Log Jam at Running Back for Georgia

Dawgpost.com
Posted Dec 23, 2004


ATHENS - Thomas Brown sees Kregg Lumpkin jogging around the practice field, and he wonders about next season.

Kregg Lumpkin tore his ACL on the first day of Georgia's fall practices and opened the door for true freshmen Thomas Brown and Danny Ware. They took full advantage, combining for 1,455 rushing yards.

Any team would be thrilled to have a pair of backs like Brown and Ware returning for three more seasons, but, does that leave room for Lumpkin, who will return next year with three years of eligibility left?

"That's really the only thing I've thought about looking toward next year," Brown said. "What are they going to do with all three of us back there?"

Lumpkin rushed for 523 yards in his freshman season and entered the year as the clear starter. His rehabilitation has gone well and he will return to limited action in spring practice. By fall, he's expected to be full speed, and he's expecting to jump right back into the fray.

"This year has been a learning experience," he said. "I've been paying more attention to the offense, the blocking schemes, the offensive linemen. I'm looking forward to next year. I can't wait."

Lumpkin said he thinks having three, starter-quality running backs can only help the Bulldogs. Running backs coach Ken Rucker agrees.

"I'm glad to be their coach," Rucker said. "It's going to be another fine year."

He's not worried, he said, about not having enough carries to keep three standout backs happy.

"I'd rather it be that way than the other way," he said.

In fact, Ware is the only involved party who will acknowledge "there's obviously going to be a downside," but he quickly gets back to the party line.

"It's going to keep the defense off of us because we have three running backs who can do anything to you," he said. "Since that's going to help our team out, you can't really complain about that."

The backs better not complain, Rucker said.

"We're not in the happiness business," he said. "We're in the winning business. These guys know that."

The Bulldogs might take some pointers from Auburn, which this year used star tailbacks Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown in the backfield at the same time. Under Coach Mark Richt, Georgia has always used a more traditional backfield, with either one tailback or one tailback and one fullback, but Richt said he's not above "borrowing" from Auburn's playbook.

"We'd have to consider that pretty strongly," he said. "I think we'll be good at fullback, but you definitely have to consider some two-back."

Georgia practiced some two-back sets last spring but scrapped the plan when Lumpkin was injured.

"I'm hoping they might try to run the Auburn system, use all three of us and (quarterback D.J. Shockley), maybe throw in the option or whatever," Lumpkin said.

While Brown and Lumpkin wonder, Ware is just concentrating on himself, he said.

"I try not to even think about it and just keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "I can't really worry about what they're going to do with everybody else."

The competition will help all three backs, Rucker said.

"These guys build on each other," he said. "It's a great group."


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