ATHENS -- Georgia’s Washaun Ealey was asked a lot this week about what happened last year against Georgia Tech, when he and fellow tailback Caleb King ran all over the field.
Ealey had a curious answer.
“I felt pretty good. But I tried to put that game behind me real fast, just because we had another game right after that,” he said.
Never mind that the next game was a month later. Why would Ealey or King want to forget how they did against Georgia Tech -- especially considering what has happened since then?
Last year, the two combined for 349 rushing yards in a performance that was supposed to vault them to a huge 2010 season.
Instead, through 11 games so far, they have combined for 1,021 yards. On an individual basis, neither has come close to what they did last year against the Yellow Jackets, when Ealey rushed for 183 yards and King had 166.
“We’ve just been inconsistent, (in) just going out there and running the ball hard every down,” Ealey said. “That’s what’s really made a big toll on us this year, is (not) being consistent.”
It also hasn’t helped that neither has been able to stay on the field or hold onto the ball.
Ealey was suspended for the season opener after a traffic arrest. Then King went through his own traffic arrest in October and was handed a two-game suspension.
King also missed a couple of games with a sprained ankle. Ealey was benched after two critical fumbles inside the 5-yard line, at South Carolina and Mississippi State. King’s late fumble at Colorado probably cost the Bulldogs that game.
In short, it hasn’t been a very positive season.
“It hasn’t been as we would’ve liked,” said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, putting it delicately. “I think it’s had a lot to do with injuries and some suspensions, not a lot of continuity there with those two guys. But both are healthy right now and both are playing this week.”
Bobo went on to point out that there have been bright spots: Ealey set a program record with five rushing touchdowns at Kentucky. King is averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
But if Ealey and King want to stave off competition this spring, they will have to finish with a similar flourish as last year.
Freshman Ken Malcome probably would have seen action if he hadn’t been redshirted. That won’t be an issue next year.
Georgia’s highest-profile recruiting target remains tailback Isaiah Crowell of Carver-Columbus.
And Carlton Thomas hasn’t shamed himself as a scat-back, change-of-pace option this season.
So it could be a very crowded group next year. In the meantime, Ealey and King have at least one more chance to regain the momentum they had after last year’s matchup with their in-state rival.
“I think we’re gonna have the same type of deliberateness that we had in the game last year,” King said. “So we’ll just see what happens.”