ATHENS — Washaun Ealey’s fumbles cost Georgia dearly in losses to South Carolina and Mississippi State, and they will cost the sophomore tailback some playing time this week at Colorado.
“He’s going to play, but if a guy is turning it over, you’ve got to take some playing time away from him,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Tuesday night.
Bobo and running backs coach Bryan McClendon said either Caleb King or Carlton Thomas will start at tailback Saturday and get some snaps that otherwise would have gone to Ealey. All three tailbacks played last week and, according to the coaches, will again this week.
Ealey has started at tailback the past three games, but his fumbles inside the opponent’s 5-yard line denied Georgia potential touchdowns at South Carolina and Mississippi State.
Both of Ealey’s fumbles resulted from “a slip in his technique,” McClendon said. “We have to make sure that can’t happen. It’s so hard to win in this league, but you make it that much harder when you’re laying the ball on the ground.”
The coaches weren’t specific on how much Ealey’s playing time will be reduced, although McClendon said “it won’t be a bunch less.”
King played on a limited basis last week after missing the previous two games with a sprained right ankle. McClendon said last week’s game helped King regain confidence in the ankle. He is “not missing a beat” in practice this week, McClendon said.
The 5-foot-7, 176-pound Thomas, who entered the season as the No. 3 tailback, relishes the idea of increased playing time.
“I’m just pretty much waiting for more,” Thomas said. “I’m ready to get into that rhythm, man. . . . I love reps. I want some more to show what I can do.”
Georgia has struggled unexpectedly in the running game this season, ranking 11th — next-to-last — in the SEC with an average of 124.2 yards rushing per game.