Looks like the Washaun Ealey era at UGA, such as it was, may be coming to an end, and not because of the signing of Isaiah Crowell.
Rumors had been swirling the past 24 hours about Ealey’s status, and I’d just gotten off the phone with my son, who had heard third- or fourth-hand that Dogs football players were saying Ealey was going to be suspended, when I saw an online report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach citing sources saying Ealey has indeed been suspended indefinitely from all team activities.
If that’s true and Ealey doesn’t return, it means UGA is looking awfully thin at tailback this coming season — especially so if Caleb King doesn’t get his academic house in order.
When I read Steve Hummer’s Sunday piece about the recruiting of Crowell, the bit about Mark Richt having the team line up minus a tailback and asking the recruit if he could see himself starting against Boise State in that position made me wonder what that said about Richt’s view of Ealey and King. Practically promising a recruit he can start as a true freshman is not standard operating procedure.
This concerns me because even if Crowell is every bit as good as everyone thinks he is, it just doesn’t seem like a good situation for the team for anyone to get the starting spot handed to you without having to beat out any competition. As Thomas Brown says, competition is key to a player’s development. Plus, tailback is definitely a position where you need some depth.
So much for our visions of an offseason free of turmoil in Athens!
Meanwhile, the hiring of Will Friend from UAB as offensive line coach surprised some fans who wondered why Georgia couldn’t do better than a no-name coach from a Conference USA program.
I think the fact that the best Georgia could offer was a one-year deal at a program that is facing a possibly make-or-break season probably had a lot to do with it.
On paper, Friend looks fine. He played a part in UAB putting up an impressive offensive output last season and his line ranked 15th in the country in fewest sacks allowed. Overall they were 30th in the nation in total offense (423 yards per game), 24th in passing offense (267 yards per game) and 59th in rushing offense (156 yards per game).
The fact that their rushing numbers were less impressive touches on my one feeling of concern about Friend. He’s basically spent most of his coaching career been mentored by former UGA offensive line coach Neil Callaway, who drew knocks in his time at UGA for the inconsistent offensive line play, especially in the running game. At times under Callaway, Georgia’s linemen seemed not to know what run-blocking was all about.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Friend will be a clone of Callaway, and it’s only fair to give him the benefit of the doubt until we see what he can do with Georgia’s underperforming offensive linemen.
I’m hoping he can whip them into shape (with the help of Joe Tereshinski’s new conditioning program). They’re going to be needed even more if Georgia winds up as thin at tailback as it’s looking.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg