Notebook: Damian Swann emerges as playmaker on UGA defense

On a Georgia defense with no shortage of high-profile players, cornerback Damian Swann has called a lot of attention to himself the past two Saturdays.

Against Florida, he forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and sacked a quarterback. Against Ole Miss, he recovered two fumbles, one of which he returned 53 yards, and made another sack.

“Just play every play,” Swann said, “because there’s no telling what could happen.”

He was especially surprised by what happened on his second fumble recovery against Ole Miss.

“I just looked up, and the ball was coming,” Swann said. “I just grabbed it. I thought it was Christmas already.”

Swann, a sophomore from Atlanta (Grady High), has stepped up his game as Georgia’s defense has hit its stride after disappointing performances earlier in the season.

In the past two games, the Bulldogs have held opponents to 121 yards rushing (75 by Florida and 46 by Ole Miss) and forced nine turnovers (six by Florida and three by Ole Miss). Georgia won the games 17-9 (over Florida) and 37-10 (over Ole Miss).

“It’s all coming around,” Swann said. “We’re playing the defense we know we’re capable of playing. That just comes with really taking it seriously and getting in the film room and practicing harder and paying attention to detail.”

Fullback update

Georgia fullback Merritt Hall returned to practice in a limited capacity this week and appears on the way to being able to play Saturday at Auburn. Hall has been sidelined since the first play of the Florida game with an ankle injury.

Junior Zander Ogletree has drawn praise from coaches for his play while filling in for Hall. Ogletree did not play in the season’s first six games and played one special-teams snap in the seventh. He appears in line to start against Auburn.

“It feels great just to start or make a play or anything for Georgia,” Ogletree said. “It feels awesome. Any opportunity is a blessing. I just waited my turn. I got pushed back a little bit, but I wasn’t going to let it hold me back and kept fighting and let it motivate me.”

Gates’ versatility

Kenarious Gates, who has played every position on Georgia’s offensive line except center during his UGA career, was unsure earlier this week whether he’d play left tackle, left guard or right guard against Auburn. And he seemed fine with any of the above.

“I prefer tackle because I feel like it’s my natural position,” Gates said. “But I have fun at both positions. It’s different people you go against. At tackle, you go against the speed. At guard, you go against the power. So you’ve got to be ready for both. That’s what I’m preparing for.”

Gates, Georgia’s starting left tackle, shifted to right guard after Chris Burnette left last week’s game against Ole Miss with a shoulder injury. Mark Beard took over at left tackle.

Burnette has been sidelined from practice this week and won’t start Saturday. Gates said “the word going around” is that he’ll start at left or right guard, with Dallas Lee at the other. In practice Wednesday, Gates was working at left guard and Lee at right guard.


“It’ll be fun playing against my old defensive coach. … It’ll be a fun game just to showcase my talents to him.”

— Georgia fifth-year senior cornerback Sanders Commings on Auburn defensive backs coach (and former UGA defensive coordinator) Willie Martinez, who coached Commings in 2008 and 2009.


Georgia has won five of its past six games against Auburn, the loss coming in 2010. … Saturday’s game will be the 120th in the series, which dates to an 1892 game in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. … A Georgia win would tie the series, which Auburn leads 54-53-8.

– Tim Tucker and Chip Towers

39 comments Add your comment

Granthams The Man!

November 8th, 2012
7:51 pm

Go Dawgs! I don’t think motovation will be a problem in this one. Everybody remembers Nick Fairley trying to take Murray out of the game with Dirty and illegal late hits.

UGA payed them back last year, now they will get some more at the scene of the crime. GATA.


November 8th, 2012
8:15 pm

Mr. Swann has a bright future. Study hard , stay humble and hungry. Go Dawgs!

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November 8th, 2012
9:05 pm

thats how we do it in atl. B. Smith[Washington] G. Smith [Douglass] D. Swann [Grady]


November 8th, 2012
9:09 pm

54+53+8=115, not 119. This is the 121st year but only the 116th meeting.

Fort Worth Dawg

November 8th, 2012
10:03 pm

Gotta be honest. I don’t remember Swann’s name prior to the last couple of games – but watching him play is an “oh wow” moment time after time. He really stood out and is fun to watch.


November 8th, 2012
10:53 pm

The Tigers rubbed the Dawgs noses in the ground during their last visit to Auburn and almost took the QB out of the game.
If the Dawgs are not up to the game, like Pat Dye said, Not MAN Enough!

