September 11, 2011

Crowell makes his mark

The final score notwithstanding, Georgia fans can at least take solace when it comes to the hype that's surrounded freshman running back Isaiah Crowell.

He appears to be the real deal.

Despite a first-quarter rib injury, Crowell gave the Bulldog Nation its first glimpse of what is expected to come as he accounted for 148 total yards with two touchdowns in Saturday's 45-42 loss to South Carolina.

"I think I performed well," said Crowell, who had 16 carries for 118 yards. "I still made some mistakes, but overall I think I did OK."

With Georgia trailing 14-13, Crowell put the Bulldogs ahead with 6:09 to play in the third quarter when he took a screen pass from quarterback Aaron Murray and turned it into a 17-yard touchdown for his first collegiate score.

Midway through the fourth, Crowell tallied his first rushing score when he dashed in from 15 yards to put the Bulldogs ahead 35-31 before the Gamecocks came back to win the game.

"It (losing) is tough. I hate to lose, but you've got to deal with it," Crowell said. "You win some, you lose some. You've just got to come out next week and get ready to work."

Had it not been for rib injury he suffered in the first half, Crowell's numbers may have been even better and the outcome, perhaps different as well.

Instead, the injury kept the former Carver standout from taking more than two reps at a time, much to the chagrin of head coach Mark Richt.

"Isaiah is a dynamic player, I really believe that. But Isaiah very early in the game got busted up in the ribs pretty good. He was having trouble breathing and really having trouble going more than two plays in a row," Richt said. "If you were watching what we were seeing, we wanted him to stay but he was raising his hand wanting to come out. He didn't quit; he wasn't saying I'm done. He was doing the best he could."

Crowell was able to keep his wind much better in the second half.

"At the half we talked a little bit about what was at stake, just to see if he could go or not go," Richt said. "I told him the pain in his ribs was one thing, but the pain of not wining this ball game was going to be different, especially if you don't finish. But he finished, showed some toughness in being able to do that. He's got some good stuff."

The only real blemish to Crowell's afternoon came late in the third quarter when he fumbled a handoff from Murray. On the play, cornerback Stephon Gilmore picked up the miscue before scooting 56 yards to set up an 8-yard touchdown run by quarterback Stephen Garcia.

"The ball hit the bottom of my hand," Crowell said. "I just had to forget about it and move on."

Unlike some coaches, Richt and the Bulldog offensive assistants didn't sit Crowell after the mistake, instead inserting him right back into the game during Georgia's ensuing offensive possession.

"I knew they trusted me," Crowell said. "I told them it wasn't going to happen again. It was a mistake on my part. I should have just made a better package. I don't do it (fumble) too much."

Crowell also caught two passes for 40 yards, both on screens from Murray.

"I knew (Jadeveon) Clowney doesn't like to stand around and I knew he liked to rush hard, so we thought some (screens) would work," he said. "I thought it would work and it did."

He still thinks he can get better.

"No question," he said. "I had the fumble and couple of other mistakes, but I'll go back and look at what I did wrong and learn from it. I'll get better."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]