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College
How D’Andre Swift is ‘trying to be the best running back in college football’
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How D’Andre Swift is ‘trying to be the best running back in college football’

How D’Andre Swift is ‘trying to be the best running back in college football’

How D’Andre Swift is ‘trying to be the best running back in college football’

Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

D'Andre Swift off to a strong start to the 2019 season for Georgia football

ATHENS Mark Webb is proud of the football leagues played in and around the city of Philadelphia. While the area does not have the same amount of talent as say the metro Atlanta area, it is highly competitive and has produced the likes of Marvin Harrison, Matt Ryan, Steve Slaton and Will Fuller.

Webb is also among the greats to come out of the Philadelphia area, as he played his high school football for Archbishiop Wood High School. The junior defensive back was clearly a talented player, as he's now a starter on the Georgia defense.

But there was one player from the area who shined brighter than he did during his high school years. It was his cousin, D'Andre Swift.

As a senior, Swift ran for 1,564 yards and 25 touchdowns on just 149 carries atSaint Joseph's Preparatory School. That's a touchdown roughly every 6 carries.

"He was pretty good. If we had a best player, he was the best in the league," Webb said of Swift.

By now, just about every Georgia fan knows what Swift is capable of. After flashing as a freshman, he was Georgia's leading rusher a season ago, finishing the year with 1,049 rushing yards. He was named Second-Team All-SEC for his performance.

But the final numbers and accolades don't paint an accurate picture of what Swift went through as a sophomore. He was significantly slowed by offseason groin surgery to begin the 2018 season. Swift didn't top 100 yards rushing in a game through the first 7 games of the season. Then he proceeded to do it in 4 of Georgia's next 5 games.

Related: SEC Network analyst predicts Georgia running back D'Andre Swift to win 2019 Heisman Trophy

As a junior, Swift now has his sights set higher. Fully healthy, or at least as healthy as a starting running back can be, Swift doesn't want to just be known as one of the top running backs in the SEC.

"It's just crazy how his work ethic has compounded," Webb said. "The work he was doing in high school compared to now, he's trying to be the best running back in college football. It's crazy to see the work he puts in. He's doing sit-ups in his room, and we definitely wasn't doing that back then."

Swift got off to a much faster start to his junior season, as he racked up 147 yards against Vanderbilt on only 16 carries. He then added another 67 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win over Murray State.

Though it is through just two games, Swift has shown he's one of the most explosive players in the country. Of players with at least 20-plus carries, only Appalachian State's Darryton Evans has as a high yards per carry average than Swift's 9.73. Of Swift's 22 rushing attempts so far, 9 have gone for at least 10-plus yards so far. That's tied for 5th in the country, and every player ahead of him has more carries.

Given Georgia prefers a balanced workload under Kirby Smart only once in 2018 did a Georgia running back finish a game with 20 carries and it wasn't Swift the junior running back isn't likely to see a Herschel Walker level of touches. But Swift pretty clearly makes the most out of his touches.

"He's done well. He's put up good numbers, right, He didn't really, have much of a rotation this past weekend," Smart said. "We got up, and once we got up, we weren't going to sit there and let him carry it the whole game, so it was a tale of two games. One game he needed to carry it more, and one game he didn't."

Related: Kirby Smart details how D'Andre Swift has set himself apart' this spring

There's been another change of sorts with Swift this season, as he's taken on a more vocal role on the team.

Georgia has had a long tradition of great running backs. When Swift was a freshman, the team was defined by the play and leadership styles of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. And now in a similar position as those two Georgia greats, he's trying to pass it on the next group of Bulldogs.

"D'Andre relishes that role," Smart said. "I think he understands that he's one of the inspirational players on the team; he inspires others to do more by the way he competes on the field, the way he runs the ball, the energy he attacks practice with. He tries to set a good example for the young players. "

Smart highlighted how in the Murray State game Swift went up and spoke with freshman wide receiver George Pickens after a "bonehead" unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. At the time in the game, the Georgia win was already well in hand, but that wasn't enough for Swift.

"He knows George is going to be a good player so here's an opportunity for him to impart some of his wisdom and knowledge on George, and I think Swift does that really well," Smart said.

Swift also seems to be at his happiest when gets to talk up some of the younger running backs in Georgia's talented group. No player has been happier for Zamir White's success than Swift. After White scored his first career touchdown, Swift came up to him and told the redshirt freshman it was going to be the first of many.

