During Friday’s pregame SEC Championship press conference with Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, the question was bound to come up for Kirby on whether or not he expected running back D’Andre Swift to play. Swift was injured in the third quarter of the Bulldogs’ final regular-season game versus Georgia Tech, had to leave the field, and did not return. While Kirby didn’t give a 100% guarantee, he did state that Swift is expected to suit up and play for the Bulldogs today.
“It’s hard to tell in practice. At this point of the season, you don’t go out and tackle and hit and do all those things. We practice against each other, and he’s practiced,” said Kirby. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I’m excited to see him go play, and we’ll have the expectation that he’ll play well.”
While UGA certainly has a number of capable and talented running backs in addition to Swift – players like senior Brian Herrien, sophomore James Cook, redshirt freshman Zamir White, and true freshman Kenny McIntosh – there is no denying that the task at hand will be simpler if not easier if Swift is able to play given his abilities. And ESPN College GameDay personality David Pollack didn’t mince words when asked if how important Swift was to Georgia in their hopes of winning.
“Fifteen,” said Pollack.
“I expect Swift to do what he does. I mean he always… I would love to see them more creative and find more ways… One of the keys would be to get him and Brian Herrien the ball out of the backfield because LSU is not good at covering backs,” added Pollack. “I think he has to have an enormous game if Georgia wants to win, and it needs to be inside and outside. It needs to be screens, it needs to be finding ways to get him the ball… You get him the ball in space and it’s just stupid. He’s the best back in the country, I think, in space. Georgia’s had a hard time getting him to the second level untouched and be interesting to see what kind of tweaks they have offensively.”
Just how much do opponents expect the threat of Swift when he is on the field? LSU head coach Ed Orgeron was asked to compare Georgia’s Swiftto another talented tailback, the Tigers’ Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
“I think they’re generally similar. He runs the outside zone about as good as anybody in the country. The guy is obviously fast,” said Orgeron. “I do believe that their scheme is different, so he probably has the same talents, the same skills, but their scheme is a little bit different than ours. He’s a more downhill runner. He’ll start to run downhill, put his foot in the grass and run over you or run around you. So I think the scheme makes him a little different player, but honestly, I think they possess similar skills.”