Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith, the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs' leading pass-rusher this season, is doubtful to play in Saturday's showdown against No. 2 Tennessee because of a shoulder injury, coach Kirby Smart told reporters Monday.
Smith, a senior from Savannah, Georgia, was hurt in the first half of the Bulldogs' 42-20 victory against Florida and didn't return. Smart said after the game that he feared that Smith had dislocated his shoulder, but it's believed to be a muscle injury.
Smart didn't entirely rule Smith out from playing against the Volunteers but said he was "probably doubtful."
"His availability has not been determined," Smart said. "It does not look good for availability this week. It's a pec muscle, so it's one of those deals where we'll do an MRI on. We're still getting some opinions on it, but he's probably doubtful for this week."
Smith leads the Bulldogs with 3 sacks, 7 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries.
Without Smith, Georgia will have to look for other ways to pressure Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, who has thrown for 2,338 yards with 21 touchdowns and one interception this season. The Volunteers lead the FBS in scoring (49.4 points) and total offense (553 yards) and are second in passing (353.4 yards).
Sophomore Chaz Chambliss played well against Florida in Smith's absence, finishing with 3 tackles, 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss.
Georgia's defense ranks No. 2 in the FBS in scoring, allowing only 10.5 points per game, but it had struggled to sack the quarterback until the Florida game. The return of junior defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who had been sidelined for two games with a knee injury, was a big reason for that.
"He looked better than I thought," Smart said. "I hope we'll be able to have him at full speed."