Georgia Football: Grading Isaiah Crowell's First Game
Hard Knocks 101.
That’s the class Georgia’s freshman running back, Isaiah Crowell, checked into last night in the Georgia Dome.
In hindsight, the curriculum for this opening game didn’t seem too difficult for Crowell’s debut.
A flashy quarterback named Kellen Moore from the Mountain West conference leading his team of nearly 30 pounds lighter (average) into the hostile territory was something Crowell, his teammates and coaches thought they were prepared to handle. But the Broncos dominated the game 35-21 at the Georgia Dome.
The dazzle of the dome, the pomp of college pregame festivities and the hype leading up to the Chick-Fil-a-Kickoff Classic would create the perfect podium for this 5-star recruit to transition into a promising college football career.
By all standards, this would be a big night for a guy who was just a few months out of high school with a stellar career that earned him a scholarship to the University of Georgia and many offers from other major universities, including Alabama.
So how did he score in his first college game?
The grades are posted.
Georgia's Isaiah Crowell: Ranking His Ability
As one of Georgia’s elite “dream-team” recruits from Carver High School in Columbus, Crowell’s followers had dreamy expectations that this game would reveal a talent that could carry the Bulldogs back into the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship, representing the top of the Eastern Division. It's not too late for those dreams to come true.
Could Crowell be a game changer like South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore who unanimously earned the title of SEC Freshman of the Year and led the Gamecocks last year with 1,197 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns on 249 carries?
Could he stack up numbers like Lattimore did this past weekend when he rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns in South Carolina’s 56-37 victory over East Carolina?
In the end, after a hard-fought but failed effort to win by the Bulldogs, Georgia was beaten by Boise State, as Crowell was cast into the sobering limelight of college football with 60 yards in 15 carries (an average of four yards per carry)...not so bad for this dog who had the most yards of any of Georgia’s backs.
But, Crowell has yet to really show his teeth, and the true test of his character will come this weekend in Athens when the Dawgs meet the Gamecocks on Saturday.
For now, it’s time to cipher. Did this former 5-star recruit make the grade in his first game or did he help lead the pack into the Dawg house?
Grading Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell: Speed
It was early in the first quarter when the Georgia team’s great hope entered the game, first as a decoy for a quick pass from QB Aaron Murray to Marlin Brown for a gain of five yards. But on the next snap, his first touch of the ball was at 2nd-and-6 when Murray handed off the ball to Crowell for a two-yard loss.
From the stands, it appeared that he slipped in his new Nike cleats, but it was confirmed on the replay as an unfortunate tangle with his teammate. Regardless of the reason, it wasn’t a very glamorous way to start the night.
His second carry with 5:50 left in the first quarter showed a two-yard gain and was followed by short bursts of clock eating gains of five and then six yards. Throughout the series, Crowell showed the quickness and maneuverability of a quarter horse.
But, Boise State’s defensive Broncos left little room in the ranch for Crowell, who ran into blue and white trouble early on while trying to find holes.
Georgia’s Crowell: His Blocking Chart
Isaiah Crowell’s noticeable inexperience came early in the game when, oh yeah, he missed a key block in the second quarter that cost Georgia the ball. It was a mistake that would not be repeated in this game as running back Richard Samuel gave him a few pointers on the sideline.
That mistake can be chalked up to inexperience and perhaps, opening game jitters. His momentary lapse gets him a D- for the missed and costly block, but predictions are that he’ll learn from this mistake and take out a Gamecock or two this weekend, gaining enough yards to make up for lost time in the opener.
Isaiah Crowell: Grading His Endurance
Averaging 3.4 in 10 carries for 34 yards in the first half, Crowell seemed poised for action when the second half started. His short bursts came from the I-formation, but when Boise State pulled past the Bulldogs by two touchdowns, Crowell’s talents were switched off for a Georgia passing game.
In the third quarter, Crowell ran 12 yards to midfield, but when penalties resurfaced and from 3rd-and-16, he drove for a speedy nine yards that eventually contributed to a touchdown.
His third quarter drives give him a B+ for endurance, although for his first game, his playing time was reduced by the dominant Boise offense. He did all he could under the circumstances.
Georgia’s Crowell: Can He Match Up to Marcus Lattimore?
Can Isaiah Crowell elude the South Carolina Gamecocks’ defense this weekend? Could his versatility be the key to a Georgia win in Athens? Will he steal the limelight from the Gamecocks’ headliner, Lattimore?
Fresh off a big win against East Carolina led by Gamecocks’ fifth-year quarterback, Stephen Garcia, the odds are, Crowell will be stopped by a dependable SC defense. And if the past Saturday’s performance is any indication, the answer is no. Isaiah Crowell's breakout game will have to come another day.
Crowell’s talents and versatility are limited by his team’s performance. Superior play-calling would also help him prove his efficiency. In other words, Crowell can’t win the game alone. With Spurrier declaring that his team will be an improved team by this weekend, Crowell will depend on a motivated Bulldog offensive line to open up the holes for potential breakouts.
That grade is yet to come.