Georgia football coach Kirby Smart was not into any D'Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson comparisons entering this Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta.
Swift was knocked out of this past Saturday's 52-7 win at Georgia Tech by a shoulder injury, with junior quarterback Jake Fromm sounding concerned afterward about the junior running back's availability for the showdown between the No. 4 Bulldogs (11-1) and the top-ranked Tigers (12-0) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder from Philadelphia has rushed for 1,203 yards and 6.2 yards per carry this season.
"He's a great teammate, and I love him to death," Fromm said Saturday in a news conference. "You really just kind of hope for the best for him and really hope that God heals him in a supernatural way, and hopefully he's ready next week."
Two years ago, it was Johnson nursing a shoulder injury for Auburn entering a date in Atlanta with the Bulldogs. Johnson had pounded out 167 yards on 32 carries in the Tigers' 40-17 win over the Bulldogs in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but he injured his shoulder two weeks later in a 26-14 victory over Alabama.
Johnson was not the same in the rematch with Georgia, rushing 13 times for 44 yards as the Bulldogs pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 28-7 triumph.
"I don't think it's the same scenario," Smart said Sunday afternoon. "I expect D'Andre to be fine."
Georgia is closing each of its practices this week, so Swift's effectiveness will be revealed Saturday afternoon shortly after 4 on CBS.
The Bulldogs are challenging the Tigers without graduate transfer receiver Lawrence Cager, who injured an ankle last week in practice, and they must play the first half without George Pickens. The five-star freshman receiver was ejected for fighting during the second half at Georgia Tech.
"I'm not really concerned about it, because there is not a lot that you can control," Smart said. "You put the players out there who can play for us and it's a next-man-up mentality. That's kind of the way we've been at receiver all year."
While Georgia will enter Atlanta with some concerns offensively, the Bulldogs are travelling a defense that has allowed just 257.0 yards and 10.4 points per game. Georgia's total defense ranks fourth nationally and its scoring defense ranks second.
LSU is second in the country in both total offense (560.5) and scoring (48.7).
"This is the best defense we've faced all year," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Sunday. "They'll pressure. They'll play man. They'll play zone. Their pass rush and their abilities to cover one-on-one is what makes them outstanding. The best defense we've played so far is Auburn, and from the little I've watched, they're very similar and a little bit different in a couple of spots."
Said Smart: "It really doesn't matter to me where we're ranked defensively or offensively. I know people will make a big deal out of those things, and they do have a bunch of offensive explosions this year and a tremendous offensive unit. I have a lot of respect for them, but that doesn't make the game any bigger. It's as big as it can be anyway."
LSU, which is coming off a 50-7 throttling of a Texas A&M team that Georgia held off 19-13 the week before, is expected to make the College Football Playoff regardless of what happens in the SEC title game, while the Bulldogs have to win to get in the four-team field. Orgeron is not thinking along those lines.
"That thought process will never enter our mind," he said Sunday. "We've got to finish this SEC championship, and then let's see where we're ranked."
Odds and ends
LSU opened Sunday afternoon as a 4-point favorite, with the line growing to 6 Sunday night. Smart expects to have Devonte Wyatt back this week after the junior defensive lineman missed the game at Tech.