It was a clear statement from Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
“We’re dealing with less guys at receiver than we ever have,” Smart said following Georgia’s 52-7 win over Georgia Tech.
He didn’t say maybe or possibly. Smart’s comment was definitive, and with good reason. The revolving door of injuries that has plagued Georgia’s wide receiver corps has been a consistent story this season.
It started week one against Vanderbilt when Kearis Jackson went down with multiple fractures in his hand. Tyler Simmons and Demetris Robertson had to deal with injuries of their own that forced them into more limited roles.
And no receiver was hit harder than Lawrence Cager. The graduate transfer from Miami missed games against Kentucky, Texas A&M and Georgia Tech with an assortment of injuries. His absence was noticeable in those games, and it will be felt by the Bulldogs again soon.
“He’s got an ankle injury and had successful surgery on it yesterday,” Smart said. “He’ll make a full recovery.”
That recovery isn’t likely to come until after this season. Smart said that “it’s doubtful” that Cager could be healthy in time to play in Georgia’s bowl game. Cager also said in an Instagram post earlier this week that “I wish it didn’t come to an end like this,” effectively confirming that his season was over.
Losing its co-leader in receptions (33) for the year is a tough blow for the Bulldogs’ passing game. What makes it even tougher is that the other leading pass catcher, George Pickens, will miss at least half of the SEC Championship after getting ejected in the second half against the Jackets.
“Unfortunately, he got an undisciplined penalty,” Smart said. “When you make undisciplined decisions… you pay a penalty for that. So he won’t be able to play the first half of next week. When you make emotional decisions, that’s what happens.”
It comes after Pickens was already forced to sit out the first half against Georgia Tech for what Smart would only say was a “violation of team rules.”
Still, the passing game is starting to find a groove outside of Pickens and Cager. Simmons, Dominick Blaylock and Charlie Woerner were all able to find the end zone Saturday, helping build momentum going into the conference championship game.
“Me and Jake [Fromm] started clicking,” Simmons said. “That’s really something we need right now with two receivers down… It’s a good step.”
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