ATHENS — Only one freshman has rushed for 1,000 yards in Georgia history. That could soon change.
Knowshon Moreno could surpass Thomas Brown and Rodney Hampton Saturday on the list of most productive freshman running backs in Georgia history.
Moreno has 807 yards rushing, including 188 with three touchdowns in last week’s win over Florida. Brown rushed for 875 yards as a freshman in 2004 and Hampton is No. 2 on Georgia’s list of freshman rushers with 890 yards in 1987.
Georgia’s freshman rushing record total of 1,616 yards was set by Herschel Walker in 1980.
With 84 yards against Troy Saturday, Moreno would pass Brown and Hampton to rank second on the all-time Georgia freshman list, and he has four games for the 193 yards needed for 1,000.
"I just know that whenever he steps on the field, you never know when he’s going to take it to the house or not," said quarterback Matthew Stafford. "He’s a big-time player and he has a lot of energy and we have fun out there in the huddle together."
Moreno can’t catch Walker, who had four 200-yard games as a freshman, including 238 yards on 37 carries against Florida. Moreno became the workhorse back two games ago, when he rushed for 157 yards against Vanderbilt.
Moreno is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Walker averaged 5.9 yards per carry as a freshman.
Moreno is on track to become Georgia’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Musa Smith in 2002. Against Troy, Moreno also could become the first Georgia back since Smith in 2002 to post three straight 100-yard games.
Moreno has 61 carries the last two games, including 33 against Florida. His workload is expected to fall when Brown returns from a broken collarbone.
Moreno also had two catches for 17 yards against the Gators.
"How many touches did he get, 35?" asked coach Mark Richt.
Richt said "I don’t know if that would be too wise" to continue asking so much of the freshman for an extended time.
For this week, with Brown and Kregg Lumpkin still out, Moreno is still the main man in Georgia’s running game.
"I don’t know if he’ll get that much," Richt said before quickly adding "He’ll get close to that much."
Richt said Jason Johnson, a senior walk-on from Chicago, is "solid" as Moreno’s backup against Troy.
Mikey Henderson made a 53-yard touchdown catch against Florida but, slowed by injuries, didn’t return punts. Henderson could reclaim that role from Thomas Flowers this week.
"We’ve been working Mikey all along (on punt returns)," Richt said. "I’ve got faith in both of them. Mikey has been nursing injuries. ... If he gets to that 100 percent, I’m sure he’ll have a better chance."
Henderson ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with his average of 13.5 yards per return.
Sack dance II
Georgia recorded six sacks against Florida, which had allowed only five in its first seven games.
Now Georgia is hoping for another productive game from its pass rushers against Troy, which is tied for fifth in the nation with only six sacks allowed.
"Their scheme in general makes it very difficult to put much pressure on the quarterbacks," said Richt of Troy’s no-huddle, quick-passing attack.
Linebacker Marcus Washington said Troy quarterback Omar Haugabook may be difficult to tackle behind the line.
"It’s a little different," Howard said. "This guy is a little faster than Tebow, I would say. He’s a little bit more athletic. We’re going to probably have to spy him a little bit and make sure he doesn’t run out of the pocket."
The Bailey watch
Receiver Sean Bailey says he expects to play despite suffering a partial tear of the meniscus in his left knee against Florida. The injury is a concern, as Bailey leads Georgia with 22 catches for 334 yards and two touchdowns.
Moreno is second on the team with 17 catches.