Lumpkin tries to carry Dawgs against Vols

ATHENS – It may turn out that the biggest game of Georgia's season will be decided by the quietest man on the team.

"I am a quiet person," junior tailback Kregg Lumpkin acknowledged. "I've never thought of myself as a leader, but I can step into a role like that if I was asked."

Today would be a good day for someone to ask. The No. 10 Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 SEC) need a spark against No. 13 Tennessee. The Volunteers (4-1, 0-1 SEC) come into Sanford Stadium for a 7:45 p.m. game as one of the conference's hottest teams.

"And, as you know, we're sputtering around," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "But hopefully our guys will rise up and play with all their heart. It's going to be a true test of if we're any kind of contenders for any kind of championship."

Lumpkin rushed for 101 yards against Ole Miss, the highest of any Georgia back since Danny Ware had 109 against Louisiana-Monroe last season and the first time Lumpkin has had 100 or more in a game in his career.

"It felt like a long time coming," he said.

Lumpkin, who sat out the entire 2004 season due to a knee injury, averaged 7.8 yards per carry against the Rebels.

"He, without question, made some of the best vision runs we've had this year," Richt said. "I liked the way he finished his runs. He just did a nice job. We've just got to feed him the ball a little more. I really like what he's done. He looks better to me than pre-injury. He's certainly more confident than he was as a freshman."

Not that you'd know it by his talk.

"He's very quiet, he's works very hard at football and school. He's just a polite young man," Richt said. "When things weren't going just perfect for him, you never heard him complain one bit."

Lumpkin doesn't think much about how much he does or doesn't say, he said.

"This is how I've been since I was little," he said. "I'm just a humble guy, trying to stay humble and get the job done without any loud talk. I never really asked anybody what they think of me because I'm so quiet.

Junior tailback Thomas Brown, who will back up Lumpkin today, said his teammate isn't quiet all the time.

"He's got his crazy side," Brown said. He'll just have outbursts sometimes, saying stupid things in practice or making some weird noises from time to time, but he's cool."

An outburst is exactly what the Bulldogs need today.