Georgia has been plagued with injuries on both sides of the line this season. It seems that when one man returns to the field, another two are bound to the sidelines.
The team started off in September without Terry Godwin due to a knee injury, freshmen Divaad Wilson and Zamir White due to ACL injuries as well as Tyrique McGee and Jackson Harris due to foot injuries. During the South Carolina game, Andrew Thomas had to stay on the sidelines due to a sprained ankle.
After beating Missouri in a physical game, Georgia returned home banged up. D’Andre Swift struggled with a groin injury since the spring. Ben Cleveland and Tyler Simmons suffered more severe wounds.
The Vanderbilt game in Sanford Stadium took out Solomon Kindley with a mild MCL sprain and David Marshall with a foot injury. Swift once again struggled with an injury, this time to his ankle, after the LSU game.
The bye week before facing Florida in Jacksonville allowed many players time to recover, but the defense was still missing quite a few key players. The bitter rivalry game left Kendall Baker, Mecole Hardman and Andrew Thomas damaged. Hardman, Lamont Gaillard, and freshman Cade Mays were all injured in Lexington.
Due to the number of injuries this season, head coach Kirby Smart preaches not only about making sure the team is working on their skills but also their conditioning.
“Offseason, the strength and conditioning program, Scott and his staff, do a ton. Nutrition, everything you can think of,” he said. “We try to put it together to try to keep them from getting injured. Obviously, it’s a contact sport. There are going to be injuries with it. But we do a lot of stretch & stride; they get a lot of recovery on Thursdays. We do everything we possibly can to try to take care of them. Soft-tissue injuries, meaning pulls, we’ve been really (knocks on wood) fortunate with those, and we do a good job of not giving guys too many yards. Unfortunately, it seems like we’ve had a lot of shoulders, knees, ankles, those things that are just football injuries.’’
With fatigue increasing at this point in the season the chance of injury will continue to rise. This being said, a focus on conditioning is definitely necessary for improving and maintaining the health of this team.
Marshall, Wilson, White, Demetrius Robertson and DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle are still in the recovery stages and will not be facing off against Auburn on Saturday.