It’s no secret Georgia’s roster has fallen victim to severe injuries over the past few weeks, but is there any way to prevent them?
Mark Richt doesn’t seem to think that’s a possibility.
“You can’t control injuries, and I don’t really want to assess it other than who’s left and what they can do and what gives us our best chance of winning,” Richt said. “That’s what I try to focus on from a pure football and strategy point of view.”
Season-ending injures to Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley and Keith Marshall and ones that leave hope for a comeback, such as Michael Bennett’s, leave many to wonder if conditioning could help curb the injuries.
“With the ACL, I don’t think there’s anything to do with conditioning,” Richt said. “A lot of ACL injuries are freak injuries and non-contact injuries.”
Mitchell’s injury occurred early in Georgia’s season-opening loss at Clemson.
“Obviously Malcolm Mitchell’s was non-contact,” Richt said. “Well, I guess there was a [chest] bump when he landed wrong on that celebration.”
In Scott-Wesley’s case, he was trying to avoid running into the punt returner after a fair catch was called at Tennessee. Marshall’s injury was the only one that resulted from contact. Richt said conditioning, however, plays more of a role in hamstring injuries.
“I think most hamstrings go when there’s enough fatigue, and guys are bursting when they’re tired,” Richt said. “The muscle pulls, but I think we do a good job. Last year, we had very few hamstring injuries.”
With ACLs labeled as “freak accidents,” Richt said there are ways a staff could go about reducing the chances of hamstring injuries.
“We have a little bit more than usual, but I think we’re doing the right thing when it comes to strength and conditioning and flexibility,” Richt said. “Sometimes I think we as coaches have to be wise, and I think the players just have to know if their hamstring is beginning to get tight or fatigued a little bit.”
Richt said players, younger players specifically, have a harder time recognizing a fatigued muscle and informing their coaches.
“It’s not because the coach is going to yell at them, but the guy is trying to make the team,” Richt said. “He’s trying to get a starting position and he doesn’t want to look soft, or whatever it is.”
Though injuries are ultimately uncontrollable during a game, Richt said he and his staff try to keep injured players in the loop during the season.
“As they’re rehabbing, you want them to still feel a part of the team and not feel like just because they’re not producing that they’re not as important as they used to be,” Richt said. “They really are to us, but sometimes it’s hard for a guy to feel that way because he’s not producing. It’s a production business.”