September 13, 2011

Crowell's first start at hand

News that he would be starting the first game of his collegiate career Saturday against Coastal Carolina barely seemed to register with freshman running back Isaiah Crowell.

"It's not really a big deal to me," Crowell shrugged after practice Tuesday. "It's just another game. I'm going to go out and try to help my team win."

Word that he was set to start ahead of junior Richard Samuel broke earlier in the day when head coach Mark Richt made the announcement during his weekly press conference.

The decision certainly comes as no surprise.

After rushing for 60 yards in the opener against Boise State, Crowell enjoyed the breakout game Bulldog fans had been expecting when he scampered for 118 yards on 16 carries and scored his first two touchdowns in Georgia's 45-42 loss to South Carolina.

"I think he's done pretty well. I think he's learned a lot. It's just so hard to explain to a guy what it's going to be like until they just start doing it. Now he's been in the Georgia Dome and had that experience and had a Southeastern Conference experience in a game that he could tell that one play can make the difference," Richt said. "I think he understands a lot more about what it takes, and I think he's even more motivated to work even harder in practice and to make sure he takes care of every little detail. Not to say that he wasn't, but he's a freshman, and until you play in an SEC game like that you don't get it fully. I saw more urgency on his part even in yesterday's practice. He seems excited about what the future holds. Right now we do have him slated as the starter for this week."

But although he may be excited inward, outside he's not letting his feelings show.

He's certainly not going to get the big-head. His mother Debbie Crowell wouldn't have it any other way.

"My mom tells me to act like I've done it before," he said. "I don't think it's a big deal. All I do is play football."

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Crowell has gotten better every week since the start of preseason camp.

"He got better every time we had a scrimmage, and like I said before the first game, I feel he's going to be a very special player for us," Bobo said. "If he stays healthy and works hard and that's continued every week. You see a guy that's continued to progress and see a guy who has bought into the way Coach Richt wants things done."

Crowell said he's still got plenty of lessons to learn.

There's the fumble he had against South Carolina to set up a Gamecock touchdown. But despite the miscue Crowell said he hasn't let the mistake bother him.

He also said he's learning to play with pain.

As a high school phenom, Crowell didn't take too many shot like the one in the second quarter against South Carolina that resulted in sore ribs and shortness of breath he said kept him from going more than two consecutive plays the rest of the first half.

"I think I did well. I still need to work on my wind, if I get more carries. The fumble - I've got to work on my packet. It happens," said Crowell, who wasn't sure at what point in the second quarter he took the hit that made it tough for him to get his breath.

By the second half, Crowell said there were no problems and won't be any in Saturday's game against Coastal Carolina.

"I just played through it," he said. "I'll be all right."

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