ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he likes the attitude he has seen in bowl practices, but the Bulldogs’ numbers are dwindling.
Multiple sources have confirmed Georgia could be without one of its running backs — if not two — in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl game against Baylor.
The Bulldogs already know they will be without starting offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, both of whom have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Thomas was one of four Georgia players voted a team captain by his teammates.
Starting offensive guard Ben Cleveland is also expected to miss the game on account of academic issues.
Georgia is also missing two of its top three receivers, and tailback D’Andre Swift has been injured and struggled the past two games.
Receiver Lawrence Cager suffered a season-ending ankle injury leading up to the final game of the regular season and underwent surgery on Nov. 29. Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the SEC Championship game on Dec. 7.
Swift has a bruised shoulder and fumbled twice against Georgia Tech. He had just five touches against LSU, two of them carries, and none after the first series of the third quarter.
Smart, typically transparent with his answers, was anything but upfront when asked about Georgia players this week.
Asked about the status of running backs playing against Baylor, Smart replied, “All that is still to be determined.”
It seemed like a curious response, particularly when Smart added that, “All those guys are healthy right now.”
The implication would seem to be there’s a possibility of suspensions.
“With (James) Cook it will start with internal discipline which it always does,” Smart said, referring to a Dec. 14 traffic stop that resulted in Cook’s arrest on misdemeanor charges. “As far as anything else, we’re still gathering information. Anything grade-wise, any stuff like that, we’re still gathering that from the school.”
The Georgia running back rotation, and the touches each has this season:
• D’Andre Swift 221 touches: 195 carries, 24 catches, 2 kick returns, for 1,448 yards.
• Brian Herrien 125 touches: 103 carries, 16 catches, 6 kick returns for 749 yards.
• Zamir White 63 touches: 60 carries, 2 catches, 1 kick return for 358 yards.
• James Cook 48 touches: 28 carries, 16 catches, 4 kick returns for 265 yards.
• Kenny McIntosh 19 touches: 19 carries for 148 yards.
Swift has said he’ll wait until after the bowl game to make his NFL Draft eligibility announcement.
Swift stopped short of saying he will play in the bowl game or make the Sugar Bowl trip with the team.
Georgia will arrive in New Orleans for its on-site preparation on Dec. 27, at which time Smart may elect to clear the air where the missing running back(s) are concerned.
The Sugar Bowl mandates a portion of practice be open on Dec. 28.
It will be the first time a Georgia practice has been open since Nov. 4.
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