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Friday, July 8, 2011

Analysis: Crowell was always The Man, but UGA still needed King

The temptation is to say the departure of Caleb King isn’t a big deal. It was only a matter of time before he messed up again. He wasn’t going to start. He wasn’t that good anyway.

But I do think it’s a big deal.

The transfer of Washaun Ealey, granted that was lesser news. After everything that happened with him, his departure was a fait accompli. I saw that as the Georgia football coaches essentially making their choice between Ealey and King: One would depart, the other would stay to be the veteran presence next to Isaiah Crowell.

Now, it’s Crowell, and … well, hopefully he’s really, extremely, very good.

Don't worry, we’re not forgetting about Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas. The former has a chance to play a lot too, given his size and speed. But Malcome was only fourth on the depth chart after spring practice, behind walk-on Brandon Harton. He has a ways to go in the eyes of the coaches. As for Thomas, he has to be more of a change-of-pace back, given his size.

King’s departure also means the team is sorely lacking in the depth department. After a spring scrimmage, we media hacks all kind of laughed when the UGA staffers brought Harton around to talk to us, figuring he’d be another spring flash-in-the-pan. But now the 5-foot-6 former track star is one of the first fallback options in case of injury. So is Wes Van Dyk, another walk-on, as well as fullback Zander Ogletree.

Another option is to move Richard Samuel back to tailback. But if Todd Grantham thinks Samuel can contribute on defense, even as a backup, the thinking is he won't be moved back to tailback just to be a backup to Crowell.

So this is why Friday was not a good day for the Georgia football program. King may have made some boneheaded decisions – like his arrest last fall for a failure-to-appear charge – but he wasn’t a team cancer. Teammates like Christian Robinson and Orson Charles posted supportive messages on Twitter after King’s news. Mark Richt started the summer by talking about how "dependable" King had become.

In person, I always found King to be an engaging interview. He was a superstitious, almost eccentric personality: Always wanting to be interviewed in the same spot in the hallway, and claiming to take three showers before each game.

His presence also would have been valuable to Crowell and the team. As a senior, his advice couldn’t have hurt. He was also the team’s best pass-blocker, and averaged 5.4 yards per carry last season.

Sure, Crowell was almost certain to be the main tailback anyway. Richt had been telegraphing that since Feb. 2. But the coaches would have preferred to have a veteran there as competition with King, or as part of a tandem.

Once Crowell signed, there probably wasn’t enough room for Ealey and King. That’s why it wasn’t surprising when one left, and it was less of a surprise whAnaen it was Ealey. But now both are gone. That wasn’t what Richt or Georgia wanted.

The Bulldogs might end up being just fine. Crowell could live up to all his hype. The patchwork offensive line could pull through.

But as things stand right now, Georgia is not a better team without Caleb King. That much, at least, should be clear.

12 comments:

Joeski said...

I'd expect to see the playbook getting extensively shuffled now: you're not going to rely on a freshman to pass-block, so you're going to see more boot-action, quick passes into the flat, and such. Let's just say that Murray better focus on cardio this summer.

Strap up your chinstraps boys and girls, it's going to be a wild ride this year.

IveyLeaguer said...

You're right about King, nice job with that. It's a shame for him and for us. But he's not a cancer, as you said. Ealey may have been, but King just got behind, which he shouldn't have, and couldn't catch up.

So yeah, we're in quite a predicament now, for a team who wants to win something. Carlton Thomas can give you a carry, assuming he can hold onto the ball, but that's about it. So we're left with Malcome, Crowell, and Harton the walk-on, who had a good spring. We've had WO RB's who had good springs before, but I haven't counted this one out yet. I've thought since spring that Harton might help us, and he's almost certain now to get an opportunity.

Experience is a problem, and we can't wait a few games work anybody in. They're going to have to perform without it, and at a high level. Plain as that, or we're done. Malcome should know what to do by then, but Crowell is going to struggle with that part of it, unless he's super sharp. So he's going to struggle that way.

The most disappointing thing with all this, IMHO, is our management of the running back position under Bobo. It really hasn't been any better than the overall management of the OL over the last 10 years.

Thomas was never going to be a SEC RB. Neither was Samuel, and Bobo should have recognized that and looked elsewhere (Samuel should have been signed as a LB). Ealey was questionable because of character issues, but that signing is somewhat understandable.

