Georgia football will be without its top two wide receivers — Lawrence Cager and George Pickens — in the SEC Championship against LSU on Saturday. That might make it tempting for the Bulldogs offense to remain conservative in order to avoid a big mistake. After all, Georgia has won with its defense and an offense that simply takes care of the ball all season.
But ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said conservative play-calling would be a “disaster” for Georgia in the SEC Championship.
“James Cooley, the (Georgia) offensive coordinator, needs to be aggressive,” Herbstreit said on ESPN’s College GameDay. “They are going to go into this dome with 70 percent of that dome filled with red, and they need to have that in their corner. They can’t go predictable. They can’t run Swift and run Swift and be at third-and-six. That will be a disaster for them.
“If they just run Swift, it’s going to be a tough day for their offense.”
However, don’t think this means Herbstreit doesn’t believe Swift needs to have a huge performance in order for Georgia to upset LSU.
“He (Swift) can be involved as much in the passing game as he will be running the football, so I think he’s the entire key … If Georgia wins, we’re going to be talking about D’Andre Swift.”
Swift led the Bulldogs and finished fourth in the SEC with 1,203 rushing yards this season. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and rushed for seven touchdowns as well.
Georgia doesn’t throw a ton of passes to its backs, but when the offense does that, Swift has performed well. He has 21 catches for 198 yards and a touchdown this season.
Fellow analyst Pat Mcafee agreed that Swift is one of the biggest factors for Georgia to pull off the upset.
“I think this offense was going to be a run-the-ball offense anyways to keep Joe Burrow off the field,” Mcafee said in response to how much Georgia will miss Cager and Pickens. “Swift is going to have to have a big game, and that offensive line is going to have to do well.”
Former Bulldogs linebacker and ESPN analyst David Pollack called for a different back getting involved in the Georgia passing game.
“Georgia has to manufacture more offense because you’ve got guys in Cager and Pickens who are big-play, big targets that you can just throw to and let them catch it. You don’t have that luxury now, so James Cook … (he’s) a guy that they can get the football on jet sweeps on bubbles, make him apart of the game plan.”
Cook had 15 receptions for 121 yards during the regular season. He also posted 153 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 23 carries.
The SEC Championship will kick off at 4 pm ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.