Taking A Look: Running Backs
Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh (6) during Tennessee’s game against Georgia on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)
Over the next couple of weeks, DogWatch will be examining each position group as spring practice nears, and Georgia gets started on prepping for the 2021 season.
So, let’s continue with the running back position.
The problem in the stable…
Everybody knew in 2017 when Sony Michel and Nick Chubb decided to return for their senior season that it was going to be a special year. Both of those backs are ranked as No. 2 and No. 3 on the all-time rushing list at UGA, respectively. So, with Zamir White and James Cook returning in 2021, one could say that next season could feel a little 2017-esque at the running back position for Georgia. However, this duo just hasn’t produced like the previous regime, but it’s understandable because both current backs have battled nagging injuries throughout their careers.
Having both White and Cook back can be good and bad. Each has their own set of skills they bring to the table and each can produce, but Georgia’s running back stable is stock full of talent. So, with White and Cook both returning, that might take away carries from valuable and talented guys like Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton. White was Georgia’s leading rusher in 2020 in his first full season as the top ball carrier, and Cook showed promise for the first time since his skills were finally being utilized.
Nevertheless, McIntosh and Milton showed why they belong on the field. Both battled injures but when healthy, each showed flashes of brilliance. McIntosh has great vision and is like a ‘bull in a china’ stop in-between the tackles. Milton has great breakaway speed and is a pinball bouncing off tacklers who won’t go down. Still, both need to improve their games vastly if they want more carries, so expect White and Cook to still get a majority of the carries.
Having a loaded backfield isn’t bad, although it could create problems for those down the depth chart. But that’s what competition is for, though. Each one of these guys will be the first one to tell you that they love their teammates, so still expect everyone’s best effort when on the field. This is not the first time Kirby Smart has more than a few gifted backs, therefore every guy should get their chance. Behind Chubb and Michel in 2017, D’Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien all awaited their turns for rushing attempts.
The bottom two
Sophomore Daijun Edwards and freshman Lovasea Carroll round out the bottom two in Georgia’s running back room.
Last season, Edwards was a bruiser at the end of games as he got most of the carries in garbage time. Still, the former Colquitt County product showed his worth but will need to improve if he wants more carries in 2021. It’s important to note that Edwards did have a 100-yard game last season, though. He should get a lot of reps this spring to show he can be valuable when called upon
On the other hand, Carroll is at the bottom of the depth chart, despite probably being the fastest guy in the room. He will have an uphill battle for playing only because he hasn’t even established himself yet. As a freshman, he should get some carries, but he will probably be playing on special teams most of the time. It’d be interesting to see Carroll back deep on kick returns because of his breakaway speed, but he will have to show the coaches why he’s better than Milton at that spot. Expect to see him develop over his freshman year heading into 2022.
Take a look at my other installments of Take A Look: