How ’bout them backs?

So, I’m curious:  how do you feel about this group?

Zamir White (redshirt sophomore): This spot could shake out a number of different ways but right now, based on what we saw in 2019, White seems to be a step ahead when it comes to earning that feature back role. Kirby Smart raved about his physicality in pass protection as a redshirt freshman and that’s big when it comes to getting on the field. White also did what many thought he would in 2019. He got better as the year went on and 2020 might be a year-two leap for him after the two ACL injuries hampered him early in his career.

Kenny McIntosh (sophomore): The former four-star running backs sure showed some flashes during his freshman season. He didn’t get a ton of opportunities but he made the most of them. He had UGA’s longest run of the season, a 62-yard sprint against a tired Arkansas State defense, but he showed speed, balance, power, and vision throughout the year. He’s also an excellent receiver out of the backfield but didn’t get many opportunities to do it as a freshman.

James Cook (junior): UGA fans want to see this guy touch the football more and who could blame them. He doesn’t have a ton of wiggle or make-you-miss ability but he’s a smooth runner who can beat angles with his tremendous speed. This is a huge offseason for him because if he can put on five to 10 pounds of muscle while keeping his speed, it’s going to get him on the field more.

Kendall Milton (freshman): It’s hard to know what to expect from the big freshman. At 6-foot-2, 225 to 230 pounds already, he’s UGA’s biggest running back, but he’s not just a power back. Milton is incredibly shifty and runs with great balance. He doesn’t appear to have breakaway speed but he’ll have a chance to gain a step or two in UGA’s strength and conditioning program. If he catches on quickly and learns how to pass protect, it’s not out of the question for him to have a major role.

My take?  Lots of talent there to feel good about.  White showed me something as the lead dog in the Sugar Bowl and I think there is validity to that year-two leap after the injuries.  McIntosh’s ability to catch the ball likely makes him more useful in Monken’s offense.  And I continue to hope that somebody figures out how to utilize Cook’s skill set better than we’ve seen in his first two seasons.

There is a wild card to consider, though.

We have to bring this up every time we talk offense, but Todd Monken’s influence is going to be big here. If he indeed brings more of a passing element to the offense, there may be fewer opportunities for the running backs. The group could also really benefit from more of a balanced attack. Jamie Newman’s presence at quarterback could have a similar effect. He’s going to steal some of those rushing yards for himself but his ability to run the different versions of the read options might open things up for the ball carriers behind and beside him.

I don’t believe in the slightest that Georgia is going to go full LSU this year, but I do expect the offense to be more pass-oriented than it has been in prior seasons under Smart.  That would entail a greater emphasis on pass blocking and receiving by the backs.  Who’s best in those areas?  We’ll find out.

17 Comments

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17 responses to “How ’bout them backs?

  1. I haven’t really thought about this much, but given all of the change coming on the offensive line (thanks, Cade Mays), I’m starting to think Monken may be thinking more plays designed to get the ball out quickly and possibly less running between the tackles. If you’re a little down up front, you have to compensate for losing 3 1/2 starters. Short passing and edge rushing with some designed QB runs may be what the doctor orders.

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    • Maybe not so much because UGA may be a “little down” on the o-line, as you put it, but because on the Monken tape I’ve watched he goes with just five o-linemen blocking much of the time.

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      • I thought a lot of zone read stuff he and Mullet Man were doing in Stillwater was between the tackles out of spread looks.

        I haven’t watched much film from his prior stops other than the stuff you’ve linked to.

        All I’m saying about being down on the offensive line is that the 3 guys we lost early to the NFL were really good players who had played a lot together (Thomas and Kindley on the left side). I think there are really good players behind them, but they are also very unproven.

