Running Game Has To Get Better in 2012-It Can’t Get Worse

I think of all the recruits that Coach Richt and his staff got signed to Georgia last month, Keith Marshall is the one I am most excited about, both in terms of his production potential and what he can do to help push and motivate the other running backs on campus. 

The tailback position made some headlines in the paper today, for items other than hot boxing on the way to spring break.  Richard Samuel doesn’t want to be forgotten, Carlton Thomas is going to transfer.  Not much of a surprise there.  Also, Isaiah Crowell wants himself a Heisman run.  I am glad that Isaiah has such a good attitude following his up and down freshman campaign, and the reports are that he has been working hard in the gym and has added some muscle mass.  But Isaiah has a loooong way to go before he can make a Heisman run, and that brings me to a topic I have had in queue for a while and haven’t had a chance to post on here. 

In January, I did a series of post about the UGA offense in 2011.  The posts were looking at how the poor offensive line play hindered Aaron Murray, Mike Bobo’s job as play caller and UGA fans’ claims that Bobo got conservative in the SEC Championship game.  I used stats to show that Bobo haters are by and large just looking for a scapegoat, and that Georgia did not get too conservative against LSU. 

Now that I have had some time, I want to delve into the running game in 2011.  I can describe the running game in 2011 with one word: pathetic.  Some of it was due to injury, some was due to playing some really good teams.  But the end result is the same.  It was overall awful. 

For some reason WordPress is funky when you try and add charts, so click on this PDF link and view the chart to accompany your reading of the post.  2011 running game

To summarize my findings:

I threw out the performances against cupcakes Coastal Carolina and New Mexico State.  In the remaining 12 games, UGA was held below the opponents’ season average for the rushing yards they give up in a game 7/12 times.  In two of those cases, it was against LSU and Michigan State, and surely there isn’t much shame in not doing well against the two of the best defenses in the country.

Georgia did run the ball extremely well against Auburn, and that was in large part due to getting up so big in the first half and basically running down the clock in the second half.  One might look at the stats and say Georgia’s best day running the ball was against Auburn and Crowell’s best afternoon was against Ole Miss, but you’d be mistaken.  After taking the quality of opponent in mind, the best performance by UGA and Isaiah Crowell running the ball was against South Carolina.  UGA went for 188 yards, 4.1 ypc.  South Carolina’s defense averaged 136 ypg. 

The old saying is there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.  This is true about the 2011 opener vs Boise State.  UGA rushed for 157 yards, had 4.4 ypc and Boise’s average on defense was 110 ypg. 

However, you must look closer.  Brandon Boykin was the team’s leading rusher with his 80 yard touchdown run.  If you look even closer in box score, Malcolm Mitchell had 18 yards on a reverse.  If you take away the 98 yards on those two plays, Georgia only rushed the ball for 59 yards.  Pathetic.

What was truly alarming is as the season wore on, Isaiah Crowell became less and less of a factor.  In 5 of the final 6 games, Georgia was led by Brandon Harton and Ken Malcome.  Against Georgia Tech a cornerback was the starting tailback!

For Georgia to continue its upward momentum from 2011, the running game has to be better.  Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of the problems in 2011 had to do with injuries.  But attitude can go a long way.  The tailbacks seem to be getting better in that area, but the offense hinges on the running game.  Murray and Bobo are at their best when the play action is effective.  A strong running game is key to the offense clicking and UGA winning the SEC East again in 2012.


13 Responses to “Running Game Has To Get Better in 2012-It Can’t Get Worse”

  1. 1 Bubbs March 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    When your QB turns the ball over 3-4 times in the big games (LSU, Florida, South Carolina, Miss St, Mich St, etc.), it really doesn’t matter how well you run the ball.

    I’m afraid Aaron Murray is the issue, as ESPN has written about today in 2 different articles.

    • 2 Corbindawg March 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Go back and read the post I did comparing David Greene to Aaron Murray. I bet if you look at the games where Aaron had the turnover problems, it correlates with the bad rushing game. Especially against Michigan State and LSU. It just makes good common sense that if you can run the ball better, it takes the pressure off the QB and the defense is not playing the pass. Richt and Bobo have been at their best when the running game sets up the passing game.

      • 3 Bubbs March 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        The run game improved from 10th to 7th in 2011 and from 11th to 6th against ranked teams in 2011, but Murray’s int’s went from .8 per game against ranked teams in 2010, to 1.5 against ranked teams in 2011. Having a better running game doubled Murray’s interceptions.

        Kind of have to agree with the ESPN articles out today that Murray cracks under pressure in big games, and I can’t blame Murray’s turnovers doubling in big games in 2011 on something like the running game, which improved from 10th to 5th.

