ATHENS -- Georgia needed to inject some energy into its running game and did so soon after word traveled down the sideline that "24″ was going in the game.
Freshman running back Washaun Ealey got his first carry as a Bulldog in the third quarter against LSU and responded by rushing for 8 yards on a toss sweep, the biggest gain of a Georgia running back on the day.
It was like somebody had turned up the speed. Ealey carried again and gained 6 yards. It was the first time the Bulldogs had converted a first down on a rushing play.
He finished with 35 yards on eight carries, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. In one afternoon, he might have shed the redshirt and gained a job.
"I don't know if he'll start or anything, but he definitely helped his cause," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "And now that the redshirt is over, we'll try to get the best back in the game. If it's him, he'll play."
For the past four games, the Bulldogs have been waiting for Caleb King or Richard Samuel to emerge as the go-to runner, but neither has stood out. And with Georgia's offense stalling for the better part of three scoreless quarters Saturday, Richt called on Ealey.
It's something Richt said he had planned to do all week, given that Ealey has fully recovered from the hyperextended elbow he injured during preseason practice and has a better grasp on the offense.
"We were all sitting there in the huddle and everybody was telling [Ealey] what to do," quarterback Joe Cox said. "‘Make sure you hold onto the ball, blah blah blah.' And I was just like ‘Man, let him run, he knows how to run.' I was just glad to see him get in the game."
Ealey started the drive at tailback with 7:07 left in the third quarter. The 5-foot-11 back from Emanuel County Institute carried five times for 24 yards on that drive, which Georgia capped with its first touchdown of the day.
With those five carries, he had supplied more yardage than King and Samuel had combined for in 10 carries to that point -- 16 yards.
"I think I finally proved to the coaches that I can play with the rest of the guys," Ealey said. "Hopefully they'll give me another chance."