Kirby Smart on Jalen Carter’s injury and the events that came before it: ‘We don’t condone it’

Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter, right, walks with defensive lineman Tramel Walthour, left, and defensive lineman Nazir Stackhouse after they had a confrontation with Missouri Tigers players during warming up before their NCAA Football game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, October 1, 2022, in Columbia, Mo. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Kirby Smart doesn’t have much interest in litigating whether the play that injured Jalen Carter was malicious or dirty. He likely would’ve drawn a fine if said anything too strong or contradictory about the call.

Carter was engaged with a Missouri offensive lineman on Saturday when a second one came in and hit Carter in the knee. The hit will sideline Carter for the moment, with Smart saying Georgia is unlikely to have him this coming Saturday against Auburn.

“He’s still in great spirits. He’s still the guy that walks around laughing, having fun,” teammate Zion Logue said. “When you see that from a guy that has some time taken away from him, he’s doing very well. Still in a great mindset and spirits.”

Related: Jalen Carter unlikely to play against Auburn following MCL injury

Missouri players got a first-hand look at Carter during Saturday’s pregame warmups. It was clear the Tigers didn’t like what they saw, as Carter got into it with several players on the Missouri team.

A punch was thrown at Carter, while multiple members of the Missouri team got in his face. Carter meanwhile had a smile on his face for most of the incident.

“It was just a pregame walk. I guess there was a certain side of the field either we were supposed to be on or they were supposed to be on,” defensive lineman Tramel Walthour said. Walthour and Nazir Stackhouse were with Carter when the fracas broke out.

“They were just trying to clear everybody down that side.”

Carter was ultimately escorted away by Georgia wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon.

Smart wasn’t in the area at the time of the event, but he did have to step in at the end of the game as his players were once again jawing with members of the Missouri team.

His comments made on Monday when asked about it indicated he was none too happy about what transpired.

“All I worry about is our guys’ behavior, and we don’t want to represent that at all,” Smart said. “I think we have done a really good job here at Georgia of representing our university the right way. We play with our helmets and we don’t talk to the other team. Disappointed in any player that would talk to somebody on the other team, and we don’t condone it.

“It’s something we need to get fixed. Some teams you play do that more than others, and some teams are from the same line of thinking as yourself in terms of not talking after plays and not talking before games. I’m not saying that Missouri is. I am saying I’m worried about how our guys behave, and that’s not what we want.”

No Georgia player has come out and said that the chop block was retaliatory but Logue wasn’t a fan of the play, calling it dangerous.

“It’s just one of those things that happens,” Logue said. “I feel like it was a dirty play a little bit but I can’t control that.”

Smart did speak with the official during the play and made them aware of how aggressive Missouri is with some of its backside blocking assignments.

No flag was thrown on the play, which ended up being Carter’s last for the time being. Smart told reporters after the game that Carter wanted to go back into the game but couldn’t.

“They have a lot of backside cuts. Auburn, a lot of teams use the same methods,” Smart said. “I’m hopeful that we can keep our players safe, do what is within the limits of the game and the rules, but that’s not for me to decide.”

Carter is one of the most important players on Georgia’s defense, and perhaps the most talented. The Bulldogs rebounded after Carter’s injury, holding Missouri to just 12 points for the remainder of the game following his injury and 294 total yards.

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