John Jenkins and Georgia‚Äôs other newcomers are learning all about this rivalry game against Florida.
‚ÄúThe biggest cocktail bowl, I guess that‚Äôs what it‚Äôs called, right? The cocktail bowl,‚Äù the junior college transfer nose guard asked last week.
By the time game week rolled around Jenkins referred to it as the ‚Äúcocktail party.‚Äù Well, since the use of ‚ÄúWorld‚Äôs Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party‚Äù is now officially discouraged, cocktail bowl might just pass muster.
‚ÄúI know it‚Äôs going to be a crazy atmosphere,‚Äù freshman tailback and Georgia‚Äôs leading rusher Isaiah Crowell said of playing in Jacksonville.
Georgia has played 15 members of its signing class this season.
Those newcomers ‚Äî along with redshirt freshmen and transfer linebacker Jarvis Jones ‚Äî are getting their first up close exposure to the rivalry and its history before they play in the game.
‚ÄúI know Florida won the series more often than Georgia has,‚Äù freshman linebacker Amarlo Herrera said.
Not quite. The Bulldogs hold a 47-40-2 edge, according to Georgia. Florida says it‚Äôs 46-40-2.
More recently, of course, it‚Äôs been a different story with the Gators dominating.
‚ÄúIs it really 18 of 21? That‚Äôs crazy,‚Äù redshirt freshman receiver Michael Bennett said of the Gators‚Äô hold in the series since 1990. ‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt know that. Man, we‚Äôve got to start winning, I guess.‚Äù
Bennett wasn‚Äôt on the travel roster last year, but traveled on his own to the game.
‚ÄúI grew up watching the game a lot, and it‚Äôs just going to be fun to be a part of it now,‚Äù Bennett said. ‚ÄúIn ‚Äô07, when we beat (Florida quarterback Tim) Tebow and I followed Tebow a lot, I thought it was pretty cool that Georgia beat Florida because I thought they were invincible back then.‚Äù
The neutral site 50-50 ticket split is unique with fans wearing red and black or orange and blue.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be loud the whole game no matter what,‚Äù Herrera said.
‚ÄúI hope we can just treat this game like another game,‚Äù Georgia coach Mark Richt said. ‚ÄúHopefully the guys won‚Äôt get so geeked up, so to speak, that they won‚Äôt be able to handle it. We‚Äôll see. I think they‚Äôve played enough games right now that they‚Äôll be all right.‚Äù
Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said playing Boise State in the Georgia Dome to open the season gave the freshmen a taste of what they‚Äôll experience in Jacksonville even though that crowd was heavily pro-Bulldogs.
The atmospheres for games against South Carolina at home and on the road against Tennessee also helped.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôve got some experience in big-time games,‚Äù Bobo said.
Even so, Bobo said: ‚ÄúIt is a little bit of a culture shock for those guys. It‚Äôs a neat environment split down the middle 50-50. Just the energy and the intensity of that game, both sides, you can just feel it. You really can‚Äôt get them used to it. It‚Äôs something they have got to experience.‚Äù
Florida has played 15 true freshmen and 23 freshmen overall this season who will be playing in the rivalry game for the first time, too.
‚ÄúWe have talked to our team about it, especially to the young guys, and we‚Äôve had the older guys talk about it a little bit as far as this game is concerned,‚Äù Florida coach Will Muschamp said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs how you try to prepare your team for what they‚Äôre walking into.‚Äù
Jenkins, who picked Georgia over Florida, heard on Facebook from people he knows back home in Connecticut about what‚Äôs coming.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be a big deal. I can only imagine,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre telling me you don‚Äôt know what you got yourself into. My cousin is a Florida fan, so it‚Äôs a live game.‚Äù
Herrera expects some jitters, but he doesn‚Äôt expect it to last long.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve still got a little bit of nervousness until the first play,‚Äù Herrera said. ‚ÄúAfter the first play, you‚Äôre all good.‚Äù