Fan talk: How many tailbacks is too many for the Dawgs?

Would Richard Samuel be a good fit at fullback? (Associated Press)

Would Richard Samuel be a good fit at fullback? (Associated Press)

All in all, it was a pretty good week for the Georgia Bulldogs — football variety, at least. Todd Grantham’s defense will be intact next season, and Grantham apparently rebuffed interest from the Falcons; the Dogs lost only one player to the NFL draft; backup QB Hutson Mason decided to redshirt rather than transfer; and Mark Richt got commitments from a five-star defender and another highly rated running back. Sounds like a good time to sample the Junkyard Mail …

Harry Peterson writes: Like most Dawg fans I’m thrilled that Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will be joining our team, and I’m one of those who believes the competition will be good for Isaiah Crowell and force him to increase his effort and perseverance. But what is the coaching staff going to do with all those other tailbacks? Carlton Thomas can still maybe serve as a change-of-pace back, if he doesn’t get himself kicked off the team, but what about poor Richard Samuel and Boo Malcome? Do you think there’s room for all these backs or will some of them be “encouraged” to get off the bus?

I don’t think you can ever have too many tailbacks in the SEC. Look at the situation Georgia found itself in this year because of injuries and suspensions. And then there’s LSU, which had quite a bit of success sharing the load pretty equally this season between four tailbacks. That said, I think the best use of Samuel would be to move him to fullback, where he would be a better fit size-wise than Zander Ogletree, his blocking ability would be a plus, and his relative lack of speed wouldn’t be as much of a hindrance. At the very least, I hope the coaches consider cross-training Samuel at fullback and tailback. Heck, the same goes for Malcome. Why have these guys sitting on the bench behind (in no particular order) Crowell, Marshall and Gurley when they can be making a valuable contribution to the offense?

Bo from Birmingham writes: Bill, I was really alarmed to hear this week that some SEC official had said the cross-divisional “permanent” rivalries may have to be discarded. OK, that might not matter much to Gamecock fans, who got stuck with Arkansas as a permanent SEC West rival when they both came into the conference, but can the SEC really seriously be considering doing away with Georgia-Auburn, or even Alabama-Tennessee, another great rivalry? That would be insane!

The SEC needs to keep Georgia and Auburn playing each other every year.

The SEC needs to keep Georgia and Auburn playing each other every year.

That was SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom, the conference’s chief spokesman, who told our sister paper, The Austin American-Statesman: “There might not be a permanent rival. Don’t read anything into [the 2012] schedule. But we are staying with eight conference games.” I agree with you that any plan that discards the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry between the Bulldogs and Tigers and the venerable rivalry between the Crimson Tide and the Vols as annual events is a bad idea. And I know UGA athletic director Greg McGarity has stressed the importance of maintaining the Georgia-Auburn rivalry, though he might end up getting outvoted. I’d prefer to see the SEC stay with the 2012 model, featuring eight conference games and maintaining the permanent rivalries. I realize that means you’d only play the rest of the teams from the other division twice (home-and-home) per decade, but I don’t think that’s a major concern for most fans. Do you really care how often Georgia plays Mississippi State or Arkansas? And I acknowledge that going to nine conference games would be more attractive to TV (getting rid of one cupcake nonconference game on each team’s schedule). But the eight-game plan provides more scheduling flexibility for schools like Georgia, Florida and South Carolina that play an in-state BCS nonconference rival every year. Still, if going to nine conference games is deemed the only way to maintain the permanent cross-divisional rivalries, I’d rather give up a cupcake than lose having Georgia-Auburn every year.

Drew in Statesboro writes: With [Orson] Charles departing for the NFL, and [Aron] White graduating, I know a lot of people are worried about the tight end spot. However, I still think Dawg fans should keep that, “we’re stacked at TE” mentality because of all the talent that still remains. Who do you think will step up and be the next star at that spot? [Artie] Lynch, [Jay] Rome, or a new face? Also, might we see one of those move to fullback like [Bruce] Figgins did?

I doubt the coaches will feel the need to move a tight end to fullback when they’ve got all those running backs. As for who’ll start at TE, I’d imagine at least early in the season that Lynch, our favorite New England Yankee, will get the nod on the basis of experience and blocking ability, but I’ll be quite surprised if Rome isn’t getting his share of playing time pretty quickly. And he’s probably more of a receiving threat than Lynch. Anyway, I think we’ll see them both — anyone for some two-tight-end sets? As for freshman Ty Smith, he’s more likely to redshirt. Of course, if the need arises, incoming freshman quarterback Faton Bauta has experience playing tight end in addition to running back, safety and linebacker.

