Nov 24, 2012; Clemson, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier (left) shakes hands with Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (right) prior to the game at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Football: Injury news for first two opponents

We’ll be watching some SEC football a week from tonight (and more importantly, Georgia football in just over a week) Dawg fans! The team supposedly had the “dress rehersal” practice in Sanford last night, after having a limited open scrimmage on Wednesday.

I’m of the belief that when camp starts, the season has truly started because we get daily reports on what is going on (even if most of the time, the Dawgs are on lock down) with preparation for the season.

A lot of things that come out in terms of information are good things, but there can unfortunately also be a downside.  Many times, the downside comes in the form of injury reports. Every day seems to have a report of a green jersey or ten (green for Georgia anyway).

With two huge games coming up the first two weeks, everyone scans the all the Bulldog sites, holding their collective breath hoping that the news is all good. We know about a couple injuries with the Dawgs in Merritt Hall (career ending concussions) and Malcolm Mitchell (no info available…can’t even get a decent rumor).

What fans don’t often think to do is look at the opponent’s team. Unless it’s a huge star like Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, it’s not likely to make much more than the beat writer’s notebook or a guy saying how huge or “no big deal”  it is on his favorite team’s message board.

So, here’s the UGA first two opponents’ injury reports with a week to go.

Clemson Tigers

The Tigers are probably in the best shape of  any of the three teams; the other two being South Carolina and Georgia.  A big reason for this? Dabo actually uses all the scholarships allowed by the NCAA rule book.  According to this chart by tigernet.com, the IPTigers have 87 players on scholarship.

While we know that’s not the case this late in the game, the team is pretty much full in terms of scholarships.  According to my count, UGA is operating with 79 scholarship  players, which includes walk on back-up punter, Adam Erickson-no offense to Adam intended, teams usually just don’t have 2 scholarship punters.

Actually, Clemson just had an injury to a backup last night in running back, Zac Brooks, who is Clemson’s returning leader in rushing yards from last year. But by all accounts, Clemson is pretty deep at the running back position, and may take the redshirt off of Georgia native, Adam Choice. Brooks was, though, recently described by Dabo Swinney as Clemson’s most complete back.

Sep 7, 2013; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers running back Zac Brooks (24) carries the ball during the first quarter against the South Carolina State Bulldogs at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Another Georgia native, Tyson Dye, may be a bigger loss, even though he is at the same position. Dye was a top 150 player overall in his recruiting class and reportedly the most explosive back on the roster. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, the medical staff put him back in a walking boot after giving it a go in fall practice, and the hope is he’ll be back before the season’s end.

The last Tiger that, as of this date, will probably not see action for the tilt in the game next weekend is one that might be familiar to Bulldog recruitniks, Travis Blanks.  Georgia battled Clemson for the young man’s signature, but Blanks decided to play most of his ball in Death Valley.

Blanks has a knee injury and will almost assuredly be out for the game Between the Hedges. He’s played a lot of football and after a try at safety last year was slated to move back to the “Sam Nickel” position.  He’s a talented player, but, again, this is a position where the Tigers have quite a bit of depth.  He is listed as a co-starter with three other players on the depth chart on Clemson’s official website.

South Carolina

Carolina is a lot more like Georgia in terms of raw scholarship numbers, so even though they don’t have a ton of attrition, the effect is a little stronger.

The Gamecocks were already short on scholarships because of NCAA infractions, and they also did not get six of their players from the recruiting class of 2014 in school. After giving two former walk-ons scholarships, the Gamecocks have 78 players on scholarship at the moment, according to GamecocksCentral.com 

Rory Anderson is a tight end that hurt his triceps muscle in the spring game and is questionable for the beginning of the season (latest report is he’ll be ready for the season, but that can change in a hurry).

Anderson is an important cog in Spurrier’s offense, but does have a capable back up in Jerrell Adams. Spurrier does like to split his tight ends out at times to cause mismatches, and the Gamecocks have quite a bit of success doing it.  It definitely hurts depth and would take a weapon away from Dylan Thompson.

Former Freshman All-American Mike Matulis was making the move from offensive tackle to guard for the Gamecocks this season, until a knee sprain in fall practice. A bit of a hard luck case, Matulis already missed one season with a shoulder issue, but Steve Spurrier is somewhat hopeful that the redshirt junior can return for part of the season. It won’t be by game three, though, it appears.

Jamari Smith broke his foot in fall practice and will miss this season for the Gamecocks. The converted running back was going to be fighting for a position with a lot of talented newcomers to the team. After losing two starters from last season, it appears youth will have to be served on the perimeter of the Carolina defense. That could be something the Dawgs’ deep receiver corp could take advantage of.

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Tags: Dabo Swinney Football Georgia Bulldogs Jamari Smith Steve Spurrier Zac Brooks

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