ATHENS — With one mighty leap, Knowshon Moreno made it clear he's headed for another big season.
Georgia's super sophomore can make defenders miss with his knee-buckling quickness, and he's powerful enough to knock aside those would-be tacklers.
When all else fails, he'll jump right over them.
"It's all about instincts," Moreno said after doing a pretty good impression of an Olympic hurdler in No. 2 Georgia's 56-17 rout of Central Michigan on Saturday. "It was just something that happened."
Moreno rushed for 168 yards and tied a career high with three touchdowns, but there was one play in particular that left everyone aghast.
Late in the third quarter, with the Bulldogs (2-0) cruising to an easy win over an outmanned foe, Moreno took a handoff around right end, cut back toward the middle of the field and came face to face with safety Vince Agnew, who went low trying to take down the runner at the knees.
Moreno would have none of that. He vaulted right over Agnew as thought he was at the Bird's Nest instead of between the hedges, before being brought down from behind after a 29-yard gain.
"It all goes so far," Moreno said. "Instinct really takes over and you just make the play."
Having watched film on Sunday, coach Mark Richt was even more impressed with Moreno's performance than he was after the game.
"He absolutely looked as good or even better on film," Richt said. "When people ask me how I describe him, I say, 'Gosh, he runs with power, he makes you miss,' blah, blah, blah.
But he's just got this super quickness about him. Guys are just missing him in very short, tight quarters. It's one thing to miss a guy out in space, out in the open field. But he's making so many guys miss in the box. It's just amazing to me."
Moreno has been impressing the coaches at Georgia since he first arrived on campus, though he sat out his first season with the Bulldogs.
The team had plenty of depth at running back, and Richt saw no reason to waste a year of eligibility on someone who wasn't expected to get much playing time.
In hindsight, that was probably one of Richt's few missed calls — especially since Moreno pulled off a similar move in practice his first year to the one he broke out for 92,000 fans on Saturday.
"When he jumped over that guy, I asked the staff, 'Who redshirted that guy?"' Richt quipped. "That wasn't real smart on my part. I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was that good."
Moreno finally got on the field last year, and quickly showed just how good he was. He rushed for 104 yards in his second career game against South Carolina, the team the Bulldogs will face next Saturday in what figures to be their first tough test.
By the time his freshman season was done, Moreno has gained 1,333 yards and 14 touchdowns, leading Georgia to a spot in the Sugar Bowl and the No. 2 spot in the final Associated Press rankings.
He's even better this year, according to Richt.
In addition to the third-best rushing game of his career against Central Michigan, Moreno also caught three passes for 30 yards.
"What has improved tremendously is his pass protection ... and his confidence catching the ball," the coach said. "On some screen passes here and there, he just snatches the ball out of the air. He makes it look easy, even though some of the throws have not always been perfect. A lot of guys don't make those catches.
Even with his back to the defense, when he knows guys are coming after him, he just plucks it out of the air, gets turned around and immediately knows which way to go."