ORLANDO — Asking Georgia football coaches and players to name their favorite Knowshon Moreno run of the past two seasons is like asking Bulldogs fans to name their favorite Uga mascot.
Either there are too many to choose from, or they like them all.
Moreno could be playing his final college game Thursday in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State. The 5-foot-11, 207-pound redshirt sophomore from Belford, N.J., is projected by pro scouts to be among the top two or three tailbacks taken in April’s NFL draft and is a surefire first-rounder.
After surveying a dozen Georgia coaches and players, there was no clear choice when it came to their favorite Moreno run. Three received two votes apiece — his 24-yard touchdown last season against Auburn, his 80-yard score last year against Troy and his 9-yard scoring vault earlier this season at Arizona State.
“The one against Auburn last year when he caught the quick pitch is my favorite,” safety Andrew Williams said. “There were like five Auburn defenders right there, and he hit the hole so quick that they didn’t even have time to react. He was in the open field in no time, made one guy miss and was on his way to a touchdown.”
Auburn safety Zac Etheridge was the victim of Moreno’s cutback just inside the 10-yard line. That run remained popular this season, as it was shown before games on Sanford Stadium’s video board.
Junior quarterback Matthew Stafford, who also could be playing his final game Thursday, voted for the 80-yarder against Troy. That’s the longest run of Moreno’s 475 career carries.
“They had that really fast DB, Leodis McKelvin,” Stafford said. “I remember talking trash to Knowshon before the game, saying it didn’t matter if he broke it into the open, because he was going to get caught. He ended up making the 80-yarder, and I was happy for him.”
Moreno’s longest runs this season have been a 52-yarder against Central Michigan and a 68-yarder at LSU, with both going for touchdowns.
As for Moreno’s pick?
“I think my favorite was the touchdown run against Arizona State this year,” he said. “No one had scored in the game, and I felt like it was time for one team to make a statement. (Fullback Shaun) Chapas made a great block, and I was able to dive into the end zone.”
None of the players asked went with Moreno’s 29-yard run this year against Central Michigan that featured a leap over Chippewas safety Vince Agnew. Georgia coach Mark Richt couldn’t believe Moreno’s hurdle didn’t make ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day, but the network quickly inserted it into its top 10 plays of the week.
Richt and running backs coach Tony Ball said some of Moreno’s most amazing runs aren’t always the longest or result in touchdowns.
“I think two of his best runs came when he had to make a lot happen on his own,” Ball said. “Against Troy last year, he had just jumped over someone and had to make a turn with speed or a tight spin to get loose, and that’s exactly what he did. I thought he showed his explosiveness, ball control and a good deal of speed, more than we were used to seeing, on that particular run.
“The second run that impressed me the most was against Oklahoma State (last year). He started right and then had to reverse the field because of the situation he was in, so a lot of what he got on that run was on his own.”
Moreno only had 79 yards on 20 carries in this year’s 14-7 win at South Carolina, but Richt repeatedly points to that as one of his better games because the line wasn’t blocking well.
Of course, players and coaches were only questioned about the runs everybody has seen. Coaches and players see Moreno in practice, too.
“Some of his best runs have come in practice,” defensive end Roderick Battle said. “He had some runs on the scout team during the ’06 season, so we knew he was going to be good.”
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs continued Capital One preparations Monday with a 90-minute workout. ... Sophomore defensive end Demarcus Dobbs sat out with a sprained ankle that he suffered Sunday. ... Georgia players had roughly $3,000 left over from Sunday’s Best Buy shopping spree (each player got a $400 gift card), so that amount will be used to purchase items for the Boys and Girls Club in Athens. ... The Bulldogs have become the first team to sell their allotment of 12,000 tickets.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...