'I’m thinking about the next one right now': Georgia shuts out the Yellow Jackets, but SEC Championship game is now the prime focus
ATLANTA, GA. — Top-ranked Georgia remained perfect on Saturday as its defense pitched another shutout against in-state rival Georgia Tech.
In fact, it’s the third shutout this season for the Bulldogs’ No. 1-rated overall scoring defense.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was extremely proud of how the defense performed against the Yellow Jackets. He also praised the second-team unit, which helped preserve the shutout. Smart thought it was an overall great performance from top to bottom by Georgia’s defense.
"I’ve coached a lot of seasons in the SEC,” he stated. “And I feel like I’ve been around the league for 20-something years, and three shutouts is hard to come by.”
The top-ranked scoring defense in the nation, Georgia limited opponents to an average of 6.92 points per game. Besides Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs also held Vanderbilt and Arkansas to zero points, respectively. It’s a feat that’s not normally common nowadays, especially with the way elite offenses have taken over the game within the last few years.
Georgia inside linebacker Nakobe Dean doesn’t want to get complacent. In reality, the Butkus Award finalist said he is still hungry.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Dean said. “We talk about ascending and trying to get better every week. I’ve talked about it before and it’s always how we finish the season.”
Dean is the right frame of mind, especially as Georgia is set to face No. 2 Alabama in the SEC Championship game next Saturday on Dec. 4. The Crimson Tide are currently ranked No. 2 nationally in total offense and No. 5 in scoring offense, respectively. Alabama is also No. 7 in the country in passing offense and No. 4 in team passing efficiency.
So, the Bulldogs have to be ready next Saturday for anything coming their way, despite Alabama struggling against Auburn this past weekend. The Crimson Tide will come in hoping to keep their CFP hopes alive with a win over No. 1 Georgia. The shutout of Georgia Tech essentially means nothing in the grand scheme of things as the Bulldogs prepare for much better competition.
Smart pointed out that the Bulldogs are improving on a week-to-week basis; however, their goals haven’t been achieved yet.
“I think they’re hungrier to play their best, you know?” Smart said. “We’re still getting better. What excites me is the strength of our team. That is what excites me. It’s not like the strength of our team is this or that, it’s the leaders. The players on the team are the strength of our team. They came in and said the things that needed to be said to the players about this week and how it’s going to go.”
Dean would agree with Smart’s sentiment.
“ If we don’t finish the right way, none of this really matters,” Dean said. “It’s always how we finish. I’m thinking about the next one right now.”
Georgia and Alabama will square in Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Saturday at 4 p.m. on CBS.
Here is the video from Smart’s postgame press conference: