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Georgia freshman receiver D'Andre Swift (7) has been impressive so far and should see lots of action against Samford on Saturday.

Georgia football: 4 freshmen to watch against Samford

Cy Brown

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Young Dawgs to watch against Samford

This is a good week, Georgia fans. Between worrying about what the team would look like to open the season the week before Appalachian State and then sweating over the biggest road trip in program history last week before Notre Dame, it’s been a stressful two weeks for Dawg fans.

But not this week. This week Georgia welcomes FCS opponent Samford to Sanford Stadium, the one and only cupcake on the schedule. A loss is virtually impossible, and the worst-case scenario is a close game a la Nicholls State last year. (Knock on wood.) So fans can sit back and count down the hours until they get to add another mark to the win column.

The game against Samford will afford us the opportunity to see players closer to the fringes of the squad get some work. In theory, Georgia will wrap this game up early and most of the second half will feature underclassmen getting  significant playing time. So here’s a quick look at four freshmen to keep an eye on Saturday.

4. Jake Fromm

This one comes straight from “duh” category. Of course you’re going have an eye on Jake Fromm. You literally have to if you want to watch the offense play. But it will be interesting to see what Kirby Smart and Jim Chaney throw at the quarterback against Samford. With the step down in competition, they might opt to open more of the playbook and rely on Fromm more to make plays and build confidence. There’s a greater margin for error than there was against Notre Dame, so you might as well use that to see just how much Fromm can handle.

3. Richard LeCounte

It’s hard to miss Richard LeCounte when he’s on the field because of the way the defensive back flies around it. He was darting in on tackles all over the place against Appalachian State, racking up 5. He actually got the start against Notre Dame — which doesn’t mean much considering how much UGA’s defense subs — but he only got 1 tackle. Against App State, he played both when the game was close and in garbage, and he’ll probably do that against versus Samford.

2. Walter Grant

Walter Grant has been considered a player fans should keep their eyes on for quite a while, but was never expected to garner much playing time because of the ridiculous amount of talent Georgia has at outside linebacker. But he got on the field against Notre Dame and made a major stop on a first quarter third down. I went into the season thinking he could be one for the future, but it’s looking more and more like he’s one for the present.

1. D’Andre Swift

It hasn’t taken long for Swift to become a fan-favorite from the Class of 2017. A 40-yard run to set up a touchdown in the third quarter of a tight game with Notre Dame will do that for you. He’s got the look of a player who can score  anytime he touches the ball. That run against Notre Dame really put him on the radar of Dawgs fans after a solid game against Appalachian State, and I think he has the biggest game of his short UGA career against Samford. He’ll get a few carries early  in relief of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, then should get a good bit of work in garbage time. Don’t count out the possibility that Swift becomes Georgia’s first tailback this season to rush for 100 yards in a game Saturday.

Mark Webb switches to defensive back

Speaking of freshman, one highly-rated member of the Class of 2017 is switching positions. Mark Webb is making the move from wide receiver to defensive back, but the move might not be permanent according to Smart. From Seth Emerson of DawgNation:

“We obviously have had concerns with injuries at that position. And we have a little more depth at receiver,” Smart said. “He’s been making plays on special teams. He tackles people. He played corner in high school.

“It’s not necessarily permanent. But he’s done a really good job. I really think he’s got a bright future there. We’ll sit down and revisit it when the time comes to see what he really wants to do.”

Sony Michel limited in practice

Another reason we could see more carries from Swift this week is the injury status of Michel. Smart said Michel suffered a minor ankle injury in the win over Notre Dame and will be limited in practice this week. He’s expected to be ready to play against Samford.

“I think he’s going to be fine,” Smart said, according to Emerson. “We’re just limiting his reps, and hoping he’ll be able to go Saturday. We think he’ll be able to.”

Aaron Murray on ‘gunslinger’ Jake Fromm

Any talk of Fromm’s potential is sure to include comparisons to the (statistically speaking) best quarterback in Georgia history, Aaron Murray. Emerson interviewed Murray, now a college football analyst for CBS Sports, about what he sees in Fromm, who Murray called a “gunslinger.” As you would expect, there’s plenty of insight from Georgia’s all-time passing leader, including this bit on how Murray thinks the QB situation shakes out when Jacob Eason returns from injury.

Murray mentioned the Florida game: If Georgia is 6-1 entering that game, or even 7-0, it would be hard to change quarterbacks.

“I think a lot of it is going to depend on where they are as a team. If they’re rolling and they’re winning, and things are going smooth, I don’t think you want to disrupt the ship. Especially at that position, if Fromm’s playing well,” Murray said.

“It’s going to depend on the timeline: When he’s going to be back, and how well they’re playing. If things are going rocky, and Fromm has been up-and-down, and the team feels confident that Eason’s healthy and is ready to roll, I’m sure they will go back with him.”

Earning your spikes

The new it item in college football is the turnover totem. Tennessee has a trash can. (I’ll let you make your own joke.) Miami has a gold chain. And now Georgia has the spiked pads.

You probably noticed the pads on outside linebacker Davin Bellamy following the game. He earned the right to wear them with the game-winning forced fumble in the fourth quarter. Fellow outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter gave some backstory on the origins of the spiked pads and confirmed they are a shoutout to UGA’s Spike Squad fan section.

“It’s a little thing we have for turnovers. When you get the ball off somebody, you get the spikes,” Carter said, according to Emerson. “We have the UGA spike squad that’s at the games. [Defensive coordinator Mel] Tucker came up with it, try to get us little incentives for getting the ball off people.”

Sage Hardin retires from football

Georgia lineman Sage Hardin has retired from football citing medical issues. He’ll stay on with the team as a student assistant and keep his scholarship, but it won’t count against the NCAA limit of 85.

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