One of the reasons the Georgia Bulldogs struggled last year was the fact the injury bug bit them hard, which led to younger players having to play more than originally planned.
The Bulldogs were hoping this season would be different, but it doesn’t look like that will happen because they already lost a key player for the rest of the season.
Fullback Merritt Hall was medically disqualified, according to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This means not only he will miss the entire 2014 season, but his career as a Bulldog will more than likely come to an end.
The fullback position is not what it used to be. More teams are using one-back formations instead of the traditional formations, which include a fullback and a tailback.
That is not the case for the Bulldogs. Todd Gurley has been successful the last two seasons because Hall has been there to open holes for him. So the question that has to be asked is how does the offense move on without a key piece to their running game?
Hall has played in 25 games the last two seasons and has started seven of them. He only had three carries for nine yards during that span, but he was known for his blocking abilities and creating holes for Gurley and Keith Marshall.
During the scrimmage on Saturday, Marshall was working with the first-team offense and that was the last time he would practice with the team before being sidelined the next three days. So the Bulldogs will have to find a replacement for Hall as quickly as possible.
One of the moves the Bulldogs made was adding Detric Bing-Dukes to the unit. Bing-Dukes is also a linebacker. He will bounce back and forth with both positions, but because the linebacker position is crowded, he will likely see more action as fullback. However, he will have to catch up with the rest of the fullbacks that know the offense.
Another option is Taylor Maxey, who is a fifth-year senior walk-on. Maxey moved to fullback last year after spending the majority of his career as a linebacker. He only played in one game as linebacker, which was in 2012 against Georgia Southern. Maxey and Bing-Dukes both saw reps with the first-team offense during practice on Wednesday.
Then another option, and probably the best option, would be Quayvon Hicks, who is now a tight end/H-Back. There are no plans to move Hicks to fullback, but if Bing-Dukes and Maxey don’t pan out, and Hicks is not getting time at his new position, it would be wise to move him back because he knows the position and he is a better runner than Hall.
It will be interesting what the Bulldogs will do moving forward. They have their options, but not having Hall there to have Gurley and Marshall’s back will not be the same, and the Bulldogs need to make the right choice in order for the running game to be elite in 2014.