Georgia Bulldogs Open Camp; Defending college football champions ‘ready to grind,’ says head coach Kirby Smart

Defending champion Georgia opened camp Thursday with coach Kirby Smart telling reporters, “Our guys are ready to work.”

Smart didn’t dwell on a possible hangover from last season’s success or the need to make up for all the production the team lost to the NFL.

The Bulldogs had 15 players drafted — a common draft-era record — including five stars from their top-ranked defense: Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt and Lewis Cine.

“We have a lot of good players to replace,” Smart said, “and we have a lot of good players to replace them.”

Smart and his team have placed in the top three for the past four years.

The Bulldogs are also returning key starters in quarterback Stetson Bennett, tight end Brock Bowers, defensive tackle Jalen Carter and outside linebacker Nolan Smith.

At SEC media days last month, the media predicted that Georgia would edge out Kentucky and win the East.

Georgia won its first national championship in 41 years in January when it defeated Alabama in an SEC championship rematch.

When asked if he was worried about complacency, Smart replied, “We don’t really have that problem.”

This is largely due to the number of players the team lost to the draft and players entering new roles.

“I know guys who haven’t played are hungry,” Smart said. “We have to keep the guys who are hungry. It has nothing to do with complacency. I mean, whether we win or lose every game this year, it won’t be because of complacency. It will be because of the results and what we have done on the grass to make it possible. But it won’t be complacency.”

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Georgia also has the advantage of a high-profile Week 1 game to look forward to, as it takes on Oregon at the Chick-fil-A kickoff on Sept. 3 in Atlanta.

Adding to the matchup is Ducks first-year head coach Dan Lanning, who has served as Georgia’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons.

“The last thing I’m worried about is Dan Lanning,” Smart said. “I mean, we have a million battles to face before that. I don’t even think about Oregon. Our concern is our roster. How do we build depth? I mean, we don’t even think about it. “We’re so far from that right now. We’re focusing on us, our team, our connection and getting the right players to the right places.

“If we do that, it will control the outcome of the game, much more than what he knows about us and what I know about him.”

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