Coaches are always looking for ways to motivate players. For Kirby Smart, he envisioned a unique way to do it after Georgia’s big win over Tennessee last week.
Smart, in an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, spoke about the Georgia players being a little too dreaded celebrating the massive win over Tennessee.
“You know, I was worried coming into the team meeting on Monday about them patting each other on the back and being all loud and loud about the Tennessee game,” Smart said. “We were going to have a memorial service to kind of bury this game and put it away, but a group of players came up to me and said, ‘Coach, you don’t have to do this. We are above. Let’s go.'”
The Bulldogs don’t have much time to relax, given this week’s challenge. Georgia is on the road to visit a Mississippi State team that hasn’t lost at home this season. While the Bulldogs have a productive passing offense led by quarterback Will Rogers, it’s schematically very different from what Georgia saw a week ago against Tennessee.
Add to that this being a road game in less than ideal circumstances, Mississippi State is going to make things difficult for Georgia. The last time Georgia hit the road, the Bulldogs battled their way to a 26-22 win over Missouri.
Such is life at the SEC. Smart understands that, knowing that Georgia faces a weekly grind.
The Bulldogs, however, have a chance to do something this year that the team of the season didn’t. This carrot proved to be a strong motivation for this group of Georgian players.
“The defining factor of this team is that they really want to win an SEC championship,” Smart said. “You can’t really do that without winning in Starkville. They want to do something that last year’s team didn’t, and we didn’t win the SEC last year. That’s so one step at a time, and you can’t win the SEC until you win the SEC East.
Related: Georgia football not worried about possible SEC East title: ‘You’re just focusing on Mississippi State’
Georgia can clinch the SEC East this weekend with a win over Mississippi State on Saturday. If LSU beat Arkansas and Alabama eliminated Ole Miss, the SEC Championship game would be between the Bulldogs and LSU.
Despite having won the SEC East four times before, the Bulldogs have only won the SEC once under Smart. That came back in 2017 as Georgia beat Auburn 28-7.
Georgia holds the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff standings right now. If Georgia continues to win, they look set to return to the college football playoffs. The SEC champion has also never missed the college football playoffs since its inception in 2014.
Georgia takes on Mississippi State this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
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