ATHENS — People passing through South Campus Wednesday afternoon or walking their dogs in the Five Points area of town were likely looking to the sky wondering what in the world was that horrible noise bouncing off the walls of the surrounding buildings.
Technically, it was a recording of crowd noise that the Georgia Bulldogs were cranking up to ridiculous decibels in preparation for Saturday’s game at Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium. But it was hard to discern exactly what it was.
“We play just normal crowd noise, but it sounds more like a screech really,” coach Mark Richt said following the Bulldogs two-plus-hour workout. “When you magnify it just sounds a little more like a shrill. It’s loud, but it’s not as loud as they’ll make it (at Tennessee), but hopefully loud enough.”
Crowd noise is an issue at most of the large SEC venues, but nowhere is it worse for the visitors than at Neyland. Between the stadium’s configuration, all the steel and concrete, it’s location on a hillside overlooking the Tennessee River and 102,000 fans, it’s just louder there than everywhere else. According to the school, fans attending the Oklahoma game last month set a record for noise in the stadium. It reached 114 decibels after the Vols scored to take a 17-0 lead in the second quarter.
“There’s a certain level of loudness that keeps you from being able to hear your snap count and verbal communication,” Richt said. “Once you hit that level of noise, the more loud it gets its just the cherry on top or icing on cake or whatever you want to call it. It’s just too loud to use our normal mode of communication. … That’s the biggest challenge you have offensively.”
It’s somewhat new ground for quarterback Greyson Lambert, who other than a single trip to Tallahassee to face Florida State, has never been in an arena where he’s had to deal with such a cacophony.
So that has gotten special attention this week.
“Those are big speakers out there with the fan noise and we’re having the quarterback whisper sometimes. Whatever you can do to make it difficult to hear,” left tackle John Theus said. “You can’t really emulate that many people, you can’t copy that. But we try the best we can with the speakers and stuff like that.”
Of course, Theus and Georgia’s other upperclassmen on offense have had to operate amid such clamor many times before.
“It makes it fun to a certain extent,” said Theus, a senior. “It is a pain in the butt sometimes. … It was loud two years ago when we were there. We’re prepared for it, but it does take away a little bit of the edge you have as the offense, knowing the snap count and stuff like that. We’ve just got to make sure we communicate that much more and really focus in on it.”