Ed Note: This is a user fanpost.
So last Saturday answered many questions. But perhaps the biggest personnel question going into the game was in regards to runningback. And our answer came in the form of Roderick McDowell. We knew he would get the start. We heard good things about him coming out of practice. But most of us were expecting him to just be merely serviceable. Myself included. I kinda assumed he was just getting the start as a nod to his veteranship and then we’d crank through who else we’ve got. But there will be no runningback by committee this year.
McDowell was stellar. He didn’t bruise Georgia. And he didn’t blow them away with speed. But he gnawed at them. He’s a great example of how vision and patience coupled with tart footwork can enable a back to feel the flow of a defense to identify the momentary seem and burst through to pick up north/south yardage.
The result for McDowell was 132 yards on 22 carries. Against one of the most athletic defenses in the nation. That’s impressive. But the thing about perfection is that if you want to be perfect you must always be improving. And to get to a national championship we must have a perfect season. So let’s look at what we can improve.
McDowell had 0 running touchdowns. The rest of our running backs also totaled for 0 touchdowns. Tajh Boyd had 2. Our quarterback’s first rushing touchdown came on a 2nd and goal from the 4. His next came on a 3rd and goal from the 2. Now when you go up against a team like the Dawgs you get the W however you can get it. But there are two potential problems with using Tajh as our go-to goalline ball carrier as the season moves forward.
The first is that defenses will wise up to it. Here’s how. Tajh’s 2nd rushing TD of the night was a QB draw. And a QB draw can’t work if the defense knows it’s coming. The success of the play relies on the defense to commit to defending the pass. Teams are watching tape from the same game you and I saw. They’ll be prepared and start stacking the line of scrimmage.
The second problem with using Tajh to run the ball in goalline situations is the really obvious one. He’s got to stay healthy for us to win. We may not bitch about him scoring a two yard TD against an SEC juggernaut. But we’d all lose it if Tahj shatters his collarbone running it in from the 2 against SC State. Let’s keep Tajh healthy.
So there are a few potential solutions to establishing a reliable goalline rushing game.
The first is to establish one of the other backs in our system as a short yardage back. I’m all for this if you’ve got James Davis on the sideline. But our size at the position is somewhat limited. Which of course is one of the reasons we use big ol’ Tajh in the first place. But anyway. Here is how we measure up.
We’ve got Zac Brooks at 6-1 and 185 lbs. He’s a bit bigger than McDowell. He could be a good fit. McDowell is 5-9 and 195lbs. Howard is a little taller but the same weight. In other words, they're all at about the same size.
Which is why Chad Morris went out and specifically recruited bigger backs. So here’s a look at two freshmen we poached out of Georgia. Tyshon Dye is listed at 6-1 and 205lbs. He’s a big boy and runs like it. And the next is Wayne Gallman who is listed at 6-1 and 195lbs. He’s a pretty pure between the tackles rusher. Both played some linebacker in high school. Both are great options to hand off to on the goalline. But it’s not likely that either will see the field this year.
Our best option for a short yardage back is Dye. But he’s got serious back issues and is out at least four weeks. So he’ll most likely be redshirted. Gallman is the next best option in terms of not just size but running style as well. But Chad Morris has been pretty adamant that he wants to redshirt both freshmen. We can’t be sure of that as the season progresses. But we can be pretty confident that we won’t see Gallman run the rock this weekend.
Which brings us back to McDowell and Brooks and Howard. Which sorta brings us back to square one. Which means developing a vintage thunder and lightning duo isn’t really a good option in the immediate future.
A different way to improve our goalline running game is to introduce more goalline formations. To just stack the line of scrimmage. Put in a FB and two TEs. I’m all for it. There’s no trickeration involved and it gives away nothing on film. It keeps Tajh healthy. And against a team like SC State there is no excuse for not being able to dominate the line of scrimmage. This is what I’d like to see us working on as we face weaker competition for a few weeks. And not just on third and goal. But on first and goal. Let’s eat up the clock and punch it in and do it again and get the W and move on to the next week.
Or there’s a third and more creative option just for the sake of conversation. We could start handing the ball off to a fullback. Which may not be a terrible idea judging by the way UGA’s FB Quayvon Hicks punched our defense going 38 yards on 3 carries for 1 TD. Which is 1 more TD than our RBs had.
Anyway. What are yall hoping to see out of our running offense against SC State?