It’s now or never, Caleb King

Caleb King's game experience will be a valuable commodity for the Dogs. (Associated Press)

Caleb King's game experience will be a valuable commodity for the Dogs. (Associated Press)

Thanks to Mark Richt’s uncharacteristically blunt assessments of Washaun Ealey in recent months, Monday’s announcement that the tailback and UGA had decided to part company had a certain feeling of inevitability about it.A coach generally doesn’t hang a young man out to dry publicly like that unless their relationship has reached the breaking point.

Taking Richt at his word that this was a mutual decision, Ealey obviously tired of being in his head coach’s dog house and/or saw the writing writ large on the wall that incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell is going to get a chance to play a big role at Georgia from the get-go.

As inevitable as this story felt, though, I was keeping my fingers crossed it wouldn’t come to this. As I’ve said before, I’m as excited as any UGA fan about the impending arrival of Crowell. He has the potential to be a game-changing back early on. But while Marcus Lattimore at South Carolina showed the kind of impact a true freshman back can make right from the start, chances are Crowell’s progress at Georgia will be not quite that instant.

For one thing, he’ll be running behind a still-suspect patchwork offensive line that has a history of underperforming. Plus, there’s a lot more to playing tailback at Georgia than just toting the rock, as Richt reminded everyone recently when he pointed out that one of the reasons a key play in Georgia’s comeback attempt against Arkansas faltered was Ealey “decided he wasn’t going to block on that play.” (Never mind that it was a poor call by Mike Bobo that sent the receivers long on a short-yardage play and required Aaron Murray to stand back there in the pocket way too long.)

I firmly believe we’ll see Crowell playing against Boise State in the Georgia Dome, but I think it’s unlikely he will start and the odds are good that at least early in the season we’ll see him sharing carries with another back. It’s unrealistic to expect Crowell to master the playbook and get his pass protection skills up to snuff in just 29 August preseason practices.

Which brings us to Caleb King, a senior who’s had numerous opportunities to make the starting tailback job his own and has never managed to become a consistent performer, thanks to a combination of injuries, academic issues and off-field problems.

Aside from running for 166 yards (including a scintillating 75-yard touchdown run) against Georgia Tech in the 2009 “I Run This State” Derby with Ealey, King has been solid (5.4 yards per carry) but not spectacular. Last season he appeared in eight games, starting five, and carried 80 times for 430 yards and two TDs. He also caught two passes for eight yards.

Basically, it’s now or never for King. Tough-running Ken “Boo” Malcome might also make a strong bid for playing time if he can stay healthy, but he doesn’t have King’s game experience, which is going to be a valuable commodity in the Georgia backfield until Crowell gets some seasoning.

During spring drills, King was talking a good game about competing with Crowell, and I really hope that comes to pass. As Thomas Brown has pointed out, tailbacks tend to thrive on competition.

With the departure of Ealey, King has a chance to provide a nice complement to Crowell the way Brown did with Knowshon Moreno in 2007.

Are you up to it, Caleb?

GOOD NEWS FOR DOGS FANS

UGA has announced that all previous requests for Boise State tickets made by 2011 Hartman Fund donors will be fulfilled and everyone who contributed at least $100 is eligible to request additional upper level tickets for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Let’s make sure the Dome is packed to the rafters with red shirts!

Go Dogs!

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

98 comments Add your comment

SOUTHGADAWG88

May 10th, 2011
2:24 pm

Bobo talk already heating up huh….hell I say that sorry ass defense was the problem last year more than OC play calling.I mean we scored 30 plus 7 games in a row and still lost 7 games

Osama is dead and so is UGA's O line

May 10th, 2011
2:25 pm

Bobo wont leave Murray in the pocket that long never again on 3rd down. Bobo will call a draw play for Carlton Thomas for no gain.

Choke sign

May 10th, 2011
2:30 pm

Todd Grantham will be even more proficient while using this.

SOUTHGADAWG88

May 10th, 2011
2:33 pm

UGA avg 34 pts a game in 12 games and lost 7 games.Against our 3 biggest rivals FLA-31 pts AUB-31 pts and GT-42 and only went 1-3 and you folks are still harping on Bobo?IT’S THE DEFENSE STUPID!!!!

UGAgata

May 10th, 2011
2:33 pm

@ Bo, this isn’t high school football. Its proven you can win by throwing the ball. Auburn wasn’t a “run” team, they were a CN team. Of course USC is going to run the ball…they have a stud RB in ML and Garcia as a qb. Who wouldn’t run in that situation. Florida was lost without TT and Brantley wasn’t made to preform in a spread offense. Harldy watched Miss St so I can’t say anything there. My last remark is we run a pro-style offense, which usually contains alot of PA, hince all the pass blocking by RBs. Richt is the best coach we could have. How many of us have made THE right decision according to everyone else looking in from the outside?

