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Kirby Smart avoids question on James Coley

Georgia scored 17 points in an overtime loss to South Carolina, bringing to the forefront fears many in Bulldog Nation have had about the offense under first-year coordinator James Coley.

Six games into Coley's tenure, Georgia is actually up in yards per play (7.05 to 7.25), scoring (37.9 points per game to 38.5), but the Bulldogs are down in plays of 20-plus yards (6 to 4.5) and quarterback Jake Fromm has dropped from fifth to 24th nationally in passing efficiency.

All of this serves to feed the general anxiousness in Georgia that its window to win a national championship under Kirby Smart will shut without the Bulldogs cashing in, underscored by Justin Fields' breathtaking success at Ohio State and stats like this.

So, with all that said, this answer from Smart, on his evaluation of Coley half a season into the job, was certainly worthy of a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah, we're definitely looking forward to Kentucky right now,” Smart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That's the biggest concern we've got, and we're going to focus on that.”

After that Belichick-ian refusal to answer ("We're on to Buffalo."), Smart veered back on topic, but he still didn't address Coley directly.

“I think the most important part of an offense is scoring points,” Smart said. "Now, how do I get to those points? Do I get to them through explosive plays? Do I get them through long, methodical drives, which has so far been our M.O.? ... At the end of the day we're all judged by, number one, how do I score points, how do I protect the ball and how explosive can I be? That's what we're focused on.”

Georgia's entire season can and should be viewed through the lens of the program's general anxiousness. The program came within one or two plays of winning a national championship in 2017, but since then there's been a general fear that this window will pass without Georgia winning its near four-decade drought without a national championship -- all while Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, Clemson and even Georgia Tech have climbed to the mountaintop since then, multiple times in most cases.

Stats like this don't help, nor does Justin Fields' breathtaking success at Ohio State (he's accounted for 26 touchdowns and one interception in six games).

Georgia can still win a national championship following Saturday's loss, it'll just need to sweep a schedule that includes No. 9 Florida, No. 22 Missouri, No. 11 Auburn, likely No. 1 Alabama or No. 2 LSU in a potential SEC Championship game, and then winning the College Football Playoff, where the likes of Clemson, Oklahoma and even Fields and Ohio State will be waiting.

It'll take a lot points to get from here to there, and Smart is certainly focused on it.