Daily Archives: August 5, 2007

A tale of two Marks: Bradley is stumped; Richt yawns.

With all the question marks surrounding the Georgia program going into the ’07 season – an inexperienced offensive line, a receiving corps without a proven track record, three new starters and no experienced depth at linebacker, for example – Mark Bradley looks at the one thing that’s really keeping Mark Richt up at night:

… This year’s question has become almost an annual stumper. Once again, Georgia doesn’t know who’ll be the primary ballcarrier. Once again, Georgia doesn’t even know if it’ll have a primary ballcarrier.

Exactly why is this a big deal? Bradley fumbles around with this. Georgia had its best year in many moons in 2002 with Musa Smith being the primary back, but Bradley has no answer as to whether there’s a causal relationship there, and, indeed, goes on to note that

(t)here’s some merit in Richt’s rotation — fresh legs tend to move faster — and it’s true that Georgia averaged more yards rushing in 2004 and 2005 than in Musa Smith’s banner season.

Aha! But then Bradley finds a telling factoid that he thinks says much without explaining anything. The Bulldogs under Richt are 23-2 when they generate a 100-yard rusher, he says. On the surface that sounds great, but wait a minute. How many of those are games where the Dawgs had a lead going into the late part of a game and just gave the ball to a back to grind out the clock to preserve the win? Given MR’s tendencies as a playcaller, I would imagine quite a few.

Here’s a list of all the backs that rushed for more than 100 yards per game in 2006 D-1:

Rank Player Pos Cl Gm Carries Net TDs Avg Ydspgm
1 Garrett Wolfe, Northern Ill. RB SR 13 309 1928 18 6.24 148.31
2 Ian Johnson, Boise St. RB SO 12 276 1714 25 6.21 142.83
3 Ray Rice, Rutgers RB SO 13 335 1794 20 5.36 138.00
4 Steve Slaton, West Virginia RB SO 13 248 1744 16 7.03 134.15
5 Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall RB JR 12 249 1523 19 6.12 126.92
6 Dwayne Wright, Fresno St. RB JR 12 261 1462 11 5.60 121.83
7 Jon Cornish, Kansas RB SR 12 250 1457 8 5.83 121.42
8 P.J. Hill, Wisconsin RB FR 13 311 1569 15 5.05 120.69
9 Michael Hart, Michigan RB JR 13 318 1562 14 4.91 120.15
10 Darren McFadden, Arkansas TB SO 14 284 1647 14 5.80 117.64
11 Damion Fletcher, Southern Miss. RB FR 13 276 1388 11 5.03 106.77
12 Tony Hunt, Penn St. RB SR 13 277 1386 11 5.00 106.62
13 Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech RB JR 14 297 1473 12 4.96 105.21
14 Marshawn Lynch, California RB JR 13 223 1356 11 6.08 104.31
15 Kevin Smith, UCF RB SO 9 206 934 7 4.53 103.78
16 Patrick White, West Virginia QB SO 12 165 1219 18 7.39 101.58
17 Calvin Dawson, La.-Monroe RB JR 12 213 1210 11 5.68 100.83
18 Yvenson Bernard, Oregon St. RB JR 13 296 1307 12 4.42 100.54

It’s an impressive list of talent. But here are a few names you don’t see on the list – Florida, Ohio State, LSU, Southern Cal, Oklahoma. Many teams made it to BCS games this past season, including the winner of the title game, without having a 100 yard per game rusher.

There’s a time and a place for a featured back. It’s when you have one player who’s clearly separated himself from the others. Fortunately, Mark Richt understands this far better than Mark Bradley seems to.

… Richt doesn’t see the lack of a 1,000-yard back as a problem. “The good thing about Musa [Smith, who gained 1,324 yards in the breakthrough 2002 season] was that we had consistency there,” Richt said Saturday, speaking at Georgia’s media convocation. “But we didn’t have as many guys ready to play there. Musa was head and tails above everybody else. Until somebody separates himself from the pack, we’ll probably be [tailback] by committee.”

You can almost hear Bradley sputtering “but, but… but” in response. Richt could be missing somebody!

But it’d be a shame if Georgia looks up five years hence and realizes it left another resource untapped. Lest we forget, Terrell Davis never had a 1,000-yard season as a Bulldog under Ray Goff. As a Denver Bronco, Davis had four.

Yeah, it’s a shame that Goff couldn’t figure out what he had with Davis. But exactly whom does Bradley suggest should have had plays and carries shifted away from so that Davis could have shown out? Garrison Hearst started ahead of Davis. He didn’t exactly suck as a college back. The starting QB was Eric Zeier. How much would you take away from him? You can only play with one football at a time.

In the end, this is all much ado about not very much.

If not having a featured back in 2007 turns out to be the biggest problem Georgia faces, it’ll be a good year. Actually, a very good year…

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