ATHENS, Ga — A big preseason earned Richard Samuel the starting tailback job to open the season, but beyond an 80-yard run against Arkansas, his numbers have been declining each week since.
The sophomore tailback tallied 87 yards in his first career start against Oklahoma State and chipped in with several impressive runs against South Carolina a week later. But outside of his 80-yarder, Samuel has averaged just two yards per carry in his last two games, and head coach Mark Richt thinks the solution may be patience.
“I guess he’s similar to a quarterback who can throw it extremely hard,” Richt said. “They’ve got to understand sometimes how to use the touch. He’s a back who has to learn at times to gear it down a little bit until he really sees it, and then hit it.”
Richt said he remains confident that Samuel can develop into a star running back, and he isn’t asking him to change his style — just his approach.
“I think he’s getting a better feel of the vision of the running schemes and where it should go, but it’s hard to slow him down,” Richt said. “He really runs hard, and there’s a lot of value to that if you start knocking people back and breaking tackles. It’s just a different style of running.”
Murray returns to throwing
Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray is back to throwing again after missing nearly two weeks with triceps tendonitis.
Murray said he began short tosses last week, progressing slowly each day.
“I started about 10 yards, the next day 20 yards, 30 yards,” Murray said. “I pretty much did most of practice (Wednesday). It’s feeling pretty good. No pain, no soreness, nothing.”
Boykin ill, misses practice
Sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin sat out Wednesday’s practice session because of an undisclosed illness, Richt said.
Boykin has started all four games for Georgia this season and has one of the team’s two interceptions. Following Tuesday’s practice, however, Richt said Boykin wasn’t feeling well, and coaches kept him out for precautionary reasons Wednesday.
“He doesn’t feel good, but we think he’ll practice (Thursday),” Richt said. “We think he’ll be fine.”
Georgia’s secondary was already thin thanks to a knee sprain suffered by junior Vance Cuff against Arkansas. Cuff missed last week’s game against Arizona State but returned to a limited practice Wednesday.
“Vance is practicing, and I would say he’s probable also,” Richt said. “I don’t think he had a setback (Wednesday). He doesn’t look full speed when it comes to change of direction yet, but he was out there working with the scouts and I think he finished.”
Richt pleased with Brown’s work
Freshman receiver Marlon Brown hasn’t seen much action in his first four games at Georgia, but that could change soon.
Richt said he chatted with Brown following Wednesday’s practice to offer some encouragement, and he said he has been pleased with the progress Brown has made since the season began.
“I’m seeing a tremendous improvement in Marlon,” Richt said. “He’s smoothing his game out, and it’s coming. (Tight end) Artie Lynch, same way. He’s a guy who is improving rapidly, and their futures are very, very bright.”
Keeping a good attitude
Still, for a highly recruited receiver on a team without much depth at the position, the lack of playing time came as a surprise, Brown said.
“I came in working hard. I knew I needed to lift a little more weights and get a little faster,” Brown said. “Then camp came, and I was like, OK I had a pretty good camp. Then the season started, and I wasn’t playing. I got down a little bit, but after a while I was like, ‘Forget it,’ and I just decided I’d go out and grind every day at practice.”