Kirby Smart, Nakobe Dean explain why the Georgia crowd must be an advantage against Arkansas

Kirby Smart-Georgia crowd-arkansas
090421 Charlotte: Georgia inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (right) celebrates sacking Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei during the first half with teammates Devonte Wyatt (left) and Robert Beal Jr. (back) in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 4, 2021, in Charlotte. “Curtis Compton /”

ATHENS — Nakobe Dean gets why you might be a little slow or sleepy at the start of a noon game. Looking back on his first career noon game as in 2019, the junior linebacker admitted that he was dragging a little bit in pregame.

That game was also the last time Georgia had a 12 p.m. start for a home SEC game. The Bulldogs lost that game as a three-touchdown favorite against South Carolina.

“I feel like the energy was alright but we could’ve had more,” Dean said. “This year, us already having a 12 o’clock start under our belt and knowing what we have to do for that game, I know we’re going to be good.”

The Bulldogs did just play a 12 p.m. game against Vanderbilt, which resulted in a 62-0 win for Georgia. This Saturday’s 12 p.m. start though will come against a much tougher opponent.

No. 2 Georgia will host No. 8 Arkansas. It’s the top game of the week. College GameDay will be in town. Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will be calling the game.

So while the noon start might indicate a lesser matchup, this Georgia team knows it will have to be ready to from the jump.

“They are not the same Arkansas team we faced last year, they are way more physical,” Dean said. “This is the kind of game that we here at Georgia look for, a game that we can be physical. I am sure everyone on the team is excited for the game as I am.”

Related: Kirby Smart goes on rant, challenges Georgia fans ahead of Arkansas clash

From nearly the moment the game against Vanderbilt ended, Smart has been pushing for not just his players but the Georgia fan base to be up and ready to go for the early start.

The 2019 South Carolina defeat no doubt lingers for the Georgia head coach. Arkansas being as good as it is — they’ve already beaten Texas and Texas A&M by double digits this season — only fuels the concern about a slow start.

The game against Georgia though will be the first time Arkansas plays in a true road environment this season. And Smart knows a hostile Georgia crowd can help swing a game, as he’s seen many times during night games.

“The advantage we can have is can our crowd impact the game at 12:01 p.m. like they could at 8:01 p.m.,” Smart said. “That’s the challenge that’s issued to our fans to prep for that and to be able to help us because you know we got this game at home. So, that’s supposed to be an advantage and we got to try and make it an advantage because the teams that play at home have across the board this year more than last year, with packed stadiums have some kind of advantage, at least crowd noise wise.”

The loss to South Carolina was also the last time Georgia lost in Sanford Stadium.

Dean has heard the same challenge that Smart issued to the Georgia fans. The Razorbacks are too good of an opponent for any player, even a freshman, to come out feeling sluggish. Add in that it is a top-10 matchup and will be the biggest game of the week and there’s no excuses for the Bulldogs this week.

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