Georgia's Damian Swann regrets the tackle that should have been

Georgia's Damian Swann regrets the tackle that should have been

September 4th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

UGA University of Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia made its share of mistakes throughout last Saturday's 38-35 opening loss at Clemson, including the tackle that wasn't by junior cornerback Damian Swann.

After the Bulldogs tied the game at 7 on a 75-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley with 9:17 remaining in the first quarter, the Tigers took over at their 23-yard line. A short pass from Tajh Boyd to Sammy Watkins became an explosive play when Swann allowed Watkins to break free for a 77-yard score.

"The biggest thing was just getting the guy on the ground, which I had the opportunity to do," Swann said Tuesday. "I think I let one get away, and it is what it is. At first, I don't even think he knew I was there, and it was one of those things where I tried to hit him and didn't wrap up.

"Things happen, and I should have just made the tackle."

Swann, the only member of Georgia's defense who started all 14 games last season, was joined in the secondary Saturday by former walk-on safety Connor Norman, freshman safety Tray Matthews and freshman cornerback Brendan Langley. This Saturday against South Carolina, sophomore safety Josh Harvey-Clemons will be back from suspension and junior safety Corey Moore is expected back from a knee sprain.

"I hope they're going to add the rest of the pieces that we need," Swann said. "They're both physical guys, and Corey has waited his turn for a long time. I'm ready and excited to see what those guys can do."

New look up front

Senior Garrison Smith is listed as the starting nose tackle this week. The 6-foot-3, 299-pounder has been a starting defensive end all year but also played inside at Clemson.

"I probably played a little more nose last week, but I'll play wherever the coaches need me," Smith said. "I just enjoy playing on the line. You've got to be a man in those trenches, and the nose is definitely a different kind of animal, but I like challenges."

Said coach Mark Richt: "A lot of times it might be just a matter of trying to get more agile pass-rushers inside rather than the big run-stopping, space-eater guys."

With Smith listed at nose, the two starting ends are sophomore Josh Dawson and redshirt sophomore Sterling Bailey.

"Josh was a guy who was brought in as an outside linebacker, but his body grew up to more of an end for us," Richt said. "He's a guy who's going to give us quality play and quality snaps."

Kicking competitors

With Marshall Morgan suspended for this week's game, the place-kicking chores likely will be handled again by Patrick Beless.

"Beless has done a very good job for us," Richt said. "He was very accurate in camp, and Adam Erickson was as well. It was a very close competition, actually. I think both of them are capable, and either one of them could possibly kick for us with either extra points or field goals."

Beless, a sophomore walk-on, made all five extra-point attempts against the Tigers but never got to attempt a field goal when a high snap by Nathan Theus was fumbled by Erickson late in the third quarter.

Odds and ends

Georgia is playing top-10 teams in consecutive games for the first time since defeating LSU and losing to Tennessee in 1998. ... John Theus was listed as the top right tackle last week, but Kolton Houston got the start at Clemson and is listed as the starter this week. ... The Bulldogs are 30-45-2 all-time against ranked teams in Sanford Stadium. ... Quarterback Aaron Murray has made 42 career starts, the most of any active player in the NCAA.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.