ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 2-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (2-0) practiced in full pads for two hours on Wednesday afternoon as they get set for this weekend's Southeastern Conference opener against South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) in Columbia.
"We got what we were hoping for as far as the weather the past two days, it was hot and now we'll head to the stadium Thursday and crank up the crowd noise," Bulldog head coach Mark Richt said. "It gets loud in Columbia, it (the stadium) will be swaying, and we'll work with the crowd noise for the first time in practice and have to get used to that."
Vanderbilt defeated the Gamecocks 24-17 last Thursday in Nashville while Georgia breezed past Central Michigan 56-17 this past Saturday in Athens. Georgia now hits the road for the first time this season including its SEC opener.
"It's the start of the SEC race, that's the most significant thing happening right now," said Richt. "There's a different air about this game, it's like the first game of the year. A conference game is meaningful to us because the conference race is the only thing we can control."
Last year, South Carolina upset 11th-ranked Georgia 16-12 in Athens. South Carolina has been Georgia's first SEC opponent since the Gamecocks joined the league in 1992. Five of the seven games between these teams under Richt have been decided by six points or less.
"When we look back at what happened last year, it was missed opportunities," said Richt. "The offenses floundered around, but the defenses were a big reason."
Georgia will finalize its travel roster Wednesday night as the SEC sets a 70-man limit for conference games. Richt said it will be a tough task to get down to that number. A total of 68 Bulldogs saw action in the season opener against Georgia Southern and 67 played against Central Michigan. Also, the Bulldogs will have junior defensive tackle Kade Weston and junior linebacker Darius Dewberry available for the first time this season. Weston is returning from a knee injury while Dewberry was forced to sit out the first two games. Richt said Weston will play in more of a spot role compared to being in a rotation. Dewberry will be split playing time with sophomore Akeem Dent.
Kickoff for Saturday's nationally televised game is 3:30 p.m. on CBS. All Georgia games are broadcast live on the Bulldog Radio Network on AM 750 WSB in Atlanta and on both 106.1 FM and 960 The Ref in Athens. Also, the game can be heard worldwide on both georgiadogs.com, the official website of UGA Athletics, and on XM satellite radio.