J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas celebrate together after the Bulldogs defeated South Carolina. (Sara Caldwell)
Oct. 15, 2013
ATHENS, Ga.----When Todd Gurley hobbled off the field in obvious pain in the second quarter of Georgia's 44-41 victory over LSU, the Bulldogs faced a challenge to replace a place widely considered to be one of the best running backs in the country. The situation became more concerning when Keith Marshall was knocked out of the 34-31 victory over Tennessee with an ACL injury. That injury ruled Marshall out for the rest of the season.
Fortunately for Georgia these two potentially catastrophic injuries have not impacted the team as was first feared. This has mainly been thanks to the work of dynamic freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas.
Green stepped into the breach after Marshall left the field at Neyland Stadium, carrying the ball 17 times for a career-high 129 yards. Douglas also contributed with 25 yards on 10 carries. Both had recorded carries before but it was in Knoxville that the two freshmen responded when the Bulldogs needed it most.
Even as Georgia suffered its disappointing 41-26 home loss to Missouri Green, who recorded his first career start, and Douglas split the load on the ground combining for a total of 26 carries for 157 yards. Green had 87 yard on 12 carries, with Douglas going for 70 yards on 14 carries. They were also heavily involved in the passing game with Augusta native Douglas catching six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown, and Kingsland, Ga., native Green catching five passes for 42 yards.
"I didn't think I would be playing as much as I have been," Douglas said. "I guess you could say it's been a surprise. The coaches have done a great job to get J.J. and me ready to go when our names are called, and I give it up to the coaching staff for getting us ready to go. "
While Green came to Georgia in January as a mid-year enrollee, Douglas joined the team in the summer prior to the beginning of the season. Green said that Douglas immediately made an impression.
"Brendan came in and we were like, who is this big, buff, white kid playing running back," Green said. "You look at him and you'd be like there's nobody who is going to be able to tackle him. Every time he runs the ball he runs hard, and that takes a toll on the defense. Sometimes defenders will turn that down. If it's one on one they won't try and tackle him. They might try and push him out of bounds but they won't tackle him."
Both players have forged different paths to the position they currently find themselves in. Green came to Georgia as either a cornerback or receiver but, due to the lack of depth at tailback in the spring, Green was asked by Georgia's coaches to run the ball. It worked better than could have been expected.
By his own admission Douglas was not a highly recruited prospect coming out of Aquinas High School in Augusta. However, after attending several camps at Georgia, Douglas showed the Bulldogs coaches his potential. Potential that now he is making the most of for Georgia on Saturdays.
Despite their different paths, the two freshmen have forged a strong partnership both on and off the field.
"We're kind of on the same path right now," Douglas said. "We've got a connection going on between us two, teaching each other the offense as we go, and it's been good."
Green agreed with his backfield partner.
"Me and Brendan are real close," he said. "Almost everything outside of football we do together, and everything with football we're together, so it's a pretty nice ride to get to meet someone new."
That ride continues Saturday, as the 15th-ranked Bulldogs head to Nashville to face Vanderbilt in a noon kick-off. The game will be televised by CBS in a double-header with Auburn at Texas A&M.