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Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart talks with wide receiver Dillon Bell (86) before their NCAA football game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field, Saturday, November 19, 2022, in Lexington, Kentucky. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Kirby Smart comments on AD Mitchell’s health, side-steps questions about looming transfer portal

It looks to be more of the same regarding AD Mitchell’s status ahead of the 2022 SEC Championship Game.

In his final comments before Saturday’s game against LSU, Georgia coach Kirby Smart provided an update on the injured wide receiver. He has played just five snaps since the end of the Oregon game, as he has been battling an ankle sprain.

“Same as recent weeks. He’s been in some practice weeks,” Smart said. “He’s going to be out there and rep. The hopes are he’s going to be able to contribute.”

Related: LSU’s Jayden Daniels cleared, QB Showdown on tap for SEC Championship Game

Mitchell was able to dress for Georgia last week and briefly came onto the field for a fourth down play but he ultimately was subbed off after Georgia took a time out.

Without Mitchell, as has been the case for much of the season now, Georgia will lean more on Ladd McConkey and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. The latter caught his second touchdown pass of the season last week against Georgia Tech, while McConkey is tied with tight end Brock Bowers for the team lead in receptions with 46.

LSU coach Brian Kelly did share with reporters that the Tigers would have their starting quarterback Jayden Daniels, as he will be available after picking up an ankle injury against Texas A&M.

Kirby Smart stays mum on Georgia football transfer portal plans

With the transfer portal set to open officially on Monday, it seemed fair to ask Georgia coach Kirby Smart about the possibility of Georgia either losing players to the portal or going into the portal themselves to add a player for next year’s roster.

But the Georgia head coach did not take the bait. He instead elected to try and keep the focus on Saturday’s game against LSU.

“We have a process in our organization, we have different divisions,” Smart said. “Everybody has a timeline for what they’re working on. We have player development staff, recruiting. We have all these facets within our organization that work their parts year-round.”

Georgia famously did not take any transfer this past offseason, being the only Power 5 program to do so. LSU on the other hand took 15 transfer players, eight of which will start for LSU this weekend.

Daniels is one of them, easily being the most high-profile of the LSU roster additions.

“When their staff got put in place, it’s hard to compare that against other programs across the board in the SEC,” Smart said. “I would argue they did the best job of filling holes and creating roster opportunities for guys coming in.

“If they don’t do as good a job, it’s hard to say where they would be right now. They put together some really good defensive players as well as the quarterback.”

While some players have already publicly stated they will enter the transfer portal, players cannot officially enter the transfer portal until Monday, Dec. 5. Players have until Jan. 18 to make a decision on whether to enter the transfer portal.

There will also be a portal window from May 1 through May 15.

Kirby Smart weighs in on playoff expansion

The big news of the week in the sport is that the College Football Playoff will expand to 12 teams starting with the 2024 season, as the College Football Playoff announced on Thursday morning.

Related: College Football Playoff to expand to 12 teams by 2024 after reaching agreement with Rose Bowl

Smart was asked about the role expansion plays in the sport going forward and what his thoughts on the matter are.

“I think only time will tell. I read and see a lot of opinions out there,” Smart said. “Length of games, number of games. I don’t think we’ll truly know. Like when we went to the four-game model, there were a lot of questions involved there, too.”

Georgia has twice made the College Football Playoff under Smart and are poised to do so again this season. Georgia is the No. 1 ranked team in the country entering Saturday’s game against the Tigers.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was asked how many teams he thought the SEC could possibly squeeze into the College Football Playoff going forward, and offered up seven, he said with a wink and smile.

Under the new format, the top four conference champions would get first-round byes, while teams seeded 5 through 8 would host teams seeded 9 through 12. Meaning that LSU would still very much be playing for a College Football Playoff spot, as the six highest-ranked conference champions make the College Football Playoff.

The final College Football Playoff rankings will drop on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.

Kirby Smart offers final thoughts ahead of 2022 SEC Championship Game

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