NEW ORLEANS — Kirby Smart changed up the Georgia postseason practice routine, and all indications are the Bulldogs are getting the desired results.
“We had to change some things up from last year, (and) we’ve been able to do that,” Smart said. “Our format of practices has been different. We’ve really preached fast and physical. We’ve had, I guess, 11 sessions that have all been right at an hour and a half.
“We usually practice for two hours. Because of some depth and different issues, we’ve really had to practice smart and get after it. And we had to do a lot of good on good. So our players have really enjoyed that.”
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 7 Baylor (11-2) at 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl.
Unlike last year, the Georgia players seem genuinely enthused.
Problem is, several are missing on account of injuries, failed substance tests or quitting the team early to prepare for the NFL draft.
Both of the Bulldogs’ players to earn All-American honors this season are out — offensive tackle Andrew Thomas to prepare for the draft, and safety J.R. Reed sidelined by a foot injury.
Tailback D’Andre Swift, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, remains questionable with a bruised shoulder.
But the players who practiced at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday seemed engaged.
“What happened in the past, is in the past,” UGA senior tight end Eli Wolf said. “We’re not going to look back, we played a lot of good teams and I think it has battle-tested us and right now we’re focused on Baylor.
“It’s my last game, and a lot of guys’ last game, to show what they can do.”
“We had a great practice, we clicked very well today in our pass period,” said sophomore Jamaree Salyer, who will start at right tackle. “We maybe only gave up two sacks in practice, so that’s really good considering how many pass rushes we took.
“We’re having fun in practice. We’ve accepted the challenge.”
Here’s the projected starting lineup:
QB: Jake Fromm
RB: Zamir White
WR: Tyler Simmons
WR: Demetris Robertson
WR: Matt Landers
TE: Charlie Woerner
LT: Cade Mays
LG: Solomon Kindley
C: Trey Hill
RG: Warren Ericson
RT: Jamaree Salyer
DT Devonte Wyatt
NT: Jordan Davis
DE: David Marshall
OLB Azeez Ojulari
MLB Tae Crowder
WLB Monty Rice
OLB Jermaine Johnson
CB Eric Stokes
CB Tyson Campbell
S Richard LeCounte
S Lewis Cine
WHO IS OUT/INJURED
Captain: OT Andrew Thomas – X Sugar Bowl scratch
Captain: S J.R. Reed – X Sugar Bowl scratch
OT Isaiah Wilson – X Sugar Bowl scratch
WR Lawrence Cager – season-ending injury
OG Ben Cleveland – X Sugar Bowl scratch
DL Tyler Clark – X Sugar Bowl scratch
Captain: RB D’Andre Swift – X Questionable (shoulder)
RB Brian Herrien – X Sugar Bowl scratch
S Divaad Wilson – X Sugar Bowl scratch
LB Quay Walker – X Sugar Bowl scratch
LB Walter Grant – X (UGAsports.com report)
OL D’Marcus Hayes -X (UGAsports.com report)
DL Justin Young – X (UGASports.com report)
WR Kearis Jackson Questionable (ankle)
WR Dom Blaylock – season-ending injury
OL Justin Shaffer -season-ending injury
QB D’Wan Mathis – season-ending injury