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Post King me

Wednesday October 24, 2007

The drama over Caleb King’s status has really taken off in the past 24 hours. The coaching staff had some interesting things to say on Tuesday, and we’re now parsing every statement looking for a sign that he will or won’t play in Jacksonville. At the very least, we know he’s making the trip and has spent time working at the tailback position.

The good news is that this is a distraction just for the fans – the coaches and team have a much better idea what King’s role (if any) might be.

Let’s be clear that we’re strictly talking about depth. We’re taking for granted that Knowshon Moreno will get most of the carries and snaps. No one is for taking minutes away from Moreno. The question is about those plays where the starter is getting a breather or – God forbid – is injured. It might seem like overkill to focus on the backup tailback, but an effective reserve can be a strategic advantage.

The central issue goes beyond the Florida game. As the Senator points out, the recovery of Thomas Brown’s collarbone is a key question. Though a comeback for the Florida game was never really the question, there was hope that Brown could be ready in time for the Auburn-Kentucky-Tech stretch at the end of the season. But the collarbone is an area that takes constant pounding on a running back. If it were a quarterback, I might believe an aggressive schedule for his return to action. A premature return for a running back who could see contact to the collarbone 15-20 times in a game (not to mention in practice) could result in a greater risk of re-injury, and Brown has a future to consider. For that reason (and this is all speculation anyway), I would plan on a Thomas Brown return later rather than sooner.

There are also other issues making this a more complex decision.

King spent much of his high school senior season injured. If he played against Florida, his first real live game action since his junior year in high school will come on national TV in an unfamiliar stadium against the defending national champions and against one of Georgia’s biggest rivals. That’s quite a setting for one’s debut, especially for a high-profile freshman. Some thrive in that kind of setting, and I’m sure part of the coaches’ decision is gauging how well King might react to being thrown into the Georgia-Florida game.

There is also a non-football consideration. King spent much of his senior year at GAC focusing on academics in order to qualify to enroll at Georgia. One of the advantages of a redshirt season is the opportunity to adjust to the academic environment of college. Given King’s long and public journey to qualify, getting off on the right foot academically at Georgia might be more of a priority for King (and the coaching staff) than it might be for someone else. Could increased playing time become a distraction over the last part of this semester?

It seems as if all of this is boiling down to whether or not the Dawgs can "get by" without burning King’s redshirt. The options of Johnson and Chapas are the safe route, but neither really offers much excitement. Those brimming with hope for King are relying on reputation and potential and not results. Still, the fact that he’s even making the trip with Chapas and Johnson available tells us that the redshirt might be the only thing holding King back from playing time. There is no question though that the moment Knowshon Moreno leaves the game will be one of the most scrutinized substitutions of the season.

If the game gets out of hand early, I think it might convince the coaches to save the redshirt and try to get through Troy without using King. But if the game is still in the balance and the Dawgs need to keep Moreno with something left for the second half, I wouldn’t be surprised to see King trot out there. As Tony Ball said, “We are trying to win games.”

One Response to 'King me'

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  • the first real game action since his junior year?

    go to youtube and type in “CALEB KING.” he played at least 4 or 5 games for GAC.