Coach Smart called out some players in his post practice media session on Tuesday. Coach Smart addressed the media on Tuesday stating his disappointment in how some of his players are practicing.
“The biggest concern I’ve got is if the best players play the best,” Smart said. “That probably hasn’t happened so far in camp. We’ve got some guys that I consider to be really good players that aren’t playing up to their potential. But we’ve also got a lot of players who were 2s and 3s last year that I think are playing pretty well. So we’ve got some good competition going on out there.”
Smart was asked if it’s a matter of complacency for the marquee players he’s talking about.
“I don’t know, you can call it what it is,” Smart said. “I know as I look out there, there’s a couple of guys you would say, ‘OK, this is a guy that maybe played really well last year and he’s not playing to the level I think he can play to.’ And that’s one of the scariest things that can happen to our team. But the good news is that, at a lot of those positions, there’s a guy just as talented behind him that’s scratching and clawing or maybe just got here and is fighting for playing time.. That excites me. Sometimes you get a casual nature about you if you think you know everything and you think you kind of understand everything. So, we’ve had to have some talks about that with some guys.”
Smart has already been a big believer in tough, physical practices as way to help keep his players away from the "Rat Poison". Not only is the current coaching staff noticing the closing gap between the 1's and their back ups. Former QB David Greene mentioned it in an interview with us just last week. "In previous years, a starter could have a bad scrimmage that it didn't matter because the gap between his back up was so big, he was going to start any ways. Kirby's recruiting is forcing players to step up their game or they're going to be forgotten about."
Kirby has shown that best man plays. In 2016 and 17, Trent Thompson lost his starting spot to Julian Rochester (16) and Tyler Clark (17). Perform in practice and expect to see the field!
Here is a list of some players that will need to put in work during Fall practice and film room or risk losing some playing time:
- Richard Lecounte - It has been well discussed by the coaches this fall for Lecounte needing to step up and be a consistent contributor this fall. With Gibbs, Otis Reese, and others in the fold... Lecounte will need to work hard to separate himself!
-D'Andre Switft, RB - Yes, Swift opened fall camp with the starting spot this fall. A groin injury in the spring limited his time this past off season. Just because Swift with the next man up after Chubb and Michel doesn't automatically give him the assumed starting spot. Pass blocking will be a point of interest for the coaching staff. With the recovery of Zamir white and arrival of James Cook, Swift will need to be at peak performance.
-Tyrique Mcghee, DB - Mcghee showed flashes of a lock down defensive back in 2017. Smart and company recruited the secondary heavily in 16 and 17 and there are several players looking for their shot. William Poole, Mark Webb, and Tyson Campbell are all hungry and are the size to handle the bigger wide receivers in the SEC.
-Walter Grant , LB- This is more of #'s game with Grant. Grant got early playing time in 2017 and looks to be the part! His breakout time is probably coming more in 2019, but with Brenton Cox, Robert Beal, and company working hard this spring and fall. Competition for playing time should be interesting this fall.
-Monty Rice, LB- Rice showed out in the Spring game with 14 tackles and several "hand touch" sacks. Rice is being relied upon heavily to step in and fill the role Roquan Smith played. We're not saying be "Roquan", but will need to be the solid middle linebacker to go along with Natrez Patrick this fall. Quay Walker, Channing Tindall, Juwan Taylor, and Tae Crowder are all in the mix at this position.