You can afford a mistake at RB every now and then, because not all of them will pan out. That should have been the case with Caleb. He was a chance worth taking, no doubt about it. But when you add evaluation mistakes onto the normal attrition of RB's, you're asking for trouble, you're asking for situations like this.

So Bobo is as much to blame for this predicament as anyone.
~~~

Lucas said...

I wonder if Richt saw this coming (presumably he did since King has been in hot-water academically since at least last fall), why he didn't go to greater lengths to keep Ealey. With the hindsight of 20/20, it sure seems like he should have let King go earlier and tried to reconcile with Ealey.

Michael said...

Good point about this all reflecting poorly on Bobo.

Our offense has been a weird mess for a number of years now. Crappy OL. Horrible personnel situations at RB and even WR most of the time.

Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog said...

How could this possibly be Bobo's fault?

Bobo isn't UGA's recruiting coordinator, yet Bobo has been instrumental in Georgia's recruiting of several top prospects over the past few years and especially of the Dream Team.

If anything, Bobo's position coaching (quarterbacks) stands out as Georgia's most successful in recent years.

I'll give you Bobo's play calling has left something to be desired.

But maybe Bobo's critics should consider that Bobo's play calling arose in the context of the quirks of Georgia's then-existing personnel. Georgia's starting running backs last year brought all kinds of on-field and off-field issues.

One prima donna was too good to block. All veteran running backs available to Bobo suffered extreme fumbleitus when the game was on the line and at other critical junctures.

How could Bobo trust them to do what was needed when it was needed when they failed repeatedly?

Maybe Bobo should have given up on both Ealey and King after 2009.

But both of them had just finished their magnum opus performance dismantling the NATS defense in Atlanta.

Hope that Washaun's and Caleb's issues were behind them didn't seem so misplaced after the wrecking they put on Tech last year, now did it?

But most important, Bobo had nothing whatsoever to do with the attitudes running back stars copped.

For Ealey, it was attitude with respect to his need to show he was, in Ealey's own words, the "premiere" back. Ealey couldn't stand having to defend his playing time against an in-coming freshman.

For King, it was his attitude towards eligibility. It takes a special dumb butt to flunk out your senior year.

Think about it. Who does that?

Even without the copious resources Georgia dedicates towards keeping these guys on the academic straight and narrow.

Look at it this way, Georgia needed a top-flight running back in its 2011 recruiting class.

So it went hard and heavy after the best high school back in the land. And signed him.

And this is somehow Bobo's fault?

Criticize Bobo for on-field decision-makiing if you will, but our current personnel issues are neither of Bobo's making nor honestly laid at Bobo's doorstep.

Critics need to search elsewhere to find the fault for this one.

Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog said...

My 10th paragraph, above, should be:

"Hope that Washaun's and Caleb's issues were behind them didn't seem so misplaced in December of 2009 after the wrecking they put on Tech that year, now did it?"

Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog said...

Oh, and welcome back from vacation, Seth!

What a way to get back in the trenches, huh?

Dawgfan17 said...

Great job of calling it like it is. King would have been helpful to the team this year even if it was as a backup/spell player for Crowell. It is not panic mode yet but should either Malcome or Crowell get hurt it will be. As for changing the play calling one way to slow down the defensive line is to take advantage of Murray's mobility and run several of the qb read plays where he sticks it in the belly of the RB then decides to keep or handoff based on what the defensive end does. Even just a few of these plays a game (Stafford's freshman year against AU) can really slow down a pass rush as it starts to make the end think more instead of pinning his ears back.

Michael said...

How is it Bobo's fault? Because he is the offensive coordinator, and thus the entire offense is his responsibility.

In the last few years, our OLine has sucked, RB production sucked, WR sucked.

All that has been good is our QB play, which is nice and all, but that just means Bobo should be QB coach and we should get a real O coordinator.

danielcook1975 said...

Total Lack Of Player Development.

IveyLeaguer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IveyLeaguer said...

Bobo, as OC, has to sign off on every offensive recruit. Evaluation of every offensive recruit is part of his overall responsibility, just as Grantham does for the defense.
When it comes to evaluation, the buck stops with the coordinator.
~~~