Georgia Bulldogs aim to carry on running back U tradition

Georgia's Kenny McIntosh (6) had a nice game on special teams against Alabama in the College Football Playoff title game, and he is expected to be a key running back this season for the Bulldogs. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

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Georgia's Kenny McIntosh (6) had a nice game on special teams against Alabama in the College Football Playoff title game, and he is expected to be a key running back this season for the Bulldogs. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

SPRING PREVIEW 2022: RUNNING BACKS

ATHENS — Should Georgia still be considered RBU?

There has been a lot of debate about that recently. The Bulldogs haven’t had a back lead the SEC in rushing since Knowshon Moreno in 2008 (1,400 yards). Neither have they had a 1,000-yard rusher the past two seasons.

But Georgia would argue that RBU still fits. While the Bulldogs didn’t blow anybody away with their rushing numbers last season, they were still solid, if not exemplary. Seeking overall offensive balance under coordinator Todd Monken, they finished sixth in the 14-team SEC with an average of 190.93 rushing yards per game.

Anybody who questions the unit’s effectiveness will be directed to watch the fourth quarter of Georgia’s national-championship game win over Alabama. That’s when Zamir White and James Cook carried the ball seven times for 37 yards to put away the 33-18 victory.

But working in tandem long has been the Bulldogs’ secret to success in the backfield. This past season, Cook and White combined for 1,584 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Missouri’s Tyler Badie led the league with 1,604.

  • Returning starters: None
  • All eyes on: Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton
  • Outlook: The belief is the Bulldogs have another killer combo in McIntosh and Milton. Like Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and White and Cook before them, they’re thought to provide the perfect mesh of speed-and-space exploitation (McIntosh) and brute power (Milton). Even better, both players may be closer to being proficient in the respective categories. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound McIntosh flourished as Georgia’s third option in the backfield as a junior last season, averaging 5.7 yards on the way to 326 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Two of McIntosh’s scores came from among his 22 receptions (for 242 yards), which were second only to Cook. He also threw a TD pass in the Orange Bowl. Milton (6-1, 220) actually emerged as the Bulldogs’ No. 3 back in the first half of the season, but he was sidelined with a sprained knee (MCL) in Week 8 and didn’t play in the next six games. Milton returned in the Orange Bowl and had seven carries for 21 yards to finish with 264 and one TD for the season. He played but didn’t have a carry in the national championship game. Junior Daijun Edwards excelled in late-game duty and promises to have a more meaningful role this year. That group will need to stay healthy as depth will have to come from a pair of freshman signees. Branson Robinson, a 4-star prospect from Madison, Miss., is 5-10, 220, and built in the mold of Chubb. Andrew Paul (5-11, 220) was a late addition but is reputed to be better than his 3-star designation indicates. Both will have to wait their turn. That’s the RBU way.
  • Up next: Quarterbacks

Spring Preview 2022 is a 10-part series that will take a look at each of Georgia’s position groups daily until the Bulldogs open spring practice March 15.