NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The atmosphere for this game is ... well ... there may not be one.
A few minutes before kickoff, the stands are maybe half-filled. The rain is probably keeping some people away, and now that it has stopped (for the moment), perhaps attendance will increase. But it has a long way to go to be full. There were more people at last night's high school games in south Georgia.
Georgia fans are doing their part. A little less than half of the crowd is wearing red.
And the weather
It's cold here today, by the way, and a slight drizzle. I was just on the sideline watching warmups, and it definitely has the feel of a fall day.
Todd Grantham reminded me that he coached in Cleveland, so this is no big deal to him. Georgia's players have a chance to warm up in it too.
Incidentally, I couldn't really get a feel for Georgia's players, but for what it's worth the coaches seem loose. For whatever, yes, that is worth.
Todd Gurley isn't looking like someone planning on playing today. Georgia's star tailback is standing to the side, wearing sneakers, sweatpants and shades, while the other running backs warm up.
So, not a surprise, but you can pretty much rule him out for this one.
Update: Gurley definitely is out.
Why does Georgia bring Gurley on the trip if he's not going to play? Head coach Mark Richt has said before that they like having Gurley with the team, as he's a good and supportive teammate. Plus, there's always the chance the the ankle could miraculously feel good on Saturday morning, and with a player like Gurley, they feel it's worth taking the chance.
Travel roster notes
Georgia has arrived at the stadium. The newsy bits:
- Todd Gurley is here. But that only means he's on the travel roster, not that he's playing. He made the trip to Tennessee and did not play.
- Tray Matthews is not here, as expected.
- But on the trip is Toby Johnson, who had an unspecified knee injury as of Wednesday's practice.
- Faton Bauta and Parker Welch are the two additional quarterbacks on the trip, after Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason. Where is Christian LeMay? Well, he's not here.
- Seven receivers on the trip: Jonathan Rumph (finally), Kenneth Towns, Michael Erdman, Rhett McGowan, Chris Conley, Rantavious Wooten, Reggie Davis.
- Freshman tailback A.J. Turman is not listed on the travel roster. Brandon Harton and Kyle Karempelis are the other tailbacks here, besides Gurley, J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas.
Franklin-Grantham, Part III
Looking down on the field, I can't help but visualize the last time I was here, and the scene that unfolded here.
James Franklin and Todd Grantham's shouting match was fairly brief, and all I remember seeing from the press box was a commotion, with coaches and players having to be separated.
"What's going on down there?" I remember someone asking. It took a few minutes to put together what had happened.
This time around, the Franklin-Grantham angle hasn't gotten much play. They seemed to bury the hatchet last year, when they shook hands after the game in Athens.
But they're clearly still not friends.
Grantham just smiled and shook his head when asked if he's run across James Franklin again.
"Nope, I have not," he said, clearly not wanting to elaborate.
The Ray Drew angle
Something else to remember about that game two years ago: It was the best game of Ray Drew's otherwise quiet first two years at Georgia.
Playing in place of the suspended Cornelius Washington, Drew ended up being the SEC co-freshman of the week. He recovered a fumble and had 2.5 tackles-for-loss, as well as a half-sack, the only sack (or half-sack) he registered as a freshman or sophomore.
Things have changed a lot for Drew, who enters this game with five sacks in three games. He leads Georgia in that category now.
So I just arrived at Vanderbilt Stadium after sitting in hours of traffic. Ha! I'm a funny guy, aren't I?
Yes, James Franklin has injected some energy into the Vanderbilt program, but there's only so much you can do. Plus, early on Saturday morning in Nashville, there probably are a lot of people sleeping in after a hard night. Keep in mind, it's an hour behind here.
Georgia is hoping to avoid yet another barnburner. But this is not the only game that matters.
It's going to be an interesting early afternoon in the SEC East, with all four contenders playing at noon:
- Florida (3-1 in SEC) is at Missouri (2-0).
- South Carolina (3-1) is at Tennessee (0-2):
So in a few short hours, Georgia may feel a lot better about its situation in the SEC East. Or a lot worse.