Georgia freshman running back Isaiah Crowell will face an LSU defense that is ranked second in the nation and fourth against the run.
ATHENS — Aaron Murray’s four touchdown passes were enough for Georgia to beat Georgia Tech last week without much of a running game.
The quarterback said Monday No. 12 Georgia will need more balance to have a chance against No. 1 LSU in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference championship game.
Georgia hopes to have freshman starting tailback Isaiah Crowell back this week. Crowell missed the 31-17 win against Georgia Tech with a left ankle injury.
How important is Crowell’s return to Georgia’s chances? “It’s huge,” Murray said Monday.
Coach Mark Richt said Sunday he expects Crowell will play this week.
“Unless there’s a setback, I think he will play in the game,” Richt said.
Crowell leads Georgia (10-2) with 832 yards rushing and five touchdowns, including four 100-yard games.
LSU ranks No. 2 in the nation — three spots ahead of Georgia — in total defense. The Tigers are No. 4 — two spots ahead of Georgia — against the run.
There may be no definite word on Crowell’s status before Saturday’s game at the Georgia Dome. Georgia is not making Crowell or any running backs available for interviews this week.
Georgia also could have senior tailback Richard Samuel back against LSU. Samuel, who opened the season as the starter, had surgery on his left ankle last month.
Murray completed 19 of 29 passes for 252 yards with four touchdowns and one interception against Georgia Tech.
Georgia had only 128 yards rushing. Ken Malcome led the Bulldogs with only 39 yards rushing.
The Bulldogs normally provide better run support for Murray, who has set a school record with 32 touchdown passes this season.
“We like to keep things balanced,” Murray said. “I mean, I’m not saying we’re going to go out there and pass the ball 40, 50 times a game. We want to be able to run the ball. We want to be able to chew up clock to keep our defense on the sidelines. I think we’ve been able to do that all year.
“We really want to be able to run the ball, and I think we need to be able to run the ball against LSU to get the victory and put some points on the board.”
Crowell was in uniform against Georgia Tech but did not play after he appeared to favor the sore ankle in pregame drills. Crowell injured the ankle on only his second carry against Kentucky on Nov. 19.
There was speculation Richt may have wanted to protect Crowell for the SEC championship game.
“I don’t know if we were saving him,” Murray said. “I think the coaches had all intentions of playing him. I just don’t think he was ready by game time. He was close, but I don’t think they wanted to risk any more injury.
“I talked to him yesterday. He said he’s feeling great. He’ll definitely be ready for the game Saturday.”
Carlton Thomas, returning from his third suspension of the season, had only five carries for six yards against Georgia Tech. He is second on the team with 327 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Crowell and Malcome also missed one game with suspensions.
NOTES: Georgia has scheduled a memorial service for former longtime broadcaster Larry Munson on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. The service will be moved to Stegeman Coliseum if there is bad weather. Munson, 89, died on Nov. 20 of complications from pneumonia. Players wore a decal on their helmets in memory of Munson against Georgia Tech.