COLUMBIA, S.C. – The first clue that this whole experience wouldn’t be so bad was when the Georgia football players saw where they’d be staying on Saturday night.
“It was very, very nice,” tailback Nick Chubb said of the Judicial Advocacy Center in Columbia. “We had our own rooms, so that was nice.”
The team had moved there to free up their Holiday Inn hotel rooms for evacuees from Hurricane Matthew. That storm also forced Georgia’s game at South Carolina to move to Sunday afternoon, which the players turned into a positive as well.
“Like I told the guys in the locker room, a lot of us, a majority of us, have aspirations of playing on Sunday,” junior linebacker Davin Bellamy said. “This is Sunday. We’re playing at 2:30. We’re the only college football team playing. So all eyes are on us.”
It worked out well. Georgia took the lead early, then held on for a 28-14 win. And now comes the next challenge.
A short week. Georgia will have one less day of preparation for Vanderbilt, which played (and lost) on Saturday night, then was able to sit back and watch the Bulldogs on television.
“We’ve got school and practice tomorrow. So no real days off there,” senior offensive guard Greg Pyke said. “But I bet Coach (Kirby) Smart, he’ll take care of us.”
Smart said he’ll try. Monday’s practice will include stretching and some walking through in helmets, and they’ll watch some film of Vanderbilt. But it won’t be a full-fledged practice.
The hope is the rest of the week will be normal. But even then, Smart indicated he wasn’t absolutely sure.
“It’s the recovery of the players that concerns me,” Smart said. “I mentioned practice being very important to me, Tuesday and Wednesday being physical. It’s harder to do that when you’ve got a shortened week. So we’ve got to be smart about what we do.”
It should help to be playing Vanderbilt (2-4), but there are reasons to be wary. The Commodores are coming off a couple close losses: It only lost by a touchdown to both Kentucky and Florida.
Plus, Georgia had trouble at home with Nicholls State, an FCS team that is now 2-3 on the season. In fact the Bulldogs’ 14-point win at South Carolina is now their largest margin of victory this season, and they needed the late onside kick return for touchdown to reach that number.
Bellamy, when asked about the quick turnaround this week, shrugged.
“Everybody in there wants to play on Sundays,” Bellamy said. “So just kinda got to deal with it.”