Georgia football players have put training camp mentality behind them and are working on Vanderbilt, precisely how Kirby Smart had planned.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs play at Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 in Nashville, their long-term goal a national championship, but the immediate focus on the Commodores.
The good news at practice on Thursday was preseason All-American and Heisman Trophy candidate D’Andre Swift back in a red practice jersey.
This is where Smart would roll his eyes and tell the media that way too much is being made of what color jersey Swift is wearing in practices.
But this is also where many Georgia fans, aware of Swift’s injury history and his importance to the teams’ title hopes, want to know more.
Swift was nagged by injuries last season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in January of 2018.
Swift was limited in spring drills, and then things got worse at South Carolina last season when Swift suffered a foot injury.
Once healthy last season, Swift was seemingly unstoppable in November, averaging more than 9 yards per carry during a stretch of wins over Florida, Kentucky and Auburn.
Georgia was arguably playing the best football in the nation last November, and many are expecting big things from Swift this season.
So when Swift was late coming out for practice on Aug. 13, getting extra treatment on the heels of Scrimmage One, per NFL scouts, there were concerns.
Had Swift aggravated the groin injury? Was it something else?
Or, was it nothing.
When Swift was back at practice later in the week, showing no-ill effects or wearing any added braces or tape, all seemed well.
Then came Wednesday’s practice this week, when Swift was in a black practice jersey.
The non-contact jersey could have been as simple as making sure Swift didn’t take any necessary hits in thud drills.
But then, there might also have been more to the story — and still might be — as it has been a very physical fall camp and Swift saw hitting action in Scrimmage One like anyone else.
Either way, Smart was saying when asked about Swift’s non-contact jersey on Wednesday, playing off the question by claiming he was merely trying to distract the media.
Speculation at this point isn’t worth much, as even if Swift is nursing a bruised shoulder or sternum there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t be ready to play by Aug. 31.
And, if for some reason the injury proves more serious, Georgia has tremendous talent and depth in the offensive backfield.
Senior tailback Brian Herrien, who has been first through the drill work of late, was actually more effective running the ball in the Sugar Bowl than Swift.
Further, sophomore James Cook has had a tremendous offseason of growth, drawing consistent praise from his hard-to-please head coach.
Zamir White’s comeback from ACL surgery last August has been well-documented, creating a sense of guarded optimism around the program that the No. 1 back in the 2018 signing class might indeed make a significant impact.
Finally, incoming freshman tailback Kenny McIntosh has proven his skills, drawing praise from Smart after a strong Scrimmage Two performance.
Other reported observations included Cade Mays continuing to work with the first-team offensive line, and inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (ankle) and Jamaree Salyer (lower leg) continue to be out of practice.
Georgia football fall camp