Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs aim to make a statement in the Sugar Bowl, but they may have to do it without their sacks leader.

All-SEC outside linebacker D’Andre Walker has “struggled” to get up to speed in the practices, Smart said, and will be a game-time decision.

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 15 Texas at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday in the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“We want to make a statement and play to our standard,” Smart said at his Monday morning press conference. “We are an elite program, and we want to be in that conversation.

“This is our opportunity to go out and finish things the right way. We want to play our best football game of the year.”

Georgia could have to do it with three of its best players on the defense, the two in the front seven either limited or out for the game.

The Bulldogs were already without Thorpe-Award winner and All-American cornerback Deandre Baker, who announced he’s skipping the game to prep for the NFL Draft.

Walker, meanwhile, was back in pads on Saturday and going through thud contact drills for the first time since aggravating a groin injury in the SEC Championship Game.

Freshman All-American candidate Jordan Davis was also back working with the defensive tackles on Saturday after going through warmups off to the side in Friday’s practice.

But Smart said Davis also will be a game-time decision and might also be limited to situational playing time.

“Both of those guys have struggled to get back 100 percent.”

The Bulldogs’ offensive line featured Trey Hill working at right guard, while Cade Mays comeback from a shoulder injury put him working behind Andrew Thomas at left tackle.

Redshirt sophomore Ben Cleveland, who is not yet 100 percent after suffering a broken fibula on Sept. 22, has been working as the backup right tackle.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X