Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Running back depth - few snaps short of a trifecta

In the spring, rosters at each position are evaluated based on three things: talent, experience and depth. From there you hear statements about who is back, who is healthy and which freshman is coming in August to provide more talent or more depth.

Georgia definitely has talent at tailback. Todd Gurley returns for a sophomore season after rushing for over 1300 yards at 6.23 yards a carry. And fellow sophomore Keith Marshall leads host of others for the rest of the carries after tallying 759 yards himself last year. J.J. Green enrolled early this January, A.J. Turman and Brendan Douglas are expected this summer. Those three along with Brandon Harton provide the depth.

So, as Ching points out in this post-spring roster review, we're young. Very young. The decision for Malcome to leave was most certainly an easy one, as Coach Richt cleverly pointed out. But it means that beyond Gurley and Marshall's 339 career carries (albeit a remarkable number for two freshmen to share) we have little experience behind them. A key this spring, summer and into the fall will be to keep those two healthy.

Because should one of them go down, we're left with:
  • Harton - 5'6" and 175lbs; has 61 career carries mostly due to Crowell's lapses in judgment
  • Green - about Harton's size and a hybrid type talent between receiver and running back, but made a name for himself in high school and this spring in Athens as a tough runner
  • Turman - 6 feet and about 200lbs, tough and durable between the tackles much like we saw last season with Gurley however may not be able to take the edge on the perimeter
  • Douglas - has Turman's size plus a little more and has been noted as a bruising back, willing to take a hit and give one back; good blocking skills and good vision to find seams and running lanes in the defense; will eventually have good size to add to his durability
I'm glad Green got on campus early. It was good for the coaches to get a chance to see just what he can add to the offense in terms of his speed and play-making ability. The ones to watch this summer will be Turman and Douglas. As great as it is to have two very talented sophomores back after a dynamic and fun to watch freshman season, we will need a back up ready to come in and get some yards when needed and ready to throw a key block on third down.
Brendan Douglas from Augusta could hit the 

ground running in Athens. (via)

Personally, I like Douglas in that role. Even though it's way too early to think about and even though he was largely recruited as a future fullback, I believe he can come in and be an early player as a third option on the depth chart. Remember that Georgia offered him as a tailback, mostly do to his efforts at Aquinas High School and his performance at Richt's camp (as well as a sudden need in the area for the 2013 class after missing on some other targets). He has family ties to Georgia Southern but was a (fullback) commit to Tech before Georgia came calling. He'll come in hungry and eager to prove himself.

Regardless of which freshman plays this season, we're deep in talent at running back. That's a notable improvement over the past few years at this position. However, we're a year away from having all three characteristics you want at the roster spot. Here's hoping the young kids get plenty of experience this season after the two sensational sophomores have helped put the game out of reach.