In a Running Back Lurch Suddenly

ATHENS – In the euphoria that was beating Florida Saturday night Richard Samuel was hurt on the last play of the game.

My how Georgia could use Samuel now…

Georgia will be without a signed running back when they take on New Mexico State in what should be an uncompetitive game because of Samuel's four-week injury hiatus and the suspension of three other running backs: Isaiah Crowell, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome.

Sure, Brandon Harton and Wes Van Dyk are both on scholarship, but both are former walk-ons and have barely touched the ball this season – they've combined for 12 carries in 2011.

The sudden lurch at running back underscores just how thin that spot can be even with a premiere running back like Crowell on the roster. Georgia will beat the Aggies, but this is a black mark on a program that seemed poised to turn the corner in November.

While it is unclear the exact reason why Crowell, Thomas and Malcome won't play Saturday, unconfirmed rumors have been rampant – but nothing has been confirmed. It's the old violation of team rules… no one knows what that is or means.

It should be noted that this is Crowell's second suspension of some sort – the first for allegedly missing a class before the Vanderbilt game. He sat out the first quarter of that contest and Georgia didn't score. Malcome nearly left the program for good earlier this year, but returned to the team a day after leaving it.

Just at the moment the Bulldogs needed their top two running backs to continue to play well they are both out – as are their backups.

Will Branden Smith play a fair amount of running back Saturday? What about Brandon Boykin? My guess is that Brandon Harton will still get near 100 yards on the Aggies, but fans have to be scratching their heads on this one.

Two steps forward… one step back.

It never seems to be easy in Athens, but at least this didn't happen the week of the Florida game.

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