Crowell Single Demand Changing UGA Gameplan?

Running back Isaiah Crowell was as celebrated a signing as Georgia football coach Mark Richt has experienced since he arrived in Athens.

Mike Bobo and Mark Richt: Are they allowing Crowell to hold UGA offense hostage over jersey number dispute?

(Will Crowell refusal to give up #1 cost speedster Smith offensive touches?)

But if the man charged with mapping UGA’s game plan Saturday against South Carolina is right, Crowell may actually be speeding Richt’s Georgia coaching demise rather than solidifying it.

On Tuesday at his weekly press conference Richt was asked if he planned on using speedy starting UGA cornerback Branden Smith, who played both ways his first two seasons but did not appear on offense last week against Boise State, on offense Saturday against South Carolina. Richt:

“Between Branden Smith and [Brandon] Boykin we do want to continue to use them on offense with Richard [Samuel] and Isaiah [Crowell], and that’s probably going to be the majority of the carries.”

One small detail: Smith, a junior, wears #1, the same number claimed by Crowell when he granted the Bulldogs an intercollegiate audience last February. A team can have two players with the same number, so long as the similar digits remain on opposite sides of the ball. But if Smith and Crowell line up astride on offense, duplicate numerals are not be allowed.

Such numeralogics aren’t lost on Richt, Smith and Crowell - with all three indicating in recent months that the matter would somehow be resolved if offense again was possible for the same Smith who torched South Carolina for a 61-yard touchdown run in 2009.


But on the same day Richt confirmed he hoped “to continue to use” Smith as a two-way weapon, UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on Tuesday flatly maintained that Crowell and Smith would not be appearing on the field at the same time and that there was “no solving” the duplicate jersey number issue between the two. Bobo:

Question: “How are you all going to solve that number issue with (Crowell and Smith.)”

Bobo: “They can’t be on the field at the same time. That’s the only answer I’ve got. (Laughs). There’s no solving it.”

Question: “Could you all put another jersey on them before the game? Would you all consider doing that?”

Bobo: “No. They just can’t be on the field at the same time.”

If you listen to the audio of Bobo’s comments, his “laugh” sounds more like exasperation than a joking reaction.

Though some might affix the latter to Bobo [and Richt] if Crowell is indeed forcing Georgia to detour its game plan in order to placate the true freshman running back - while providing whole new meaning to “I-Formation.

Brooks can be reached on Twitter, Facebook and directly at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com