We’re into October now and Saturday’s game with Vanderbilt marks the halfway point for Georgia’s football team.
It’s all been good so far, five consecutive wins all by 14 points or more. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, of course, but there have been very few surprises so far.
Well, except for one.
If I turned back the clock to August, I would have presumed that using D’Andre Swift’s name in a sentence with “240 yards” would have meant he would have had a huge rushing game against someone and he was still near the top of the Heisman Trophy watch list.
We thought that then. And now …
We certainly have to be surprised that Swift has gained only 240 yards all season so far. That’s not even 50 yards per game. That, frankly, is a surprise, especially the way he popped on the scene last year as a third option behind Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. His 618 yards were impressive, as was his 7.6-yards per carry average.
This year he’s averaging only 4.6 yards per carry, and hasn’t had a run longer than 17 yards. He had eight runs of 20 yards or more last year in limited duty. That’s quiet, and he’s also been quiet in the passing game, making just 6 catches.
That might be an even bigger surprise.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has been careful with Swift. He dealt with a groin injury a few weeks ago, and when he was banged up in the Middle Tennessee game, he only got four carries and then sat the rest of the game as a precaution.
The transformation from backup to star has been slow. And surprising.
“I think he was a changeup guy previously because he was the other guy coming in,” Smart told reporters this week. “Now he’s trying to be the guy and he’s having to carry the ball more. He’s in good shape. Pushes himself hard. Very pleased with his ability to protect and catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s working really hard.”
Swift, who scored 2 touchdowns against Tennessee, remains confident and he’s sure there will be big games ahead.
“I believe there’s always more things I could do better, but I believe I’ve played pretty well,” Swift told reporters. “It will come, it will come. I’m not really trying to press it, but it will come.”
Georgia has used four running backs extensively this season, with Elijah Holyfield, Brian Herrien and James Cook all getting touches. Holyfield started last week. And he actually leads the team in rushing so far, with 368 yards.
“We have to continue to help them,” Smart said. “I mean, we have to try to get them in favorable situations to run the ball, and they’ve done a good job of that. It pays off for us to always have fresh runners in there.”
There’s still plenty of time for Swift to have that huge game that we’ve expected from him, So far, his 71-yard effort against Missouri is his best day of the year.
“It’s going to come,” Swift said. “I’m not worried.”
We probably shouldn’t be either. We’ll wait and see, of course.