Georgia coach Kirby Smart not haunted by title-game loss

Smart: Georgia players will use CFP experience to grow (1:00)

Georgia coach Kirby Smart says he's not haunted by the Bulldogs' CFP title loss to Alabama. (1:00)

ATLANTA -- Georgia coach Kirby Smart knows everyone is worried about how his team will recover from a heartbreaking overtime loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship last season, but he insists that the defeat hasn't haunted his offseason.

"Everyone wants to talk about that question," Smart said at SEC media days on Tuesday. "It's not like I have nightmares about it, no. I think we grow from it. The entire season was a learning experience, a confidence builder."

Georgia held a 20-7 lead over Alabama midway through the third quarter of the title game in Atlanta, but its offense managed just three points the rest of the game, losing 26-23 in overtime.

"I don't think you look back on it like a horror story," Smart said. "You take it and go. We don't have time in our business. Literally, right after the game we're on the road recruiting two days later, in someone's home trying to convince them to come."

Georgia, which finished No. 1 in ESPN's recruiting rankings in February, is expected to be a top-10 team and the heavy favorite to win the SEC East.

Quarterback Jake Fromm returns after a freshman season in which he threw for 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions, but he will be without his top two running backs from last season, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

"The last thing we need to do is relax," Smart said of guarding against complacency.

Redshirt junior safety J.R. Reed said there's no dwelling on the past. Asked how long it took him to get over the loss to Alabama, he guessed "probably one night."

"When it happened, it was rough, but after that, it's just what's next, and that's the season," Reed said. "You hit the offseason, you go back, watching film, see what you messed up on, you watch that game, you watch the first game, you watch the second game, and you just keep working at it, keep moving on."

He added: "When you get to talking to people, they'll always talk about that game. That's one game that I know Georgia fans will talk about until the day Georgia dies."

Georgia opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Austin Peay before traveling to play South Carolina in Week 2.