Matt Cafaro writes: Bill, Do you think Mike Bobo’s poor use of Orson Charles during some very key in-game moments the last few years (thinking especially of the second half of the LSU game and the last two bowl games) hastened his departure from UGA? Did Charles decide to leave Georgia because he was tired of Bobo’s head-scratching game planning, play calls and inability to make in-game adjustments?

No, I don’t think Charles left out of frustration. After all, going into the bowl game, he was Georgia’s leading receiver, with 44 receptions for 572 yards and five TDs. Over his three-year career, Charles caught 94 passes for 1,370 yards, which set a UGA career yardage record for tight ends, and scored 10 touchdowns, tying the school record. As for what happened to Charles in the last two games, particularly the bowl game, did you see the penetration that Michigan State’s defense was getting through the Dawgs’ outmatched offensive line? Most of the time the tight end was needed as the sixth lineman for pass protection. I think Charles left because he justifiably reached the conclusion that his NFL prospects were already too good to pass up.

Beach Dawg Living Among Gators writes: While the way too early predictions of a Top 10 team is a warm and fuzzy for the fan base and may give a bit of nudge to recruiting, I believe there are too many intangibles: offensive line, punting, kicking and the offensive brain trust’s inability to go for the jugular and finish the kill!! Auburn and Florida are going to be much improved but, I believe, the most underrated team in the SEC is South Carolina — good defense, improved offense and a coach who thrives on finishing the kill (he and [Nick] Saban are the best in the business in this aspect).

You make a valid point. Georgia has an awful lot of experienced talent returning, looks to be on track for another stellar signing class, and has that favorable schedule. But Mark Richt and his staff are going to have to rebuild an OL that wasn’t that great to start with, and they absolutely must rethink their approach to special teams in order for the Dogs to improve on this season’s 10-4. Richt has indicated a full-time special teams coach isn’t in the offing, but naming one of his assistants to be special teams coordinator would at least be one small step in the right direction. (It’s worth noting that Steve Spurrier’s latest addition to his South Carolina staff is going to coach special teams and tight ends, with the emphasis in the announcement on the special teams duties.)

Mike Ruffin writes: Who will handle placekicking and punting for us next season?

At punter, incoming freshman Collin Barber will certainly get the opportunity to take possession of the job, and at placekicker the coaching staff has high hopes for another incoming frosh, Marshall Morgan.

Also on the subject of kickers, Jim writes: I feel a little bummed for Blair Walsh. Such a nice career to have such a bad senior season. When was the last time UGA has ever been dissapointed in a kicker? I can’t remember one. It’s usually one of our biggest strengths.

Surely you haven’t forgotten Andy Bailey. His fall wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Walsh’s because he was never as good, but after a decent if unspectacular showing as Georgia’s starting scholarship placekicker during the 2004 season, Bailey lost the job to walk-on Brandon Coutu, who went on to an All-SEC career. Then, during the 2006 season when Coutu was injured, Bailey was put back in the spotlight — and proceeded to miss a pair of field goal attempts and an extra point attempt in a loss to Kentucky. That prompted Richt to have punter Gordon Ely-Kelso try taking on placekicking as well, which produced middling results at PK and reduced his effectiveness punting. Coutu fortunately was able to return for the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia Tech.

Shep Rose writes: I nearly fell out of my chair when you said that [Matt] Stafford’s performance in the NFL shows Richt and Bobo can develop a QB. His recent success in the pros proves that they are unable to maximize potential of great athletes! I can guarantee that defenses are more complex in the NFL than college, meaning he should have shredded SEC defenses. Fact is, Stafford had a nice career, but never put up great numbers. With an innovative offensive mind at the helm, he could have had an Andrew Luck or Eli Manning type college career.

I’ll grant you that a more wide-open pass-oriented offense might have produced bigger numbers for Stafford (who still threw for 7,731 yards and 51 touchdowns in his three years at Georgia and ranks third in career passing yards behind two four-year starters, David Greene and Eric Zeier). But you can’t blame Richt and Bobo for keeping things balanced when they had a guy named Knowshon Moreno in the backfield. And Georgia’s lack of a championship during Stafford’s stay in Athens had more to do with defensive problems. Also, once Stafford, who was the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, made the jump to Detroit, the coaches there remarked on how well-prepared the young quarterback was. If you’re going to blame Bobo when Georgia’s offense falters, you have to give him credit for his work with Greene, D.J. Shockley, Stafford and, so far, Aaron Murray.

