The Georgia Bulldog universe took a collective sigh of relief upon hearing that Jermaine Burton’s recent knee injury during spring practice is not expected to force him to miss any game time this upcoming season. However, during the time in which nobody knew the severity of Burton’s injury, there was a sickening feeling that gripped the Georgia fanbase. Forums and community boards across all UGA football coverage platforms were inundated with panic, anger, and conspiracy theories. The promise of such an explosive and program-changing offense seemed to be slipping away before it ever got the chance to come to fruition. My mind, though, went to another place. My mind went to thinking just how huge it was that Zamir White and James Cook decided to return to the University of Georgia this offseason.
If Pickens and Burton had both been lost for the year, there is absolutely no doubt that the high flying production of JT Daniels and the Georgia offense from the last 4 games of the 2020 season would have had slim chances of fully replicating themselves in 2021. Even just facing the reality of being without George Pickens, the passing attack will have to adapt significantly to overcome the void left by the former 5-Star and future NFL wideout. It all just underscores the importance of the depth and versatility that the Dawgs have at the running back position. Zamir White and James Cook will be leaned upon heavily and creatively to help the JT Daniels and company reach maximum potential in a season with high expectations.
In my opinion, Zamir White looked like the 5-Star running back from Scotland County High School for the first time in his career against Missouri and then again in the Peach Bowl versus Cincinnati. It was not necessarily the statistical output that impressed me as much as it was the decisiveness, the balance, and the explosiveness that White displayed. Another year stronger, another year removed from his latest knee injury, White seems to be getting to the point where he is confident in abilities and has grown into a true leader that wants to carry the load for the Dawgs and will also do so through selflessness with pass protection and special teams play. I look for White to play in 2021 as “the bull of the woods,” as the late, great Dusty Rhodes used to say.
While White’s confidence and determination will be key, they might be surpassed in importance by the electrifying versatility that James Cook provides. In both the Alabama and Missouri games, Cook had long touchdown receptions that highlighted his tremendous speed. In year 2, under Todd Monken, with an established quarterback in JT Daniels, and an offseason to have self scouted and evaluate strengths and weaknesses, I would be shocked if the Georgia coaching staff did not come away disappointed in their utilization of James Cook in 2020. Cook is the single most lethal weapon that Georgia has on their roster offensively. There should be no shortage of opportunities for Cook to change games this season, whether at receiver or in the backfield. Kirby Smart, Todd Monken, and the Georgia program should feel blessed to have players like White and Cook leading the way for Daijun Edwards, Kendall Milton, and Kenny McIntosh. Georgia has depth at running back, and Edwards and McIntosh can both be used in ways similar to Cook, while Milton will challenge White for carries between the tackles.
Many refer to Georgia as RBU. This year, it may become necessary to add another letter to the acronym. RBUE. Running Backs Used Everywhere.