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

Long Time DAWG Lover

November 8th, 2011
7:38 pm

Richt seems to be betting the chips on Crowell. That’s a big bet because this kid, and he is that, has shown contempt for the powers that be. A 50-year friend of mine in Atlanta, well connected with the program, told me that Crowell was supposed to meet with Herschel but Crowell stood him up twice. Doesn’t say much for Crowell’s maturity or common sense.

We need a couple of hot prep prospects if we are going to do well in 2012 and beyond. Crowell’s not reliable.

AltamahaDawg

November 8th, 2011
7:44 pm

Thank goodness nobody ever had to work off any internal punishment for smoking pot, because knowing how much mudcatjoe would have wanted that made public, his schools policies wouldn’t have done that. Much better than it just absolutely never happened.

AltamahaDawg

November 8th, 2011
7:46 pm

I thought Walker reported what they talked about when they meet?

AltamahaDawg

November 8th, 2011
8:06 pm

“Mentored by former Georgia running back Herschel Walker, Crowell has rushed for over 600 yards already on the season,….” article on top 5 freshmen in the country.

“Richt pointed to his meeting with Herschel Walker in the offseason as another example of …..”

“Herschel Walker tells Isaiah Crowell to “do his thing”"

Ga Grad '90

November 8th, 2011
8:11 pm

Crowell is overrated. He’s a skinny, arrogant punk. Can’t we get a real running back at UGA again. What has gone wrong?

War Eagle

November 8th, 2011
8:12 pm

Auburn will play UGA solid, but not enough experience for a win. We will be back next year for another SEC title.
Dawgs could play LSU, Ark and bama ALL NIGHT and would not win.
Another weak year for a weak East Divison.
Auburn played LSU, Ark. SC. Clemson, (36 wins) and plays bama and UGA this month(15 wins)…who has Georgia played besides Boise State(lost)?,
SEC teams with a total of 8 wins. change my mind on those stats Auburn 27-20

Realiy check

November 8th, 2011
8:17 pm

FACT: Auburn is #20 in the BCS which is what counts and Georgia still opened a 12 1/2 point favorite, so many people laid money on Georgia it went to 13 1/2. All the posters predicting an Auburn win are just dumb.

War Eagle

November 8th, 2011
8:18 pm

Dawgs looks like you got another con on your hands with Crowell, hope not,dawgs need a RB, check out Dyer #5

Realiy check

November 8th, 2011
8:26 pm

Mudcat Joe- LSU had 3 players flunk a drug test, why don’t you want them kicked off? Its still drugs man. Plus LSU had players arrested for brawls including the quarterback still playing. If that stuff mattered LSU wouldn’t be number one. Last time LSU played Tech it was 38-3. Don’t confuse Georgia with Tech.

AltamahaDawg

November 8th, 2011
8:47 pm

Crowell is exactly what he is “rated”. A freshman RB with 724 on 126 carries, 4 TD, with a 4.7 ypc ave. That is what he is, no more no less.

BullDogMike

November 8th, 2011
9:00 pm

I really miss having great running backs year in and year out. We used to graduate and/or lose them to NFL and then pencil in the next star RB and so on and so on.Except for Knowshon being here for a couple years we have been dry as dust at the tailback position. What has happened to Tailback U? Crowell needs to show a lot more before he can even begin to consider himself one of the bulldog greats.I don’t have a lot of confidence that he will. Hope I’m wrong.

Joe Pat

November 8th, 2011
9:25 pm

Richt, quit using Religion to rationalize your decisions. Crowell….freshman and already suspended….what a joke….suspended for N Mexico State Girls College game….what a joke…..good luck representing the SEC-Least!!!

joe taxpayer

November 8th, 2011
9:29 pm

Auburn will win and we will be out coached.

Smart like a fox

November 8th, 2011
9:54 pm

puff puff pass….The Doobie Bros are back in the backfield ! Auburn by 21 !!

Realiy check

November 8th, 2011
10:24 pm

Dumb posters picking Georgia to lose 7 weeks in a row. Dumb posters wrong for 7 weeks in a row.

iSAIAH

November 8th, 2011
10:24 pm

It dont hurt as bad to get tackled when your stoned I think. Wait what did I say. O yeah; last week I got stoned and never even got tackled that didn’t hurt at all.

Thomas Brown

November 8th, 2011
10:29 pm

What is so hard about doing what is right ?

