Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.
Georgia football looking for more from running backs heading into Kentucky game
Former Georgia running back D’Andre Swift scored a touchdown for the Detroit Lions on Sunday, helping them to a win in Atlanta. The former Georgia running back was taken with the No. 35 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after a strong Georgia career.
This all likely makes Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops very happy. Swift shredded the Kentucky defense in each of the past two seasons, rushing for 156 yards in 2018 and then 179 yards in 2019. After the 2019 performance, Stoops openly wished for Swift to head to the NFL.
Now with Swift suiting up for the Lions, Stoops won’t have to worry about slowing him down this Saturday when the Wildcats host the Bulldogs. Instead, he’ll have to scheme up a way to limit the other Georgia running backs.
And that’s proven to be an easier task than when Georgia had Swift.
There’s Zamir White, Georgia’s leading rusher and ball carrier. Through four games he leads the team in both carries, 64, and yards 266. But he hasn’t been the dynamic player that Swift was as he averages just 4.16 yards per carry for Georgia. Swift last season averaged 6.21 yards for every carry.
Through the first four games of the season, White has gotten more routine praise from head coach Kirby Smart for his work on special teams than he has as an offensive weapon.
“I think Zamir has been very productive, he’s better conditioned,” Smart said. “We are fortunate we were able to play a lot of backs, so he doesn’t get probably as many carries, but that never seems to frustrate him. He does a really good job of knowing his role and helping our team.”
With White filling more of the bruiser role, James Cook has been the running back to do the most damage in the passing game. He shined in the Alabama game, as he finished with 101 receiving yards. He also made the most explosive play of the season for the Bulldogs when he hauled in an 82-yard touchdown pass from Stetson Bennett.
“He makes really good cuts, has good vision,” Smart said of the freshman. “Every opportunity he has gotten he’s taken advantage of it and grown with it.”
Talent so far hasn’t been the problem for the Bulldogs at the running back spot. White, Cook and Milton have all had their moments, as has Kenny McIntosh, especially as a kick returner.
So why isn’t the Georgia running game as strong or dynamic as it has been in years past? In 2018, the Bulldogs ran for an average of 238 yards a game. Through the first four games of the 2020 season, the Bulldogs are averaging just 165 yards per game.
“I feel the run game there’s some stuff we need to pick up, but that’s on all of us,” White said. “The offense needs to come together more and lock it in.”
Related: Kirby Smart: Georgia football ‘always evaluating guys at quarterback’
Some of that can be chalked up to playing an SEC only schedule to this point. It’s also worth pointing out it each of Georgia’s running backs have been dinged up at some point this year. McIntosh didn’t practice last week after picking up a knee injury in the opening minutes of the Alabama game. White also added that he was a little sore during the Tennessee game, which contributed to his worst performance of the season.