The Georgia secondary will be challenged this Saturday against a strong South Carolina receiving corps that is led by senior receiver Deebo Samuel, along with junior Bryan Edwards and sophomore Shi Smith, among others.
If junior defensive back Tyrique McGhee, who has been out with a foot injury since mid-August, were to return to the secondary for Georgia’s matchup with the Gamecocks, he would undoubtedly have an immediate impact.
“Definitely having, you know, people, period, bodies, period, is depth, you know, so that’s always a great thing,” sophomore defensive back Richard LeCounte said. “Tyrique is a great player, always gonna give you everything he got, so having him would be a big plus.”
McGhee suffered a fractured bone in his foot after the Bulldogs' first scrimmage on Aug. 11 and did not play in Georgia’s season opener against Austin Peay last Saturday. He returned to practice on Tuesday and took about 25 percent of the reps with the defensive backs, head coach Kirby Smart said.
“He’s pushing through,” Smart said. “Seemed okay. I would reserve judgment untill I watched it. I didn’t notice him messing up a lot. It seemed like he had fresher legs than some of the other guys, you know.”
It was initially reported by 247Sports that McGhee would miss four to six weeks with his injury. Smart said that McGhee is still questionable for Saturday, but there is a chance that he could return in time for the game in Columbia, South Carolina.
“We’re hoping he’ll be able to play, but I don’t think we’ll know until probably closer to the end of the week,” Smart said.
However, if McGhee were to return on Saturday, it most likely would not be at cornerback. He has worked primarily at safety as well as STAR and money, which are variations of the nickel and dime positions, but not at corner, Smart said.
In McGhee’s absence, freshman Tyson Campbell saw time at cornerback against Austin Peay and impressed in his collegiate debut. Campbell got the start at left corner and recorded three tackles.
Despite Campbell’s success, though, a return by McGhee could still have an important impact, as McGhee would bring much more experience to the secondary in Georgia's first true test of the season on the road.
“[McGhee]’s played in games last year, he played in big games, so he knows what it’s like to play in SEC games,” junior defensive tackle Michael Barnett said. “He’s a guy that can make all the calls and just get us on the right page so everybody’s on the same page, so it’d be great to have him back there and whatnot.”