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Following spring season, Kirby Smart still looking for leaders to emerge

Kirby Smart

Georgia’s spring season officially came to an end Saturday with the G-Day scrimmage. After the game, Kirby Smart looked back on his goals for the team coming into spring and his level of success in achieving those goals.

Smart said he wanted to see his team produce more tackles for loss defensively and improve upon RPO (run-pass option) efficiency on the offensive side of the ball. He believes the Bulldogs made strides in both categories. But the biggest question mark coming into the year for the team, according to Smart, has yet to be sufficiently resolved.

“We’re not where we need to be from a leadership standpoint,” Smart said. “If you said, ‘Hey, are you there?’ No. We’re not even close.”

Replacing the senior leadership from last year is a big ask. From second and third-leading rushers in program history in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to last season’s Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith, the 2017 edition of the Bulldogs was full of leaders on both sides of the ball.

Now, those players are gone.

“Guys really need to step up and fill that role,” quarterback Jake Fromm said. “And I think guys are doing that.”

Smart agreed with Fromm to some extent, singling out a few players who were trying to take on more from a leadership standpoint. On the offensive side of the ball, Smart said Terry Godwin, Lamont Gaillard and Andrew Thomas all tried to become more vocal members of the team.

On defense, Smart said, things are less defined.

But it’s not for want of trying. Senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter said he attempted to go with a more hands-on approach to working with underclassmen this season.

“Last year I was more of a guy that came out and just did what I had to do, and I wouldn’t talk much,” Ledbetter said. “Especially when I had trouble, I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to come out, go to work and go home. But now I’m kind of opening up to everybody on my team, knowing that I can’t just lead by example. I’ve kind of got to talk to guys and mentor guys.”

RELATED: Dawgs look the part of a national power at G-Day.

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