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Chamberlain Smith/UGAAA
Lewis Cine is a safety for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Georgia football winners and losers following unexpected off week

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Georgia football winners and losers following unexpected off week

Winner: Injured Georgia defensive standouts

At this point, we all know how banged up Georgia’s defense has been. No Richard LeCounte or Jordan Davis against Florida. Monty Rice and Quay Walker have been banged up for a couple of weeks. Lewis Cine’s status for the Missouri game was questionable due to a concussion.

While the off week wasn’t what Georgia wanted at this point in time — especially coming off the loss to Florida — it does give the defense some time to rest up before the final run of the season. LeCounte won’t be back this week against Mississippi State, but there’s now a better chance that Davis and Cine see the field after their injuries.

Related: Georgia football injury report heading into Mississippi State week

And if the Missouri game ultimately ends up getting moved to either Dec. 12 or Dec. 19, that gives someone like LeCounte a longer runway in his attempt to return to play this season.

The Bulldogs won’t face an offense as good as Alabama or Florida for the rest of the season. But this defense very clearly has something to prove over these final four games. Getting healthy will allow the group to look more like the unit did in the first three weeks of the season as opposed to what was on display against Alabama and Florida.

Loser: JT Daniels

The USC transfer quarterback has waited over a year to see meaningful snaps following his knee injury against Fresno State. So what is another week?

Stetson Bennett was not throwing at practice on Monday and Tuesday of last week and Daniels looked to be the favorite to start against Missouri. But with that game getting postponed, it ends up giving Bennett an extra week for the AC joint injury to heal.

Kirby Smart will no doubt be asked about Bennett’s status over the course of this week and the Georgia head coach will play things close to the chest as he always does.

Maybe Daniels ends up winning the job in practice and still starts against Mississippi State, or does enough to at least get on the field for meaningful snaps. That hasn’t happened once this season. But an extra week for Bennett to get healthy only complicates Daniels’ path to playing time. It’s worth repeating that Bennett was only replaced by D’Wan Mathis against Florida because of the injury to his throwing shoulder and not because of Bennett’s poor play to that point.

The lack of a game only adds another week of quarterback drama surrounding Daniels, Smart and the Georgia program.

Winner: Georgia’s NFL running backs

It was a big day for ‘RBU’ on Sunday, as a pair of Georgia running backs had monster days in victories for their respective teams.

We start in Detroit, as D’Andre Swift made a number of highlight-reel plays for the Lions. He finished the game with 149 total yards and a touchdown. He had no problem running through, around and over the Washington Football Team.

The Lions also got a big game from former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, as he threw for three touchdowns in the win. He helped engineer a last-minute field goal to give the Lions a 30-27 win.

In Cleveland, Nick Chubb returned to the field after missing the past four games for the Browns with a knee injury. While the offensive conditions were suboptimal, Chubb still managed to make a big-time impact in the game as he ran for a game-high 126 yards.

He also made the game-winning play for the Browns as he took a late carry 59 yards to put the game on ice for the Browns. Chubb had the chance to score another easy touchdown but decided to step out of bounds just before the end zone. The play, which was costly to those who took Cleveland at -3.5, allowed the Browns to take a knee and emerge with a 10-7 win.

Loser: Will Muschamp

The Georgia alum saw his time as the head coach at South Carolina come to an end on Sunday night as the school announced it was parting ways with Muschamp.

He was 28-30 in his five seasons at the school and 2-5 on the current season. Muschamp’s defenses have usually been stout but in the last three games, all South Carolina losses, the Gamecocks gave up 52, 48 and 59 points.

“After a thorough assessment of our football program, we have decided to make a change with the head football coach,” South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner said in a statement. “I appreciate all that Will Muschamp has done for our program and wish him and his family the best moving forward. I believe our program will be well served by Coach Bobo as the interim head coach as we search for a new leader for Gamecock Football.”

Related: More details on South Carolina parting with Will Muschamp

With Muschamp out, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will take over as the interim coach. Georgia fans know Bobo well as he was the long-time offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the school. He was also college teammates with Smart, and the two will face off on Nov. 28 when Georgia visits South Carolina.

As for possible replacements, names like Hugh Freeze and Billy Napier have become hot candidates. Both are well-regarded offensive minds and have experience within the rigors of the SEC, with Freeze as a head coach at Ole Miss and Napier as an assistant at Alabama.

South Carolina is one of the toughest jobs in the country because in addition to playing Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M in the SEC every season, it also sees Clemson as a non-conference opponent. It will never recruit better than any of those programs, which is why a name like Freeze makes sense.

Muschamp will ultimately be fine, as he’s due to collect a $13 million buyout from South Carolina. He’s also very well-liked and respected within the coaching community and will have the opportunity to be a defensive coordinator somewhere.

Muschamp does have a son that is a walk-on quarterback at Georgia. And he did secure the commitment from 5-star 2022 quarterback  Gunner Stockton. Georgia finished as the runner-up for Stockton’s services and it will be worth watching how the South Carolina opening impacts his decision.

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