With the sudden and devastating injury to starting tailback Thomas Brown, running backs coach Tony Ball is now down to just Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware at tailback. UGASports caught up with coach Ball to find out what his plans are for the two remaining tailbacks and what he said to Brown following his season ending injury.
UGASports: What do you expect from Kregg and Danny this week?
Ball: "I am not expecting anything special. They understand that they have to step it up and in their minds, they have to know that the team is depending on them and that is the only thing I ever expect out of them. I do not expect them to do anything different."
UGASports: What did you say to Thomas Brown after you found out the severity of his injury?
Ball: "Well I did not get a chance to talk to him until after the game and I did not see him until 7:30 that evening. I looked at him and told him that the Lord has a bigger plan for us and we do not know what that is right now, but look at this and get over the anguish of it putting you behind if you will and look at it as a blessing and just build on it. That is the way I approached him with it and no one likes to get hurt especially a finely tuned athlete. We do not like to get hurt and when we do the toughest thing to get over is reflecting on all the hard work we put into it. That is the toughest thing we have to get over. Once you understand that and realize that he is another challenge, now lets look that challenge in the eye and attack it. That is pretty much way I spoke to him."
UGASports: Do you expect to see him playing for Georgia next fall?
Ball: "Yes I do and it is up to him. I do expect him to be back and to be back at full speed. I expect him to be back leading this team. The biggest loss in losing a guy like Thomas is Thomas' leadership in our meeting rooms, the leadership on the field, and his involvement in every facet of the offense and the kicking game. That is the biggest thing about losing a guy like Thomas, but I expect to see him back next year."
UGASports: How tempted were you to burn Knowshon Moreno's redshirt and play him when Thomas went down or was it too late in the season?
Ball: "Yeah it was. We just have to keep the guys we have healthy and find a way to get through this season. Not many teams in the country have three backs, so we have two good backs and J.J. who can spell some guys we are ok."
UGASports: Do you subscribe to the philosophy that is takes a running back a certain number of carries to get going in a game?
Ball: "I think it does, but I do not necessarily think that it is a necessity and I think that is what you do during the week. During the week you try to get a feel for how the opponent is going to play you, you go out on the practice field, and you work it. During the game it may take you a couple of plays just to kind of get a feel for if they are doing what you thought they are doing on tape and are they moving as fast as you thought. It may take sometime there, but I am not of the philosophy that it takes ten or 15 carries to for a guy to get loose."
UGASports: With only two tailbacks healthy does it change the way, you sub Danny or Kregg into the game?
Ball: "I will sub them the same way. A lot of times I am just trying to get a feel for how the player is doing in a particular series. If he is not being over used or exhausted I will keep him in there, but I try to rotate them as best I can. I want to keep them fresh."
UGASports: Do you think you can make it through the rest of the season with just Kregg and Danny?
Ball: "I can not worry about the season I got to get through this game. I take it game-to-game and if we can take each game one game at a time and we stay healthy we can do it."
UGASports: How comfortable are you with freshman Asher Allen as your kickoff return guy?
Ball: "He got a chance to return one this past weekend and the main thing I emphasize with him is that as long as he understands we are trying to do and he protects the football that is all I can ask of him. He has got the ability. I have to make sure he is communicating with everyone back there and that is the thing to get into a young freshman. They have a tendency not to communicate like they should. I have to make sure tomorrow and Thursday that he gets enough reps and is communicating on every kick and keeping that ball off the ground. Once he has the ball in his hands I know he knows what to do."
UGASports: Who would be the backup at kick returner behind Asher with Ramarcus Brown injured?
Ball: "I am going to look at a couple of guys tomorrow and I am going to see. I am going to look at Bryan Evans and Prince Miller, look, and see who gives me the confidence that I need in that guy back there. I am not sure yet."
UGASports: How comfortable are you with Jason Johnson at fullback and possibly tailback?
Ball: "I am pretty confident that he knows what to do and that is the key does he know what to do. He knows what to do and I have no problem having him in there because we may need him to go. He has known that from the time that he got here that he has got to be able to play both positions, so I feel very comfortable with him."