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

Athens= God's Country

November 8th, 2011
11:54 am

FLAT TIRE

LSU does look awesome, but that. is. why. you. play. the. game.

Anything can happen in that game.

First things first: BEAT AUBURN.

Joey

November 8th, 2011
11:55 am

SSIgator –

0-for-October . . .

DawginLex

November 8th, 2011
11:56 am

Joey

0 for October just as I predicted at the beginning of the season

That and that Weis would eat Gainesville which I hear he is working on

ugab

November 8th, 2011
11:56 am

Bogatay kicks it deep into the endzone on kickoffs. We all know how good we are on kickoff coverage. If you watch Walsh’s PATs he is still hooking the ball. Crowell needs to have a big game. I would love to see Malcome get a chance,since we lost our biggest rb in Samuel

Shine

November 8th, 2011
11:58 am

Will trade a field goal kicker to Alabama for a head coach.

BamaFan

November 8th, 2011
11:59 am

This is a big time game this week. Auburn has stepped on on defense when it has needed to, but what will the offense do? I think UGA can pull it out and make it to the dome, they just have to be ready to go.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
11:59 am

“Cam Newton was investigated by the NCAA for a year and is still part of an open investigation by the NCAA.”

Hate to break it to you but the investigation is over. NCAA said so.

Suck on that!

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
12:00 pm

” I think UGA can pull it out and make it to the dome”

And get slaughtered USC style by an SEC West team.

Lindsey

November 8th, 2011
12:01 pm

I really want Blair to be doing so much better then he is, I think at this point with a game like Auburn were every point counts I would like CMR to rotate both the guys. I would be keeping my fingers crossed big time on both though, GO DAWGS!!!

Eddie Merckx

November 8th, 2011
12:03 pm

why in the hell are we testing for weed anyway? Testing college students for weed is like testing Tech students for their virginity. Or Auburn co-eds.

ATL Sports Fan

November 8th, 2011
12:06 pm

Crowell will and should start. You put your best players on the field. You guys are not coaching football for a reason. Stick to your day jobs.

2010, you guys have struggled with everyone you have played this year. Yes, Utah State, FAU etc. You guys didn’t put Florida away until there was 35 seconds left in the 4th qtr. You were up by 4 at the half against FAU. South Carolina was up with less than 2 minutes left in the game. You were tied with Ole Miss at the half.

I wouldnt say you guys have been blowing teams out and do not think you will slaughter anyone.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

November 8th, 2011
12:06 pm

Athens= God’s Country

Until we get an offensive coordinator who knows what and when to call certain plays UGA will not get to upper level of football

Gratham has shown with the talent we have how our defense can one day be something

But offensively its the same garbage that couldnt do anything against good teams with Stafford Moreno Mo Mass and Greene on the same side of the ball

HedgesHaven

November 8th, 2011
12:08 pm

BCS Champs is a ginger

ATL Sports Fan

November 8th, 2011
12:08 pm

The NCAA tests student athletes usually 2 to 4 times a year. The academic institution will test student athletes approximately 2 to 5 times a year. They do not have to test student athletes at all. Get over the testing.

Heck, what did Nick Saban do this week when Brent Calloway was arrested last week for marajuaina possesion?

flagboy?

November 8th, 2011
12:08 pm

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.
_________________________________________________

True, we haven’t beaten anyone really great. I think tech has a better shot of beating us that Auburn. However, our signature loses are to Boise (hate to admit they’re good, but LSU would kill them) and South Carolina when they had Garcia (not that important) and Lattimore (very important). tech’s losses are to. . . . . .virginia and Miami. . .

I’ll take UGA’s season so far over tech’s.

ATL Sports Fan

November 8th, 2011
12:10 pm

Flat Tire, who is Greene? David Greene didn’t play with Stafford, Mo Mass and Knowshown. Maybe you were thinking AJ Green without an E.

GT Joke

November 8th, 2011
12:10 pm

Plenty of good seats available Thursday night! Still……

ATL Sports Fan

November 8th, 2011
12:11 pm

GT Joe, when you only beat a team once every ten years I would say winning that game would not be important either.

dap01

November 8th, 2011
12:12 pm

No need for the trash talking. UGA will get to play Auburn, if they win they will get to play LSU. Simple as that.

