Running game desperately needed

Athens -– So many things need fixing on Georgia’s football team right now, as you’ll glean from this mid-season report, but one thing that absolutely has to get fixed if the team is going to have any significant success in the second half of the season is the running game.

The Bulldogs are the only SEC team averaging less than 100 yards per game rushing (97.2). Heck, four SEC teams are averaging over 200 yards per game rushing. Florida is averaging almost 300 (284.6).  Nationally, only 16 of 120 major-college teams have run for fewer yards than Georgia this season.

I asked Mike Bobo on Tuesday night what has to happen to turn this around.

“We need to play with more passion up front. We need to finish blocks. And we need to have a sense of urgency when we’re running the football,” Georgia’s offensive coordinator answered. “That’s offensive linemen. That’s tight ends. And that’s running backs.

“You’ve got to take pride in it, and you’ve got to play hard and physical.”

The dual issue is that the offensive line has not played nearly as well as expected and that there’s been no one remotely approximating Knowshon Moreno in the backfield to make something out of nothing, or much out of little.

Richard Samuel has started all six games at tailback but is averaging only 52.8 yards rushing per game, a figure boosted by one scintillating 80-yard run vs. Arkansas.  Caleb King has played in three games, averaging 40.3 yards. Freshman Washaun Ealey has played in two games, running for 33 yards on eight carries in the first (LSU) but only 18 yards on 10 carries in the second (Tennessee). Carlton Thomas has played sparingly, averaging 13.8 yards in four games.

“No one has really stood out,” Mark Richt said Tuesday of the tailbacks. “No one has really asserted himself to the point where he’s our guy. Part of Caleb’s issue has been injuries [hamstring, broken jaw, concussion] all the way throughout. Richard has been solid. I think they’ve all been kind of solid -– nothing spectacular.

“No one has really made the offensive line look better than they are blocking at times. We have pretty much been getting what we’ve been blocking for, which statistically hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot.

“I do see improvement. Guys don’t get better until they get experience. Washaun has shown some sparks here and there. He’s still learning what to do on all the little things. Carlton did a nice job this last ballgame; we may see a little bit more of him.  It has been a situation where no one man has really separated himself.”

Quarterback Joe Cox is quick to note that the running game is not all that ails the offense, and he’s right about that. But he acknowledges: “It’s tough if you become one-dimensional, and we definitely need to pick up our running game.”

Bobo said there is “open competition” among the tailbacks on the practice field this week. King returned to practice Tuesday, albeit in a non-contact green jersey, after missing last week’s game because of  the  broken jaw and concussion suffered in the LSU game. King is scheduled to engage in full contact at today’s practice, and if that goes well, he’ll play Saturday.

A few other things:

– It was a busy Tuesday.  Here’s my notebook, and here’s a story on the decision not to play the 2011 Georgia-Georgia Tech game in the Georgia Dome.

– There was some interesting basketball chatter with Mark Fox and Andy Landers on Tuesday, too. I’ll blog about that before their teams open practice on Friday.

– Quick hoops items for now:  On the men’s team, senior walk-ons Ricky McPhee and Tyler Whatley have been awarded scholarships for this school year. . . . Guard Travis Leslie, who sat out the final five games last season to concentrate on academics, is doing fine in the classroom, according to Fox, and is on the pre-practice roster. . . . And on the women’s team, Angel Robinson had off-season arthroscopic knee surgery but is expected to be fully cleared for practice  before the season starts.

110 comments Add your comment

drbasic1

October 14th, 2009
2:51 am

how can we improve a running game when we have a coach that only knows three plays?….Ealy i believe is the best bet, samuel needs to move to his natural position which is linebacker, there he would excel without doubt. Spread the offense, give gray a shot doing some play action stuff so the offense is not so predictable. Basketball??????????…………who cares!!

Billy

October 14th, 2009
3:46 am

I wonder if it has anything to do with our Running Back coach that is a ex Wide Reciever

VADAWG

October 14th, 2009
5:54 am

I am not sure about the pride part, but these Dawgs are neither hard nor physical. There is way too much finesse and not near enough old school smashmouth football.

chazzo

October 14th, 2009
6:55 am

Richard Samuel averaged 5.0 yards a carry against UT. He did get stuffed, and he broke a long one for 17. Carlton Thomas averaged 10 ypc. I don’t see that as a huge problem. The team had 4.0 a carry. I know it doesn’t work out exactly because of longer runs, but 4 yards three times equals a first down. UGA only had 89 yards net rushing, but they only ran the ball 22 times. Yes the line had it’s issues against UT. I think the main problem, though, is that the coaches get impatient and move away from the running game to quickly.

