Friday, July 15, 2011

Thoughts on Richard Samuel moving back to running back.

Many people had speculated that Samuel would be moved back to running back after Caleb King was ruled ineligible for the upcoming season. It sucks for Samuel to have to change positions a second time while at UGA but in the end it could be a big boost for him and the team. This season Ogletree and Robinson were going to get the majority of the snaps at MLB. That means that Samuel would have had one year, his senior year, to make a big impact on the team. While most will still expect Crowell to be the starter there should still be plenty of carries for Samuel to be able to earn.

When Samuel first got to UGA he was a backup to Knowshon Moreno and there were not many carries to be had. He was just 17 years old that year. The following year he earned several starts and was third on the team in rushing behind Caleb King and Washaun Ealey. His numbers did not stand out at 88 rushes for 395 yards but they were solid. The top two running backs combined for 1311 yards on 239 carries for an impressive 5.49 YPC. It was however one game that skewed the numbers quite a bit. In the Georgia Tech game to end the season Ealey and King combined for 349 yards on 38 carries. It was that game that led coaches and fans to believe that those two would carry the load for the next two years leaving Samuel as the odd man out. That game turned out to be an anomaly and not the start of something big. Without the GT game King and Ealey's average drops to just 4.79, barely above Samuel's 4.79. When you take into account how much better the line played in 2009 the second half of the season once they had a chance to adjust to losing Sturdivant and there really was little difference in the production between King, Ealey and Samuel.

Will Samuel have as good a season as King, or Ealey for that matter, would have had this fall? That is hard to tell. However there are several factors in his favor. He is more dependable than either of the other two. I have not heard a negative thing about his work ethic or any off the field issues since he has been at Georgia. One thing that some might consider an issue I can see as a possible strength, his weight. Bulking up to play linebacker Samuel is now 6'2" and 243 lbs. Despite that he is still considered to have great speed. Two of Georgia's three scholarship running backs are smaller guys. Crowell is considered powerful for his size but he is not a bruiser. Samuel at 243 could be the type back that can wear down a defense and get the tough yards the team needs to grind out first downs.

The last time Samuel played running back he was still just 18 years old, even after two years on the team. Now he is 20, much bigger and has more carries than any other player on the roster. The biggest thing I see holding him back is that he never seemed to have great vision as a running back before. Hopefully some time on defense will help him better understand what defenses are doing and he will see the field better. This could also benefit him in picking up the blitz in the passing game. If he understands blitz pickups I feel a lot better with him picking up the blind side linebacker/defensive end as a 4th year junior weighing 243lbs than I do any of the other options at running back.

This move hurts the depth at middle linebacker meaning one of the incoming freshmen will have to step up there but when comparing what UGA lost in King versus got back in Samuel this could turn out to be a plus. The best thing about it is that it happened before summer camp to give him a chance to get back in the flow at running back instead of a few days before the first game.

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