Spring Recap: Running Backs
Reviewing each of Georgia's position groups following G-Day
Georgia running back Kendall Milton (2) during the G-Day scrimmage on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Now that Georgia’s spring practice has ended, it’s time to do a wrap of the position groups before they start summer workouts in June,
Today, we will review the running backs.
Ahead of time…
Going in, we all knew that Georgia has one of the most talented backfields in all of college football. The news of seniors Zamir White and James Cook a couple of months ago really helped solidify that statement. Add in the return of Kenny McIntosh, Kendall Milton, and Daijun Edwards, it really helped back that statement. Those five players were the team’s top-five rushers from a season ago.
The depth really helps the offense in case of injuries, which is what happened last season. The trio of Cook, McIntosh and Milton all missed significant time in 2020. So, in their absence, Edwards stepped up at times last season. Each five of these running backs averaged at least five yards per carry last season, which is an impressive feat considering the shared amount of rush attempts per player. That strong depth down the line allows the coaching staff to move freshman tailback Lovasea Carroll to defensive back for the time being.
Every running back except McIntosh participated in the annual G-Day game. However, the junior missed spring practice due to an injury, but he is expected to return by the start of fall camp. With McIntosh out, the pair of sophomores in Milton and Edwards got more reps during spring camp. Their results showed on G-Day as both had solid performances.
Georgia’s spring game was designed to not let injuries pile up, while also not allowing Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to learn a thing about what Georgia’s offense changed in the offseason. Instead, head coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken dialed up a game plan that included utilizing the passing game. It was important to see how Georgia would do with several receivers missing, but also to see what the secondary looked like.
While the passing game dominated most of the scrimmage, there were some very nice-designed run plays. Milton had an impressive performance as he racked up 34 yards on eight attempts with a touchdown. It really looked like he was fully healed from his MCL injury, which occurred in Georgia’s loss to Florida in 2020. The California native made some nice cuts and made some defenders miss. His touchdown came in the first quarter, which was set up by a 53-yard reception by sophomore tight end Darnell Washington.
White finished second in the scrimmage with 28 yards and six attempts, while Cook had seven rushes for 26 yards. Both looked comfortable carrying the ball as they split reps on the first-team offense. The pair took on a bigger role in the passing game as they combined for a total of 12 receptions (six each) and 111 yards receiving. Both White and Cook looked great in pass protection, too. Next season, expect both to play a bigger role in the passing game.
Edwards only had three rushes for 12 yards. Nonetheless, the sophomore had five receptions for 24 yards, while Milton hauled in five passes for 31 yards. It’s evident that Monken has elevated Georgia’s short passing game, especially with the running back position. It’s a point of emphasis to pay attention to because the Bulldogs will use a lot of check-downs next season.
Still, every running back needs some improvement as Georgia prepares its opening matchup against Clemson. Clemson’s defensive line returns some key starters, so the Bulldogs in the backfield will need to be at their best if a win is to occur. Georgia has the pieces it needs to be successful in the running game, and expect each of those five players to play a significant role in 2021.
It hasn’t been officially announced that Carroll will be moved to the defensive side of the ball, but by fall that question should be answered. The beautiful thing about five solid backs is that the coaching staff can make moves like that. If not, the freshman should receive some reps on special teams, which is a key way to earn more playing time under Smart.
Check out the previous spring recaps of Georgia’s position groups: