ATHENS – Georgia set another record this week, but the latest was one coach Kirby Smart would rather not have seen his team get. The Bulldogs currently have the longest injury list they’ve had during Smart’s eight-year tenure as head coach.
That’s according to Georgia’s longtime highly-respected director of sports medicine, Ron Courson.
“It continues to grow, and I think that’s a trend across college football,” Smart said Monday.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that growing list includes some very important players. Starting tight tackle Amarius Mims was added to it this past Saturday and the news on him Monday also was not good.
The 6-foot-7, 340-pound sophomore from Cochran suffered a high-ankle sprain on his left leg midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s 24-14 win over South Carolina. Further examination on Sunday determined that Mims will need to undergo the “tight-rope” surgical procedure to repair his stretched ligament. He’s expected to be sidelined at least four to six weeks.
“Mims’ ankle sprain was bad,” Smart said when first asked about the tackle’s status during the Bulldogs’ weekly media day on Monday. “He’s going to have to have tight-rope surgery, so he’ll have surgery on that. It’s similar to what (running back) Cash (Jones) had done, similar to what Lawson Luckie had done. So, we don’t how long that’ll, be, but he’ll be back. It’s just a matter of how long.”
The “tight-rope” procedure is a relatively new sports-medicine innovation for repairing high-ankle sprains. Instead of the old standard of rest and rehabilitation, a high-strength suture is fastened to bone above and below the sprained area with with small metal buttons.
Former Alabama quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts each underwent the procedure and were able to return to competition in four weeks. Typically, though, recovery times are expected to be six to eight weeks, according to the sports medicine website training-conditioning.com.
So, the Bulldogs are going to without Mims for a while. Georgia’s offensive line actually performed relatively well in his absence against South Carolina.
Left guard Xavier Truss, a 6-7, 320-pound senior, moved over to Mims’ right tackle spot and 6-5, 315-pound sophomore Dylan Fairchild moved into Truss’ spot.
Smart wasn’t ready to declare that’s the way Georgia will go against UAB when the Blazers (1-2) visit for Saturday night’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff (ESPN2).
“I don’t know that. I mean, it’s going to depend on the health of some of the other O-linemen linemen,” Smart said. “Where do we get the best five from? So, a lot of that will play itself out over the next three or four days. But I do think Truss gives us that flexibility, and he did a nice job on the run the other day to be able to go do that.”
Truss came to Georgia as a highly sought-after tackle out of Rhode Island. But he has played mostly guard the last three seasons, including last year when he started 14 of the 15 games.
Normally, Austin Blaske would be considered the first option to fill in at right tackle. But the 6-5, 310-pound junior has been sidelined the last two weeks with a sprained knee. He is returning to practice this week but his availability for Saturday’s game is uncertain.
Blaske is one of at least 11 scholarship players currently sidelined by injuries. Smart confirmed that star receiver Ladd McConkey will miss his fourth consecutive game with a chronic back injury. The Bulldogs added running backs Kendall Milton (sprained knee) and Roderick Robinson (ankle) to its “red cross report” this week and, for the moment at least, is still having to play without junior safety Javon Bullard (ankle).
Georgia has been without running back Branson Robinson (knee) and linebacker Raylen Wilson (knee) all year due to preseason camp injuries. Others currently dealing with various maladies include: linebacker Marvin Jones Jr., defensive end Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, linebacker E.J. Lightsey, cornerback Chris Peal, offensive lineman Josh Miller and tight ends Lawson Luckie.
That does not include players who are playing their way through injuries. That list includes star tight end Brock Bowers, who hasn’t missed games despite a groin injury.
Regardless of the long list, Smart said the Bulldogs do not have plans to ease up on their notoriously physical practice regimen.
“I don’t think it’s something that you can control,” he said. “We practice how we practice. For a couple years we’ve been really fortunate to not have very many injuries. I always hear about other teams and this year it seems to be the theme across (college football). I know Shane (Beamer) had a lot at South Carolina. There was a lot of them in the SEC opponents, but we certainly have more than we’ve ever had. So that becomes a hurdle. We gotta do a good job overcoming that.”