Followers of this column know I have to be careful in these situations – mayonnaise, cream cheese and other questionable condiments (all of which I despise) are not my friends around the holidays. They lurk in casseroles, slink around in dessert toppings and crash the twice-baked potato party.
But that's the beauty of Thanksgiving – you don't have to eat a little bit of everything because there's always enough of something else to get you through to the nap you're fixing to take. Turkey, dressing, green beans, mac and cheese – I stick the basics and manage just fine. I still get my calories up despite my lack of a well-rounded plate.
Speaking of partial greatness, running back Isaiah Crowell is 168 yards shy of hitting 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Only nine players have ever done such a thing at Georgia. With three games left, Isaiah could crack into this list…
Most rushing yards in season:
1. 1,891 - Herschel Walker - 1981
2. 1,752 – Herschel Walker – 1982
3. 1,616 – Herschel Walker – 1980
4. 1,594 – Garrison Hearst – 1992
5. 1,400 – Knowshon Moreno – 2008
6. 1,334 – Knowshon Moreno – 2007
7. 1,324 – Musa Smith – 2002
8. 1,312 - Willie McClendon – 1978
9. 1,216 – Tim Worley – 1988
10. 1,103 – Frank Sinkwich – 1941
A few things: Herschel Walker must have been some runner. Willie McClendon averaged 119.3 yards per game in '78 (11 games). The running back position hasn't been the same since Knowshon left school (in terms of stability, consistency, lack of arrest record, etc).
And creeping just below the above totals:
832 – Isaiah Crowell – 2011.
The difference between 832 and 1,100 is vast – there are many players muddling up the list between these two figures.
Gunter2011 asks: 1. Personally I thought IC was going to have a field day against UK, didn't go down quite as i expected...Will IC break 1000 yds this year?
I think he will – the kid has a lot of turkey and dressing to him – straight up talent.
Unfortunately he has a little bit of vegetable casserole to him, too – you're not quite sure what you're getting.
Crowell's toughness has come into question in the aftermath of the Kentucky game – Chris Burnette rolled up on Crowell's left ankle on the first offensive drive of the game. Crowell limped off the field and didn't return.
Some have questioned Crowell's heart. Everything has been analyzed – from the way he sat on the bench to his facial expressions when laying on the trainer's table.
I do think there were times this season when Crowell opened himself up to criticism. He has removed himself from games due to fatigue and also struggled with various nagging ailments (ribs, wrist, knee, the munchies). He's been suspended twice – once for a quarter against Vanderbilt and the entire New Mexico State game.
Crowell was legitimately injured in the Kentucky game – but as our old friend Dijana Kunovac put it to me earlier this week, it made for a "boy who cried wolf" moment. Most people immediately thought this was another bullet point in the ‘Isaiah Crowell is soft' movement because we've seen him raise his hand and head to the bench only to return two drives later and pile up stats.
Except against Kentucky he never came back.
What followed was a rash of message board posts about Crowell's mental and physical toughness, the need for Keith Marshall and the overall derision about the running back position since Knowshon left (Ealey, King, Thomas, Samuel, Malcome, Crowell all have had difficulties of their own).
And despite all the time missed, the kid is less than 200 yards away from being the 10th person to ever do something. Think about that… Think about being only the 10th person to ever do something in the history of people doing that something.
Ultimately, that's what's so frustrating about Isaiah Crowell. There is this great talent that, at times, has looked amazing, but to this point has bundled the awesome with a cause for hesitation.
Unlike the Thanksgiving spread, you can't just pass over what you don't like when it comes to college football players. But that doesn't mean things won't change for the better either.
Isaiah has been called a bust, selfish, soft and many other things this week. Looking at the stats, these tags are unwarranted for a true freshman still finding his way.
Player A: 162 carries, 717 yards, 4.4 average per carry
Player B: 126 carries, 890 yards, 7.1 average per carry
Player C: No carries, no yards.
Player D: 172 carries, 832 yards, 4.8 average per carry
Player A is Garrison Hearst in his freshman season (1990). Player B is Rodney Hampton in his initial campaign (1987). Player C is Knowshon Moreno, who redshirted his freshman year (2006). Player D is Isaiah this year.
Just to add a scoop of perspective to the plate.
With all that said… Ladies and gentlemen… Let's get it poppin'.
Georgia Tech enters the game ranked second nationally in rushing yards per game – over 320 per!
On the other hand, Georgia comes in ranked No. 2 in the nation in stopping the run – holding opponents to 81 yards per contest (or -23 if you're Florida).
Who will win this clash of the categorical titans?
