COLUMBIA, S.C. — Georgia tight end Arik Gilbert was among the players who did not travel to South Carolina, per a Rivals.com report.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs play the Gamecocks at noon on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium (TV: ESPN).
Smart has made that adjustment a priority, in terms of how he has managed the former 5-star prospect from Marietta.
“I’m always a lot more concerned with Arik’s well-being mentally, than his well-being just on knowing assignments and what to do,” Smart said during preseason camp.
“That’s the most important thing is that he feels comfortable with our team and can help us.”
The Bulldogs’ tight end snaps this season have been dominated by returning starters Brock Bowers (83 snaps) and Darnell Washington (76), while Gilbert has played just 23 snaps — 13 against Oregon and 10 against Samford. Freshman Oscar Delp has 28 snaps, and UGA may have elected to only bring three tight ends as the travel squad is limited to 70.
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“It’s (playing time) really based on Arik’s performance, it’s not really based on those guys,” Smart said on Tuesday, asked about Gilbert’s playing time this season.
“We have really quality guys that align, and they all play, and we play the guys that can play winning football and can communicate and execute.
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“We like to have depth at those positions, but that’s all based on how he practices and how he carries over the game plan.”
Gilbert starred in spring drills, taking advantage of Bowers being out with an injury by showcasing his skills with 3 catches for 49 yards and 2 touchdowns in the G-Day Game.
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Gilbert, however, has yet to catch a pass through the first two games this season.
“I think the sky is the limit in terms of his talent and things,” Smart said.
“The consistency and performance he has to have, he has to have consistency in practice,” he said. “That is something he needs to work on and strive on. Nobody wants it more than he does.”
The Bulldogs are a 25-point favorite over the Gamecocks.
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