A Georgia offense that’s rolled out plenty of firepower this year and last will now be missing two more key playmakers that created some of its biggest sparks.
Tailback Keith Marshall and wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley are out for the rest of the season with torn ACLs in their right knees, coach Mark Richt confirmed Sunday evening.
Wide receiver Michael Bennett will undergo arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to determine the extent of his right knee injury, Richt said. He won’t play Saturday against No. 25 Missouri, but Richt said he didn’t know how long he may be out.
“We’ve just got to dig deep and give some other guys opportunities and get them all repped up and make some plays,” Richt said.
Georgia will be without its second leading receiver and second leading rusher for the rest of the season as casualties of a brutal Saturday of injuries for Georgia from a 34-31 overtime win at Tennessee.
The speedy Scott-Wesley, a redshirt sophomore, has 16 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns, including an 85-yard score. He was injured covering a punt.
Marshall, a true sophomore, rushed for 246 yards and a touchdown on 56 carries and had eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown through the first five games. He’s rushed for 1,005 yards in nearly a season and a half. He was hurt trying to catch a pass.
“It’s sad for our players,” Richt said. “It’s heartbreaking. I don’t know what hurts more — the pain of the injury or the pain of knowing you’re not going to get to play anymore for a while. I just feel bad for them.”
Bennett is third on Georgia with 14 catches for 176 yards with two touchdowns after returning from a torn ACL to the same knee last season.
Georgia ranks 11th in the nation in total offense with 530 yards and is 23rd in scoring at nearly 40 points an outing.
“There ain’t no making excuses about who’s playing or what,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Saturday night after Marshall and Scott-Wesley were carted off the sideline. “We’ve got to go out and we’ve got to execute and we’ve got to score enough points to win whatever it may be.”
The Bulldogs already lost top receiver Malcolm Mitchell for the season in the opener with an ACL injury and now will have to make due without Marshall and Scott-Wesley as Georgia gets ready for yet another ranked opponent Saturday in Athens at noon on ESPN.
Richt said tailback Todd Gurley remains “day to day” with a sprained ankle that kept him out of the Tennessee game.
“We’re not going to push him any faster,” said Richt, who liked what he got out of J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas in a game they combined for 154 rushing yards. “The last thing we want to do is rush the thing on Todd.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray said after the game he was encouraged by Georgia scoring 34 points in what he called a “very hostile environment. … even with three of our best players going out, too.”
Richt said he did not know if freshman Tramel Terry, coming off of an ACL injury last winter, will be prepared to play for the first time.
“Is he really ready for this type of a competition?” Richt said. “I don’t know.”
Richt said receiver Jonathon Rumph “is very doubtful” for Missouri. The junior college transfer has yet to play due to a hamstring injury, but the plan is to get him ready to play when his health permits.
Richt said he didn’t know if starting safety Tray Matthews will return this week after missing Saturday’s game with a pulled hamstring injury.
Punter Collin Barber’s status for Saturday is uncertain after he sustained a concussion against Tennessee. There’s a “realistic shot” that safety Connor Norman could return from a concussion on Saturday.
Missouri (5-0, 1-0 SEC) cracked The Associated Press poll after routing Vanderbilt 51-28 Saturday night in Nashville. The Tigers have already matched their win total of last season when they went 5-7 in their first season in the SEC, but those wins have also come against Murray State, Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State.
Georgia (4-1, 3-0) dropped a spot to No. 7 in the AP and USA Today coaches’ polls as unbeaten Florida State moved up to No. 6.
“As far as where we are, it doesn’t really matter all that much right this minute,” Richt said. “What’s important really is to try to score some points and slow Missouri down a little bit.”
The Bulldogs will face their fourth-ranked opponent in six games, with another, No. 17 Florida, looming on Nov. 2.