After another injury, Georgia must play without Jalen Carter

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The unfortunate injury saga continues for Georgia’s Jalen Carter, who will miss at least several weeks with an MCL injury that he sustained in Saturday’s 26-22 win over Missouri. This comes on the heels of Carter missing significant playing time this season with an ankle injury stemming from the Samford game Sept. 10.

Coach Kirby Smart said that initial injury came in the season opener against Oregon. He was playing limited snaps for the Bulldogs, having stepped back from his projected starting role in his road to 100%. In total, he has played only 65 defensive snaps for Georgia and only six against Missouri before suffering another sidelining injury.

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When Carter isn’t on the field for the Bulldogs, the defense loses one of its more dominant players from snap-to-snap.

“I hate it for Jalen,” Smart said of Carter’s injury struggles in 2022. “This is a guy that has had a good two years. Really talented.”

“Jalen brings a big impact on the team, brings energy to the defense,” defensive lineman Nazir Stackhouse added. “He’s exciting to watch play. He’s a very talented player. We miss him on the D-line, but what we can do is just keep going and hope that he gets better.”

Now, Smart said he plans to turn to some of the same contributing players -- Stackhouse, Zion Logue and Bear Alexander -- to take extra snaps as they have with Carter’s limited snaps.

“Tough is the only way to put it, but it’s a part of football,” Smart said. “(Our motto) around here is ‘next man up,’ and we’ve had a lot of that with the inside players, with guys dinged up and banged up.”

Even though they have experience playing without Carter this season, Stackhouse said that his impact on the Bulldogs defense cannot be understated. But, the defense must stay focused on staying true to Georgia’s standard.

“Me and (the rest of the defensive line), it’s a big challenge for us, because usually we’re used to playing with vets and now it’s our time to get out there and work,” Stackhouse said. “What we can think about is executing our plays, trusting the process in our technique. We never think too much about who’s down; we think about who’s next up and who can help our program.”

Carter is known for the energy he brings to the field. With Saturday’s matchup with rival Auburn (3:30 p.m., CBS), there is an increased need for the defensive intensity that Carter brings.

Yet, the defensive line is well prepared to match the level of intensity necessary to combat Auburn’s rushing attack -- especially Stackhouse, who plans to channel his aggression positively to bring energy to the field.

“With it being rivalry week, especially (The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry), it’s definitely going to be a lot of fire,” Stackhouse said.

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