Out of nowhere, Danny Ware stepped to the forefront soon after Lumpkin's injury. He is new, but he has looked sharp this fall. Ware was likely going to see time at fullback until Jeremy Thomas returned from suspension. With Lumpkin gone, Ware concentrated full time on tailback.
At one point during fall camp, however, Richt was nervous Ware was pushing it too hard. Richt said Ware was struggling with a hamstring injury at the start of camp.
"Early on he was getting some tight hamstrings," said Richt. The same injury prevented Lumpkin from playing in the first game of last season. Richt was concerned. He knew that Ware was the Bulldogs' best option at tailback, and he didn't want the freshman to miss any games.
"But then somehow it just kind of worked its way out. There came a day where I thought about just resting him, but he said he felt good, and all of the sudden the hamstring got better," said Richt.
Ware did not qualify academically in 2003. He went to Hargrave to play prep football. After he graduated from there, he arrived in Athens just in time to practice with the team for the Capital One Bowl. He said he is ready to finally play in Sanford Stadium.
"I will be prepared as I can possibly be," he said. With no prior playing experience, Ware is entering the season as a bit of an enigma. Georgia has never started the season with a freshman starting at running back ever. "I've got butter flies out of this world," said Ware of this weekend's game. "I am just wondering how the fans are going to react to everything," he said.
"It's not like he is your average true freshman," said Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt. "He came in early and was with us during bowl practice, during spring, and then during summer workouts."
But Ware was an afterthought in those practices in the spring. He, A.J. Bryant, and Blake Barnes all enrolled early, though none of them were expected to be a big factor in the 2004 season. Now Bryant and Ware will figure in the fortunes of the 2004 Bulldog season.
The Bulldogs open their schedule against Division I-AA Georgia Southern on Saturday. "I'm not taking them lighting," said Ware of the Eagles. "I am hoping offensive line will play well. I think that they are going to open up big holes all day long. I am confident they can do that," said Ware.
If they do, Georgia fans will finally see what the big deal is all about with Ware.