UGA’s offense will be better than Alabama’s effort against LSU. If for no other reason, Blair will hit 50% of his fg’s whereas Bama could not.

UGA has a more diversified offense with equally talented players. There is the Bobo factor though…..

If UGA’s special teams were average, UGA could win on the defensive strenght alone.

MarineDog

November 8th, 2011
12:16 pm

It might be a tad too early to crown LSU as the west champs , because they still have to play Arky. An Arky win will cause all kinds of problems for the pollsters and should UGA win out and defeat Arky in the SECG, then there will be even bigger problems with the polls.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

November 8th, 2011
12:17 pm

ATL Sports Fan

the key phrase was “on the same side of the ball”

so that would be a mispelling as I dont think anyone remembers David Greene and Stafford sharing snaps

It is common

November 8th, 2011
12:21 pm

PN State’s showers and lockers are the norm for the GT guys.

Danny

November 8th, 2011
12:21 pm

I am a Tech fan but that has nothing to do with what I’m about to say. I would say the same thing about Tech if their running backs failed a drug test. It is awfully convenient that the only game IC will miss was the New Mexico State game. Georgia has other other backs. They play in the game I just mentioned. There needs to be a two or three game suspension at the very least but it’s about winning the SEC east, isn’t it? It’s about keeping your job if your Richt. That’s the bottom line. It isn’t about punishment. It there were no more backs, then it would make sense to bring IC back. Tell the truth Mark Richt, IC is coming back to make sure you don’t lose the game/your job. Be a man and sit him the rest of the season and take your lumps like a man!

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 8th, 2011
12:21 pm

Lex, read NCAA.org/DrugTesting, Medical Code 1.0.

BrickyardDog

November 8th, 2011
12:22 pm

I would like to see Mason play half of the plays, since Murray plays better when he knows Mason will be getting snaps (see Coastal Caro & New Mex games).

Richt is right, competition is good. Especially for Murray, who is 0-8 against ranekd teams, and with that kind of record, Mason deserves some snaps.

G8tor

November 8th, 2011
12:23 pm

All this talk about going to the dome already!!! Damn, UGA has played the worst teams in the SEC so far. The East is pathetic from top to bottom and the Dawgs have played the worst two teams from the West. The combined SEC record of their opponents so far is 10-26!!!! That’s a 0.385 winning percentage!!!! I know they don’t have control over their scheduling, but they aren’t as good as everyong thinks. LSU will destroy the puppy dawgs if it comes down to it.

Maddawg

November 8th, 2011
12:24 pm

All I have to say is thank goodness Mark Richt never reads either your’s or anyone else’s articles and the comments that go with them. With all these armchair coaches like you to make all the decisions for him, how come we don’t get to see you and the others getting all the heat and getting threatened to be fired, etc.? Every week, if it’s not should he do this or should he not do that, it’s that he MUST do this or MUST do that. Barf!

Joey

November 8th, 2011
12:26 pm

G8tor –

0 – for October.

GaDawg59

November 8th, 2011
12:26 pm

Walsh will kick fgs and pats. Bogotay will kick off. Harton and Thomas will both play but not much. Crowell would have broke a few against NMS. Harton is quick but his cuts are not as crisp as Crowell’s. I think we definately will have to use the back to block as well from the Auburn pass rush. If Crowell is healthy he plays the majority of the game. Boykin and Smith will get a few chances as well. I hope Bobo opens the game up and utilizes the speed of Boykin and Smith. I would not be opposed to see both in the game at the same time. Play action fake will work. Auburn pass defense is suspect and I think we can beat them deep. This game is always tough and will be very physical. Turnovers will be huge and the kicking game will be a factor. We better bring our “A” game or we will be in trouble. I am sure Auburn will have a game plan for us with a week off. We definately need to win because I don’t know if the Gators can beat SC or not.
Go Dawgs!!!!

