Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) runs the ball. The Georgia Bulldogs lead the Auburn Tigers 17-3 at halftime at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Photo/Zachary Tate, ztate@randb.com)

When Georgia and Auburn clashed on Saturday in Auburn, Alabama, a couple of new faces were forced to step up.

The Bulldogs entered the game against the Tigers with plenty of injuries, forcing players to step into a larger role. Throughout the game, Georgia sustained injuries to starters Jamaree Salyer and Christopher Smith leading to more playing time for guys off the bench.

When Georgia took the trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium, the wide receiver core was already very thin with players like Jermaine Burton, George Pickens, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Dominick Blaylock injured. The loss at receiver forced players like Ladd McConkey and recently recovered Darnell Washington to step up.

McConkey stepped up in a big way, catching five passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. Smart said that McConkey has been proving himself long before the start of this season.

“He did it all last year. I mean, he was on scout team last year with the wideouts we had and thought he was a really good player,” Smart said. “He went against all those really good players we had last year in the secondary and I knew he was gonna be a good player then.”

During the game, Georgia lost its starting safety in Smith. Stepping in to take his spot was redshirt sophomore Daniel Jackson.

Jackson slotted into the starting safety spot perfectly and made an immediate impact. The redshirt sophomore was all over the field, accounting for six total tackles against the Tigers, enough to lead the team.

"It was unfortunate that Chris went down from the game, but we prepared for everything in practice,” junior defensive back Lewis Cine said. “Everybody gets reps to make sure that everyone is locked in just in case a guy gets hurt. Give credit to Dan for coming in when he did and keying in and making the calls."

On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs sustained another loss when Salyer went down on the offensive line. Salyer has started at left tackle in all six of Georgia’s games thus far.

To replace the senior lineman was redshirt freshman Broderick Jones. He played for the Bulldogs in most of the game against Auburn and helped the Bulldogs to accumulate 201 rushing yards in the contest. Georgia’s offensive line also only allowed one sack throughout the game.

“Broderick came in and that was part of the reason we’ve been developing Broderick is because we think he’s a talented player. Jamaree’s played really well at tackle for a long time in the SEC, and we’ll put the best five out there that gives us the best chance to win.”

The Bulldogs are set to be shorthanded again as they take on Kentucky on Saturday, meaning new faces will again have the opportunity to step up and make plays.

Jake Jennings is a senior journalism major from Powder Springs, Georgia. He is minoring in sports management and political science as well. He reports on soccer, football and baseball.

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