Clyde

May 10th, 2011
2:34 pm

As a UGA fan, I look forward to next year’s National Championship. The loss to UCF really provided motivation more so than the 5 other loses. As I place my 8th black and red Green Bay G on my truck and listen to the hob nailed boot call, I dream of seeing Crowell become the next Herschell Walker. My church is so confident that UGA will win they title they play their fight song every Sunday. This morning, I barked at my neighbor as he left his house until I spilled beer on my Ford tough F150. I can totally see Matt Stafford stopping his military press of his keg and coming back to lead us to another thrilling bowl victory against powerhouse Hawaii. Go Dawgs, Wuff wuff!

AltamahaDawg

May 10th, 2011
2:52 pm

The offensive Co-ordinator does not “call” draw plays. That’s a QB decision at the line. But of cource, you knew that already.

Dawg 39

May 10th, 2011
2:52 pm

I agree with checking back after next season ends. Support the Dawgs & the Coaches now.

My personal opinion is Richt is the right man for the job & Bobo is the OC I would want if I thought my job was in jeopardy. Bobo is on track to becoming a very sucessful D1 HC. My opinion only.

C-Town

May 10th, 2011
2:54 pm

I.Crowell will be fine. He runs the rock hard. He has that “IT Factor”, something that no UGA RB , on the 2010 Roster had. Just watch this Film….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJCpSAnu-gw&feature=related

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Ceasar

May 10th, 2011
3:33 pm

We don’t want Ealey at Ga. Southern!!!!!!!!!!!

Newman

May 10th, 2011
3:35 pm

If Crowell can’t “come in and master the playbook” then the playbook is too hard. Anyone remember Herschel Walker? Tim Worley? Lars Tate? Rodney Hampton? Keith Henderson? All came in as true freshmen and made a difference.

Dawg Tell

May 10th, 2011
4:03 pm

Saw King play in high school.Unbelievable talent at that time.However after the broken leg;I have watched him lose speed and desire.Maybe the injury was not only to his leg but inside his head.Also the offensive line has been a BIG problem for the last three years.If the O/L does not show vast improvement in 2011,it will be a long season for any running back!!

By your leave

May 10th, 2011
4:16 pm

A year from now, Caleb Queen and Isaiah Crowell will make Wash-Out Ealey look like an All American choirboy by comparison.

And that’s saying something, since Ealey is just a worthless thug.

P-The-Ricker

May 10th, 2011
4:39 pm

WHAT?!?

“King has been solid (5.4 yards per carry) but not spectacular”

5.4 yds a carry is only “solid?” would you care to re-phrase your critique? any coach/player/fan would gladly accept a rb averaging 5.4 yds a carry in d-1 football. you do know that 2 carries at that average is a 1st down everytime, correct?

KD

May 10th, 2011
4:48 pm

Ealey probably in trouble over the weekend, and that was the last straw for Richt.

Manny

May 10th, 2011
4:56 pm

The penal colony does not have the discipline or dedication to field a powerhouse football team

rocketfuel

May 10th, 2011
5:13 pm

Hopefully the O-line will be more physical this year.Last year,at times they looked too soft when run blocking.Hopefully the bunch will not be p*****s this year

Return to Glory

May 10th, 2011
6:33 pm

Rooster, really,,,UGA 44, GSU: 10 if the dogs are called off early. Ealey will quit once he gets knocked on his but and sees that the game is over by the 2nd quarter.

Richt`s Hammer

May 10th, 2011
7:01 pm

Another day in paradise.

Wolf, Wolf

mgdawg

May 10th, 2011
7:08 pm

UGA has became more “pass happy” because they can’t run the ball. I wanted them to pass the ball more last year because they couldn’t ever run the ball. Teams with good olines and runningbacks can run to open up the pass, UGA had to pass to open up the run. The passing game last year was great for the most part so I can’t blame them for passing, I wish they would’ve passed more. I hope king steps up, but I’m not counting on it.

Coach Grohbo

May 10th, 2011
7:16 pm

Ealey’s last career play for UGA ended with him mouthing off followed by a punch out by UCF’s Troy Davis.

If ever there was perfect metaphor for this program, that is it.

Georgia fans, you can re-live it all at your Bu++ Smear Hall Of Shame!

Clyde/Bubba

May 10th, 2011
7:38 pm

Glad UGA fans like you are few and far between. If your description of your actions as a fan are true, maybe you need to step away from college football for awhile. Of course, outside of Vandy, every school has weird fans like yourself.

