Georgia players prepare for Neyland Stadium

ATHENS, Ga. — <b>David Greene</b>'s Georgia teammates are impressed that he is so cool and poised to be a redshirt freshman starting quarterback.

On Tuesday, Greene was surprisingly cool to the notion that he should be worried about his next challenge — his first road game comes Saturday against No. 6 Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.

"I heard it was a tough place to play,'' said Greene Tuesday before adding "I heard it was overrated, too.''


In 10 seasons under Coach Philip Fulmer, Tennessee is 51-4 at Neyland Stadium. In those 10 years the Vols have not lost at home to a team ranked lower than No. 6.

For an unranked Georgia team and Greene, the prospect of playing before 108,000 fans might be intimidating.

Then again, said Greene: "Football is football. You can't worry about the atmosphere. You've got to concentrate on football plays.''

According to his teammates, Greene's focus has been strong so far.

"He's such a cool quarterback; he's really relaxed,'' said center Curt McGill. "He doesn't put pressure on himself. He's such a tremendous leader on the field. That's an asset for us.''

Georgia has not won at Neyland Stadium since the 1980 season opener —Herschel Walker's now-legendary debut. Overall, Georgia is 5-9-1 in Knoxville with five straight losses. Georgia and Tennessee did not become annual opponents until 1992.

Including home and road games, Georgia had suffered nine straight losses to Tennessee before last year's 21-10 win in Athens.

Tennessee was rebuilding last year and now, coming off last week's 26-18 home victory over LSU, may have its best team since winning the national championship in 1998. At 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference, the Vols are favored by 11 points over Georgia (2-1, 1-1).

"They're ranked very high and should be,'' said Georgia coach Mark Richt.

"They're sitting where we would like to be some day. The only way we can get there is to start beating some of those teams.''

This will be Richt's first road game as Georgia's coach and first visit to Knoxville as a coach or player. As the long-time offensive coordinator at Florida State, Richt visited Florida, Clemson, LSU and Auburn.

"All those stadiums can really crank it up,'' Richt said.

Richt has been warned by Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway — a former assistant at Auburn and Alabama — about Neyland Stadium.

"Coach Callaway asked me if I've ever been there,'' Richt said. "I said no. He just grinned. I'm sure it's an awesome place and can generate a lot of noise and excitement.''

Added Richt: "The problem is Greene has never been there either. I'm more worried about Greene than me. It's going to be real tough for a freshman to come in and play well.''

If Greene is worried, he is hiding the concern far below his even demeanor.

"I feel like I will be calm for the game,'' Greene said. "I have confidence in our team. I have confidence in our game plan. If you just worry about those things, you can't worry about how the fans will be.''

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