LSU had 156 yards rushing against UGA. They ran the ball 45 times for 3.5 ypc. They didn’t look that great until he broke that long one for a score. UT ran the ball 37 times for 162 yards. that was only .4 yards ypc better than the dogs. Running the ball is a process, a brutal, pounding, slow, process. It is about patience and rhythm. It is about wearing down the opposing D and keeping our D off the field. Granted, I am strictly armchair. I don’t know what goes on with these guys or coaches day to day.

I don’t know if the coaches feel that UGA doesn’t have the personnel (line or backs) to handle ten more touches a game. I do know that there have been some plays where I just wanted to see an honest up the gut run, and they tried to finesse something with a delay or a draw. Short yardage plays, seems to me (the total unprofessional) may benefit from getting to the line faster and getting the D on their heels.

gomdawg

October 14th, 2009
6:59 am

What ever happen to Protect the Hedges, Home field advantage is not there any more SO with that said I want to challege our team (been a bad year but turn it around for next year by PROTECTING OUR HEDGES START A HOME GAME WINNING STR.) PROTECT THE HEDGES, PROTECT THE HEDGES.

luckydawg

October 14th, 2009
7:16 am

What has happened to the running back from Heard Dounty? His name is never mentioned in the mix for running back. As bad as our running game has been, I think everyone should get a chance

Saint Crompton

October 14th, 2009
7:25 am

((((( 45 19 ))))) ((((( Crompton for Heisman ))))) hahahahahahahaha

Dawg Tired

October 14th, 2009
7:43 am

Where is Dontavious Jackson? Is he injured or just not getting a shot to play?

Sautee Dawg

October 14th, 2009
7:59 am

Smashmouth football is right. Go back and watch the Alabama vs Ole Miss game and Alabama looked like the old Oakland Raiders. Kicking and slapping people around. Every time the TV showed Snead on the sidelines he had the look of dread about him, like he really didn’t want to go back out on the field for more.
As someone stated earlier in the week, UGA is a finesse team in a power leauge. Until our coaches realize that we’re going to stay in the middle of the pack.

GradyGrad96

October 14th, 2009
8:01 am

How many times can we talk about the same story? Everyone knows the running game is not that great. And personally, I think the continuous blaming of the offensive line is a little off the mark. I think the blame is with coaching.

Everyone knows that in order to keep a defense honest you have to play run well and pass well. Aside from the first drive of the season in Stillwater, when has this team put together a solid drive comprised of good running and key passes? I have not yet seen it.

To me, this is because Cox is just not a great QB. Teams know they can load up to stop the run. Which, it seems they have. Part of the problem here is that Bobo’s play calling is predicatable. There is nothing surprising about it. What team is afraid of Cox?

What really bothers me is that we could be right back in this situation again next year with yet another starting QB. Although I am curious as to how Gray’s multidimensional abilities might help the offense improve this year.

buck

October 14th, 2009
8:04 am

Look likes the phat lady is at the mike…humming….
Put a fork in the dogs…you are done…..

GradyGrad96

October 14th, 2009
8:04 am

Chazzo, all of the yards Thomas got were in the 4th when Tenn was giving UGA lots of open field as the game was already won. They are inconsequential. In the grand scheme of the game, they did not matter.

JB

October 14th, 2009
8:21 am

this thing is broke and the mechanics are scratching their head. The clock is ticking, and the next six games are getting louder. Mark needs to show something these last six games. We lay down and get pounded, i say they All go at years end. We show some fight and win 3 or 4 of these games, game on.

New era dawg

October 14th, 2009
8:22 am

What is desperately needed? A new coaching staff since 2005 is whats needed! You blind homers still cant see that the program is still moving downward. UGA continues to struggle with the Kentucky’s ,Vandy’s, Troy’s UAB’s and South Carolina’s of the college football world while getting their brains bashed in big games by the elite programs. Its not going to get better folks just temporary quick fixes and smoke and mirrors.

