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Georgia tailback James Cook is a versatile route runner, and his opportunities for catches could go up with George Pickens sidelined indefinitely by an ACL injury.

Kirby Smart shares Georgia football offensive philosophy with George Pickens sidelined

Georgia coach Kirby Smart isn’t looking for just one player to replace gifted WR George Pickens, who will be out indefinitely after suffering a torn ACL earlier this week.

“We’ll have other guys step up, and I’m very hopeful George gets well and is able to come back,” said Smart, confirming what sources had told DawgNation about Pickens’ intention to return in 2021.

RELATED: Pickens targets 2021 return, Kirby elaborates

“It really puts it on everybody. I think Brock Bowers, Darnell (Washington), Fitz (John FitzPatrick), James (Cook), Zamir (White), Daijun (Edwards), Kendall (Milton). You’ve got a lot of guys that, we’re going to try to get the ball to them.”

Smart said receivers Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (ankle) and Dominick Blaylock (knee) have not yet been cleared to practice but are running and performing in limited drills.

“I don’t look at it as receiver pressure,” Smart said, putting Pickens’ injury into perspective. “I look at it as an opportunity for other guys to step up and do some special things.

“You find your best football players and you find ways to get them the ball, and that’s what I think Coach (Todd) Monken does a great job of.”

Monken will enter his second season as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator, and this time, he will do so with a quarterback who has some experience in his offense and the benefit of spring football drills.

Smart made it clear that the emphasis is on players, with Monken’s schemes flexible enough to work out of any sort of alignment.

“That could be one back, three tight ends, that could be three backs, one tight end, that could be five wide, no backs, no tight ends,” Smart said. “We have plays we call that are the same plays that we call in all personnel groupings, it’s just another way to get another playmaker the ball.”

Smart pointed out Pickens didn’t play in two games last season — Kentucky and Florida — so the offense has had experience operating without him.

Smart said he doesn’t anticipate opposing defenses playing the Bulldogs any differently.

“We’re enough run-oriented, and we have a strong enough offensive line that people have to honor and commit to the run,” Smart said. “They aren’t able to put a lot of double (teams) on people.”

Smart mentioned second-year receiver Justin Robinson as one of the players who has been emerging.

“He’s shown some flashes in the last couple days,” Smart said, “if he can sustain and keep that same energy and juice ….  when he really goes, he’s been a big factor for us.”

The Bulldogs’ annual G-Day Game takes place at 2 p.m. on April 17 at Sanford Stadium. The game will have limited attendance and has been sold out.

“We lost a guy who’s a pretty good playmaker,” Smart said, “but we’ve got other guys we think are good playmakers, and we’ll just find more ways to get them the ball.”

 

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