ATHENS, Ga. – In regards to one of Georgia’s biggest questions of preseason, Mark Richt is not willing to spell out exact rotation plans for the tailbacks in the season opener.
Ken Malcome rushed for 50 yards on six carries during Wednesday's "practice game." (Photo by UGA Sports Communications)
But he is hinting about who’ll be up first.
After Wednesday’s “practice game,” which represented the third and final scrimmage event of the preseason, Richt did offered this tentative tidbit: “I’m pretty sure Ken Malcome is going to start, but something could change between now and then.”
Malcome, a sophomore, has been the first tailback in drills throughout preseason, but he is being pushed by true freshmen tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, each of whom have also been rotating in with the first-string offense.
As it turned out, Gurley was the leading rusher in all three preseason scrimmages, rolling for 54 yards and a touchdown on six carries Wednesday. Malcome was right behind him this time, totaling 50 yards on six carries.
“Gurley ran well, but I think they all really did,” Richt said.
Marshall added 17 yards on three attempts, though Richt noted that Marshall had “about a 30-yarder called back” because of a holding penalty.
“It’s hard to tell the starter,” Malcome said Wednesday. “We all get in with the 1s. So we’re not much heavy on who’s the starter. We have a rotation. … Seeing what (the freshmen) did today, they’re way ahead of where I was when I first got here. I see how they’re going to be in the future.”
Gurley was asked earlier in the week about potentially starting his first college game, basically shrugging off the notion.
“I really haven’t even thought of that,” Gurley said. “It would be great just to start in the SEC as a true freshman at any position, but I really haven’t thought about even starting. I’m just trying to get everything down.”
Truthfully, the actual starter in the first game won’t carry much significance, since coaches have been clear all along that Gurley and Marshall will play quite a bit.
“I haven’t talked to the staff to see how we’re going to do it yet. It’s too early,” Richt said. “But even when we do that, I doubt I’ll announce anything, because I don’t even want the guys to know. I want them to keep fighting, keep competing. We’ll tell them the night before the game, maybe.”
Malcome played in six games last season, starting two of them -- the Georgia Tech victory and bowl game against Michigan State.
He didn’t flinch when told of Richt’s comment, replying simply, “That’s what I was already thinking anyway.”
“I’m going to keep pushing,” Malcome said. “I’m not going to let that one little statement go to my head. I’m still going to be the same Ken Malcome on the practice field, still helping the freshmen out, still doing what I’m supposed to do. It’s not going to do much change anything. It just gives me more confidence in what I can do.”
Malcome added of Richt’s statement, “Knowing he’s got the confidence to start me, that’s a good thing.”
“I feel like I’m the man now,” Malcome said, “as far as just knowing what to do. I feel like I have no pressure on me. Coach doesn’t say much to me anymore. He just lets me go out there and play, and by him doing that, I don’t really make mistakes. I think that’s a good thing.”