Richt dangles possibility of Dome start for Crowell

Isaiah Crowell could start in the first game of the season, Mark Richt says. (Associated Press)

Isaiah Crowell could start in the first game of the season, Mark Richt says. (Associated Press)

Most of the time, college football coaches downplay the possibility of true freshmen competing right away, or hedge about it at best.

Mark Richt wasn’t doing any hedging Wednesday when he talked with ESPNU about running back Isaiah Crowell, who had just signed to become a Georgia Bulldog.

Richt said Crowell will contribute “heavily” this coming season.

“I expect him to come right in and compete right away,” the coach said. “I wouldn’t be shocked to see him running that rock in the Dome against Boise State on the opening play if he does what he’s supposed to do.”

Talk about giving an incoming player some incentive …

Some might see going with an untested back in a big, nationally televised game as a gamble. Will he have picked up all the nuances of Mike Bobo’s offense by then? Can his pass protection possibly have progressed enough strictly in practice?

Probably not. Doesn’t matter. Richt sees Crowell as a game-changer and knows he’s in a position where playing it safe isn’t going to cut it.

Let’s face it, coming off a losing season and needing to get both his program and his fan base back in the right mindset, Richt faces a tremendous challenge in opening with what’s going to be a heavily hyped game in Atlanta against one of the flashiest teams in the nation.

Can he rise to the occasion, as Erk Russell would say? So far, with Georgia’s tremendous Dream Team recruiting class, Richt has. Now the Dogs have to do it on the field, and Richt obviously recognizes that what Georgia’s been doing in its running game isn’t getting the job done.

So if that means starting a true freshman tailback against Boise State, so be it.

Looks like Richt is going “all in,” as the Auburn folks would put it.

Sounds like a plan to me. How about you?

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

376 comments Add your comment

martin the calvinist

February 3rd, 2011
10:32 am

Martin

February 3rd, 2011
10:32 am

The chance is there to start for any recruit. They just have to go out and win the job. Crowell has his work cut out for him, Ealey got 11 td’s on 150 carries and got about 5.5 ypc over his 2 seasons at UGA. My money is on Ealey to get the start all season. Crowell will shine in 2012.

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:32 am

Bill- Nice column. I think Richt finally gets it that you have to play with controlled reckless abandon as well as recruit that way. Even Richt himself admitted that redshirting the talented Knowshon Moreno was a huge mistake.

TONY

February 3rd, 2011
10:32 am

Thats nice to see that CMR is going to put the best players on the field redardless of freshmen or not.

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:33 am

Martin- I think Ealey and Crowell will split carries.

TONY

February 3rd, 2011
10:33 am

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:35 am

It’s simple I think, if Crowell hasn’t picked up pass blocking then he only comes in for some running plays and maybe as a pass catcher out on the flat if he is good at that.

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:35 am

Couldn’t agree more TONY, THAT is a breath of fresh air for sure

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:37 am

They have to come out with their hair on fire and guns a blazing against Boise. Make a statement not about the “Dream Team”, but about Georgia football

RAID

February 3rd, 2011
10:38 am

I’m all for it!……But my guess is that Malcome will emmerge as the starter to begin with…..I hear he’s really been impressive and should’nt have been redshirted last year…….But I expect Isaiah to compete and get a lot of carries earl on as well…….Go Dawgs!

martin the calvinist

February 3rd, 2011
10:38 am

What do you think of moving Figgins to FB, He wasn’t going to get any playing time at TE anyway. I like the idea of using Crowell early. Hopefully, he’s what he’s supposed to be.

UGA Insider

February 3rd, 2011
10:40 am

Good job recruiting CMR and I wish you good luck in 2011. I hope we don’t hear the dreaded words….. “He runs well but is unable to pick up our pass protection”. What that means to me is we as coaches are NOT getting him ready to play fast enough. Do you think Steve Spurrier gave a crap about pass protection? How bout Chiznick? Nope. He let those kids get valuable on the job training and they were in tip top physical shape by August. I hope CMR has learned a lesson here…everyone is watching.

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:41 am

Dawgs are thin at FB. Zander Ogletree and Figgins. Sounds like a good move

RabidDawgFan

February 3rd, 2011
10:41 am

Start him…anybody remember Marcus Lattimore?

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:42 am

Not sure where Boo Malcome fits in.

RabidDawgFan

February 3rd, 2011
10:44 am

Bruce Figgins will be our key offensive player this season. He’s huge at 6′4 265 and imagine those MLB’s running into him trying to stop the rushing attack. Not gonna happen! He’s an extra lineman in there except he has acceptional speed and is big and strong. Expect to see major holes this upcoming season.

