Georgia football coaches decided before spring practice to drastically reduce the amount of contact work for starting tailback Knowshon Moreno. They knew as a result that Moreno might stage a minor revolt by occasionally sneaking into physical drills against their wishes.
So did he?
“Maybe,” a laughing Moreno said this week.
After rushing for 1,334 yards last season, more than any Georgia freshman not named Herschel Walker, Moreno entered this spring an established commodity. Developing depth was the chief objective at tailback, so the 5-foot-11, 207-pounder from Belford, N.J., has spent recent weeks mostly watching Caleb King, Dontavius Jackson, Richard Samuel and Kalvin Daniels take their turns.
Daniels is a walk-on who played in three games last season, while King redshirted. Jackson and Samuel joined the program in January as early enrollees.
Third-year running backs coach Tony Ball admits he’s needed to focus more on those four than his potential Heisman Trophy candidate.
“Knowshon has been getting enough work to where we feel like he’s efficient,” Ball said. “We’ve wanted to keep him sound and to keep him getting better, but I don’t need to see him getting pounded on. I don’t need to see that. He has been doing enough for me to evaluate and help him get better.”
Said Moreno: “When everyone is flying around, you just want to get in there and compete. It’s been tough, and whenever I’ve been in there, I’ve tried to make the best of it.”
Though his contact work has been minimal, Moreno hasn’t received a free pass. He met with Ball before the first of the 15 practices and received instruction on how he could become a more complete back.
Much of the instruction has centered on noticing his surroundings.
“From a schematic standpoint, I want him to understand the blocking scheme more and what the offensive line is doing in any given scheme,” Ball said. “He needs to understand that more. He really needs to pay attention to the defensive scheme and understand the differences in the defenses and understand the rotation of the secondary. I’m really putting a lot of emphasis of his knowledge of the game from that perspective.”
Moreno may only play the opening possession of Saturday’s G-Day game at Sanford Stadium, and if that possession contains numerous plays, he may not be involved in all of them. In last Friday’s scrimmage that consisted of roughly 100 snaps, Moreno had four carries for 11 yards.
His fewest number of carries in any regular-season game last year was 13.
“As long as he’s being involved, he’s OK,” Ball said. “He only carried it four times, but he caught two passes, one for a (70-yard) touchdown. He played like 18 plays, and he knew going in how many plays I was going to give him. We have a plan right now, and he understands what that is.
“Where he’s had a difficult time is when I’ve held him out of something completely. He wants to be there, and that’s when it’s tough. How many times he touches the ball right now is not a factor with him.”
Odds and ends
Georgia head coach Mark Richt described Wednesday’s workout in full pads as the worst of the spring and that his players seemed disinterested. ... Ball said Moreno remains in the mix to return punts, adding “there is no definite guy right now at that.” ... G-Day will consist of four 10-minute quarters. There will be no kickoffs, so most possessions will start at the 25.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...