August 10, 2011

Ground gains for Dawgs

Although head coach Mark Richt isn't ready to make some earth-shaking proclamation, he's feeling much better about Georgia's run game following his team's first scrimmage Wednesday at Sanford Stadium.

Freshman Isaiah Crowell certainly didn't disappoint. The Columbus native posted some impressive numbers, carrying a game-high 13 times for 84 yards and one touchdown with a long run of 15 yards.

Richard Samuel was right on his heels, carrying 11 times for 82 yards, although he did fumble once on a play which saw freshman linebacker Amarlo Herrera scoop up the football and scamper 65 yards for a defensive score.

Both Crowell and Samuel worked with the first-team offense, which scrimmaged against the No. 2 defense. Running behind the second-team offensive line, Ken Malcome managed only 19 yards on 12 carries with Carlton Thomas rushing for eight times for just 21 yards.

"I thought they (Samuel and Crowell) ran very well. Again, they did have more space than the other two guys by a long-shot," Richt said. "You saw just about every type of run though, meaning there were times when there wasn't a lot there and they had to stick it in there and knock the pile back after contact. There were times they had space and were able to make a couple of people miss out in the open area."

Center Ben Jones left the scrimmage impressed.

"Isaiah is a very explosive back, he and Richard both," he said. "If you give it to him he can take it all the way. He and Richard both ran hard, and when it was there they were able to hit it for us."

Richt said the two were able to display their distinctly different running styles.

"Richard is much more of a power runner, power and speed with a little bit of wiggle while Isaiah has great quickness, he's got a great change of direction and a burst of speed. He does a good job of breaking tackles and getting yards after contact, just different styles," Richt said. "They ran with a good, physical edge to them. I do feel better about how I think we will be able to run the football and I think the line did a very good job."

Quarterback Aaron Murray was also sharp, completing 9 of 15 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown while backup Hutson Mason was 5 of 19 for 59 yards and a score. Freshman Christian LeMay completed 2 of 4 passes for 17 yards.

Tight end Aron White led all receivers with three catches for 47 yards, followed by Marlon Brown with two catches for 46, including a long of 35.

But not everyone was pleased.

According to junior wideout Tavarres King, Wednesday's showing by the receivers left much to be desired.

"We just got to work on our mental toughness, really," King said. "There were a lot of critical errors that we made and we had too many errors as a unit. One is too many. We've got to work on the mental aspect of the game, just get tougher day in and day out."

Murray wasn't quite so disillusioned.

"I'm pretty happy. A few drives we stalled but the format of the offense was eight plays a drive so you can be driving, get stopped after four or five plays and you get just three more plays," he said. "A few times we had 25 and 30-yard plays, but your eight plays are up and you're off the field…You can't really finish out drives like you want to so it's kind of hard to tell sometimes but I thought we hit some great plays. Overall, I'm very happy with how things went."

Jones said the starting offensive line - consisting of himself, left tackle Cordy Glenn, left guard Kenarious Gates, right guard Chris Burnette and right tackle Justin Anderson "communicated well" and was on the "same page" all day."

That wasn't the case with the second unit, consisting mostly of freshmen who bore the brunt of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's constant tinkering with blitzes and stunts that for a long afternoon.

"They're going against the No. 1 defense so they're getting a big dose of Coach Grantham over there laying everything on them," Jones said. "There are a lot of young guys over there and they're still learning, but they are competing, working hard and that's great for them because they are seeing the best every day."

Richt singled out a number of defensive players for superlative play.
Along with Herrera, linebacker Alec Ogletree recorded a game-high eight tackles with Mike Gillard and Herrera chipping in with seven each.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones was credited with three sacks, with freshman Ramik Wilson and redshirt sophomore Reuben Faloughi adding two each. Freshman Devin Bowman had an interception on a two-point play.

"I think we (the defense) played well. We kept a lot of pressure off the linebackers," said defensive end Abry Jones, who had five tackles, one sack and broke up a pass. "The linebackers had a lot of tackles so I guess they had an easy way scraping through. I think we had a lot of pressure against the pass, I think we pushed the offensive line. I think we had a very productive day."

Kicker Blair Walsh converted 7 of 8 field goals with a long of 58.

NOTES: Georgia apparently made it through the scrimmage relatively unscathed. With the exception of a few bumps and bruises, Richt said the team made it through the session with no significant injuries. … Cornerback Brandon Boykin (hamstring), safety Jakar Hamilton (hamstring) and defensive end Cornelius Washington (hamstring) did not participate in the scrimmage but should be ready to practice soon.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.