        If you go back and check out the South Carolina game, the rushing game was effective, getting 4.95 yards per carry for 188 yards–hard to beat that. But Murray fumbled on a hand off exchange, and then fumbled on a Clowney rush that was recovered for a game ending td and also threw an interception–3 turnovers when the team rushed for 180+ against South Carolina.

      • 4 Corbindawg March 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        To say that Murray cracks under pressure is not fair and is an easy cop out without looking at the big picture. Sure, he had a bad day against South Carolina and the run game helped him out. What about when he was getting dry humped by LSU defenders? Georgia gave up a TON of sacks in 2012 and nearly gave up as many this year as it did in the previous 3 years combined. Georgia was next to last in the SEC in sacks allowed.

        I am not saying that Murray has ice water in his viens and doesn’t crack under pressure. But to just make a blanket statement like that without looking at the big picture is not using any creative, intellectual thought. It is just trying to get hits on your webpage. If Murray has a decent offensive line and a running game that does better than 2 YPC then I would surmise you might see fewer turnovers.

  2. 5 RichieDawg March 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    It can be worse.

    Gurley will red shirt, doesn’t even get to campus until the summer, no time to learn everything.

    Thomas, best consistent runner and blocker, is gone.

    Samuel missed half the games due to injuries, kid’s very injury prone.

    Malcome, barely even noticed him since he’s been on the team, has he even scored a career td?

    Leaves Crowell, who basically made no impact down the stretch, had 3 good games out of 14.

    And you have a very inexperienced o-line to block.

    UGA averages somewhere between 7-10th in SEC rushing. Bobo & Richt havn’t shown the ability to run the ball better than 5th place in the conference in 4 or 5 years.

    Richt hasn’t had a 1000 yard rusher since Moreno back in 2007 (his best rankings finish in the last 5 years). Since Richt went to away from the 1 back to the rotation system, the running attack has fallen apart. Can you imagine Spurrier rotating Lattimore with 4 backs or Saban rotating Ingram with 5 backs?

    • 6 Corbindawg March 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Marshall > Thomas. I don’t care how good a blocker is, if you are going to miss 1/3 of the season due to susensions, then you aren’t doing much good. Crowell has been improving so far and Boo Malcome’s attitude has improved from all reports. The Depth will not be any worse next year than it was this past year. I guranteee Brandon Harton or Branden Smith won’t be starting games at TB this season.

  3. 7 RichieDawg March 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Marshall won’t beat Thomas’ 4.95 yards per carry, and won’t be able to passblock as well as Thomas either. Crowell only got 4.6 yards per carry, so Marshall won’t beat that. No way.

    Malcome just can’t score, he has no rushing td’s. In fact, Washan Ealey rushed for more td’s by himself in 2010 (11 td’s) than Crowell, Thomas, Samuel, Malcome, Harton, Karempelis, and Van Dyck combined (those 7 backs combined for 10 td’s).

    If you can’t score as a back, why should you be on the field?

    • 8 Corbindawg March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      1. 5/11 Ealey’s TD in 2010 came against one team in one game, Kentucky.
      2. Malcome didn’t hardly play until the end of the season, and when he did come in and play, he played well.
      3. I don’t care what stats you use, Carlton Thomas was not very good I would imagine the majority of his stats came from the Auburn game.
      4. I’ll like to amend #3; Carlton Thomas was not very good in the ways in which he was utalized.
      5. I would take Crowell and Marshall over King and Ealey.

      • 9 RichieDawg March 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        1. 5 of Murray’s td’s came against New Mexico St.
        2. Malcome has 0 career td’s, no matter which point in games or seasons.
        3. Carlton Thomas had a higher yards per carry than Crowell, and in head to head games like Auburn, outrushed Crowell by nearly 3 more yards per carry. Marshall in his 1st year won’t touch Thomas’ passblocking skills.
        4. You would take Crowell, a guy who averaged 4.6 yards per carry over Ealey, who averaged 5.74 yards per carry his first season? Inexperienced Marshall over Caleb King’s 5.4 yards per carry? WOW.

  4. 10 Bubbs March 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm


    LSU game I don’t get.

    Against LSU:
    Miss St completes 78% of passes, Florida 71%, Tenn 70%, Auburn 70%, Miss 100%, Nrothwestern State 81%.

    Murray against LSU?

    Murray cracks under pressure in big games.

  5. 11 RichieDawg March 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Crowell only rushed for 1 td in the last 8 games combined.

    Putting the future in his hands?

  6. 12 RichieDawg March 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t think Murray feeds off the run offense.

    I am positive Murray feeds off the defense.

    When the defense help the opposing team to under 30 points, Murray was 10-0.

    When the defense allowed more than 30 points, Murray was 0-4.

    I think that’s what makes Murray comfortable, or tight.

    When Murray knew it was going to be a shootout because the defense couldn’t get stops, he tightened up.

  1. 1 3 Keys to Bulldogs Success in 2012 « The Grit Tree Trackback on August 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

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