Martin

February 3rd, 2011
10:44 am

I want to see what Crowell does over the Spring games. If he outperforms Ealey, give him the rock against Boise. But that’s saying a lot for a brand new guy to come in and knock out Washaun Ealey who was been an absolute star at RB in 2010 on his extremely limited carries. I don’t see Crowell picking up blitz schemes, but he’ll add some deft pass catching skills.

SmyrnaDawg

February 3rd, 2011
10:45 am

@martin,
Figgins to FB is a great move. It gives you a monster blocking on pass protection and opening holes. The thing I like, is if UGA establishes the pass-catching out of the backfield, it can only help you to have an athletic TE who can has good hands and feet to catch the ball. Sometimes last year when we would screen/pass to Chapas, a potential big play failed. Look for him to an Aaron Hernadez type like Meyer used. Also, does anyone not see the potential beast Orson could be @ slot. He would be an Anquan Boldin type.

bill

February 3rd, 2011
10:45 am

Let the FB’s pass block…just give Crowell the ball.

JaxDawg05

February 3rd, 2011
10:46 am

Anyone see the first game of the season as a way for McGarity to see exactly what he’s got in Coach Richt?

H-Town Dawg

February 3rd, 2011
10:46 am

Play the best player at the position. If he understands the pass protection and blocking assignments then he should get a shot at toting the rock.

RabidDawgFan

February 3rd, 2011
10:47 am

Crowell’s 2011 Stats:

120 carries, 850 yards, 7 Tds.

SmyrnaDawg

February 3rd, 2011
10:47 am

meant *see potential* sorry, mind somewhere else.

tree&rambo

February 3rd, 2011
10:48 am

Dawg Man – “bring Crowell in only on running plays” … The alternative is Ealey and we all know his pass blocking skill are about as equal to a 10yr old girl. I’d rather take my chances with the hungry freshman than the fat overweight content tailback.

Loved Ealey and King at ECI & GAC but the time has come for them to step aside. They havent put in the worked required to be a dominant back in the SEC.

Malcolm & Crowell in 2011!!!

Lets “ROCK THE DOME” 9/3/11 …. see yall there!!

GO DAWGS!!!!

RabidDawgFan

February 3rd, 2011
10:48 am

Caleb King’s 2011 Stats: (hopefully)

5 carries, for -10 yards, 0 TD’s. He sucks! Kick him off the team!

Chris

February 3rd, 2011
10:49 am

I get so sick of hearing about any true freshmans “pass protection” skills. If you want pass protection, put Ealey or King in the game. It’s not like we’ve been fooling anyone with our play action pass anyways.

Let the guy RUN THE BALL. He’s a running back. Richt didn’t play Moreno for this very same reason as a true freshman. That was one of many idiotic mistakes Richt has made during his tenure at Georgia.

Concrete Pete

February 3rd, 2011
10:51 am

If this doesn’t once and for all light a fire under Ealey and King (if he’s still here) to get better, I don’t know what will.You’ve been starting for 2 years, making plays, and the coach is even gonna consider mentioning this? Every player worth his salt would be bustin a$$ this off-season to try and keep1 Crowell on the pine. We shall see… If Ealey is still worries about booty calls at 4 AM (what did you think he was doing when he had the wreck and incident last year?) and King is worried about trying to bum free drinks downtown then we’ll know what kind of heart they have. I’m not mentioning Malcome because we have nothing to go on with his play. Fact is this: if Crowell shows up in August, he WILL NOT be ready until mid-season at the earliest. He needs to be here in June to have a chance to help us

RealDawg

February 3rd, 2011
10:51 am

Bobo’s offense has nuances?

Apples II Oranges

February 3rd, 2011
10:51 am

The program cannot afford not to play the kid if he is 80% of the talent he is hyped to be. Passing situations can be handle with Thomas,Ealey and King. Let them block, but do not make the same mistake with Crowell as you did with Moreno- over PASS BLOCKING! The best talent needs to be on the field. Players make plays, they don’t wait a year. Let the kids play.

Newnan Dawg

February 3rd, 2011
10:54 am

I think Richt and Bobo have a good problem with the running back situation! You have 3 running backs in Malcolm, Crowell and Ealey who can all get the job done! Ealey just needs to work on keeping his mouth shut and holding to the ball! I think Malcolm will surprise alot of people and then there is Crowell! If he can do what he has done in high school I look for this kid to be very special and really spark UGA’s running game! UGA should have a running game come this season that has been missing since Moreno left!! GO DAWGS!!

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:55 am

He acknowledged that mistake Chris- Crowell is going to get every opportunity to play, hopefully he is the full package( solid speed with vision and patience, quick cutbacks, fight for the extra yard, always falling forward, pass protection skills, maturity of Lattimore)

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
10:56 am

First 2 games of 2011 will tell the story on Richt and the team.Start 0-2 and Richt is gone-Start 2-0 and watch out,UGA will only get better from that point on. Sure Richt is all in-he has to be! His job depends on it.

