On paper, quarterback Aaron Murray's first game as starter doesn't figure to be quite as stressful as that of Joe Cox's 2009 season-opener when the Bulldogs kicked off their season against an Oklahoma State squad ranked in the top 10.
But as head coach Mark Richt warned during Tuesday's weekly press conference at Stegeman Coliseum, Murray's still going to dealing with butterflies, the kind he's never experienced before.
"Aaron is human, he's a freshman and he's going to have nerves like everybody else. I'm a 50-year-old man and I'm going to have nerves, too, and that's a good thing," Richt said. "Louisiana-Lafayette, if you look at them last year, they beat Kansas State. Kansas State plays Texas A&M and beats the heck out of them, so they're very capable."
With a fourth-year defensive coordinator in Kevin Fouquier and a defense unit made up primarily of juniors and seniors, Richt said he's expecting the Rajun Cajun's to provide a serious challenge.
Still, Murray said it beats opening in a hostile environment on the road.
"I'm definitely glad to be opening at home. It's going to be a great experience," Murray said. "I'm feeling good. I'm ready to go. As long as I'm not getting mono from Cordy (Glenn) or something I'll be fine."
Richt just wants fans to be patient with the Bulldogs' young QB.
"Hopefully our fans will be friendly to him and realize that he is a freshman, he's a rookie, he's going to make mistakes," Richt said. "He probably won't be lights out as far as his accuracy, with his decisions. He's going to be fine in this way and hopefully his teammates will help him out, offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. All those areas can help a young quarterback. I feel good with the guys around him."
McGarity mum on scheduling philosophy
New athletic director Greg McGarity said he's got specific ideas when it comes to Georgia's non-conference football schedule.
He's just not ready to let the media in on what they are.
"I definitely have some thoughts there but I really haven't had time to share them with Mark (Richt) yet so before I announce them to the media I need to have a conversation with Mark and Arthur Johnson (associate athletic director) to talk about what we have in place. I definitely have some ideas but I've really not had a chance to look at any future scheduling. I have some thoughts in that way and look forward to sharing them with Mark, Arthur and the staff."
Customer service will be stressed
McGarity said he's looking forward to his first game at Sanford Stadium in 18 years and he hopes fans attending will able to enjoy the experience as well.
He's taking steps to make sure they do.
"One thing we will focus on that I'll pay special attention to is customer service in our stadium," Richt said. "I think it's something nowadays, with expendable income drying up, that it's important we make sure the people who come to your stadium are treated in a respectful manner; that they have all the amenities and everything's clean."
McGarity said that he joked with longtime UGA athletic association maintenance employee James (Tojo) Crawford to make sure Sanford Stadium is in pristine condition for Saturday's opener.
"I said 'Tojo, let's get ready for that white glove treatment on Friday morning, I may be going to places you might not want me to go but we're going to give this place a pretty good inspection," McGarity said. "I think those things are important. I look forward to helping out."
New AD wants teams to be "in the hunt"
McGarity was asked to give his personal expectations for the Bulldog athletic program.
Although the question was directed toward the football team, McGarity said he will never tell a coach he has to win a certain amount of games in order to keep his or her job.
"I've met with half the coaches now and I've shared with them the expectations we have from coaches. You just want to be in the hunt. I think every sport that we sponsor we want them to be in the hunt for championships," McGarity said. "There could be circumstances that might cause you not to be in the hunt a certain year due to various circumstances but you want every sport at the University of Georgia to be in the conversation.
"If the conversation is around NCAA championships for swimming, I think you can say pretty easily right now, Georgia's in the hunt. You talk about tennis, Georgia's in the hunt, in softball, Georgia's in the hunt. Football, I think Georgia's in the hunt. I just don't think it's fair to tell coaches you have to win 10 games, 11 games, whatever that number is. It is how you go about your work, do you see improvements made and do you see 100 percent effort every day. Those are things I look at as being maybe more important than a number of wins."
Sturdivant still making strides
Richt could not predict exactly how many reps left tackle Trinton Sturdivant could see in the opener, but the North Carolina junior continues to progress.
"Trinton is doing well. Trinton has been practicing. The last practice game, he got maybe 12 or 13 snaps. Trinton has been hooking it up in our inside running drills, which for a lineman that is live basically," Richt said. "When you go thud with linemen, they are banging heads every play. They are in the middle of a bunch of bodies trying to block a scheme and can get rolled up, so he has gotten those reps and he's gaining more confidence and he'll play."
Sturdivant is currently listed as the top backup to Clint Boling at left tackle.
This and that
Richt had no comment when asked about the NCAA's inquiry that allegedly involves wide receiver A.J. Green. "I've been asked not to comment, so I won't."
Richt said that linebacker Richard Samuel (leg) and backup center Chris Burnette (concussion) likely won't play Saturday due to their injuries.
Saturday's game is now officially a sellout after the remaining tickets were bought up Sunday night. Georgia has sold out every home game since Richt took over as head coach in 2001.
Dawg Walk Saturday is scheduled for 10:21 a.m.
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