This weekend’s Georgia Bulldog-Notre Dame football game will be a top 25 matchup: the Dogs, after last Saturday’s season opening win over Appalachian State, are again 15th in this week’s Associated Press poll, while the Fighting Irish enter the poll at number 24. The Dogs and Irish play Saturday night in South Bend.
From Seth Emerson, AJC’s Dawg Nation...
It was a fairly standard question to Georgia senior safety Dominick Sanders: What did you know about Notre Dame’s history growing up, and what did it mean to you?
Sanders shrugged. The storyline didn’t interest him.
“Not really, I didn’t really know anything about that,” Sanders said. “But you know, my main thing is coming out and punishing them from the start. I really don’t care about what they’ve got going on.”
So, a reporter followed up, he doesn’t care about the history of Notre Dame, and its stadium, which Sanders and the Bulldogs visit on Saturday?
“Oh no, no, no,” Sanders said. “I just care about my guys doing what we’ve gotta do: Punishing them from the start.”
So you don’t really care, another reporter followed up?
“Me personally, nah. I don’t really know anything about them and I don’t really care,” said Sanders, who was a first-team All-SEC safety in 2015. “Just my main thing is let’s put them pads on and let’s go to work.”
This was after practice on Tuesday, as Georgia (1-0) prepares for one of its most highly-anticipated nonconference trips in recent memory.
Georgia is a slight underdog, by 4 1/2 points at last check, and Sanders seems aware of it.
“We can’t worry about what people are saying out there. A lot of people are saying we’re underdogs and all that. We don’t care about any of that,” Sanders said. “We just keep our composure and day-by-day get better, and we’ll come out and prove these people wrong on Saturday.”
And if Sanders’ feelings weren’t entirely clear, he echoed them when asked another question about whether this game would have any special meaning because of the opponent and the venue.
“This is just a regular game, and we’re going to come out and punish them from the start,” Sanders said.
Georgia junior defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter also sounded a fairly confident note about the match-up with Notre Dame’s big and well-regarded offensive line.
He was asked about going against offensive linemen who are being pegged as NFL prospects.
“Definitely it’s exciting. You can ask any of our defensive lineman, linebackers, even all the way back to our secondary. I know everyone’s itching to get a good lick on every single one of their guys,” Ledbetter said. “Definitely respect them. But good competition is hard to come by. So when you see it and everybody’s raving about it you want to prove a point. So we’re ready to prove a point.”
Earlier in the evening, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Notre Dame may have the best offensive line they face this season. Fighting Irish offensive tackle Mike McGlinchy is 6-foot-8.
The 6-4 Ledbetter was asked about going against someone that tall.
“There’s always a way to beat somebody,” Ledbetter said. “Somebody will always have a weakness, and you have to find it. And we’re going to find it. And we’re going to execute off it.”
Ledbetter’s overall tone was of confidence, stopping short of brash. He was also asked about whether Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush could also be a problem for Georgia’s defense, given his dual-threat ability.
“We’re pretty thorough in our game-planning, so I’m not worried on their front or their quarterback being super-athletic,” Ledbetter said. “Because I know what we bring to the table, and we’re going to work as hard as we need to, to be ready for Saturday.”