Georgia Bulldogs' backfield takes a big hit.
Georgia’s quest to win the SEC East title in 2011 took a hit when running back Caleb King was ruled ineligible. Depth at running back was already an issue for the Bulldogs, especially after Washaun Ealey transferred following spring practice. When Ealey left, the Bulldogs were expected to have a solid one-two punch with King and true freshman Isaiah Crowell leading the way. With King and Ealey out of the picture, the Bulldogs will have to rely even more on Crowell.
Big things were expected of King coming out of high school, but he never lived up to the hype. In three years at Georgia, he managed 1,271 yards and 10 scores. King posted one 100-yard effort last year, rushing for 100 at Colorado. His best season came in 2009 with 594 yards and seven scores on the ground.
King’s departure was just the latest in a series of concerning post-spring roster moves. Depth on the offensive line has become an issue with the departure of a couple of players, and Ealey and King’s departure has changed the outlook of the backfield.
If Crowell suffers an injury, it’s up to Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome to shoulder the workload. Malcome is a true freshman, while Thomas is a junior. Thomas has 364 yards and two scores in 17 career games.
The good news for Georgia? Leaning on a true freshman running back had good results for South Carolina last season, as Marcus Lattimore led the Gamecocks to a SEC East title.
Crowell ranked as the No. 2 running back and the No. 9 overall recruit in the 2011 Athlon Consensus 100, so there’s certainly no question about his talent. Sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray should be better in his second year as the starter, which certainly helps to take the pressure off of the running game.
The Bulldogs still have the pieces to win the SEC East, but a lot of pressure will be on Crowell and an offensive line thin on depth to deliver immediately.
King's departure and the uncertainty surrounding Georgia's offensive line have only added to the SEC East race. South Carolina is the defending champion, but hasn't received much attention in preseason polls. New coach Will Muschamp has a young roster at Florida, but one that is certainly capable of contending. Expect the SEC East race to provide plenty of intrigue in 2011.
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