ATHENS — Freshman Todd Gurley has out-gained the other tailbacks two-fold with 167 yards and 3 touchdowns on 15 touches in Georgia’s two scrimmages. But that hasn’t been enough for coaches to anoint him as No. 1 player at the position.
“As far as a clear-cut pecking order, I think we’ll probably come up with one a little bit later on, but not today,” running backs coach Bryan McClendon said after Thursday’s practice. “We have one more scrimmage next week and a few more padded practices to keep progressing. So we still have some time to do some evaluating and guys to get better as well. You don’t want to come up with something and then switching things up next week and create a mess.”
McClendon said after reviewing the video from Wednesday’s scrimmage and watching closely observing Gurley go through 15 preseason practices, he is as excited as everybody else about the 6-foot-1, 218-pound runner. But he is also getting positive feedback from the other three players battling to be the No. 1 tailback: sophomore Ken Malcome, senior Richard Samuel and freshman Keith Marshall.
“You get excited when you see [Gurley] go out and perform,” McClendon said. “He went out there and had a good scrimmage. But he wasn’t the only one. Keith had a good scrimmage and had some good runs. And Ken, stat wise, didn’t have the numbers that those guys did, but he was probably the best one out there yesterday. It’s definitely something you have to go by what you see, but all those guys are working their tails off and pushing each other. It’s exciting to see that now.”
McClendon said he envisions all four players getting carries in the Buffalo game. One of them will have to go first, and the Bulldogs can play it a lot of different ways.
It can start Malcome, who began the preseason in the No. 1 position and has done nothing to fall back;
It can reward the senior Richard Samuel for being willing to return to the position and split time at fullback;
It can go with either one of the freshmen, making one the first rookie to start a season opener since Danny Ware in 2004.
Whatever Georgia does, McClendon thinks it’s merely trivia.
“I definitely think we’ll use four,” he said. “We used three the last couple of years in each game. We’ve played three or four guys before, so I definitely think we can play all four of them.”
Here’s what Georgia’s five tailbacks have done in the two scrimmage. Keep in mind that situations and opportunities with the No. 1 offense vary for each:
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