Georgia Football: Year two of Kirby Smart Era Has Lofty Goals

Sep 17, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart looks on against the Missouri Tigers in the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart looks on against the Missouri Tigers in the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

Georgia football and Kirby Smart are looking for some big improvements in 2017, so it’s time to talk about those Bulldogs again.

Fans of the Georgia football program are looking to get back to the SEC Championship and win it. No, that doesn’t quite describe how this fanbase and team really feel.

UGA and the Bulldog Nation have bigger goals. That’s the entire reason second-year head coach Kirby Smart was brought here in the first place. Much of the Bulldogs fanbase became weary of playing the role of bridesmaid to Alabama, Florida, LSU and others.

The Bulldogs – under the watchful eye of former head coach Mark Richt – walked away with the SEC Championship in both 2002 and 2005. That was a long time ago. Toward the end of his 15 years in Athens, supporters of this proud program were beginning to channel their inner-Janet Jackson and ask “What Have You Done For Me Lately”.

Trips to the title game in 2011 and 2012 resulted in second-place finishes.

Georgia Bulldogs Football
Georgia Bulldogs Football /

Georgia Bulldogs Football

They’d watch Missouri Tigers represent the SEC East in both 2013 and 2014. Then, they’d see the hated Florida Gators earn a trip to Atlanta in 2015. It was at that point that the Bulldogs had finally had enough. Richt would be relieved of his duties. The search for his replacement ended with the hiring of the former defensive coordinator of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Kirby Smart.

Coaching changes lead to new beginnings for two programs.

Richt would land in familiar territory, with the Miami Hurricanes (his alma mater and the program where he once played quarterback). He’d call every single offensive play in 2016, as he’ll continue to do in 2017. The eyeball test revealed that Miami immediately became a better team. They’d end the 2016 campaign with a mark of 9-4.

Smart is set to enter his second year as head coach in the city of Athens, Georgia. Last season, his team went 7-5 in the regular season. Then, they ended the season on a high note by winning the Liberty Bowl, upending the TCU Horned Frogs by a score of 31-23.

Unfortunately, that’s a small consolation for a passionate and tortured fanbase who watched their beloved Bulldogs lose to both the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Watching the Gators represent the SEC East for a second straight season in Atlanta probably didn’t help matters much either.

2017 is upon us. sees Georgia as the third-best class of the 2017 recruiting season. Recently, they made headlines after the release of offensive line commit D’Antne Demery. This followed his arrest after Georgia’s spring football game, but there are high hopes in Athens this season.

Newly arrived quarterback Jake Fromm has shown promise, especially during his performance in the most recent spring game, and the 66,133 fans that were in attendance left happy with what they saw from this year’s version of the Bulldogs.

Fromm will be going head-to-head with last season’s freshman sensation, Jacob Eason, and if what we saw at the G-Day game was any indication, this battle will go 12 rounds come August.

Smart said it best. “Didn’t always tackle well and got some balls thrown over our heads, but they really competed and challenged each other more than maybe we had done earlier in the spring, so overall, I was pleased with the day, excited about the growth of our team. I really saw some players getting better throughout the entire spring.”

If only we could fast-forward to the season.

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The goals are lofty for a second-year head coach and a young team who seemed to disappoint in areas where they were expected to excel in 2016. Despite this program’s hunger for national recognition and a playoff berth, perhaps they should start with some attainable goals and look to winning their division in the SEC.

Baby steps, Dawgs…baby steps.