No. 5 Dogs to be without LeCounte, Rochester against Gators

Defensive back Richard LeCounte has been moved out of intensive care in an Athens hospital as he recovers from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident that will keep him out of No. 5 Georgia’s game against No. 8 Florida on Saturday.

Coach Kirby Smart said Monday defensive lineman Julian Rochester also will not play against Florida due to a knee injury. Two starters, safety Lewis Cine (ankle) and defensive tackle Jordan Davis (elbow), have not been ruled out.

Smart said he doesn’t know if Davis will be able to play with a brace on the injured elbow.

Smart said wide receiver George Pickens and running back Kenny McIntosh could play against Florida after being held out of last week’s win at Kentucky with injuries.

Georgia (4-1) protected its hopes for a fourth straight SEC East title by beating Kentucky 14-3 last week. Injuries during the game, especially on defense, caused concern. The far bigger scare came with LeCounte’s accident after the team returned to Athens, Georgia.

LeCounte, a preseason AP first-team All-America selection, was taken to the trauma center at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center on Saturday night. Smart said LeCounte was moved from ICU to a regular room.

Smart and players were still shaken by what the coach described as LeCounte’s “very serious crash.”

“When you get news like that, it’s crushing, it’s disheartening,” Smart said. “It just makes everything flash before you, all of the experiences I’ve had with him, and it was a scary moment. … He’s very fortunate to have his helmet on and to be where he is now.”

Smart said he does not know when LeCounte will be able to play again. Georgia director of sports medicine Ron Courson said in a statement released Sunday LeCounte is expected to make a full recovery.

“Certainly was scary for our team, for everybody in our family, everybody in our organization,” Smart said. “It was scary for him and his family. It makes you hug your kids a little more at night for sure.”

The Athens Banner-Herald reported LeCounte’s injuries include a concussion. Smart said players sent LeCounte “a bunch of video messages.”

“It was shocking,” said running back Zamir White of LeCounte’s accident.

“At first I couldn’t believe it. It was heart-breaking. At first we were all scared. It was rough, man. It was tough.”

The accident ends LeCounte’s streak of 23 consecutive starts.

“It really hurt my heart because I know Richard loves this team and loves football,” said left tackle Jamaree Salyer. “He loves what he does. He loves being a leader and I know it hurts him being in this position, not being able to just be out here with the guys. I know he’s going to be sad about the game on Saturday and missing this time.”

LeCounte is tied for the SEC lead with three interceptions. He set a career high with 13 tackles and recovered a fumble in the win over the Wildcats and on Monday was named the SEC’s defensive player of the week.

Florida’s depth also has been challenged by injuries, COVID-19 test results and contact tracing. The Gators were without 15 players for last week’s 41-17 win over Missouri.

Florida will be without defensive lineman Zach Carter and linebacker Antwuan Powell for the first half against Georgia after the two were ejected for fighting against Missouri.

The Gators played against Missouri without three starting defensive backs: cornerback Marco Wilson and safeties Shawn Davis and Donvan Stiner. Backups Chester Kimbrough, C.J. McWilliams and Quincy Lenton also were unavailable.

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