NEW ORLEANS — Kirby Smart downplayed the Georgia football player absences at the Sugar Bowl, explaining “each one is different” at the Tuesday press conference.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 7-ranked Baylor (11-2) in what should be the marquee bowl matchup, outside of the College Football Playoffs.
Georgia fans, however, have not responded well to UGA falling short of the high expectations Smart has created, though ticket demanded has experienced a late surge. Last week tickets could be had for $6, but on Tuesday, the lowest-priced ticket on StubHub was $21.85.
Smart said he’s excited to see young players step up with players missing. At last count, 12 players who started games for Georgia are expected to be missing, including three starting offensive linemen.
“Some of these guys are injured, some academically didn’t do what they needed to do,” Smart said. “That’s part of college football. It’s part of dealing with the things you have, the cards you’re dealt.”
Smart said that while he doesn’t always agree with decisions to skip the bowl game, he supports his players.
“The NFL environment we have, if we continue to recruit at a high level, which we’ve done, this is probably going to be an annual deal where guys decide that I’m not going to play in the game based on certain reasons or whatever they choose,” Smart said. “And that’s the choice they have. I respect that.”
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)