SEC Unfiltered: AJ Swann is Vanderbilt

SEC Unfiltered: AJ Swann is Vanderbilt

Welcome to SEC Unfiltered, the USA TODAY NETWORK’s newsletter on SEC sports. Today, Tuscaloosa News sports columnist Chase Goodbread takes over. To get SEC Unfiltered delivered directly to your inbox, sign up here.

AJ Swann can play.

We don’t know if Vanderbilt can, just yet, after a relatively narrow home victory over Hawaii on Saturday night. The Commodores dominated the Rainbow Warriors a year ago, after all, but then went on to go just 2-6 in Southeastern Conference play. Their rushing attack might be downright dismal this season. Defensively, there will be leaks. Could be the same old Vandy.

But at quarterback, Vanderbilt’s Swann is the school’s best passer since Jordan Rodgers.

And if he didn’t prove it against the Rainbow Warriors, just give him time. The Georgia native posted a 10-2 TD-INT ratio as a true freshman in 2022, and served notice that Vandy’s passing attack isn’t the calamity it’s been in too many years past. On Saturday, with virtually no help from his rushing attack, Swann looked calm and instinctive in completing 19 of 30 passes for three touchdowns without a turnover in VU’s 35-28 win. If the team’s offensive line can improve, and that’s a big if, the former four-star recruit could be an equalizer against much better teams than Hawaii this season.

Rodgers, now an SEC Network analyst, helmed a 9-4 Vanderbilt team in 2012 that beat Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss. That came during former coach James Franklin’s remarkable peak of back-to-back nine-win seasons, and Rodgers passed for more than 2,500 yards with only five interceptions. He next-leveled the Commodores that year under former coach James Franklin.

Swann is capable of the same.

If he can get enough help.

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Tuscaloosa News columnist Chase Goodbread is also the weekly co-host of Crimson Cover TV on WVUA-23 and the Talkin’ Tide podcast. Reach him at Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.