With starting nose tackle John Jenkins set to miss the Capital One Bowl, a number of Bulldog players are ready to step up to try and fill the void. Jenkins, a senior, was suspended from the team earlier this month for an academic issue.
“I think John Jenkins has been awesome for Georgia,” said Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt after announcing that Jenkins would miss the bowl game. “I’m really proud of everything he’s accomplished for us. Just really want to wish him the very best. He’s been a blessing for our program.”
Richt said that a small group of players will look to fill the hole in the defensive line left by the 6-3, 358 pound Jenkins.
“A little will depend on Abry Jones, and how much he can play,” said Richt. “We’ll see the type of condition he’s in and number of plays he’s available.”
Jones, a 6-3, 308-pound senior defensive end, has been hampered by an ankle injury for most of the season and has not played since the Kentucky game on Oct. 20.
“I feel like even though it’s my senior year and I missed so of it, I always want to play one more game with the fellas,” Jones said during practice on Friday. “Definitely if I feel confident enough and they let me play, I’m going to play. That’s what I want to do.”
Another Bulldog player looking to fill in for Jenkins is the one who has been doing it all year, 6-6, 355-pound junior Kwame Geathers. Kwame, bother of former University of Georgia and current Cincinnati Bengal defensive end Robert Geathers Jr, is thrilled for the challenge of filling Jenkins shoes.
“I’m excited,” Geathers said. “I wish [Jenkins] could have been here, you know as a teammate, but I’m excited to play.”
“Everything I’ve been doing this whole year is what I’m going to bring [to the Capital One Bowl],” Geathers said. “Be able to be a big impact for the team, help out anyway I could.”
Geathers understands the challenge he faces, knowing he not only has to step in for Jenkins but also try and stop Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, a task few teams have been able to accomplish this season.
“It presents a lot of challenges when you have a quarterback like that,” Geathers said. “You have to be able to contain him, keep him in the pocket, don’t let him run as much.”
Other players who could see playing time in Jenkins absence are sophomore defensive end Ray Drew and Mike Thornton.
“It’s time for [Ray Drew] to step up and be a great player for us,”Richt said during practice on Saturday. “Ray needs to be a guy who is highly productive for us.”
The Bulldogs Saturday starts with morning practice followed by a day at the four Disney Parks. Bulldog offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, linebacker Jarvis Jones and junior quarterback Aaron Murray are slated to attend a bowl press conference during the day.