During Georgia‘s current 24-game winning streak, in which it became the first team in the College Football Playoff era to capture back-to-back national championships, it has won at various times with a menacing defense, explosive offense and opportunistic special teams.
But since the start of the 2021 season, the Bulldogs have never had to try to win without star tight end Brock Bowers.
That’s the challenge No. 1 Georgia faces in trying to become the first team in The Associated Press poll era to win three consecutive national championships. Minnesota was the last team to accomplish the feat (1934 to 1936).
Bowers, the Bulldogs’ leading receiver and the 2022 Mackey Award winner as the top tight end in the FBS, underwent TightRope surgery on Oct. 16 to repair a high left ankle sprain. He is expected to miss at least four to six weeks, starting with Saturday’s game against Florida at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Obviously, this is not only one of the best players in America this year, last year,” Gators coach Billy Napier said. “I mean, this is one of the best players of all time, if that makes sense.”
Bowers’ importance in Georgia’s offense can’t be overstated. He leads the team with 41 receptions for 567 yards, ranking second among FBS tight ends in both statistics, with four touchdown receptions (and one more rushing). He has only two drops in 52 targets. On top of that, he’s one of the best blockers in the game.
Bowers isn’t a typical tight end in the open field, either. He is No. 1 among tight ends and No. 4 among all FBS players with 415 yards after contact. Bowers has 16 catches in which he’s made defenders miss tackles, which is fourth among all FBS players and twice as many as any other tight end.
It’s no wonder ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Bowers as the fourth-best prospect eligible for next year’s NFL draft.
“This guy is a really, really unique matchup relative to his ability to run routes and get open, his ability to run after the catch,” Napier said. “They’re handing the guy sweeps. They were handing the guy the ball. He’s a terrific blocker. He’s tough. He’s got a really good set of fundamentals. Made him really hard to defend.”
The Gators are fortunate they won’t have to defend him Saturday. In Georgia’s 42-20 victory over Florida last season, Bowers had five catches for 154 yards and one touchdown, the most receiving yards a Georgia player has ever had against Florida. On Bowers’ 73-yard touchdown in the second quarter, he ran a wheel route down the left sideline. Gators linebacker Amari Burney tipped the ball in the air. It bounced off Burney’s helmet, and Bowers tipped the ball to himself before hauling it in. Napier could only shake his head in disbelief.
So how do the Bulldogs try to replace Bowers’ production? The good news for Georgia is it had an extra week to prepare after he was injured in the first half of a 37-20 victory at Vanderbilt on Oct. 14.
Georgia’s offense has mostly been built around 12 personnel (two tight ends, two receivers and one running back) the past three seasons. Sophomore Oscar Delp (13 catches for 160 yards with two scores) and freshmen Pearce Spurlin III (two catches for 29 yards) and Lawson Luckie are next in line at tight end. Each ranked in the top eight among tight end prospects nationally and were ESPN 300 prospects.
“If they think one guy is going to replace Brock Bowers, they’re wrong,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “If anybody thinks they have to be Superman, they don’t need to be on our team because they’ll be disappointed. Superman is not real. He’s dead. He’s not alive. He’s not real. You can’t try to be that guy.”
Bowers might as well have been wearing a cape the past two seasons. Without him, Georgia’s offense figures to employ more wide receivers. Junior Ladd McConkey has returned after missing the first four games with a back injury. He was second on the team in receiving last season, behind Bowers, with 58 catches for 762 yards with seven scores.
“Our offense is not built around, like, one person doing one thing,” Smart said. “It’s built around plug-in and you can do it in 10 personnel, you can do it in 11 personnel, you can do it in 13 personnel. I think every offense that’s a good offense is that way.”
One head coach who played Georgia during the past three seasons said the Bulldogs have enough playmakers to compensate for Bowers’ absence. Georgia might have schemed 12 to 15 plays a game in which the ball was supposed to go to Bowers. He was a human cheat code for dictating coverages and often attracted more than one defender.
“I’ll be honest, sometimes when you lose a great player like that, you end up becoming a little better on offense because you’re just not always trying to get him the ball,” the coach said. “Now you’ve got to spread it out and you become a little more dynamic.”
With Bowers sidelined, Georgia quarterback Carson Beck is going to have to get the ball to others.
“I’ve got one really good receiver and that’s the only guy my quarterback ever looks at,” the coach said. “That’s the only guy he tries to get the ball to. I have to hold [the receiver] out of practice because we play him every snap and he’s beat up. In practice, the quarterback has to give it to everyone else, and we end up looking better when he does that.”
A longtime SEC assistant whose team faced the Bulldogs this season said there’s no question they’re going to miss having Bowers on the field. Another SEC assistant added, “Losing Bowers is going to hurt them.”
“Man, he was a huge piece,” one of the assistants said.
When the Bulldogs needed a first down or a big gain, Bowers was the player Beck looked for more times than not. He was a safety net for the first-year starting quarterback, who has completed 73.6% of his passes for 2,147 yards with 12 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
When Georgia struggled at Auburn on Sept. 30, Bowers had six catches on the last three scoring drives, including the winning 40-yard touchdown with 2:52 to play in a 27-20 victory. Bowers had eight receptions for 157 yards with one score for the game.
Smart won’t say when Bowers might be back. The Bulldogs are about to begin the most difficult stretch of their season. After playing the Gators, they face three straight ranked opponents: No. 16 Missouri and No. 12 Ole Miss at home and No. 21 Tennessee on the road.
It’s unclear if they’ll have Bowers back for any of them.
“There is no player that we’re asking to step up and do more than you can,” Smart said. “As a collective effort, every player is going to do more. That includes defense getting turnovers, special teams getting better field position. Other guys get the opportunity to touch the ball and make the most of it.”
Free Spins in Coin Master: Your Path to Village Mastery
genshin impact codes january 2023 3 4 release gfinity esports
ZEPETO Zems Farming: Your Ultimate Guide
free match master coins generator 2023 without human
Get Free TikTok Coins: The Ultimate Guide
Boost Your Brawl Stars Experience with Free Gems
how do i get more gems dragon city help center
free family island rubies and energy hack cheats generator
free hay day diamonds coins tricks apk android app تنزيل
download get free diamond litmatch apk for android apk4k
gift code myths of moonrise january 2023 youtube
pull the pin mod apk v0 138 1 unlimited coins playmods
evony apk mod unlimited gems 2022 ios and android twitter
pdf free dice dreams rolls generator update 2023 vi7q
project makeover game hacks tiktok search
download beach buggy racing mod apk 2021 premium
Free TikTok Coins: Where to Find Them
Où trouver des pièces gratuites sur TikTok : Votre guide
How to Legally and Quickly Get Free Spins in Coin Master
Unlocking Free Avacoins in Avakin Life: A Comprehensive Guide
Free Credits in Bingo Blitz: Insider Secrets
Earn Free Spins in Coin Master Like a Pro
genshin impact codes guide get free primogems and mora
How to Get ZEPETO Zems Legally and Quickly
match masters free coins archives crazyashwin
Free TikTok Coins: The Holy Grail of Success
Free Gems in Brawl Stars: The Future of Brawl Gaming
new cheats dragon city free gems mod generator freemind
free family island hack cheats unlimited rubies and energy
hay day hack generator s profile hackaday io