MIAMI – Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs were struggling with COVID-19 a few weeks ago, but he expects his squad to be nearly complete when they face the n Michigan’s # 2 in a college football playoff semi-final at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Friday.

Smart did not reveal which players were struggling with COVID-19 issues during a press conference with reporters on Wednesday.

“I think all over the country as a whole you turn on the national news and that’s the main story,” Smart said. “You look across the country and the impact that has had on other games, whether it’s the NBA, the NFL, the bowl games that it has had an impact on, it has definitely had an impact.”

Smart said No.3 Georgia has offered booster shots to their players four times and some players have received them while others have not. When COVID-19 cases began to increase in the United States ahead of the SEC Championship game on December 4, Smart said the Bulldogs stepped up their precautions.

“We’ve increased a lot of things around our building and our knowledge of our players and our understanding of what’s going on,” said Smart. “They really stuck to the policies that we asked of them and were able to stay away for the most part. We had a little fight over the last couple of weeks when we lost some guys, but we did. got most of these guys The most important thing is being at full power when you need to, and that’s what we’re aiming for.

Defensive lineman Travon Walker said the Bulldogs are trying to stay safe in South Florida by wearing masks indoors and avoiding crowds. Both teams have had trips to the beach and team dinners. In-person interview sessions and a media day have been moved online or canceled.

“The players were able to make the exits,” said Smart. “The CFP allowed them to do it safely. I think the worst thing you could do would probably be to bring these kids to a hotel and stay there for four days without moving and doing nothing. for our players to function safely and in fact being outside probably helps them more than anything else as long as they are in a safe environment and not near crowds of people they don’t know. “

Smart also reiterated what offensive coordinator Todd Monken said on Tuesday about Bulldogs starting quarterback: Senior Stetson Bennett, a former replacement, will start against the Wolverines on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App). It will be Bennett’s 10th consecutive start after replacing former starter JT Daniels in a 62-0 win at Vanderbilt on September 25.

“Stetson is our starting quarterback,” said Smart. “Again the JT situation will be, is the situation good [in the game] and is he healthy enough? “

Daniels, a single transfer from USC, has only attempted 23 assists in two games since injuring a lat muscle against the Commodores.

“I think Stetson played at a high level and did a really good job with our offense,” said Smart. “He didn’t play perfectly at all, but he played well. It’s a decision we make as coaches, and for some reason there are some fans who may disagree. with that, who can be okay with that. [There’s] media who may disagree with her, who may agree with her.

“Our team understand that we’re going to give our team the best opportunity to win, and we think Stetson is doing it. It’s not to hit JT. That’s the part that’s so sad about it; [the media] want to ask questions of ourselves as coaches, and I want to answer them as honestly as possible. But the hardest part is that every time you ask a question, you push the comparison home. Really, at the end of the day they’re two different shifts and they’re both good in their own right. “


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