Georgia Football: What Does the Loss of Michael Bennett Mean for the Bulldogs?

David Boutin@David_M_BoutinContributor IIIOctober 3, 2012

COLUMBIA , MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Michael Bennett #82 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates a two-point conversion with Kenarious Gates #72 and Dallas Lee #64 during a game against the Missouri Tigers in the third quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Michael Bennett, Georgia’s leading receiver through the first five games, will miss the remainder of the 2012 season with a torn ACL in his right knee, as reported by

The loss of Bennett is a significant blow to the high-octane UGA offense. Even though Georgia is fairly deep at the receiver position, Bennett was probably one of the most underrated wideouts in the SEC.

Bennett is the team leader in both receiving yards and touchdowns, with 345 and four, respectively. He has proven to be not only a great possession receiver, but also a home-run threat on deep balls. Bennett was clearly emerging as one of Aaron Murray’s favorite targets.

At 6’3”, Bennett also brought good size to the table and had the ability to go up and over defenders. Marlon Brown stands at 6’5”, but none of Georgia’s other receivers top 6’1”. His size and good hands will be sorely missed, especially in the red zone, where Georgia has been so efficient this season.

But the loss of Bennett also means more than just losing a great pass catcher. Bennett was also one of Georgia’s best downfield blockers. His motor was always running and he often helped to spring big plays for fellow receivers and the running backs.

Bennett's injury will also solidify Malcolm Mitchell's role on offense. It seemed that Mitchell had returned completely to that side of the ball after the return of suspended safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree to the defense. Now, it’s almost a certainly Mitchell will remain exclusively on offense for the rest of the season.

The Bulldogs will need Brown to continue to improve on his best season with the Dawgs and big contributions from Mitchell, Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten and Chris Conley to make up for the loss of Bennett.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Bulldogs, as they head to Columbia to take on the No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday. This was going to be a tough game for the Dawgs with Bennett, and it just got that much tougher.