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

Better to Dope than Grope

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

Just Ask Zach

SSIgator

November 8th, 2011
11:20 am

Destin Dawg -

“Yes I think we could beat Ala. or LSU”

That has to be one of the funniest things I have ever read on this site. Funnier than that though is the fact that you actually seem to believe what you wrote.

Destin Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:22 am

we need a new RB coach… only pot heads we RB’s

Tana

November 8th, 2011
11:22 am

Walsh all day. The man was consistently the best kicker for three years, and yes he has struggled this year but he remains the leader of the kicking unit with experience.

I say let’s beat Auburn before we decide to beat LSU or anyone else in the Title game. I agree though….Arkansas may beat them first.

Destin Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:23 am

Richt is 2 for 3 vs. Saban..

JenChicktastic

November 8th, 2011
11:23 am

This >>>> “…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.” is why I am a fan from birth. Well said, Doug dawg.

I remember the days when the whole team was made up of guys who tried harder, fought for every yard, gritted their teeth, stood in the path of the oncoming team to protect their brothers, and played their hearts out every single down for every tick of the clock.

If our program can get back to that kind of ball with that kind of heart, man, that would be something special.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 8th, 2011
11:24 am

Enter your comments here

Football Fan

November 8th, 2011
11:24 am

I thought Crowell had two suspensions as well? What about the first half of the Vandy game?

Curious Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:25 am

I mean no disrespect to Carlton Thomas or to Brandon Harton, as we have seen physically smaller backs do well in league play, but one has to admit that it’s not all that common.

I’m curious to know why we have two “smaller” backs recruited at the same and on the same roster? Is there a strategy here? Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

milk dud

November 8th, 2011
11:26 am

I think I’m pretty cute.
Poems and football are my thing.
In the closet I remain.
Because my jackets have no sting!

BURMA SHAVE

Worried about ............

November 8th, 2011
11:27 am

UGA’s special teams scare me to death. AU will try an onside kickoff just like they did last year and just like nearly every squad that we have faced in 2011 has scored or almost scored on.

Wheel routes also scare me.

That ALWAYS open seam in secondary around the transition from CBs to Safeties scares me too. I still see Brantley with bad wheels and all humming it to that guy WIDE OPEN in this area. Yikes !!

Walsh kicking FGs really SCARES ME. He is toast for his final season. Toast.

A Murray really tries to find Orson Charles and really forces it to him. THAT scares me. He needs to dump it quickly ……..get rid of it to a fullback or something short. Move those chains, Aaron !!!

Crowell running the ball with his mentality scares me. He is just marking time and that can end up a disaster for UGA.

AU’s coaches are better top to bottom than UGA’s and that scares me.

Goooooooooooooooooooooooooo Dogs.

Bogey

November 8th, 2011
11:28 am

Why all the crying about Malcome? Had he not joined his fellow tailbacks in their indiscretion he would have had his chance last week. He blew it so it’s on him. If he’s capable I’m sure he will see the field.

milk dud

November 8th, 2011
11:29 am

I heard we’re wearing red pants. JUST WIN.

Dawg Tired

November 8th, 2011
11:29 am

Letting Crowell step back in as if nothing happened is not what I would do. I would start Harton. Playing football is an honor. Play those that think its important.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 8th, 2011
11:30 am

I’m picking UGA to defeat LSU in the SECCG. Please, spare us a rematch, for the NC, of the most boring game I’ve ever watched.

Dawg Tired

November 8th, 2011
11:31 am

Plus if you’re going to play a small back, play the one who has conducted himself properly.

DrDawg

November 8th, 2011
11:32 am

Memo to Crowell. You can end up in the NFL and do great things for yourself and your family. Or you can end up loading furniture for Mayflower. It all comes down to attitude and dedication to the team.

GT Joe

November 8th, 2011
11:32 am

Signature win so far: Vandy

Not a single win over a team GETTING VOTES in the AP or USA Today poll.

Yeah, you guys are ready for Auburn. LOL.

milk dud

November 8th, 2011
11:32 am

I hope we don’t find out that Samuel was alot more important than alot of us thought he was. Florida?

milk dud

November 8th, 2011
11:34 am

GT Joe,

How many signature wins have your jackets had against UGA.

