ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart says his team is “running out of people” on the offensive line this week.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (9-1) play host to UMass (4-7) at 4 p.m. on Saturday in a game that should enable Smart and his staff to utilize plenty of players.
Smart lamented how banged up his offensive line is entering the action, saying it ranks among the most depleted he has seen in his coaching career.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever had a year that I’ve coached when we’ve had an offensive line as thin as this,” Smart said. “All the years at LSU and Alabama, we had depth in our lines. We’ve had depth (this year), but it’s slowly and surely deteriorated. We don’t have a lot of depth now.”
Smart hinted earlier in the week that offensive guards Cade Mays (shoulder) and Kendall Baker (knee) could be out for the UMass game.
Offensive guard Ben Cleveland is practicing, he’s not yet 100 percent despite seeing his first action last Saturday since suffering a broken left fibula on Sept. 22 against Missouri.
Georgia rushed for more than 300 yards in each of the past two games, wins over Kentucky (34-17) and Auburn (27-10).
“The last two games we really haven’t been that banged up when you think about it,” Smart said. “Last game it was really just Ben, and now it’s Cade (Mays) and Kendall (Baker), and Ben’s a little banged up, too.
“‘We’re running out of people. We’re having to use tight ends at offensive line on the scout team because we just don’t have enough people. We’ve never had that problem since I’ve been here. We’ve always had big bodies, a good scout team offensive line. We’re very depleted.’’
Smart explained how the injuries have a chain reaction.
“That doesn’t just take a toll on your offensive line, it takes a toll on your scout offensive line, which goes against your defensive line, which makes your team better,” Smart said. “Every rep you take in practice, one guy might be taking two for another guy’s one, and your volume just increases, which increases the risk on injury.”
Smart also said receiver Demetris Robertson could return to practice on Wednesday.
Robertson, a former 5-star prospect from Savannah and FWAA Freshman All-American receiver at Cal, has missed the past three games with an undisclosed injury. He has yet to record a reception this season.
“We think he’s close to being back,” Smart said at his Tuesday night press conference. “Matter of fact, I thought he was going to be back today, but he’ll probably be back tomorrow.”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart