Death Valley has an imposing atmosphere

ATHENS - Some of Georgia's players have been to LSU's Tiger Stadium. The others have only heard the tales.

Offensive lineman Josh Brock is one who has seen it firsthand, on a recruiting visit. He and the rest of the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC) will be there Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. game against No. 11 LSU (3-0).

"I know it's crazy out there," Brock said. "Everybody just has to get that in their mind right now. They don't like you. They'll holler and curse and throw stuff at you. You just have to take it in stride."

Brock is one of several Georgia players who made a recruiting visit to Baton Rouge. Freshman running back Kregg Lumpkin is another, and Lumpkin acknowledged that LSU games are attractive for all recruits because of the wild atmosphere.

The players who've seen Tiger Stadium have been trying this week to prepare their teammates for the environment.

"I've just heard the stories," quarterback David Greene said. "I think I heard something about people throwing bottles at the mascot."

There are others.

For instance, the Earthquake Game. According to LSU officials, when Eddie Fuller caught a game-winning touchdown pass from Tommy Hodson on fourth-and-10 against Auburn in 1988, the crowd of 79,341 made such a roar that the vibrations were picked up on the seismograph across campus.

The official capacity in the stadium in Baton Rouge is now listed as 91,600 but it's not unprecedented for the Tigers to pack more than 92,000 into the venue.

"It's like being on the inside of a drum," legendary coach Bear Bryant once said of Tiger Stadium.

Georgia will combat the noise as it does in most opposing stadiums by relying on hand signals to call the offensive formations and audibles.

"We've done a pretty good job of communicating without hearing," said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who is 9-0 in the stadium of opposing teams as the Bulldogs' head coach. "It's not like it's something new for that week. We do it every day."

It's possible to make the argument that Tiger Stadium, which also is known as Death Valley, is more reputation than reality. Although LSU is 184-61-4 in night games there since 1960, it is only 14-20-3 in day games in the same time period.

Since a loss to No. 3 Miami late in the 1988 season, LSU is 2-14 against top 10 teams in Tiger Stadium. They have been outscored an average of 30.3-11.3 in that span.

Still, the Bulldogs respect the setting.

"It's as loud and as wild as you can probably get at the college level so it'll be a challenge," Richt said.

Richt's view might be clouded by the respect he has for this year's Tigers, who rank in the top five in the country in both scoring offense and defense.

"The first thing you notice is how good they look in their uniforms," he said. "They're big and strong and fast. They have great, great speed. That's what concerns us the most."

Of course, the Bulldogs have had a pretty good year, too, a fact that Richt doesn't deny.

"There are a lot of good thing happening for both teams," he said. "Something pretty exciting is about to happen, I believe."

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