Georgia football-UGA-DJ Daniel
Junior college transfer DJ Daniel made his first career start for the Bulldogs against Notre Dame

Kirby Smart: Georgia football injuries adding up, depth proves pivotal

ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said he always thinks the bye week comes at the right time.

But from a health and injury standpoint, this season’s first bye week truly is timely.

The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (4-0) are banged up. At least seven starters have missed starts or significant exiting the 23-17 win over Notre Dame on Saturday night in Sanford Stadium.

It didn’t take long for the Georgia lineup to get thinner against the hard-hitting Irish. Cornerback Eric Stokes left the game with a right knee injury on the second play from scrimmage.

The Bulldogs were already without starting cornerback Tyson Campbell, who suffered a foot injury against Arkansas State the previous week.

“If you told me the one spot we couldn’t afford to lose somebody at that point, it was that one,” Smart said. “(Stokes) came back in the game and played later. I just don’t know if he was 100 percent or not. It was a tough call to put him back in there, he wanted to go back in.”

Smart turned to junior college transfer DJ Daniel to start in place of Campbell, and senior Tyrique McGhee was the choice to replace Stokes.

Daniel played solid coverage most of the night and knocked down Notre Dame’s last-gasp pass.

Smart was pleased with how McGhee competed.

“He’s played other games at corner, and he hasn’t always played exactly perfect, but he’s a winner, he’s a fighter and he’s a senior, and that’s why you have depth in your program,” Smart said. “Because if you don’t have that depth, then you may have a bigger drop-off at the position, and it could be the difference in the game.”

Smart said McGhee moved over from the Star position to work at corner during the days leading up to the Notre Dame game, just in case there was an injury.

Right tackle Isaiah Wilson didn’t start, the coaches still unsure about the ankle he sprained on Sept. 4. But UGA elected to put Wilson in at the start of the second half.

RELATED: O-Line gets boost from return of Isaiah Wilson

The Bulldogs offensive line was still not up to full strength, however.

Starting left guard Solomon Kindley went down with a left leg injury in the second quarter.

Junior Justin Shaffer came on in relief of Kindley at left guard.

“Shaffer came in and did a nice job; Shaffer got player of the week a couple of weeks ago, we wanted to play him more last week,” Smart said. “He plays hard, he plays very similar to Solly (Kindley), with passion energy and toughness, and I thought he stepped up.”

The CBS sports sideline staff also reported that defensive end David Marshall was out with a foot/leg injury.

Receiver Demetris Robertson got the start, overcoming the hamstring injury that kept him out of action the week before.

Smart is expected to update the injuries following Tuesday practice.

Injured UGA players

CB Eric Stokes (knee) probable