Injuries and a suspension could have an impact on Georgia’s offense in this week’s SEC Championship game.
The Bulldogs will be without receiver Lawrence Cager, who is out with an ankle injury. They’ll be without receiver George Pickens for at least the first half, the result of him getting ejected as the result of an altercation with Georgia Tech’s Tre Swilling. And running back D’Andre Swift may not be at full speed after suffering a shoulder injury against the Yellow Jackets.
But coach Kirby Smart said it’s too late in the season to make any changes.
“Certainly, we’ve got different groupings, different packages, different use of guys,” Smart said. “We’ve got tight ends, backs, receivers … but not as many as we’ve normally had. But I don’t think there will be major wholesale changes in a week.”
It helps that quarterback Jake Fromm is accustomed to sharing the load with his receivers. In last week’s 52-7 win over Georgia Tech, there were 10 different players who made catches.
With a depleted corps of receivers, the tight ends may be more involved in the offense. Charlie Woerner caught one pass last week — including his first career touchdown — and Eli Wolf had a 47-yard reception. But Woerner has only eight receptions and Wolf has just 13 this season.
“I think everyone has to step up a little big, because Cager is a great athlete and player,” Wolf said. “We definitely have to have the receivers step up. Some guys will have to get some reps who don’t usually. Then, if we need to go more 12 personnel, we’ll certainly do that. I think game-to-game the offense always looks a little bit different. We’ll definitely have to account for some changes a little bit.”
Woerner said, “That kind of stuff works itself out during the week at practice with the plays we install. We talk about plays that work and what is going to happen before the game is even played. A lot of that is worked out throughout the week and when it comes to game time, we know what the plan it.”
Top wide receivers available are Demetrius Robinson (26 catches, 281 yards, three TDs), Dominick Blaylock (17 catches, 299 yards, five TDs) and Pickens (33 catches, 498 yards, six TDs).
A bigger concern may be Swift, who leads the Bulldogs with 1,203 yards rushing. He left the Georgia Tech with a left shoulder injury, even though he wasn’t struck there on the play in question. Swift told Smart he actually injured it earlier in the game and continued to play.
Smart said Swift has been practicing and expects him to play.
“He’s out there, doing what we’ve asked him to do,” Smart said. “He’s just banged up. It’s tough, but he’s a warrior. He’s a fighter. We’re expecting him to be able to go.”
Bulldogs vs. Top 10 teams: Georgia 7-3 against top-10 teams in the Kirby Smart era. The Bulldogs have beaten two top-10 teams this year — No. 7 Notre Dame 23-17 on Sept. 21 in Athens and No. 6 Florida 24-17 on Nov. 2 in Jacksonville, Florida.