BrickyardDog

November 8th, 2011
11:34 am

Another tough choice:
Mason or Murray or Both?

Mason, as usual, for the 3rd time he’s been given the chance, outplayed Murray head to head again. Murray played his best quarter of the year in the 2nd qrtr when he knew Mason was coming in in the 3rd, so competition is good, Richt’s right, I would keep rotating Mason in, he deserves it, and it seems to make Murray play better. Murray’s best 2 games where games where he knew Mason was playing. (Coast Caro + New Mex St).

I would rotate kickers in for field goals until somebody proves they can handle pressure.

Harton runs better than Samuel, all there is to it, has all Spring, did in the game, and as long as he connect shoulders on pass proetection, he;ll do fine.

The offense will need to score 45 points to beat Auburn, because the defense has given up 35 to 42 points against ranked teams, and 390+ yards per game.

Vance Duly

November 8th, 2011
11:34 am

Well, I wouldn’t say that Malcome exactly “blew it”. I’d say that he puffed it. To “Curious Dawg”, Harton was a walk-on who was given a scholarship earlier this year. He wasn’t a scholarship recruit. As bad as Auburn is against the run, we should also consider using our invisible fullbacks (0 carries this season). GO DAWGS!

sam

November 8th, 2011
11:34 am

“But Thomas has let the team down twice this season with off-field matter”….
hasn’t Crowell done the same thing?? Sitting out a quarter because Richt “Loves” him???

doodoobailey

November 8th, 2011
11:35 am

@Dr Dawg…..well said.

GT Joe

November 8th, 2011
11:35 am

dud: a win over UGA would rank as the THIRD most important win of our season. After Clemson and VT.

a UGA win over Tech would become your signature win, replacing Vandy.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 8th, 2011
11:36 am

Dawg Tired, I agree totally. It’s a real shame that character doesn’t play a bigger role in deciding who plays. Win at all costs.

BrickyardDog

November 8th, 2011
11:36 am

The reason I mention MASON OR mURRAY, IS BECAUSE mURRAY HAS STRUGGLED, 0-8, AGAINST RANKED TEAMS. cOMPETITION MAKES HIM PLAY BETTER.

milk dud

November 8th, 2011
11:36 am

GT Joe,

Sorry I know that’s a “small technicality” with Georgia Tech fans on this blog.

bulldogbubba

November 8th, 2011
11:37 am

It is time to change it up. I remember Coach Dooley doing that.You seem to fing a spark to the team you did realize you had.DO IT & GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!

BrickyardDog

November 8th, 2011
11:37 am

Crowell & Thomas should be kicked off the team for 2 incidents like Ealey was. Richt needs to be consistent and stop playing favorties.

Dope Dealer

November 8th, 2011
11:38 am

If Crowell doesn’t play, he doesn’t get paid. If he doesn’t get paid, he can’t buy my dope. If I can’t sell my dope, then I can’t buy groceries for my old lady.

milk dud

November 8th, 2011
11:38 am

GT Joe,

Yeah sure it would. Don’t get angry just having fun. Tech’s having a pretty solid season.

milk dud

November 8th, 2011
11:39 am

Have a great day guys!

frank

November 8th, 2011
11:39 am

he should make the right tough choice and step down. The game has passed him by.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 8th, 2011
11:40 am

I’ve seen this Crowell story before and it doesn’t end well.

Athens= God's Country

November 8th, 2011
11:40 am

Beat Auburn by one point.

Beat Kentucky by one point.

Anything can happen in the SECCG. I was there in 2005 when UGA had no chance against the mighty…. wait for it…. LSU. It was a blowout…wait for it… in the Dawgs favor.

Oh no

November 8th, 2011
11:40 am

Just heard a 3rd commitment is thinking about switching on us. That’s 3 we’ll lose due to the rampant drug abuse within our program. What will we do if this continues???

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
11:44 am

A year ago UGA fans called for the suspension of Cam Newton. This year, three rbs failed drug tests.

