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Smart: 'It's just a number, right?'

October 12, 2021 - 15:30
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    Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during a press conference in the Butts-Mehre Building in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
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    Georgia tight end John FitzPatrick (86) during a game against Auburn at the Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL., on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Georgia outside linebacker Adam Anderson (19) during a game against Auburn at the Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL., on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

ATHENS, GA. -- It seems like there’s a new sheriff in town, at least according to this week’s AP Poll. 

Georgia now sits at No. 1 at the top of the polls following Texas A&M’s 41-38 upset of Alabama over the weekend.

However, for the top-ranked Bulldogs, it’s just business as usual this week as they get prepared for a matchup with No. 11 Kentucky. 

“It’s just a number, right?,” Smart said on Monday to reporters. “I don’t see a plateau. The goal is to be number one at the end of the season. You always know that. Everybody’s goal is there, but to have an opportunity to do that you have to be in the top four. That’s the most critical part.”

Georgia is coming off a dominating performance over Auburn on The Plains in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. It was the Bulldogs’ first true road test of the season, and they passed with flying colors. Georgia racked up 432 yards of total offense and limited the Tigers to just 10 points.

The Bulldogs’ No. 1 spot is well-deserved, according to the poll voters, but they won’t be celebrating the achievement anytime soon.

“We won’t get caught up in that and let you guys write about it,” Smart said. “That’s not a burden we carry. The burden we carry is how we play.”

Smart acknowledged that his players read the headlines and know what’s going on; however, he doesn’t want them to buy into the outside noise, especially because Georgia still has six games left on the schedule.

“The focus is on us like it always is, it’s about what we do,” Smart said. “It has nothing to do with the outside world or the noise about the rankings. They’re going to hear it regardless, so it’s really about what you control your thoughts to be and what your priorities are.”

Smart said he thinks his team has handled things well up to this point. 

“They’ve handled practice and leadership well,” he added. “They bought into the DNA traits of our team and they’ve got to continue to do that.” 

Smart pointed out that there are two ways to lose focus on the task at hand. 

“You can lose it through failure and people not buying in, or you can lose it to success through people seeing themselves through a different lens and seeing themselves in a different way of being comfortable, or not comfortable, with what their role is,” Smart said. “We’ve been able to avoid both of those things, we’ve got to continue to do so.”

Senior outside linebacker Adam Anderson, who leads Georgia in sacks, said at first he was elated, but then he quickly didn’t want complacency setting in. 

“Honestly, at first, it excited me,” Anderson said. “You don’t want to get overwhelmed, thinking about that one position, or whatever. At the end of the day, you’ve got to remember what got you here now.”

Anderson also explained that his teammates won’t get arrogant over being ranked No. 1. 

“That drives for me to keep it neutral, to keep it the same. Don’t try and change it up, don’t try and be someone you’re not,” Anderson said. “Don’t let being No. 1 influence how you play them. A lot of people get in over their heads a little. We don’t need to start playing differently or play like someone you have never played before. When you come to the University of Georgia you are always targeted.”

Redshirt junior John FitzPatrick agreed with Anderson’s sentiment. 

“Yeah, it is not going to really affect us,” FitzPatrick said. “It is not going to change our practice plan. We are not paying a lot of attention to it. We are just focused on Kentucky right now.”

Georgia will face Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 16 in Sanford Stadium at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.