Relax, there’ll be plenty of time to write him off.

There’s lots of concern out there as to whether Isaiah Crowell may fall in to the group of eight that Pollack refers to there.  Or at least plenty of doubts that he can shape up to be the kind of freshman running back who made an impact last season.

… Isaiah Crowell could be as good and have all the physical tools as the best running back in the country, but what could hold him back is not himself; rather, it is more of the situation he is stepping into.

South Carolina’s offense is built around more four-wide sets with a single back, leaving more holes in the defense to run the football without a blocking fullback. In Spurrier’s offense, we all know he loves to throw the football, and it comes mostly in more than two-wide receiver sets. However, I will say Spurrier has been running the football more than he ever has in his coaching career over the last three to four years.

Michael Dyer is in the same situation in Gus Malzahn’s offense at Auburn.

Mark Richt’s offense, on the other hand, is built around more of a traditional two-wide receiver set and an I-formation backfield. Richt always utilizes the fullback in his offense running the football. Now, I’m not saying Georgia does not show four-wide receiver sets because they do, but Richt utilizes less four-wide sets than Spurrier.

Another reason I’m questioning the impact level is because of the offensive line. The Bulldogs lost their best offensive lineman Trinton Sturdivant to his third ACL injury. They only return two starters now in tackle Cordy Glenn and center Ben Jones. This offensive line depth is paper thin, and the experience level is of major concern.

With a pro-style offense combined with numerous questions surrounding the offensive line, I am just led to believe Crowell’s impact as a true freshman will not be as great as Lattimore or Dyer’s.

Now some of that analysis is wrong – Sturdivant hasn’t been Georgia’s best offensive lineman since he went down with his first injury – and some of it’s a little overstated, as you’re about to see, but the fact is that Pollack’s right to some extent.  It’s always going to be something of a crap shoot as to whether any freshman running back is SEC-ready.

But here’s the thing: some of ’em are.  Here’s a list of freshmen running backs who finished in the top ten in the conference in rushing yards per game over the past five seasons, via

  • 2010:  Lattimore, Dyer
  • 2009:  Norman, Richardson
  • 2008:  Ingram
  • 2007:  Moreno, Grant
  • 2006:  Coker, Dixon

All kinds of running styles there and all kinds of offenses, not to mention all kinds of levels of surrounding support.  If there’s a common thread in that list, it’s a combination of player talent and coaching commitment to deploy the talent.

One thing in Crowell’s favor to consider is that there’s not exactly a lot of competition for carries in the Georgia backfield at this point.  Malcome is as untested as Crowell (remember, too, that he slipped to fourth on the depth chart after spring practice) and we’re all aware of Carlton Thomas’ limitations.  It’s easy to forget that Moreno’s freshman season took off after Thomas Brown was injured and Bobo had no choice but to turn to Moreno as a workhorse.  If Crowell’s as good as the recruitniks claim, it’s likely he’ll be given plenty of opportunities to show it.


Filed under Georgia Football

58 responses to “Relax, there’ll be plenty of time to write him off.

  1. heyberto

    Interesting stuff. One thing that just occurred to me. After what’s gone on the past few years, how much do we chalk up the lack of consistent play on the field to coaching, or do we see that as a non-issue.. the players in question just weren’t very coachable? Not trying to slam the staff by saying that.. but it begs the question… can we coach up Crowell in the same way that Bobo has coached up Murray? It’s going to be interesting to see.

  2. heyberto

    One more thing. I’m not sure we need to see Crowell have a breakout season to be effective in the running game. The talk of Crowell being a freshman like Lattimore doesn’t really concern me. I’m more interested in ‘can he be good enough’ to allow our offense to run effectively. He doesn’t need to be flashy to get the job done in my book.

    • Merk

      True…SC needed Lattimore b/c Garcia was so unreliable. We just need Crowell to get enough yards to keep the D honest. We don’t need him to be avg. 5+ yards a carry, just 4 or so and we will be good.

