Only six Saturday’s remain until both Georgia and North Carolina take the field for the anticipated showdown in Atlanta on September 3.
Kirby Smart of Georgia and Larry Fedora of North Carolina discussed preparation for the game at their conference’s media event, as well as the impact it would have on the season. The anticipation is evident throughout both fanbases, and the team has excitement to hit the field as well.
Smart, entering his first test at Georgia, said he would rather play a premier opponent to kickoff the season.
“It’s always better to play a quality opponent, because you find out more about your team,” Smart said. “The College Football Playoff has made it a lot less crucial that you have to win that (opening) game. Before, if you lost that game you could be out. Now, … you have to be in the right place, but that opener is not as critical.”
Although the impact isn’t as huge in terms of a season’s outcome and the plan is to look “long-term,” he still believes the game is vital in terms of igniting a flame for success in 2016.
“It’s not to downplay it, the game is huge for us as it creates momentum and confidence,” Smart said. “We’ve got a great challenge on our hands now. A lot of people don’t realize that UNC was No. 1 in that conference last year (in scoring offense) over a pretty good team (Clemson) the University of Alabama played at the end of the year. I’ve got a lot of respect for coach Fedora and the job he does.”
Fedora, entering his fourth season in Chapel Hill, echoes similar respects for Smart and Georgia’s program as a whole. Despite numerous questions surrounding the program, including the newest conflict at running back, he believes Georgia has depth and talent to put up a fight regardless of who takes the field.