The Georgia Bulldogs are now close enough to the season to discuss their hotel, meal and transportation plans for the anticipated Sept. 4 opener against Clemson at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Their travel agenda, according to coach Kirby Smart, won't be much different from last year or even the season before that.
"We're pretty secluded, and we don't get around a lot of fans," Smart said Saturday after the team's second preseason scrimmage. "Our travel is just us, and that's not going to change. Our hotel is just us, and we're partitioned off from the crowds and the people, so the biggest difference is the vaccinations, obviously, and that doesn't make you foolproof.
"The same precautions that have been taken will still be taken, but the biggest precaution has been the vaccination. I think there may be a misnomer out there, because it wasn't a lot different last year because we were secluded, but we're always secluded."
Smart pointed out that Georgia's vaccination rate is above 90%, but he recognized challenges loom between now and the Clemson kickoff.
"With classes going back to full measure, our campus is as crowded as it's ever been," Smart said. "There are more people on our campus than there ever have been, so the efficiency for our players to get to class, being on buses and interacting with the student population who may not have the same vaccination rate as our team does - it's a concern.
"It worries me, because our guys are exposed to that. We're trying to do everything we can to not expose them to any greater risk, and we're trying to minimize those risks as much as we can."
The Bulldogs are not scheduled to practice again until Tuesday.
Georgia's second scrimmage contained roughly 125 plays inside Sanford Stadium, with Smart praising the offense's ability to produce more explosive plays while admitting the defense didn't tackle as well compared to the first scrimmage. Smart said redshirt junior receiver Kearis Jackson and sophomore receiver Jermaine Burton scrimmaged, and he was upbeat when asked about redshirt junior tight end John FitzPatrick, redshirt sophomore receiver Dominick Blaylock and sophomore receiver Arik Gilbert.
"We're hopeful to get all of those guys back soon," Smart said. "That's the plan, really, on all the guys who are injured. We really don't have an injury for a guy who's out for a long amount of time. Every one of those guys is day to day, and some of them are practicing now. Each one is a different situation, but I expect to be full tilt when it comes time to play Clemson.
"We had more healthy guys today than we did at the last scrimmage."
Smart did say that five-star freshman tackle Amarius Mims has missed some practice time recently with lower back issues.
Saban praises Anderson
Reigning national champion Alabama held its second preseason scrimmage Saturday afternoon inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban stating that sophomore quarterback Bryce Young played well and that the offense played better around him.
Fifth-year senior tackle Kendall Randolph, redshirt junior guard Emil Ekiyor, junior safety DeMarco Hellams and junior linebacker Shane Lee did not participate.
Saban was asked about sophomore outside linebacker Will Anderson and did not hold back on the compliments.
"He's been really good," Saban said. "Will is probably the guy who creates more havoc for our defense in terms of his ability to pass rush. He's a more complete player now and understands the whole scheme and is very diverse as a player.
"He's had a really good camp, and it's going to be important that we continue to develop some other guys off the edge so they can't just worry about him."
Such compliments were not flowing for junior tight end Jahleel Billingsley, who at the beginning of camp had work to do to get back up the depth chart.
"That's up to him. That's not up to me," Saban said. "He knows what he's supposed to do in practice. This is not a democracy. Everybody does not get to do what they want to do or feel like doing.
"You've got to buy in and do what you're supposed to do to be a part of the team."