UGA Class of 14

February 3rd, 2011
10:56 am

Don’t teach him how to pass protect ….yet. Just let him run the football at first. Pass protection will come in time.

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:57 am

I think this motivates Ealey, not sure about KIng

Pesci

February 3rd, 2011
10:57 am

Pure genuis by Richt. He gets Crowell excited to come in, and has motivated the returning backs by basically telling them that they better step it up or Crowell has the job. He can also back out of this since he added, “…if he does what he’s supposed to do.” Great motivation ploy from a coach I had thought had lost his ability to motivate these kids. I also see Ray Drew steping in immediately and being a vocal and emotional leader. I know that’a a lot to ask of a 18 yr old, but he’s an ordained minister and has the best head on his shoulders for a kid that young besides the J-Hey Kid.

Jasper Fraaaanks

February 3rd, 2011
10:58 am

I say we give it to Carlton Thomas to run up the middle.

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
10:59 am

I hope also we don’t see another player arrested all this year. That would infuriate me if we do.

Bremen Dawg

February 3rd, 2011
11:00 am

I really like Ealey but he just hasn’t showed that he can take in to the house everytime he touches it. I hope Crowell is that back and he can carry the load.

Dawg Man

February 3rd, 2011
11:00 am

Carlton Thomas won’t see the field unless he is lining up in the slot or on a screen play like Tyson Browning used to do and be successful at.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
11:02 am

I would give Caleb is walking papers,then have a come to Jesus meeting with Ealey about his performance level. I think we will see Malcome #1 back-Crowell #2 back and Ealey a last resort.

AltamahaDawg

February 3rd, 2011
11:02 am

I think they will leverage Crowell to:
1. use him if and when he can make a differnce.
2. get the most out of Ealey.

Dawg Fud

February 3rd, 2011
11:02 am

Good. Puts a little fire under Washaun and Caleb. A little competition never hurt anyone.

Competitive practice makes for better performance on gameday.

SmyrnaDawg

February 3rd, 2011
11:02 am

FWIW, I lost all respect for King when I saw him in an Athens bar celebrating w/ pals like we’d won the National Championship after we’d lost a home game(this yr) and my gf’s sister asked him why he wasnt upset or taking a close loss tough.
King: It don’t bother me none, I didn’t play today so what do I care
lost all respect for him right there, pile on his off-field issues and he is a real POS. the difference this year is these Dawgs wanna wear the “G”.

AltamahaDawg

February 3rd, 2011
11:05 am

Insider, Richt played Ealey as a freshman. What’s your point?

Martin

February 3rd, 2011
11:05 am

I think Richt learned 1 thing from 2010, let the players EARN the job based on how they PERFORM in competition. Murray should have never started a game. Sorry. He didn’t earn it with his poor play in the Spring games. I saw a 6-7 season coming with Murray at the helm. Did good against bad teams, but winless against winning teams. Need guys who play best against thye best. Maybe Murray earns it this Spring, I doubt it, I don’t see him suddenly showing more poise than Lemay or more accuracy than Mason. Let’s compete, and give it to the guys who earn it, not ENTITLE players with starting positions before they’ve earned it.

really?

February 3rd, 2011
11:06 am

Wow…Caleb King is really taking a beating. If he and his family keep reading this negativety about him, he’ll either transfer or get a fire lit under his rear end.

I hope he proves everyone wrong and becomes one of our best backs. And he does not $uck! He and Ealey as well have just fumbled at the absolute worse times and Caleb has also made some bone head moves off the field.

Hopefully his last season will be a memorable one. Let’s not crucify this college athlete guys….if he was playing for the Falcons…bash him all you want…but this kid has a family that reads these articles…heck…bradley or shultz even mentioned him as a “disappointment” in one of their articles.

Back off the kid.

really?

February 3rd, 2011
11:09 am

SmyrnaDawg,

If that’s true, I retreact my above posting. That’s a terrible attitude.

Hope that’s not true.

AltamahaDawg

February 3rd, 2011
11:09 am

Martin, who should have started?

SmyrnaDawg

February 3rd, 2011
11:12 am

@really?
not backing off caleb one-bit. He’s selfish and it shows. His head hasn’t been on football and if it isn’t given to him he doesn’t wanna earn it.
@martin
to knock Murray is just plain stupid. STATS: 3,049 yds 61.1 comp% 24 TD 8 INT as a rsFr. He’s not blame. I agree @ times he looked lost but seriously kid had an outstanding season and can only get better w/ competition i.e. Lemay/Mason

Apples II Oranges

February 3rd, 2011
11:12 am

Alt,

Martin is very much apart of the lunatic fringe. Very low FB IQ.