ATHENS — Georgia’s injury list continued piling up before and after its loss to No. 12 Arkansas.
Cornerback Branden Smith, who also returns punts and occasionally plays offense, was ruled out before the game with concussion-like symptoms. He was replaced on defense by sophomore Sanders Commings and by Logan Gray on punts.
Tailback Caleb King did not play for a second straight game because of an ankle injury. King suited up and went through warm-ups but was still held out.
In King’s absence, Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas combined for 117 yards on 24 carries. But the Bulldogs appeared to miss King’s pass protection, which coaches have said is the reason King would start.
Reserve inside linebacker Marcus Dowtin, who had four tackles the week before at South Carolina, also didn’t suit up after getting a shoulder stinger during the week.
Fullback Shaun Chapas (ankle) and second-string nose tackle Justin Anderson (turf toe) were also held out.
In a surprise, right guard Chris Davis didn’t play, ending a streak of 12 straight starts. Head coach Mark Richt said Davis was “kind of banged up” with hip and knee injuries.
“We just need to give this guy a rest,” Richt said.
Junior Tanner Strickland started in Davis’ place, and Georgia later shifted Clint Boling from left tackle to right guard, and played Trinton Sturdivant at left tackle.
Tight ends missing
Entering the season, Georgia had so much confidence in its tight ends that it planned to use packages with two on the field. But through the past two games they have not been involved much with the offense.
Aron White was the only one to catch a pass Saturday. It was a good one, a low pass that White hauled in to set up a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, starter Orson Charles and White were hardly targeted.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo attributed it to Arkansas playing closer to the box, lining up safeties over the tight ends.
“Similar to last week,” Bobo said. “We’re getting more one-on-one coverage outside, and more people on top of the tight end.”
Bobo’s nose was bloody throughout the game, the cause of which he was unsure. He said it happened early in the first quarter, but didn’t remember how.
“I didn’t head-butt anybody,” Bobo said. “I really don’t know. It was around the first touchdown. I’m not sure how it happened.”
Open or shut?
During the week, Bobo and Richt seemed to contradict each other on whether the offense would be opened up for freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. On Saturday, Richt tried to move himself closer to Bobo’s position, that it wasn’t necessarily opening it up by changing the playbook, but calling all the available plays.
“Our goal was to continue to let him grow, basically. And not treat him with as much kid gloves,” Richt said. “Our goal wasn’t to play 50 times a game or anything like that. But we wanted him to run our system, do what we feel is best regardless or whether our quarterback was a freshman.”
Richt was asked if he had anything to add to his Friday statement (released through a spokesman) about star receiver A.J. Green’s suspension being upheld.
“No, I don’t,” he said, then added: “He’s a good kid. He’s a really good kid. A good person.”