Through five games, Michael Bennett was leading Georgia in receiving with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns.
WHO: No. 5 Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) at No. 6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0).
WHAT: UGA’s fourth SEC game.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Columbia, S.C.
RADIO: Albany— 1450 AM or 103.5 FM; Americus — 98.7 FM or 1390 AM; Donalsonville — 106.3 FM; Moultrie 93.9 FM or 1300 AM.
LINE: Gamecocks by 2 1/2 points.
ATHENS — Georgia is dealing with a big loss heading into its Southeastern Conference showdown against South Carolina.
Michael Bennett, the No. 5 Bulldogs’ leading receiver, tore up his right knee in practice and is out for the year, coach Mark Richt announced Wednesday.
Bennett injured the anterior cruciate ligament on the last play of Tuesday’s practice. He will undergo reconstructive surgery, though no date has been set.
“He was engaged in a block,” Richt said. “He was just working it. Then, as he was moving — no one ran into him, no one rolled into him — his knee just buckled. And there it was.”
The third-year sophomore leads Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns. Though he wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, Bennett had developed into one of quarterback Aaron Murray’s favorite targets.
The only consolation for the Bulldogs is that receiver is one of the team’s deepest positions, especially since two-way player Malcolm Mitchell has moved back to offense after starting the year at cornerback.
“Especially with Bennett’s injury, we’re going to use him more offensively,” Richt said. “But that was already the plan last week. We were going to give him as much as we could offensively, then let him help out on defense if needed, if he was needed at all.”
The injury to Bennett will pave the way for more playing time for UGA’s other receivers, including redshirt freshman and former Mitchell County star Justin Scott-Wesley, who has seen limited action this season thus far (four games, one catch, 43 yards).
Chris Conley and Rhett McGowan also could take more of a role in the offense, bolstering a receiving corps that still has Tavarres King (16 catches, 307 yards, three TDs), Marlon Brown (17-272-3) and Rantavious Wooten (6-99-1).
Georgia faces No. 6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday in a game that will play a big role in deciding the SEC East champion.