ATHENS - I will give you seven thoughts at halftime - but why wait! As Georgia prepares to play Georgia Southern today, here are seven thoughts, notes or observations from my plush seat in the press box at Sanford Stadium.
(I'm making it five thoughts, then adding to them as the game gets closer.)
1. It's actually a cool day here. Some would call it brisk. And in another quality smart move by yours truly, I left the house without a jacket. This is what happens when your wife leaves town for a weekend: You return to bachelor mode, and end up freezing to death.
2. Major-conference teams get criticized for scheduling these games, but seeing fans and staffers from Georgia Southern around the stadium reminds you what a nice thing this is for that school and that team. While GSU is a very good program, it's still a level down and games are played in much smaller venues, without major attention. For them to come here for one day and play in this environment has to be pretty neat for them. And I've always believed that a flagship state school like UGA should play at least one of these games every year. It doesn't mar the schedule: You play eight SEC games, you play 12 overall, it shouldn't be a cause for criticism to fit one in.
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3. Injury updates for Georgia: Right guard Chris Burnette (shoulder) is not dressed out and will sit out a second straight game. That means Kenarious Gates again plays right guard, with either Mark Beard or Austin Long starting at left tackle. It will almost certainly be Beard starting, with Long getting some time there too. They might also try Long at guard.
4. Another injury report: Senior Richard Samuel (abdominal strain) also isn't dressed out. If the game is a blowout, that means some extensive time for Ken Malcome and Brandon Harton.
5. Let's say this game does turn out to be a blowout and Georgia can give some young players some action. Here are guys I'll be curious to see play: Josh Harvey-Clemons (possibly at OLB), Christian LeMay and Parker Welch (the battle continues to be the top non-Hutson Mason backup), Watts Dantzler (and pretty much all offensive linemen who haven't seen significant action), Ty Flournoy-Smith (the freshman tight end who isn't redshirting this year but hasn't played much), and Sheldon Dawson (the freshman cornerback).
6. We received word this morning that Jarvis Jones is one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi award - I don't recall when they added "rotary" to the title - which goes to the nation's top lineman or linebacker. The other finalists are Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Alabama's Barrett Jones. Just a general rule of thumb from here on out: If there's an award out there that involves all defensive players, Jones will be a finalist for it. In fact, I'm on the AP All-American panel again this year, and I can divulge that I'm seriously considering putting Jarvis Jones on my ballot. Maybe even first team!