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Auburn photo by Todd Van Emst / Auburn sophomore receiver Anthony Schwartz had nine catches for 89 yards during the Tigers' victory over Ole Miss earlier this month.

CORRECTION: This story was corrected at 8:39 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, to correct the name of a freshman quarterback from Patrick Nix to Bo Nix in one reference.

ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs were able to contain college football's fastest player last season.

They're readying for the same challenge Saturday.

Auburn sophomore receiver Anthony Schwartz, a sprinter who set a world youth record with a 100-yard dash time of 10.15 seconds during the 2017 Florida Relays, hopes to impact Saturday's showdown between the No. 5 Bulldogs (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) and the No. 13 Tigers (7-2, 4-2). Georgia is looking to limit his productivity, having held Schwartz to a pair of catches for 27 yards during last November's 27-10 win by the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium.

"You try and know where he is, but they do a good job of putting him in different locations," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "They don't leave him in one spot. He's not always the feature guy. Sometimes he's the decoy and sometimes he's not the decoy, and you don't really ever know which one he's going to be. He's very explosive.

"I think awareness is how to handle it. We've got the players we've got, and they've got the players they got and nobody in the country is as fast as that guy."

Schwartz, a 6-foot, 179-pounder from Pembroke Pines, Florida, amassed seven touchdowns last season as a freshman. His 76-yard scoring reception against Tennessee was the longest play Auburn produced last year, and he had a 9-yard rushing touchdown against Alabama and a 6-yard rushing score during the Music City Bowl blistering of Purdue.

A broken left hand in early August wiped out most of Schwartz's second preseason with the Tigers and relegated him to a decoy role, with his first three games yielding just a 13-yard catch in a 55-16 dismantling of Kent State.

In Auburn's past six games, Schwartz has 22 receptions for 292 yards and a touchdown and eight rushes for 112 yards and two scores. His first big play of the season was a 57-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the 28-20 win at Texas A&M on Sept. 21.

The past three games have resulted in Schwartz developing into a top target for freshman quarterback Bo Nix, as he has amassed 18 catches for 195 yards and a score. In Auburn's most recent game, a 20-14 escape of Ole Miss on Nov. 2, he had a 50-yard reception.

"He wasn't able to play early on, and then he came back with a little cast on his hand for a couple of weeks," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "He's finally getting to a point where he can just play football. He's a dynamic guy with the ball in his hands, and he's really good without the ball, too. I really think he's a complete football player."

Said Bulldogs senior safety J.R. Reed: "You've got to get people to the ball with that guy. When he's in open space, you've got to tackle him. You can't let him break loose."

Reed, Richard LeCounte and Eric Stokes are among Georgia's defensive backs who went up against Mecole Hardman in practice last year. Hardman ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at February's NFL combine and has 21 receptions for 437 yards (20.8 yards per catch) as a Kansas City Chiefs rookie, reaching the end zone five times.

"That most definitely helps having gone up against Mecole, but they use Schwartz in different ways," Reed said. "They just find ways to get this guy the ball in space and put the ball in his hands to make plays."

Georgia's task of containing Schwartz will have to come from all three levels of the defense, with senior tackle Michael Barnett stressing the importance of getting into Nix's face and trying to "really rattle him a little bit."

The Bulldogs handled Auburn's entire offense last season, limiting the Tigers to 274 total yards, but they are not resting on that accomplishment this week, especially now that Schwartz is becoming more of a factor in Malzahn's attack.

"Nobody's going to be able to match up with him and just run with him," Smart said. "You've got to have ways to put people over the top of him. You've got to have ways to protect against him. You've got to have ways to get your hands on him. They're going to get him the ball, and you've got to go tackle him.

"It's a good thing we're not in a track race against him. We've got to play football against him, but he's a really good player."

 

Building approved

Georgia's state Board of Regents on Wednesday approved the $80 million renovation and expansion of UGA's football facilities, much to the delight of Smart.

"It's a totally new football facility, and I'm most excited about the weightroom and the team meeting room and the ability to have new meeting rooms," he said. "There will be an area for the players to eat and be able to be over here when they're not in class. We're in some tight quarters right now, and this will free up some space.

"It's a big step for us, and it's not going to be an easy project. It will take a little time."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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