Most of the last 12 hours since I heard the news about King being suspended I have heard two ends of the spectrum on him being suspended. One group has this being awful and writing off Georgia's chances at a successful season. The other group basically is saying good riddance and that the team didn't need him anyway. There are reasons I could see either of these being the case.
Losing King hurts because he was the only guy that had more than a few carries in a game coming back. Thomas had a few carries here and there but was never counted on to be more than a spot player. Malcome and Crowell have never lined up in a college game. Crowell carries the hope that he could be the difference for UGA this season the way Lattimore was last year for South Carolina but King was the security blanket. He could provide insurance if Crowell was not ready by game one to carry the load. He could share the load so that Crowell would not have to worry about wearing down by the end of the season.
Now that insurance is gone. Crowell will have to be ready game 1. He cannot wear down as the season goes by. Now instead of contributions by Malcome and Thomas being bonus to the 1-2 punch of King and Crowell they will both be counted on to contribute big time. Georgia cannot afford for any of the three to miss any time (except maybe against Costal Carolina and New Mexico State).
That is the bad news. However I do see a silver lining. One of the main things, often with good reason, is that keeps freshmen from getting playing time under Richt is they lack the pass protection ability of older players. The running game is sometimes hurt by this as better runners may get fewer snaps than another guy because he is not as good as a pass blocker. I do not totally disagree with this reasoning but I feel like to get back to the heights we expect UGA to be at we need a true feature back. I think that if Crowell can handle the running part of the game it will make up for what he lacks as a blocker. I also believe that a good way to slow down a pass rush is to force the other team to commit more players to stopping the run. That outside linebacker may be a step slower in his pass rush if he is worried about containing a guy like Crowell. I also believe that the fastest way to learn how to provide pass protection is to see blitzes live. It is one thing to see them on a practice field or a film room but a totally different thing to see it live. The other good thing is that our TE's can help with this problem as they are very talented and Murray is a very mobile qb so the option is there to move the pocket around until the young guys get up to speed in pass protection.
All in all I believe this does hurt the team but barring an injury to one of the guys left I believe the team can overcome it and possibly even turn it into a plus. Let's just hope that Crowell is up to the challenge, he does not have to be a savoir of the team but he does need to be an above average SEC running back right from the start.