Got something on your mind concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

198 comments Add your comment

Joey

January 14th, 2012
10:42 am

Joey

January 14th, 2012
10:44 am

My first first, sweet! And you can never have enough competition at RB

Nub

January 14th, 2012
10:54 am

Believe the last time we had an o line that could run block was 2004… 2005… To run a pro style offense you must have a group of talented linemen that can work together and that have played together …. I believe we are at least 2 yrs away from being able to win the SEC…

chuck

January 14th, 2012
10:56 am

Georgia had a pretty good year, but it is obvious that the offense is so predictable and non changing to meet current competition. Our Dawgs are still running the same offense they have for the past thirty years when I went to school there. With a little offensive imagination and a killer instinct, the Dawgs could rise to the next level.

News about NFL Preseason Games issue #1 |

January 14th, 2012
10:58 am

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hipdawg

January 14th, 2012
11:05 am

The thing that bothers me is the lack of ol signings.People are lining up to play for CTG.But we need offensive lineman !!!!!

Old Coach

January 14th, 2012
11:10 am

Win the line of scrimmage!

January 14th, 2012
11:14 am

I agree with hipdawg! We gotta win the games in the trenches.

Old Coach

January 14th, 2012
11:16 am

@hipdawg again
4 out of the 17 players commited to UGA are OL players. Several more are targets. Don’t worry the staff knows exactly what positions that need to be upgraded. Believe in the staff and GO DOGS.

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Destin Dawg

January 14th, 2012
11:18 am

we need ( love ) the big uglies up front…. same intensity of Grantham on the offense… Rich, t Bo Bo ( a good recruiter ), Garner, and Friend especially.. sign ‘em up !! Go Dawgs !!

BamaDAWG

January 14th, 2012
11:20 am

What???

Give Bobo credit for Greene, Shockley and Murray…are you kidding me? Greene never started a game at QB and neither did Shockley. I loved them both at UGA, but are either one of them still playing in the NFL?

And as for Murray (and I like the kid and hope he dramatically improves next year!)…come on! He wins the games he should and cannot win the big ones. So what credit should we give Bobo or CMR??? If it wasn’t for the crappy game plans, play calling or lack of being able to adjust at halftime…Murray may have been able to win a couple of those games! But with Bobo and CMR’s lack of ability to go for the win, instead of playing scared; these guys will never be able to live up to their true potential at UGA!

Old Dog New Tricks

January 14th, 2012
11:21 am

Credit for Aaron Murray? C’mon, Bill, Murray seriously underperformed in most of the big games this year. Bobo is a decent enough QB coach, but is way out of his depth as an OC at a FCB school in the SEC. He should have had to earn his chops at small schools and learned to innovate, instead he is predictable and pedestrian. If he hadn’t played at Georgia there is NO WAY he would ever have been offered at job at Georgia, but less been the OC. Can you envision Bobo as OC at any other FCB school? ‘Nuff said. Until this coaching staff gets some guts and some brains, and removes Bobo, the Dawgs will continue to underperform, no matter how good a recruiting class they have.

faithfuldawg86

January 14th, 2012
11:24 am

Definitely agree that we need more/better play out of O-line, but I also think that with the combination of Murray et al’s maturity and the fresh blood coming in, offense will be much improved in general. As for the line, we have some young guys who are growing up fast and some great recruits lined up: Theus, Beard (Juco transfer), Brown, and Pike, for example. GATA!

Huntsville Dawg

January 14th, 2012
11:25 am

We won’t miss Orson Charles…Dig deep and you’ll hear why.

Top Dawg

January 14th, 2012
11:26 am

Losing some of the OL from this year is addition by subtraction.

SavDawg

January 14th, 2012
11:26 am

Ol,OL,OL we’ve got to recruit more. we talk about you can never have enough RB. We NEVER seem to have enough OL. I realize RB’s take a lot of pounding but I say we can never have enough of both.

BamaDAWG

January 14th, 2012
11:28 am

Old Coach…

Looking at the recruiting sites, you are correct that 4 of the 17 commits are OL. But looking at the “Offers” side will show you that there are not too many more on the wishlist…many have committed elsewhere. There are ONLY 2 OG and 2 OT left that are considering UGA. That is NOT many, as you state. And one of those guys is from Arizona and another is a JC Transfer…NONE of which appear to have UGA listed as their #1 choice!

Also, how can we have confidence in this staff??? The only thing they have done is prove they can recruit well and win the games they are supposed to! I would have a much better feeling with a coaching staff that played to WIN and could make USEFUL adjustments at halftime…neither of these things I have seen in the last 3-4 years from this staff!

