Georgia vs. Louisiana-Monroe
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens
On TV: SEC Network
ATHENS — Louisiana Monroe’s veteran players shouldn’t be awed by looking up at 92,000 fans at No. 9 Georgia’s Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
This is standard business for the Warhawks. ULM, a Sun Belt team, played three Southeastern Conference teams last season and has beaten a team from a Power Five conference three straight years. That streak includes a win at No. 8 Arkansas in 2012.
ULM’s seniors have played against such other major conference teams as Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Iowa, Texas A&M and LSU.
“They’ve been in a lot of these situations before,” said ULM coach Todd Berry said. “This is not necessarily going to be a new thing for them.”
ULM beat Wake Forest for the second straight year in its 2014 opener. The Warhawks lost at Texas A&M by only five points, 26-21, last year. ULM was less impressive in a 48-14 loss to Kentucky during its 4-8 2014 season.
ULM’s most famous upset of a SEC power was its 2007 win at Alabama.
“I am sure they will not be intimidated by walking into our place,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt.
Each team will unveil a new starting quarterback.
Berry said he won’t worry about protecting Garrett Smith, a freshman. He said Smith “has got a little bit of moxie about him.”
“He wants to be special and I think he has the tools to be special,” Berry said.
Greyson Lambert, a 6-foot-5 transfer from Virginia, was named Georgia’s starter over Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. Richt said “it was an extremely tight race.”
“If we would have said, ‘OK, every guy gets a series every third series,’ I think our team would have been fine because that is what happened all camp anyway,” Richt said. Because the competition was so close, Lambert needs a strong debut to remove any lingering doubt.
Here are some things to know about the ULM-Georgia game:
A ‘BUNCH’ OF ROOKIES: Georgia’s top backups at both wide receiver spots and the four defensive back positions are freshmen.
That’s an indicator many first-year players will be making their debuts. “I don’t want to sit here and count them, but there will definitely be a bunch,” Richt said. Among the rookie receivers to watch are Michael Chigbu and Terry Godwin.
STREAKY: ULM wide receiver Rashon Ceaser has at least one catch in 31 consecutive games. It is the fifth-longest streak in FBS. Ajalen Holley has caught passes in 18 straight games.
QUE’S TURN: Russ, the 11-year-old Uga IX mascot, is retiring this year. His replacement will be Que, but it’s not known if the collar ceremony will be held on Saturday. Georgia has only said the young white English bulldog will take over as Uga X at some point this season.
SHARE THE LOAD: Georgia star tailback Nick Chubb had three games with at least 30 carries last season. The Bulldogs are favored by five touchdowns, and even if the game is much closer Chubb should have more help on Saturday.
Sony Michel is expected to be the top backup. Keith Marshall, Brendan Douglas and others also could see time at tailback.
PRUITT’S SECOND YEAR: This will be the start of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s second season. Pruitt said expectations for the unit may be unrealistic. Among the players he lost from 2014 were linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson, the leading tacklers last season. Georgia allowed 20.7 points per game last season, fifth in the SEC.