Georgia running back D’Andre Swift (7) runs with the football. The Louisiana State University Tigers defeated The Georgia Bulldogs 37-10 in the SEC Championship game on Dec. 7, 2019, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, https://gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

ATLANTA — The extent of D’Andre Swift’s shoulder injury had been a mystery leading up to the SEC championship game.

Swift exited the Georgia Tech game on Nov. 30, and head coach Kirby Smart called it a left shoulder contusion in his postgame comments. Throughout the week that followed, Smart insisted that Swift had been fine in practice.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Smart said during his Friday press conference. “I’m excited to see him go play, and we’ll have the expectation that he’ll play well.”

But from Georgia’s first possession against LSU in its 37-10 loss on Saturday, it was obvious Swift wasn’t at full capacity. And his own postgame comments contradicted his coach’s statements. Swift said he hadn’t been well all week.

“A lot of pain,” Swift said of his shoulder. “Really couldn’t run for real, couldn’t swing my arm. I didn’t have motion in my arm.”

He said the offensive game plan involved running between tackles to get the ball in space and protect his shoulder. But the game ended with little production from Georgia’s leading rusher, as he carried the ball only twice for 13 yards and caught three receptions for 18 yards.

Smart said Georgia’s game plan didn’t involve a heavy run game to begin with.

“We didn’t come out with a mentality of running the ball down your throat today,” Smart said. “If you thought we tried to do that, that probably wasn’t a good view on the game. We thought we had to score points to win the game.”

Swift is Georgia’s leading running back in every category with 1,216 yards on 195 attempts and seven touchdowns. He averaged 93.54 yards per game and broke the 100-yard mark in five of the Bulldogs’ 12 regular season games.

Without Swift’s production, Georgia wasn’t able to establish a consistent rushing game and was held to a season-low 61 yards on 25 carries.

Senior Brian Herrien took eight carries for 24 yards, Georgia’s top mark on an unproductive night. He acknowledged the extent of Swift’s shoulder injury and said it played a role in Swift’s inability to break out against the Tigers.

“I feel like if he had his shoulder healthy, he would’ve been able to make bigger plays than he had,” Herrien said.

After Herrien, Georgia’s next best rusher was James Cook, who gained 23 yards on five carries. Zamir White contributed 5 yards on five attempts.

Even after the Georgia ground attack — which had been heavily reliant on Swift all season — failed to produce against LSU’s defense, Smart held onto the belief that Swift’s shoulder injury wasn’t a serious matter.

“As far as I know, he was fine,” Smart said. “Toward the end of the game, we ended up holding him out once the outcome was decided, but he seemed fine to me.”

Swift, a junior with two consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons in Athens, could have played his last game in the Georgia uniform. He has the option to declare for the NFL draft and elect to sit out of Georgia’s bowl game.

If Swift leaves, the Bulldogs will miss him.

Recommended for you

(1) comment

Diesel Smith

This analysis completely missed the mark on the actual problems. What this article should have covered:

Kirby smart has to adapt. There is a reason UGA is the only “top” team still running the 2010 Alabama offense - Alabama doesn’t even run it anymore.

I appreciate all that Kirby has done, and by no means should he be fired anytime soon, but what he’s done is try to build a 2011/2012 Alabama team. He did it, we have great lines of scrimmage, we run the ball well and we defend the run exceptionally. The issue is that teams adjusted to that kind of team and started using the passing game to their advantage. Saban actually realized this and changed the way he runs his team, but Kirby hasn’t yet. He still thinks he can do it the old way, when clearly we can’t.

What good is having the best run defence in the country if LSU has no need to run it in the first place? What good is having a run first offence when we need to make a comeback in a game like this? We have serious talent on this team, but we need to find ways to utilize it in a manner that teams haven’t seen for the past decade.

What really hurts is that this game is going to have massive effects on our recruiting. Bama and Clemson will always get their recruits, but having to deal with a LSU of this level will make recruiting even more difficult. One of our most wanted 2021 prospects is a 5 star dual-threat QB named Caleb Williams, who LSU is also recruiting. Now tell me, which school would you rather go to if you’re a top QB prospect? Probably the one that just won a heisman and not the one where the QB struggles to hit 200 yards in a game. It’s no wonder that our QB situation for next year looks dire.

Our team is so talented, and that’s what makes this hurt so much. The talent disparity shouldn’t allow for a margin this large, but coaching and scheme are what is setting these two teams apart. I can only hope that we start to move in the right direction.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.