Bulldogs gearing up for rowdy environment at Williams-Brice Stadium

ATHENS — It’s no secret that Williams-Brice Stadium – the home of the South Carolina Gamecocks – is a rowdy, difficult environment to play in for the away team.

There’s really no way to learn how to handle it besides straight up experiencing it for yourself, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. For freshmen who haven’t played a true road game yet (the season-opening win vs. Oregon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium doesn’t really count, with the majority of the crowd Bulldogs fans), this is their first SEC road test.

“The only asset to going into an environment like this is experience,” Smart said. “And we’ve probably got 20 or 30 guys that have experience going into Auburn, Tennessee, places similar in terms of fan experience. So we’ve got some guys that can draw on experience. We’ve got some guys that will lean on those guys because they’ll be new. Any time you go on the road for the first time, guys have to get comfortable with that.”

Genuine experience is impossible to get ahead of time, but Georgia has done its usual piping in of extra crowd noise at practice to grow accustomed to the loud volume. That’s about all the Bulldogs can do, besides placing an emphasis on communication and knowing the play calls.

Fortunately, Georgia uses hand signals for most of its play-calling, tight end Brock Bowers said. He also tries to process as much information as he can before the play begins, in terms of how it could progress and what could be checked down.

That helped him in the 34-10 win at Auburn last year, when he was a freshman and “couldn’t hear a thing.”

“We have crowd noise over the loudspeakers at practice,” Bowers said. “It gets hard to hear sometimes, so we’re working on things on offense because we’re trying to replicate the game environment at practice.”

For some players, even if they’re not freshmen, this will mark their first trip to some SEC stadiums at full force after the COVID-19 pandemic tamped down the 2020 season. That’s reason for excitement, as this season unfolds.

“I really didn’t get a real experience my first time playing there, it was during COVID, so I’m excited to play there,” sophomore Broderick Jones said. “SEC stadiums are always going to be rocking when two SEC opponents are going at it.”

Dawg Tags: The AJC presents a daily look at the one thing you need to know about Georgia athletics today.

About the Author