That quest may be over for Owens after just eight plays.
The senior defensive tackle left Georgia’s 45-21 win over Georgia Southern early in the first quarter with a knee injury. After the game, his leg was in an air cast and Owens hobbled out of Sanford Stadium on crutches, his typically unflappable smile gone from his face.
“It hurt a lot,” defensive tackle Geno Atkins said. “He’s the leader of the D-line. He helps us get motivated, get us pumped. So it was a big shock to see him down like that.”
Head coach Mark Richt said further tests would be required before a final verdict on Owens’ future could be reached, but the outlook didn’t appear positive.
“I don’t think he’ll be playing any time soon,” Richt said.
In Owens’ absence, reserve tackle Corvy Irvin stepped up to lead the Bulldogs in tackles with six, while adding a sack, two tackles-for-a-loss and two pass breakups.
Still, the loss of Owens could be huge for the Bulldogs’ future. Owens and Atkins provided one of the most tenacious pass-rush combinations in the SEC, and Owens’ off-field leadership was crucial to the defense’s success.
“It’ll be a tremendous blow to lose Jeff,” Atkins said. “He’s a playmaker for us, he’s a leader for us, it would be devastating.”