ATHENS – It was the first time it had been done in 8 years, and truth be told, those black jerseys did look nice. And yet the collective reaction of most around the Georgia football team could be summed up thusly: Eh.
“They don’t matter. It is what it is. Me as a person I don’t really care what I have on, I just come out and play,” linebacker Roquan Smith said. “Most of the guys on the team feel that way.”
That was evident, at least among the players available afterwards to the media. Junior linebacker Davin Bellamy, one of the more candid and emotive Bulldogs, literally shrugged when asked about it.
“At the end of the day, if the black jerseys kind of give us some superpowers then we would love them,” Bellamy said. “But I think the black jerseys are more for the fans, and the recruits. Of course you look good you play good. But we weren’t really focused on that. Red, black or white we’ve got to go out there and play physical.”
But there was one sort-of dissenting opinion, at least when it came to whether the jerseys had a tangible effect.
Because the stands weren’t full – students going on fall break after Friday’s classes – star tailback Nick Chubb opined that it helped to have another source of energy.
“We’ve got to bring our own juice. I thought maybe the black jerseys did help us bring a little more energy,” Chubb said. “Because we knew coming into this having classmates that everyone was leaving Friday or this morning. So we knew it could be like this. It worked out.”
Georgia announced before the season that it was urging fans to “black out” the Louisiana-Lafayette game. It was a curious choice, given it being a non-conference game in November. In the past, Georgia had selected more high-profile games to break out the black.
Perhaps that’s why it chose a more low-profile game. The last time they wore them was the 2008 debacle against Alabama. Kirby Smart was Alabama’s defensive coordinator that day, and now as Georgia’s head coach he spent all week being tight-lipped, almost visibly annoyed, when the black jerseys came up.
“I just don’t think it should be the focus,” Smart said. “I was in support of doing it, I’m just not in support of talking to you guys about it. It’s just not that big a deal to me. Because if I make it a big deal, then they make it a big deal, then you make it a big deal, and it’s not a big deal.”
It wasn’t until the final few minutes of Smart’s postgame press conference that the black jerseys were brought up. He said he didn’t sense any extra energy from his players because of the jersey.
“I think it’s cool if the whole stadium buys in, and we all do it, and have a black-out, I think that’s great,” Smart said. “But it’s not like there’s any more or less energy.”
As the press conference wrapped up, a reporter told Smart he wanted to ask a question about something besides the black jerseys. Smart smiled and signaled his relief. Then came the question:
You’re unbeaten when you don’t wear a visor, it was pointed out to the head coach.
“What?” Smart said, smiling.
Indeed, he didn’t wear it in the season-opening win over North Carolina because the game was indoors at the Georgia Dome. Then he wore it over the next seven games, going 3-4. And he stopped wearing it two weeks ago at Kentucky, and Georgia won that game and the next two, including Saturday.
“Somebody told me that before the game and I had my visor on. So out of respect for them (I took it off),” Smart said. “But I really don’t think the visor or the black jersey had anything to do with the outcome. And if anybody does, then they’re probably too superstitious.”