JB

October 14th, 2009
8:28 am

OK TECH nerds, your going to a BCS bowl at say 10-2. You will get killed. No D and a good football team will not allow 40-50 points. You’ll go to a dance …..and go home early……just last last years Chicken Bowl……No, we won’t go bowling this year….OUR holiday cheer will be watching you get your ASS handed to you. What a Christmas.

tom

October 14th, 2009
8:33 am

Two Words Bulldog Nation: Brian Kelly

Sautee Dawg

October 14th, 2009
8:34 am

Enter your comments here

bling and blang

October 14th, 2009
8:37 am

What is needed is a Hip Hop Disco Ball hoisted across Sanford Stadium so our players can really show of their Hip Hop Dance moves. CMR will have something new to look up at instead of looking at replays on the jumbotron of players getting burnt while he looks so stoic nd smug.

Sautee Dawg

October 14th, 2009
8:38 am

Talked to an LSU friend of mine this weekend, they are hoping to play Ga. Tech again this year in a Bowl game.

Grandad

October 14th, 2009
8:40 am

One item that should alarm Coach Richt; Other schools are going to start poaching our desirable assts. (Garner,Searles,Ball) because of all the dissent. Rats off a sinking ship, if you will. However, the staff appears to have rolled up their sleeves in an effort to right the, “ahem”, ship. By the way Logan Gray did not look all that spiffy wi. his 1st extended chance on Sat. I’ll say it again…Joe Cox is our QB.

Grandad

October 14th, 2009
8:44 am

tom; Is Brian Kelly going to leave a head coaching pos. @ Cin. to come down here and coach our spec. teams.

ron

October 14th, 2009
9:03 am

Billy, nice post Not only is our Running Backs coach is a Wide Receiver in College—–Our wide receiver coach was a running back in college—–Richt thought this was a good Change last summer ?????

JT

October 14th, 2009
9:05 am

What’s the deal with King? I remember all the hype about this kid as the next best thing, all i’ve read about is he’s on the injured list most of his time at UGA. Is he REALLY preparing himself physically or is he just injury prone? The window is closing in on his career, I hope he’s handling business in the classroom. The competition apprently has not made anyone step forward and claim the job.

Greg

October 14th, 2009
9:07 am

Fire Martinez and BoBo. Go after a BIG TIME Def. Coord. and Off. Coord. Get some fire in the Off. Line. Moreno made our Offensive Line look good. He could have made South Carolina’s line look good. Now it shows how bad our Offensive Line reallly is. Recruit some BIG DEFENSIVE ENDS AND LINEBACKERS. Ours suck!!!! Curran is the only thing we have as far as LINEBACKERS!!!

Frank

October 14th, 2009
9:07 am

Our current Wide reciever coach who was our RB coach for the past several years did a pretty good job teaching fundalments . Except for C. King all the backs knew their assignments and blocks pretty good. Why did Richt change this?

Sautee Dawg

October 14th, 2009
9:10 am

Give Rambo a shot at QB. He played that position in High School.

James

October 14th, 2009
9:10 am

Our new Running Back coach can’t even teach our Backs ( #4, #22, #30, #24) to carry the ball in the correct hand. When our Backs run right half the time they have the ball in the left hand. When they run left they have the ball in the right hand. Our Recreation Coaches teach this

PappyHappy

October 14th, 2009
9:11 am

Could we be learning and seeing what the Dawgs are without the likes of Stafford and Moreno? Were they the ‘team’ after all? Did they allow the coaches to show up each Saturday and receive accolades for their (Stafford and Moreno) individual achievements?

Good coaches make stars from average players! They teach; they motivate; they produce!! It is now payback time for Mark Richt. Let’s see what he is made of!!

simple

October 14th, 2009
9:13 am

Run more. Pass less.

RxDawg

October 14th, 2009
9:16 am

The dominoe affect. No running game -> bad passing game -> losing the field position battle -> defense playing most of the game -> bad statistical defense.

collegeballfan

October 14th, 2009
9:16 am

If the running game is a problem for Georgia, why are all the fans talking about running backs? Folks, football is a game of blocking & tackling. Block first, then run with the ball.

