ATHENS — George Pickens apologized to his Georgia teammates on Sunday for getting himself ejected at Georgia Tech and subsequently suspended for the first half of the SEC Championship Game.
Pickens, UGA’s leading receiver, was involved in a third quarter skirmish during the Bulldogs’ 52-7 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
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LSU (12-0) is a touchdown favorite over Georgia (11-1) in the 4 p.m. league title clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Pickens’ absence detracts from what has recently been a shaky pass offense.
“There was a moment yesterday where he apologized for his actions,” Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm said on Monday.
“You can definitely see a step for him growing up and trying to realize that his actions affect more than just him, they affected the entire team.”
No doubt, the Bulldogs’ receiving corps underwent a complete makeover in the offseason.
The top five pass catchers from a season ago are no longer with the team, and graduate transfer Lawrence Cager underwent ankle surgery last Friday.
“I feel like he knows what he did is wrong,” Georgia sophomore offensive lineman Cade Mays said. “He knows he’s in the wrong, (and) he can’t let that happen again.”
Senior receiver Tyler Simmons, who has been UGA’s leading receiver over the past two games, said Pickens has to be aware more teams will be waiting to bait him.
“You gotta learn how to control your actions,” Simmons said. “Now that you’ve put that on the field, a lot of people are going to try and provoke you. That’s the last thing you want. You just got to watch what you put on film.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the Georgia Tech game the Bulldogs’ staff and players would support Pickens, who was suspended for the first half of the Georgia Tech game for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
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By Monday, Smart was speaking about the ramifications Pickens’ absence will have on the SEC Championship Game plan.
“It’s very similar to last week as far as, ‘hey, guys, you’re going to get an opportunity to play, step up and make plays,’ ” Smart said. “We had some guys do that. We had some guys catch balls that haven’t caught balls in a long time or very little all year. And they made some good plays.
“You’re going to get one-on-one opportunities when you play in our offense because of the run game. So you have to win your 50/50 opportunities.”
Pickens won’t get his opportunity until the third quarter against LSU on Saturday, and he can only hope it’s not too late.
George Pickens 33 catches, 498 yards, 6 TDs
Lawrence Cager 33 catches, 476 yards, 4 TDs
Demetris Robertson 26 catches, 281 yards, 3 TDs
Dominick Blaylock 17 catches, 299 yards, 5 TDs