Daniel#12

January 14th, 2012
11:28 am

In listing lousy place kickers, please do not overlook Steve Crumley. While living in NC, I froze one night on top of Mt. Airy listening to Crumley miss field goals against LSU.

supsalemgr

January 14th, 2012
11:28 am

I like the idea of Samuel and Malcome to FB. We missed that option of handing it off to the FB in 2011. That will open up opportunities for the TB’s and passing options.

Destin Dawg

January 14th, 2012
11:29 am

we need a killer instinct on offense for sure… keep your foot on the gas Richt…Houston Nutt or Chris Hatcher for O.C. ?!

SavDawg

January 14th, 2012
11:29 am

Old dawg new tricks.

His performance in big games is the diredt result of our OL getting beat badly. Give murray a chance with top OL.

Top Dawg

January 14th, 2012
11:30 am

Recruit LINEMEN on both sides of the ball, especially offensive line!!!

SavDawg

January 14th, 2012
11:31 am

BamaDawg

Right on!!

Dawg Bounty Hunter

January 14th, 2012
11:32 am

we can’t be married to Arron Murray at QB.. not a pocket passer.. roll out.. throw to TE’s for 10 yd. 1st down etc.. maybe.. Go dawgs !!

splendid splinter

January 14th, 2012
11:39 am

It ALL begins with the offensive line. If you have a good one, I could run behind and make yards, and I could stand behind it and complete passes.

Dap01

January 14th, 2012
11:40 am

Why does our coaches seem so bad at coordinating a running game? They run the smallest RB up the middle? You can say change of pace but Carlton is not used as a change of pace. He simply comes into the game. The running plays are slow to develop, the blocking is muddled, the QB points the ball to the rb while handing it off very slow. We run the draw play over and over with little deception.

Bobo or someone is doing a poor job at coordinating.

CHDawg

January 14th, 2012
11:41 am

I think it is good to remember that most TBs take a year or two to get up to SEC speed and toughness. Crowell and Malcome got there this year and both will be tough to beat out. If they hit the weight room hard I think they can be two of the top TBs in the SEC. Samuel and Thomas will have a say in that, too. Our line has to figure out a way to open some holes. Kentucky saved us the dishonor of being ranked the worst offensive line in the SEC for sacks allowed (total), and without Murray I suspect we would have been the worst in the SEC. We were awful in tackles for loss, too. And to make things worse, we supposedly had two top draft picks in Glenn and Jones–what does that say about ‘12? I hope we can pull a miracle off on the O line, but we need some serious studs to sign/step up. I really think we could have won it all this year if we had Alabama’s O line. Bill, we need some focus on the O line; our TBs will likely be very strong for the next few years.

tass

January 14th, 2012
11:47 am

Did you hear about Nance… Oh…. guess Da Ric could not get him to starter. Bobby hope your happy….

Coach Ray Goff

January 14th, 2012
11:54 am

How many tailbacks IS too many for the Dawgs? Not to be the grammar police, but shouldn’t that be “How many tailbacks are too many for the Dawgs?”

You weren’t an English or Journalism major, were you Bill?

Texas Dawg

January 14th, 2012
11:56 am

Bill – Please keep us posted on the special teams situation, particularly the new kickers.

Dawg48

January 14th, 2012
11:59 am

We lose CT and RS after this year, then we will have IC, Boo, KM , TG.
If there is an injury or transfer or suspension things could get thin at RB real soon.
I agree we need O line men real bad at the tackle position.

LakeDawg

January 14th, 2012
11:59 am

Right now, I don’t see any reason why Malcome shouldn’t be #1. Just because he wasn’t a splashy signee is no reason to disregard him. He’s been very effective when he’s played. As for Samual, unless he’s lost some speed he is one of UGA’s fastest players, but a move to FB sounds about right.

Dawg Man

January 14th, 2012
12:01 pm

Take this to the Bank !!!!!!! Georgia will be National Champs the next 6 years !!!!!! Oklahoma holds the national consecutive wins record at 47, we will break in the fourth year from now !!! 14-0 the next 6 years !!!! Next season we will get the top 22 players in nation to come play for CMR and TG. Gonna be hard to schedule, because nobody wants to play us

Phillip

January 14th, 2012
12:10 pm

How do you think Da Rick Rodgers feels about not coming to UGA now? hahahahaha…tough luck kid. He’s been on a losing Tennessee team, hasn’t beaten UGA yet and probably never will. Think he shoula came to UGA? I think so. GO DAWGS

Oh, and you can NEVER have enough running backs. Not the way they take a pounding and how tired you can get in the 4th. Ask LSU about how having lots of RBs help with rotation.

AltamahaDawg

January 14th, 2012
12:11 pm

Lesson here is: Don’t read some stupid ill-informed crap from others pretending to have original thoughts and repeat it in a letter to Bill King. He might just publish it with your name attached to it.

