ATHENS – Greetings from Sanford Stadium, where Weather.com says it’s 91 degrees but my car told me it was 96 on the drive up Field Street. I’m inclined to go with my car, because it is H-O-T, hot!
It seems crazy that we’re still dealing with temperatures like this now that we’re into October. But I bet Georgia coach Kirby Smart likes it. He has bragged all season about the his team’s superior conditioning and acclimation to the heat. Perhaps that’s another check in the advantage column for the Bulldogs in today’s matchup against Vanderbilt. There were already a lot checks in that column, by the way.
Thankfully, we’re finally going to have a night game at Sanford Stadium. Georgia hasn’t played at night all year. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be markedly cooler by the time that finally kick off at 7:30 p.m., but at least it will be cooler than it is now and get cooler as they go.
And everybody loves a night game. Georgia’s coach and players both talked about how there’s an inherent excitement that comes with playing under the lights.
I’m not exactly sensing any electricity over tonight’s meeting between the 3-2 (0-1 SEC) Commodores and your No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (5-0). But it’s an SEC divisional game, it’s against a team that beat Georgia last time they were here, and the Bulldogs have much to clean up before next week’s foray in Cajun Country.
Sharpness, crispness, offensive efficiency, defensive dominance. That’s what I’ll be looking for from the Bulldogs tonight. It’s time for Georgia to finally put a game together.
It’s not like they haven’t played well yet. In virtually every way, the Bulldogs are actually out-pacing what they were doing a year ago. But the expectations are higher this time around, and they’ll need to pack some confidence and self-assurance for next week’s trip to LSU.
I feel like we’ll see that. Controversial or not, the quarterback rotation between Jake Fromm and Justin Fields appears to be working well for the Bulldogs. The improved health of tackle Andrew Thomas and wide receiver Terry Godwin should help as well. Defensively, this youthful unit appears to be getting better each week. They just need to limit the busts.
Of course, winning is the bottom line, and that’s especially true at home. The Bulldogs have erected a new graphics display on the first floor of the Butts-Mehre complex that shows the home record of all its SEC Championship teams. As you might guess, most of them never lost at home.
Last year, the Dogs were 6-0 at Sanford Stadium. They’ll have seven home games this season and are 3-0 so far. They should be favored in all the rest.
Tonight, Georgia’s a 26 1/2-point favorite against the Commodores. Of course, the Bulldogs were a significant favorite when they fell to Vandy 17-16 here in 2016. That seems like ancient history, though, doesn’t it?
As usual, the whole DawgNation team – Mike Griffith, Jeff Sentell, Brandon Adams and yours truly – will be here tonight to bring you all the coverage you could possibly consume, before, during and after the game. We’ll wrap it all up late tonight, so be sure to have the DawgNation app downloaded on your phone so you can follow along.
Now let’s cover some night ball!