There’s never a good time for injuries in college football. The season’s 12 games come and go entirely too quickly to allow for injuries—especially to starters—to be overlooked. Accordingly, for the Georgia Bulldogs, one would be hard-pressed to find a cause for optimism given the absence on the depth chart of the following players who were lost to injury against Tennessee:
The personnel problems are exacerbated by the fact that, according to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph, head coach Mark Richt says running back Todd Gurley is still listed as day-to-day with an ankle sprain. Without Gurley, Georgia would enter this weekend’s matchup against Missouri missing over 50 percent of its total offensive yards and 11 of its 25 offensive touchdowns.
As dire as the circumstance appears to be, things could be worse. For the first time all season, Georgia is entering a three-week stretch without a matchup against a Top 10 opponent. More importantly, there are signs that Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs offense can find success against its next two opponents despite being short-handed.
Georgia vs. Missouri: Saturday, October 12
Missouri will make its first trip to Athens, Ga., boasting its first Top 25 ranking as an SEC team. However, Missouri’s 5-0 record is as much a reflection of an easy early-season schedule as it is a result of a newfound affinity for winning.
The Tigers have already matched their win total from 2012, but none of their five opponents has a winning record against Football Bowl Subdivision teams. In fact, the combined record of Murray State, Toledo, Indiana, Arkansas State and Vanderbilt against FBS competition is a meager 7-13.
Even without Keith Marshall, Justin Scott-Wesley, Michael Bennett and (possibly) Gurley, Georgia will boast a more prolific offense than any team Missouri has previously faced.
Furthermore, Missouri’s greatest advantage over its early-season opposition will be a non-factor against Georgia. Much of the Tigers’ defensive success this season has been a by-product of 11 turnovers forced in just five games. In three games against Top 25 opponents, Georgia has turned the ball over just three times. Murray may be missing playmakers, but his offense will not be turnover-prone.
Even as player after player went down with injury last weekend in Knoxville, the Bulldogs still managed to avoid turning the ball over.
Georgia at Vanderbilt: Saturday, October 19
Next week, Georgia will travel to Nashville, Tenn., to take on the Commodores. The hope is that Gurley will be back in the lineup by then.
In any event, Georgia will face a Vanderbilt defense that is questionable at best. In three SEC games this season, Vandy has allowed an average of 41.67 points per game. Ole Miss, South Carolina and Missouri all managed to surpass their season scoring averages against Vanderbilt’s defense.
Whether Gurley is back or not, Georgia’s running backs will be champing at the bit to run against a Commodores defense that is allowing more than 223 rushing yards per game in conference play. And all of Georgia's offensive line is intact and healthy.
One More Week to Get Healthy
Following the Vanderbilt date, the Dawgs have their second off week of the season, just in time to prepare for a showdown with the Florida Gators. Obviously, fine-tuning will take place that week, but more importantly, the open date will give Georgia players more time to get healthy and Georgia coaches more time to develop young offensive talent.
Georgia's offense will undoubtedly miss its injured playmakers, but if there were a time to survive without them, it's over the next three weeks.