      • Peter Loomis

        Honestly, I think the offense needs to be just good enough to give the D a break. I think the D will be our saving grace this year. If the D shuts opponents out every game, all we have to do is be conservative. Kind of like back in ’03. (I believe)

  3. TennesseeDawg

    I just hope he can hold onto the ball and block. Those are always the two biggest concerns surrounding a true freshman running back.

  4. 69Dawg

    After watching the 2010 highlights it would appear that IC needs to be better at the fake than in blocking. We are a play action team and in most cases the TB must be able to fake the hand-off and run. It seemed that the TB did very little blocking unless you count being tackled on the fake. If he carries out his fake the LB’s have to stop him first before going after AM.

    I just hope we are not in for another Jasper in this deal. I’m still not sure how well an 18 year old takes coaching from a 24 year old who never played the position. When do we learn and get Robert Edwards to come coach up the RB’s?

    • Merk

      Ah, back to the ole “our coach is 24…no way he can coach” gripe. I think we should cut the guy some slack. Look at what he has had to deal with: a 170Lb back, a back who was so self-centered he quit b/c we signed another 5 star back, and a back who could not even pass classes. Shoot I don’t know if the best RB coach in the world could do much with that.

    • Can we please stop with the coach who never played the position stuff? It’s meaningless. Mike Leach never played football. Does that make him a lousy offensive coordinator?

      As for how well Crowell takes instruction from McClendon, perhaps you might want to remember which coach was primarily responsible for getting him to Georgia in the first place.

      • IveyLeaguer

        Right. McLendon’s doing a nice job. Besides, any football guy can coach RB’s. Not only that, we hear that Crowell has been assigned to Thomas Brown. And Brown is the perfect role model.

        • CLT Dawg

          And it’s not like McLendon doesn’t have an ace to turn to if he gets stumped…I seem to remember his old man doing pretty well back there.

          • heyberto

            Not to mention, Thomas Brown is there if anyone needs any advice. He mentored Knowshon pretty well.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        That made me want to find out if there were any other well known coaches like Leach .Who knew?
        “Leach is also one of the most prominent graduates of the United States Sports Academy, from which he earned a Master’s of Sports Science/Coaching in 1988.
        Leach is atypical among NCAA Division I head football coaches in that he did not play football at the college level. He was one of only six such coaches, with Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech, David Cutcliffe at Duke, Charlie Weis of Notre Dame, George O’Leary at UCF, Bobby Hauck at UNLV and Chip Kelly at Oregon.”

        Well there you go………….

        • Dawgfan Will

          I’m tempt to copy this to my desktop and repost it every time someone else gripes about McClendon and Ball’s coaching positions.

          • A Different Jim

            Really? The vast majority of coaches are explayers who barely graduated from college. This board points out a few “bright” individuals who did not play but became good coaches as they were far more intelligent than the people who played the game. Geesch. Hell, 75% of the student body is smarter than the players. There are exceptions.

            I guess all coaches are smart. What logic. Bring back Fabis and Willie. Sorry Searles,we did not realize you were misunderstood.

            Mentored Knowshon? I guess the person who mentored Hershel did a great job. At this point, no current coach at GA who actually played for GA has proven themsleves to be a “great coach” such that another program woudl hire them and be sucessful. Please take Bobo so he can coach someone else’s quarterbacks up. He was so good Statford could learn nothing more after three years. How is that working out? Joe T, damn good dawg, and the Cox, dawn good dawg, had no business being SEC quarterbacks and appreantly were not coached up.
            I want this program to be sucessful but lets not be disney dawgs.

    • Jason

      David Cutcliff was a defensive end. Todd Grantham was a lineman. Nick Saban is one of the best ever at coaching db’s and he played more college baseball than football.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Ray Goff coached running backs successfully. How hard can it be?

    • By Georgia We Did It

      2010 highlights?

