NEW ORLEANS — The excitement Georgia generated at the Sugar Bowl this week has been a matter of getting over disappointment.
“Get over it, it’s time to get better and go grow,” Kirby Smart said, asked how the Bulldogs approached falling short of the annual College Football Playoff expectations Smart and quarterback Jake Fromm have created.
“That doesn’t take away from the disappointment of not making the playoff, but you can’t whine and cry over that,” Smart said. “The unique experience is we had an opportunity to go to that College Football Playoff for every single game up until this one.”
And in this one, the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) will have their hands full with No. 7-ranked Baylor (11-2), a team that was one play away from making the College Football Playoff.
Georgia and Baylor meet at 8:45 p.m on Wednesday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“I like being able to play a high quality opponent that you respect,” Smart said, highlighting the difference between Georgia’s Sugar Bowl opponent and some of the others SEC teams are facing in the bowl season.
The Bears are the only team to force 30 turnovers and have at least 40 sacks this season, and they’ll be facing a Georgia team missing key pieces on offense, most notably, three starting offensive linemen.
Smart indicated that’s the biggest concern the Bulldogs face, as far as the players missing for the game.
“You’re seeing two new offensive tackles, that’s the biggest difference, and then Warren Ericson, a guy that’s stepped up and had to play a lot more,” Smart said. “But outside of those guys, it’s mainly about depth, more than it is new guys.”
The Bulldogs are missing 12 players who have started at least one game this season.
All-Americans Andrew Thomas and J.R. Reed chose to leave the team to start training early for the NFL draft process, while others had academic compliance issues or failed substance tests.
Georgia players out
OT — Andrew Thomas (NFL training)
OT — Isaiah Wilson (NFL training)
OG — Ben Cleveland (academics)
OG — Justin Shaffer (injury)
WR — Lawrence Cager (injury)
WR — Dominick Blaylock (injury)
RB – D’Andre Swift (doubtful, injury)
RB — Brian Herrien (undisclosed)
DL Tyler Clark (undisclosed)
FS J.R. Reed (NFL training)
LB Walter Grant (undisclosed)
NB Divaad Wilson (undisclosed)
LB Quay Walker – (undisclosed)
OT D’Marcus Hayes – (undisclosed)
DB Typique McGhee – (undisclosed)