Georgia kicks off tonight as a 12.5 point favorite over the TCU Horned Frogs according to DraftKings. That’s down slightly from the 13.5 point opening line, but still makes the Dawgs among the most prohibitive title game favorites in recent memory.
The odds are always influenced by who Vegas thinks will actually be on the field. The Red and Black came into the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve with some guys banged up, and a physical four quarter football game against Ohio State meant even more were dinged when they left Atlanta.
Still, all things considered, the Athenians appear to be in fairly good shape from an injury perspective. As anyone who’s played the game knows, no one is really 100% between early August and mid February. It’s all a matter of degrees between “a little sore” and “medical textbook case study.” Also, for a game of this historic significance, I’d expect a lot of guys to shake off the bumps and bruises. Let’s begin this injury report with the biggest (literally and metaphorically) injury question for UGA fans.
Georgia Injury Report
* TE Darnell Washington: Big O suffered an ankle injury in the Peach Bowl and finished the night on the sideline in a boot and with crutches. After Kirby Smart initially said that it appeared to be an ankle sprain it was later revealed to be a significant contusion. Washington made the trip, and I’d expect we’ll see him tonight.
The bigger question will be whether he’s 100%, and what it means for the Bulldog attack if he isn’t. I think the Horned Frogs are a little vulnerable in the intermediate attack against Georgia’s tight ends, especially if they have to cover both Washington and Brock Bowers.
- OT Warren McClendon: Georgia’s All-SEC tackle missed his first start in nearly three full seasons in the Peach Bowl with a knee sprain sustained during the SEC Championship. Amarius Mims filled in well in what is hopefully a preview of 2023, but it would be nice to be able to platoon those guys, especially since the road to victory in this one will require both stopping an athletic Horned Frog pass rush and controlling the ball on the ground.
McClendon was dressed out for the Peach Bowl and appeared to be moving around okay, though his only snap of the night was on the kneel down to conclude the game. Still, I would expect that he’ll be a go for tonight.
- OLB Chaz Chambliss: The former Carrollton Trojan stepped into the lineup when Nolan Smith went out with injury, and after some early struggles has come on strong. He recorded a sack in the SEC Title game and a tackle for a loss in the Peach Bowl, but then hyperextended his knee in the second half.
I’d expect Chambliss to be back for this one. If he can’t go or is limited additional snaps will need to go to freshmen Marvin Jones, Jr. and Jalen Walker. Jones tweaked an ankle in the SEC Championship Game, but appears ready to go for TCU.
- DL Mykel Williams: The true freshman has emerged as a playmaker on the defense and had a productive night in the Peach Bowl, with 5 tackles and a sack vs. Ohio State before leaving the game with a leg injury of some sort. But he walked off the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and hasn’t appeared hobbled since. I’d expect he’ll play, and will be charged with putting TCU’s Max Duggan in the turf as much as possible.
- WR Ladd McConkey: The Bulldogs’ second leading receiver has been nursing knee issues for much of the season and left the SEC Championship Game with a limp. He remained somewhat limited for the Peach Bowl, though he did catch a critical two point conversion. I expect you would have to saw the Murray County Mauler’s leg off to keep him out of the lineup for this one. But I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see his snaps limited to keep him fresh, especially with Arian Smith and AD Mitchell both healthy.
TCU Injury Report
The Horned Frogs really only have one concerning injury. But it’s a pretty important one.
- RB Kendre Miller: The Horned Frogs’ leading rusher went down with a knee injury late in the first half of the Fiesta Bowl after accumulating 57 yards on 8 Carrie’s. Coach Sonny Dykes described him as “questionable” early in the week and Miller himself gave “50/50” odds of being able to play last Monday. But as we’ve gotten closer to game time Miller has told media in Inglewood that he’s going to definitely try to go.
If Miller isn’t cleared backup Emaro Demercado will again step in. Against Michigan he looked great, with 150 yards and a touchdown. It’s more of an issue of depth. The Horned Frogs won’t beat the Bulldogs if they’re forced to become one-dimensional on offense. And if something were to happen to Demercado, the third back up is junior Emari Bailey, who’s only carried 29 times this season, none since the blowout win over Iowa State in November.
Here’s wishing for a clean, injury-free game tonight. I hope both teams have fun, but I hope the Red and Black have more of it.