Georgia coach Kirby Smart says he is anticipating some “sleepless nights” trying to prepare for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in the Rose Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Smart had nothing but praise for Mayfield, the all-but-certain Heisman winner, when he was asked about him during Sunday’s Rose Bowl coaches’ teleconference. He even referenced an NFL all-timer when talking about Mayfield, who has thrown for 4,340 yards and 41 TDs.
“He’s such a good athlete, and he’s got a thick build and he stretches and extends plays, extremely explosive,” Smart said. “Not afraid to make any throws. It’s really like when you watch Brett Favre back in the day. Obviously, he’s a better athlete, and he’s got the gunslinger mentality that he can make all the throws.”
In addition to his big passing numbers — he is second in the nation in passing yards and TD passes — Mayfield has rushed for 310 yards and five scores.
Georgia has seen some good quarterbacks this season — Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush, Missouri’s Drew Lock, Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham — but Smart says Mayfield is on another level.
“We haven’t played against any Heisman Trophy winners, and nobody of that caliber at that position,” Smart said. “He’s really talented because he can hurt you in so many ways. I think it’s the combination of Lincoln’s system (coach Lincoln Riley) and their offensive system with really the perfect quarterback for it. So you’ve got a good match.”
Smart also is a big fan of Mayfield’s energy.
“He enjoys the game and plays the game with so much passion,” Smart said. “I’ve enjoyed watching the games he’s played in, and just the pageantry and the passion with which he plays. It’s really what college football is about, and he’s obviously a phenomenal player that makes everyone around him better.”
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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