Skip to main content

Georgia running backs surprise in pass-heavy G-Day setting

Palmber-Thombsby:Palmer Thombs04/15/24


ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s spring game isn’t typically a setting that produces impressive results for running backs, but Saturday certainly seemed like an exception.

The trio of Trevor Etienne, Roderick Robinson and Andrew Paul stood out for all the right reasons. While they only combined for 92 yards rushing on 19 total attempts (4.84 yards per attempt), the Bulldog backs had a presence in the passing game with 53 yards receiving on eight catches out of the backfield.

“I feel like the running backs showed that whoever we put in, there’s not going to be a slip or a fall off,” Georgia receiver Dominic Lovett, who led all pass catchers, said about the showing of the running backs. “They’re going to keep carrying the load, no matter what down, no matter how tired or fatigued they are. They’re going to keep pushing.”

“I saw them picking up blocks, so they showed me that they’re going to be good running backs that can block. They’re also very explosive, can make plays,” another receiver, Dillon Bell, added. “Rod, he had a play where he ran over somebody. He’s a big back, and then you’ve got a smaller back like Trevor who’s smooth and can make you miss. You best believe that.”

Etienne enters Georgia with high expectations after transferring from Florida, where he was a productive SEC player the past two seasons. While he made unfortunate news earlier in the spring with an arrest, Kirby Smart has been pleased with how he’s handled the fall out. He also came away impressed with his outing on Saturday.

“He’s a good back. He’s quick in and out of the hole. He’s different than what we’ve had. Swift analogy is good. Cook’s analogy is good,” Smart said, trying to find a comparison for Etienne. “He’s really taken a lot of personal pride in working on his protection. He had a nice pick up today. He’s learning the offense. Look, the guy’s been a good SEC player for two years. It’s not like he’s a freshman. He’s a really good player and a really good kid. I’ve been proud of the way he’s his deal.”

After Etienne, there’s the duo of Robinson and Paul, both trying to make their way onto the scene and help fill the shoes of NFL bound Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards. Last season, they combined for 53 carries and 325 yards. This year, the hope might be for each to total those kind of numbers individually.

“He keeps getting better … You want to get more out of him, and he’s giving us what he’s got,” Smart said when asked about Robinson, but the same is true for Paul too. “He’s got to continue to work on his pass protection. He’s become a better route runner. I’m pleased with where Rod is. He needs to be even better for us next year.”

Of course that’s not all that’ll be in the Georgia running back room come the fall. Early enrollee Chauncey Bowens got in on the action Saturday, and he’ll be joined by two more true freshmen this summer – Nate Frazier and Dwight Phillips. Branson Robinson continues to make his way back from a torn patella tendon suffered during fall camp of last season. New running backs coach Josh Crawford definitely has plenty to work with. For Georgia, it’ll be about putting the pieces together and finding the right combination of their skills to best utilize the depth of running backs they’ve got – something that was surprisingly on display Saturday.

You may also like