LSU’s Death Valley seats 102,321 people making it the sixth largest college football stadium in the country. The crowd noise there has been compared to having your ear right next to a jet engine and in 1988 the fans were so loud that the noise registered as an earthquake. All things considered, it is an intimidating place for any team to play.
Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta is excited to see what all the hype is about. “From everything I’ve heard, it’s supposed to be an electric place to play in and they’ve really got the home field advantage,” said Nauta. “They’ve got a great fan base and I’ve heard it’s a crazy environment. I’m ready to see what it’s like.”
Imitating the crowd noise that will be present in Tiger Stadium and having the right mindset to block out that noise has been a priority during practice this week for Georgia. “[I tell myself] to stay composed. You can’t let the crowd get to you in those moments and you’ve got to stay on top of your assignments and know what you’ve got to do throughout the week in preparation to make sure when you can’t hear when you’re in there, you still know how to communicate,” said Nauta. We work on it in practice throughout the week, making crowd noise on the speakers and try to get used to being in that environment.”
Even with Georgia being favored 73.9 percent over LSU according to ESPN’s Football Power index the likelihood of the matchup turning into a fourth-quarter game is high. That may not be a bad thing for Georgia. “I think it is an advantage for us that we have been able to develop second and third string guys to be ready to play if anything happens,” said Nauta. “These games are very physical. Guys will go down to any minute. Knowing that we have got guys that are prepared and have experience is an advantage for us. We practice so hard that our bodies are ready for fourth quarters.”
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart played in this game just over 20 years ago and had 12 tackles. “He’s a guy who’s been through it and he knows what it’s like,” said Nauta. “I think that’s why he coaches the way he coaches. He’s very fiery and passionate. From the older guys I’ve talked to that played with him, they say he hasn’t changed one bit from when he was a player. So, just knowing that he’s got the experience and he’s been through it helps.”
This weekend’s game may prove to be a tough matchup for Georgia but Smart and the team are preparing and working hard to be able to upset the Tigers.