They’ll be back to Athens in June and turn their attention to summer workouts and gearing up for the season opener against North Carolina Sept. 3 in the Georgia Dome.
It’s the kind of big-name opponent to open the season that coach Kirby Smart has said he prefers to line up.
“Obviously, coming into the Dome, playing North Carolina, it’s such a great opponent,” he said. “I’m fired up for that opportunity and our kids are working hard in the offseason for that opportunity.”
Having a high-profile foe that reached the ACC title game last year certainly helps, Smart said.
“It’s a little easier sell,” Smart said. “When you walk in the weight room and you know you’ve got to play UNC the first game, there’s a commitment level I think is greater than other years. That’s one of the advantages of playing in that game.”
… The flipside of not opening with a lightweight is the danger factor.
“You’ve got a great opponent so you don’t know what you’ve got yet,” Smart said. “You’ve got to find out for real the first time you go out there. It’s not an opponent that’s a lesser classification or anything like that. It’s a situation you better be ready to play.”
As a fan, choosing to play an opener against a cupcake or a decent P5 program is a no-brainer for me. I get how a coach’s perspective may be a little different. (We know an AD’s is.) But even so, I’d think that “find out for real the first time” factor would trump getting the likely win. Not to mention that Smart’s right about improved focus.