Jul 13, 2010

Georgia Returning EVERY Rushing Yard in 2010: What does it mean?

Could it be that an area Georgia struggled in during the early parts of 2009 could be its strength in the 2010 season?

While it's hard to not notice that Georgia's offense returns nearly everyone from last year (except for the quarterback), most may not realize what UGA has that's special in the running game. Out of all 12 SEC teams, Georgia is the only team that doesn't lose a single yard of production in rushing. If you count the loss of Joe Cox, well, that actually gives us an extra 28 yards. If you want to get picky and mention the "loss" of Richard Samuel as a convert to linebacker and take away his 395 rushing yards of contribution, then shame on you. Richard Samuel is still on the team, and I see his running ability as still a potential weapon (or backup, if needed).

Georgia's returning of virtually ALL rushing experience is pretty significant. Many teams go for long stretches over many years without having a 100% yardage return in rushing. So let's take a look back at previous years in Georgia rushing experience.

2008-2009: Going into the 2009 season, Georgia lost Knowshon Moreno, possibly the biggest blow to the UGA running game since the loss of Herschel Walker. Moreno ALONE accounted for 72.6% of UGA's total rushing yards in 2008, and 76% of UGA's rushing touchdowns. Needless to say, it's never good to lose any player that accounts for that much of your offensive production. This loss showed in 2009, and likely contributed to some (if not all of) the five game losses that followed.

2007-2008: After the 2007 season, Georgia lost Thomas Brown (34% of yards, 31% scoring), and an injured Kregg Lumpkin. Although Moreno had already appeared as a star earlier in the season, Brown was a very important part of the running game, and responsible for a large part of production. In 2008, Georgia has three disappointing losses, a step down from 2007.

2006-2007: Georgia loses Danny Ware, who was responsible for 19.7% of rushing yards. Not a huge loss production-wise, and Georgia has a spectacular 2007 season.

2005-2006: UGA loses QB D.J. Shockley (15% of yards, 25% scoring). This isn't only a blow to the running game, but also the entire offense. Georgia struggles in 2006.

2004-2005: Georgia loses virtually nothing in the running game, except for a total of 57 yards from some backups, and goes on to win the SEC Championship in 2005.

In recent years, UGA squads that lost very little in the running game did very well the following year, while teams that lost a significant portion didn't have as much luck.

I can't find stats that go back far enough to determine when the last time was that Georgia didn't lose a SINGLE yard or touchdown in the running game. It quite possibly could have never happened before. But we're looking at that now, going into 2010. Will they make it count?

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