Mark Richt faces tough decisions for Auburn game

Should Carlton Thomas get the No. 2 tailback spot in the Auburn game? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Should Carlton Thomas get the No. 2 tailback spot in the Auburn game? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

It’s no surprise that Mark Richt has indicated Isaiah Crowell likely will step right back into his starting tailback spot coming off a one-game suspension.

The coach said that if Richard Samuel were not injured “it certainly would have been a good competition” for who would start, but “right now … I’d say the first snap we take Isaiah would be the No. 1 tailback. In practice I’m saying.”

Crowell may still have some growing up to do, both in terms of physical stamina and emotional maturity, but he leads the Dogs with 689 yards rushing and it’s obvious that when he’s healthy and fresh he gives the Georgia offense a dynamic that it otherwise lacks.

But what about the backup spot behind Crowell? With a starting back who spends as much time on the sideline as he does in the game, the No. 2 tailback at Georgia gets used quite a bit this season. Should junior Carlton Thomas, coming off his second suspension for misbehavior this season, automatically get the backup spot? Or should Georgia go with redshirt sophomore Brandon Harton, a former walk-on who ran for 98 yards against New Mexico State?

Physically, it’s a wash. They’re both tiny by SEC running back standards, with Thomas 5-7, 163 and Harton 5-6, 174. Both have some speed, but neither is going to run over anyone. Thomas definitely has the edge in experience, having played in 23 games in his time at UGA while Harton has played only against two nonconference foes. And this is the Auburn game, with Georgia playing for the SEC East title.

But Thomas has let the team down twice this season in off-field matters, so Richt and Mike Bobo might be inclined to go to Harton before Thomas when Crowell needs to be spelled. I think that probably would be the right choice.

So far, Richt is noncommittal. “We’re just going to have to play it out this week in practice real hard and see who we think is best suited to play,” he said, adding that Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin likely will see carries, too.

Richt faces another interesting personnel decision with his placekickers. For the New Mexico State game, he decided to alternate the faltering Blair Walsh with backup Brandon Bogotay. They traded off handling kickoffs and PATs and Richt said had there been any field goal attempts they would have alternated those, too. “I thought they both did great. We did that all week in practice, too. It was really a competitive situation. I think competition brings the best out of people,” he said.

But the head coach isn’t saying yet whether he’s going to continue that rotation for the Auburn game. Do you think he should? And if Georgia needs to try a field goal, particularly if the game is close, should it be the veteran Walsh, who has missed 10 of them this season, including two from inside 40 yards against the Gators, or should it be Bogotay, who missed his only career field goal attempt last year against Idaho State?

I’d say it’s a toss-up, though if the game’s on the line I’d probably go with Walsh. With my fingers crossed big-time.

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562 comments Add your comment

Big Dawg

November 8th, 2011
10:34 am

DAWGS#1

November 8th, 2011
10:34 am

GO DAWGS!!!!!

Frank Lane

November 8th, 2011
10:36 am

Frank Lane

November 8th, 2011
10:37 am

I would keep the kicker rotation until one misses.

CHDawg

November 8th, 2011
10:39 am

I still haven’t given up on the idea that Malcome can contribute. All it takes is one game of romping through a D and fans and coaches will love him. Admittedly, he hasn’t done much to help his own cause, but I have seen him run enough to know he is very powerful when healthy. Go Dawgs!

Fridawg

November 8th, 2011
10:42 am

Walsh all the way. He’s due to come around and Bogotay’s kicks are just as scary. I’d go with Carlton Thomas on experience alone. Everyone seems to forget Harton’s fumble against NM State. I don’t trust him against an SEC rival. Go Dawgs!

TallaDawg

November 8th, 2011
10:42 am

I would definitely go with Harton at the No. 2 spot (if not 1A spot). Harton shows more desire and heart. He plays like he WANTs to be a BullDawg.

Rudy

November 8th, 2011
10:44 am

Isaiah – All great UGA running backs have their “break out” game. Sieze this opportunity and prove to the UGA Nation you are a premier running back in the SEC. Your time is now!

CHDawg

November 8th, 2011
10:45 am

One more point on Malcome: he is the only one in the group (sans Samuel) that has the big SEC power build. He should be able to get yardage in a crowded box.

