Smart: Talk of 3rd title 'has no bearing' on UGA's preparation

ATHENS, Georgia -- Two-time defending national champion Georgia has an opportunity this season to become the first team in 87 years to win three titles in a row, but coach Kirby Smart said Monday that he doesn't talk to his team about its opportunity to make history.

"Absolutely not," Smart said. "I just don't think you can make it about that. The minute you do that, you open yourself to distractions, adding pressure. What if it doesn't happen? What are you playing for? I mean there's just so many things that I just don't believe philosophically in doing that because what the previous two teams did [has] no bearing on this team, has no bearing."

No. 1 Georgia has won 17 games in a row and 33 of its past 34 going into Saturday's opener against FCS opponent UT Martin at Sanford Stadium.

Minnesota was the last team to win three national championships in a row, from 1934 to 1936. Thirteen teams had chances to win three consecutive titles since then, most recently Alabama in 2014, but all of them failed to do it.

"Our focus is UT Martin and really us," Smart said. "And that's going to be true whoever we play. We have to remain focused on us and we have to set a standard of the way this team's going to practice in a game week. And that's kind of like being where your feet are because you don't inherit practice habits, you don't inherit standards, and they change year to year, and you've got to acknowledge them.

"I know it's so hard for people to believe that we're not talking about the other [winning a third straight national title], but we got a lot of work to be done before we start talking about that."

The Bulldogs, who went 15-0 last season and blasted TCU 65-7 in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T, must replace star quarterback Stetson Bennett and nine other starters who were selected in this year's NFL draft.

Junior Carson Beck, who attempted 35 passes as Bennett's backup last season, takes over the starting quarterback job.

Whether Smart wants to acknowledge it or not, he has a chance to do what some of the game's most legendary coaches -- Notre Dame's Frank Leahy, Oklahoma's Bud Wilkinson, Nebraska's Tom Osborne, USC's Pete Carroll and Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant and Nick Saban -- couldn't do by winning three national championships in a row.

"I think you can appreciate the difficulty because No. 1 it takes unbelievable staff management and mental management," Smart told ESPN. "To win two is really hard because in today's society you're the target and human nature is to relax. To quantify winning three, you can appreciate the difficulty in it, but it's not going to consume any of my time because so much of my time is on getting ready for the season."