  5. JaxDawg

    Crowell is now under enormous pressure. I hope that he’s grounded enough to just play and ignore what goes on around him. I hate to compare any rb to Herschel, but what made him so special was his gift of humility and the ability to focus on what is important, not the whirlwind that surrounded him at the time. You have to remember that these freshman children are experiencing alot of turmoil right now – leaving home, starting college and learning the ropes and routine, establishing habits that will last a lifetime, balancing more freedom and autonomy than they’ve ever had, and finally – playing big time college football.

    I have absolutely no worries that Isaiah will succeed on the gridiron, it’s all the other stuff that concerns me. And let’s be honest, Herschel always said he was “too stupid” at the time to understand just what his freshman season meant. Let’s hope Crowell is as “stupid”, or as I would prefer naive, to understand the weight that is now on his shoulders.

    They’ve got to keep this kid grounded, focused, on a dependable routine, and balanced. Not an easy task today.

    • IveyLeaguer

      Great post.

    • heyberto

      Regarding Hershel.. that, and he had an alternate personality that came out when the Dawgs took the field,and apparently it told Hershel’s body to do things as if the mind felt no pain. That’s a step beyond toughness… but damn did it work.

  6. IveyLeaguer

    Great point about Thomas Brown getting injured and Moreno finally getting the snaps.

    Bobo’s tendency to err on the conservative side and hold back a new player may have cost us the South Carolina game last year, as badly as Carolina beat us up. Murray was ready and Bobo should have seen that and planned for it. As it was, we were out of bullets in the 3rd quarter, and we still tried to give them a game.

    So the question is, “Is Crowell ready?” Or will he be? I really don’t know. I think it depends mostly on his maturity, and I haven’t heard anything to indicate he has matured. Lattimore was mature when he arrived at South Carolina last year. Herschel was that way. Hampton and Moreno were that way.

    Needless to say, we need Crowell to grow up fast.

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    Dawgs have actually had a lot of success with young, unproven RB’s. Knowshon, Ealey, Ware, etc. come to mind. With the exception of Knowshon’s 2 seasons and Musa (both left early), almost all of our RB’s develop “issues” as their time at UGA advances. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall any senior RB at UGA that’s played to expectations. One would think our RB’s would improve over time through coaching, conditioning & experience, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. In retrospect, our RB development has been awful.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      “Off the top of my head, I can’t recall any senior RB at UGA that’s played to expectations.”

      I’m referring to the CMR era, not previous coaches.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        I don’t know. “During his senior season, Thomas Brown was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after running for a career-high 180 yards and three touchdowns.[2] Appeared in 10 games, starting in six, including the 2008 Sugar Bowl against Hawaii .As far as a HC not getting production….Goff really missed the boat with TD.

        • W Cobb Dawg

          I thought of Brown too. But I’m not sure Brown actually improved much as the seasons passed. And, although Brown had a fair senior season (despite injuries) and started against Hawaii, we all know that Knowshon was the RB who did the heavy lifting. I’d still argue our RB retainage/improvement situation over the past 10 years isn’t a happy story.

          • AthensHomerDawg

            You have to stay healthy. Lumpkin struggled to stay healthy. Orlandis Gary had that 1000+ yd rushing year at Denver . We all thought he was on his way -then that knee injury the following year afterwards he sorta fizzled out.
            ck this out.

          • Ryan

            I’m on board with you, but I’m not sure we beat Tech that year without #20.

    • JaxDawg

      Jeesh, if Ealey, King, Jasper, et al had Olandis Gary or Verron Haynes work ethic and attitude, both would be all-americans. The majority of the time it is the 3-star who works his ass off who becomes the stud, not the entitled 5-star.

  8. Scott W.

    I’m so glad that Pollack is becoming the Schlabach that played football. There are ways to show your neutrality besides kicking your alma mater in the teeth every chance you get. As far as missing King or Ealey ,I know that it has been said that King didn’t have an attitude problem but it seems as though King suffered from the same attitude that Ealey had, just in the class room and not on the field. Crowell has every opportunity in the world this season to turn himself into a star and all that he HAS to do is be the exact opposite of CK or WE.

  9. Russell S

    i believe Malcom was listed 4th due to being injured most of spring. He played well in the spring game with a tough physical running style.

