Well, you can say this about Georgia’s suddenly thinned out tailback corps: At least it’s managed to generate some interest in Saturday’s nonconference game against the 3-5 New Mexico State Aggies (for which tickets are still available).
Mighty mite sophomore former walk-on Brandon Harton (5-6, 174), who had 11 carries against Coastal Carolina, is the likely starter, backed up by freshman walk-on Kyle Karempelis (5-9, 180), who gained 5,756 yards and scored 93 touchdowns last year for Wesleyan, a private Christian school in Norcross that plays Class A ball. The other scholarship back, former walk-on Wes Van Dyk, reportedly is injured.
So Mike Bobo admitted Tuesday that he’s likely to get creative in backing up Harton and Karempelis. Of course, defensive backs Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith have been used occasionally on offense, but in a game against a team whose passing attack ranks 16th in the nation at 297.2 yards per game, their two-way availability might be limited.
Bobo, who loves to tantalize us with hints of things we never actually see happen, also mentioned that two freshmen DBs, Nick Marshall and Damian Swann, could carry the ball some. Back in the summer the possibility of using former quarterback Marshall in the “wild Dawg” formation had been tossed out but hasn’t happened so far. Maybe we’ll actually see that now.
Bobo also mentioned fullback Zander Ogletree might get some carries at tailback, which would be ironic considering Georgia hasn’t used its fullbacks to run the ball at all so far this season.
Frankly, this blip in the starting lineup isn’t nearly the big deal that all the media attention it’s gotten would indicate. Harton was likely to get a bunch of carries in this game anyway.
Much more distressing was the news that backup Richard Samuel will miss the rest of the regular season. Against Florida, Samuel finally showed some determined running rather than going down with the first hit as has been his tendency in the past. With Carlton Thomas generally ineffective up the middle, Samuel’s size will be missed. Perhaps now when Isaiah Crowell goes to take himself out of a game someone with a headset on the sideline will tell him no, to get back in there.
As for the timing of the suspension announcement, I see no reason not to take Greg McGarity at his word that whatever prompted the action didn’t become known to UGA’s coaches until after the Florida game. Of course, rival fan bases were rife with conspiracy chatter after the announcement. A South Carolina fan told me that Gamecocks talk radio was abuzz with it Tuesday, which made me laugh. This, from a fan base that actually managed to keep a straight face through numerous conveniently timed “suspensions” for Stephen Garcia.
Meanwhile, I was heartened to see that fresh faces, including some defensive starters, were working with the No. 1 kickoff coverage team in practice Tuesday. Having the likes of Sanders Commings, Amarlo Herrera, Chase Vasser, Shawn Williams, Branden Smith and Ray Drew getting special teams playing time sounds like a good move.
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