ATHENS, Ga. — He hurdled a Central Michigan safety, vaulted into the end zone at Arizona State and plummeted from the Heisman Trophy race against Alabama.
Sophomore tailback Knowshon Moreno has experienced more good than bad at the midway mark of Georgia’s 12-game regular season. The 5-foot-11, 208-pounder has rushed for 590 yards, which projects to 1,278 yards if the Bulldogs play 13 games.
Moreno rushed for 1,334 yards in 13 games last season.
“I think Knowshon has run every bit as good as he’s ever run,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “It’s just a matter of getting him to a certain point where he can get some space.”
Two minor injuries have kept Moreno from being more statistically sizzling to this point. He left the opening win over Georgia Southern with leg cramps after amassing 59 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries, and he suffered an elbow bruise Sept. 27 in the 41-30 loss to Alabama.
That the Crimson Tide bolted to a 31-0 halftime lead didn’t do much for Moreno’s numbers, either. He had 34 yards on nine carries.
“Obviously against Alabama, he wasn’t going to get a whole bunch of carries since we were so far behind,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “Every other game, I feel like he’s gotten in there and played pretty well. He’s doing the same old same old.”
Said Moreno: “I think I’m doing pretty well. I still have a lot to learn and a lot to do.”
Moreno said he has been more patient this year but must work on defensive recognition and pass protection. His days of sneaking up on defenses ended this time last year, when he followed a 13-carry, 30-yard performance at Tennessee with a 28-carry, 157-yard effort at Vanderbilt.
The No. 10 Bulldogs host the No. 22 Commodores this Saturday.
“Knowshon is going to make great runs every game,” Richt said. “Knowshon is going to make people miss. Knowshon is going to break tackles. The question is where does he start making people miss and where does he start breaking tackles. Is it happening at the line of scrimmage? I’ve seen him make some great 3-yard runs. I’ve seen him behind the line of scrimmage having to dodge a guy and spin and get 4 yards, and it’s a fantastic run.
“Then there are other times when the line will get him through that initial group, and then he starts making people miss 4, 5 or 6 yards down the field, and then you hope he can break one big.”
Moreno had a 52-yard touchdown run against Central Michigan and polished off a 29-yard run by hurdling Chippewas safety Vince Agnew. He capped a 9-yard scoring run at Arizona State by catapulting from the 4, yet his highlights in league play have been less abundant.
In games against South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, Moreno failed to make a run longer than 13 yards. He is averaging 5.6 yards a carry overall but averaged 3.95 against the Gamecocks, 3.78 against the Tide and 3.74 against the Vols.
“The SEC is just different,” Moreno said. “Everyone has NFL players, basically, and everyone is just really tough. I’m not saying other leagues aren’t, but the SEC is just different.”
In last Saturday’s 26-14 win over Tennessee, Moreno had 101 yards on 27 carries. He was leveled by Vols safety Eric Berry — “I was coming off a move and was off balance, and he got me,” Moreno said — and was punched in the side after a play by linebacker Gerald Williams.
Williams was flagged for a personal foul.
“You would hope that things like that wouldn’t happen, but they do,” Moreno said. “I’m sure it won’t be the last one. I hope it will be the last one.”
SEC week 8Chattanooga Times Free Press sports editor Jay Greeson and SEC beat writer Darren Epps discuss and dissect results from week 7 of Southeastern Conference college football and look ahead to this week's match-ups.
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 ...