George Pickens injury upsets hopes of Georgia national soccer championship

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George Pickens injury affects national title hopes for Georgia soccer

1. There’s no sugarcoating how much this injury sucks for George Pickens. Heading into his junior season, Pickens looked set to become one of the best wide receivers in the sport.

Instead, he will spend much of 2021 now recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. Georgia announced the news of the injuries Wednesday with head coach Kirby Smart offering his thoughts on the news.

“The good news is that the MRI showed that it was an isolated lesion with no other structures involved,” Smart said. “George is a great worker. I know he will bring the same work ethic to rehab that he shows in practice every day. “

Related: George Pickens will have knee surgery after an anterior cruciate ligament injury

Pickens had been Georgia’s best receiver in terms of yards and touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. While he didn’t statistically improve in his sophomore year, his game really took off once JT Daniels became the starting quarterback.

In those last four games, Pickens had 23 receptions for 373 yards and four touchdowns. Georgia also won all four games.

This loss is devastating not only for Georgia, but for college football as a whole. Pickens was a lot of fun to watch.

Related: ‘Goodbye’ George Pickens, social media reacts to news of anterior cruciate ligament injury

two. If there is one player perhaps more affected by Pickens’ injury, it is Daniels. The two had an obvious connection last season and figured they would only build on that in the offseason.

Even when Pickens was not open, Daniels felt comfortable throwing it at Pickens because the latter was talented enough to at best finish him off and at worst prevent the opposing defense from making an interception. .

Now even more pressure is on Daniels’ shoulders. He still has a lot of talent around him and Smart publicly named Daniels as Georgia’s starting quarterback this week.

If Georgia is going to win a national championship, Daniels will always have to be Georgia’s best player. But Pickens was certainly going to help ease the burden Daniels now carries.

3. As for the spacious reception room in particular, two players plan to see an increase in playing time and responsibility.

Related: What’s Next After George Pickens Injury? Jermaine Burton’s role could increase

The most obvious is Jermaine Burton. The sophomore had a strong freshman season, with a 197-yard performance against Mississippi State that was a better performance than Pickens did.

Burton looked like a potential breakout candidate this spring due to his athleticism and ability to grow this offseason as he enters his second season on the show.

“Last year we couldn’t be very versatile, because Jermaine Burton was trying to learn a position,” Smart said. “Now, we are training Jermaine Burton to learn both sides. It was the Z last year; he needs to be the Z and the X. There are so many little things that they are so much ahead of in terms of knowledge.

The other name is Justin Robinson, a freshman in a red shirt. It is the only receiver that offers a physical structure similar to that of Pickens. So far this spring, former Georgia wide receiver Terrence Edwards has heard good things about how Robinson has practiced.

Georgia will need the likes of Kearis Jackson, Arian Smith, and others to do more in 2021 to try and replicate the numbers Pickens did.

Four. Pickens’ injury also puts a little more pressure on wide receivers Dominick Blaylock and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. Both suffered season-ending injuries during the 2020 season and will go through their spring practices to recover.

“Both young men are running in a straight line and starting to increase their workload,” Smart said in early March. “They are not working with us on our offseason conditioning program, which means they are not in actual exercise. They have to work separately, but they are picking up speed. “

Related: Injured Georgia catchers ‘just in time for where they need to be’ before spring practice starts

With Pickens healthy, Georgia could afford to be cautious about bringing back the two talented wide receivers. Georgia won’t be in a rush to bring either of them back, but that means the Bulldogs will need to get a little more out of these two former top picks.

It’s also worth noting that Blaylock and Rosemy-Jacksaint are the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receiver prospects Georgia has signed under Smart. Now, with Pickens out, all three have suffered season-ending injuries during their careers at Georgia.

5. Another way Georgia can supplant the loss of Pickens is by extending more targets to running backs and tight ends. At times last season, Georgia saw James Cook, John FitzPatrick and Darnell Washington emerge as useful weapons, albeit in small sample sizes.

Bulldogs will clearly need to come up with ways to get them more involved. Smart has commented that Georgia is way ahead of where the offense was a season ago and that will allow Georgia to dig deeper into Todd Monken’s bag of tricks.

Monken did a great job intriguing the open players last season and that will be even more important now with Pickens out. Tight ends and running backs will benefit the most from a deeper Monken playbook.

6. How Pickens responds and attacks rehab will help determine if he can contribute to the 2021 team. Every ACL injury is different and it is not out of the question that Pickens will make an effort to return at the end of the season.

But that means that Pickens takes care of everything during his recovery process. As Smart said when praising cornerback Kelee Ringo, that’s not always the case for players returning from injury.

“A lot of guys get injured and retire,” Smart said. “He[Ringo] never checked. It was registered. He sat at the front of the meeting. Answered questions every day

There is also the fact that Pickens will be eligible for the draft after this season. He could choose to declare for the NFL draft after this season, whether he plays for Georgia again or not. Pickens also obviously has the ability to go back to school for another season if he chooses to do so.

Pickens has some decisions to make regarding his future in Georgia. How you choose to handle the next few months will speak volumes about yourself, specifically for potential NFL teams.

7. As problematic as this injury is for Georgia, the Bulldogs are well positioned to deal with it. Pickens was injured in the fourth spring soccer practice. There is plenty of time to adapt the offense and make up for the loss of its most talented playmaker.

Pickens’ absence shouldn’t cost Georgia the SEC East either. The Bulldogs remain superior to all teams in the division and the Bulldogs will continue to be the favorites to come to Atlanta for the SEC championship.

However, Pickens’ loss will be felt the most in that SEC championship game, as well as in the first game of the season against Clemson. Looking at the last three games of the national championship, the winner has obtained at least 150 receiving yards from his best receiver. Justyn Ross had 153 yards against Alabama, Ja’Marr Chase accumulated 221 yards against Clemson and Devonta Smith finished with 215 yards in the victory against Ohio State.

Pickens had the best chance of reaching that level for Georgia. It’s not like the Bulldogs have a ready-to-go replacement that can do what Pickens did. The Bulldogs could search the transfer portal to add a veteran at the position, but other than Jordan Davis and Daniels, there was no player more irreplaceable from a talent standpoint than Pickens.

8. Smart and the Bulldogs talk about fighting adversity all the time. With Pickens now at least for most of the 2021 campaign, the Georgia team is now facing a lot of that.

This injury does not prevent Georgia from winning a national championship. Georgia has more than enough time and talent to eventually overcome this injury. Alabama lost Jaylen Waddle last season and kept humming on the offensive side of the ball.

But for a show that has gone more than 40 years without winning one, that task certainly gets tougher in 2021 without the super talented Pickens.

How George Pickens’ injury affects Georgia’s soccer title hopes

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