If you’re keeping tabs, you’ll need to be add a couple more names to the list of Georgia players missing in action in New Orleans.
The latest ones to be confirmed as absent are senior offensive lineman D’Marcus Hayes and sophomore linebacker Quay Walker. Including injuries, that brings to 13 the number of regular contributors who will be missing Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl matchup between No. 5 Georgia (11-2) and No. 7 Baylor (11-2) (8:45 p.m. ESPN).
Coach Kirby Smart, his assistants and the Bulldogs’ players are declining to talk about specific players’ absences.
“We’re going to focus on who’s here,” Smart said upon arrival in New Orleans. “This trip, this team and this game, and that’s really it.”
That was defensive coordinator Dan Lanning’s answer when asked Monday about the absence of senior defensive back Tyrique McGhee.
“All I'm speaking about are the players that are here,” Lanning said at the defensive players and coaches news conference. “Got great respect for every guy that's helped us throughout this season, done great things for us this season. But the guys that are here, those are the guys that we're going to compete with.”
To be clear, it’s has taken a significant chunk out of Georgia’s regular rotation. Of the missing players, 12 of them were represented on the Bulldogs’ two-deep, including six starters, three on offense and three on defense.
Together, those 13 players represent 149 games of combined participation this season.
“We’re missing some key parts, but next man up,” senior defensive end David Marshall said. “We’ve got young guys and they’re learning fast. So, it’s next man up. We’ve still got the same defense, still playing the same way we’ve been playing, a lot of the same people, just a few young guys starting and learning.”
Interestingly, Georgia may or may not be adding back one player. Outside linebacker Robert Beal, Jr., a sophomore from Lawrenceville who was sidelined earlier this season after entering his name in the transfer portal, has accompanied the Bulldogs to New Orleans and is practicing with the team.
Again, the only comment was essentially a “no comment.”
“I can't speak to Rob,” said Lanning, who is Beal’s position coach. “I know he's here working with us this week. Excited to see what he's doing. But, no, I can't speak to that.”
Georgia football players expected to miss the Sugar Bowl, with reasons in parentheses, followed by number of games played this season.
- OL Ben Cleveland (academics), 13 games
- OL Andrew Thomas (NFL training), 13
- OL Isaiah Wilson (NFL training), 11
- OL D'Marcus Hayes (undisclosed), 6
- RB Brian Herrien (undisclosed), 12
- WR Lawrence Cager (ankle injury), 9
- WR Dominick Blaylock (knee injury), 12
- DB J.R. Reed (foot injury), 13
- DB Divaad Wilson (undisclosed), 13
- DL Tyler Clark (undisclosed), 13
- OLB Walter Grant (concussion), 12
- ILB Quay Walker (undisclosed), 13
- DB Tyrique McGhee (undisclosed), 9
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