They all 3 should be sat down. Carlton Thomas has been suspended 2 times this season ? What does that mean ? So has Isaiah Crowell. And, Ken Malcome ? All Mark Richt has said about Ken Malcome since he recruited him here injured, is that he isn’t right.

Just as Joe Paterno was told we know in 2002 and did NOTHING, this is just way wrong of Mark Richt to say that IC is # 1 – way wrong. We send all the wrong messages to our youth, and protect them not.

Thomas Brown

November 8th, 2011
10:32 pm

There is no one who picked Georgia to lose 7 weeks in a row, the likes of which we have played, none are ranked teams and this week’s “opponent” without any passing offense, no special teams and void of defense, is not a team that ever had any hope of ending up a ranked team for 2011. Get off your high horse.

SatillaDawg

November 8th, 2011
10:36 pm

How ‘Bout Them Dawgs!

Go Dawgs! Beat Auburn!

Can't figure you out!

November 8th, 2011
10:58 pm

Harton…he appreciates being on the team and doesn’t take it as a “given.”

Thomas Brown

November 8th, 2011
11:02 pm

I agree Brandon Harton, Redshirt Sophomore out of Tattnall County, has long since paid his dues.

Auburn Fan

November 8th, 2011
11:12 pm

For some reason I think both teams struggle to score. Going to be a good game I hope. Auburn does not have a lot of experience on the OL and that is going to be a problem.

SOUTHGADAWG88

November 8th, 2011
11:33 pm

UGA wins 4 out of 5 against Aub.The difference in this series lately has been Aub defense sucks.

Come on Man

November 9th, 2011
12:36 am

Everyone is throwing Crowell under the bus now. I did not read any negative things about him a few weeks ago. Richard Samuel a real RB you’ve got to be kidding me. Samuel scored against florida and now he’s a hero and could not get one first down against Vandy to put the game away. How Samuel let a Freshman come and, out shine him. Richard Samuel 240 yard and 1 TD/ Isaiah Crowell 689 yard and 4 TD’s

7576DAWG

November 9th, 2011
4:07 am

Florida is getting better every week. I think they beat South Carolina without Lattimore and if Shaw play’s he will not be effective.We will know the outcome before the Georgia game even get’s going good. I hope if that happens we will not change the game plan. Georgia need’s to beat Auburn and there be no doubt as to who the better team was, especially if Florida does beat South Carolina.

DAWGS

November 9th, 2011
4:13 am

All haters please ambulate to the nearest busy highway and proceed into on coming traffic. Sick of all of you. You will eat your words this year along with the rest of America!

DAWGS

November 9th, 2011
4:18 am

Thoma Brown

So Richt punishes Crowell, Thomas, and Malcome to the letter of the UGA rule book and you compare this situation to a Coach over looking a child molester at PSU????? You have issues. I know you obviously hate UGA, but come on man!

Wavy Gravy

November 9th, 2011
6:43 am

The only “tough” decisions are the ones for which one might be held responsible and have to face consequences if they are made incorrectly. I have seen no evidence of this standard being applied to CMR in Athens.

I be Crowell

November 9th, 2011
7:12 am

Gess I’ll wait til Thursday or Friday nite to burn some blunts….yessir, I learnt my lesson

Caleb....Washaun....Isaiah

November 9th, 2011
7:16 am

We ARE….PUNK-U!

Niceville Dawg

November 9th, 2011
7:55 am

Wow,Ms.Brown….comparing an 18 year old kid smoking pot to the ugliest child-molestation case we’ve ever heard of…..nice job.

@joe pat

November 9th, 2011
8:35 am

Sad that you are of the group that is critical of others that are religious. You might want to give it a try. It’s obvious from your blog that you are bitter and unhappy.

crossdawg

November 9th, 2011
8:40 am

I wish Crowel well but don’t think he’ll ever be another Hershell. Hershell had the guts & character that this boy hasn’t shown.

AltamahaDawg

November 9th, 2011
9:02 am

Harton has paid no more dues that any reserve on the team, or any player for that matter.

If IC is the best option at the time, and he is in good standing, he is the guy to play.

But sure, when it fits your agenda, playing favorites, which you quote all the time, is the “right” thing to do now.

A kid facing sexual assualt charges becomes your favorite QB and should have played because he was the best player (although we all know you completely made that up retroactively to once again, fit your agenda, and in fact contradicts everything you had said about him for real at the time) but no way should a kid, the far better player, that served his punishment for taking a toke of weed, play because it’s just wrong now.