    • Cojones

      Thanks Russell. Others have posted in the past that they can’t wait to see him tote the mail. He seems to have been impressive to those who have watched him run.

      Say what you may, it’s no accident that Harton, a walkon, has made the team and received verbal praise from Richt on more than one occasion. You don’t have to be a behemoth and an undersized guy can certainly affect the running balance of linemen/linebackers by coming from underneath. That’s all you need…deter him from getting to the QB in the time he wants to. I’m sure that the linebackers have gotten bigger to Moreno, but he still blocks in the NFL. Let’s stop writing off these small, but effective runners as if they have to carry the ball when in the game. There are many plays to utilize these guys when others think they are in the game only to run the ball. And when he runs it, he is invisible behind the linemen until he picks and hits the hole. These players are good and team-wise Dawgs. They have to be or they may get killed. Everyone needs to get over The Rule of the Behemoth and realize that finesse players are not a catch phrase.

  10. zdub

    This seasons success or failures fall squarely on the shoulders of the defense. Our RB will be an afterthought, no matter who it is. That’s not to say that 1 or more of our RBs cannot be good, it’s to say that for us to have a good season we don’t need a high-flying QB or RB as much as we need a shut down defense.

    The Crowell-Malcome RB job will work itself out over the next couple of years; they don’t need to come into this season as worldbeaters. They aren’t worldbeaters (yet) and we don’t need them to be (this year). As far as this season goes, however, we need to hold all opponents to 17 points or fewer. If we do that it won’t matter who our RB is because we will be winning games regardless.

  11. IveyLeaguer

    Another good point. It IS the defense that has to carry us this year. If that doesn’t happen, it’s all over anyway. But I feel good about the defense, except for the safeties. We need for them to come through. Lakatos has a job to do.

    What we need from Crowell and Malcome is just two solid performances to start off the season. Nothing flashy. More than anything, we need them to not do anything to lose these critical games for us. Then they can work their way into the system, which they will by midseason.

  12. AthensHomerDawg

    Here’s an interesting 2009 link about the colleges considered “Tailback U”
    Nice read.

    • WH

      Good lord, that site is awful. I mean, the content ranges from decent to…meh. But the site is so wretchedly over-monetized, it’s nearly unreadable.

      That post was decent.

  13. Jordan

    I’d say it’s more like 1 out of 5.

  14. Sefdawg

    I say forget all this Crowell talk. Just give the rock to Big John Jenkins, Refrigerator Perry style!

  15. Jason

    While the logic in the Saturday Down South blog is sound, it’s comparing apples to oranges to a certain extent. The difference is the other ten players on the field besides the tailback, more specifically the qb. With Garcia at the helm of SCU’s offense, Lattimore had to be a horse. If you take Lattimore off that team, SCU probably loses 5 games instead of three, possibly one or two more. Crowell and/or Malcome to have to be the horse, Murray is capable of that. They just have to be good enough to make defenses respect the run and be able to pass protect. While is agree with his logic, I don’t think Crowell/Malcome has to be that good for UGA to win the east this year.

  16. JBJ

    I’m posting from December 2011. Quite the season. Carlton Thomas had a solid year averaging 1.2 yards per carry in his role as starter by default. Bobo never did abandon the draw. That guy has a never say quit attitude with his play calling.

  17. David

    Pollack’s comment is just plain incorrect. Between 2006 and 2010, only 20 different running backs received five-star ratings. Seven of them made HUGE impacts for their respective teams. A few more were or are pretty good players (I’ll include Marc Tyler here, although he nearly rushed for 1,000 yards last year, which is pretty huge). The jury is still out on a couple. I’ll guess by the time all of these guys complete their college careers, 75 percent of them will have been very good players, if not all-conference-caliber stars.

    It might be fun to knock the recruiting services and cite the two-star players who panned out or the five-star players who didn’t, but it’s ignorant. Statistics show that it’s unusual for a five-star recruit to fail to become an impact player in college. Not saying Crowell will be a star, but the odds are on his side if he stays healthy.

