The injury reports after Georgia’s 27-0 win over Missouri Saturday weren't nearly as bad as they were during it.
It looked like gloom-and-doom for next weekend's anticipated Top 10 matchup against Auburn when star receiver Lawrence Cager and three offensive linemen all left the field under assistance with injuries.
Cager, the No. 6 Bulldogs’ leading receiver with 32 catches for 470 yards and four touchdowns, was unable to get up after hauling in a 32-yard catch to the Missouri 18 with 25 seconds before halftime. After the being attended to by trainers with the entire offense surrounding him on the field, Cager was helped off holding the same left shoulder that has caused him to miss a game and a half this season.
Cager did not return. He had six catches for 93 yards at the time.
“Think Cager will be fine,” Smart said after the game. “He bothered his shoulder again, but we think he’s going to be fine. Probably could have came back in if he had to.”
Earlier in the half, Georgia lost starting center Trey Hill to a left-ankle injury. Sophomore Cade Mays came at the 4:43 mark and played the rest of the game. Hill also did not return.
Mays went out with an ankle injury with 14:25 remaining in the game. He was replaced by sophomore Jamaree Salyer.
It wasn't over.
Starting right tackle Isaiah Wilson got caught up in some pass-protection drift and had to be helped off the field with 11:55 remaining. Georgia led 27-0 at the time.
Wilson came back in later on punt team.
“The other guys I think are fine,” Smart said.
What can't be good is all the twists and yanks were occurring while Auburn sat idle back on the Plains. The Tigers are expected to move into the Top 10 before hosting Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium next Saturday.
"I don't know who's in and who's out and who's dinged up and who's not,” Smart said of his team. “At the end of the day you play with the guys who are healthy. There's no crying over it, because you've got a tough team to go play, and I'm sure they've got some injuries, too."
In the meantime, the Bulldogs had to do a lot of shuffling around with the lineup. The fill-ins held their own.
Freshman receiver George Pickens picked up the slack with Cager on the sideline and finished with 67 yards and two TDs on 5 catches. It would've been three touchdowns if he hadn't lined up in the backfield on a sensational catch-and-run for 68 yards. It was nullified for illegal formation.
Mays was thrilled about now having played every position on the offensive line after taking most of the snaps at center. Until, of course, he had to be helped off the field.
“I just got rolled up on a short-yardage play, so I'm fine,” Mays said. “It's just part of the game. We get down there and it's the trenches, you know. Bodies are flying everywhere. We're just putting it on the line.”
That may have contributed to what was an effective but unspectacular offensive performance by the Bulldogs. They finished with 339 total yards, their second lowest put-out of the season.
“We're playing in the SEC, you know; they've got great players, too,” Mays said. “They've got great players over there just like we've got great players on our team. They're gonna make some plays and we're going to mess up. ... It's just about staying steady, staying consistent and trusting the process.”
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