Athens, GA - After coming from behind to defeat Tennessee 34-31 in overtime, the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs turn their focus to facing a fourth ranked opponent in he first six games of the season as the 25th ranked Missouri Tigers come to Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Georgia head coach Mark Richt, the focus of his Sunday media teleconference was not looking ahead to the Tigers but looking back at some of the injuries the Bulldogs picked up on Saturday.
“Justin Scott-Wesley is out for the season with an ACL injury and Keith Marshall is as well. Michael Bennett is going to have a scope of Tuesday to find out what his deal is on his knee, I don’t know how long he’ll be out but he won’t play this week,” Richt said. “I don’t know on [Todd] Gurley, I guess I’d say day-to-day still. I don’t know on [Tray] Matthews, you know how hamstrings go, sometimes they go relatively quick sometimes they take a while, I don’t know about him. Probably got a realistic shot at Connor [Norman]. Collin Barber had a concussion so that’s day-to-day as well.”
Despite pulling out another dramatic victory that saw sophomore kicker Marshall Morgan kick the game winning field goal in overtime; Richt said because of so many players getting injured, it was bittersweet.
“Yeah it was sad, it’s sad for our players. You see them work so hard to get in position to play for Georgia and realize their dreams of wanting to play in big games like that and try to win championships and all that,” Richt said. “You see how much work they’ve put in and how hard they play for you and work in practice for you and then on one play like that it’s taken away from them. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t know what hurts more the pain of the injury or the pain of knowing that you’re not going to get to play again for a while. I just feel bad for them.”
Due to the injury to sophomore tailback Marshall, Richt was asked whether the Bulldogs would be looking to rush Gurley’s recovery from a sprained ankle suffered in Georgia’s victory over LSU. Thanks to the performance of freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas, the 13th-year head coach said that would not be an option.
“We’re not going to push him any faster. We like the two true freshman backs that have played recently, we think that they’re good football players,” he said. “A.J. Turman is a talent and the other two guys [Kyle] Karempelis and [Brandon] Harton have played well for us before. The last thing we want to do is rush the thing on Todd.”
Green has been one of the bright spot for Georgia this season, getting significant playing time on an offense that has become one of the most potent in the country. Green has carried the ball 22 times for 197 yards and a touchdown. Against Tennessee the Kingsland, Ga., native rushed for 129 yards on 17 carries. Green was one of the only tailback’s to enroll early at Georgia and participate in spring practice. This is something Richt feels has helped him so far this season.
“If he wasn’t a mid-year enrollee I don’t know if he’d be playing tailback right now. we didn’t have a lot of backs for the spring and we wanted to see what he could do there,” Richt said. “When we signed him we weren’t sure if he was going to be a corner or wide receiver, we didn’t really think tailback but then we saw a need in the spring and he was willing to do it. He learned it, and he was actually pretty darn good at it in the spring so we feel like he’s found a good home. Without being here in January I don’t even know if he’d be a tailback right now.”
Richt complemented Missouri on the Tigers impressive offense that led them into the top-25 on Sunday following a 51-28 victory at Vanderbilt. This will be only the second time the two teams have played each other with Georgia leading the series 2-0. The Bulldogs faced the Tigers in Missouri’s first ever SEC game last season, a contest Georgia won 41-20.
“They’re very good, we think they’re playing on a lot higher level on offense this year than a year ago,” Richt said. “I think now their quarterback is healthy and performing so well, they’ve got big, physical, great looking receivers but they’re also running the ball really well. It’s not just the passing game that’s for sure. They’re really doing some great things and we’ve got a lot of respect for their defense as well.”
Given the amount of high scoring games Georgia has been involved in so far this year, Richt was asked if he felt the offense was being relied on to carry the team. He said that isn’t the case.
“I don’t think that. I think we’re one team, we’re Georgia. We know that regardless of the situation or the score we’re expecting our defense to get stops and our offense to score points. Whatever it takes to win is all we’re worried about right now.”
Seventh-ranked Georgia and No. 25 Missouri are scheduled for a 12 P.M. ET kick-off on Saturday with the game being televised live from Sanford Stadium by ESPN.