At the start of the week, Kirby Smart explained that COVID-19 was a concern to his team after players were allowed to go home for the Christmas holidays to be with their families.
Related: Georgia on ‘pins and needles’ during the Covid-19 tests leading up to the Peach Bowl
In his recent media appearances before Bulldogs faced No.8 Cincinnati, Smart didn’t mention which players would be out of the game. But he offered a hint that some players might not be available for the game.
„Players who are able to play will be there to play. Those who unfortunately will not be playing will not be playing.” We’ve been dealing with this all year long and we haven’t revealed it. „
Georgia tested the players on the Saturday, Monday and Wednesday before the match against Berkats. In addition to any COVID-related absences, it would be Georgia without Eric Stokes, DJ Daniel, Monty Rice, Trey McKee and Ben Cleveland as announced by all of these five in the 2021 NFL draft.
The Bulldogs will be without James Cook after his father dies earlier in the week.
“James was close to his father.“ An tough and difficult environment for him, ”said Smart.“ I know all of the advocates have communicated with and spoken to him. I’ve spoken to him many times. He deals with it the best he can. We appreciate all Dawg Nation support, all our fan base. Your heart goes out for it. „
This will be the tenth game of the season for both teams, and it is a game that has been clearly affected by COVID. The two teams’ matches have been canceled due to the virus this year. They were both affected very hard, too. The Bearcats were supposed to be playing in Nebraska, while Georgia finished all non-conference games.
Friday’s game will be the first time throughout the season that Georgia has played a team that is not the SEC.
„If you asked players, they’d like to play non-conference opponents in terms of starting with UVA,” Smart said. They will always say they want to play.
„I know everyone, myself included, would love to be able to compete and play every match they could.”
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati’s head coach, noted that teams have not only been battling COVID this year but the wear and tear that comes with a normal college football season. Georgia knows this well, as the likes of Richard Leconte and Jordan Davis have missed several matches due to injury this year.
„There are a lot of things that happen in the back end,” Fickle said. „Whether you’ve missed practices, or taken time off, men aren’t healthy.” „It’s not just about their lungs, the virus, it’s the things that happen when men go out. We’re in the same boat.”
Through it all, Smart was proud of how his team handled the endless adversities that 2020 brought to Team Georgia. Back in August when the Big Ten and PAC-12 canceled their respective seasons, it seemed hard to fathom that an entire college football season would be playing.
But with the end of 2020, Georgia has undergone nine matches and is ready to play in 10th place on Friday. This Georgia squad has definitely lived up to „doing more” this season.
„Never ever give up. Never stop it. Keep fighting, pay. We teach our kids some valuable lessons. There are so many people in the world today, in America today, I wouldn’t say use COVID, use the pandemic maybe to do less.
These kids did more, okay? They did more through the pandemic because they had to work twice as hard to stay available. „
Kirby Smart previews Peach Bowl against Cincinnati
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