JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Just when Georgia needed someone on its offense to step up, running back Richard Samuel "hulked up" Saturday afternoon against the rival Florida Gators.
Throughout his career, the junior - who was switched to linebacker a year ago then moved back to running back last spring - has been criticized for what some have perceived as a tentative running style.
Even head coach Mark Richt will tell you the 243-pounder is not the shiftiest of backs. But when he runs like with the power he did in Saturday's 24-20 win over the Gators, there's no denying his value.
With his team trailing 20-17 late in the third quarter, Georgia forced a punt before starting at the Gator 45.
Five plays later, including a key third down pass interference, and the Bulldogs found themselves sitting on the Florida 20 when Samuel was brought back into the game.
On the next play, Samuel took the handoff from Murray and plowed through right guard for a 7-yard gain.
Following a 9-yard run to the 4, Murray threw an incomplete pass intended for fullback Bruce Figgins before handing off again to Samuel who bulldozed his way into the end zone for the touchdown early in the fourth quarter and a 24-20 lead.
"Richard was unbelievable," Murray said. "I mean, he was running over people today. He's fun to watch when he gets going like that."
Samuel wasn't through.
On what would be the game's final possession, Samuel helped ice the game with another smash-mouth run, this one picking up nine yards to the 1.
"Richard is a big, strong, physical guy. I think we all know that," Richt said. "He's not the shiftiest guy but the type of runs we ran with him, the down-hill types, the power runs - the one he scored on and the one he got the first down at the end of the game - that's what he does very well."
Unfortunately for Samuel, his final run proved costly as he sprained his ankle on the play and had to be helped from the field.
X-rays were negative, but his status for Saturday's game against New Mexico State remains uncertain.
Samuel finished with 17 carries for 58 yards.
"The offense kind of scraped along. We made a few players here and there, but I was glad to see us finish without some of the drama we have experienced in the past," Richt said. "We knocked out a first down or two to take the clock away. A lot of good things happened."
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo offered his congratulations as well, and revealed something else about Samuel that until Saturday nobody knew.
"I'm so proud of Richard," Bobo said. "I was proud of him two weeks ago. Against Vanderbilt he was hurt and he stepped up, even with a sprained MCL, finished that game and ran hard."
Bobo said the entire offense off the energy which Samuel displayed.
"I think so. When you run the ball on a defense like that, it gets the linemen excited," Bobo said. "To see us come back and make enough plays to win when we were down 17-3 it shows the character of this football team and that they believe in each other when a of people don't believe in this football team, question who we're playing and question what's going on. (Saturday), we stepped it up and got after it."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.