SuwaneeDawg03 asks: The Dawgs run defense has stuffed most of the competition this year, however, how do they handle Tech's option attack?
Gunter2011 asks: 3. How well does our Run D favor against GT?
I wouldn't be surprised to see Georgia Tech rush for over 200 yards Saturday. But don't get caught up in the numbers – that would be a successful day for the Bulldogs.
Here are a few quick hitters to help aid against Georgia Tech's triple option:
Use your hands against cut blocking.
On the interior, blow it up.
On the edges, stay disciplined.
Play the next play. Thinking about the past is a bad habit.
John Jenkins says: You want to do your assignment. It's like a project for a class. You do your assignment and then everybody else does their assignment. Then everything comes together and you get the good grade, right? That's how you've got to treat it.
Third down is (always) going to be important. The Yellow Jackets are second in the nation with a 56 percent conversion rate on third down. Georgia is second in the SEC on third down defense, holding opponents to 28 percent on the pivotal down. The outcome of this battle will determine who wins the time of possession – Georgia leads the SEC (33:57 minutes per). Tech is is second in the ACC (31:51).
These stats are nothing more than a vicious circle right back where we started – two football teams trying to stop what the other is doing. I like Georgia to cover at -6.
Speaking of which…
Gunter2011: AR vs. LSU who wins it?
LSU will win and cover the double-digit spread. I think both LSU and Alabama are head and shoulders better than the Razorbacks. All flaky scalps aside, Alabama has already proven as much (a 38-14 beatdown). I think LSU will, too.
14dawgs47 asks: who do we play in which bowl.
what is our final standings.
I see wins over Tech and in the bowl game sandwiched by a tough loss in the SEC Championship game. Could be top 10 when all is said and done.
While we're on the subject for forecasting the future…
UGA4President says: I hate to ruin the surprise but I went back and checked Prediction Golf from the preseason sack and it looks like it may be an interesting day on the course. A few birdies, a few pars, and maybe a snowman. There are still some redemption holes though for a late Tiger-like charge.?
How many mulligans did we say, again?
SuwaneeDawg03 asks: Who hired the great Larry Munson back in 1966?
Then UGA athletics director -- Joel Eaves.
14dawgs47: Who will be this years malcome Mitchell.
I don't see a player at that level at his position at this time…
apple dawg asks: In 2012, whose seat will be hotter: Derek Dooley or Will Muschamp?
SuwaneeDawg03 asks: What is your favorite Georgia made product/food item?
Easy – Bill Elliott Beef Jerkey (and assorted gas station snack items!). Go for the Peppered, it's the best.
Kidding – has to be a fountain Coke at a Braves games. Nothing better.
Hardcorebubba asks: What are your thoughts on the following leaving early for the NFL is Jenkins, Jarvis Jones, Rambo, Charles, Murray, Geathers ? You can never rule out a chance for a geathers to jump to the NFL.
There are a couple factors working in the favor of those who would benefit from some of these guys coming back to school next season. Jones has answered any doubt about his neck injury that occurred when he was at USC – but it's still something in his past that could make NFL nervous about drafting (see Bowers, Da'Quan).
Also, Jones' sample size is only 11 games. That's not a lot to go off of – although he's played at a really high level in most of those games.
Murray compares in many ways to Colt McCoy – which means while he's an excellent quarterback, he'll most likely be a four-year player in college due to lack of prototypical size.
Here's how I would rank the underclassmen in terms of best chance to leave.
5. Sanders Commings – A darkhorse to turn pro, Commings has the size to be in an NFL secondary.
4. Kwame Geathers – Because, like you said, he's a Geathers. A big Geathers at that.
3. Bacarri Rambo – I told you so.
2. Jarvis Jones – Looks like he's getting better and still has room to grow.
1. Orson Charles – Top three in the nation at his position.
14dawgs47 asks: Can Jarvis start a trend of returning JR. I think thats what we need to get over hump.
He says he is… I know many, many players have done and said all the right things as they were heading out the door early to the professional ranks… But Jones seems sincere and everybody else around the program seems to think he'll be back. We'll see.
Albdawg asks: Is our RB recruiting coach just going through a very bad cycle in evaluating talent?
I'm not sure I follow – do you mean talent or judge of character. I could get behind a couple thousand words about the shortcomings of the running back position in terms of staying on the straight and narrow away from the football field.
But talent has never been the problem. Isaiah was the No. 1 back in the nation in the 2011 class. Keith Marshall is the top tailback in 2012. Ealey, King, Samuel, Thomas, Malcome – all were very well thought of coming out of high school. Injuries, suspensions, dismissals, etc. have been the issue.
