For Georgia, home is where the game is

Sanford Stadium is nice and all, but for Georgia, friendly confines include almost everywhere else the Bulldogs play.

Sanford Stadium is nice and all, but for Georgia, friendly confines include almost everywhere else the Bulldogs play.

Georgia has won all eight road games since Mark Richt took over, and the Bulldogs will take that streak to Clemson's Death Valley Saturday.

"I don't know why we play well on the road," wondered junior quarterback David Greene. "Honestly. It's not that we've been out there blowing teams out on the road, but we play well.

"I don't really know the key why. It's good to know that people don't get nervous when we go into a hostile environment and everybody can just going out there and play their game."

While that streak includes games at Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Kentucky, the Bulldogs have also come away from Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Auburn with wins when those three teams were ranked.

"Whether you're home or away, it doesn't really matter," said defensive tackle David Pollack. "As long as you're fortunate enough to win, it doesn't matter."

Pollack is a little eager for Saturday, though: "Death Valley, eight something thousand people? Sounds like a good start to me."

Overall, the Bulldogs are 10-3 away from the hedges in that time span. Two of the three defeats have been in Jacksonville against Florida. And as Greene said, most tend to be close. Four have been by a single digits. Greene has been huge in the biggest ones: at Tennessee two years ago and Auburn last year. Yes, the visit to the Plains was his favorite.

"There was so much on the line," he said of the 24-21 win that put Georgia in the SEC Championship game. "It was either we score right there at the end and win the East or we don't score and we don't win."

Two Bulldogs are questionable for Saturday's game, three are definitely out, and there's a little suspense about two more.

Nose tackle Gerald Anderson (neck sprain) and freshman tailback Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring) center Michael Turner (shoulder sprain) are technically questionable but will probably play.

Will Thompson (ankle), Cedric Haywood (knee/ACL), and Marquis Elmore (ankle sprain) are listed as out, as are defensive end Preston Pannell of Crisp County (shoulder), center Michael Turner (shoulder), and defensive tackle Darrell Holmes.

Richt said Tuesday that Veal and Curry wouldn't play, but there has been speculation that one or both could make it out onto the field.

And, of course, eight plpayers are suspended: running backs Tyson Browning, Chris Hickman, and Jamario Smith, wideouts Mario Raley and Bryan McClendon, and defensive backs Tim Jennings, DeMario Minter, and B.J. Fields.

IMPENDING MILESTONES: - Georgia's Damien Gary is 43 yards from second and 106 from to get first in career punt return yards. He's third with 972.

Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst needs two touchdown passes to move into a tie for 16th on the career list with Mark Fellers (1972-74, 12).

Georgia defensive end David Pollack's 16 career sacks are tied for sixth, three away from fifth.

Clemson wideout Derrick Hamilton will take over sole possession of seventh on the receptions list with two, giving him 107. He's also five yards from 11th in yards, currently with 1,286.

Billy Bennett of Georgia will take over sole possession of third place in field goals made with 57 on his next successful try. He's also four points behind third-place Kanon Parkman (1991, 93-95) with 278 career points.

Tiger linebacker John Leake has 312 career tackles, and will move into 10th place in school history with 10 stops.

NEWS "N NOTES: - Georgia fans won't see it for a long time, but Clemson's Memorial Stadium is undergoing some changes, construction of which will begin after this season and conclude sometime in 2005.The school will turn the west end zone, opposite The Rock, into something of a new stadium front door by enclosing it to a point. The addition will be mostly for the fan with money: club seating, luxury suites, lounges, etc. It will connect the seating on the sides, and host a Clemson football museum/Hall of Fame facility.

The seating expansion could bring Death Valley's capacity to around 92,000, which includes seating on the hill in the east end zone. ...Sharing opponents: Middle Tennessee State visits Georgia on Sept. 6, then Clemson a week later. Each visits the other's conference at the end of the year with the big in-state rivalries, Clemson at South Carolina on Sept. 22 and Georgia at Georgia Tech on Nov. 29. ...The Tigers have never played on Aug. 30. Georgia is 1-0 on the date, beating Arkansas State 38-7 in 1997.

Clemson sold 56,808 season tickets for last year. The Tigers are looking at about 1,400 fewer this year. And the UGA game hasn't been a sellout for very long. Clemson sold only three-game packages that included Middle Tennessee State and Furman. ...Georgia hasn't opened on the road since 1994 when it beat South Carolina 24-21. ...Clemson, which is about 20 miles from the Georgia border, has 20 players from the Peach State on the roster, including three from Middle Georgia: quarterback Chansi Stuckey of Northside, starting linebacker Leroy Hill of Baldwin, and freshman safety Roy Walker of Macon County.

Walker has seen more time in practice lately, but isn't on the two-deep. The Tigers will start six Georgians: offensive linemen Nathan Bennett (Paulding County) and Cedric Johnson (Thomas County Central) and Tommy Sharpe (Westover), plus defensive end Khaleed Vaughn (North Atlanta), quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (Chattahoochee) plus Hill. ...

UGA strength and conditioning boss Dave Van Halanger was the best man at Tommy Bowden's wedding. The pair played together at West Virginia under Bobby Bowden in the mid-70s. ...Georgia has won six straight openers, dating back to Jim Donnan's debut in 1996, an 11-7 loss to Southern Miss in Athens. That was also the last time Georgia didn't score at least 25 points in the first game of the year.The Bulldogs are 15-9-2 in road openers.

Clemson has lost five straight times when opening the season against a ranked team, including last year's 31-28 loss at Sanford Stadium. The Tigers have won 15 of the last 19 season starters. ...Quotable: Georgia's Fred Gibson likes playing on special teams. To a point."I love returning kicks. The only thing I don't like about returning kicks is people coming so fast trying to hit me. I don't like getting hit, man, so I might as well run fast."

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