ATHENS, Ga. — What seemed like the likely outcome since last week’s first scrimmage is now official, according to coach Mark Richt. Sophomore tailback Richard Samuel is firmly atop Georgia’s depth chart with a chance to become an every-down runner.
“I’d say Richard is a solid No. 1,” Richt said. “He’s playing with a lot of energy. Some of these practices, by the end of practice he’s still blazing a trail pretty good. When the other guys fatigue, he looks even faster.”
Samuel figured to have a more competitive battle with fellow sophomore Caleb King for the starting job, but King went down with a hamstring injury last week and has been unable to practice.
Richt was quick to note, however, that King’s injury hasn’t made Samuel the default choice as the starter.
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“We would have rated Richard No. 1 after the scrimmage regardless of the injury,” Richt said, “but we’re anxious to get Caleb back healthy, I can promise you that.”
Both Samuel and King struggled in reserve duty at times last year, but Samuel has been able to take a huge leap during the offseason.
In two scrimmages, Samuel has tallied 233 yards on 19 touches with four going for touchdowns.
“That one year makes a huge difference,” linebacker Rennie Curran said. “You can tell he knows his plays, knows the right fits, he knows where to be. It shows on the field. He’s running that ball hard. He’s definitely that type of running back we need in the SEC to play that hard-nosed football.”
While Samuel’s upright running style has drawn some criticism, Curran said a tailback who enjoys contact as much as Samuel can be difficult for defenses to stop.
“I remember tackling him one time and I got a headache,” Curran said. “He’s the type of back that can beat a defense down over time. If you throw a speed tailback in there to mix it up with him, that can really wear a defense out with a guy who runs straight ahead and hits the hole as hard as he does.”
Richt said redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas remains in the tailback competition after posting two strong scrimmage performances as well.
Jones ankle to be OK
Richt said it looked bad when sophomore center Ben Jones collapsed with a sprained ankle Wednesday, but it turns out the injury doesn’t appear too serious.
Jones suffered a lateral sprain of his left ankle which resulted in some significant swelling, but Richt said there’s virtually no chance Jones will miss any playing time.
“I’d be shocked if he didn’t play (against Oklahoma State),” Richt said. “He really is day to day. When it happened, it looked worse than it ended up being. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get some work next week.”
Furloughs for coaches
Georgia president Michael Adams announced dates all school employees must take mandatory furloughs Thursday, but Richt said things remain undecided as to when the Bulldogs’ coaching staff will be on vacation.
The dates set by Adams would require Georgia’s coaches to take off work the day before the Bulldogs play Florida along with another day during Georgia Tech week.
While Richt said he’ll be meeting with athletic director Damon Evans next week to discuss how best to work around the furloughs, he said he isn’t expecting any time off during a crucial period.
of the season.
“If the university needs to do it, then we need to cooperate,” Richt said. “My guess is, I don’t know if we’ve ever had a day off during the season, so I really doubt that we’ll be able to just stay home and relax.”