Flu outbreak sidelines more Georgia Bulldogs

November 13, 2021 Knoxville, TN - Tennessee's defensive lineman Matthew Butler (94) and Tennessee's linebacker Roman Harrison (30) collide as Georgia's running back James Cook (4) runs for a touchdown in the first half during a NCAA football game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday, November 13, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
November 13, 2021 Knoxville, TN - Tennessee's defensive lineman Matthew Butler (94) and Tennessee's linebacker Roman Harrison (30) collide as Georgia's running back James Cook (4) runs for a touchdown in the first half during a NCAA football game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday, November 13, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

ATHENS – Despite its best efforts, unbeaten Georgia has not been able defeat the flu.

The small outbreak that limited the participation of several players against Tennessee this past weekend has seen a few more Bulldogs sidelined this week as they begin preparations of Saturday’s game against Charleston Southern (noon, SECN+).

Meanwhile, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said “several coaches” have fallen ill as well. His unmasked presence at Monday’s media day suggests he was not among them.

“We’re dealing with some of the repercussions of it now,” Smart said. “We’ve got some guys that are maybe just getting over the flu and just getting the flu. We’ve probably got seven or eight guys right now that are not going to be able to practice today.”

CBS Sports reported during Saturday’s game against Tennessee that eight Georgia players were battling a stomach flu and traveled to Knoxville separately from the team. It’s not known who those individuals were.

After the 41-17 win over the Vols, Smart identified defensive tackle Jalen Carter and offensive guard Warren Ericson as being among the players affected. Both tried to play but came out of the game. Tight end John FitzPatrick reportedly also played while sick. Running back James Cook, who piled up 147 yards and scored three touchdowns in the game, was seen wearing a mask afterward, but it’s not known whether he was infected

The numbers have gone up slightly since then, Smart said. But Georgia’s sixth-year coach expressed confidence that the worst is behind them.

“We think they’ll be back by tomorrow,” he said.

The outbreak happened despite what Smart said is “85 to 90 percent” of the team having gotten the flu vaccine earlier this fall.

“That’s not the perfect indicator for not getting the flu, apparently,” Smart said with a chuckle, “because we’ve had some guys get it that had the vaccine. But we encourage it to the players and leave it up to them. We’ve just had a tough run here in the last 48 hours or so.”

Quarterback JT Daniels apparently was not among the sick, however. Smart fielded several questions about the former starter on Monday and why he hasn’t played but a quarter and a half since being cleared from a back injury five weeks ago.

“I’ll address it like I do every week,” Smart said. “Our goal is to go out there and get the best quarterback ready to play and go out and play with the best guy. If that presents itself, then absolutely. I hope everybody gets to play.”

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