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Friday, July 8, 2011

The high price of low grades

Undoubtedly, you've heard the news that Caleb King, UGA's "starting" RB for 2011, is academically ineligible and his career at Georgia is most likely over. If he were a redshirt freshman or sophomore, maybe he takes a year and gets things back on track, but as a senior, it just doesn't make any sense for him to stick around.

So what does that mean? Well, the reviews are mixed. Some say that it's something that most within the know had a feeling was coming. Others say that it's a kick in the bag, and even others say that it wouldn't matter because Isaiah Crowell was going to be the guy from the moment he stepped on campus. I say it's a little bit of all three...

King was a heralded recruit when we signed him and he had all the potential in the world. After his junior year in high school, he was the most sought-after running back in the nation. However, injuries his senior season seemed to follow him into his collegiate career, where he never regained the kind of notoriety he had in high school.

The basic fact is that Caleb was a serviceable back at UGA, and was one of the better backfield blockers we had on scholarship. After Ealey's departure, it became evident that this RB unit was going to need to rely on King to set the standard and raise the game of everyone around him by offering stiff competition. With King now gone, not only are you limited in numbers, but you're limited in youth as well. The Dawgs are now down to Ken Malcome as the only potential every-down back they have (I'm excluding Crowell because he's yet to play a game), with Carlton Thomas as the other guy, and let's be honest, I'm sure Carlton will try his best to be the starter but he's not the Alpha Dawg in that unit. It's now Crowell...from Day One.

And that's where my concern is. Not only are we an injury to Crowell away from being in REAL bad shape, but with no main challenger to him in the unit, it's on his shoulders to push himself to be the best. It's asking an awful lot of a heralded young recruit to stay motivated when the job he was interviewing for he just won by default, without him even having to turn in a resume...and it's a pretty dang big job.

We're not Alabama. We can't have our best recruit go down for the season but look over and have the luxury of a potential Heisman candidate ready to carry the rock. You want to know what our situation is like? Think about how different of a team South Carolina was when Lattimore wasn't playing. We have the benefit of having better offensive talent than they do, particularly at QB, but you're still a vastly different team without Crowell than with him.

So, where does Bobo go from here? Well, he's got to begin creating opportunities instead of finding guys to fill specific roles. He has the unique chance to innovate here and he needs to take advantage of it. It's time to run the Wild Dawg with Nick Marshall and Malcolm Mitchell, or figure out a way to finally get Branden Smith involved in the offense on a semi-permanent basis.

We don't need more running backs. We need to find out who our playmakers are and put the ball in those guys' hands. Florida was superb at doing this and look what they were able to do during Meyer's tenure without a true running back. The point is that we don't have the able bodies to plug guys into our system. At this point, we need to build a system around the folks we have left.

Caleb King is the reason we're in this new situation, but his departure is forcing Mike Bobo and Mark Richt to make the grade.

Until next time kids.

Be safe.

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