There's a quiet confidence with running back Ken Malcome that certainly wasn't there this time a season ago.
It was about this time last year when the former Southwest Dekalb star left the Georgia football team for a day before returning, ultimately gaining the trust to become a key cog in the Bulldog backfield.
Now, with the 2012 season opener just over a week away, Malcome seems primed to take the next proverbial step.
On Wednesday, head coach Mark Richt said that he's "pretty sure" the redshirt sophomore will start Game 1 against Buffalo, despite an impressive camp by true freshman Todd Gurley.
"(Starting) is what I've always been thinking, but I'm going to keep pushing. I'm not going to let this go to my head," Malcome said. "I'm still going to do what I've been doing, working hard on the practice field, help the freshmen. Right now I'm very confident in what I can do, so it's good they've (coaches) have got the confidence in me."
But starter or not, look for the Bulldogs to still use all the backs at their disposal, meaning Gurley, Keith Marshall and Richard Samuel will get plenty of opportunities as well.
What order they might appear, however, Richt isn't ready to say.
"I don't know. I haven't talked to the staff yet to see how we're going to do," Richt said. "It's still too early, but even when we do I doubt I'll announce anything, because I don't even want the guys to know. I want them to keep competing. We'll probably tell them the night before the game."
Running backs coach Bryan McClendon sees no problem with all four backs getting plenty of opportunities.
"I think we can use four, we've used three of them in game the past couple of years," he said. "There's no question we can do that."
Malcome believes his experience has already come in handy.
"I know what to do, and I think I'm able to show the young backs how to do it. I kind of have the advantage of knowing what to do, when to do it," he said. "Right now, that's to my advantage but they're learning fast."
Gurley's numbers have certainly been the most impressive of the preseason.
In Georgia's three scrimmages, Gurley has 19 rushes for 199 yards with three touchdowns, although Malcome certainly impressed as well, rushing six times for 50 yards in Wednesday's practice game at Sanford Stadium.
"I actually think did pretty good," Malcome said. "I did my job, did a little blocking, stuff like that. I'm just doing whatever to contribute to the team."
It's knowing those "little things" Malcome said is probably what has him in the position he's in.
According to the 6-foot-0, 224-pounder, knowing how to be a college running back is something that only comes with experience, something he feels he gained last year after rushing 42 times for 174 yards.
"I feel like I'm the man as far as knowing what to do," Malcome said. "The coaches don't say much to me any more, they let me go out and play and by doing that I'm not making many mistakes."
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