SEC if he’s comfortable with his offensive line, nobody has enough tackles. There’s just not enough of them. You want a 6’5″, 6’6” guy, they’re hard to find.”

Injuries to both running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb leave Georgia with plenty of question marks when it comes to who those offensive lineman will be blocking for.

“[Chubb’s] not going to go out there and do everything right away as far as tackling and scrimmaging,” Smart said. “Ultimately he’s got to gain confidence in that knee back, and he’s taking the right steps in that direction. And Sony, kind of a sad injury, very upsetting for him. He’s probably in the best shape of his life…We’ll know a lot more when we get closer to the season. A lot of that injury is how does the muscle repair itself round that plated bone.”

Smart said the next six weeks will determine how successful the Bulldogs will be as the team works to introduce the freshman to the program and pair them up with the older guys on the team.

“The trademark for us is going to be big, physical, fast football team,” Smart said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re certainly moving that direction. That’s the stamp I would like to put on it.”