mad-catfish

November 8th, 2011
12:27 pm

I really hate being captain obvious here but has anyone else realized that if Ears Mcgarity and St. Richt had not had the bright idea to go messing with the schedule at the last minute where we would be right now….I think we had a above average chance of beating the fighting Charlie Strong’s from Louisville and honestly I think that win and confidence would of catapulted us right over South Carolina. In all reality we could be a couple of visor throws from a chance to play LSU in the dome with a whole lot more on the line than just an opportunity to play in the sugar super toilet down in Louisiana…..Just Saying….So thanks for the idea of trying to throw us back in the “ National “spotlight..when actually you might of just kept us out of the lime light…..ooooooh I so can’t wait to be in the capital one bowl or back in Jacksonville again in the 100+mph winds off the river for the Gator bowl…..thanks guys…appreciate it…….IF IT AINT BROKE DON’T FIX IT…if we win we take care of our own spotlight….but yes shhhhh…don’t say it…I already know..The magical chick-fil-la kick off game. How else could we recruit more thugs that will never graduate and end up transferring to Jacksonville state and become 3rd string running backs or kicked off the team all together…..Genius sheer genius.

flagboy?

November 8th, 2011
12:28 pm

says Danny, the guy typing on a computer.

GaDawg59

November 8th, 2011
12:29 pm

Danny

November 8th, 2011
12:21 pm
I am a Tech fan but that has nothing to do with what I’m about to say. I would say the same thing about Tech if their running backs failed a drug test. It is awfully convenient that the only game IC will miss was the New Mexico State game. Georgia has other other backs. They play in the game I just mentioned. There needs to be a two or three game suspension at the very least but it’s about winning the SEC east, isn’t it? It’s about keeping your job if your Richt. That’s the bottom line. It isn’t about punishment. It there were no more backs, then it would make sense to bring IC back. Tell the truth Mark Richt, IC is coming back to make sure you don’t lose the game/your job. Be a man and sit him the rest of the season and take your lumps like a man!

What about Reuben Houston? He played the rest of the season.

Choke

November 8th, 2011
12:30 pm

If you accept that Thomas’s punishment was sufficient, then you go w/ Thomas. He’s a much better back than Harton. No offense to Harton; he’s been a real pleasure to watch this season, but Thomas has really become an effective SEC runner, a true change-of-pace back.

flagboy?

November 8th, 2011
12:31 pm

It is common
November 8th, 2011
12:21 pm
PN State’s showers and lockers are the norm for the GT guys.
________________________________________

Poor taste.

Choke

November 8th, 2011
12:32 pm

As for Walsh and Bogotay, I think you definitely rotate them. If the game is on the line, however, I think you go w/ Walsh. I don’t know if that’s the right call, but at least Walsh has shown in the past that he can be a clutch kicker. Maybe he’ll snap out of it. The exception to this is if Bogotay gets hot kicking field goals; if he makes all of his, and Walsh misses all of his, then you go w/ the hot kicker.

Please

November 8th, 2011
12:32 pm

loss
loss

C – win
U – win
P – win
C – win
A – win
K – win
E – win

=

Delusional dog fans we will beat LSU

Joey

November 8th, 2011
12:35 pm

See, Maddawg (12:24), it’s easy. All you have to do to not “barf!” is, DON’T COME ON HERE!

Bill King’s next-to-last paragraph, 2nd sentence, asks the readers “Do you think he should?”

Bill is asking us for our opinions.

You don’t have to agree with us, and vice-versa.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

November 8th, 2011
12:37 pm

mad-catfish

I agree with what you said about the schedule but if we had an offensive coordinator that worried about his job security instead being the husband of Barbara Dooley’s niece we would have won the Boise game because there would have been much better play calling

But thats what happens to people when you have job security they dont spend the time it will take to be successful

and you get lackluster results
Why do you think our government is so messed up

War Dummy

November 8th, 2011
12:39 pm

Danny,

congrats!!! You have officially become this blogs dumbest poster. You obviously have your own agenda and have not even followed the situation and the imposed punishments. You need to worry about your own crooks and cheaters.

also, why are there gaytor fans on here? YOU LOST. GO HOME!!! Ain’t nothing like a pathetic, excuse making, sore loser Gaytor fan.

