NEW ORLEANS — Texas coach Tom Herman visited Georgia practices and picked Kirby Smart’s brain in spring drills, and on Tuesday night he appeared to put that knowledge to use.
The underdog Longhorns were seemingly a step ahead at each turn, confusing Georgia QB Jake Fromm and the offensive line with multiple looks, while finding soft spots on the defense.
Texas scored a 28-21 Sugar Bowl win to finish the season at 10-4 while the Bulldogs dropped to 11-3 and likely out of the top five of the national rankings.
The Longhorns were the first team all season to open a game with a touchdown drive against what had been a very good UGA defense.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Herman and his staff out-coached the Bulldogs, and the Texas coach explained how after the game.
“W e wanted to make sure our game plan was two things: One, we wanted to run our plays but run them out of different formations and motions.” Herman said. “We wanted to disguise a lot of our base plays.
“Then, we wanted to play with tempo. We felt we could wear them out a little bit, and they like to play a lot of guys on defense in the front seven. And we wanted to make sure we could keep them on the field, and I thought we executed that plan.”
Defensively, Texas knew to have a chance they’d have to slow down the SEC’s top rushing attack.
“We knew we had to stop the run, had to, and we were committed to pressuring on first and second down,” Herman said. “And trusting our guys on the perimeter if they were to pass and trusting that that pressure would also at least make the ball come out quick. I thought the game plan was well‑designed.”
Herman had raised eyebrows in the pregame when he said he wasn’t sure Georgia was the “best” team he had seem on film, pointing to Oklahoma.
But on Tuesday night, the Texas coach and his team backed up the assessment.
“I know that the phrase ‘team win’ gets used quite a bit.,” Herman said. “But the way our offense, defense, and special teams complemented each other the entire night, I thought, was magnificent. It was what we needed to have happen in order to have a chance to win.”
Herman was as complimentary of Smart as Georgia’s head coach has been of him in the weeks leading up to the game.
“I have an unbelievable amount of respect for Kirby Smart and his crew and his program,” Herman said. “So much so that we took a trip out there this spring just to pick brains and talk shop a little bit.”
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