Fix the OL & then you will average 200+ yards a game.
UGA has some of the best running backs in the SEC. But no one is blocking for them.

Denver Dog

October 14th, 2009
9:18 am

Grandad, I’m with you on that one! Good one too!

Logan did not look that good, and who knows best besides the coaches. I don’t think that they would put the best QB on the bench. We got spoiled by Stafford, Moreno,Massaquoi the last few years. Those are 3 special players, who are starting as rookies in the NFL. Think about that before you wonder where the drop off started on UGA offense.

I don’t beleive that the players are not doing the best that they can. Is it the schemes are not right for the talent we have, or that we are to predictable, or have we just played really good defenses. I don’t know the answer, but we have another week to go see what happens. It is kind of like 77 and 79 under Dooley. That big senior line that Hershcel ran behind, were freshmen and sophomores at on time.

Go Dogs beat Vandy

kim

October 14th, 2009
9:23 am

Grand Dad, to late our Wide Receiver Coach and Jancek have had a quarrel when Jancek made the recommendation to pick AJ on Kick Team.

firemarkricht.net

October 14th, 2009
9:29 am

I can’t believe that Bobo and Richt have a down year at running back at UGA…remember when we were Tailback U?

I can’t believe we have a CONVERTED LINEBACKER as a starting tailback AND a COLLEGIATE WIDE RECEIVER (27 years old with little experience) COACHING RBs.

This is insane. I’d love to hear the thought process.

Recruit powerful running backs. There are plenty of them all over the nation.

Grandad

October 14th, 2009
9:31 am

Yes we miss Knowshon, but I but I must say it again; were missing Brannon Sutherland and Tripp Chandler more than we imagined. Why not Bac. Rambo @ rb. (perfect size) I also remember Robert Edwards coming over from the defense.

Alabama Jack

October 14th, 2009
9:33 am

“As someone stated earlier in the week, UGA is a finesse team in a power league”. No, its that high school offense which will never work in big boy football.

Dave

October 14th, 2009
9:36 am

We are in a very dark place this year. Offense can’t score, defense can’t close an umbrella. The running game is non existant and if I see another pass play behind the line instead of going vertical, I’m gonna scream. At the very LEAST, dump it to a tight end across the middle. I’ve tried to stay with this coaching staff, but for sure Bobo needs to either be demoted or let go all together. How long can we allow the WM defense keep playing like this? It seems that our opponents are playing with 11 receivers, because we aren’t within 10 yards of them when they catch the ball. I quit watching the TN game at the start of the 4th quarter because this just puts me in a bad mood. Realistically, we are at the same level as Miss State, Kentucky and Vandy. NO game is a given except for TN Tech and even they are licking their chops because they think they can upset us. Very, very, very, very frustrated…..

SwaggerDawg

October 14th, 2009
9:36 am

Dawgs need to mann up baby. Go TAKE what we need from these other teams.
Take Tunuta from Notre Dame. Take Johnson from Tech to be our OC. mAYBE TAke Strong from USC to be our LB coach and Zook can come in to do spechial teams. Were the Dawgs and we get what we want if we just go out and take it. Nothin those other teams can do bout it.

Pass-happy Bobo

October 14th, 2009
9:41 am

“Simple” hit the nail on the head: Run more, pass less. We have a limited QB, and yet we ask him to throw the ball two-thirds of the time??? We will not commit to the run. Running the ball effectively is a process- you have to stick with it and wear the opponent down. Bobo does not try to establish the running game. Hence, we put pressure on a limited QB, God bless him, and the defense is on the field the entire day. RUN THE BALL!!!! Even if it means going three and out sometimes and punting. We have the best punter in the Nation. It would suit me if we threw only 10 passes on Saturday in Nashville.

BrianMac

October 14th, 2009
9:41 am

Ok, first of all, the running game is not the real problem. The real problem is Willie Martinez and that horrible Defense. We let to middle of the road teams, actually 3 middle of the road teams(Oklahoma State) just shred our defense. Either he needs to change his strategy, or he needs to go. Get rid of that guy. Secondly, Mike Bobo needs to get out of the booth and stop calling the plays. Demote him back to QB coach!! Mark Richt should definitely take over the play calling for the offense. I think the running game is hurting because of our make-shift Offensive Line. Ealy is going to be a good kid, I look forward to seeing him the next couple of years.