Probably have to wait until 2012 for the Dogs to make a serious run at the title, though you may not be far off this year- I can see us winning 10.

mdawg

May 10th, 2011
7:51 pm

king is and will always be a bumb… yes he may be talented but he lacks a killer instinct….. give the ball to crowell or however he spells his name

mdawg

May 10th, 2011
7:53 pm

to the guy who says that king is solid because he averaged 5.4 ypc…. and he fumbles how many times????

in his limited action he has already had over 10 fumbles.

keep him on the sidelines

coach not

May 10th, 2011
8:01 pm

Alt dog…you sure about that non called draw play? Seems to be a play designed to control aggressive pass rushing to fool the rushers…the opposite of a play action pass….so perhaps it is called…

Dawg89

May 10th, 2011
8:39 pm

Being from Emanuel County makes me even more disappointed that Ealey didn’t have the heart (or brains) to be a Georgia Bulldog. Through his ignorance, he has squandered the chance of a lifetime. I hope he can catch on somewhere else, preferably outside the SEC.

Halo

May 10th, 2011
8:59 pm

Last time I checked, a bunch of dudes in the Bible wern’t saints, Moses, David, both killed a guy, turned out ok.

Leadership ain’t about perfection.

Ealey’s a tremendous leader, despite his flaws.

Dawg Tired

May 10th, 2011
9:10 pm

It ain’t that complicated. Malcome has had a redshirt and a spring practice. If he doesn’t know the assignments by now, he never will.

AltamahaDawg

May 10th, 2011
9:37 pm

Am I sure that the draw play is an option that the QB ultimetely decides to signal based on what he sees? Yes.

Am I sure that the OC does not call his guys over and say “I don’t care is they park 11 guy on top of our center, I want that ball right run right into them”? Yes.

I never said it wasn’t a play that they worked on to offset a particular look from the defenders. Clearly I was responding to the guy who was saying it’s just a dumb play “call”. Now had he said “oh that Bobo, always trying to control aggresive pass rushing!” that would have been different.

chiefdawg

May 11th, 2011
7:34 am

Caleb King is a joke. If UGA is depending on him they are in serious trouble.

BAMADAWG

May 11th, 2011
7:43 am

in defense of MIKE bOBO, PERHAPS ga doesn’t run the ball because it can’t because of poor blocking from line. Same can be said for lack of success of passing game.

FanSince59

May 11th, 2011
7:50 am

You got it half right and half wrong King. It’s now or never alright, but not for King. For Richt.

Big Dawg

May 11th, 2011
8:22 am

The reason it’s easy to blame Bobo should be pretty obvious. The man should not be OC at Georgia. Period. How many chances with NFL caliber talent does he need to prove this? Of course there will be some on this blog that will say ‘if he only had this player healthy or that one’. Bottom line is, you either do or you don’t. There is no ‘try’. No excuses anymore.

Erin

May 11th, 2011
8:34 am

Don’t count on Caleb Queen being around for Boise State. He will be following Ealey out the door soon.

rbirealty

May 11th, 2011
8:35 am

Like many other bloggers, I feel BOBO is too predictable. It’s easy to scheme against us because he has no tricks, chooses long pass plays instead of mid range ones. I thought we ran a west coast offense? If so, where is the slant…the most difficult pass play to defend.

If linebackers are dropping back into coverage quickly, run a draw. One other things, I wish someone would show Murray how to carry out a true fake…whenever he runs a play action everyone can see the ball clearly, no real deception there.

Jubal

May 11th, 2011
8:37 am

“Ealey’s a tremendous leader…”

You are so screwed up in the head if you believe that.

trupert

May 11th, 2011
9:04 am

I can’t wait for this season because Mark Richt is going to prove something to his doubters.

The second reason that I can’t wait for this season is because before it’s over with Auburn will have won 8 games at the best and it may be 5 or 6 and at some point before seasons end the NCAA will drop the hammer on the Tigers and they will get a little of what they deserve. UGA is gonna beat the tigers again this year and start another long winning streak against Auburn.

The third reason that I can’t wait for this season is because it will be fun watching the Alabama fans as they realize that their team will again finished behind both LSU and Arkansas. How will Saban explain that to his followers after all the overrated and oversigned recruiting classes? This time last year the Alabama fans were guranteeing a dynasty, what will they have to say this time next year?

I-DOG

May 11th, 2011
9:19 am

Everyone is saying that Crowell has the potential to be a game changin back, but the same thing was said about Ealey and King, Hearst, and Moreno, and Boo. Some become game changing backs some don’t. I hope that Crowell has a great year and a great career, but we will just have to see. Certainly having King available and playing at a solid level will help the team this year. Without that, the depth is pretty frightening.

gomdawg

May 11th, 2011
9:20 am

I think King will be better player now that Ealey is go GOOD LUCK KING WE NEED YOU I KNOW MALCOME IS THERE AND CROWELL IS COMING BUT YOU ARE THE MAN WE GEORGIA FAN ARE COUNTING ON. SHOW THE COLLEGE WORLD WHAT YOU GOT, I THINK YOU CAN.

