ATHENS — A few things to watch for as the 132nd season of Georgia football kicks off Saturday:


Boom will be a little over a year old when he dons the famous Georgia “G” jersey and spiked collar and officially takes over as Uga XI today. Boom succeeds “Que,” who retired just shy of his 10th birthday at the end of last season. Though his age prevented him from making the long trip to Los Angeles for January’s College Football Playoff Championship game, Que was credited with overseeing two national championships and, with a 91-18 record, left as the Georgia mascot with the most wins all time.

There will be no “collaring ceremony” before tonight’s game, as the Bulldogs did that on Dooley Field before the G-Day spring game April 15 at Sanford Stadium. Just a 10-month-old puppy at the time, Boom’s youth was apparent as he rambunctiously pulled and chewed the lead held by his owner Charles Seiler.

While Boom is the 11th in the line of the Uga mascots bred by the Savannah-based Seiler family, he is Georgia’s 17th official mascot overall. Those began with an unnamed goat that wore a black coat emblazoned with red U.G. letters in 1892. Trilby, a solid white bull terrier, took over in 1894. Mr. Angel, Butch and Mike all were brindled English bulldogs who reigned as official mascots from 1944-55.

“Hood’s Ole Dan” became the first in the Uga line. He was a wedding gift to Cecelia Seiler from UGA law student Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler in 1956. So handsome was the all-white English bulldog that coach Wally Butts asked Sonny, who volunteered in the athletic department, to bring him to the sideline for that season’s football games. Thus, the Uga mascot tradition was born.

In loving memory

Seiler died Monday after a short illness. He was 90. His contributions to the University of Georgia, which included a lifetime of service on the boards of the athletic association, the UGA Alumni Association and the UGA Foundation, will be recognized before tonight’s game.

The Bulldogs also plan to memorialize the late Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy. Willock, a junior guard on the 2022 team, died in the Jan. 15 car crash that also took the life of LeCroy, the driver. Georgia’s offensive linemen are planning to recognize their fallen comrade in some way today. Whether they don’t know or are just trying to keep it a secret is unclear.

“We’re still trying to figure out what we want to do, but we definitely want to do something throughout the season,” sophomore Tate Ratledge said Wednesday. “He’s a big part of our offensive line’s ‘why’ and why we play the way we play.”

It’ll be hard to top what the Bulldogs did at the G-Day game in April. On the opening series, the No. 1 offense lined up without a player at left guard, where Willock played, and then took a timeout. The linemen also pay homage to Willock on the field daily by pointing to the ground with their index fingers and thumbs extended to form the number 77, which was Willock’s jersey number. There currently is not a No. 77 on Georgia’s 2023 roster.

New digs

Sanford Stadium will unveil its new and improved south side at the game. Georgia completed Phase I of a $63.5 million improvement project that expanded the 100 and 200 concourses on the Bulldogs’ side of the field and added hundreds of toilets, new concession areas and other amenities, primarily in the southwest corner of the 94-year-old stadium.

The most significant change, however, is going to be on Gillis Bridge, which traverses the west end of the stadium. During the week, the road that crosses that bridge, serves as the main traffic corridor connecting North and South campus. The bridge was closed at 7 p.m. Friday to both pedestrian and automobile traffic and fitted with removable gates that provide main entry points to both sides of the 92,746-seat stadium. Like those in all other areas of the stadium, Gate 1 and 9 won’t be open for ticketed-spectator entry until two hours before kickoff, or 4 p.m.

That means the bridge will be closed when the Georgia football team makes the celebrated Dawg Walk march into the stadium at 3:45 p.m. today.

Phase II of the construction project will get underway immediately after the Bulldogs’ Nov. 11 home game against Ole Miss, their last of the season. That phase will build on top of the lower-level construction and add a new press box and other game-operation spaces that will connect with the South’s 300 upper-level section.