Boise State's path to defeating the Georgia Bulldogs may have just gotten easier. CBS' Bryan Fischer is reporting that starting Georgia running back Caleb King has been ruled academically ineligible and will miss the entire 2011 season. This is the second Georgia running back to not be part of the 2011 team. Washaun Ealey transferred from Georgia back in early May and that now leaves the Bulldogs without their top two leading rushers from 2010.
In 2010, King rushed for 430 yards and Ealey rushed for 811 yards while the two combined for 13 touchdowns; 11 for Ealey and two for King. That means Georgia must find a way to replace 1,241 yards and 13 touchdowns from a true freshman In Isiah Crowell and a Carlton Thomas who rushed for 272 yards in 2010.
Fair or not, all the attention for Georgia comes down to Isiah Crowell who was expected to compete for the starting job even with King and Ealey in the backfield. Now, Crowell has all the pressure in the world and will be expected by Georgia fans to come in and do what South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore did last year. Regardless of the hype, it is unfair to think that Crowell can replicate what Lattimore did in his true freshman year where he was third in the SEC in rushing with 1,197 and 17 touchdowns.
The silver lining, if there is one (and there likely is not), is that most of the 2011 SEC freshmen honors are apt to be awarded to Georgia players. It is to be hoped that this will steel those underclassmen to be champions once they have adequate experience to help them maximize their abilities. Unless Isaiah Crowell lives up to the selfsame hype that Washaun Ealey and Caleb King did not, though, the Bulldogs' chances of winning much of anything this year are, like the last day of my vacation, gone with the wind.
Bringing this back full circle to how this affects the Boise State vs. Georgia game. Well, Boise State's defensive line is going to be good with Billy Winn and Shea Mclellin leading the way. Even with an experienced backfield that Georgia was expected to have, they would not have been able to just run over the Boise State defense. Now, there are two inexperienced backs getting their first division one experience against a stout defense.
Also, the Georgia running game was to be a strength due to the loss of All-American wide receiver A.J. Green, so there will be more added pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray. Georgia must establish a running game of some sort just so that they do not become one-dimensional.
Even without KIng, Georgia will be tough to beat, but it does make the game a bit easier for Boise State to win this game.
Just throwing this out there, but please Georgia fans if you do happen to lose to Boise please do not provide excuses that you lost your top two backs. Stuff happens and while they suck and it does not give you the opportunity to say the only reason Boise won was because you did not have King or Ealey.