ATHENS, Ga. — Playing an unfamiliar opponent away from Athens has taken Georgia out of its comfort zone some in recent seasons.
Oklahoma State in Stillwater in 2009.
Colorado in Boulder and Central Florida in Memphis in 2010.
Boise State in the Georgia Dome in 2011.
Along comes a trip to Missouri this week, an opponent that Georgia has faced only once before, in the 1960 Orange Bowl when Fran Tarkenton was the Bulldogs’ quarterback.
Linebacker Christian Robinson is hoping the Bulldogs can change their fortunes at Faurot Field, where a revved-up crowd will be waiting.
“I think it’s guys getting the jitters out and being ready to make the plays when they come,” Robinson said. “You can go back and pinpoint plays against a Boise, Oklahoma State that we didn’t make and if we can, after getting the jitters out this week, correct plays and make them against Missouri, that’s how you win those big games.”
Georgia is 6-9 in games away from Athens the past two seasons and 10-12 the past three seasons but is embracing its first foray to Columbia, Mo.
“I think coach (Mark) Richt will really touch on things about us on the road,” defensive end Abry Jones said. “Before I got here my freshman year, Georgia was a really good road team. We fell off a little bit. We’re going to look at our past road games and try to build off of them.”
Cornerback Branden Smith, who started in the 29-27 loss against Colorado, is trying not to think back about stumbles in new environments.
“That’s in the past right now,” Smith said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen until Saturday. We’re going to play our hearts out.”
Missouri will be trying to not only win but make a big early impression in its debut Southeastern Conference game.
Seventh-ranked Georgia is a 2-point favorite. It doesn’t want to fall into an early hole in the SEC East race.
“We don’t want to start off behind,” Richt said. “You never want to start out behind the eight ball and getting into a chase mode right off the bat.”
Tigers fans will have all day to gear up for the showdown for the 7:45 p.m.
game. Missouri sold out its football season tickets – about 46,500 – for the first time.
“Even last week when we were playing Southeastern Louisiana, a lot of the fans and a lot of the students were talking about Georgia,” Missouri quarterback James Franklin said Monday. “I can’t even imagine what this week is going to be. It’s going to be crazy this week.”
Georgia players have watched film on Missouri since the beginning of the summer, receiver Michael Bennett said.
“I think to play Missouri at Missouri opening game in league play is not the best draw, but it is what it is and we’ve got to play it,” Richt said.
“We’re going to get after it and I know they will too.”
Said Bennett: “This game has been in the back of our minds and it’s finally here and we’re ready to perform.”
Against an opponent that they know from film they’ve watched, but don’t know much else about.
Most say they don’t remember watching Missouri games on television growing up.
“I can’t recall much about Missouri,” running back Richard Samuel said.
Receiver Tavarres King knows all about Missouri All-American receiver Jeremy Maclin, now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Quarterback Aaron Murray was a ballboy at Elite 11 quarterback camps when Missouri quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chase Daniel attended.
“I love traveling to new places, playing in new stadiums,” Murray said. “I know the environment is going to be great, which is always exciting. We’ve just got to make sure we’re ready to go.”
This story submitted from Christopher White using email address firstname.lastname@example.org