“Considering what we’re playing with, I think they’re doing an unbelievable job really,” he said.
Still, Georgia’s head coach still is shaking his head about the 273 combined rushing yards Thomas Brown and Knowshon Moreno ran for last week against Ole Miss.
“I thought they got the most yards that you could imagine them getting with the amount of blocking they got,” Richt said of Brown’s 180 and Moreno’s 93. “Knowshon made some runs where he looked like Houdini a couple times.”
Brown’s career-high total thrust him into the SEC’s top 10 in rushing, where he joins Moreno. Moreno is eighth with 86.4 yards per game, and Brown is 10th with 78.6.
“It just goes to show that we have some special ones back there,” fullback Brannan Southerland said. “I think you can see improvement from both of them from the first game to now, just the split second decisions they are making in the middle of the run to finish the run and evade tacklers.”
Arkansas is the only other team in the SEC with two players in the top 10. Remarkably, the Razorbacks Darren McFadden (164.2 yards per game) and Felix Jones (122.5 per game) are first and second.
“I think only time will tell where (Brown and Lumpkin) would fit in comparison with famous duos,” running backs coach Tony Ball said. “It’s still a work in progress for us. We’re trying to take each week and build on the progress.”
Brown and Moreno likely will be the building blocks for the entire offense the rest of the season, given the Bulldogs’ track record when they play well.
Georgia has thrown the ball more than it has run it once in a game this year, against South Carolina, which was its only loss of the season. The Bulldogs threw 45 passes and ran the ball 31 times that day.
For the season, Georgia has run the ball 56.3 percent of the time, which is the sixth-highest percentage in the conference, almost right in the middle of Arkansas’ league-high 67.6 percent and Tennessee’s league-least 42.3 percent.
Georgia (4-1, 2-1 SEC) takes on the Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Neyland Stadium. At the conclusion of that game, the Bulldogs will have played the only three teams in the SEC who throw the ball more than run it – Tennessee, Alabama and Ole Miss.
After the South Carolina game, Georgia’s coaches decided they had to get better in the running game one way or another, Richt said. The answer in the last three games has been a heavy dose of zone blocking, which has two advantages for the Bulldogs.
First, it’s an easier skill for young linemen to master, and, second, it gives Brown and Moreno several choices on where to run the ball rather than one specific hole to hit, thus taking advantage of their quickness and cutting ability.
“That was one of our goals this year was to create different ways to run the football, not necessarily to be more run-oriented but to create more looks for the defense,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “You’ve got two good running backs so you have to find ways to get them the ball instead of one running play all the time.”
Having more than running back is not so bad either.
“The goal is to get the ball in the hands of your best players,” Richt said, “and that’s about as easy as it is, to hand it to them.”
Establishing the run
SEC coaches are always talking about having to run the ball to win their league. Here’s a look at who runs it most:
1. Arkansas 67.6 percent
2. LSU 62 percent
3. Mississippi State 61.4 percent
4. Florida 61.1 percent
5. Auburn 60.4 percent
6. Georgia 56.3 percent
7. Vanderbilt 56 percent
8. Kentucky 52.6 percent
9. South Carolina 50.9 percent
10. Alabama 49.1 percent
11. Mississippi 48.9 percent
12. Tennessee 42.3 percent