Perhaps Georgia has received too much positive reinforcement.
Or at least that’s the way senior center Brandon Kublanow is looking at it. Coming off a narrow 26-24 win over Nicholls State, a game that would have been the biggest upset in college football history had Georgia lost, Kublanow said the Bulldogs need someone to step up and tell it like it is.
"There’s a good core of guys that provide the good," Kublanow said. "But something that may have been missing is guys providing the bad, too. I think that’s something I’ll be able to provide."
Kublanow said he’s ready to step up and provide some of the vocal leadership that’s been lacking. Kublanow, who generally has a calm demeanor, said he’s willing to put a teammate in his place if needed.
While nothing specific has been brought up by any players or head coach Kirby Smart, something occurred last week leading up to the game, which led to a lack of energy on the field against an FCS opponent that finished the 2015 season with a 3-8 record.
After the game, Smart said he’s "begging for leadership" to emerge among his players.
Kublanow appears to be answering the call.
"I think it’s something where I need to step up with leading and demanding more out of the guys," Kublanow said. "It’s something that really needs to happen this week. I think we may have gotten a little relaxed last week. It won’t happen again."
Kublanow will start by asking for more out of his position group, which only managed 167 rushing yards against Nicholls State, while failing to open up many holes all game. The lack of a rushing attack was glaring and something Kublanow noticed when re-watching the game.
But having players hold each other accountable is something Smart has desired since the spring. As it’s been, the make-up of Georgia’s roster happens to include a lot of quiet players who aren’t too comfortable with opening up and occasionally screaming at a teammate.
That’s something that needs to change, Smart said.
"Every team I have ever been on was at a different degree of leadership," Smart said. "I certainly think this one is struggling to find that. Guys are getting comfortable in their roles. They are still figuring out who they are. Some guys are more comfortable than others."
There are a group of players who have stepped into leadership roles, although they may not be the most vocal. In addition to Kublanow, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Davin Bellamy, Dominick Sanders, Greg Pyke and Jeb Blazevich are among those who teammates often turn to for leadership.
The vocal part is something that even these players, however, have continued to work on.
"I wasn’t a guy who was vocal. I had to learn how to get on my teammates in a positive way," Sanders said. "It’s really helping us as far as a team. If all of us can do that, it will get us far instead of people holding in."
But as Kublanow said, it may now be a time not to hold back the negativity.
If a Georgia player continues to mess up in practice, Kublanow said he’ll harp on it. Coaches are expected to hold players accountable. Georgia’s team leaders now have to do the same, especially in the event of a near-loss to a team like Nicholls State.
"I need to demand more out of the guys," Kublanow said.