ATHENS — Welcome to the start of the Kirby Smart era, at least sort of. Between Smart’s hire, his call for 93k, and Jacob Eason, this has to be the most anticipated spring football game in Georgia history.
Here are updates:
I now believe, looking at the crowd a few minutes before kickoff, and some fans still trickling in, that UGA will be able to at least claim they hit the 93,000 mark.
Whether it’s actually the case – as pointed out earlier – is impossible to know, because of lack of tickets sold and turnstiles. But it doesn’t really matter, you can look at the stands and plausibly say it’s full.
The Ludacris mini-concert has now begun. He’s on a small stage behind the end zone closest to Georgia’s locker room. Luda is wearing a black Georgia letter jacket.
The only problem is he’s not able to use the stadium’s sound system, so it actually sounds muffled, at least from here.
Update: Luda just took off the jacket and now has a red Georgia shirt.
“Happy G-Day and what’s up?” Ludacris said to the crowd after his second song.
They might not hit 93,000 exactly, but it’s still a pretty impressive crowd. The middle section is now almost completely filled, and people are filing into the top section. The lower bowl is filled.
It’s definitely got the feel of a normal SEC game, at minimum.
We’re now 40 minutes till scheduled kickoff – and 20 minutes till Ludacris – and the lower sections are almost filled, while the middle section is about halfway there. The upper sections are almost empty.
So it’s very unlikely they hit the 93,000 mark. It’s just a matter of how many they actually announce. And here’s the thing about that:
There’s no mechanism for an official count today. There’s no tickets sold total, since it’s free admission. And the turnstiles aren’t keeping count. So whatever the count is today will be an educated estimation.
For the record, I don’t think this will happen, but it would be pretty cool if it did.
Nick Chubb – who is dressed out, and NOT in a non-contact jersey – getting a carry in the game. Instruct the defense not to tackle him. But just let Chubb get a carry, and only straight-ahead if that’s all the training staff thinks he can handle right now.
Just think of the crowd reaction. And it’s hard to think he doesn’t deserve it.
Jacob Eason and Brice Ramsey are holding for field goal attempts during warm-ups. That’s mildly interesting.
Greyson Lambert, meanwhile, led the offense out of the huddle for warm-ups.
Crowd update: The lower section is pretty filled in on the north and sound ends. The other sides have some room.. The middle and upper sections are nearly empty.
There’s still plenty of time to go, but as I indicated a few hours ago it will likely take a big swarm of fans just before the game to hit the 93k mark. In fact it’s a safe assumption now it won’t happen.
It’ll still be a good crowd, though, probably the best in G-Day history.
Smart has a letter to fans in the G-day program. A few highlights:
“Georgia has had some great teams through the years and the tradition and passion of the Georgia faithful is phenomenal. Your presence here today makes a statement to the rest of the country that we support each other and are all committed to making Georgia the standard of excellence in college football. …
“I understand what you would like to accomplish with this football program and I have even higher expectations for what we want to accomplish. I think it’s more important that we take the expectations and bridge them into a process of what it takes to be successful. I would like for everybody that is associated with this program to do the same thing: be responsible for whatever their role is and do what they need to do to have a positive effect on the team. …
“We want to be a physical, aggressive football team that is relentless and competes for 60 minutes with a junkyard dawg mentality. Every choice, every decision, everything we do each day will be focused on making Georgia a champion.”
The alumni game has been going on for a bit now. Josh Bailey, Chris Brown and Tyson Browning have made some nice plays.
Meanwhile, the crowd has a long way to go, which isn’t too surprising. The crowd shot posted above is what the crowd looked like at that point.
The rosters for today’s game – which offer insights into the current depth chart – have been released.
It’s very early, but if you go by traffic and tailgating, there will have to be a huge late rush in order for Smart to get his full stadium.
This reporter left his Athens-area home at the same time as for regular season games, and both the amount of traffic and tailgaters were about half the number as it would be for a real game.
Now, there are social media reports of heavy traffic on I-316, between Atlanta and Athens. And it’s very possible that many fans, when it comes to what time they leave, are treating this like a regular G-Day, rather than a regular season game.
It’s a very nice day for football, so that should help. And Ludacris is performing 20 minutes before the scheduled kickoff. But the game is also on TV (ESPNU), which never helps attendance, though UGA has downplayed the TV factor, for obvious reasons.
The gates to the stadium open at 1 p.m.
A fan was spotted outside the stadium wearing Jacob Eason’s jersey and a houndstooth cap. That about sums up Georgia’s program right now .
And yes, it was Eason’s jersey, and not Faton Bauta’s old No. 10. The schools and apparel companies aren’t allowed to sell jerseys with the player’s names on the back, but the fan had inscribed it.