ATHENS – Online fan reaction to Georgia’s new Nike Pro Combat uniforms, publicly unveiled on Saturday, was generally negative. This came as no surprise to Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.
“I think there are a lot of people that just don’t want to get away from [tradition] and I don’t blame them,” Richt said. “That’s the reason we’re sticking it out there two weeks in advance, so everybody can get over it.”
The new design features a silver helmet with a wide red stripe down the middle, red jersey, red pants, llong black socks, all in the Nike “Pro Combat” style. UGA and Boise State both agreed to wear the specially-designed uniforms for one game only when they play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Sept. 3 in the Georgia Dome.
Georgia has a 2-2 record under Richt when it has changed its uniforms. The Bulldogs famously beat Auburn 45-20 in their first-ever “blackout” in 2007. They also rolled Hawaii 41-20 in black jerseys and pants in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
But the last two times it hasn’t gone well. Georgia lost to Alabama 41-30 – after trailing 31-0 at halftime – in 2008. Wearing black helmets and black pants in 2009, the Bulldogs fell to Florida 41-17.
“We’re due,” Richt said. “I doubt we’ll do any surprise uniforms anymore. At least everybody’s got time to digest it this time. If everybody just thinks about what’s most important and that’s playing the game, I think we’ll all be fine.”
Richt said it’s not about motivation or breaking with tradition.
“When the players saw it, they liked it and that’s the big thing,” he said. “And it’s a special game. It’s not what we would call a traditional uniform but it’s not a traditional game either. That’s kind of why we did it.”
Meanwhile, the players love them.
“I think they’re awesome,” junior wide receiver Tavarres King said. “We’ve still got to play so it’s not a magic potion or anything. But I love what Nike has done for us. We’re blessed to have those uniforms. I’m excited about them.”
Said linebacker Christian Robinson: “I do like tradition, but I think one game out of the year you can do something new. It’s not like we’re changing our whole style for the whole season. It’s one game. If it’s upsetting somebody that bad, I’m sorry.”
Dogs 19th in AP poll
The Associated Press Top 25 was released Saturday and Georgia was ranked 19th. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 22 in the coaches’ poll released earlier this month.
“That’s good,” Richt said. “It’s nice to be ranked.”
Said senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson: “That’s pretty good. We can’t go anywhere but up starting at 19. We just don’t want to go down.”
Boise State, Georgia’s opening opponent, was ranked No. 5.
“Good. I’m very excited,” Georgia’s King said of the Broncos. “They should be 5, if not even higher.”
Crowell wows team at practice
Tailback Isaiah Crowell apparently is completely recovered from the groin injury that sidelined him for six days. In his second practice back, Crowell wowed his coaches and teammates in the scrimmage portion of Saturday morning’s practice.
“Isaiah went live today and he made some plays,” Richt said. “He had a couple of great runs and a great catch and run after the catch for a touchdown.”
Said King: “Isaiah Crowell came in and was just making plays all over. I was excited about that.”
It was the first time Crowell has gone full speed since injuring the groin on Aug. 12.
“He went a little yesterday and that was enough for him, I think, to realize he could go,” Richt said. “We had a great competitive day and he wanted to be a part of it. So I think his adrenalin took over and he competed and he competed well. It was great to see.”
Crowell’s backfield mate Richard Samuel was not about to return. Richt said the junior will be out at least until “early next week” with a strained quadricep muscle.
Nose guard John Jenkins sat out after being sidelined with a mild hamstring pull on Friday. Fellow nose guard Kwame Geathers returned from an undisclosed injury that kept him out on Friday. Also, freshman wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was out Saturday due to a pulled leg muscle. Freshman outside linebacker Ray Drew will be out at least another week with a separated shoulder suffered in a scooter accident.