Kirby Smart Says Georgia's Loss to Alabama in SEC Championship Was a 'Wake-Up Call'

Erin WalshDecember 5, 2021

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks on the field during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart believes Saturday's 41-24 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game reinvigorated his squad entering the College Football Playoff. 

"It didn't do any damage," Smart told reporters after the loss. "What it did was reinvigorate our energy. It re-centers you, right? Their greatest thing is when [the Tide] lost their game against Texas A&M, they garnered some focus and some attention. To me, that's an opportunity for a wake-up call, if anything."

Saturday's game was Georgia's seventh consecutive loss to Alabama, though it was the team's first defeat of the 2021 season. 

It was a surprising loss for the Bulldogs as they entered with the top-ranked defense in college football. The Bulldogs were allowing just 230.9 yards and 6.9 points per game entering Saturday's contest.

The Crimson Tide put up 536 yards of total offense against Georgia, making Smart's defense look foolish. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young completed 26-of-44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 40 yards and a score. The sophomore signal-caller also broke SEC title game records for total offense and passing yards. 

The Georgia offense, meanwhile, was limited to 449 yards. Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett also tossed two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, in the loss. 

While Smart is disappointed with how his team played, he also lauded Young and the Alabama offense in his postgame comments, saying, "Give their defense and Bryce Young and their offensive skill players a lot of credit. They played really well, very accurate, explosive, and [Young] is hard to get down on the ground, which caused us a lot of problems defensively."

Alabama head coach Nick Saban also spoke after Saturday's game, saying the win for his team made people gain "a little respect" for the Crimson Tide moving forward. 

Smart and the Bulldogs might get another shot at Saban the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff. It's widely expected that Georgia, Alabama, Cincinnati and Michigan will be the final four, but the seedings won't be known until the is released on Sunday.