ATHENS — Freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell will get his first career start on Saturday against Coastal Carolina. Asked how many times he might like to get the ball in Crowell’s hands, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo deadpanned, “45!”
He laughed, but Bobo was only half-kidding.
“I’d say he’s 20-25-carries-a-game guy and certain games it might be more,” Bobo said. “And then you’ve got about 15 or so for the other guy. You’d like to run it around 40 times a game, the way I see things. He might be able get 30 of them.”
The true freshman from Columbus got 18 touches in the Bulldogs’ 45-42 loss to South Carolina this past Saturday. He finished with 158 total yards – including 118 rushing – which works out to 8.8 yards per touch. He also scored two touchdowns.
Bobo feels like there’s a lot more production to be tapped. It’s a big reason the Bulldogs are giving Crowell his first career start this Saturday against Coastal Carolina.
“He’s a guy that has gotten better every week that we’ve had him on the practice field and in every opportunity he’s competed, whether it’s a scrimmage or a game,” Bobo said. “Like I said in the preseason, I think he’s going to be a very special player for us. When it happens, you don’t know. But I believe he’s going to be a special player if he continues to work and stay healthy.”
Crowell had started every game of his life since he was 6 years old before sitting behind Richard Samuel in Georgia’s first two games of the season. The 5-foot-11-215-pound athlete took Tuesday’s news in stride.
“Well, it’s not really a big deal to me,” he said of starting. “It’s just another game to go out there and help my team win.”
If Crowell is going to get more work, he’ll need to build up his stamina. Though head coach Mark Richt blamed some of it on a rib injury suffered early in the second quarter, Crowell was asking to come out of the game often against South Carolina.
“When a guy does that, you could say stay in there but you don’t know why a guy wants to come out when he’s asking to come out,” Richt said. “So he came out. I think he’ll stay in a little bit more than a couple of runs. Although there were a couple of relatively long runs, I think his endurance will build as we go, too, as he prepares and as the weather cools as the season goes on.”
Crowell said he recognizes that he needs to get into better shape and “make a better pocket” after a costly fumble against the Gamecocks. But he said he feels more confident than ever that he can make a difference for the Bulldogs.
“My performance in the game boosted my confidence, I guess,” he said. “It takes the pressure off a little bit. I feel better. My confidence is up.”
Shawn Williams works at linebacker
Safety Shawn Williams was observed working with the inside linebackers during Tuesday’s practice and could play there some on Saturday. The Bulldogs lost their starters at both inside positions – Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson – to foot injuries the first two weeks of the season.
“We’re looking at quite a few guys in there,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “You’ve got to wait and see what happens. We’ll see, but anybody who has played the down safety can play inside.”
Williams, a 6-1, 220-pound junior from Damascus, started the first two games at strong safety. He’s third on the team with 10 tackles.
Blair Walsh: ‘That was on me’
Senior place-kicker Blair Walsh took full blame for the 33-yard field goal attempt he missed in the first half against South Carolina.
“That was my fault,” he said. “That was on me. I just came in way too close to the ball and just missed it completely. That was a one-and-only-time thing.”
The Bulldogs ended up losing by three points. But Walsh said it’s important not to dwell on that.
“Obviously it would’ve helped, but you don’t think about that,” he said. “You just move on.”
Walsh did say that, after watching game tape, he’s convinced Bacarri Rambo wasn’t offsides on the onsides kick Georgia executed late in the game.
“It didn’t look like it to me,” he said. “It was close but I think the angle the ref was at made it look worse than it was. It was too close to call, if you ask me.”
Compliance director leaving
Eric Baumgartner, Georgia’s compliance director for the past six years, is leaving to take the same post at the University of Virginia.
“He’s from Blacksburg, Va., so he gets to go back home,” said Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, who said Baumgartner turned in his notice last weekend. “It’s an opportunity for him to go to a great institution that actually doesn’t have a compliance director right now, so he gets to build his own staff. Eric did a great job here. He came in at a really important time for our athletic association where we needed some strong enforcement.”
McGarity now has to make two compliance hires. Baumgartner’s assistant Michelle Francis recently left to join her husband at Ohio University. McGarity said he would hire a director first.
Etc. . . .
Nine true freshmen had seen action for the Bulldogs so far this season. They are: Crowell, defensive back Quintavious Harrow, linebacker Amarlo Herrera, defensive back Nick Marshall, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, defensive back Corey Moore, defensive back Chris Sanders, cornerback Damian Swann and linebacker Ramik Wilson. There’s a good chance that number could go up this week with outside linebacker Ray Drew, offensive tackle Watts Dantzler and center David Andrews in position to get their first playing time of the season. . . . Coastal Carolina features 19 players from the state of Georgia, including starting center Pat Williams, a 6-foot-1, 285-pound junior out of Atlanta’s Westlake High School.