Dawg Cop

November 8th, 2011
10:45 am

CHDawg..are you Malcom’s Dad or what? Every post you make is “Boo this and Boo that, Boo’s so great”, send the guy a box of candy and a valentine but give it a rest! If the guy was any good he would have already been used..let the injury excuses begin in 3, 2, 1…..

DawginLex

November 8th, 2011
10:48 am

It’s a shame Samuel is hurt. That young man made us all proud against Florida.

Crowell is gonna have to man up and play the majority of the snaps. Thomas is improved from last year and Harton played hard but NMSU is very different than Auburn.

Using Smith and Boykin as decoys would work too.

I’d let Walsh kick PAT’s and FG’s and let Bogotay kick it through the end zone.

Hayseed Dixie

November 8th, 2011
10:48 am

UGA downs Auburn this week, though the spread shouldn’t be what it is.

A solid chance against LSU at the dome. LSU, while a stalemate against their clone- Alabama, looks eminently beatable.

bjohndawg

November 8th, 2011
10:49 am

Walsh and Thomas and a win is upon us.

Spahn and Sain and pray for Rain.

UGA Alumnus

November 8th, 2011
10:50 am

Eaassyy

November 8th, 2011
10:50 am

I’ve come to the conclusion Malcome is not that good. If he was he would get consideration. The fact he isn’t even on the coaching staff’s radar at this point says a lot. With all the attrition at RB if the kid was ready he would get a shot.

dawgjammin

November 8th, 2011
10:50 am

can butler not kick field goals? i thought he kicked field goals at peachtree ridge…that might be our best option as far as a choke factor is concerned.

UGA Alumnus

November 8th, 2011
10:51 am

We gotta get through Auburn and Kentucky before we start talking about a game in Atlanta.

Hayseed Dixie

November 8th, 2011
10:53 am

Shoot- I’m a Tech fan, and it’s locked. Y’all are going to the dome.

Richt is not gonna let anyone screw this up this year.

shadetree

November 8th, 2011
10:54 am

If uga plays lsu in sec championship uga will not score a point

LifelongDAWG

November 8th, 2011
10:58 am

Crowell is extremely talented and YOUNG, give him time and he will be Knowshon-esque. Time for the DAWGS to handle their business against the tiggers! Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin have been a spark on the O and the JUNKYARD D will DOMINATE! We are young and improved the future is bright GO CMR and GO DAWGS!

Bremen Dawg

November 8th, 2011
10:59 am

Alternate on kickoffs but let Walsh try the first field goal, if he hits then keep going back to him. If he misses then let Bogotay try the next one.

McDawg

November 8th, 2011
11:00 am

hopefully it won’t come down to a FG

stop the run and biotch slap the QB–Ole Miss shreded their D so i think our Offense ought to be fine-just worried about their running game and giving up big plays on the play action -Watch those wheel routes

Harton doesn’t tuck the ball in -could have fumbled a couple of more times-don’t think you chance it

Evidently, CHDawg...

November 8th, 2011
11:01 am

…Malcome cannot even get yardage in an “uncrowded” box – give it a rest – the kid just is no a major college RB, just like Samuel was/is not a D1 linebacker…

And, when AR beats LSU, who wins the west since they all will have one loss and have all beaten each other (LSU>AL, AL>AR, AR>LSU)…

And, even though Richt does not play, it will be the players, mainly #11, who will lose to both AU and GT…

JB

November 8th, 2011
11:02 am

Better rest Crowell up for LSU……would like to get more than 4 or 5 touch’s from that game with him. He’ll have that hand up coming out a lot. Little Harton kid would take every touch if you let him.

Roaddawg80

November 8th, 2011
11:03 am

Shadetree

We aren’t one deminsional like Alabama. I think we would move it better. I am definetely not saying UGA will win but we will get our points and our D will keep us close. We aren’t UA or LSU worthy but not far off.

What hurt Alabama and I said it before the game is they have no down field threat. All Richardson. UGA has some speedsters that could break a few. JMO

JUST BEAT AUBURN RICHT

November 8th, 2011
11:03 am

POWER DEFENSE FROM UGA THIS GAME!

BEAT THE KITTY CATS!

