ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia assistant coach Jon Fabris will be making his fifth visit to Oklahoma State as a coach and knows all about how close the fans will be from where the Bulldogs bench.
You can have a conversation with everybody on Row 1, said Fabris, who was an assistant on teams at Iowa State and Kansas State on previous trips. They can hear everything you say and everything you tell your players. Its right there on top of you.
The fans are about 15 feet from the field and closer to the opponents bench at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Youd rather have more breathing room, but youve just got to deal with it, Georgia coach Mark Richt said. Thats part of being in a hostile environment. That adds to it.
A record crowd could be on hand at the 60,218-seat stadium. The single game-record is 52,463 and no single-game tickets are available.
We saw a couple of clips just to see what it was like and it is tight, quarterback Joe Cox said. I think the tightest one weve probably been at was Vanderbilt. This is tighter than that. Its something where youve got to keep your focus. Theres going to be a lot of crazy stuff going on. Im probably going to hear a lot of funny comments from right above me.
Wash responds to challenge: Kicker Blair Walsh has responded just how Richt wanted when he signed junior college kicker, Brandon Bogotay, this spring.
I see a lot different focus from Blairs kickoff, extra point and field goal, Richt said. I think the competition of Bogotay coming in has really helped. Both of those guys are really capable.
Walsh, a sophomore, will again kick field goals and extra points and may handle kickoffs as well.
Nothings given to anybody here and youve got to earn it and do your best, Walsh said. That just keeps driving me every day. Im still the same guy I was when I came in. I still have the same mentality that I had when I came in. I still have that go-getter mentality. Ive had that since I was a little kid. I want to play. Thats my goal and I want to be the best at what I do.
Bogotay was signed because of his reputation for booting the ball deep on kickoffs, but Walsh held the lead the last time Richt provided an update.
Now, coaches are saying they will wait until gameday for a decision.
Walsh says he doesnt know who will kickoff.
It might not even be decided until after pregame warmup, said Fabris, who oversees the kickoff unit.
Special teams: Brandon Boykin will more than likely return kickoffs, Richt said. Freshman Branden Smith and Richard Samuel are the other top candidates.
Richt said the fact that Samuel is the starting tailback and Caleb King isnt making the trip because of a pulled hamstring wont factor in the special teams work the sophomore gets.
If we thought Richard was the best return man, he would be there, Richt said. Richards actually covering some kicks for us. Were trying to put our best people in to help us win and we think our special teams players are just as important as our scrimmage down players.
Cornerback Prince Miller is Georgias top punt returner.
Richt wasnt sure how many freshmen will be first-team special teamers, but I know theyre all over our special teams. In the course of a game, especially a day that will be pretty warm, you tend to get into your two-deep pretty quick on your special teams sometimes.
This and that: Richt said he is curious to see how the team performs in its first game of the season. Im very curious to see what weve got, very curious to see how we will respond in this game and throughout the season. You get a pretty good taste in Game 1. This game is different than a lot of other season openers weve had in years past. ... The number of freshmen making the trip is 12, Richt said. That includes safety Shawn Williams, but does not include offensive lineman Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee, linebacker Chase Vasser and defensive tackle Kwame Geathers. ... Richt planned to watch Georgias next opponent, South Carolina, play Thursday night against N.C. State, and also watch the Boise State-Oregon game. When you watch those games, you can do some role playing, Richt said. Your watching it, and youre like what would I do in this situation right now? Its just kind of a practice game for you.