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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Smart's elusive national title within reach

by Wally Hall | September 30, 2021 at 2:39 a.m.

It seems most coaches who have spent time at Alabama under Nick Saban have adopted some of his methods and personality.

There's seven reasons why they should not. National championships.

Kirby Smart seems to be one who is very much like his former mentor, who most likely learned from Bill Belichick, who has won six Super Bowls.

In his sixth season as Georgia's head coach, Smart, who seems distant most of the time, has won a lot of games. He's 56-14 overall and 34-9 in SEC play.

He's won four SEC Eastern Division titles, but no championships. No SEC and definitely not any national championships.

There's a reason his Georgia Bulldogs are 19-point favorites over the Arkansas Razorbacks, but it also lends to the question why no championships.

In the last five seasons, Georgia's recruiting classes have ranked, No. 1 twice, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4.

He's signed 23 5-star players and 73 4-star players.

In other words, in a perfect world he could be putting 22 5-star players on the field Saturday.

On the other hand, Arkansas, the David of this football season, has signed a sum total of zero 5-star and 24 4-star players.

Sidebar: No one needs to tell Grant Morgan he wasn't a 5-star recruit because he has played like one since Sam Pittman stepped foot on campus.

Smart is a good football coach. He was good enough to win the 2009 Broyles Award as the nation's best assistant coach.

This may be the year he wins the SEC and the national championship. The schedule is in his favor.

His two Western Division opponents are Arkansas and Auburn.

He does have to play Florida, but at a neutral site, and then has the also-rans of the East and Georgia Southern.

Granted, it looked like a huge deal when the Bulldogs opened the season with Clemson and got a 10-3 win, but the Tigers have fallen from greatness with a thud that is being heard all over the world of college football.

The Tigers returned only five starters on offense and it has been obvious. They hung 49 on South Carolina State, but scored only 14 against Georgia Tech and were beaten 27-21 by North Carolina State.

So, basically Georgia hasn't really been tested.

The Razorbacks appear to be the Bulldogs' biggest challenge of the season, and vice versa.

This is the first real road game for the Razorbacks, and while they just shrugged and went about their business against Texas A&M, which was ranked No. 7, it is always tough between the hedges in Athens, Ga.

Georgia has the speed in its secondary to stack the box against Arkansas' potent running attack and still cover receivers.

In fact, it will be downright surprising if the Bulldogs don't have at least five defenders on the line of scrimmage on the majority of the downs.

Smart is a former defensive coordinator, and he helped Saban win some of those championship rings.

Arkansas' depth at running back is almost unheard of, but Smart and his staff have faced talented running backs before.

It may come down to KJ Jefferson's arm, which has improved in some ways in every game.

How tender is the knee he hurt against the Aggies won't be known until Saturday, but if he is given a little time and can plant his feet without pain, he is a factor Georgia will have to deal with.

Pittman is very familiar with playing in Georgia. He got away from Bret Bielema at Arkanas as one of Smart's first hires when he became the head coach of the Bulldogs.

Pittman said this week that it is a tough place to get a win, but four games into this season the one thing Razorback fans know is their team will be prepared.

Print Headline: Smart's elusive national title within reach

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