With the SEC East title on the line for the second time this season and with a BCS bowl hanging in the balance, Georgia will have to win without its most consistent receiver this year, Terrence Edwards.
The loss of Edwards due to a separated shoulder is a killer for several reasons. First, because Damien Gary has been lost until at least the Georgia Tech game, Edwards was doing double duty with punt return responsibilities. That will no longer be the case. Either Sean Jones or Tim Jennings will have to handle those duties now Also, Georgia's offense looked lost with only 1 of its three top receivers on the field against Florida. And when the Dawgs take the field against Auburn, only a wounded Fred Gibson will be on the field. But the most important reason why Georgia will miss Edwards is his leadership and experience.
Edwards has never missed a game since he has been at Georgia, so it is difficult to know how this team will react without him on the field. He has been a playmaker from day one at Georgia when he torched Utah State in his debut. And he has shown countless times how to dig deep and come back from adversity. The most recent example of that was the way he performed against Ole Miss after a week that saw his mother placed in a Jacksonville hospital and after receiving threatening phone calls about his dropped pass late in the Florida game.
Now the future of this team's championship hopes are squarely on the defense and the running game. Musa Smith has proved that he can carry the load and the defense has allowed only 30 points in the last 10 quarters of play (one of Florida's touchdowns came on a interception return).
But the problem for Georgia is that they have to play Auburn, a team that has owned them just as much as Florida has the last three seasons. The Tigers are in a division title race too and must win in order to get to Atlanta themselves. All of that means that this is the biggest game in the SEC this weekend; and unfortunately for Georgia, the Dawgs have had a recent history of losing SEC games of the week.
If the Dawgs want to get to Atlanta and keep their not-yet-mathematically-eliminated chances of playing for the national title hopes alive, they must somehow do what other Georgia teams have not done before them. They must not let Auburn spoil their season. And that would be a lot easier to do with Terrence Edwards than without.
Dean Legge can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org