ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart has taken a measured approach where the team’s injury situation in fall camp has been concerned.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs open the season at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday against Vanderbilt in Nashville, and from all indications are in pretty good shape.
That said, it will be interesting to see how Smart manages the 70-man travel roster for the conference road game.
The Georgia head coach closed Wednesday’s practice, perhaps not wanting to top his hand as to who is back practicing and which players remain sidelined.
One thing for certain, there are some tough decisions ahead for Smart.
“There are going to be some guys sitting at home that are really good football players for us,” Smart said. “We will take the guys who give us an opportunity to win and who can affect the game. This week might not be the same as the next week. It’s not set in stone.”
The key phrase there is “affect the game,” which represents players who can play multiple snaps as well as contribute on special teams.
In the cases of senior defensive linemen Julian Rochester and David Marshall, along with freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean, the fact Georgia’s schedule reflects games with Murray State and Arkansas State the next two Saturdays must be taken into consideration.
While Vanderbilt poses some challenge, the Bulldogs are a three-touchdown favorite, and there’s enough depth on the defensive line and inside linebacker where UGA could probably get by without them in Nashville.
That would enable those players two more weeks of rest before Notre Dame game week arrives, when Smart will want all hands on deck.
Dean would seem the most likely to travel of the players on the injury report, as Smart might want the freshman to get a taste of how to manage a road trip.
It’s possible Smart might also bring Rochester and Marshall because they are seniors and could likely play in emergency situations, based on the fact they’ve seen limited repetitions in fall drills.
Salyer, who was working at right tackle behind starter Isaiah Wilson, is widely considered the No. 7 offensive lineman on the team.
The AJC.com website reported that Salyer was seen in a walking boot and with crutches following the Aug. 20 practice. He has not practiced since.
Smart has yet to announce any suspensions, but that would also have an affect on the travel roster.
Tailback D’Andre Swift has received a great deal of attention after wearing a non-contact jersey in an Aug. 20 practice.
Swift, however, has been back in the normal red jersey color the past week and Smart has not indicated that the projected starting tailback is dealing with any sort of serious injury.
Georgia injury report for Vanderbilt
DL Julian Rochester (knee), questionable
LB Nakobe Dean (ankle), questionable
DL David Marshall (foot), questionable
OL Jamaree Salyer (ankle/foot), doubtful
QB D’Wan Mathis (head), out