ATHENS — Georgia might play its spring game without arguably its most dynamic offensive player because tailback D’Andre Swift continues to deal with a groin injury.
Swift suited up for the team’s scrimmage Saturday at Sanford Stadium, but did not participate in full-contact parts. Coach Kirby Smart answered “not sure yet” when asked if Swift would play in G-Day next Saturday.
“He’s been practicing every day,” Smart said. “He goes out there, he does pass [protection], he does some routes, as much as he can do. He just hasn’t been doing full, live tackle.”
Swift is the Bulldogs’ leading returning rusher from 2017. As a freshman last season, he ran for 618 yards and 3 touchdowns as a backup to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry while also catching 17 passes for 153 yards and another TD.
If Swift can’t play, that would mean a heavy dose of junior tailbacks Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien, who would be the only healthy scholarship tailbacks for G-Day.
Freshman Zamir White, the 5-star early enrollee, is still working his way back from knee surgery. James Cook, another highly touted signee, arrives this summer.
As the receiving production for Georgia tight ends has decreased over the years, the questions from fans (and media) about the subject has increased. And when offensive coordinator Jim Chaney moved from quarterbacks to tight ends coach this spring, the speculation turned to whether that would mean more involvement for Chaney’s new unit in the passing game.
But Smart made his annoyance clear with that subject when asked Saturday.
“I am so tired of the tight end questions,” Smart said. “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know if they caught it more or less. The end line for me is how many points do we score. To me, when they chart you, it’s how many points do you score. If they give us 14 points for Isaac Nauta to catch a touchdown, we’ll start throwing it to him more. If we get 21 points for Charlie [Woerner] to catch one, I promise you we’ll design a play to get a 21-point play. But right now, we’re just trying to score points. And if that includes tight ends, that’s great.”
Georgia tight ends accounted for just 22 of the team’s 186 catches last year. Nauta saw his catch total go from 29 as a freshman to 9 last year.
But Nauta has said he thinks he actually had a better year last year, citing his improved blocking. And Georgia’s offense overall was much better.
“Do I think our tight ends have caught more balls this spring? Probably so, because we’ve thrown the ball more this spring than we have in the past,” Smart said. “But tight ends have to be a matchup disaster. Charlie had a big catch [Saturday]. Isaac Nauta had a big catch [Saturday]. I don’t know if they are being targeted more or if they are getting open more. A lot of it has to do with that GPS number, which is how fast they are running.”
The team had its second scrimmage of the spring, the third and final one being G-Day next week. While the first scrimmage generally went in favor of the offense, according to Smart, the second one was more balanced.
“We tried to run the ball some more, figuring we would test the defense, and I thought the defense had one of their better practices when it came to being able to stop the run,” Smart said. “And the offense kind of dominated the third-down period, and the defense had been dominating that.”
Smart also called it a “good, spirited scrimmage,” that was very competitive. (No players were available to talk about the scrimmage, which was not open to the public or the media.)
Another injury update
Defensive back Jarvis Wilson sprained a foot on Thursday and was unable to scrimmage on Saturday. Wilson, a senior, has been working at safety, mostly second team, as well as nickelback.
“We don’t know how long he’ll be out,” Smart said.
Smart also revealed that redshirt freshman receiver Matt Landers is playing with a thumb injury that requires him to wear a hard cast. However, he said Landers made some good plays during the scrimmage Saturday.
Richard LeCounte responds on field
Smart criticized safety Richard LeCounte on Thursday, indicating the sophomore had to make better decisions on the field and learn the playbook faster. So two days later Smart was asked how LeCounte did in the scrimmage.
“He did better,” Smart said, looking at reporters: “Maybe you guys helped him.”