Kevin C. Cox
Despite being several players below the NCAA scholarship limit, the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves close to a trip to the BCS Championship Game. How did the Bulldogs overcome the lack of scholarship players?
Going into the 2012 season, the Georgia Bulldogs were 15 scholarship players under the NCAA limit. Many believed that the lack of scholarship players on the team would be a detriment to the Bulldogs. Instead, the Bulldogs were five yards away from reaching the BCS Championship Game.
All of this attrition began last season when several players transferred from the program and five other players, including running back Isaiah Crowell, were dismissed. 69 scholarship players remained on the team at the beginning of the season and four of them were suspended two to four games.
Part of the reason why things went so well this season -- even with the smaller number of players -- was because injuries did not become a factor. Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt knows that even with some injuries, his core group of players stayed healthy all year:
"We did have a couple ACLs, as we know, and Abry (Jones), we lost for a good bit of time. But overall, we didn't have a massive amount of injuries. You don't play 85 guys in any one season. You might play a core of about 35 guys, 40 guys. So we were blessed to have guys stay healthy, and we just played well together."
The Bulldogs are not content to have this happen next season. Their 2013 recruiting class has more than 30 players committed to help shore up the numbers and Richt knows that it will help with depth next season:
"We certainly want to get our numbers back up, and we may have had a little depth issue here or there (this year)," Richt said. "But overall it worked out pretty good."