ATHENS — D’Andre Swift has never had a 100-yard rushing game as a Georgia Bulldog.
That fact may come as a surprise to some, but it didn’t to Swift. He knew it and he doesn’t like it.
“I’m very motivated about that,” Swift said during the Bulldogs’ preparations for Middle Tennessee State this week.
The century mark has long been the gold standard for running backs, and Georgia’s Swift has piled up 100-yard games like cordwood since he first started playing rec ball back in Philadelphia. But now he’s three games into his sophomore year with the Bulldogs, and Swift is still anxiously awaiting the day when he picks up the postgame stat sheet and sees his day’s work covered triple digits in real estate.
He didn’t think it’d be this long.
“I try to get 100 yards every time I’m on the field,” Swift said. “Hopefully Saturday that will come.”
The Bulldogs and Swift might be a bit disappointed if they don’t come through on that objective Saturday. The Blue Raiders (1-1) are allowing 139 yards rushing a game and have given up 72 points this season. They allowed 176 yards but no 100-yard rusher in a 35-7 loss at Vanderbilt in the opener. Jamari Wakefield led the Commodores with 56 yards on 10 carries.
Of course, the lack of a 100-yard game on his college resume is not an indictment of Swift’s inherent ball-running abilities. The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder with the apt last name averaged a gaudy 7.6 yards per carry as the Bulldogs’ third-string back last year. Playing behind his famous teammates Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Swift smanaged to pile up 618 yards rushing and another 153 receiving while scoring four touchdowns his freshman year.
Swift almost got 100 yards once last season. He ended up with 94 yards in a 53-28 win over Missouri midseason in Athens. That was also the game that he recorded his season-long run of 71 yards. It was one of two games in which Swift finished as the team’s leading rusher. He also led the Bulldogs with 88 yards on 7 carries against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. That was the one in which he burst free on the well-chronicled 64-yard TD run.
He’s had no such run yet this season. But it’s early, and Swift is sure it will come.
“I haven’t really played a full game yet,” Swift pointed out. “It’s good when we don’t, but it is what it is.”
Of course, the other thing holding back Swift and all of Georgia’s backs is the load-sharing philosophy of head coach Kirby Smart and running backs coach Dell McGee. Swift has had the most carries in both of the Bulldogs’ games so far. He had 12 against South Carolina and eight to go along with four receptions in the opener against Austin Peay. He’s the team’s leading rusher with 107 yards overall. More importantly, Swift scored in both games.
Freshman James Cook is second on the team with 104 yards on 17 carries, Elijah Holyfield has 100 on 14 rushing attempts and Brian Herrien has 8 for 47.
But nobody in the backfield has been able to do what Georgia did so well last year, and that’s break a long one. Cook has the running backs’ longest run from scrimmage at 36 yards, Holyfield went 26 on one run and Swift’s longest so far was his 17-yard score against the Gamecocks.
Swift is nothing if not patient, though. Back in August, when the Bulldogs were toiling through the summer heat to get ready for the season, he promised that “the highlights will come.” And he was standing behind that promise this week.
“I think it’s mostly just not having an opportunity yet,” Swift said. “We’ll get some open space and it will come I’m sure. We’ve been close.”
Swift said the onus for taking one “to the house” is on the backs, not Georgia’s offensive line.
“It comes with making people miss, making DBs miss, linebackers,” Swift said. “Our O-line does a great job of getting us to the second level. We’ve just got to make those plays.”
If last year was any indication, Swift will, sooner or later.