November 1, 2011

Who will step up?

Brandon Harton, Kyle Karemeplis, come on down - you're the next contestants at running back for the Georgia Bulldogs in Saturday afternoon's game against New Mexico State.

The two youngsters - Harton a sophomore former walk-on and Karemplis a true freshman walk-on - are being thrust into the limelight for the Bulldogs following Tuesday's suspension of Isaiah Crowell, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome for what the school is saying is a "violation of team rules," although sources tell UGASports that the trio allegedly failed a random drug test.

"We've got to find ways to move the ball. Other guys have to step up and make plays. I feel confident in those two guys," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "(Zander) Ogletree, the backs and tight ends that we've got … there are a number of things we can do to move the ball."

Bobo also mentioned Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith possibly getting some backfield looks, along with freshmen defensive backs Nick Marshall and Damian Swann.

"There are a lot of guys who could be possibilities," Bobo said.

Still, Karempelis and Harton figures to get most of the carries.

An all-state selection as a senior at Wesleyan, the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Karempelis surpassed the 5,000-yard mark during his high school career and is sixth in Georgia high school football history for career touchdowns.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him run," Bobo said of Karempelis, who has yet to appear in a game. "He looks good. He's shown some flashes in camp, he's been on the scout team mostly, but today he got out there and ran behind those big boys, and they did a good job opening up holes for him."

Harton, who has appeared in one game for the Bulldogs, rushing 11 times for 33 yards in Georgia's 59-0 win over Coastal Carolina, was a former track star at Tattnall County High, was moved from defensive back to running back prior to spring where he impressed coaches with his quickness and speed.

"He had a good camp. He probably would have played some early but he had a sprained ankle before the first game," Bobo said. "He was actually No. 3 behind Richard (Samuel) and Isaiah until he got a severely sprained ankle; we were planning on playing him, but it set him back a few weeks and he got behind."

Offensive line coach Will Friend said his group will block for whoever lines up.

"One thing about linemen, once they hear the play, about half the time they don't know who's getting the ball anyway," Friend said. "We're just trying to get our group ready so that's what we're trying to get done."

Bobo declined any comment on Crowell, Thomas and Malcome, including sourced stories regarding the trio allegedly failing a drug test.

"Not going to comment on that, any comments on that you're going to have to get from Coach (Mark) Richt," he said.

Despite the absences, Bobo said he and the rest of the offensive staff will come up with a plan.

"There will be certain things that we won't be able to do, but we've got to find out who our best personnel is and get them on the field. That's what we're in the process of doing now," he said. "We're still going to have to do things we do within our offense at the running back position all year, know what we're doing. There might be some different things we do to get guys the football."

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