Gunter2011 asks: Most dependable WR's in order from 1-5 going into next year.
In terms of being dependable (which is different than explosive, awesome, having a good fashion sense or being the best at Mario Cart), I'd rank them like this…
Again, that's not my overall ranking for the receivers – just the way I would classify them in terms of dependability (injuries, hands, work ethic, practice habits, etc).
Albdawg asks: If not Keith Marshall or Todd Gurley, is there anyone else we are looking at?
I don't have another name for you on this one. Those two seem to be the focus right now. Jovon Robinson was a back I think the staff really liked (he had an offer), but he committed to Auburn.
Korleone05 asks: Do you feel if Kirby Smart get a head coaching job it would help us with some recruits
It wouldn't hurt – but I think that would be an overrated side to the story if that happens. If Smart leaves, Saban will get a top-notch replacement and the scheme won't change because Saban is to that defense what Richt is to Georgia's offense.
Smart and Mike Bobo are very, very similar. Understudies to respected minds on their side of the ball, great recruiters and former Bulldogs. How cute… By the way, Kirby is at times a point of contention within the Crimson Tide fan base. And I've been told many in Alabama (including Saban himself) think very highly of Bobo. Sound familiar?
apple dawg asks: What's your favorite thing about Larry Munson that no one else is likely to mention? Mine is how much he hated the song Rocky Top.
I guess this has been included in many of the stories this week… But Munson, as a high school senior, played piano for 28 shows with Frank Sinatra way back in 1941.
Quite fitting, since Munson said it clear and stated his case and lived a life that was full, travelled each and every highway – and did it his way.
When do we know how Missouri will change our 2012 schedule?
I don't have a definite answer for you here – I would think they'll get this taken care of before the SEC coaches meetings in Destin in late May.
Which end of Bobby Dodd Stadium is east? (In case Tech schedules the Taliban, I'll need to know which way to pray.)
When in doubt, look toward the Varsity.
SuwaneeDawg03 asks: Do you think Munson's grim look at everything resonated so with Bulldog fans that it created 'half empty' generations of Dawg fans?
There could be something to that, and I've heard the theory before.
Vince Dooley says: "He's like a folk hero. He has that special style people love and relate to. I finally claimed him as one of the best after the '78 season. He just shot straight up. But I'd come out of the hotel on Saturday mornings rested after a good night's sleep, feeling good about the game and run into Munson and he'd say, 'You see how fast their receivers are, how we going to run with them?' I'd say, 'Munson get away from me.' The man is a worrier. He drove me crazy as a coach."
UGA4President asks: If you could spend Turkey Day with any of the coaches, who are you picking?
Well it couldn't be Bobo – way too many kids over there. The answer is pretty simple – Rodney Garner and his wife Kim have a throwdown at their house. The Garners have become Thansgiving legends. They cook for any and all… If a player can't make it back to his family, they head to Rodney's. The whole thing has grown and grown over the years.
SuwaneeDawg03 asks: What have you been most thankful for during the 2011 season?
Let's do a Twitter thanks-fest:
Noon start times -- #ihatedeadlines.
Only tough road trip was Ole Miss -- #neutralsitegames
Playing darts in Chattanooga with Wes -- #bullseye
Crisp times on a Friday night in Nashville -- #livebandsmakeitbetter
Having a drink at Esso's in Clemson during the bye week -- #igetaround
Most importantly – meeting different, inspiring and humbling people while putting together stories on Rajaan Bennett, Will Muschamp, Jon Richt and others -- #perspective
And of course, hanging out with you guys on a daily basis on the boards, Twitter and here in the Discussion -- #dawgpostfam
No1DawgFan asks: Just curious. Does Dean ever smile? If so what makes him smile? Have you ever seen him laugh? come on Fletch spill the beans.....is he missing a tooth? Nah then he would have to report on Tennessee!
You're right, I'm making this the Question of the Week… I've seen happier people dredged – dead and bloated – out of rivers.
Your Heath Ledger Joker t-shirt – ‘Why So Serious' – will be in the mail. Use precaution when mixing shirt with prescription medicine… Too soon?
Tdperk asks: here we are at the beginning of the holiday season. Claxton, Georgia is the fruitcake capital of the world. do you buy or sell on fruit cake?
I do not eat fruitcake, but I'm not sure why. I just haven't ever given it a try. Maybe I need to get down to Claxton. Or up to Claxton. Where is Claxton? If I ever eat fruitcake, it will be from Claxton.
With that, I'm hitting the back door and getting out of here.
Turn out the lights boys, the party's over… We outta here baby… Thank y'all for coming.