NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Greetings from Vanderbilt Stadium, where the Georgia football team comes in aiming to avenge its most stunning loss from last year, and keep the momentum going this year. Check here for regular updates and observations.
This looks like a toned-down version of South Bend: There is a lot of red in the stands, and perhaps a higher percentage than were at Notre Dame.
Vanderbilt fans may just be late arriving because of the late start. Or this may be it. But at the moment, the stands behind the Georgia sideline are almost entirely red. The other section is about 95 percent black and gold, but the middle section — the lower end of the horseshoe — looks majority red.
Inside linebackers …
Monty Rice and Juwan Taylor both appear to be getting first-team reps, rotating in alongside Roquan Smith.
Given how late the Natrez Patrick news happened, perhaps they’re going to let both guys play and see how it sorts out.
Quarterback order …
Looks like it’s Jake Fromm throwing first, followed by Jacob Eason. No surprise if that’s the order.
Update: Fromm continues to get the first reps, followed by Eason. So barring a major surprise, that’ll be the deal to start the game.
DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle …
Is here, as it turns out. The junior defensive tackle is dressed out and participating in warmups. That means somebody else on the listed travel roster isn’t here. We’re trying to figure out who.
Update: We don’t see WR Michael Chigbu, who did practice this week but missed the Tennessee game.
Defensive line notes
Trenton Thompson is missing this game with a knee injury, as Kirby Smart confirmed earlier in the week. So for whom could that mean more playing time?
The defensive linemen on the trip: Julian Rochester, Malik Herring, Jonathan Ledbetter, David Marshall, Tyler Clark, Michail Carter and Michael Barnett.
But not on the 70-man travel roster includes Justin Young, a redshirt sophomore.
Natrez Patrick and Reggie Carter both out
Expected, now confirmed: Neither inside linebacker is on the travel roster.
The guess here is junior Juwan Taylor will get his first career start, while freshman Monty Rice could be in line for a lot of playing time. Other inside linebackers who made the trip include freshman Nate McBride and redshirt sophomore Tae Crowder.
There are other options, such as moving Lorenzo Carter inside, or playing more in dime. But those options are a bit limited because the Patrick news happened so late in the week, after practices and the game plan had been installed.
Big spread, big subplots
At last check this morning, Georgia is favored by 17.5 points, after opening as a 16-point favorite. So Las Vegas and the people who bet fully expect Georgia to be just fine on the road here. There’s plenty of reason to be justified in that thinking.
That doesn’t mean this couldn’t get interesting. And that’s just on the Georgia sideline.
The quarterback situation will be closely watched, and while it would have been anyway with the Jacob Eason-Jake Fromm dynamic, there’s no way to divorce that from the news Friday. The presumed addition of Justin Fields was doubtlessly noticed by the current Bulldogs as they made the trek up here, especially the quarterbacks.
The expectation here is Fromm will start this game but that Eason will see time off the bench. How this competition plays out over the rest of the season now has another element of intrigue with Fields on the way. Is there room for three 5-star quarterbacks on the same roster next year? Will either Eason or Fromm emerge as the definite starter by the end of the season, or will Fields walk into a wide-open competition?
Maybe we begin to find out Saturday.
As for inside linebackers …
There has been no official confirmation yet that Natrez Patrick is suspended. It’s expected, however, after the news from Thursday night.
The team arrived in Vanderbilt Stadium a few moments ago, and as they walked across the field, this reporter did not personally see either Patrick or fellow inside linebacker Reggie Carter, who missed practices this week with an undisclosed injury. Full disclosure: My binoculars are good but not foolproof, so I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that Patrick and Carter aren’t here.
Georgia’s captains for this game: Sony Michel, Davin Bellamy and Dominick Sanders.