Kirby Smart is hopeful that Georgia will be at full strength for next Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game against TCU. The top-ranked Bulldogs’ hard-fought 42-41 victory over Ohio State in Saturday’s Peach Bowl semifinal did not come without its fair share of bumps and bruises. UGA lost tight end Darnell Washington to a sprained ankle and outside linebacker Chaz Chambliss to a hyperextended knee, among other casualties. Despite the quick nine-day turnaround, Smart is optimistic that Georgia will be 100% for the No. 3 Horned Frogs.
“We’re hopeful to get pretty much all the guys back — that’s the hope,” Smart said Monday on College GameDay. “We had a couple of guys — Chaz Chambliss had a knee that hyperextended. We’re hopeful to get him back. We had some guys dropping there for a little bit. We were on our twos and threes in some spots. But some guys stepped up, played, and that’s what you have to have at the end of the year.”
Previously, Smart said that the Bulldogs would evaluate Washington throughout the week.
“He tried to go back and couldn’t go back on it,” Smart said Saturday, after Georgia beat Ohio State. “We’ll have to evaluate and see. The good news is he’s got more than a normal week. I know he’ll do everything he can to get back. He’s headed out west towards where he’s from. It will be important to him to try to get back.”
One of the Bulldogs’ biggest challenges this week will be managing injuries, practice and travel during the transition period, according to Smart.
“We have to come in here today and see the doctor and get some stuff fixed,” Smart said Monday on College GameDay. “Winning a ring — that’s the motivation, and you’ve got to get over that one quick and get onto the next one. Fortunately, we have a little time in terms of we don’t have the seven-day turnaround we coming back from Pasadena back in 2017 or 2018, whenever it was, but it’s going to be a quick turnaround. It used to be 28 days, and now this thing slides to seven, eight days, and it already feels like it’s upon us right now.”
Georgia entered the fourth quarter of its matchup with Ohio State trailing 38-24. Behind two touchdown passes from Stetson Bennett, the Bulldogs outscored the Buckeyes 18-3 over the final period to pull off the largest fourth-quarter comeback in CFB Playoff history.
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“They’re resilient,” Monday on College GameDay. “The No. 1 quality we want in a football team is heart and character, and both these teams embody those things. I mean, they’ve had a ton of comeback in really tight ballgames. Our teams has come back and fought in the fourth quarter. I mean, I think when you start looking at the character and kind of the identity of these two teams, they mirror each other in terms of the leadership at the quarterback position and the heart and soul of the team. I was proud of the way they competed.”