ATHENS, Ga. -- The Tennessee Volunteers will debut their "Smokey" gray uniforms Saturday afternoon against No. 6 Georgia, but the Bulldogs do not plan to succumb to the new attire.
"I don't think that affects the outcome of a game," Georgia defensive lineman Garrison Smith said Tuesday. "I'd go out there and play in my birthday suit. It doesn't matter. As long as I've got my shoulder pads and helmet on, I'd be good."
Georgia has experienced its own share of new looks the last several seasons, though the Bulldogs have stuck with traditional home red jerseys and away white jerseys since their gaudy Power Ranger look in the 2011 opening loss to Boise State. Coach Mark Richt appealed to Georgia lore last week by asking fans to provide a "red out" for LSU's visit, and the Bulldogs prevailed 44-41.
The most memorable uniform alteration under Richt occurred against Auburn on Nov. 10, 2007, when the Bulldogs warmed up in red jerseys but then took the field wearing black. Tommy Tuberville's Tigers had plans of spoiling the costume party by taking a 20-17 lead in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs scored the final four touchdowns for a 45-20 runaway romp.
"When we first did it that night we played Auburn, it was electric," Richt said. "We sprang it on the team. They didn't know. The seniors knew, so there was that element of surprise. There was a lot of steam in that locker room, and I didn't want to say anything, because if I had said something, I would have messed something up."
The Bulldogs wore black jerseys again in the Sugar Bowl after the '07 season, when they sacked Hawaii's Colt Brennan eight times and forced three interceptions and two fumbles in a 41-10 demolition. On Sept. 27, 2008, Georgia broke them out a third time but experienced a very different result.
Alabama came to Sanford Stadium and took a 31-0 halftime lead before coasting to a 41-30 win.
"When you win, everybody loves them," Richt said, "and then once you do it again and lose, they want to burn them. You can't give them away."
So resounding was the loss to the Crimson Tide that Georgia has yet to wear the black jerseys since. Nobody on Georgia's current roster had arrived by 2008, and several players Tuesday expressed their desire to wear black later this season.
"I was watching the Oregon game versus Tennessee, and they were like straight neon," quarterback Aaron Murray said. "Everything was neon, and I was like 'Wow, that's bright.' We players like that, and I would love for us to come back and wear the black jerseys.
"Maybe we can wear them for our last home game -- Kentucky. I think Nike could make some jerseys in that time."
Smith and inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera are for wearing black as well, but Herrera added, "I know how things are here. Fans don't want to see us in anything but red."
Georgia wore black helmets in 2009 against Florida, but that was a debacle as well as the Gators rolled 41-17. Change wasn't good again when the Bulldogs opened their 2011 season in the Georgia Dome with Nike Pro Combat uniforms.
"They were pretty red," Murray said. "I wished they were black, but it was something different."
Tennessee actually has worn black jerseys more recently than Georgia, breaking them out in an '09 win over South Carolina just hours after the Bulldogs donned their black helmets in Jacksonville.
First-year Volunteers coach Butch Jones unveiled this week's look back in July. Jones said they would be worn once a year and that new uniforms could be beneficial in recruiting, but Bulldogs players were divided as to whether they will make a difference Saturday.
"I'm not going to say that they're all of a sudden going to play 10 times better than what they would have played, but it definitely adds a little juice to you," Murray said. "When you look good and feel good, you play good."
Said Herrera: "Uniforms are uniforms. Everybody wants to look good, but that has no effect on the game. Emotions don't last long. You've just got to play on what you've always played on. Emotions get you beat."
And what about Smith in his birthday suit? Certainly that would warrant some kind of penalty.
"Isn't that what Adam and Eve had on?" Smith said. "And the cavemen?"
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...
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