ATHENS — Georgia basically has three starting inside linebackers. Two of them are now questionable for the team’s final game.
Reggie Carter, the junior who started eight games this season, hyperextended his knee in practice last week. So he joins sophomore Natrez Patrick – who has missed the past three games with a shoulder injury – on the injury list.
It appears that Patrick is the more likely of the two to be able to play in the Liberty Bowl, which is Dec. 30 against TCU.
“We’re hopeful that (Patrick) will (be able to play),” head coach Kirby Smart said. “More hopeful than we have been in the past. But it’s not definite. Basically we’re going to be able to do some more stuff with him in practice.”
That leaves Roquan Smith, the team’s leading tackler, as the lone certainty at inside linebacker. But Georgia may not play that many linebackers anyway against a TCU offense that will spread it out.
Still, sophomore Juwan Taylor and redshirt freshman Tae Crowder are getting more practice reps, as their chances of seeing the field have now increased. Crowder moved to inside linebacker from tailback midway through this season.
“I don’t know that we would say he’s comfortable, I don’t now that he would say that he’s comfortable yet, because there’s a lot to playing a defensive position that you’ve never played your entire life,” Smart said. “But I’m very pleased with his progress. That doesn’t mean that he’s ready to play in a game-like situation against a style of offense that we haven’t seen all year.”
Chuks Amaechi isn’t an option at inside linebacker against this type of team. He’s going to play outside linebacker and rush the quarterback, according to Smart. But sophomore Rashad Roundtree, who has moved back to safety after an early-season position switch, is also getting some reps back at inside linebacker.
“We’ve had to move some guys around from the standpoint of the depth chart,” Smart said. “But to be honest with you, we won’t have a lot of inside backers. Especially that are healthy.”