ATHENS — The Georgia football offensive will need to collectively step up to keep championship hopes alive after losing All-American Brock Bowers to injury.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs’ saw their play-making tight end go down with an ankle injury in the second quarter at Vanderbilt.

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck said after the game the Bulldogs are “fully expecting for the next guy to step up and make plays,” while also conceding it does hurt to not have him out there.”

Both things can and are able to be true, and now offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and his staff must go to work rebuilding offensive game plans.

Bowers had accounted for 41 catches for 567 yards and 4 TDs in addition to carrying the ball 6 times for 28 yards and another touchdown.

Georgia’s “Next Man Up” approach needs to be modified to “Next MEN Up,” as there is no player in college football that could fill Bowers’ shoes.

Here are three of the players on the Bulldogs’ team that Georgia desperately needs to get more out of now that Bowers is out:

Ladd McConkey

The best news to come out of the Vanderbilt game was that the talented and explosive McConkey, who missed the first four games of the season with a back injury, left Nashville with a healthy injury status.

McConkey played a season-high 39 snaps, including one play where he took a vicious hit, and received a clean bill of health after the game.

McConkey had six games of 5 catches and 60 yards receiving or more last season and could slide into the go-to role with Bowers out, as the Bulldogs look to find an explosive playmaker.

In the Oregon game alone, McConkey flashed his great upside with a Bowers-like performance featuring two carries for 16 yards and a TD and five catches for 73 yards and a TD in the 49-3 win

McConkey totaled 1,093 yards on 81 total touches as a receiver, runner and returner in 2022, eclipsing Bowers’ 72 touches for 1,051 yards last season.

McConkey’s numbers this season - 9 catches for 107 yards — are likely about to take off, provided his health holds up.

Lawson Luckie

Luckie impressed greatly in spring drills and was the heir apparent to Bowers even before the All-American tight end went down to injury.

The freshman is only two games back from the tightrope surgery he reportedly underwent in Aug. 16.

It’s a safe Luckie’s snap count will be accelerated the next two weeks as UGA looks to pair him with sophomore tight end Oscar Delp, who provides a more established threat at the position.

“With a frame like mine, a smaller, more agile type of tight end, I’m somebody you move around in a lot of different ways to get the ball in their hands,” Luckie, listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, said in a paid interview last summer.

“Like how (Todd) Monken did with Bowers; jet screens, sweeps and then throwing the ball up to him and throwing across the middle.”

Luckie had just 3 catches for 48 yards in the G-Day Game, but his name was the buzz of other scrimmages and practices, and he impressed Smart upon arriving.

“It’s not an arrogant thing, but after playing against them I feel like I can play with anybody,” Luckie said when asked about working against Georgia’s elite defense. “It’s a confidence thing and a boost going against these All-Americans and first-round draft picks and competing with them. I feel I can compete with anybody.”

Carson Beck

Beck has settled into the role of playmaker at quarterback, showcasing his NFL arm talent by spreading the ball around.

Beck, however, might need to place more weight on his shoulders as a running threat in situations when receivers don’t come open.

Coach Kirby Smart has talked about the benefit of having mobility at the position, and Beck showed on a nifty 8-yard scramble that he does indeed possess good running skills.

“I’m not gonna sit back there and just get sacked, I’m going to try to get some yards,” Beck said. “There’s a good balance between throwing it away and trying to make a play.”

That balance might shift more toward “try to make a play” now that UGA is without its leading playmaker.

Beck sounds confident he can handle running responsibilities when called upon.

“I know my abilities and what I’m capable of,” Beck said after the Vanderbilt game. “I want to settle in and deliver ball to our playmakers, but if I have to make a play, I will.”