Bulldogs' opener might not sell out

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ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia has sold out its opening home football game the past 13 years, but might not have a full house in Sanford Stadium for the Buffalo game Saturday.

There were still about 1,000 tickets remaining as of Friday, according to ticket manager Tim Cearley.

That means the Bulldogs could be in danger of not selling out a home season opener for the first time since 1998.

That game with Kent State drew 86,003 to what was then a capacity of 86,177. Sanford Stadium now seats 92,746.

Georgia has sold “a few hundred” Buffalo tickets per week and expects to make a dent before game day, according to Cearley. Tickets will still be sold on Saturday at the East end ticket office. They are $45 each.

There are also about 1,000 tickets left for the Sept. 15 game against Florida Atlantic, but based on current sales that game is expected to sell out.

JUNIOR MAKES HIS CASE: Redshirt junior Austin Long is emerging as a top backup on the offensive line.

After practicing as a backup left tackle, the Memphis native started to get snaps at right guard. Georgia’s starting five seemed settled early this preseason and tackle/guard Watts Dantzler was the sixth man.

“Austin Long has had a good couple of weeks at practice,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We moved him around and got him some reps at guard and tackle so he can be a versatile guy. I’d throw him in that mix as well.”

The 6-foot-5, 324-pound Long, who underwent back surgery early in his career, appeared in two games last season.

“He started playing better,” coach Mark Richt said of this preseason. “He started getting after it a little bit better.”

Practice time at guard has benefited Long, Richt said.

“I think that helped him a little bit, a little tighter space was good to him, but I think he still improved as a tackle as well,” Richt said. “Maybe he saw the ship leaving without him and he’s like ‘Man, if I’m going to make it, I better get it done every day in practice.’ ”

Said center David Andrews: “Austin’s really excelled at guard. It’s a new position obviously and he’s been here for three years playing tackle so there’s still some things he’s got to iron out, but he’s doing a lot better things at guard and I look for him to do big things there.”

DRAWING COMPARISONS: Josh Dawson has put on 20 pounds since arriving at Georgia this summer and has worked himself in position where he will play this season.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham envisions using the 6-4, 255-pound freshman from Tucker High eventually like he does a current senior.

“I kind of see him as a Cornelius Washington kind of guy, can do those kind of things,” Grantham said of the outside linebacker/defensive end. “I’ve been very pleased with his progress and look forward to watching him play next Saturday.”

Dawson said he is working on several special teams. “Whatever gets me on the field,” he said.

NOTES: Game captains announced for Saturday: quarterback Aaron Murray, defensive end Abry Jones, safety Shawn Williams and snapper Ty Frix. … Buffalo linebacker and sack leader Khalil Mack was reinstated to the team after reportedly getting in a fight with a teammate, but is suspended for the Georgia game, according to the Buffalo News. …After Saturday’s two hour practice in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, Richt saw things one-sided. “The defense seemed to be much more interested in winning today than the offense,” he said. … Georgia is the No. 6 team in the country and SEC-opening opponent Missouri is unranked, but the preseason Sagarin ratings put the Tigers ahead. Missouri is rated as the No. 15 team in the nation and Georgia is No. 19. Buffalo is 139, just behind Illinois State.


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