Related: Cover 4 on Georgia football: What kind of year will D'Andre Swift have this fall?

While some skill position players want to see more and more touches, Swift is very content to share the ball and thus spotlight. When he speaks publicly, he's much more like to discuss what the team does well as opposed to himself.

"I'm happy to see everybody eat," Swift said. "We all want to see each other eat."

At some point this season, Georgia will need Swift to feast more than his fellow running backs. It needed that in several games last season and he more than lived up to the task. For Georgia to be the best version of itself in 2019, the Bulldogs are going to need Swift to do that once again in 2019.

When Swift announced his public commitment to Georgia, he did so in a video that very much highlighted his Philadelphia roots. And if everything goes right for Swift and the Bulldogs this season, he can climb the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum as the best running back in college football, or even better as a champion.

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  • ATHENS Georgia football passed the test Saturday night, but just barely. Coach Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs surely need the bye week they are afforded this week after surviving Notre Dame by a 23-17 count at Sanford Stadium. It was a case of home field advantage trumping the so-called luck of the Irish. UGA fans were so loud that they triggered six motion penalties and forced Notre Dame to burn valuable timeouts. As for the 4-0 Bulldogs, they were often their own worst enemies, from muffed punts to tight ends running wide open. There will be a great deal of disparity where takes on this game are concerned, depending on if people consider Notre Dame a legitimate top 10 opponent, or revert back to the Irish's 30-3 CFP final score last season. The baseline here is that Notre Dame is indeed a Top 10 opponent, and certainly the best team Georgia will see until the month of November when a trip to Auburn is on tap. Another issue here is this looked like a game plan with personnel decisions that were made without regard to the first three games of the season. Quarterback (A) Jake Fromm was 20-of-26 passing for 187 yards and a touchdown, and once again he came through when afforded the opportunity to use tempo in UGA's version of the hurry-up. Fromm put the ball in tight windows and used his legs for two rushes that netted 15 yards. Once Fromm went downfield, the offense came to life, making one wonder why that isn't the approach from the onset. Running backs (B) Brian Herrien had the longest run of the night, a much-needed 16-yarder that sparked a key scoring drive in the second half. D'Andre Swift had 18 carries for 98 yards, including a highlight-worthy 10-yarder during which he leaped a player. Neither Swift (5.4) nor Herrien (5.2) were able to take over the game, however. Meanwhile, James Cook only got one carry and Zamir White and Kenny McIntosh didn't touch the ball. Receivers (A) Lawrence Cager was outstanding, likely playing himself into the 2020 NFL Draft with that 5-catch, 82-yard performance that included a gyrating TD grab that proved to be the difference in the game Demetris Robertson had 4 catches for 48 yards and Dominick Blaylock looked good (2-19) when afforded the opportunity. George Pickens, the most talented WR in the group, was only targeted twice. Eli Wolf is clearly the best TE target on the team and showed that again with a clutch third down grab. Offensive Line (B-) Notre Dame ranked 120th in the nation against the run, but you'd never know it by the way it held up against the Georgia offensive line. The Bulldogs averaged 4.6 yards per rush, but Jake Fromm saw more pressure than he'd seen all season and took one particularly nasty shot when Cade Mays got beat off the edge. Isiah Wilson's return for the third quarter provided a lift. Justin Shaffer filled in well, but he had a costly 15-yard personal foul. Defensive Line (A-) This much-maligned unit is starting to earn respect with its gritty and disciplined play his season. Notre Dame's run game was pretty much non-existent (3.3 yards per carry), and for all he talk on Ian Book UGA kept him contained for the most part. Georgia nearly made a goal-line stand thanks to the physical efforts of the Bulldogs' defensive line, which forced four downs inside the 5. Tyler Clark, Justin Young and Jordan Davis were warriors. Linebackers (A-) It was Tae Crowder's finest performance, as he came through with nine stops and the best open-field tackling performance of his career. Crowder had one of just three TFLs for the Bulldogs as well. Monty Rice had seven tackles including what appeared to be a bone-jarring hit on Book that had to leave a mark. Outside backers Nolan Smith and Jermaine Johnson were in hot pursuit of Book on the final play, forcing a scramble that limited the effectiveness of the final heave. Secondary (B-) J.R. Reed's late interception was the sort of veteran play he'll be looked to make in all the big games. Reed led the defense with 3 PBU and tied Richard LeCounte with seven tackles. The