Bulldogs’ RB Branson Robinson out for season with knee injury
Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com
Georgia running back Branson Robinson (22) runs through a tackle by LSU Tigers defensive back Jarrick Bernard-Converse (24) during the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Saturday, December 3, 2022, in Atlanta. Georgia won 50-30. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)
ATHENS — Georgia was dealt a serious injury blow to its offensive backfield.
Sophomore running back Branson Robinson, who was expecting to play a significant for the Bulldogs this season, went down during a non-contact drill early in Tuesday’s practice. Examination by UGA’s sports medicine staff revealed a ruptured patella tendon in one of Robinson’s knees. He’ll have to undergo surgery and will miss the entire season.
“Tough, tough break for him,” coach Kirby Smart said during a media briefing before Wednesday’s practice at the Butts-Mehre football complex. “He was coming back from a toe injury on the other leg and actually was not even in a contact drill. He cut and planted and ruptured the patella tendon. He’ll make a full recovery, but unfortunately, he’ll be out for the season, which puts us in a tough situation at back.”
Meanwhile, senior Daijun Edwards, the leading returner rusher from last season’s team, was not practicing with the team Wednesday. Instead, he was running on the side with other injured players. Edwards was wearing a heavy brace on his right knee. However, Smart did not address an injury for Edwards at his pre-practice news briefing.
Georgia already had been going through preseason practice without the services of Kendall Milton. A senior from Fresno, California, Milton has been sidelined with a lingering hamstring injury and, as a result, has had almost no on-field work with the Bulldogs’ offense the entire month.
For now, depth now will have to come from redshirt freshman Andrew Paul, who is a year removed from an ACL reconstruction, freshman Roderick Robinson and walk-on Cash Jones.
“It will be done by committee like it always has been here,” Smart said.
Robinson, who played in 12 games as a freshman last season, had shown signs of developing into the explosive back Georgia had been seeking this season. He came into the season as the Bulldogs’ third-most production among the returnees with 330 yards and three touchdowns on 68 carries and was coming along in other areas of the game such as receiving and pass protection.
With more questions in the backfield and Georgia’s obvious offensive strengths laying in its receiving corps, the natural expectation would be for the Bulldogs to move away from the run game and throw the ball more this season.
Not necessarily, Smart said.
“It’s not going to affect our run-to-pass ratio,” Smart said. “We have capable backs. (Branson) was one of our better backs and, when healthy last year, we think he was kind of coming into his own. He was learning how to pass protect, how to do this and that, and he had a really good spring while he was going. So we were really excited about where he was headed. Explosive, twitchy, could do some things in pass-pro and running the ball that maybe some of the other guys couldn’t do. Now we’re not going to have that luxury. But we have other guys, and I don’t think it changes philosophically.”
Credit: Chip Towers
Edwards was Georgia’s second-leading rusher with 797 yards last season on 140 carries, which was only 10 fewer than starter Kenny McIntosh.
Meanwhile, two of the storylines in camp this year have been the emergence of Jones and Paul. Jones, a 6-0, 182 walk-on from Brock, Texas, has proved to be the Bulldogs’ best pass-catcher out of the backfield and is one of the group’s fastest runners. Paul has looked like a remarkably well-rounded back, especially considering all the time on the field he missed rehabbing his leg.
The rest of Georgia’s injury news Wednesday was much more positive. Starting left tackle Earnest Greene returned to practice after having to leave Saturday’s scrimmage with an ankle injury. Linebacker Raylen Wilson remains sidelined with a hyperextended knee, but should be able to return to the field eventually.