Kirby Smart details Georgia football injuries: Lawrence Cager and O-Line banged up
AUBURN, Ala. — Georgia football left it all on the field at Auburn, even if there were a few players unable to take snaps by the end of the 21-14 win.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs got the 21-14 SEC East Division-clinching win over the Tigers without the services of their leading receiver most of the night.
The offensive line, battered all year, was also in makeshift form by the end of the hard-fought slugfest at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The good news was that tailback Brian Herrien, who left the game with an apparent lower-body injury after a horse-collar tackle, was able to return to the action.
Defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt was also forced out with a right knee, but managed to get himself back into the game for the Bulldogs.
But coach Kirby Smart revealed that Lawrence Cager, who started the game, re-aggravated his shoulder injury after making a 6-yard catch on UGA’s fourth offensive play of the game in the first quarter.
“Yeah, he’s just banged up, he took a shot, and it bothered him,” Smart said, referencing a blow to Cager’s separated shoulder. “He took a shot on the (fourth) play of the game I think, maybe, and it started bothering him.”
Cager suffered a separated shoulder the first month of the season and has been playing through it since at least the Oct. 12 game against South Carolina. Cager was forced out in the first half of the game against the Gamecocks when he also sustained a rib injury.
After missing the Kentucky game, Cager stormed back with a 7-catch, 132-yard performance as the Bulldogs beat Florida, 24-17, in the Jacksonville showdown. He played the first half of the Missouri game before exiting.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was 13-of-28 passing for 110 yards and three touchdowns against Auburn. The Bulldogs, however, were just 3-of-15 on third downs with Fromm’s go-to receiver missing.
Fromm spread the ball out to eight different pass catchers, with Demetris Robertson grabbing a team-high 3 catches for 20 yards, and Dominick Blaylock hauling in 50 yards on two catches, including a touchdown.
The Georgia offensive line starters were intact at the start of the game against Auburn’s vaunted defensive front, but by the end of the night, Cade Mays and Ben Cleveland were missing snaps.
“To be honest with you, Cade is a little beat up, we knew that going into the game, he’s got some soreness, and he’s fighting through it,” Smart said. “With Ben, he’s beat up too, he wasn’t able to practice two days last week, and he’s trying to come back.
“But his toe was bothering him a little bit, and we felt like he just couldn’t do his protection stuff, so we felt like it was the best decision to go with Jamaree (Salyer).”
Center Trey Hill, who left last Saturday’s 27-0 win over Missouri in the first half with a sprained left ankle, started and played the whole game.
Mays had his right ankle rolled up on in that win over Missouri, too, but he was able to start and get significant snaps before having to come out.
Cleveland is coming off an SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week performance last Saturday, but Smart said his toe injury prevented him from being as mobile as necessary in pass protection.
Georgia senior defensive back Tyrique McGhee remained sidelined by the foot injury he suffered two weeks ago, and senior defensive lineman Julian Rochester did not play according to the participation list.
Also, the University of Georgia updated the health of photography intern Chamberlain Smith, who was knocked back and carried out on a stretcher after a sideline collision.
The talented young photographer, who often supplies pictures for DawgNation along with other UGA media sites, was released from the hospital.