What say you, dawg fans?

Richt`s Hammer

November 8th, 2011
11:44 am

Let`s see we already have a choakdawg, Crowell will be smokedawg.

Auburn wins by 50

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

November 8th, 2011
11:44 am

Dawg Tired

Dont worry all is well, Richt has taken care of Crowell

He gave him and Carlton Thomas a big hug and told them he loved them

Slate has been erased, nothing happened 2 weeks ago, all is well now in the classic city

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
11:45 am

“POWER DEFENSE FROM UGA THIS GAME!”

power defenses don’t give up points to bad teams.

Technically, GT Joe...

November 8th, 2011
11:46 am

…UGA has no “signature” wins because they have beaten no one who has a winning record. However, in all fairness, GT has only ONE good win (Clemson), so that means, at least to this point, that rhe rest of their wins were also against teams that are also not very good – so, for being such a superior team to UGA, I give a one finger salute to GT…

And, as Captain America would say, “My hat is off and my pants are down to your superiority”…

Big Dawg

November 8th, 2011
11:48 am

Fellow Dawgs I think you let Bogatay have his turn, Walsh has had 9 games to get his mental problems with his mechanics straightened out. We are at a critical juncture in the season and can not afford his missing field goals, extra points or bad kick offs because he doesn’t have the right mental attitude. Coach Richt has stayed with Walsh a whole lot longer than I would have and it could cost him his job and the Dawgs a chance at a SEC Championship. Now as to running back I would have Ken Malcombe backing up Crowell, Thomas and Harton are just to small to use on a regular or consistant basis. I would use them in special situations getting them out in the flats/open spaces so they can use their quickness, elusiveness and speed in a chance for a big play.

Ken Malcome has been hurt but when he has been fairly healthy he has been as advertised a bruiser which is what we have been missing for the most part. Samuel showed flashes at times but most often went down on no contact to minimum contact until he decided that he would run tough in the Florida game before getting injured. That is just my humble opinion based on what I have seen.

Now as to shadetrees comments—- you hope we would not score a point, but as I see it with this TEAM, yes they are jelling as a team, if the Dawgs take care of business and beat Auburn, then Kentucky and GT in my humble opinion they will give LSU, Alabama or Arkansas all they can handle. This team talent wise is scary good and you can take that to the bank.

Go Dawgs

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

November 8th, 2011
11:48 am

Athens= God’s Country

If you think UGA will beat this LSU team your sadly mistaken

That 2005 defense doesnt even come close to this years LSU team

And Bobo has trouble scoring when we get inside the opponents 30 yardline

DawginLex

November 8th, 2011
11:49 am

The running backs were punished for smoking weed which BTW is NOT an NCAA violation and in fact, at 10 of 12 SEC schools, is not even an offense that warrants suspension.

Cam Newton was investigated by the NCAA for a year and is still part of an open investigation by the NCAA. Right now, he plays in the NFL and will not be part of this weekend’s UGA/AU game.

Read this slow BCS Champs so you can maybe comprehend it.

Smartalec response in

3
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2
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1
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Joey

November 8th, 2011
11:51 am

“LSU, while a stalemate against their clone- Alabama, looks eminently beatable.”
*********************************************
Haha.

By who?

The Packers?

alex

November 8th, 2011
11:51 am

Enter your comments here

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 8th, 2011
11:52 am

I’m hoping that GT takes care of VT & Duke, and UGA takes care of Auburn & Kentucky so that when ya’ll come to Bobby Dodd Stadium on the 26th both teams will be 9-2. Expecting a great game before each team plays for conference championship. That is if UVa loses one more.

alex

November 8th, 2011
11:53 am

Sorry
@gt joe, wait till after “the” game, then we’ll crow….

AS for milk dud,you’ve monikered it all..

robodawg

November 8th, 2011
11:54 am

For a routine field goal, say a 27 yarder, I’d be inclined to go with Bogotay. For a long field goal (over 40 yards) I’d stick with Walsh. If it’s a field goal in the closing seconds to win the game, you almost need to look into their eyes and see what you’ve got.