D’Andre Swift had the attention of his teammates at halftime. In a scoreless game, Swift knew something had to change.
“Match my intensity,” he said in the locker room. “I got us.”
Swift had 98 yards and two touchdowns in the second half to lead Georgia to a 21-0 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night in Sanford Stadium. He finished with a game-high 179 yards on 21 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per touch.
What might have been his biggest carry came after a shanked Kentucky punt in the third quarter. The game was still scoreless and Georgia got the ball on the Wildcat 39-yard line. Instead of a slow, methodical drive, Swift wanted some fireworks. He took the handoff from Jake Fromm and raced down the sideline and into the end zone to break the deadlock.
“That was awesome,” quarterback Jake Fromm said. “He put the team on his back during that run and made a great play.”
It was a rain-soaked night and the run game was forced to fuel the offense. Head coach Kirby Smart said Georgia received a weather prediction on Tuesday. As the week of practice progressed, the team adjusted. While it couldn't mimic the rain, it used water bottles to wet the footballs and mirror the game conditions.
Smart called Saturday a ‘parks and rec’ game, resemblant of Saturdays spent in the mud during youth football.
“This goes back to when you were a little kid,” Smart told his team. “You go out there and you either embrace it, or the conditions affect you. Whichever team handled that better was going to win the game.”
The mucky surface took Swift back to his days growing up in Philadelphia. The last time he played in a game this rainy and muddy, it was Pop Warner football and Swift was just starting to hone his craft.
Still, he had no problem being Georgia’s workhorse. He said that whatever the coaching staff asked him to do, he was going to do it.
“He’s heart and soul, leader and inspirational,” Smart said. “The runs kind of get the fans involved, Swift gets the team involved by all the things he does and says ... He’s got a lot of character, a lot of grit.”
Earlier in the week, Swift said the offense needed to create more explosive plays. Against Kentucky, Swift had three runs 20 yards or longer. Georgia finished with seven runs longer than 10 yards, Swift had six of them. He isn’t one to take the credit himself, though.
The junior spoke highly of his offensive line to make adjustments and create movement up front. He wasn’t as impressed with his own performance.
“I think I did alright,” Swift said.