Left Coast Dawg

November 8th, 2012
11:39 pm

1st of three practice games before the SEC Championship game……Go Dawgs!


November 8th, 2012
11:41 pm

Two years ago a traffic cop in Atlanta, who had seen the bulldog decal on the back on my truck, said to me “Remember the name Damien Swann….”


Bulldawg Rick

November 8th, 2012
11:50 pm

Dawgs Git er done on the Plains…

GATA!! Gooooooooo Dawgs!!

UGA Golfer

November 8th, 2012
11:54 pm

Just show up and play hard. If that happens, UGA will be fine. But this is a very, very dangerous game judging from history.

Calistoga Dawg

November 9th, 2012
12:28 am

A young Matt Stafford went into Auburn his freshman year and routed a top 5 team. Not that they have a Stafford, but they have talent that’s for sure. Never know when it is going to come together. I do think they’ll give in if things get going against them. Problem is, we have a penchant for not putting away inferior teams early. Hope that changes on Saturday.

A-Ville Range

November 9th, 2012
2:52 am

Man has Swann come on in the past 2 games. Last week he was clearly our best all around CB, and probably best DB. He played fearlessly and instinctively. The whole defense played with grown man gumption. The other player who is rising Garrison Smith. He adds an element of get after em the we really need. I know our DE s are primarily to hole OLs and TEs to free our ILBs, but we’re better when they can also lay some hard and heavy wood on those big guys up front.

Real Dawg Fan

November 9th, 2012
2:57 am

“It feels great just to start or make a play or anything for Georgia,” Ogletree said. “It feels awesome. Any opportunity is a blessing. I just waited my turn

Feels awesome to have a bunch of guys like you. Who cares what #star you are out of high school?
Give me some DGDs who love to be here.


November 9th, 2012
5:57 am

As usual, our opponent decides to fire their coach right before our game. You know their kids will be motivated. If we don’t start fast, it could be a long day.


November 9th, 2012
7:05 am

Swann has played well all year and just had some bounces go his way now to put him in the spotlight. Gonna be a star. Agree with -Ville on Garrison Smith. He should have played more early in the year. GATA Dawgs, I hate Auburn with unbridled passion

Columbia SC Dawg

November 9th, 2012
7:18 am

First of two Alabama teams to go down?


November 9th, 2012
8:18 am

The Dawgs will win… here is to hoping it looks good as well.
Bama vs Texas A&M could be really interesting. If A&M can hang in there for a while and gain confidence against the “Bama is the best” mind F that everybody puts on themselves, they can win. If Bama puts the sleeper hold on them early then it’s another 34-10 win for the Elephants.
Bama definitely looked beatable against LSU. Very beatable.

Preston Thompson

November 9th, 2012
8:42 am

A-ville range……..gotta agree. But watching Swann all year shows lotsa desire and digging like a dog after a mole. The fellow never quits. He must have a set of lungs for the ages. And gotta agree on Smith. Does he have a motor or what. And a very strong tackler. Haven’t seen him get pushed back much at all.

I want to see A&M to lose, but keep it close, so UGA can get Bama undefeated. Folks, Ga can beat any football team in America when they’re clicking on all cylinders.

This is strange. I grew up in Chickasaw Ala and was a very big Ala and Ole Miss fan. What has happened to me. I have been here since 66′ so the red and black has just covered me up. Not such a bad thing either.

Be careful!!!!

November 9th, 2012
9:24 am

Bert from the Bert Show will be at the game….

joe jenkins

November 9th, 2012
9:38 am

damian swann has been a nice surprise….I’m also impressed with the play of zander tree….he catch passes out of the backfield…block and run the ball….merrit hall can only block. so i think richt will keep starting zander…because at this point and time he is the better choice….Todd gurley has a chance to break herschell’s freshmen rushing record…would be nice to break that record….I also hope that gurley breaks walkers rushing record in one game….It would almost be like heaven to see gurley get 300 yds on those thugs on the plains

joe jenkins

November 9th, 2012
9:42 am



November 9th, 2012
9:52 am

This is all you need to know about the once clean rivalry we had with Auburn, no more my friends:

Chizic allowed this and promoted it, payback is what he is getting now!
Go Dawgs!


November 9th, 2012
10:11 am

Way to stick with it Zander…that kind of attitude wins championships!! Swann, Herrera, Jordan J. are playing outstanding ball early in their careers…keep up the hard work boys!! And G. Smith has been a difference maker on the line! Now we just need to get Drew going!


