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Freshman Isaiah Crowell missed the regular-season finale against Georgia Tech with an injured left ankle and he’s already been involved in at least two disciplinary issues, including a failed drug test that led to a one-game suspension. But Crowell practiced this week and was with the team when it turned up at the Georgia Dome for a light walk-through Friday.

His top backup, Richard Samuel, has missed the last four games after undergoing ankle surgery and it’s not known if he’s recovered enough to play against the Tigers. Georgia was so desperate for runners last week that two defensive backs, Branden Smith and Brandon Boykins, got extensive time on the offensive side. The Bulldogs have also pressed into service former walk-on Brandon Harton, who’s only 5-foot-6 and 174 pounds.

Richt has been coy about the situation all week, and that stance didn’t change on the eve of the game.

“I’m not telling,” he said, chuckling. “We’ll wait. A game-day decision. How about that one? That’s a good one.”

LSU had no such concerns. For the first time in school history, the Tigers have four backs with at least six rushing touchdowns, and all figure to touch the ball Saturday. Spencer Ware (687 yards) will get the start, but he’s got plenty of help with Michael Ford (721), Alfred Blue (445) and freshman Kenny Hilliard (248).

“It helps to wear down a defense,” offensive lineman Will Blackwell said. “Our guys don’t get as tired. We’ve got fresh legs here at the end of the season. We’ve got three, four, maybe five guys that can all run the ball and run it hard. The main thing, the best thing for us is we don’t have to put the whole load on one guy. When one of those guys comes in, he can just pound it as much as he can and look forward to getting a little break.”

That, in turn, has helped bolster the passing game. Jordan Jefferson took over from Jarrett Lee in the first 1-2 showdown with Alabama and rallied the Tigers to an overtime win. Over the final three games of the regular season, Jefferson completed 33 of 50 passes (66 percent) for 464 yards, with three touchdowns and only one interception. Plus, he gives LSU another running threat (253 yards, three TDs) when he tucks it under his arm.

“You’ve got to be able to run the ball to throw the ball,” Blackwell said. “That’s the philosophy we’ve taken on this season.”

Georgia just took `em one at a time, especially when it dug that early hole. Every SEC contest was, in essence, an elimination game. The Bulldogs passed every test, most notably rallying from a 14-point deficit to beat perennial nemesis Florida.

“From there on out, we were a team that felt, hey, no matter what goes on, no matter what happens, we’re going to keep fighting and win out,” Murray said.


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