ATHENS — Remember when Georgia’s tailback depth looked like a wealth of riches? Remember when the Bulldogs could simply rotate from one former 5-star prospect to another and then to another?
Well, that’s not the case anymore. In fact, as the Bulldogs prepare for the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl and a matchup against Penn State, Georgia is looking precariously thin at its marquee position.
One of their primary backups, junior Brendan Douglas, was not in attendance at practice on Sunday. There are unconfirmed reports that Douglas suffered an injury recently. His brother, Dennis Douglas, tweeted on Saturday that Douglas’ surgery went well. And someone with knowledge of the situation said Sunday Douglas won’t likely be with the team in Jacksonvile.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, star sophomore Sony Michel remains healthy and in play. But that leaves only Keith Marshall to spell Michel. And while Marshall has proven effective this season — he has averaged 5.3 yards and scored 3 touchdowns on 54 carries — it’s unclear how much the Bulldogs will be willing to utilize him in a second-tier bowl game.
Though only a junior in eligibility, Marshall has already graduated from UGA and announced his plans to move on to test the professional waters. Marshall has continued to be affected by a knee injury that sidelined him for the most of the 2013 and ’14 seasons.
It would be understandable if the Bulldogs handled Marshall cautiously for the bowl game for fear of jeopardizing his future. But Marshall said last week he doesn’t plan on being careful.
“Nah, that’s when you get hurt,” he said. “When you start worrying about getting hurt, that’s when you get hurt. So I’m just practicing and playing the same way I always do.”
Georgia lost its star tailback, Nick Chubb, to a knee injury on the first play of the Tennessee game on Oct. 10. He was averaging 149.4 yards per game. Michel has averaged 114.3 yards in the seven games since taking over as starter. He has 1,076 yards rushing on the season.
Douglas, a 5-11, 215-pound junior from Augusta, has been a short-yardage and pass-protection specialist for the Bulldogs. He had 345 yards and 3 TDs rushing as a freshman and finished this season with 140 yards on 36 carries. Including 18 receptions, has has 715 total yards and six touchdowns in his career. Douglas is also a major contributor on special teams.
The Bulldogs’ other options at tailback include fullback Quayvon Hicks, who has had four carries this season, and sophomore A.J. Turman, who has none.