November 9th, 2012
10:14 am

I hope Richt showed the team the video that OrlandoDawg linked to over and over again. It was 2 years ago, but it still makes my blood boil. We need to keep paying them back, though in reality the officials were complicit–they should have thrown Fairley out of the game.

America spoke

November 9th, 2012
10:16 am

My fellow Dawgs: Don’t you get it? We need ‘Bama to be undefeated when we meet in the Georgia Dome? Granted, we need help from some other teams to make the BCS Championship. But, if “Bama has one loss, we have NO CHANCE!


November 9th, 2012
10:29 am

I saw Damian play in High School. You could tell then that, if he got the opportunity, he was going to be very good. Glad to have you in Athens, Damian !!!


November 9th, 2012
10:53 am

Enter your comments here


November 9th, 2012
10:57 am

I agree with yall the young guys on defense are really coming on strong. Swann was the man at Grady and you just knew once he put on some wt and muscle and got in the play book he would have a chance to become a playmaker. Jenkins(d-end) is a monster and SMith has being playing lights out he really digs in. Zander has been a beast at fullback and most fullbacks never get much attention and dont have all the stars but they are usually your strongest and toughest guys on the team them and the middle backer and i love they way zander plays and he can catch out of the backfield. Keep it up dawgs and lets smash auburn leave no doubt.


November 9th, 2012
11:21 am

Fsu is a good example. Bettr be ready play. Hunker down. Beat auburn

Holy Guacamole

November 9th, 2012
11:46 am

Dang. After watching the video from OrlandoDawg, I am pissed all over again. I thought that it was a good rivalry until then, but now with that and the Scam affair, I want the Dawgs to grind them into the ground. No more Mr Nice Guy.

C’mon guys, hunker down and make it happen.


November 9th, 2012
12:23 pm

Thank for the video reminder OrlandoDawg! Some Turkey Buzzard was on one of these blogs trying to stick up for Fairley. Talking about chugging kool aid!
I hope the Dawgs saw that video and come out ready to stomp some Turkey Buzzard arse. When I see that video it reminds me that just getting the W is not going to ever be enough against these guys ever again. It warrants an even meaner attitude than the UF effort. I pity that QB.

GB's Hamburgers

November 9th, 2012
12:39 pm

When they put Zander in, the fullback position turned into something totally different for UGA. He was a force — his play demanded and got more involvement. This is clear by the way Bobo utilized him. So why has he been sitting for 7 games behind two or three other players?


November 9th, 2012
1:00 pm

GB’s Hamburgers – that’s the question everybody asks when a player breaks out. Hicks is supposed to be a beast yet a walk-on was starting ahead of him and Zander. These things are decided in practice… whoever practices better, whoever has the best attitude. Obviously Hall practiced better. But there are those rare individuals that are “gamers”… they actually play better than they practice.
Go back to 1980… Dooley wasn’t sure if Hershel would be anything other than and I quote “a big, stiff fullback”. Only after getting in the game did the coaches get to see what he really could be. It was desperation to put him in the game. Then it was history.
Some guys just play better than they practice. And coaches really can’t know who those guys are until the situation pops up. All they can do is see that X player is practicing better than Y player.


November 9th, 2012
1:13 pm


Destin Dawg

November 9th, 2012
1:50 pm

Zander Ogletree is a football player.. some locals say he was at times the toughest guy on the field in H.S. which of course included Alec Tree !!!

mike addington

November 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

Swann plays a lot heavier than his size indicates. hard hitter. doesn’t run his mouth all the time. always around the ball. I’ll echo those thoughts on G Smith. I saw him make some big tackles last week. A couple when the runner had past him but he just reached out and grabbed something and stopped the guy. good hustle. Jordan looks like a player. even with all guys leaving after this year, next year’s D will be in good hands, I think.

Dad of 4 Boys

November 9th, 2012
5:37 pm

Swann wasnt a surprise at our house. Told my boys he is a good one, watch #5. This game will be a butt whipping. There will be alot of talk about #29 after this game. He will have four sacks and send one qb to the bench with a injury……….before halftime.

American tragedy, takers outnumber

November 10th, 2012
7:55 am

Swann getting better, like his attitude. Murray ….watch your back!! heading into bounty country! O-line.. you better know these guys want your QB out, esp. after last years thrashing. Better be on point!!