ATHENS -- Countless story lines have emerged all week for Saturday’s showdown between Georgia and Alabama.
Will Georgia be able to continue its running dominance against an Alabama front seven featuring multiple NFL prospects? Can Alabama quarterback Jake Coker make better decisions throwing the football against a stingy Georgia defense? Facing his first big-time defense with the Bulldogs, will Greyson Lambert be able to continue the kind of efficiency he has shown the past two games? Well, another story line has emerged that is out of both teams’ control.
The weather is expected to be a mess, with a steady rain stemming from Hurricane Joaquin falling throughout the day. There’s a 90 percent chance of precipitation for the game.
The rain could throw a wrench into what each team wants to do in Saturday’s game, especially when it comes to throwing a slick football. As for head coach Mark Richt, he’ll monitor the weather and hope for the best. But even he realizes it’s out of his control.
“They’ve practiced in it,” Richt said. “We can take the snap, we can throw and catch, we can secure the ball.”
It has rained quite a bit in Athens this week, with the Bulldogs getting a reprieve on what was actually a strange Wednesday, when it was 80 degrees and sunny. Georgia didn’t alter its practice schedule, even though a contingency plan was in place Tuesday in case the weather got too severe to practice outside.
Receiver Reggie Davis appears to understand the importance of practicing in the elements when a game could be played in them.
“They always say you’ll either be a wet winner or a wet loser,” Davis said. “Either way, you’re going to be wet, and we’re trying to win. You just have to focus on the ball a little bit more.”
D.J. Shockley, a former Georgia quarterback who helped lead the Bulldogs to their last SEC championship in 2005, said in games like this, there is a heightened focus when it comes to how a quarterback throws the ball.
If the forecast called for rain in a game Georgia was preparing for during his time with the program, Shockley said Richt would have the quarterbacks practice with wet footballs.
“The big thing with playing in a wet environment is you focus a little bit more on certain routes you’ve got to throw or certain areas of the field before you throw the ball that you know will be a little slippery,” Shockley said. “When you’re throwing that skinny post down the middle you’ve got to put something on it. You’ve got to be careful with how hard you grip it or how tight you grip it because sometimes it can slip away from you and you have a flier, an overthrow, and that’s where you have some interceptions.”
Back in 1993, Richt was the offensive coordinator for Florida State in its game against Notre Dame. Richt said it was the windiest game he has ever been a part of, with the weather affecting various aspects during the game, which Notre Dame won 31-24.
While it may rain throughout Saturday’s game, it might not get to a point where much needs to be altered when it comes to Georgia’s preparation.
“We won’t change the game plan,” Richt said. “It has to be coming down really hard to change the plan I think, or the wind has to be blowing really hard, with or without rain to change what you’re doing a little bit.”