ATHENS — Greetings from Sanford Stadium, where for the first time in nearly two years two ranked, unbeaten teams will meet: Georgia enters No. 11 in the AP poll and Mississippi State enters No. 17. This could be the match-up of two of the SEC’s best three teams, and is being closely watched nationally. Check here for pregame updates and observations.
Malkom Parrish wasn’t with the first-team base defense in warm-ups, but he came in for the nickel and dime formations. In the nickel Parrish was at left cornerback, and in the dime he was in the slot.
Also: Brice Ramsey continues to work with the second team in the final warm-ups.
Jacob Eason is doing a lot of throwing in practice, but that’s for non-contact drills. He was going No. 2 behind Jake Fromm in some drills, but then for the final one went third – and Brice Ramsey is working with the twos.
MALKOM PARRISH …
Is also in uniform, and that also doesn’t guarantee he’ll play. But I think there’s a better chance of him getting in than Eason.
JACOB EASON …
Is in uniform, which isn’t altogether surprising. That doesn’t mean he’ll play: In the past I believe that while SEC teams are limited to 70 players who can actually see action, it can suit up a few more. And Kirby Smart said earlier this week that Eason was still involved in gameplanning, so having him suit up and be around during the game would be a way to keep him fresh for when he’s ready to play.
Eason was taking snaps from Dyshon Sims in warm-ups. Sims is the emergency center. Brice Ramsey was working with Sean Fogarty, who typically is the second-team center.
Todd Grantham is on the field at Sanford Stadium for the first time since he left here after the 2013 season. (That is, unless he snuck into the stadium for some reason since then to relive old memories.) Grantham will be in a black coaching jacket, while Dan Mullen wears a maroon shirt.
There’s a Mississippi State assistant with even fresher Georgia ties:
Tight ends coach D.J. Looney was with Georgia last season as a graduate assistant. Kirby Smart was asked earlier this week whether that had any effect, and he shrugged it off.
‘’Everybody knows our personnel. They’ve got tape and they watch tape,” Smart said. “What does he know that Todd Grantham doesn’t know? I honestly don’t think that there are any secrets. What we’ve put on tape, in all of our games last year and this year, is the same thing Looney saw the whole time he was here. I’m extremely happy for D.J. Looney. I think he’s a great coach, great recruiter. He did nothing but work his tail off while he was here, and he got a great opportunity to go back to his alma mater and coach.’’
Christian Robinson, the former Georgia linebacker and graduate assistant, is also with Mississippi State in a support staff role. Of course this isn’t new to him: He was with Ole Miss last year as a G.A. when Georgia visited Oxford.
THE WHOLE BLACKOUT THING
As I mentioned in the Mailbag on Thursday, UGA says there is no official effort at a blackout this game: It did not ask fans to wear black, and there was no indication about black jerseys. Whereas last year they planned well in advance to do both before the Louisiana-Lafayette game.
But there are a lot of fans in black so far, especially in the student section, heeding what was a fan-oriented push on social media this week.
CHANGE OF PLANS
Aaron Murray was supposed to help call the Dawgs before the game, along with fellow former Georgia Bulldog Verron Haynes. But Murray is a late scratch. (Literally, someone came by and scratched Murray’s name from a pregame release about the calling of the Dawgs.) No reason was given.
Murray, now a CBS Sports game analyst, is in town as he has the weekend off from his broadcasting duties. He caused a stir on Friday when he picked Mississippi State to win this game on his podcast with former teammate Drew Butler. You wouldn’t think that’s why he’s not doing the call anymore, but … well, anyway.
JUSTIN FIELDS …
Is coming back to Sanford Stadium for this game, per his Twitter account. The five-star quarterback recruit is just stopping by on an unofficial visit.
He may run into James Cook, the highly-sought tailback recruit who is on an official visit, per my colleague Jeff Sentell. Yes, Georgia already has Zamir White committed, plus D’Andre Swift, Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield. But if we’ve learned anything about Kirby Smart and this staff it’s that they will not hesitate to try to collect talent and then sort it out when they get on campus.
AWAITING INJURY UPDATES
The Dawg Walk is at 4:30 p.m., at which point we may have a better idea about a few players.
Malkom Parrish is the main man to watch. The senior cornerback has yet to play this season after midseason foot surgery, but was practicing this week on a limited basis. If he can play that would be huge, as his tackling skills in space match up well with what Georgia needs this game. But it would be a surprise if Parrish is able to play every snap.
Sony Michel probably could have played last week on his sprained ankle, so even if he’s not 100 percent this week, he should be close to it. That doesn’t mean freshman D’Andre Swift won’t get a few extra carries.
Jacob Eason may suit up, but he’s not expected to play. This will be the Jake Fromm show once again.
GEORGIA VS. RANKED TEAMS
This is the 30th time Georgia has faced a ranked team this decade. Entering this one, the Bulldogs are 11-18 in those games.
This season the record is 1-0: Notre Dame was ranked No. 24 at the time, though isn’t anymore. (And yes, that’s the issue with the stat, so take that into account.)
Last year Georgia was 2-3, beating No. 22 North Carolina and No. 9 Auburn, while losing to No. 23 Ole Miss, No. 11 Tennessee and No. 14 Florida.