Head coach Kirby Smart was pleased with how his defense practiced Thursday for the first time since Georgia began practicing in full pads this spring.
Stepping to the podium after Thursday’s practice, Smart commended the defense for playing with a better sense of urgency against an offense that has made quite a few plays through the past four weeks.
“The defense came out with their necks bowed up a little bit and their spurs ready,” Smart said. “They were a little upset, and they practiced a lot better. The offense responded Saturday but it’s the first life the defense has shown. It’s probably the best practice we’ve had defensively since we came out of shorts.”
Prior to Thursday, Smart has been forthright with his thoughts on the defense’s performance. On two occasions he openly worried about complacency setting in on that side of the ball. Inside linebacker Natrez Patrick told reporters Tuesday that “something has to give” when it comes to the defense’s performance.
It would appear Thursday’s practice was the first sign that Georgia’s defense, which returns 10 starters from last season’s team, is playing at the level the coaching staff believes it can.
“I thought the energy was good out there for the defense,” Smart said. “The enthusiasm was good. Not so much for the offense. That’s how this spring has gone. One side has done a little bit better.”
Since last Saturday’s scrimmage, Smart said the defensive miscues, which included giving up too many rushing yards, have been addressed.
“We didn’t real have a real good scrimmage,” Smart said. “We were honest. They did some good things in the scrimmage. It wasn’t all bad. We showed the good, the bad and then we go in the defensive meeting and explain what we did statistically, which wasn’t very good. Then (defensive coordinator Mel) Tucker talked to them about it and some of the players talked about it. I can’t say it was a lot better Tuesday but it was a lot better (Thursday).”