Phillip

January 14th, 2012
12:13 pm

With Samuel’s straight ahead running style, he’d make a great FB. Bruce Figgins didn’t really pan out at FB like I thought he would. Didn’t open many holes for our backs. I miss Brannen Southerland. That dude could lay out a LB or safety. He’s missed. DGD. Anyways, try Samuel out at FB and he’s very physical so he’d have no problem hitting. Try anything!

Phillip

January 14th, 2012
12:16 pm

And whoever said we didn’t have an O-line that could run block since 04-05, I disagree. Back in 07 we GASHED the Florida Gators in Jacksonville with Moreno. He was our workhorse that day. He had 30 something carries for 180+ yards. He was a man on a mission that day and he didn’t do it by himself. Clint Boling and Fernando Velasco were opening up mega holes. Ask the Gators.

Also, back in 09 when we came out with WE RUN THIS STATE over GT, Ealey and King combined to rush for over 300 yards that game. Just give Will Friend time. He’ll have this line back to mauling opponents like we’re used to.

Dawg Dawg Dawg

January 14th, 2012
12:16 pm

Dawg Man, no offense, you are crazy. No way Richt EVER wins a NC at UGA. Here’s another NIGHTMARE scenario: Richt stays on for 5 more years and then BOBO TAKES OVER AS HEAD COACH!

BTW, what is Bobo’s relationship with the Dooley family? Is he married to a Dooley? I’m just wondering how he keeps his job as OC??

Joey

January 14th, 2012
12:22 pm

Joey (10:42). If you are gonna gush about being “first,” you or I should put our last initial on our posts, so there’s no mix-up. Thanks.

I Want a New Kind of Recruit

January 14th, 2012
12:24 pm

I’d much rather see Coach Richt recruit guys who show a bit of academic achievement along with athletic achievement. How in the world do some of these guys get admitted to UGA ? It’s a bit of a farce, is it not ? Yeah, I’m sure ‘everybody else’ does it; doesn’t mean UGA has to. I’ll bet Boise State’s athletes aren’t so out-of-place in a college classroom. And there are probably some others, too. I’m sort of losing my interest in college athletics when everybody winks and nods just so some guy can help the football program. (assuming he isn’t arrested and kicked off of the team). How about Richt recruits 3-star guys that will make us proud they play for us instead of 5-star guys that are an embarassment ? Anybody agree?

Joey

January 14th, 2012
12:28 pm

I do wish Richt would put lots more emphasis on the special teams, make them a weapon, instead of just another down during the game, or worse – a liability. Devise some fake punts, fake FGs (heaven forbid he would fake his favorite play, though), and rushing opposing punters more effectively, etc.

I don’t think it will happen with a part-time coach. And it’s gonna take some doing, because we just lost our best returner, punter, and kicker.

Phillip

January 14th, 2012
12:31 pm

@ I want a new recruit,

Keith Marshall has a 4.29 GPA…how’s that for a new recruit? Gurley is high character too.

I Want a New Kind of Recruit

January 14th, 2012
12:34 pm

We’ll see how legit that is in a year or two, I suppose. How about Crowell, King and Ealey ?

Phillip

January 14th, 2012
12:35 pm

I agree Joey that special teams needs to become a weapon more than what it is. We need to try to block more punts. Look at Florida; their special teams have always been a threat and you could argue they had the best special team unit in the SEC under Urban Meyer. He was never afraid to take chances to go all out. I think Rainey has like 6 blocked punts in his career or something like that. It’s up there. We need to go all out to win.

Phillip

January 14th, 2012
12:38 pm

Students are going to make their own decisions. You cannot blame Richt for their stupid antics. So why are you trying to do so? That’s like blaming yourself for your wife cheating on you. It’s who she is.

Dawg48

January 14th, 2012
12:39 pm

I Want a New Kind of Recruit
January 14th, 2012
12:34 pm

We’ll see how legit that is in a year or two, I suppose. How about Crowell, King and Ealey ?

Crowell, King and Ealey? Phillip just told you about KM.
New means new! KM is new kind of recruit so why bring up Crowell, king and ealey like they are new?

Joey

January 14th, 2012
12:42 pm

Cause he is a techie!

Dawg Tired

January 14th, 2012
1:05 pm

I’m not so sure that even Bobo wants to take the “credit” for Murray who has choked badly in big games.

JDawg1785

January 14th, 2012
1:09 pm

I think that four-headed monster in the LSU backfield is a perfect model for CMR to go by in bringing back the running game. If Crowell takes good care of his ankle, we should be in good shape next season.