THWGT

November 8th, 2011
12:46 pm

No way anyone but Harton starts this game! I don’t think a one game suspension against a weak non-conference foe is sufficient punishment for a drug violation. Harton has earned his chance while knuckleheads like Crowell and Thomas don’t deserve a start.

GT Joe

November 8th, 2011
12:48 pm

flagboy: are you seriously talking about signature LOSSES? Are you counting those as moral victories or something?

Boise destroyed you guys, fine. But SC was exposed by NAVY. Garcia played his worst game EVER and still won. At UGA.

UGA has beaten teams that are 5-24 in SEC play.

mad-catfish

November 8th, 2011
12:48 pm

i-95. i really want a new offensive coordinator more than anyone. i was un-aware that Boo-boo was kin to the dooley’s…maybe we should point that out to Michael Adams…hell he would be gone tomorrow..we all know how much he loves Paw-Paw vince…i mean really how long can we let this guy live off of one TD pass to Cory Allen on the flats….

Desert Fox

November 8th, 2011
12:50 pm

Harton runs as well or a tad better than CT but CT holds onto the ball even in heavy traffic. I’d give harton the edge over CT but if fumbles let him sit for a few series before he spells IC or CT.

I think Walsh has lost his mojo and the pressure of this game to win will rattle him even more. Allow Bogotay to handle kicking FG’s and alternate KO’s between the two to see who’s doing the better job. If Bogotay misses FG’s see how Walsh handles the next opportunity. Best way to eliminate the FG dilemma is just score TD’s!

There are two critical points to winning this game. The play calling of Bobo and the play of AM. If they’re both on top of their game and the D does their job the dawgs can win this game and payback for last years cheap shots and a groin kick for Gene Chizzic.

GT Joe

November 8th, 2011
12:50 pm

GaDawg59: Reuben Houston was suspended from the team, but a JUDGE ordered that Tech let him play ball.

GT Joe

November 8th, 2011
12:51 pm

UGA: thrashed by the #5 team in the country.
GT: thrashes #5 team in the country.

nuff said.

FaithfulDawg86

November 8th, 2011
12:53 pm

I like Crowell as starter (no-brainer), but I think the coaches will get good competition from Thomas and Harton all week and that will be the deciding factor. As CMR said about the kicking game, competition makes everyone better. As for FGs, alternate PATs and FGs all you want, but in a clutch situation, stick with Walsh, the kid is a winner and he’ll break out of this slump.

BTW: does Rhett McGowan remind anyone else of Kris Durham? I think that kid is going to be a great receiver for us! Murray has sooooo many targets now, and with speedster Mitchell back, look out!!! The Auburn D will have no chance.

10Dawgs

November 8th, 2011
12:53 pm

@Hayseed Dixie Put the crack pipe down. If (WHEN) Uga gets to Atlanta, LSU or Bama would spank this young team’s behind. We are not even in the same league as those guys. Anything can happen and I love my Dawgs but all I give us in the ATL is a wing and a prayer to win.

UGA>GT

November 8th, 2011
12:54 pm

I still can’t get over all this love for Samuel. He played ONE decent game in his entire career and everyone misses him. I’m very happy with some tough runs against Florida, but he’s just not that good. Look at his average yards per carry… 3.3. Not a guess, it’s really 3.3. Seems like a good guy, just not a good RB. Just can’t break a tackle.

War Dummy

November 8th, 2011
12:54 pm

GT Joe,

crawl back down into the woodwork. You play in the A She She. Nothing else needs to be said. Clemson was a “nice” win but everyone in the country knows they were WAY overranked. You claim UNC was a “big” win? You talking about the UNC that was blanked by that Wolfpack juggernaut? Virginia? Miami? Come on , MAN!

dap01

November 8th, 2011
12:55 pm

Danny: You really don’t know the facts. Tech’s own policy calls for no suspensions after a failed drug test. UGA’s policy is one of (if not the) toughest in the nation.

Worry about your team. I do appreciate your (attempt) at sincere concern.