As if the 41-30 loss at the hands of a dominant Alabama team didn’t do enough to dim the Bulldogs’ national-title hopes enough, the injury report following the game added plenty of salt to the wounds.
Tailback Knowshon Moreno has an elbow injury that could keep him out of Georgia’s game against Tennessee in two weeks, while tight ends Tripp Chandler and Bruce Figgins could both miss extended playing time with shoulder injuries.
“I’ve never been one to complain a whole lot about injuries,” head coach Mark Richt said. “We know they happen. We expect whoever is there to step in and play well. You do have some guys now who do have some opportunities they weren’t going to have before.”
Richt called Moreno’s situation questionable, but declined to estimate the running back’s chances of seeing action against the Volunteers.
Moreno injured his elbow in the fourth quarter against Alabama and was replaced by redshirt freshman Caleb King.
“Knowshon has a chance to play in this next game,” Richt said. “He’s got a pretty good contusion on the elbow but he’s already beginning to get some good movement back.”
Richt said trainer Ron Courson said there was a strong possibility Moreno could return, but injuries of this type can take time to heal.
“The swelling has to go down, he’s got to get his movement back, he’s got to feel that it’s not so sore that it would keep him from playing full speed,” Richt said. “It just depends how quickly this thing heals.”
The tight end position may be a bigger concern.
Chandler left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury but returned to action a few plays later. After the game, however, the injury proved to be more severe, and Richt said the senior would not be available for a few weeks.
Figgins is the only other tight end with significant playing experience, but he suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago against Arizona State. He didn’t play against Alabama, and Richt said he could be headed for surgery that would end his season.
“Bruce has got an injury that is going to require surgery but the whole idea is deciding when to do it,” Richt said. “Sometimes you can wear a brace and try to make it through the year with the shoulder injury that he has and have surgery at the end of the season.”
Because of Chandler’s injury, Richt said Figgins could choose to play against Tennessee and have surgery after the game. He could play one more game, Richt said, and remain eligible for a medical redshirt.
“I just don’t know if it’s very practical or if there’s any chance he’ll be ready to play for the Tennessee game, but I’m pretty sure he will have surgery in the next two to three weeks and apply for that medical redshirt,” Richt said.
Offensive lineman Kiante Tripp wore No. 83 against Alabama and was in on a few two-tight end sets in the game. Tripp moved from the defensive line a year ago to right tackle, then slid to left tackle during fall camp after Trinton Sturdivant went down with a season-ending knee injury. Richt said Tripp could now fill the tight-end void for the remainder of the season.
“Kiante, more than likely, will continue to work at the tight end spot quite possibly for the rest of the year if we don’t get Bruce back and depending on how long before Tripp gets back,” Richt said.
Aron White, a redshirt freshman, would be the likely starter at tight end against Tennessee should Figgins elect for surgery. Richt also suggested the Bulldogs would employ more four wide-receiver sets or possibly use a fullback at tight end. With senior Brannan Southerland returning to the starting fullback job in two weeks, Shaun Chapas could fill that role. Richt said he was unlikely to pull freshman tight end Bryce Ros’ redshirt.
Several other key players were dinged up against Alabama, too.
Wide receiver Kris Durham suffered a severe ankle sprain and Richt said he could miss significant playing time.
“He’s going to miss a while,” Richt said. “I don’t know how long a while is, but I’d say a few games is as far as we could probably project on that one.”
All-SEC middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe left Saturday’s game with a knee injury. Richt said he was hopeful Ellerbe would be ready for the Tennessee game, but described him as questionable.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford finished Saturday’s game but required treatment for a head injury following the game. Richt said the junior did not suffer a concussion, however, and would be ready to go in the Bulldogs’ next game.
“We didn’t think he had a concussion during the game, but his head was pounding pretty good,” Richt said. “He had a good headache. We wanted to be sure about everything. But he’s fine, and he’ll be ready to play in the next ballgame.”