Georgia has a nifty and competitive TB tandem

Danny Ware

ATHENS — If Danny Ware wins a Heisman Trophy, he'll have to thank Thomas Brown.

If it's Brown in the tux at the Downtown Athletic Club, he'll have to credit Ware.

The two true freshmen have established themselves as Georgia's top tailbacks, in the process going past some veterans. And they've shown little transition from Georgia high school ball to the Southeastern Conference.

Sure, the offensive line is the main key in any successful running game. But with these two, one-upsmanship might be bigger.

Don't worry about complacency, because each one almost lives to outdo the other one. And they'll talk. Oh, how they'll talk.

Take this exchange Monday afternoon as the players met with assorted media members.

Ware: He can't bench as much as me.

Brown: You're about 40 pounds bigger, you know?

Ware: He might could squat more than me, but I hate the squat.

Brown: Pound for pound, man, pound for pound.

Ware: I can't help I weigh more.

Brown: That's what I'm sayin'. Pound for pound.

Ware: I'm gonna lose some weight one of these days. We'll see what happens.

And so it goes, good-natured and almost hysterical bickering between two true freshmen who might just be The Next Big Things in the SEC.

"It's mind-boggling," said Ware of the quick rise for the pair.

"I kinda thought it would take some time. We knew we could come in here and play ball with the best of 'em."

They are, just a little bit sooner, thanks mainly to starter Kregg Lumpkin's torn ACL on the first day of August practice.

Ware has been Georgia's starter at tailback all season, and is averaging 95.2 yards a game and 5.5 yards per rush, with five touchdowns on the ground.

Brown worked his way up the depth chart to No. 2, and gets 61 yards a game with three touchdowns, and an average of 5.4 yards per try.

And they're off a quality Saturday, each breaking the 100-yard mark against Vanderbilt.

They've put on the bench veterans like juniors Tyson Browning and Tony Milton as well as sophomore Michael Cooper.

And it's not for the running ability that's dazzled fans and impressed teammates, it's because they're both physical and are taking care of business on the blocking end.

"They're both very conscientious about getting the job done," said running backs coach Ken Rucker. "They're very close in assignments.

"They know it doesn't matter how well you run or how well you catch. To get things happening, you've got to be very conscientious of being a good blocker. It's been a pleasure to see them mature as fast as they have."

Ware and Brown are similar running backs in different bodies. Ware is bigger overall and considered more of the inside runner.

Brown is shorter, 5-foot-8, and seems thicker than his listed weight at 177.

Brown is along the lines of a Warrick Dunn, who played for head coach Mark Richt at Florida State. There's a belief that Richt favors such "scatback" types, but Brown is perhaps too strong for that label.

He likes when it's offered that he's a tailback in a scatback's body.

"I kinda go with that," he smiled. "I don't really see myself as a scatback, because I can go through the middle."

Brown's intent on showing whoever has doubts that he can play every down, and that he can run between the tackles.

Against LSU, he pounded his way for two yards on a fourth-and-1, pushing the line back. Then he blasted through another Tiger for a touchdown later in the game.

"I think I'm starting to establish myself more as that type back," said Brown, who is statistically Georgia's third-strongest player. "But there's still going to be people who underestimate me."

At the current rate, putting the two in the backfield together might not be a bad idea. Auburn is doing it with Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, and the Tigers have powered their way to the top five in the nation. It's something that hasn't been discussed, though.

Ware wouldn't mind such a plan a bit.

"I could see that happening," he said. "It's up to the big man. You never know. If it did happen, I'd welcome it with open arms. I'd be glad to be back there with him."

All the better to keep an eye on the other guy, which both do.

"Every Saturday, we have a little competition going on," Brown said. "When I scored that touchdown (against Vanderbilt), he got mad at me because he drove down the field and I kinda put it in. He didn't like that too much."

As Brown talks, Ware sidles up and stands off to the side, arms folded, listening in.

Brown mentions his speed, and it's on again.

Brown: I don't think he's too much slower than me.

Ware: Lyin' to the media again.

Third-party: He said even if you lost weight, he'd still be faster than you.

Ware: Oh, he might be faster than me, I'll say that. But if we get on that track, he don't wanna see me on that track. He don't wanna see me in the 200 meter.

Brown: (doubling over) Ohhhhh, nooo. Noo.

Ware: He might get me in the 100. He don't wanna see me in the 200 meters.

Brown: The 200's my better race. I was better in the 200. What's your best time?

Ware: 21.6.

Brown: I ran a —

Ware: Don't lie. Don't lie. Don't lie.

Brown: I ran a 21.5.

Ware: You don't want me on the track.

Brown: Eleventh grade, I ran 21.5.

Danny Ware: When we get on that 200 —

Thomas Brown: 21.6? Yeah. See there?

Ware: We'll put 'em on after the season.

Brown: Yeah, we'll do that.

For now, they'll stick to football, and keeping Georgia's championship hopes alive. They certainly have the confidence of their teammates.

"When I saw Danny run at bowl practice and the spring, I was like, 'Man, he's a grown man,'" marveled guard Max Jean-Gilles. "And Thomas, he's just a shorter version of Danny. "They're both for real."

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or by e-mail at mlough@macontel.com.

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