“We are well positioned”

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Kirby Smart expresses genuine confidence in Georgia 2022 offense

Kirby Smart will always be a defense first coach. There’s nothing wrong with that as Smart can now point to the champions team of 2021 as proof that defense can still win.

He also understands the uniqueness of this team with five first-round picks on the defensive side of the ball. And that doesn’t even include the best player on that defense in Nakobe Dean.

Smart still wants Georgia to become elite defensively. Even with some personnel losses, the Bulldogs should be able to achieve that in 2022. Georgia brings back Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith and a host of promising young players eager to fill in the footsteps of Dean, Lewis Cein and Travon Walker.

But he knows his team will need to be carried off offense in 2022. That’s how most of the college football world still works.

“We will be a different team this year. We’re not going to have five first-round defensive players coming back,” Smart said during an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show. “That will not be the case. I still think it’s a throwing the ball and scoring era. We have to do better and keep going like this.”

Related: Kirby Smart on Georgia 2022 Football Defense: ‘We Just Want To Be No. 1 In The Country’

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It’s not like Georgia was a bad offensive team a season ago. The Bulldogs still ranked ninth in the country in terms of attacks per game with 38.6 points per game. Georgia also finished in the top 10 in the country in 20-yard play and 30-yard play.

It just didn’t look like an offense from Alabama or Ohio State. The Buckeyes led the country in points per game, averaging 45.5 points per contest. Alabama was led by quarterback Bryce Young, who won the 2021 Heisman Trophy.

Young and Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud are both returning this season. These two offenses are considered as strong as in 2021, if not better.

This is one of the reasons why Smart knows that his team has to reach another level offensively. It undoubtedly needs to be an elite unit in 2022, just like the defense was last season.

“We want to score,” said Smart. “To do that, you have to have skilled players who can make plays. We think we are well positioned to do that.”

Like Alabama and Ohio State, Georgia is bringing back its starting quarterback from the 2022 season. Stetson Bennett will be in his third season with offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Bennett may not have the profile of Young or Stroud, but he’s made notable strides on Monken’s offense over the past season.

He may not have been the main reason Georgia won everything last season, nor was he exactly a lout. He was the Orange Bowl MVP, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan.

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As Smart points out, Bennett should also have a strong group of skillful players on the offensive side of the ball. That might be the biggest reason for optimism for an improved offense in 2022.

Running backs Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh have both shown in the past that they can be productive players. In 2022, they will have even greater opportunities. They could also be more interchangeable than Zamir White and James Cook were last season, making Georgia’s offense less predictable.

Wide Receiver is perhaps the biggest question mark. If the group can remain healthy there is plenty of talent in the room with AD Mitchell, Kearis Jackson, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Ladd McConkey, Arian Smtih and Dominick Blaylock.

But the group was rocked by injury last season and need to prove they can last a full season. They will also be working with a new position coach in Bryan McClendon.

“We didn’t like, okay, this guy’s got a hamstring, who’s going in,” Smart said on G-Day. “We do not have that. We have to grow that. We’re not there yet.”

However, Bennett doesn’t have to overly rely on Georgia’s wide receiver thanks to Georgia’s tight end space. Which might be the best position group in the country.

All-American Brock Bowers returns after perhaps the best freshman season in the country, regardless of position. Georgia is also bringing back mammoth junior Darnell Washington, who will play a key role on offense.

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