Lastly, can someone please tell Mark Richt to just get some balls and bench Joe Cox. Yes he had a couple of good games but that was just AJ Green making great plays. He eyes down receivers, has a slow release, he doesn’t make good decisions, the guy is terrible. Bring in Logan Gray and Aaron Murray so we can see what they have and prepare for the future because this season is officially over!!

Name (required)

October 14th, 2009
10:00 am

Fire Mark Richt. The guy sucks.

jason

October 14th, 2009
10:01 am

In the LSU/UF game there was a line from one of the commentatos that went something like this. To run against UF, you have to commit to the run. Not for the game, the quarter, but you have to commit to the run on the single play. That is what UGA needs. UGA needs to commit to the run each play a run is called. This is to the OL. They need to be taking it personal that they are the weakest and softest OL in the SEC. They need to take it personal the SEC defenses are laughing at the, and surely no respecting UGA’s run game. If they don’t commit to the run in a single play, they will continue to not be able to run the ball, and the defense will continue to get exposed.

?????

October 14th, 2009
10:04 am

UGA problem with running is the running back they go after are 5-star for doing well at a camp because the number they have are the same stats when compare tooth for tooth. UGA need to stop reallying on these what Scout and Rival and do some work themselves. Their jobs are not in the line.

takedowndawg

October 14th, 2009
10:06 am

Whatever happened to Orson Charles? Brandon Smith as a wideout. Spread out our opponents secondary and then establish the run. What about Arthur Lynch to catch a few. Not seeing any balls thrown their wayunless it is behing the line. Shake up this offense in a hurry. Spread the offense out to establish the run. Long run patterns keep corners from crashing with end blitzes. Also, linebackers have to play it more conservatively than just blitzing. It is not that hard Bobo.

UgaJersey.com

October 14th, 2009
10:06 am

The bulldogs have a heavey heart because more fans haven’t bought their little dawg dog a replica Uga VII dog jersey from http://www.UgaJersey.com .

COACHBOBO

October 14th, 2009
10:08 am

Do you think it has anything to do with us running on 1st down and telegraphing exactly where we are going to run just to set up a play action pass later on. Then, on 3rd and 9, I call either a draw play or throw for two yards across the field.

Big XII

October 14th, 2009
10:12 am

Face it. Georgia is not a good team. You all convinced yourselves you have a lot of talent here and you don’t Give it a few years and maybe you will be bowl eligible again.

Jeremy

October 14th, 2009
10:19 am

Excuse, after excuse, after excuse. There is no way you can just automatically get a viable running game in the middle of the season, so with that said Richt has got to go. Terminate him at the end of the season because Im not even a Georgia fan and I am tired of hearing why Georgia can’t get over the hump. People its one common thread among every elite team in college football, COACHING!!!! Richt can’t coach with the likes of Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier, and now Chizec at Auburn (spell check that name) and Petrino at Arkansas. Georgia had the number one preseason ranking last year, you had a great running back, a NFL type quarterback and you mean Richt couldnt get his team at least to the SEC championship??? Ok dawgs whats the excuse then?? I will wait…….there isn’t one, Richt and the entire Georgia staff can’t COACH on this level. How is Running Back coach the same guy who coaches Wide Receivers…what the hell?? Explain the logic in that. Until the head coach changes Georgia will be the whipping boy of the SEC.

Blackberry Cobbler

October 14th, 2009
10:19 am

So we lost Moreno. Big deal. Every team looses big-time players. The problem is we’ve got 3 or more running backs and not a damn one of them “knows what to do”. Why are we recruiting players that don’t know what to do, even the “little things”?

Uncle Rico

October 14th, 2009
10:21 am

chazzo at 6:55 AM –

you hit the nail squarely on the head re the ground game.
it’s not about ypc so much as it’s about looking at it as a 60 minute process.

running the ball 35+ times for 150 yds is much more effective & successful than running it 20 times for 200 yds.
it demoralizes & wears down the opponent, & keeps our sieve-like D off the field.

Bobo needs a wake-up call asap.

http://www.runthedamnball.com