“I think Richard is doing great,” Running backs coach Bryan McClendon said on Sunday. “Right now he’s working with nothing but the first team. He’s getting back into the swing of things, and he’s asking all of the right questions. He tells me what he is seeing, and he’s seeing all of the right things.”
That’s not to say the highly-regarded true freshman Crowell isn’t doing his part to win the starting job. In fact, McClendon said the Columbus native is ahead of where he thought he would be.
“Isaiah is definitely ahead of the curve as far as learning it (is concerned),” McClendon said. “He picks it up quick, and things do come easy to him. That happens when you get a guy who loves football as much as he does, and someone who wants to be good. Isaiah is doing a good job of studying and learning. This stuff comes pretty quick to him. That happens when a guy 1) wants to be as good as he wants to be; 2) Football is serious to Isaiah.”
No matter the starter, McClendon’s hope is that he has “two number ones” running the ball for Georgia this fall. The Bulldogs, who are coming off of 8-5 and 6-7 campaigns, have had lackluster consistency from their tailbacks the last two years.
“I think in the SEC you have to have two backs,” he said. “You can’t have just one guy who you are leaning on – he won’t make it all season… not in this league. Defenses are too good; guys hit too hard. You want a fresh guy in the game. You have to have two number ones (running backs) so to speak.”
Most observers thought that Crowell’s speed bump on the way to the starting job would be pass protection – a spot many former starting tailbacks at Georgia struggled with their inaugural season.
“Every young back comes in with something wrong with their pass protection,” McClendon said. “It’s just a matter of how quick they can fix it. I think (Crowell’s pass protection) is good, but is it SEC caliber? We will see – everyone has something to work on in pass protection. The biggest thing is knowing who to block. You get guys who are not scared of contact, but it’s about knowing who they are getting. That has not been an issue with Isaiah so far.”
Crowell will have his chance to make a move towards the starting lineup this Wednesday at the team’s first scrimmage of the fall. One thing is certain – McClendon is only going to play tailbacks he can depend on.
“If you can’t trust guys you can’t put them out there – bottom line,” McClendon added. “If they are going to screw things up they are not going to go out there. But that’s not been an issue with Isaiah. This is day four of installation, and he’s not missed much as far as assignments-wise, so that’s a blessing.”
TB Isaiah Crowell works as Bryan McClendon looks. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)