They were running against a second-team defense in a closed scrimmage on an August weekday morning in Sanford Stadium, not playing a real game on a fall Saturday between the hedges on national TV.
Still, Georgia coach Mark Richt liked what he saw from tailbacks Isaiah Crowell and Richard Samuel, who combined to rush for 166 yards and an average of nearly 7 yards per carry Wednesday in the team’s first preseason scrimmage.
“I thought they ran very well,” Richt said while mentioning the duo had more space provided than the second-team backs did. “You saw just about every type of run though, meaning there were times when there wasn’t a lot there and they had to stick it in there and knock the pile back and get some yards after contact. There were times when they had space and they were able to make a couple people miss out in the open area.”
Crowell, the heralded freshman from Columbus, ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Samuel, who moved back from linebacker, went for 82 yards on 11 carries, but had a fumble, according to statistics provided by Richt.
“Probably their best days each,” quarterback Aaron Murray. “I’m very happy with how far they’ve come, especially having Richard not playing a couple of years and this is Isaiah’s first camp.”
Crowell and Samuel went up against a No. 2 unit that did include junior-college nose guard transfer John Jenkins.
“I do feel better about how I think we’ll be able to run the football because of the backs, and I think the line did a pretty good job,” Richt said.
Take away the first-team running game and Georgia’s defense pretty much had its way with the Bulldogs’ offense, based on most accounts.
Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones had six tackles and three sacks, freshman inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera accounted for seven tackles and returned Samuel’s fumble 65 yards for a touchdown and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree had eight tackles.
Murray did not throw a touchdown or an interception, going 9 of 15 for 100 yards.
“I think Aaron had a good day, but not a great day,” Richt said mentioning a missed open receiver and a time or two when Murray scrambled when he should have made a throw. “It was not his sharpest practice.”
The only touchdown catch came from walk-on Taylor Bradberry on a 20-yard strike from backup Hutson Mason, who completed 5 of 19 passes for 59 yards.
Richt said the offense had “very little success” in the first half.
Center Ben Jones said the defense “played well all day.”
Cornerback Sanders Commings agreed.
“Before we went out to the scrimmage, we pretty much made up our minds that we were going to dominate today,” Commings said. “I think for the most part we did.”
“We came out pretty slow offensively,” receiver Tavarres King said. “I know if we’re going to be an effective team and a team to be messing with in this conference, we’re going to have to be hitting the ground running from the get-go.”
Richt reported no injuries. The team will hold its ninth preseason practice this morning.