KNOXVILLE, Tenn.–Greetings from Neyland Stadium, where your sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs are here for Mark Richt’s seventh time as head coach.
Each of the past four trips here has had a different head coach on the other side. There was Phillip Fulmer in 2007, Lane Kiffin in 2009, Derek Dooley in 2011 and now Butch Jones in 2013. Georgia went just 1-2 in those games, winning 20-12 in its last visit.
As expected, safety Tray Matthews isn’t playing today. He didn’t even make the trip after pulling a hamstring on Tuesday in practice.
Tailback Todd Gurley is on the trip, but based on this tweet from offensive lineman Dallas Lee, he’s not playing due to a sprained ankle: “I’m gonna miss blocking for my man @tgii out there (today). I guess I’ll have to make due with @aaronmurray11 for now ha.”
Georgia is preparing for a hostile environment.
“Knoxville’s the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in,” said outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who came as a recruit to Neyland. “That’s going to be a huge factor against us because we’re a young defense. The atmosphere was loud last week, but there’s nothing like a loud atmosphere in Tennessee.”
Neyland Stadium (capacity of 102,455) is the third largest in college football behind Michigan (109,901) and Penn State (106,572).
“We’ll have a lot of people wearing red and black in there, but it won’t be many compared to what we’re going to be facing,” Richt said.
Georgia is relying on plenty of young players, including J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas who will work behind Keith Marshall today.
“It will probably be a little shock for them when they get into that stadium and see 102,000 people,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.
None of the previous Vols’ three home games sold out. A crowd of only 87,266 was here last week for South Alabama.
–There was plenty of talk this week of communication issues for Georgia in picking up the hand signals on defense and of the effect the new targeting penalty is having on Georgia’s young safeties in their indecision to make the hard hit.
“We may have overcoached keeping that targeting foul from happening,” Richt said.
Improving communication was a big area of focus this week.
“We’ve got a new way of calling plays that we think will help us out a lot,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to have the D-linemen getting the call from one person, some other people getting the calls from another.”
–Wide receiver Jonathon Rumph is not here, according to the travel roster. Georgia only brought three quarterbacks. So if something happens to Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason, it’s Faton Bauta time, if this list is correct.
Also not on the travel list, tailback Brandon Harton and safety Shaquille Fluker. Freshmen not here include Brandon Burrows and Jordan Davis. Senior linebacker Chase Vasser and junior linebacker Brandon Burrows isn’t on the list.
–Former Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and Richt spent some time chatting pregame on the field. Bulldogs running backs coach Bryan McClendon gave Martinez a hug.
–Gurley looks like a no-go. He’s not dressed out. Safety Connor Norman also is out with an undisclosed injury,
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