Michael Bennett Injury: Depth Will Allow Georgia to Overcome Loss of Star WR

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2012

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 5: Michael Bennett #82 of the Georgia Bulldogs makes a catch for a touchdown against the New Mexico State Aggies at Sanford Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Athens, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

At first glance, it might seem like Georgia's offense would be in trouble after losing top receiver Michael Bennett to an ACL injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season. But the team's great depth at the position should ensure there isn't a major drop-off.

Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Bennett will have surgery on his right knee after suffering an injury during practice on Tuesday. It derails a sophomore season that was setting up to become a memorable one for the Georgia native.

Bennett had 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns through the team's first five games. He established himself as Aaron Murray's favorite target, mostly due to his route-running versatility and big-play ability.

Yet, as is so often the case in college football, it all comes down to the next player on the depth chart stepping up to fill the void. In Georgia's case, there are no shortage of options, and the players should be eager to get their opportunity.

They won't have much time to adapt to their new roles, however. The Bulldogs have a crucial game against No. 6 South Carolina on Saturday. It's one of the biggest games on a loaded schedule this weekend, and Georgia would have liked to enter at full strength.

That's not possible, though, so they have to focus on moving forward as quickly as possible. They can't get too caught up on the ill-timed loss, or the Gamecocks will take advantage.

It all starts with the senior duo of Tavarres King and Marlon Brown. They are tied for second on the team with 16 catches apiece, and both have three touchdowns. One of them, likely King, has to become Murray's go-to guy on third down.

Both are capable of filling that main receiving role. It wouldn't be a surprise to see them split it with King leading the way until Georgia gets in the red zone, at which point Brown will become the main man thanks to his size.

Beyond them, expect players like Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley to start seeing more targets. Conley is especially intriguing because he's capable of working the underneath routes effectively, which will be key against South Carolina's defense.

Rantavious Wooten is also an option. He has six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown so far despite a limited role. He has the potential to break out if given more opportunities to touch the ball.

Then there's always tight end Arthur Lynch, who is averaging an astonishing 25 yards per catch, who can take pressure off the group of wide receivers when needed.

All told, losing Bennett after such a strong start is far from the ideal scenario, but it's something the Bulldogs can overcome thanks to their depth. It also helps to have a quarterback like Murray, who can make even average wideouts look good.

Georgia fans should still feel confident about Saturday's game.