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Kirby Smart has done the best job of handling a tricky situation, again
On Wednesday, Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant announced that he would be redshirting for the rest of the year and transferring, essentially removing himself from the Clemson team. This comes after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney announced that freshman quarterback Trevor Lawerence would be starting against Syracuse on Monday.
Bryant called the decision by Swinney a slap in the face, as Bryant posted a 16-2 mark as a starter and led Clemson to a College Football Playoff a year ago. But Lawerence is a generational type talent, as he was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2018 class. And Swinney’s faced a decision like this before. In 2014, Swinney went with a veteran, Cole Stoudt, over a hyped freshman, Deshaun Watson, to start the season. That Clemson team lost to Georgia, but had Watson, who led Clemson to the 2016 national title, started maybe the game ends differently.
We’ve laid all of that out to say that juggling a quarterback room is no easy task. And yet, Georgia coach Kirby Smart has done a pretty great job of it so far. In his first year, he turned to the generational talent in Jacob Eason. While the team went 8-5, no one would say that was the wrong move. Last season he again turned to a freshman in Jake Fromm, even through Eason had more raw talent. But again, the results can’t be questioned as Georgia was a handful of plays from a national title.
As for this year, Smart is sticking with experience—and also it’s not like Fromm is a bum. He’s a better quarterback than both Bryant and Alabama’s Jalen Hurts—over the highest-rated quarterback Georgia has ever signed in Justin Fields. So far it’s worked, as Georgia’s scored 40 points in every game, and there’s been little squabbling about the offense.
It’s also worth pointing out that on ESPN’s college football page, there are separate articles about likely landing spots for Bryant and Hurts (who hasn’t announced his intention to transfer yet). There wasn’t one on either Fromm or Fields, which shows, at least publicly, that Smart’s doing the best job he can at managing the Georgia quarterback room.
And likely everything else Smart seems to do, his best is pretty darn good.
The D’Andre Swift injury news show why you can never how too much of a good anything
On Wednesday night, Georgia running back D’Andre Swift confirmed what many had long thought. The reason he had been limited against Middle Tennessee State to just four carries was because of a groin injury.
“I get treatment at 7 in the morning every day, try to do it a few times a day to get ready for practices, but I’m good now,” Swift said on Wednesday. “It has been going on for a while.”
Related: Georgia football RB D’Andre Swift battling nagging groin injury
Fortunately for Georgia fans the injury hasn’t proven to be too serious, as he returned for the Missouri game and finished with 16 carries, the most by any Georgia running back in the 43-29 win. But imagine for a second that it had been a more significant injury. Say Swift had to miss a number of games. He’d be the second running back Georgia has lost, after freshman Zamir White tore his ACL in the preseason.
While Georgia likely would’ve been able to get by Elijah Holyfield, who has been great this year, Brian Herrien and James Cook. But injuries happen over the course of the season, and at the running back position in particular. Georgia fans don’t need reminding how in the span of a few weeks in the 2013 season, the Bulldogs went from giving the ball to Todd Gurley and a healthy Keith Marshall to Brendan Douglas.
This is why it matters that Kirby Smart is able to keep reeling in top talent every year. It isn’t enough in college football to sign a great and capable running back, wide receiver, pass rusher, etc., every two or three cycles. Georgia, like Alabama and Ohio State have, needs to sign a great running back every cycle. That’s why it’s so important that after signing White and Cook in the 2018 class and Georgia is set to add 5-star running back John Emery Jr. in the 2019 class.
Injuries happen in all walks of football. Nick Saban didn’t win five championships at Alabama because he figured out some great football secret. What Saban realized is that you always have to be recruiting at every position. So far, it looks like that lesson rubbed off on Smart as Georgia signed the No. 1 class in the country in 2018 and is poised to do so again in 2019. And if Smart keeps up that “always be recruiting” philosophy going, it won’t be the end of the world when Georgia has to turn from one running back to another.
ICYMI: Before the Hedges
Are you a true recruiting junkie? Then DawgNation has a show that you’ll definitely want to check out, as every Wednesday, DawgNation airs “Before the Hedges.” The hour(ish) long show gives you exclusive recruiting scoops and insights from DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell as well as thoughts and analysis from Brandon Adams. The show starts at 3 p.m.(ish) so make sure to turn in for next week’s show.
You can catch up on Wednesday’s show below. One of the most interesting topics on Wednesday’s show was who Sentell and Adams thought were the five recruits Georgia absolutely have to sign. And of course, there was some disagreement and debate.
Adams went with: 5-star WR Jadon Haselwood, 5-star RB John Emery Jr., 5-star DT Travon Walker, 5-star DE Nolan Smith and 4-star LB Rian Davis
Sentell countered with: 5-star DE Nolan Smith, 5-star WR Jadon Haselwood, 5-star DT Travon Walker, 5-star RB John Emery Jr. and 5-star WR Dominick Blaylock
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