Okay, if we’re past sorting out the legal issues which led to Isaiah Crowell’s dismissal last week, I thought it might be worth taking a look at what might be in store for the program he’s no longer a part of.
If there’s one thing I’m a little surprised about in the aftermath, it’s how blithe a lot of Georgia fans are about Georgia’s offense making up the loss of Crowell’s production. The reality is that Mark Richt now turns to a group composed of one tailback who quit the team for a few days last year (you think Carlton Thomas wishes he could have a mulligan?), two true freshmen (only one of whom enrolled early) and this year’s early leader for the Kiante Tripp Award (not to mention that a good part of the fan base never wants to see him take another snap at tailback).
Put it another way, Dawg fans – your leading returning rusher now is Brandon Harton. Combine that with an offensive line that’s not exactly expected to be a rock when things get underway and it should be hard to escape that nervous feeling.
Now that’s not to say all is lost. After all, Georgia managed to win the SEC East last season with a decidedly mediocre running game. But I think it’s reasonable to assume that Crowell’s departure is going to put more pressure on Aaron Murray and the defense to compensate until someone, or some two or three, steps up to take up the slack.
On field production is one of two things I worry about. The other is team chemistry. Those of you who scoff at that need to be reminded that what you think is reasonable and right about the situation is very likely not identically shared by Crowell’s teammates. Although he may have been a source of frustration for them, Crowell wasn’t a pariah (indeed, don’t forget he had four of his teammates in the car with him at the time of his arrest).
I’m not saying that Richt made a mistake dismissing Crowell from the team. Quite the contrary. I don’t think he had a choice. Letting him stay, even simply on the basis of being suspended while the justice system sorted things out, would have opened Richt and the program to an enormous amount of criticism and second-guessing (hi, Mark Bradley!) that would have posed a serious distraction. To borrow a well-known phrase, Mark Richt doesn’t have time for that shit.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be other crosses for the head coach to bear, if Cornelius Washington’s angry Facebook outburst is any indication. Maybe it’s something Richt can use to help pull everyone on the team together, but I can also see it working negatively, especially in the face of early season adversity. Fairly or unfairly, that’ll be completely on Richt if it happens.
More and more, this season’s first few games – despite the number of cupcakes among them – look like they’re going to be interesting. In the Chinese sense.