Back had eight carries for 33 yards
By Tyler Estep
ATHENS, Ga. — Mark Richt may have learned something from redshirting Knowshon Moreno.
During Moreno’s exceptional playing career at Georgia, Richt frequently lamented redshirting him his freshman year, cutting his career as a Bulldogs player to just two years.
Enter Washaun Ealey, the Bulldogs’ highly touted freshman running back. Ealey, who sports Moreno’s old No. 24, saw his first game action Saturday against LSU, getting eight carries for 33 yards in the second half.
“It felt pretty good,” Ealey said. “I knew I could do it all along but I just wanted to show the coaches and help the offense.”
Ealey was Rivals.com’s No. 11 tailback in the country coming out of Emanuel County Institute, and entered Saturday’s game halfway through the third quarter, with the Georgia offense still scoreless and struggling.
His first carry went around the right end for a gain of 8, and he went on to get four more carries for a total of 23 yards on that drive.
“It was during a TV timeout, we were all sitting there in the huddle, and everyone was telling him what to do, make sure you hold on to the ball, blah blah blah,” said quarterback Joe Cox. “I was just like, ‘Man, let him run, he knows how to run.’ ”
And Ealey surely does know how to run.
Had it not been for a setback during fall practice, he may have seen the field before Saturday.
“He looked really good in camp when we first started out, and then I think it was the first or second day in pads, he kind of stumbled forward, and as he was breaking his fall he put his arm out and hyperextended his elbow,” Richt said. “I don’t even remember how many practices he lost, but he lost enough right when we were in the heart of teaching him how to play football. So he got way behind in that regard. (When he came back) he just wasn’t the same. And then he began to practice the way he has been the last week or so, and we’re like, you know what, this kid, he might could give us a spark.”
Didn’t know he’d play
Ealey said he didn’t know he would get into the game Saturday, that the coaches have told him the same thing before every game: keep his head in the game because his chance could come at any time.
The Georgia offense scored its first points of the game (a 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback Shaun Chapas) on the first drive of Ealey’s Georgia career, but the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder downplayed his own role in igniting Georgia’s offense.
“We were just looking for a spark,” he said, “and the offensive line came out blocking hard, so I think anybody at that point in time would have gotten some positive yards.”