It Ain't Rocket Science

May 11th, 2011
9:28 am

If King can maintain a 5.4 YPC and do it consistently, young Crowell can be slowly worked into the game plan. If not, because of injuries or such, young Mr. Crowell is going to be in for a long season. 29 practice seesions does not a gamer make. Lattimore might have been a work horse from the get go for USC, but he got hurt the last few games and look what USC managed to do without him. We can not afford to have that happen to Crowell. None of us even know for sure, how he will perform under real pressure. It seems, he had a problem when his school played Calhoun and exhibited a little immaturity at times on the field. I hope that attitude is past him and I hope he comes in and realizes that being humble is a good virtue until you can peform like a super star. Forget all the hype and praises you have read and heard about yourself until you prove it on the field. Otherwise , we have another Ealey on our hands.
If king can stay healthy and his professed sense of a new maturity both on and off the field shows up, we have a solution. Like I said, I will take 5.4 YPC anyday. Two of those move the chains. Hold on to the football, as well, and we got us a winner here folks. Then when Crowell is ready to go and has mastered the playbook, at least most of the way, depending on his ability to do so, we could be special at that position.
Of course, the big uglies on the offensive line will need to step it up and play as a unit in order for us to be effective on offense. It appears we might be a little thin at that position so we need to keep every one of them healthy and hungry. I hope our new line coach is able to do this, because it appears Texas’ new coach at that position was unable to do so.

tide roll

May 11th, 2011
9:32 am

Crowell was injury prone his senior year, and his own coach, Dell McGhee said he lacked maturity after his emotional outbursts towards fans and teammates during their loss to Calhoun in the playoffs. READ THE ARTICLE ! Uga fans are delusional! It’s like, “Don’t confuse us with facts.” Marcus Lattimore, who ya’ll insist Crowell will emulate, never had these type of issues. You combine an emotionally immature kid with the basic indifference of Richt and Bobo, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble.

Effie's of Athens Boarding House

May 11th, 2011
9:42 am

In The Southeastern Conference,

a football team can never have TOO many good running backs.

It Ain't Rocket Science

May 11th, 2011
9:55 am

Tide Roll,

So, it is not possible for this young man to be more mature and lose his attitude then? Surely when you were growing up, you had habits that you lost as you matured in life, right? Give the kid a chance and maybe he will aurprise us all. It has been my experience in life, that folks either take on the responsibility or run from it. We just have to see what way Mr. Crowell approaches it, but I am hoping he steps up to the plate. Time will tell, and none of us on these blogs will have any great influence on him, negatively or postively. That will be up to him.

dawgfan75

May 11th, 2011
10:13 am

I am glad that cmr pointed out the play that demonstrated ealey’s lack of heart and lack of team commitment. He wasn’t talking to the media or the bulldog nation. He was talking to the four talented young men that will be running the ball this fall. I believe that cmr is demonstrating that he will not accept mediocrity from his players from now on. I only hope he will get the same message to his coaches.

LawDawg

May 11th, 2011
1:18 pm

The real question is whether even Herschel Walker could succeed behind this OL. If they don’t step it up from the first game, nothing else is going to matter.

Mark (another one)

May 11th, 2011
3:14 pm

King has had injury issues but when he is on the field he performs. He needs to avoid having his jaw broken or leg broken again, but so does every other running back. As for his toughness, he played with his jaw wired shut and was productive. I hope he has a break out senior year but it will require him to stay healthy.

Boo is a stud but he also has suffered nagging injuries. Running with a pulled groin is not fun. He has been fighting this since mid-season and was still suffering during spring practice. He also needs to get healthy.

Both of these guys working together (every SEC team needs to quality backs) have the potential to keep IC on the bench as he learns the plays. They all need to stay eligible, know the plays and stay healthy. The competition during the week will be key.

As for the key for next year, I believe it will be defensive line play. These guys set the tone. They disrupt plays before they develop A good D-line will make the linebackers and the DBs that much better by speeding up the offense, thus improving the entire defense. Look at the recent BCS Championship teams at Auburn, Alabama, etc. When it was needed, their D-lines stepped up and got the ball back. Our line has the potential but it will come down to doing it in each game.

When I look at the SEC’s dominance over the last several years, its not because of the offenses. Its because of the studs on the defensive fronts. Look at the NFL and you will see lots of SEC defensive linemen, even ones that didn’t star for their college teams.

The Really Painful Truth

May 17th, 2011
9:51 am

The biggest change that CMR needs to make is to stop recruiting the low-class illiterates and worthless punks who he seems to think will win for him and keep his oversized paychecks coming in. People like Marcus Dowtin, A.J. Green, Washaun Ealey, Caleb King, and others too numerous to mention are not team players, they’re thug wannabes who are much closer to a gang than a team.

It’s sickening to see punks and goons like these representing the state’s flagship university.