    Per Rivals:
    2006 – C.J. Spiller, Beanie Wells, Stafon Johnson, Keiland Williams, Mike Ford, James Aldridge
    2007 – Noel Devine, Joe McKnight, Marc Tyler, Mike Ford, Graig Cooper
    2008 – Darrell Scott, Jermie Calhoun, Enrique Davis
    2009 – Trent Richardson, Bryce Brown, Christine Michael
    2010 – Marcus Lattimore, Michael Dyer, Lache Seastrunk, Dillon Baxter
    2011 – Isaiah Crowell, Malcolm Brown, Dee Hart, James Wilder Jr., Brandon Williams, Mike Bellamy

  18. Mike

    I think depth at RB has to be at least as big a concern as losing both top rushers from last year. If Crowell goes down, who is behind him? For that matter, is there anyone to spell him?

    UGA is going to be thin at OL, thin at RB and has an untested WR corps. Or at least a corp that lost is best member. Murray will certainly be a bring spot. Can he carry the team? Hell, can he stay healthy?

    UGA fans better hope the defense improves a lot in its second year.

    • If “can he stay healthy” is the crucial factor this season, UT and UF have just as little margin for error as UGA. Maybe less.

      • Mike

        Indeed. Which is another data point in favor of USCe.

        • Unless it’s Lattimore who gets hurt.

          • Mike

            UGA fans are in a different place now, when the success of their season apparently depends heavily on injuries to rival players?

            • Good grief, Mike, when did I say that? You’re the one who brought up depth here.

              For the record, Georgia’s 2011 success is dependent upon Todd Grantham putting together a top notch defense.

              • Mike

                “For the record, Georgia’s 2011 success is dependent upon Todd Grantham putting together a top notch defense.”

                I think I wrote that too.

                As for me bringing up depth, really? Depth arguments has been a consistent theme of this blog, as least as it relates to UT and UF. In fact, UF’s and UT’s lack of depth is the “raison de terre” for UGA winning the SEC east.

                • In fact, UF’s and UT’s lack of depth is the “raison de terre” for UGA winning the SEC east.

                  I think depth issues at the three schools are noteworthy, but not to that extent. If Georgia wins the East it’ll be due to defense and scheduling more than anything else.

  19. Joe Moore

    CMR’s luck is bound to change. Think back to the infamous AJ Green taunting call against LSU two yrs ago. Factor in Ealey’s fumble on the goal line against South Carolina and Miss. St. also the blown coverage against Ark at home and lastly Kings fumble at Colorado. If half of these don’t happen there is no, “Hot seat”. I can only remember 3 Big play going his way. The catch at Auburn. Maybe the OT win at Bama, V.Haynes catch against the Vols was also epic! Throw in the Brandon Cox throw on 4th and 10 in Athens as well with plays that didn’t go his way. I understand its a game of breaks and you have to make your own some where along the way. Im here in Duval so Ive put up with a ton of Gator noise the last 20yrs, I think the tide is about to change as well in the WLOCP. Thoughts?

  20. Cojones

    Some of you appear to be losing all-out support for our team. That partially can be attributed to the events so far in the summer. Who said it won’t get worse (and it has nothing to do with Richt and Bobo’s coaching.) ? Hell, we haven’t even gotten to Fall practice and some of you are running in circles exclaiming ” the sky is falling!!”.

    Cheez! Get a grip! More shit has GOT to roll down the chute, but some of you have already given up. If any coach or player gets that attitude, then worry about it. Otherwise, grab your cojones and grit your teeth if you are going to support the Dawgs this year. Talk about the good things,folks, cause wringing your hands and taking a big one every 3 feet is simply causing an attitude mess. We will make do with what we have when we hit the field in Sept.. Get ready to support it or go find yourself a team that can appreciate your “iffy” attitude.

    Bad crap happens to good people. Suck it up and quit trying to find new problems like there is an award for being “The Doomsday Seer of the Year”.