ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs were back in the House of Payne on Monday, and it had nothing to do with the cold and wet conditions outdoors. Georgia will likely practice all week inside its 102,000-square foot indoor athletic facility named for Billy and Porter Payne.
“We may go outside just to get out there, but it’s going to depend on the weather,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said during his news conference earlier Monday. “It’s not like it is every other week, where you’d say ‘I want to go outside because we’re playing outside.’ We’ll do it based on the weather and whether or not we want to get off the turf for a day. But most of the times we play in a game like this, we’re inside.”
Makes sense, seeing how Saturday’s SEC Championship Game will also be conducted indoors inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. No. 4 Georgia will face No. 1 Alabama there on Saturday at 4 p.m. (TV: CBS; Radio: WSB 750-AM, 95.5 FM). Both teams will get a chance to practice inside “The Benz” at separate times on Friday afternoon.
It should be helpful to the Bulldogs that many of them played inside the Atlanta Falcons’ and Atlanta United’s facility twice last year. Quarterback Jake Fromm says it will be.
“It’s awesome, just a great atmosphere,” Fromm said. “It really is cool to have the big screen up there. And, being in Atlanta, it kind of feels like you’re playing in your backyard. We kind of feel like we have a home-field advantage with that. The locker rooms are great, too.”
It is a little different, though, Fromm said.
“The noise,” Fromm said. “And one thing I remember from last year is that there are people sitting right behind the benches in the nice seats, which is crazy. You feel like they can hear what you’re saying. I guess that’s just part of the stadium.”
As for Monday’s practice observations, here are a few gained from the 10 minutes media were allowed inside the House of Payne to watch:
- Still no Monty Rice. Don’t expect to see Georgia’s starting inside linebacker play against Alabama. He was on crutches on the Bulldogs’ sideline against Tech just this past Saturday. The sophomore injured his foot warming up for the UMass game two weeks ago.
- No Cade Mayes either. The freshman and one-time starter at right guard has been out for three weeks now with a “stinger,” which affects the neck and shoulder area.
- Outside linebacker Robert Beal was practicing, and seemingly without any limitations. Beal had to be helped off the field twice against Georgia Tech, once after taking a shot to the head. But if he was subjected to concussion protocol, he has cleared it.
- Nose guard DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle was spotted practicing with the defensive linemen for the first time all year. It’s doubtful he would figure in the Bulldogs’ plans having not played all season, but it’s good to see the senior on the field. He was recognized at Senior Day this past Saturday.
- It was generally louder than usual in there. That was just from coaches and players yelling. The atmosphere was decidedly intense as the Bulldogs worked out in shorts and shoulder pads.