unit had to step up with Tyson Campbell out for the game and Eric Stokes missing from the second play until late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. D.J. Daniel had 5 tackles at corner and provided mostly adequate coverage. Tyrique McGhee is another veteran who stepped up, repping at corner all week with Campbell out and not getting UGA beat. Special teams (D) If not for Rodrigo Blankenship's steady field goal kicks makes of 40, 31 and 43 this unit was a fail. Sophomore punter Jake Camarda performed like a nervous freshman, shanking two kicks at critical junctures at the start of the game (25 yards) and again at the end (27 yards). Tyler Simmons punt return muff at the 8 set up Notre Dame for it's only TD of the first half. The kick return game continues to disappoint despite all the big names in the group. Coaching (D+) Credit to Georgia for some halftime adjustments, because Notre Dame arrived with the better game plan and use of its personnel. The Irish coached to win and UGA coached not to lose, and nearly gave the game away in the fourth quarter (Alabama, anyone?). The Bulldogs reluctance to use tempo more often is curious considering Fromm's efficiency. The inability to account for the tight end (9-108) was mind-bogging. Cole Kmet was running wide open too many times. Some offensive personnel usage decisions will be worth reviewing. Overall (B) The fans can pat themselves on the back for helping to decide this game, as they bailed out the coaches on a night when the Georgia players battled their guts out against a determined Notre Dame football team. Smart needs to use the off week and review his big-game and fourth quarter philosophies. It could be a matter of the Bulldogs underestimating the Irish. Whatever, UGA appears a half-click off from performing at a championship level, and it's not a matter of player talent. DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Kirby Smart says Georgia got tested' in 23-17 win Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly: Physicality was real' Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post Georgia report card: Bulldogs overcome themselves in 23-17 win over Notre Dame appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will remember Saturday night's classic at Georgia as one of the most physical games he has personally witnessed. 'You could hear it out there, the physicality was real,' Kelly said. 'It was probably one of the most physical games that I have coached, against any team that I have competed against, and that's a lot of games that I've coached.' The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs held off Kelly's No. 7-ranked Fighting Irish, 23-17, before a record crowd of 93,246 at Sanford Stadium. Notre Dame outplayed Georgia in the first half, taking a 10-7 lead into intermission before the Bulldogs' depth took its toll. 'Up front, we're trying to match (personnel), and trying to figure out what's going to come on the field,' Kelly said, 'and it's 3-down (linemen) and it's 4-down and it's different personnel groupings. It's more depth than we've seen.' The Bulldogs' offensive line took its toll as well. Georgia rushed for 97 of its 152 yards on the ground in the second half. The Bulldogs, however, were unable to break a run longer than 16 yards against a Notre Dame defense that entered the night 120th in the nation against the run. 'We kind of knew what we had and what we needed to do in this game,' Kelly said. 'If you give Georgia the opportunity to run the football, you have no chance to win the game. 'The game plan was set that they were going to have some one-on-one shots on the perimeter, but the extra hat was going to be committed to the run. And they hit some one-on-one shots on the perimeter, but we had to be effective against the run, or we had no chance.' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post WATCH Brian Kelly: Physicality was real' in 23-17 loss to Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia coach Kirby Smart learned something about his program on Saturday night, and it was very nearly a painful lesson. Smart and his No. 3-ranked Bulldogs escaped, pulling out a 23-17 win over Notre Dame. But not before the No. 7-ranked Irish (2-1) took UGA (4-0) down to the wire. The biggest home weekend in recent Georgia football history the first non-conference matchup of Top 10 teams since 1966 very nearly became the most disappointing. 'You don't know what's inside you in life or football until you get tested, and I thought we we got tested tonight, and found out a lot about our team,' Smart said, moments after his defense knocked down Ian Book's fourth down pass from the Georgia 37-yard line in the game's final moments. 'We're far from perfect, and we've got to get a lot better,' Smart said, 'but they'll fight you over and over again.' That's what it took against a physical and determined Fighting Irish team that came in seeking respect after being designated a two-touchdown underdog. Notre Dame took chances downfield from the onset. The Irish pierced Smart's defense repeatedly with tight end Cole Kmet, who had 9 catches for 108 yards and a TD. 