|Tom DiPace / Associated Press|
|Georgia CB Damian Swann has underperformed after recording four interceptions last year as a sophomore.|
Georgia's top cover corner isn't playing like one. He knows it, his coach knows it, and opponents know it.
Damian Swann may yet claim a slot in the 2015 NFL Draft -- he's just a junior this season, albeit one who faced high preseason expectations -- but for now, the Bulldogs' best man-to-man defender is rightfully just worried about playing well next Saturday against rival Florida.
"You know I've been struggling," Swann told redandblack.com. "I admit to my struggles, and I think that just comes with the nature of the game. I'm just getting my feet back."
Even an underperforming player's staunchest defender, the head coach, couldn't sugarcoat Swann's production.
"Damian, I'd say, is struggling right now," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "He's missed some tackles in the open field, and he's gotten beat on some coverages that have been tough on him. There have been some things that he has struggled with, but he's also made plays for us, as well. I think if you asked him, he'd tell you that he wants to perform better and he's working towards that."
It's not as though Swann was talked about before the season as a potential early-entry candidate for the 2014 draft -- he wasn't -- but he was expected to be the linchpin of a young Georgia secondary, and his strong sophomore campaign in 2012 was indicative of pro potential. Being named the team's most improved player in spring practice did nothing to dispel the notion.
Swann had four interceptions last year but said the presence of safeties Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo, now both NFL rookies, helped him flourish in more of a supporting role. Now thrust into the lead role, Swann is finding that Cornerback Island can be unforgiving, especially when the safety help is green with inexperience.
"I was playing with a bunch of veterans and a bunch of guys that played a lot of football here at Georgia," Swann said. "We didn't have too many of those problems on the back end."
Swann's next chance at redemption will come against the Gators, and he probably will get plenty of head-to-head action against Solomon Patton, UF's leading receiver. If Swann can't contain Patton in the Gators' anemic offense, his hopes of turning his season around will have to wait another week. Patton, for his part, has managed two 100-yard performances despite UF's offensive struggles.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.