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Thousand-yard man
Moreno getting compared to Walker, Pollack

ATHENS - Knowshon Moreno has vaguely heard of a guy named Herschel Walker.

No need to ask him anything else about Georgia's long football history. He won't know the answer.

For instance, when someone brought up some of the weird quirks in the venerable series against Auburn, such as the road team usually wins, Moreno just stared blankly. 'I go into as just another game,' he said Tuesday, decked out in a New York Yankees cap.

Well, how does he fit in with some of the great running backs in Bulldogs history? Ever hear of Rodney Hampton? How about Garrison Hearst? 'I've just heard about Herschel,' the redshirt freshman said with a shrug. 'That's about it."

Heck, Moreno probably didn't know about Walker until last week, when he joined the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner as just the second Georgia freshman ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

While his appreciation of history may be lacking, Moreno has been an offensive godsend for the No. 10 Bulldogs (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference), who are first in the Eastern Division heading into Saturday's crucial game against 18th-ranked Auburn.

Georgia came into the season looking loaded in the backfield, with Moreno set to join a mix that already included seniors Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin.

But Lumpkin went down in the very first game with a broken thumb, then sustained a knee injury that will keep him out for at least the rest of the regular season. Brown missed the last two games with a broken collarbone, though he returned to practice this week and likely will play against the Tigers.

Even if Brown is healthy, it's going to be hard to keep Moreno on the sideline for very long.

The 5-foot-11, 207-pound bundle of energy has been practically unstoppable since Brown was hurt early in the Vanderbilt game in October. Moreno carried the ball 28 times for 157 yards against the Commodores.

Proving that was no fluke, he ripped off 188 yards on 33 carries in a 42-30 win over Florida, only the third time in the past 18 years the Bulldogs have defeated their border rival. (And, no, don't bother asking Moreno about that series, either.)

Last week, Moreno became Georgia's first member of the 1,000-yard club since Musa Smith in 2002, piling up 196 yards on 26 carries to give him 1,003 for the season.

He's still got three regular-season games left to build on that total, plus a bowl and, possibly, the SEC championship game.

'I couldn't do it without my team, without my blockers up front. They're doing a great job,' Moreno said, trying to deflect any attention. 'It means a lot to them. It's more like their reward.'

While he does little to draw attention to himself during sessions with the media, Moreno's enthusiasm on the field is on display for all to see. He bounces around the field like a pinball, always going at full speed, always hopping up from the ground like he can't wait until the next play.

Coach Mark Richt can recall only one other Georgia player who approached the game with such passion: defensive end David Pollack.

'Every once in a while, you can see a guy on tape who just flat out loves it,' Richt said. 'Knowshon is one of those guys. It's contagious. A lot of guys love the game. A lot of guys play hard. But every once in a while, it's just so visible that this guy is jacked up, ready to go and wants some more.'

After struggling through the first half of the season behind a young line, the Moreno-led offense seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time, scoring 86 points the last two weeks.

'He's been a spark,' receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said. 'He's by far the most energetic person I've ever been around. It's not an act, either. He's not putting on. He's just always fun to be around. You might be a little tired, but then you look over and see him flying around. That makes you want to pick up whatever it is you're doing.'

Moreno's lack of knowledge about Georgia football - or the SEC, for that matter - is understandable. He was the second-leading rusher in New Jersey high school history, rushing 6,268 yards and helping Middletown South win three state titles in a row.

While the Garden State isn't one of Richt's usual recruiting grounds, he couldn't help but notice the kid who played with so much enthusiasm and, oh yeah, ran for 1,808 yards and 43 touchdowns as a senior.

Moreno felt comfortable on his recruiting visits to Athens, and it helped that he had relatives in the Atlanta area to ease the transition. He was redshirted last season, giving him a chance to get adjusted to the pace of the college game.

'I wanted to pick a place where if I wasn't playing football, I could get along with everyone and still have a good time at the school,' he said. 'This was the place for me. I'm definitely happy with my decision.'

Just lay off on the history questions.