Tennessee football traveled to Athens last season and did not come away with a win. This season, the Bulldogs travel to Neyland Stadium.
Five false start penalties in the first half later, the raucous crowd got to the Vols offense. But Tennessee doesn’t have to worry about Sanford Stadium this year or 92,746 barking fans.
In 2023, the Bulldogs have to worry about traveling to Neyland.
“Last time we went to Neyland, I remember, it was 2021 and they scored the first touchdown and that stadium was rocking,” Georgia defensive back Kamari Lassiter said. “So, I know they’re going to bring a lot of energy. That’s going to be a really fun game. I’m looking forward to it.”
In what was widely considered the SEC East Championship a season ago, the Vols fell flat. Hendon Hooker threw a rare interception. The Vols’ offense couldn’t find any momentum, being held to just 13 points after averaging almost 50 going into the game.
Hooker threw for just under 200 yards against the Bulldogs. With the quarterback position in question, but another stout defense expected, the Bulldogs travel to what will almost certainly be a hostile Neyland Stadium.
Georgia offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran isn’t as sold on the idea of Neyland being a tougher place to play.
“I think it will be a great environment along with all the other places in the SEC,” Van Pran said at SEC Media Days. “I think it’s a very unique place, I think It will be fun to play in. But ultimately I think it will be a tough place to play in the same regard as everywhere in the SEC.”
The two squads face off on November 18 in Knoxville with Georgia coming off of back-to-back National Championships. Despite being at the top of college football, Kirby Smart preached about avoiding complacency on Tuesday. That message to his team even included studying the New Zealand Blacks, a rugby team that has consistently dominated.
“The threat for us is complacency,” Smart said. “The first thing you have to do is acknowledge that it’s a threat. Like if you acknowledge the complacency is a threat, it’s the first step towards stomping it out. So we look for two things when we look for people to join our organization. I’m not talking about players, I’m talking about anybody in our organization. Do they love football and do they embrace being part of something bigger than themselves. Are they selfless?”