ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Sunday he expected junior tailback D’Andre Swift to play in the SEC Championship Game against LSU.
On Monday, Smart’s wording had changed: “We’re hopeful that he’s going to be able to play.”
It might just be semantics.
RELATED: Kirby Smart says Sunday he expects Swift to play
But the Bulldogs have closed practice this week — the last open practice was Nov. 4 — so there’s no way to know Swift’s participation level in workouts after he left last Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech.
Smart also said on Saturday after the Georgia Tech game he expected Swift to be fine: “He’s a really tough guy. He probably could have gone back in the game if he needed to.”
On Sunday, Smart said: “I expect D’Andre to be fine.”
The Bulldogs beat the Yellow Jackets 52-7 on Saturday, but Swift was not a major factor, finishing with 73 yards on 10 carries and two fumbles.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and tailback James Cook went over to Swift on the sideline after he emerged from the injury tent and prayed with the star runner.
Fromm said they prayed for “supernatural” healing.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said on his Sunday night teleconference that’s exactly what he expects, too.
“In a big game like this, people miraculously get well towards the end of the week,” Orgeron said. “So we expect their best players to play.”
And in the event Swift can’t play — the junior may have worn down last season, fumbling twice and finishing with 8 carries for 12 yards in a 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss to Texas last season — Orgeron and Smart agreed the Bulldogs have quality depth.
“A team like Georgia, they’ve recruited well, I’m sure they have some young guys,” Orgeron said. “We have the same thing. We call it “next man up” theory. I’m sure they have the “next man up” theory, and they’re going to play just as well as the starters. So I don’t think that’s going to be any benefit to us at all.”
Smart said he has confidence in senior Brian Herrien and the rest of the UGA running back stable.
“Very confident, Zamir (White) had some good games and gotten to play more and more, we’re trying to find ways to use him,” Smart said. “James (Cook) the same way, and Kenny (McIntosh) got to go in the game and did some good things the other day, so I feel very comfortable about the other guys.
“Obviously Swift has a different skill set probably as a total package than all of them, and we want him to be in there, but we have got some depth at that position that we can use guys.”
Georgia running back leaders
Swift 193 carries, 1,203 yards, 6.2 ypc., 7 TD
Herrien 95 carries, 466 yards, 4.9 ypc., 6 TD
White 55 carries, 311 yards, 5.7 ypc., 2 TD
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