Kirby Smart opens his seventh season as Bulldogs head coach in the city where he coached his first game in this same Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in 2016.
“I think anytime you win one, you turn the page,” said Smart, who won four national titles as Alabama defensive coordinator, “and it’s built around the culture of your program.”
But. 3 Georgia is favored by 16½ points, but Oregon has pulled early season upsets not too long ago.
Under Mario Cristobal, the then No. 12 Ducks stunned No. 3 Ohio State last season in Columbus during a 10-4 season.
Stay with the live blog throughout the day for updates leading up to kickoff and during the game.
New breed of Bulldog: New faces ready to step up on the still-talented UGA defense.
3:18 pm | Georgia football running back Kendall Milton dressed out
Running back Kendall Milton was dressed out for pregame warmups. Didn’t see much of the warmups because Greg Sankey was holding court in the press box (see below), but it looked like Daijun Edwards was second behind Kenny McIntosh the one portion I saw.
Milton has battled a hamstring injury this preseason.
“He’s done a great job bouncing back from it,” Smart said on Wednesday. Soft tissue injuries are difficult to control and monitor. He had a few days there when he was not able to go full speed, but he was still able to do things. …He’s hitting good numbers on the GPS and getting in good shape. He’s very bright so I’m looking forward to him being a big part of things.”
3:03 pm | SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on playoff expansion, future SEC football scheduling
A day after the College Football Playoff Board of Managers announced the playoff will expand from four teams to 12 by 2026, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey took questions from a gaggle of reporters before kickoff here.
Sankey had pushed for the field to expand to 12 more than a year ago.
“When I was here in July (for SEC Media Days), I really thought this would be a next spring decision,” Sankey said.
–On the SEC timeline for its future scheduling, with momentum to go from eight to nine games. “Our expectation is that a decision on future scheduling will be made in the next six months,” he said.
–Texas and Oklahoma are to join the league by the 2025 season, but the timeline could be sooner if those schools hash it out with the Big 12 before then. As for adding other schools, Sankey said: “We’re not out recruiting.”
–He said TV networks weren’t the impetus for the Texas and Oklahoma moves.
“I’ll flat tell you that was our decision,” he said.
2:20 pm | Georgia football observations from the field before the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game
Just back from a pregame visit to the field. Oregon’s green and yellow uniforms sure sparkle up close.
Freshman offensive tackle Earnest Greene, who has battled a hamstring injury this preseason, worked with strength coach Scott Sinclair in the end zone as he did some jogging.
Tight end Arik Gilbert was sporting a No. 14 warmup shirt, but he’s listed now as No. 7.
Check out the Twitter feed above for more from the field.
One other thing. The ACC officiating crew today will be headed up by referee Mike Roche.
1:48 pm | Kirby Smart on Oregon’s veteran football offensive line
A matchup to watch is Oregon’s veteran offensive line led by preseason first team All-Pac-12 preseason picks TJ Bass and Alex Forsyth against a Georgia front seven led by Jalen Carter that lost four first-rounders.
“I think we face a really good offensive line day in and day out, and very experienced in our own,” Smart said. “That provides a lot of good competition. I think they’ve got more returning starters, returning snaps than almost anybody in the country on their offensive line. It’s certainly a strength in terms of even with Mario’s history of recruiting offensive linemen. He did a tremendous job putting together depth at that position, so it will be key that we play well, physically.”
1:36 pm | Georgia football’s Kirby Smart, Oregon football’s Dan Lanning survey the scene on the field
Kirby Smart just walked across the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turn field with a couple of state troopers. Dan Lanning had just done a broadcast interview on the field and when I looked up they had passed by. I’m assuming there was a hug or a handshake.
I did see Lanning hugging longtime Georgia football staffer Bryant Gantt and greeting chaplain Thomas Settles.
Smart spent time in the end zone visiting with wife Mary Beth and their 14-year-old twins Weston and Julia.
1:16 pm | Oregon football transfers that the Georgia Bulldogs will key on
Georgia didn’t add a single player from the transfer portal. Lanning, as you might expect for a new coach, brought in what could be some significant pieces.
Besides quarterback Bo Nix from Auburn, there’s cornerback Christian Gonzalez from Colorado, nose tackle Sam Taimani from Washington, running backs Mar’Keise Irving from Minnesota and Noah Whittington from Western Kentucky and wide receivers Chase Cota from UCLA and Caelb Chapman from Texas A&M.
Georgia’s staff will certainly be getting a look in pregame warmups.
“A lot of it is going to be a cat and mouse game of who’s out there and who’s starting,” Smart said on his radio show.
1:04 pm | Checking out the Georgia football depth chart
Georgia’s “unofficial” depth charts are listed on the flipcard in the press box.
Here are those listed as concrete starters, meaning there is not an OR with their name: QB Stetson Bennett, WR Ladd McConkey, C Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, NG Zion Logue, DT Jalen Carter, OLB Nolan Smith, ILB Jamon Dumas-Johnson , ILB Smael Mondon, CB Kelee Ringo, S Chrisopher Smith, S Dan Jackson, PK Jack Podlesny, P Brett Thorson.
Pretty sure that Warren McClendon is safe as the starting right tackle.
This article originally appeared on the Athens Banner-Herald: Live updates: UGA football vs. Oregon latest score