Since the great Herschel Walker, Georgia has been less than lucky at the running back position. In fact, the University has had a lot of “next Herschel Walker” backs, but it seems that none of them can live up to the hype, but can you blame them?
As far as the current situation goes, here’s what we do know: Isaiah Crowell is gone. Crowell is about as gone as a player can be after his arrest this week on two felony weapons charges. And what Georgia fans have learned time and time again from recurring situations like this is that nothing good happens to a college athlete after midnight.
However, Crowell is gone, and there is no changing that. The question now is, what will Georgia do at the running back position?
The heir apparent to that throne appears to be redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome. Malcome came to Georgia in 2010, when he was redshirted and a member of the scout team. After a few injuries, Malcome got his chance in 2011, and posted a respectable 4.1 yards-per-carry. Coming out of spring practice, Malcome was in consideration to be Georgia’s top tailback, even with Crowell on the roster, and was named the most improved offensive player. Needless to say, Malcome may have been a better option anyway than the oft-troubled Crowell.
Another, more intriguing option is freshman Keith Marshall. Marshall wowed scouts his senior year and went on to be the second best running back in the nation and fifth ranked player overall. ESPN’s scouts have labeled him “A projected every-down college back with game-breaking speed.” The only thing more impressive than Marshall’s 5’11”, 190 lb. frame and 4.3 40-yard dash is his 4.3 high school GPA. Marshall appears to be levelheaded and the kind of guy that could return Georgia to the ground-and-pound offense that they were known for in the glory days.
The problem with Marshall is that he is a freshman and some freshmen have trouble adjusting to college life and playing football all at once. If Malcome is the answer at tailback, then there could be some merit in redshirting Marshall this season and having four years (potentially) of him as a starter.
The least talked about option is career utility man Richard Samuels. After playing in his freshman year, Samuels size proved a disadvantage and he was moved to linebacker, where he didn’t play much. Last season, he was moved back to running back and proved that he could handle the job, especially with some clutch runs in the big win against Florida.
However, it appears that the tailback will be either Malcome or Marshall, with Richard Samuels getting a shot at his third college position of fullback. If Samuels does end up being the starting fullback for the Dawgs in 2012, Georgia could be in a really good place.
Football is probably the most creative of all sports when you start to look at the variety of formations that are available. If Samuels becomes the fullback, Georgia could utilize his tailback skill set through I-formation and split-back sets. If Georgia does this, then they’re left with a lot of options. That leaves two guys in the backfield at all times that could make game-changing runs, as opposed to a traditional fullback who is usually a big blocker and short yard runner strictly.
Samuels is strong enough to make tough up the middle fullback runs while still being a threat on the outside. This means that teams will have to load the box at all times against Georgia, opening it up for Aaron Murray in the passing game.
No matter what Georgia decides to do at tailback, it seems as if there are only good options going forward, as long as guys stay healthy and out of trouble.
Outside the Redzone gives you Breaking Sports News, Opinion and Analysis with a Southeastern Feel and be sure to “Like” us on Facebook!