CLEMSON, S.C. - Updates from Memorial Stadium prior to No. 5 Georgia facing No. 8 Clemson.
Georgia won the toss and deferred to the second half, just as it did every time it won the toss last year.
And now, I bid you adieu until halftime, when I'll post my notes and observations.
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I got some confirmation from a UGA official that Kolton Houston is starting. So there you go.
(Update: Indications are the decision to start Houston over Theus went right down to the wire. Expect Theus to play a lot anyway.)
Meanwhile, here's my prediction on how kicking will be handled tonight: Patrick Beless and Adam Erickson will rotate extra points and short kicks. Collin Barber will try long kicks.
Kolton Houston is getting the first-team snaps at right tackle, rather than John Theus, who is with the second team.
If that holds up, I still expect Theus to play a good bunch, but Houston being the starter would be quite a story. Color me slightly surprised.
Also, I should note that Chris Conley is with the first-team at receiver, not Michael Bennett, in a two-wide set. But I still consider them both starters, and Bennett was in one set that included Conley and not Malcolm Mitchell.
Safeties Tray Matthews and Shaquille Fluker look pretty good in some warmup drills. Still, their full health and ability to withstand contact won't be known until the game is underway.
I just saw punter Collin Barber try a long field goal. That could be useful information later.
Georgia hopes this becomes very superfluous information, but in addition to starter David Andrews, the other linemen doing the snapping to quarterbacks in a warmup drill were Hunter Long and Dallas Lee.
Keith Marshall and Reggie Davis are taking punts in warmups, which is a bit of news. That doesn't mean they're going to return punts, especially since Damian Swann and Rhett McGowan are too. But it's intriguing that Marshall and Davis are at least in the mix.
Meanwhile, Marshall Morgan is now doing some kicking in warmups. But it's only kickoffs from what I've seen, and he's more just kind of out there kicking, while Adam Erickson and Patrick Beless are doing it with purpose. So it could be just to keep Morgan fresh for whenever he's not suspended ... or, again, you can never rule it out until it's official.
Some might wonder why injured and suspended players make the trip while others who are available don't make the trip. Here are a couple educated theories.
I suspect receivers Tramel Terry and Jonathan Rumph are here, despite being injured, because they're from South Carolina. Josh Harvey-Clemons and Corey Moore may be here so they're not out of the loop next week. They're probably participating in meetings this weekend and observing walkthroughs.
The travel roster is also not as limited (70) as during SEC games, so there's wiggle room to bring guys you know won't play, as long as you think it will be valuable, or sentimental, for them to be here.
Walk-ons Adam erickson and Patrick Beless are doing all the kicking in warmups so far, while Marshall Morgan watches from the side. So ... yeah.
OK now we have an official travel roster. A few other notable notes:
- Junior safety Kennar Johnson, the junior college transfer, isn't traveling. Nor is John Atkins, the freshman defensive lineman. Not a huge surprise on either, they're fairly down on the depth chart right now.
- Neither is outside linebacker Chase Vasser, who is still too banged up to play.
- Redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs not on the travel roster, while injured receivers Tramel Terry and Jonathan Rumph are. Not sure the reason for this, unless Tibbs is injured too. Either way, another sign Tibbs isn't in the plans quite yet.
- But walk-on receiver Kenneth Townes is here. You doubt he'll play much, but it's a positive sign for the 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman.
Georgia has arrived at the stadium, and players are now on the field, working out, throwing footballs around, and all the stuff they do to get a feel for the field.
Receivers Tramel Terry and Jonathan Rumph and safety Corey Moore are out of uniform, as expected, both injured. Josh Harvey-Clemons is also here, though he is suspended. (Another reason to not look too much into Marshall Morgan being here.)
Georgia hasn't released an official travel roster yet, but there is a flip card in the media material with a roster that does not include Josh Harvey-Clemons. So it thus bears mentioning that:
- Marshall Morgan is on the roster, which is either more Richt subterfuge, or ... well, it's probably still that.
- Freshmen not making the trip include OLB Davin Bellamy, S Paris Bostick (injured), OL Aulden Bynum, OL Josh Cardiello, RB Brendan Douglas (injured), DT De'Andre Johnson, WR Uriah LeMay, OLB Shaun McGee.
No surprises there. Note: Earlier I wrote that QB Faton Bauta, a redshirt freshman, wasn't on the flip card. he's still not, but he is here on the trip.
It looks like the stadium has dodged the worst of the rain, at least for now. A bit fell, enough to make the empty bleachers shine, but not enough to affect the field for now.
If the rain does return, you'd think the conditions would help Georgia, because of its better run game and better overall size on the lines. It might also make it hard for both teams to kick, not just Georgia's walk-on kickers. (This presumes Marshall Morgan is suspended, which is still what is presumed, but is unconfirmed.)
Meanwhile, the press box is filling up with many luminaries. Clearly, this is the center of college football on opening weekend, and it feels cool to be part of it.
At long last, greetings from the press box at Memorial Stadium, where a game will be played in a few hours. Hallelujah.
The weather has looked a bit ominous for awhile, but so far there hasn't been any meaningful rain yet on the field. The wind is blowing pretty mighty, but that's a result of a system going through that will be long gone by game time.
Right now, the forecast for gametime is about a 30 percent chance of rain. So who knows. The main hope is that any isolated thunderstorms do not result in lightning delays, as happened two nights ago in another game in this state.
It's going to be a late night either way.
A couple observations:
- Not having been in this stadium for five years, it strikes me as smaller than I remember. Maybe I'd built it up in my mind, hearing so many people describe it as an SEC-like atmosphere. But while it's bigger than Missouri, it's not