ATHENS, Ga. — Tavarres King likes how No. 5 Georgia is getting production from more than a couple of receivers.
After the Bulldogs lost Michael Bennett and Marlon Brown to season-ending knee injuries, King wondered how less experienced teammates would complement him and fellow starter Malcolm Mitchell.
If last week’s blowout victory at Auburn is an indication, King says that Georgia will be just fine.
King, the Bulldogs’ lone senior receiver and undisputed leader at his position with Brown sidelined, believes Georgia (9-1) will continue to benefit from its depth when Georgia Southern (8-2) visits Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s very important for me to just stay healthy and continue to show the young guys the ropes,” King said. “They’ve had to grow up here in the last four or five weeks really fast.”
Despite having Bennett and Brown back home in Athens last week, quarterback Aaron Murray found plenty of open targets to shred Auburn’s defense.
King and Mitchell combined for eight catches, 120 yards and two TDs.
Tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome combined 42 yards receiving on five catches. Chris Conley, who plays behind King at flanker, had four catches for 32 yards and one touchdown.
A time may come, however, for Rhett McGowan, Rantavious Wooten and Justin Scott-Wesley to show that they can consistently handle more responsibility.
Given how any player is just an injury away from moving up the depth chart, King believes the younger players have shown they have the skills and work ethic to succeed.
“I feel like everybody’s grown, including myself, as a player,” King said. “I feel like the younger guys that didn’t get as many snaps early on are growing now.”
King, who leads the Bulldogs with 624 yards receiving and seven touchdown catches, made the most of his chances last week.
Considered by coach Mark Richt to be one of the team’s senior leaders, King honored Brown by wearing his jersey No. 15 and keeping his feet inbounds while pulling down a 17-yard TD catch.
King was still smiling this week.
“When it hit my hands I knew I had it,” King said. “So I just looked to the ground to see where I was and tried to get one of (my feet) down in there and then I tried to get two just to make sure.”
Having played alongside future NFL receivers A.J. Green and Mohamed Massaquoi earlier in his Georgia career, King has made it his responsibility to make sure that his younger teammates always have a veteran guy who listens as well as he plays.
Richt appreciates how King, like Green and Massaquoi before him, is always eager to help. The coach credits King’s positive attitude with helping him rank No. 2 among active players in the Southeastern Conference with 2,276 career yards receiving and 19 touchdown catches.
“We love T.K. and what he’s been doing on the field and off the field,” Richt said. “It’s just the type of person he is and the type of leader that he’s been. We think the world of T.K., and I’m very confident that he’ll end up getting drafted and have a good pro career.”
Against Georgia Southern, the Bulldogs will face a defense that’s allowing less than 19 points per game, but one that’s given up 88 total points during their last three games.
King says that Georgia will be prepared for the Eagles to play their best game of the season.
“Anytime you step on that field and go against somebody who has some pride about them, it’s a challenge,” King said. “They want to beat you and you want to beat them and they want to do everything they can to not get beat. So it’ll be a challenge for us out wide, but hopefully we’ll be able to handle our business.”