AltamahaDawg

November 9th, 2011
9:11 am

Joe, the problem is that Richt didn’t rationalize any decision on tailbacks or PK with religion. So, yea. I think you are confusing that with the story about how he personally dealt with his own hardships.

I am sure you appreciate me helping you out with that.

Tommy Chong

November 9th, 2011
9:12 am

“I don’t do drugs anymore, man. I feel great.”

Restore UGA

November 9th, 2011
9:27 am

I wish I had a Thomas Brown filter on my computer. I skip his rants when I see his screen name, but accidentally just read one. I feel dirty and now need a shower. yuck.

Restore UGA

November 9th, 2011
9:32 am

Crowell will have more yards then Dyer this weekend.

love it

November 9th, 2011
9:46 am

thomas is the better back he should be # 2 no question. this is a huge game no time to mess around. PLAY THE BEST BACK!

ole yeller

November 9th, 2011
9:46 am

show me someone that has never made a mistake and I will show you someone that has never done anything. Yea who are without guilt cast the first stone. I see a lot hyprocrits on this blog.

Mike Bobo

November 9th, 2011
9:55 am

Bill, the win over Auburn will be an automatic, as well as the SEC East and a pounding of LSU. We are absolutely unstoppable right now, and this team has all the makings of the 1979 team, which went on to win a title in 1980.

CMR has reached full-stride with a talent loaded coaching staff from Grantham to Bobo…there is not stopping us now….GO DAWGS!!!

ARdawg

November 9th, 2011
10:18 am

WOW! Good to see the blog has filled up with grown ups today (enter sarcasm here)

Bean Counter

November 9th, 2011
10:32 am

Crowell and Thomas both admitted that they were wrong and let the team, University and fans down. Is Boo not man enough to admit he was wrong too?

Blahdy Blah

November 9th, 2011
10:35 am

No way I would put the Harton kid in over Thomas. This ain’t New Mexico State we are talkin’ ’bout here. This is the barn. Game will be nasty. Deserves to be nasty. It’s being downplayed, but I hope the Dawgs remember the $#*& Awebarn pulled last year. Payback baby! Sic’ Em’!

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 9th, 2011
10:40 am

“Crowell will have more yards then Dyer this weekend.”

Doubt that. See: Lattimore vs Auburn.

AltamahaDawg

November 9th, 2011
10:40 am

Have you see anyone interviewing Boo this year?

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 9th, 2011
10:41 am

“All the posters predicting an Auburn win are just dumb.”

HAHAHAHAHAAH!!!!!!

zbulldawg

November 9th, 2011
10:45 am

Richt said it himself competion is good for the team. Let that be what it is !! We still need a power back I think it should be a FB who will hit hole hard and fast.With Figgins back there blocking Also we’ll still be able to eat up the clock. Gonna need that with Auburn’s offense.And help rest our defense. I’m lost about the kicking game ? SICK EM

Barry

November 9th, 2011
11:01 am

Sometimes I wonder why there is so much secrecy (of details) from the “inside” by the coaches and administrators when players get in trouble. Privacy laws or school policies???
(Recent example: 3 Georgia RB’s suspended.) Even though the media had already stated that those 3 were suspended for failing a drug test, the coaches would say nothing specific, except they have, “learned their lesson.” The assumption is they were smoking pot. Who knows what it was? However, it might make them think twice about doing it again if the specific details were released to the public, so there would be no speculation. Embarrass the hell out of them and perhaps they will think twice about ever doing it again. Or, perhaps their violations are not very serious and details might keep them from being wrongly judged. I don’t just point this at Georgia, but at all schools and all sports. Extra running after practice or pulling sleds as punishment is not the answer.

One conclusion that now could easily be drawn about Crowell is that he can’t stay in a game very long because he is a smoker, is in poor condition. even late in the season. If he is smoking weed, it certainly has to affect him even more.
There seems to be too many secrets in sports these days. Privacy laws or not – we might need to stop protecting these guys like they are little children. Believe me, they know what they are doing and some will play the “coddling” system to the fullest.

zbulldawg

November 9th, 2011
11:03 am

Supporting FANS it’s not fare to try to compare Crowell to Hershel !!! Hershel was and still is a freak of nature SUPER HUMAN. That BALL AIN’T HEAVY Crowell needs a good off season but right now he’s not close to Hershel.I hope he will be! Believe It or Not we are witnessing the best UGA team I’ve ever seen in my 50 + years.