By LARRY VAUGHT
Georgia coach Kirby appreciates good defense.
He was defensive coordinator at Alabama when the Crimson Tide won a national title and also had a shutdown defense last year at Georgia when the Bulldogs lost to Alabama in the national title game.
Kentucky’s defense that Georgia will face Saturday held Missouri without a first down in the second half of last week’s win. The Cats are tied for Clemson for the lead nationally in scoring defense and have one of the nation’s best players in linebacker Josh Allen.
“They play complementary defense. They’re on the same page at all times. You don’t see busts. They understand where each guy is,” Smart said. “They leverage the ball well. They tackle well.
“They’re extremely long in the secondary. They’ve got 6-2, 6-3 corners that are good tacklers. They have good safeties. They have big men up front, which is built for the kind of defense they play, and they’ve obviously got one of the best pass rushers (Allen) in the country.
“They do a tremendous job of playing team defense. They’re very organized, disciplined. They know the game plan; they know what they’re going to take away and they do it. It’s a credit to what they’ve built, because when you build on the long-term and you have this many seniors in a group, any defense I’ve coached or any team that I’ve been involved in coaching that has this many seniors is usually pretty successful, because they’ve played in our conference.”
Smart wasn’t shy about praising Allen, a four-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week this year.
“He’s faster. He’s bigger. He can strike, play the run. He can drop, play and coverage. They move him around. They do a great job using him,” Smart said.
“He’s the total package. He’s not one-dimensional. He can do a lot of things. He’s very disruptive. You gotta know where he is at all times. He’s what you want when you design a three-four defense. He’s your prototype guy, and he has been disruptive to everyone in this conference, and everybody you talk to talk about how good a player he is.”