ATHENS — Georgia second-year tailback Kendall Milton could be excused if he took time to watch some of his highlight runs last season, as impressive and inspiring as they were.
Whether it was the time Milton ran over an Auburn defensive lineman, or the play he broke seven tackles in one play against Tennessee, his star power was obvious to all.
“I watch a lot of film from last season and try to keep focusing on the weaknesses,” Milton explained.
I’ve been trying to raise my game with the pass pro and trying to fill in all the gaps I felt I lacked over the years and didn’t get too much practice in,” he said. “I feel a lot of weaknesses that I had, I put a lot of work in the offseason, done a lot of things to turn those weaknesses into strengths.
“I feel like this offseason, I’ve been able to flip the script a little bit.”
Milton dealt with a hamstring injury last fall and a sprained knee late in the season. But a strong offseason in the weight room has Milton primed for a considerably larger role in 2021 that will likely qualify as a breakout.
Milton has been the most effective runner in the first two scrimmages, per every spectator who has reported on the first two scrimmages.
Coach Kirby Smart singled out Milton for praise in the short-yardage run game and included him in the positive steps UGA backs have taken in pass protection.
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“I thought Kendall (Milton) did a really nice job today with some physical runs,” Smart said after Scrimmage Two last Saturday. “We had a couple third-and-shorts or fourth-and-shorts that he was able to convert as a big back and do some things.
“They are all working really hard on their protection.That is one of the areas that we have really targeted this spring, in terms of pass protection and pick-ups,” Smart said.
“A lot of people want to come after JT (Daniels) and be aggressive and blitz and do things, but we are going to ask for people to really pay for that. The way to make people pay is to block it and pick it up. but I am pleased with what those guys have done.”
Milton was an early enrollee last year, but when spring practice was cancelled on account of COVID he wasn’t able to get the valuable reps incoming backs need to adjust to pass protecting and route running at the collegiate level.
Milton’s elite running skills — his vision, burst, leg drive and balance — have been evident from his first carry.
But now with a year under his belt and the confidence of his coaches, Milton appears poised for a big season even with UGA shifting into a more pass-heavy Air Raid attack.
“This is Georgia, it’s RBU, so I feel the run game will always play a part in the offense,” Milton said. “But we’re an offense with a lot of weapons all over the field, and everybody wants to get the ball. So you have to fit the scheme where it benefits everybody,”
Handing off the ball to Milton will benefit Georgia, to the extent he could go from being the only scholarship running back on the team not to score a touchdown last year, to the team leader in rushing touchdowns this season.
“One thing I’ve kept in mind, everybody has their time,” Mitlon said. “. God has the time for everything to happen. When it’s my time to cross that end zone, then it’s my time.
“Until then, I’ll keep working every day and trying to be the best I can be.”
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