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Georgia tailback D'Andre Swift (7) during the Bulldogs’ game against Kentucky on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

ATHENS, Ga. — As Georgia and Kentucky played to a scoreless first half last Saturday night in Sanford Stadium, the booing was every bit as evident as the steady rain falling to the Dooley Field turf.

Bulldogs fourth-year coach Kirby Smart said after the eventual 21-0 triumph that headphones prevent him for hearing such sounds. The boos did not escape Georgia's players, including junior running back D'Andre Swift, who was on his way to a 179-yard, two-touchdown performance.

"We're going to do what we need to do to win games," Swift said. "If people don't like what we're doing, then they shouldn't come to the games. This was probably frustrating for the fans, but as a team you try to find a way to win."

As Georgia continues to find its way offensively, Swift is providing quite the foundational rock.

The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder from Philadelphia has vaulted into the lead among Southeastern Conference rushers, having amassed 292 yards and three touchdowns in the past two games. The Bulldogs have been shaky around him, turning the ball over four times during a stunning 20-17 loss to South Carolina in double-overtime on Oct. 12 and being limited by the elements last weekend.

"He's the heart and soul," Smart said. "He's a leader. He's inspirational. The runs get the fans involved, but Swift gets the team involved with all the things he does and says."

Said junior quarterback Jake Fromm: "D'Andre has always been the guy. He's a big-time player for us and our offense."

Swift, who backed up seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel when he was a freshman and split carries with Elijah Holyfield last season, has been Georgia's go-to weapon this year, especially this month. That's reflected by his combined 61 carries against Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky.

His longest run against South Carolina was just 14 yards, but Swift matched that on his first carry against Kentucky and then added gains of 20 and 23 in the second quarter and 39 midway through the third. His 39-yard run resulted in the game's first touchdown and basically sealed the contest, given how stingy the Bulldogs were on defense.

"The O-line got more movement this week," Swift said. "I ran the ball outside and had more options, because I had more cutback lanes. I made people miss."

Swift has 110 rushes for 752 yards and seven touchdowns for the season, with his average of 6.84 yards per carry topping all of the league's premier tailbacks as well.

The Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1) worked on improving their passing attack last week, but Saturday's conditions negated any proof of their progress. They are off this week but will be on a grand stage Nov. 2, when they face No. 7 Florida (6-1, 4-1) in Jacksonville.

"It doesn't matter what kind of play we call," Swift said. "We've just got to execute on offense and convert on third down."

 

Odds and ends

The Bulldogs practiced practiced Tuesday for two hours, their first since Saturday evening's win. ... Smart said Tuesday night that graduate transfer receiver Lawrence Cager (shoulder) is conditioning and running but is not practicing.

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

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