Georgia coach Kirby Smart said running back D’Andre Swift and wide receiver George Pickens should be able to play against LSU in the SEC Championship game next week.
Swift was sidelined early in the third quarter of Georgia’s 52-7 victory against Georgia Tech with what Smart described as a “shoulder contusion,” or bruise. He expects the star junior to be able to practice over the coming week and play in Saturday’s 4 p.m. title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will have College Football Playoff implications.
“We think he’s going to be fine,” Smart said in his opening comments after the Bulldogs’ 52-7 victory. “He’s got a shoulder contusion, but we think he's going to be fine. He should be back.”
Swift, a junior from Philadelphia and the SEC’s third-leading rusher with 100.3 yards per game, finished Saturday’s game with 73 yards on 10 carries. He also lost two fumbles, including on the play when he was injured.
"He’s been dealing with that kind of all year,” Smart said. “He’s had shoulder contusions, and it’s bothered him from time to time. But he’s a really tough guy. He probably could have gone back in the game if he needed to. But he knew that wasn’t what we needed to do, we needed to rest him and get him ready.
“He’s been a warrior and a leader of this team. His spirit we’ll need next week, because he’s got a lot of energy and emotion that we need.”
Smart said Pickens also will be able to play, just not until the second half. Pickens, who caught one pass Saturday, for a 41-yard touchdown, was ejected for fighting with Tech defensive back Tre Swilling in the third quarter. As per SEC rules, he must sit out the next half of play, which will be the first half of Saturday’s game against LSU.
Smart also revealed that Pickens, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound freshman from Hoover, Ala., was suspended for the first half of the Tech game for an undisclosed “violation of team rules.” Smart declined to elaborate further on the suspension.
As for Saturday’s incident, Smart said: “Unfortunately, he got an undisciplined penalty and when you make undisciplined decisions, regardless of what done first, you pay a penalty for that. He won’t be able to play the first half of next week and when you make emotional decisions, that’s what happens. We’re going to help George. We’re going to help him grow up. We’re going to help him make better decisions do he can help our team, but that’s unfortunate.”
Pickens’ absence will leave the Bulldogs without their to two pass-catchers for the first half against the No. 2-ranked Tigers (11-0), who were playing Texas A&M in their season finale Saturday night. Graduate Lawrence Cager underwent surgery yesterday to repair an ankle injury suffered in practice Wednesday.
Pickens, who caught one pass against Tech, for a 41-yard touchdown, was ejected from the game after throwing several punches at Swilling. The penalty flags came after Dominick Blaylock had scored on a 9-yard pass from Jake Fromm on the other side of the field. They continued to fight well after whistles blew and Pickens tossed Swilling into a brick wall out of bounds outside the southeast corner of the end zone.
Smart went on a minute-long rant in which he both cursed and praised Pickens, who has been warned several times this season for being too emotional on field.
“I mean, don’t be stupid,” Smart said. “It’s just silly, it’s selfish, it’s undisciplined. It’s, ‘Why?’ You ask yourself why. Why would I give up an opportunity over what we have next week? Over what? I always ask guys, ‘was it worth it?’ That's what I always say. ‘Was it worth it?’ It's not worth it to me when you hurt the team.
“But you live and you grow up and you love them. And look, I love George Pickens. He went to the hosp[ital with us on Friday and did an unbelievable job. He had as much charisma and as much care for those kids as anybody we had there. George is a great kid. He’s a freshman.
“I know now because I have my own children, that you have to love them and you have to help them. And you have to discipline your children. They do things wrong, then they get punished.”
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