The Bulldogs rank 11th in the SEC in rushing offense, averaging just 112 yards per game on the ground – down nearly 40 yards per game from last season.
Richard Samuel opened the season as the Bulldogs’ top tailback, but since Caleb King returned from a hamstring injury two weeks ago, the two have shared the load. That’s a trend head coach Mark Richt said he expects to continue.
“Right now in my mind they are 50-50 in my thinking,” Richt said. “One guy might be running a little bit better than the other, and he may get more. We’re not to the position where we saying 75 percent of the totes here and 25 percent there. We looking to more let’s play them both, keep them fresh, see how they’re doing and kind of go from there.”
That’s Richt’s plan, but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo isn’t convinced that a timeshare is the best alternative.
Before Tuesday’s practice, Bobo said he hoped one back could impress enough during this week’s workouts to secure the bulk of the work and, in turn, improve the floundering running game.
“We’ve got to get somebody in a groove, and we’ve got to get the running game going,” Bobo said. “I’d say right now, (they’re even), but if somebody has a great day (in practice), they might be the starter. We’ve got to find somebody to jump start our running game.”
Samuel is averaging 4.5 yards per carry so far this season, but aside from an 80-yard run against Arkansas, the sophomore tailback has tallied just two yards per rush on his other 26 carries in the past two games.
King has looked like the better runner overall, picking up 114 yards on 22 carries since returning from a hamstring injury that cost him the first two games of the season. In addition to his rushing exploits, King has also been the better all-around back in practice, running backs coach Bryan McClendon said. But that doesn’t mean King has secured a more significant role in the offense.
“I do think both worked extremely hard, but Caleb did a little better in pass protection than Richard did,” McClendon said. “Hopefully one way or another it will shake out, but as long as we get the production, it wouldn’t hurt me if I had to play them 50-50 again.”