It’s been a dream season for No. 1 Georgia (9-0), which has beaten every team in its path – often convincingly. The Bulldogs control their own destiny for the College Football Playoff and could even sneak in with one loss.
That’s how good they’ve been.
What has been the difference for Georgia this year?
“I think the biggest thing for this team, it’s not just the play on the field, but it’s the mentality,” CBS Sports college football analyst Aaron Murray said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “In years past, Georgia goes into a game thinking, ‘Okay, this is a big rivalry game. We’re playing Florida, we’re playing South Carolina, we’re playing whoever it is, and it’s going to be a close game. It’s going to come down to the wire. We may win by three points, we may lose by three points.’”
That, Murray said, is no longer Georgia’s mindset.
“I think their mentality this year is, ‘We’re better. We’re better-coached, we’re better-trained, we have better athletes, and we’re not just going to win; we’re going to win by 20, 30 points,’” Murray said. “It’s something Alabama has done for the last 10 years. They win before they even step on the football field. When they show up, they know they’re going to dominate. When the other team shows up, they’re the ones uncertain: ‘Hey, we’re facing Alabama. They’re really good. I don’t know if we can do it this week.’”
Indeed, it seems Kirby Smart is building Georgia in the same fashion Nick Saban built Alabama. Great running game, great defense, physical, tough, confident.
“Georgia, I think they have that mentality of, ‘We know we’re better, we’re going to win, and we’re going to win big in each and every week,'” Murray said. “So they step on the field before the game even starts and they’ve already won it.”
Still, that’s not a knock on Murray’s former coach Mark Richt. Murray led Georgia to a 10-4 record in 2011 and a 12-2 record in 2012. He and Richt had success together – and now Richt is doing the same thing at Miami. His No. 7 Hurricanes (8-0) are undefeated with No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1) coming to Coral Gables this Saturday.
Richt helped Murray on the field, but he helped him even more off of it.
“He’s not only developing great football payers, but he’s developing great young men,” Murray said. “Guys that are going to be great in the classroom, they’re going to grow up to be great fathers, businessmen, husbands – all that kind of stuff. The things that he taught us off the field are going to carry me a long, long way in life.”