Georgia Bulldog Running Back Richard Samuel Has Yet To Meet Expectations

Kimberley NashSenior Writer IOctober 14, 2009

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 03:  Richard Samuel #22 of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Sanford Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There has been some chatter over the last few weeks about possibly moving Georgia running back, Richard Samuel, over to linebacker.

Many feel that he simply doesn't have the knack for the tailback position and, honestly, his numbers support their claims. On the season, Samuel has a total of 317 net rushing yards on 71 carries; that works out to a 4.46 yards per carry average.

That's not bad, right? Well, take away the 80-yard scamper he had against Arkansas in game three and his yards per carry drops to 3.38 per carry. Not bad, but it's certainly not the type of production we were looking for out of Samuel based on his progress in the spring.

His last three appearances have ended in total net gains of 25, 11, and 25 yards respectively. He has been a non-factor in all of those games—benched in favor of freshman players like Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas.

From the perspective of some fans, he needs a change of scenery. Better yet, a change of position. He played linebacker in high school and does have a bit of a nose for defense. That said, it would be a mistake to move him over based solely on a few mediocre performances this season.

For one, there haven't really been any standout performances in the Georgia run game this year.

Washaun Ealey showed flashes of brilliance against LSU but then fell flat against Tennessee the following week (10 carries, 18 yards).

Caleb King has been good here and there but can't stay healthy long enough to really be a dependable option.

Carlton Thomas is good in space but he's a liability when forced to run between the tackles. His small frame and lack of muscle mass leaves him open to injury and he's definitely not the guy you want out there in pass protection.

Which leads us back to Samuel, who, at 6'2", 222 pounds, not only has the size that you love to see in a back but also has the speed, durability, and technique to suit the Georgia run game.

His main roadblock to success right now is his inability to get yards after contact. He goes down a bit too quickly for a guy his size and needs to work on moving the pile along to pick up those crucial "hard yards" that his team needs to extend a drive.

That said, his success this season, can be laid somewhat at the feet of an ineffective and inconsistent offensive line—the guys up front simply haven't gotten the job done and the only game where Georgia seemed to have any success was against Arkansas.

Other than that, the running backs have found it difficult to make anything out of the gaps, lanes, and spaces being created by our guys up front.

We have too many deficiencies in other aspects of our offensive gameplan to be able to say with any confidence that any our guys are truly busts at this point.

Moving Richard Samuel to linebacker solves nothing. All it does is take a talented running back and force him to play a position that he, may not be any better suited to play.

As it stands, Richard Samuel is a talented running back who needs time to develop his technique. He's an upright runner and by choosing to approach the line of scrimmage in that manner, he exposes his upper body to a lot of needless hits—thereby stopping him from getting the leg drive needed to gain positive yards.

He's a strong guy that needs to learn how to lower his shoulders so that he is better able to get the lean he needs to power his way through tackles as opposed to getting stood up and pushed back behind the line of scrimmage for losses.

That is something that can be taught. After all, Samuel is only 18-years-old. He hasn't learned how to be a good runner yet—none of these guys really have and that falls squarely on the shoulders of the new running backs coach, Bryan McClendon.

Samuel needs time, training, and experience to get better. A more focused offensive gameplan and better coaching wouldn't hurt either—but a position switch is definitely not the answer.

It's just too early to give up on him.