'They were running boots, waggles, (and) that guy is a phenomenal player,' Smart said. 'You notice later in the game they tried to target him and we had two or three pass break-ups.' The Bulldogs also had two second-half interceptions and held the Irish without a third down in the third quarter. Georgia had star players step up, too. RELATED: WR Lawrence Cager steps up in clutch 'There were some really large hearts out there tonight,' Smart said. 'D'Andre Swift ran the ball with passion, guts and just relentless effort.' Swift had a career-high 18 carries for 98 yards and a TD, hurdling a Notre Dame player on a spectacular 10-yard run. 'The effort and leadership of a Jake Fromm, for him to third down scramble and take two hits and almost get a first down and manage the game really beautifully,' Smart said. 'And the defense to rise up and keep playing past a bunch of injuries, a couple injuries on the offensive line, I'm just proud of our guys.' Fromm was 20-of-26 passing for 187 yards passing and a TD, taking care of the football against was had been a very opportunistic Notre Dame football teams It was a beat-up Georgia team by the end of the night, several players pushing through injuries to help the Bulldogs pull out the win Cornerback Eric Stokes left the game with a leg injury on Notre Dame's second play, only to return late in the fourth quarter to help stem the Irish's comeback attempt. The Bulldogs lost starting left guard Solomon Kindley to a left ankle injury in the second quarter, triggering yet another shuffle on an offensive line that entered the night without Isaiah Wilson. Wilson came off the bench to start the second half, like Stokes, pushing through in a game where every play mattered. Indeed, even the crowd played a pivotal role. The Sanford Stadium record crowd of 93,246 triggered six Notre Dame motion penalties. 'I think when you get tested, you find out something about yourself inside,' Smart said. 'They had not been tested like that. They came out fighting.' Georgia football coach Kirby Smart DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post WATCH Kirby Smart: Georgia got tested' in 23-17 win over Notre Dame appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Here's something you can expect to happen a lot over the next 48 hours: No. 3-ranked UGA will be penalized and criticized by the national media because the Bulldogs didn't beat Notre Dame convincingly enough as the national media had predicted. Notre Dame will get more credit for losing a close game on the road rather than UGA will for actually winning a big game. Crazy, huh? ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is arguably college football's top influencer, and he got the narrative rolling in the wee hours of Sunday morning when he tweeted out his top four. UGA dropped out of Herbstreit's top four last week, and they stayed that way this week despite the fact that Bulldogs had just defeated a top-10 opponent in No. 7 Notre Dame. But it was Herbstreit's next tweet that stirred up UGA fans where he focused more on Notre Dame's gaining 'national respect' for their 'willingness to play in a heavyweight brawl' on the road, as opposed to elongated praise for the Bulldogs for pulling out the clutch win, despite not playing at their best (Herbie did throw UGA a small bone with the 'great win' comment, if that counts for much). SO IMPRESSED by @NDFootball tonight!! Willingness to play in a heavyweight brawl. Battled and had a chance to win in the end. Did NOTHING to hurt their cause-only strengthened their position. Great win for @GeorgiaFootball but Irish on the road gained some national respect! Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 22, 2019 Herbstreit is one of the first college football influencers to spin that narrative, but he won't be the last within the next couple of days. For UGA, it's a tough position because the Bulldogs never said they would win big that was Las Vegas and the national media. The post Kirk Herbstreit leaves UGA out of his top 4 again, heavily praises Notre Dame appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia receiver Lawrence Cager was ready and waiting after the Bulldogs turned QB Jake Fromm loose in the second half. Cager helped provide just enough offense in the second half for Georgia to beat Notre Dame 23-17. Cager's pivotal leaping TD grab in the corner of the end zone provided the Bulldogs with a 20-10 leads with 13:19 left in the game. Cager, a graduate transfer from Miami, helped key the touchdown drive with a leaping 36-yard catch four plays earlier. It was also Cager helping to keep the Bulldogs in the game in the first half, coming up with a contested 4-yard catch on a third-and-9. The reception sustained a 13-play, 75-yard TD drive that tied the game 7-7 in the second quarter. Cager finished with 5 catches for 82 yards and a TD. Safety Divaad Wilson made a good case for himself, as well. Wilson secured a momentum-turning interception in the third quarter and came up with a key PBU on third down. The post Georgia football game ball in 23-17 win over Notre Dame: WR Lawrence Cager appeared first on DawgNation.