        That’s my Munson-ing for the day. Back to my regularly scheduled programming of “we’re going 15-0 and win it all” already in progress. 😉

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  2. Kdawg

    I’m not really enamored with any of the backs. I know I’ll get destroyed for my opinion of Zeus but he, so far, reminds me of Richard Samuel. If Cook can be used more like the kid from LSU last season or Kamara of the Saints I think he can be dangerous. I haven’t seen enough of the others to form an opinion. Overall, I’m less excited about the UGA running backs than I’ve been the last 10 years or so.

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    • J-Dawg

      Wait, watch and see what shakes out. What I saw of Zeus in the Sugar Bowl gives me great hope for this season as far as he and the other backs are concerned. Last year they were NOT used properly. You could see that from the frustration that Swift showed from time to time. I, unlike you, have a warm & fuzzy feeling about our running game this year.

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    • PTC DAWG

      Hard to judge Zamir at this point, coming off two knee surgery’s would have to bother the best of backs.

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    • Greg

      yeah….cause people post that crap. If I remember correctly, Samuel went down a lot easier than “Zeus”. 2 completely different backs.

      Better bring a lunch with “Zeus”, he will continue to get better.

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    • California dawg

      I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong, Kdawg. We were frankly spoiled with landing once-in-a-generation backs all in succession with Swift, and Chubb/Michel/Gurley prior. We might not have one of those this season.

      However Zeus showed a lot of promise in the Sugar bowl, and relative to the rest of the SEC, we have an enviable roster. I can’t name another team who’s deeper at RB.

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    • I think I have posted this before but a friend’s brother is a head coach in eastern NC. At a event, I asked the coach his opinion of Zamir White (they were likely going to play Scotland County in the playoffs and then Zeus got hurt). He said he believed White was better than Todd Gurley (who he said everyone in the HS coaching circles said was going to be better than Keith Marshall).

      Everyone thought Chubb wasn’t the same player until 2 years later. We’ll find that out about Zeus. By the way, Richard Samuel probably should have played inside linebacker rather than running back.

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  3. Greg

    Potentially it looks to be a good group, no idea who will emerge…if any will. Gotta feeling that Edwards comes on strong mid season.

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  4. Any proactive plans for Manball narrative funeral, and while we’re at it an apology for the narrative that CKS is stubborn?
    Just asking for a friend.

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  5. Thatguy

    My kingdom to watch Monken run a play-action wheel route to Cook for days…

    I think we’re overall in a solid-if-not-spectacular spot with the backs currently. Zeus is still a little bit of an unknown commodity, but, I have faith that he’ll have him a year. Looking forward to more of McIntosh and Milton, as well.

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  6. “My gawd a freshman”……….

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  7. W Cobb Dawg

    They left out Edwards. I guess because he’s not in school yet.

    I think we’ve got a fine stable of backs. White, McIntosh and Milton could be interchangeable. All good-sized backs that can run inside or outside.

    I’ve seen some folks compare Cook to Sony, but I’m just not seeing it. Even in his first game as a true freshman against clemmons Sony was tougher inside and more elusive. That was long before he beefed up. I consider Cook more a WR than RB, who’s only productive in limited situations. Hope he proves me wrong.

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  8. duronimo

    Another day and another “we’ve got to get the ball to Cook.” He’s one of the few backs that actually gets the ball in space but with poor results. He is the Landers of the backs. It doesn’t matter that Monken only uses 5 to block. Zone blocking schemes have them running to the point of attack not standing in one place (as before) where they can be outnumbered. Our stable of backs and our OLine will totally eclipse last year’s group.

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  9. Uglydawg

    Zeus and Kenny could be the new Chub and Sony.
    Zamir has already shown that he is incredibly driven to overcome his misfortunes. He was there when Nick Chub fought the same battle and won. He will do the same and be an inspiration to the younger backs.
    While none of these kids is yet “proven”, we have had a sniff or two from the cork. Good stuff. I’m not worried about the rb position. Plus Newman’s running.
    Solid defense; a moderately to much improved offense, and ST’s that at the very least don’t take a step backwards …and things look good.

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