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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - It's a scary proposition to consider where sixth-ranked Georgia would have been without freshman running back J.J. Green Saturday against Tennessee.
Quite likely, the Bulldogs would have been lamenting a loss instead of celebrating a 34-31 overtime win.
Already minus Todd Gurley - out with a sprained ankle - when Keith Marshall had to be helped off the field with a severe knee injury, all of a sudden the Bulldogs needed somebody to carry the running back load.
Fortunately for Georgia, the former Camden County standout was there to answer the call.
Green rushed 17 times for 129 yards - both obvious career highs - as the Bulldogs were able to keep their ground game going despite the absence of their two top backfield stars.
"I already knew the whole week that Todd was probably not going not going to be ready to play," Green said. "We knew we had to step it up. Brendan (Douglas) and I worked hard all week and tonight we showed what we could do."
Like Green, Douglas had his moments.
Although he finished with just 25 yards on 10 carries, Douglas scored the first touchdown of his career on a 3-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Georgia a 24-17 lead.
But from the standpoint of moving the chains. Green more than did his part.
"He's got some ability, and to come into a situation where all you hear is Gurley and Marshall, at best he's thinking I'm fighting for the third-team position," Richt said. "Today, he was the feature back and he came through."
Not bad for someone when he first arrived in Athens as an early enrollee didn't actually have a position to call his own.
"When we signed him, we really didn't know where he was going to play. We thought he was going to play corner, we thought he might be a receiver," Richt said. "Then in the spring, we knew we had some issues at tailback, so we just asked him, what do you think about playing some tailback? Ok, Coach, I'll play."
According to Richt, Green can do a lot more than just run the football.
"It turned out he's a tough nut. He's tough, he's a very good pass protector," Richt said. "We all know he's not tall, but he's strong. We all see how he finished his runs. He secured the ball extremely well and we know he's got some wide receivers skills, too."
At 5-foot-9 and 192 pounds, Green coming in as an early enrollee helped to put him position to succeed Saturday night.
"It helped me in a lot of ways," Green said. "I think I was able to shock some of my teammates. That first practice, I think I showed that I was able to play. But it took a lot of hard work in the summer, and going out and trying to be as professional as possible with what I do."
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