Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith is “doubtful” for Saturday’s showdown against Tennessee, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart announced during his Monday press conference.
“The availability has not been determined,” Smart said of Smith. “It does not look good for his availability this week. He’s got a pec muscle. It’s one of those deals we’ve done an MRI on. We’re still getting some opinions on it but he’s probably doubtful for this week.”
The senior outside linebacker has been perhaps Georgia’s best edge rusher on a roster that’s sometimes struggled getting to the passer this season.
Update: Smith was ruled out for the season with a torn pec Tuesday morning.
Smith leads the Bulldogs with three sacks on the season while adding 18 tackles and one pass deflection. The 6-foot-3, 235 pound linebacker has some versatility but comes off the edge as a pass rusher in obvious passing down.
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Georgia still boasts the SEC’s best defense, giving up just 10 points per game this season. However, the Bulldogs pass rush has taken a step back. Georgia ranks last in the SEC with just 10 sacks on the season.
In comparison, Tennessee ranks fourth in the SEC with 21 sacks two months into the season.
Both teams enter the SEC east deciding matchup unbeaten on the season. Georgia is No. 1 in the AP poll while the Vols are tied with Ohio State in the No. 2 spot. The initial College Football Playoff ranking comes out Tuesday night with a strong chance for the teams to be No. 1 and No. 2.
Georgia is nine-point home favorites ahead of the highly anticipated matchup against the Vols.
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Kick off at Sanford Stadium is at 3:30 p.m. ET. Brad Nesler, Gary Danielson and Jenny Dell are on the call for CBS.