D’Andre Swift may be ready to grab a bigger share of the carries No. 13 Georgia has been giving its senior tailback tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Swift, a freshman, could be in position for a more prominent role when the Bulldogs face Samford on Saturday night.
Swift earned compliments from coach Kirby Smart for his blocking in Georgia’s win over Appalachian State to open the season. The freshman from Philadelphia showed his big-play potential with a 40-yard run in last week’s win at Notre Dame, leading to speculation he’ll be a bigger part of this week’s plan.
Part of the plan could come as a receiver out of the backfield. Despite his limited exposure, Swift leads Georgia running backs with four catches.
When Michel’s minor ankle injury suffered against Notre Dame is added to the equation, this could be the week Swift has his most significant playing time of the young season for Georgia (2-0).
Coach Kirby Smart said Swift’s maturity is “very similar” to freshman starting right tackle Andrew Thomas.
“He’s a very mature kid,” said Smart of Swift. “He picks it up the first time. He doesn’t need two reps. He understands the game.”
Georgia running game, expected to be the strength of the offense, is especially important as yet another freshman, quarterback Jake Fromm , makes his first home start against Samford (2-0). Fromm passed for only 141 yards with one touchdown and one interception while making his first start in the 20-19 win at Notre Dame .
Georgia has relied on its big-play defense to support the offense the last two weeks.
Jacob Eason, who started against Appalachian State before suffering a left knee sprain in the first quarter, leaned on a crutch on the sideline last week. It was an indication he is not yet close to returning.
Here are some more things to watch when Samford, a FCS team from the Southern Conference, plays Georgia for the first time since 1943, when it was known as Howard:
COACHING CONNECTION: Samford coach Chris Hatcher gave Smart his first job. Hatcher was Valdosta State’s coach when he hired Smart as an assistant in 2000 and promoted the young coach to defensive coordinator in 2001.
“’I’m very thankful of the opportunity he gave me,” Smart said. “I really enjoyed my time on his staff. Some of my greatest memories are at Valdosta State. I was young then and a whole lot different as a coach.”
SEC SCHEDULES: This will be the sixth SEC opponent for Samford in the last seven years. Mississippi State beat Samford 56-41 in 2016. Samford threw for 468 yards while completing 42 of 70 passes.
HATCH ATTACK: Hatcher, who also has served as coach at Georgia Southern and Murray State, was known for his explosive offense when he worked with Smart at Valdosta State. He still has high standards on offense, which explains why he says this year’s unit has been “erratic” despite averaging 38.5 points.
“Our defense and special teams have kept us in the games,” Hatcher said. “The thing about this team is we’ve been able to fight through adversity in both football games and find a way to win, a mark of a really good team.”
PATIENT CHUBB: Chubb, who has topped 1,000 yards rushing in two of his three seasons, may have difficulty posting big numbers again in a deep backfield. He said he’s OK with his modest two-game totals of 28 carries for 159 yards.
“It is a challenge to give everybody enough carries and enough touches,” Chubb said. “They do a great job of distributing those out.”
Michel has 160 yards on 29 carries.
INJURY UPDATE: Smart said cornerback Malkom Parrish (broken bone in foot) and Eason “are really improving, so we’re excited about where they are.” Parrish had surgery before the season and, like Eason, is not expected to return against Samford.