ATHENS, Ga. -- Ask Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter to recall a particular instance of his team's last game, and you might not get an answer.
Some parts of the loss to Florida he remembers. Others he doesn't, thanks to a concussion he suffered while absorbing a brutal assault by Gators defenders during a 30-14 defeat on Oct. 30.
The hard hits are nothing new, but they're becoming more serious than the typical bump or bruise. "I've never got hit this much," he said.
Tuesday, he called for help. Carter said if the offense is to reach its potential in Georgia's remaining three games of the regular season, he's going to need protection.
"It's a big concern because I haven't seemed to get into a rhythm this year," said Carter, whose No. 14 Bulldogs are 6-2, 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
The sophomore seems genuinely concerned about his safety, and for good reason.
The concussion, which forced him to miss practice last week, was the second the 6-foot-3, 223-pounder has suffered in three games. The first came Oct. 16 in a 27-17 win at Vanderbilt. The week before, he was pummeled thoroughly by Tennessee's defense in a 37-20 defeat.
Though Georgia coach Jim Donnan said neither concussion was considered "more than a bad headache," he admitted that Carter is being hit more than he should be.
"We've got to do a better job of protecting him and taking care of him," Donnan said.
The injuries against the Commodores and Gators occurred when the Bulldogs were running the option, an attack that presents defenses with ample opportunity for open shots at opposing quarterbacks.
On the Bulldogs' second drive of the third quarter against Florida, Carter was peeling around left tackle when he was lifted into the air by Gators middle linebacker Eugene McCaslin, then slammed to the ground by outside linebacker Keith Kelsey.
Two plays later, Carter was belted by Kelsey again, just after he unleashed a pass. Donnan called them "two of the hardest hits I've ever seen."
"He just got really crushed there two plays in a row," he said.
With those recent poundings in mind, Carter said he would opt for another scheme were it up to him.
"I don't particularly like running it so much," he said of the option. "I'm not a big fan of it."
Don't look for Donnan to scrap it anytime soon. After all, the Bulldogs' fourth-year coach said, the option produced Georgia's only points against the Gators -- two first-half runs by Carter.
"That's kind of a double-edged sword, because if he doesn't run the ball in the first half, we might not have scored offensively," Donnan said. "The option was big for us."
Things won't be any easier for Carter on Saturday when Auburn visits Athens for a 6 p.m. tilt. Despite their 4-5 record (1-5 SEC), the Tigers boast perhaps the most physical and experienced defensive line in the conference.
Add to that the possible absence of junior left tackle Jonas Jennings, who suffered a sprained ankle against Florida, and Carter could have another rough day ahead.
"We're just going to go out there and do our job," said senior guard Steve Herndon. "We hate to see him take some shots like he has, but all we can control is each play at a time. We've just got to keep going out there and doing our job and hopefully we'll have some more success."
If the 6-foot-4, 302-pound Jennings is unavailable -- he was doubtful as of Tuesday -- the Bulldogs could start three freshmen on the line, though Donnan declined to reveal the particulars concerning such adjustments.
"We're not going to tell Auburn what we're going to do," he said.
TUBE TIME: Georgia's game at Ole Miss next week will be televised by ESPN2. Kickoff in Oxford, Miss., is set for 6 p.m. The Bulldogs beat South Carolina on the ESPN2 Sept. 11, and they're 5-0 all-time in games televised by the network.
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or at email@example.com.
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