Friday, July 15, 2011
The Sky Is Falling! (I.E.Samuel moved to RB)
Oh man, I bet you thought by reading the title that I'm one of the run-of-the-mill bloggers ready to attack this move as another sign that our coaches have absolutely no clue what they're doing and that they mishandle talent to an incredible degree.
Sorry to disappoint you, but that ain't me.
Truth is, I have a bit of a different point of view about the entire Samuel debate. First off, from a running back perspective -
1) Samuel adds experience. Ever since King's departure, the blogs have exploded with the fearful thought that our tailbacks have 86 collegiate carries and under 300 yards between them (because Carlton Thomas is the only scholarship back who's had any serious role in our offense to date). Well, putting Richard Samuel back at RB increases that number sharply. He adds 114 carries, and 528 yards. More importantly, though, he adds the experience of a BLOCKER in the passing game...something we all know to be quite important (remember that Arkansas game, Ealy?)
2) Samuel adds proven explosiveness. Ok, so it was only one play - one 80 yard touchdown - but no one could catch him. No one could come close. If, by any chance, he still has that breakaway ability...it's an ENORMOUS asset to a backfield that has been in dire need of some excitement.
3) Samuel adds BEEF. If he stays at his linebacker playing weight, holy crap. Could you imagine being a 180lb corner and seeing a 240lb bohemoth coming your way toting the ball? Samuel has always loved contact...much to the dismay of many Georgia fans. But, this is the kind of bull we're going to be looking for in a backfield that will be needed to get tough yards. Let's face it...Carlton Thomas and, Isaiah Crowell aren't likely going to pound out two yards on 3rd with a blitzing linebacker hitting the hole. But, it's very possible that Samuel will be able to use his size, power, and all-world shoulder-slamming ability to drive that linebacker backwards. Daddy Like!
As for the move FROM Linebacker, well, I have to say that I am only a little disappointed in that. I did love Samuel's speed and athleticism on defense. However, he wasn't set to be a starter, and we're not razor-thin at the position. In fact, we added a number of new LBs in the recruiting class, some of whom are likely to see PT. Also, the move of 'Tree down inside will provide the same athleticism, and a greater amount of experience on defense than having Samuel in the game there would provide.
To those who point to the problems Samuel had in his first two seasons at runningback, I offer this:
In his first season, he was behind Moreno, and was 17 years old. He was what I'd like to now coin as a Sub-Frosh. The fact that he lacked a true fundamental understanding of football at the collegiate level is no surprise (in fact, most of the 30-60 year olds who read this blog don't have THAT, and they've had quite a bit more time to soak it up). He was, however, a 5* recruit, and so everyone thought he should be a world beater. Somehow, people still haven't come to grips with the fact that a star rating measures POTENTIAL only. It has no real bearing on aptitude, nor TIME FRAME. In his sophomore season, Samuel showed flashes, but with a crowded backfield, making a few mistakes proved too costly, and BOOM - he disappeared from use in the 2nd half of the season.
His third year at UGA, he redshirted at Linebacker....and I think that may very well help him as he returns to runningback. He's bigger now, which is awesome. He's just as aggressive as ever (and Lord Knows we love aggressive power backs!). And, he likely has a better understanding of what he's going to be facing when he's in pass protection, or when he's running routes out of the backfield. It's very good to have that other perspective. The best pass-rushers in the game have a fundamental understanding of what the offensive line will try to do in order to stop them. The best runningbacks have the same.
Again, I am no prognosticator. I can not look into the future and say that he's going to be "the solution" at runningback. However, I have more than enough evidence to make me feel good about the move.
And as for those who see the situation with Samuel being akin to those of Brandon Miller and Kiante Tripp, I have to say - coaches must always do what is best for the team. If Kiante Tripp had been an incredible Defensive Lineman or Offensive Lineman, he wouldn't have been moved around so much. Had Brandon Miller boasted an amazing skill set at either DE or OLB, he would have lived at one position for 4 or 5 years instead of bouncing around. As a RB two years ago, Samuel was not the best on the roster. He was younger, more immature than those around him. He was moved to LB to shore up numbers there...but other roster moves (additions of transfers, moving players, signing new LBs) have increased the depth at that position greatly. So, the coaches have to do what is best for the team. At LB, Samuel could easily get lost in the shuffle. At RB, he may once again have a chance to be a real difference maker.