April 3, 2009

McClendon believes backs are on track

Nobody, much less Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon, have said that replacing somebody the likes of Knowshon Moreno was going to be easy.

After all, Moreno established himself as not as one of the top players in the SEC, but one of the top backs in the country and a sure-fire first-round pick in April's NFL Draft.

But so far, McClendon likes what he sees.

Although redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas has received many of the kudos from teammates and coaches for his ability to make things happen in space, McClendon said that Caleb King has done everything that he has asked of him, everything from getting himself in better shape to his pass protection.

"The biggest thing, like I mentioned earlier, is just them (Thomas and King) knowing what to do and being confident in what to do, and being able to identify who we may declare and who is responsible for who," McClendon said. "That's been the biggest thing to help those guys. There's always things you could do as far as technical stuff but those guys have come a long way and they're just going to continue to get better."

Georgia's first scrimmage of the spring last Monday produced some favorable results.

Walk-on Kalvin Daniels led all rushers with nine carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns, with Thomas getting eight totes for 26 yards and King 6-for-32. Daniels tallied a pair of touchdowns with Thomas and King one each.

"Kalvin had a real good scrimmage. The numbers may be a little skewed when it comes to that. He got a few more snaps because had Carlton and Caleb were splitting the reps with the ones while Kalvin got all the reps with the twos," McClendon said. "But he ran hard, he finished off the runs real well as did the other guys. There were not a lot of missed assignments which was a real bright spot for me because that lets me know they do listen to me in the meetings. There's still plenty of work to be done but really impressed with how those guys played."

Getting Dontavius Jackson back in the fold a bit earlier than expected has also been huge fact for McClendon, although the first-year running backs coach said he's not going to push the redshirt freshman to fast, either.

Jackson underwent arthroscopic micro-fracture surgery back in January and doesn't want to damage the progress that's already been made.

"The biggest reason I'm excited to get him back is for him so he can get back in the swing of things and not feel like he's left out, but we're still not ready to let him go ahead and jump in the mix with the rest of the guys," McClendon said. "But he's out there he's feeling a little more comfortable and he's starting to jump in a little bit more and me having to hold him back saying 'No, you're not going to do this right now.' I'm excited for him to get back."

As for Richard Samuel, who definitely won't see action this spring while recovering from wrist surgery back in January, the sophomore continues to play a big role even if he's not actually able to be on the field.

"Richard is one of those guys who always wants to be out there and keeping up with what's going on, especially in the meetings," McClendon said. "He continues to ask questions and he continues to be bright-eyed in the meeting and wanting to get reps. We include Richard just as much as we can. My biggest fear is I don't do something that's going to set him back any more so we've got to be smart."

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