“I don’t think our players realize how hard they have to work to be great” – Kirby Smart

Chris Vannini, Coaching Search (http://coachingsearch.com/article?a=Kirby-Smart-Our-players-dont-realize-how-hard-they-have-to-work-to-be-great)

Kirby Smart knows he wasn’t hired to win games. He was hired to win championships.

The Bulldogs averaged 9.6 wins per season under Mark Richt, but they haven’t won an SEC title since 2005. While on ESPN’s Championship Drive podcast, Smart was asked about players buying in to the new culture, and Smart explained that his job is to push them further this summer.

“I don’t think our players realize how hard they have to work to be great,” Smart said. “I think pushing them to do that and pushing them harder and making them realize they can do more is a big part of our job as coaches. They’ve got to understand they can work harder than they’re currently working and they can take more reps and they can do the reps the right way at a high rate.

“Obviously, we’ve got to improve the overall talent level and depth, but more important than that,it’s gonna be whether or not these guys push through the ceiling and go through what they think they can and take the roof off it and go work a little bit harder. We start up June 1 with our entire team. It’s important to have good summer workouts and meet the demands of the program.”

One piece of motivation for the summer will be the first game of the season. The Dawgs open against defending ACC division champion North Carolina at the Georgia Dome. It’s an opportunity for Smart and the players to make clear it’s a new era with a strong start.

“We’ve marketed it to be part of the offseason, challenging these guys that they open with a team that played for their conference championship, played against a team that was in the final game with us at Alabama in Clemson,” Smart said. “It’s a challenge for us. They’ve got great continuity of their team coming back, and we get a great chance, a national exposure chance to play a game of that caliber in a great venue. Any chance you get to do that, it fires you up. I’m especially fired up about it, being my first game here at Georgia, we get pretty much a home game.

“We’re challenging the kids, and they know. That game does not make or break our season — it doesn’t affect us in the SEC; regardless of that game, every goal can still be achieved, so we can’t put everything in that game — but the incentive and motivation of the entire offseason has been centered around that.”

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