SO WHO'S LEFT?
A look at Georgia's scholarship receivers following season-ending injuries to Michael Bennett and Marlon Brown:
PLAYER NO. YDS TDS
Tavarres King 27 / 551 / 6
Malcolm Mitchell 26 / 358 / 2
Rantavious Wooten 12 / 154 / 2
Chris Conley 7 / 84 / 1
Rhett McGowan 5 / 62 / 0
Justin Scott-Wesley 1 / 43 / 0
Blake Tibbs redshirting
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia's football team is getting low on receivers again, and this time they're not coming back.
After losing Michael Bennett to a torn anterior cruciate ligament early last month in practice, the Bulldogs suffered another setback in Saturday's 37-10 win over Ole Miss when Marlon Brown tore his ACL in the third quarter. Georgia is moving on to this week's game at Auburn with a smaller contingent of targets for quarterback Aaron Murray.
"It's tough losing both of them, because they're both physical receivers who could play multiple positions," Murray said Tuesday. "They were guys you could move around, which is huge in our offense, so to lose both of them definitely stinks. I feel extremely bad for Marlon, because it's his senior year, and it's definitely not the way you want to go out."
The 6-foot-5, 222-pound Brown had 27 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns -- that number of catches leading the No. 5 Bulldogs along with fellow senior Tavarres King. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound Bennett was leading the team with 24 catches for 345 yards and four scores at the time of his injury.
Bennett had two touchdown catches in his final game, a 51-44 defeat of Tennessee on Sept. 29. Brown scored on a 66-yard trick play during the second quarter last Saturday.
"Those were two great receivers, and I felt really bad for Marlon and Michael when it happened," King said. "I felt like it happened to me this past Saturday, because I'm so close to Marlon."
King, a 6-1, 200-pounder, leads the Bulldogs with 551 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a top remaining playmaker along with sophomore Malcolm Mitchell, a 6-1, 192-pounder who has 26 catches for 358 yards and two scores after beginning this season as a cornerback.
Rantavious Wooten, a 5-10, 179-pound junior, has 12 catches to rank third among the remaining receivers, and expected to see increased playing time are junior Rhett McGowan, sophomore Chris Conley and redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley.
"We trust in each other and trust that someone will step up no matter who it is," said McGowan, a former walk-on from Calhoun High School. "We're all ready."
Conley has been somewhat of an enigma to this point, the 6-3, 205-pound sophomore having caught seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. As a true freshman a year ago, he had 16 receptions for 288 yards and two scores.
In the past five games, Conley has just three catches for 38 yards.
"He's our most physical receiver right now, so we're going to need him in big-time games," Murray said.
Injuries to Brown, Mitchell and Wooten last season left the Bulldogs with just seven available receivers for the 24-20 win over Florida. Three of those seven were walk-ons, including McGowan.
Brown and Mitchell had only temporary setbacks, making this year's losses of Brown and Bennett potentially more substantial.
"We're going to miss them," coach Mark Richt said. "I'm not saying that the other guys aren't physical, but they're not as physical. Marlon was a guy that liked contact. He would get after them and block, and he was very difficult to cover because of his physicality getting off the jam or separating at the end of a route or whatever it might be.
"Michael Bennett was very much like that as well, so we're going to miss them. There is no doubt we're going to miss them."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...