Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Who says we have to have a feature back?
With the news that Caleb King is no longer a part of the UGA program came many bandwagon naysayers who believe this is the death knell of Mark Richt's tenure in Athens. They appear to believe that without King, our offense will sputter due to a lack of ability from Ken Malcome, and a lack of experience from Isaiah Crowell. Apparently, it will be nigh on impossible to run Mike Bobo's offense without a stud feature tailback and an experienced fullback.
My mind drifts back a few years to the last time we won the SEC, 2005. I thought to myself..."I don't remember DJ Shockley running an I-Form Heavy play-action based season. I just don't recall that." So, I started watching highlight vids on youtube (talk about brilliant research). Know what I saw? I saw a hell of a lot of 3 and 4 WR sets. I saw a great deal of split-backs. I saw DJ Shockley running PA QB Keepers. What I didn't see was our offense lining up and running a feature back into the line 35 times a game, and hoping for the best. In fact, over the past decade, we've only had 2 true "Feature" backs...and only one who people remember as a true standout. Though Musa Smith was a load, and very important to Richt's success in the early part of his career at UGA, he did not have the "wow" factor of great current-era SEC backs such as Mark Ingram, Darren McFadden, Knowshon Moreno, etc. Knowshon is arguably the only Prime-Time Feature back of the past 10 years at UGA. Generally, we get it done by committee.
I don't believe we can safely assume Crowell to be another Moreno. But, I could certainly see Malcome and Crowell being a tandem akin to Ware and Thomas. The question is...will they be used in this way?
Avid readers of this blog (is that even possible anymore with the scarcity of my posts?) will remember that I had similar hopes for King and Ealy last season. But, it was rare that the two were active at the same time. Moving into 2011, the team has had none of the disciplinary problems that have plagued us in recent years. What this tells me is that this team is going to fly right. In doing so, we will (barring injury) keep our boys on the field. You can't tell me that having two of Georgia's best running backs from the past two years in the backfield doesn't give us a shot.
I've seen posts recently questioning the ability of Ken Malcome only because twitter wasn't ablaze with talk of him during his redshirt season. This is leading people to think the kid sucks. It's funny...people are not only willing to crown Crowell as "The Next..." before he's taken his first fat steamer in a dorm toilet, but are equally willing to call Boo a "lame duck" before they've seen the results of a redshirt year. Malcome is known as a downhill power runner. I'm willing to bet he's learned a thing or two about blocking schemes and will be getting a majority of the snaps early. He'll get a chance to prove himself.
I think we have an interesting dichotomy in our backfield this season. On the one hand, you have the big, solid power back who came in and redshirted. He waited his turn, and now the crowd has cleared from in front of him. On the other, you have the flashy all-world super-hyped super freshman who just wants to play for three years, set the ground on fire, and then bolt to the NFL. Both are driven to succeed - and both can. Success need not be mutually exclusive.
For me, the greatest question is - will Mike Bobo find the plays in the playbook which will best utilize the tools in the shed? You see, Bobo wasn't at the reigns in 2005. I simply hope he paid attention to the notion of a split-back offense. Murray is a proven running threat. So, with him in shotgun and two tailbacks with him, along with three receivers (any combination of WR and TE), the defense has to account for a multitude of options. I think the battle-cry of many Richt-Bobo-Haters over the years has been the apparent lack of creativity in the offense. I still remember the J.O. who screamed out that HE knew which plays were coming at the Colorado game...right up until AJ housed that big one in the second (and the guy nearly passed out from surprise). I believe in Bobo. I believe in Richt. I believe in the Dawgs.
And I don't give a damn if you don't.