ATHENS — Everybody’s going to play.
That’s the takeaway after hearing updates on their respective teams’ preparations from LSU coach Brian Kelly and Georgia coach Kirby Smart on Thursday. The SEC Championship game participants visited with reporters Thursday via video conference call rather than the traditional in-person media session the league conducts using the SEC championship trophy as a prop.
For the Tigers, questions have abounded about the health and availability of quarterback Jayden Daniels. The dynamic junior playmaker suffered a sprained ankle late in Saturday night’s loss at Texas A&M. Daniels spent Sunday and Monday in a walking boot, underwent extensive physical therapy Tuesday and returned to the practice field Wednesday, according to Kelly.
“He’s going to be good,” Kelly said. “He’s had a good week of practice, and you know, he’ll play for us on Saturday.”
The key, of course, is how effective Daniels might be. His running ability is his primary weapon. He has accounted for 65% of the Tigers’ 5,206 yards offense between his arm and his legs, including 824 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. That’s behind an LSU offensive line that has allowed 41 sacks (only eight teams have allowed more).
The Tigers also expect the return of starting running back Josh Williams. The 5-foot-9, 200-pound junior did not play against Texas A&M after suffering a sprained knee two weeks earlier in a road win over Arkansas.
“I was really pleased with Josh (Wednesday). I thought he finally looked like himself, finally,” Kelly said. “This has been an injury that has taken some time. ... That was the first time where I felt like we’d seen Josh back to where he needs to be.”
The big question for Georgia is the availability of split end A.D. Mitchell. Mitchell was on the field briefly for one play Saturday but came off without recording an actual snap when the Bulldogs failed to draw Georgia Tech offside. Otherwise, the 6-4, 190-pound sophomore has played only six snaps in Georgia’s past 11 games and hasn’t recorded a catch since the season opener against Oregon.
“Very similar to recent weeks,” Smart said of Mitchell, one of Georgia’s stars from the national championship win over Alabama in January. “He’s been able to do some practice stuff. He’s been able to go out there and rep, and the hopes are that he’ll contribute.”
Junior Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint has logged most of the snaps at split end in Mitchell’s absence. He ranks fifth on the team with 24 catches for 256 yards and two TDs. Freshman Dillon Bell also has recorded five starts there and has 18 receptions for 166 yards and two scores.
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