SSIgator

November 8th, 2011
11:03 am

Depends how big the stash is when it comes in, but it will probably be the Doobie Brothers in the backfield

fred

November 8th, 2011
11:05 am

bogatay it is!!!

DawginLex

November 8th, 2011
11:06 am

Watch the gators blow it in Columbia this weekend now that we actually need them to do something.

hornblowermg

November 8th, 2011
11:09 am

will somebody please give Ken Malcolm a chance ?

SSIgator

November 8th, 2011
11:09 am

Bigger question is will the Dorito and Twinkie inventory hold up?

Bremen Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:12 am

I think you give the nod to Harton, but just don’t run him up the middle, throw some screen and put him in motion for some quick throw. Run the fullbacks up the middle some when Crowell is resting.

schmeckdawg

November 8th, 2011
11:14 am

WE GOTTA HAVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

doug dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:14 am

want to motivate a team and lots of fans? start harton, let that spoiled thug crowell come in only if things don’t go well. and malcom, just forget him. and thomas, he’s no better than harton; he goes to third. reward those who WANT to be DGDs. our program thrived for decades, not on five-star ratings, but on boys who had the heart and wanted to win for GEORGIA, not for their own selfish motives. crowell is selfish and lazy. make him work for his supposed ’stardom.’ last week’s game was the highlight of the season for me. and for lots of others; finally, some guys who want to play.
let bogotay kick it over the end zone every time. walsh gets one chance to nail a field goal; after he misses, if he does, then bogotay. put the best folks out there, and the ones who want to win. but, no, we’ll see more of the ’sos.’ richt and bobo love their favorites, to the bitter end. sadly. auburn wins.

SSIgator

November 8th, 2011
11:15 am

Is the UGA equipment manager in charge of the bongs also?

Dawg_Mike

November 8th, 2011
11:15 am

Doesnt it boggle the mind that we have Malcome and he wont even sniff the field?
We all know Crowell will take himself out of the game after 2 or 3 runs. Then what ?

Destin Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:15 am

Yes I think we could beat Ala. or LSU… but we need to worry about Awlbarn… they had last week off… Malzahn will have some reverses.. wheel routes.. fake kicks that could swing momentum… focus…. Go dawgs… beat Auburn !!!!!

Tom

November 8th, 2011
11:16 am

Well, we *do* know nobody will be getting drug-tested before Thursday.

Dawg_Mike

November 8th, 2011
11:16 am

We might get by AU but IF we make it to ATL we are not going to compete with LSU without a power running attack. We are in trouble.

Dawg_Mike

November 8th, 2011
11:17 am

@ destin: agree totally. Is it too early to say ” watch for the wheel route” !!!!

Burma Shave

November 8th, 2011
11:17 am

Auburn wins big
The dawgs will lose
Richt should be ready
To hear the boos

BURMA SHAVE

Destin Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:18 am

please remind Crowell that points are scored at the goal line .. not side line.. Cut down field for more yards… and stay behind the blockers !!!! learn to take a hit ??

NiquePhotog

November 8th, 2011
11:18 am

Richard Samuel is a true dawg, sad to see he’s out for the rest of the season. Thomas and Crowell are a cancer to the team (Why no mention of Crowell being suspended twice as well?)

chris

November 8th, 2011
11:19 am

GO Dawgs!!!! Dome Bound. Crowell is too soft, we need samuel. Crowell is not ready for big time college football, probably never will be.

Better to Dope than Grope

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

Enter your comments here

icedawg

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

Keep the rotation on kicking until one wins the spot. As for running back, why not let the fullback get a few more carries? These lightweights are limited in what they can really do. Cro’well is not the answer either. He is not built to stand the punishment, few are, but definitely not him. Top priority in recruiting should be to find a punishing running back even a 3 or 4 star on the hype list.

The original OLD Greg

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

Boo had his chance this past week against NM State but he thought smoking a little marijuana would help his chances of playing

Destin Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

Burma Shaves been wrong all the time this season.. must be a techie with no life !!

The "Crowell" Rule

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

THERE WILL BE NO DRUG TESTING AT UGA THIS WEEK.

YOU CAN BET THE FARM ON THAT!

GTBob

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

Why should the fact that Carlton Thomas has two suspensions matter when the starter is coming off of two suspensions as well?