Even as Georgia offense struggles, D’Andre Swift continues to show why he’s one of the best in the country
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D’Andre Swift continues to shine even with concerns about Georgia football offense
For the most part, the Georgia offense has struggled since the start of October. The nadir came in the fourth quarter against Auburn, when the Bulldogs finished the quarter with just 2 total yards and 0 first downs.
And yet, the Bulldogs have been able to just enough to win a third-straight SEC East crown. And the one offensive player who has remained a consistent positive presence is junior D’Andre Swift.
Swift racked up 106 yards against Auburn. That pushed his season total to 1,027 yards. Most of those have come against loaded boxes, as teams haven’t had much of a reason to respect the Georgia passing game. And he’s still averaging 6.26 yards per carry, just a shade under his 6.44 average in 2018.
The junior running back is clearly the straw that stirs the drink for the Bulldogs on offense. He’s second in the SEC in rushing and has a team-high seven touchdowns. And he’s made a number of high-level defenders look foolish this season.
The talent has never been a question with Swift. He was a 5-star prospect in the 2017 recruiting cycle and showed why during his freshman season. His 64-yard touchdown run against Auburn in the 2017 SEC Championship game is one of the more iconic plays from one of the most memorable seasons in Georgia’s history.
He continued to flash that talent last year, as he and Elijah Holyfield each topped 1,000 rushing yards. He was clearly the lightning to Holyfield’s Thunder, as Holyfield actually had more carries in 2018.
As a junior, Swift has added another element to his game this season, much like how Larry Bird or Magic Johnson would add something to their arsenals after every NBA season.
“What I think this year has shown is the exact question everybody had: Can he endure, can he take on the load, can he handle the responsibility of X number of carries, whatever that number is, and I think he’s proven that, that he can do that well,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
To Smart’s point, Swift has carried the ball more times through 10 games in 2019 — 164 carries — than he did in 14 games during the 2018 season — 163 times. And for all the questions about where the explosive rushing plays have gone, Swift has just one-fewer 20-yard run than he did all of last season. He’s run for 10-plus yards 31 times compared to the 32 times he did in 2018.
As one Auburn defender learned the hard way on Saturday, Swift is still capable of breaking off a big play at any moment.
— Hiro Katsuki (@KatsukiFB) November 16, 2019
“His ability to make a defender miss is unbelievable. You can see it on film,” Georgia tight end Eli Wolf said. “If he doesn’t make a guy miss, it’s a 3-yard gain. But he does and turns it into a 30-yard gain.”
Swift has pulled off moves like the one in the clip above time and time again. It’s why many — Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN — see Swift as the top running back in this upcoming NFL draft. Most have Swift pegged as a first-round draft pick, even as the value in running backs have dropped. Swift is just that good.
Or in the words of teammate Azeez Ojulari, he’s a lot of other things.
“Swift is just different. He’s fast, quick mobile. He can truck you. He can jump over you, cut quick, spin,” Ojulari said. “He’s just elusive. He can block. He’s an all-around back. He can do anything you want him to do. You can’t really stop him.”
It’s for all those reasons just listed that there’s a real chance Saturday is Swift’s final home game. While Nick Chubb and Sony Michel made the decision to bypass the NFL draft as juniors, they also had a lot more questions about them at this point in their careers.
With Swift, there isn’t a whole lot more for him to do as an individual. He’s one of just five running backs in Georgia history to rush for over 1,000 yards in multiple seasons. He’s also caught 66 career passes, more than the 65 Todd Gurley caught during his storied Georgia career. He’s got a real chance to crack 3,000 career rushing yards in his Georgia career.
The only things that Swift can really do that would vault into that same rarified air of Chubb, Michel and maybe even Herschel Walker would be carrying the Georgia offense — literally — to a deep College Football Playoff run.
Whether he can do that will be seen in the coming weeks. Georgia’s next two games come against opponents teams that rank 69th and 96th in the country in yards per carry allowed. And should Georgia play an LSU in the SEC Championship game, Swift might get a chance to do something really special given that LSU just gave up 402 rushing yards against Ole Miss.
While the Georgia offense hasn’t always been great this season, Swift has maintained and added to the list of why he’s one of the best running backs and players in the country.
“To me he’s one of the most talented players in the country,” Smart said. “He makes things happen when they’re not there, and we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without him.”
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— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) November 18, 2019
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) November 18, 2019
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) November 19, 2019
— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) November 18, 2019
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