ATHENS – The weather for Saturday’s game in Columbia, Mo., projects as mostly sunny with a high of 74 degrees, a low of 54 and humidity that should be below 50 percent by the time the game kicks off at close to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
That bodes well for Georgia and tailback Todd Gurley in particular. According to the National Weather Service, the heat index in Sanford Stadium this past Saturday made it feel like 103 degrees about the time Gurley was carrying a football 100 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Buffalo game.
It’s no wonder, then, that Gurley spent most of the first half in the Bulldogs’ locker room receiving fluids intravenously. Hence his final line – 8 rushes for 100 yards, 2 kickoff returns for 127 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Georgia coach Mark Richt wasn’t ready to pronounce Gurley as this week’s starter based on that performance. But he did offer this on Wednesday: “He’ll carry it more than eight times.”
“He’d have carried more than eight times in this last ballgame but after that long touchdown run on the kickoff he kind of got light-headed and didn’t feel real good,” he said. “So we didn’t get to see him much for the rest of the first half.”
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Gurley’s performance in Saturday’s game earned him a spot in “the Victor’s Club,” the highest honor the team bestows on players who make major contributions in a win. But the previous game’s performance is not the only gauge coaches use to determine starters from one week to the next at skill positions.
“It’s based on production and how you handle a week of practice,” Bobo said. “. . . Whoever we feel like gives us the best chance to be productive is going to play the most.”
Gurley would seem a slam dunk in that regard, at 22.7 yards per touch. The Bulldogs got 32 yards on six carries from Ken Malcome, who started the opener but left in the second half with a hand injury. Freshman Keith Marshall added 46 yards on 10 carries and senior Richard Samuel had three for 17.
Gurley, for one, said he doesn’t expect to start and could care less if he does or not.
“Ken’s the starter,” Gurley said. “He was the starter the last game; he’s probably going to still be the starter this game.”
Starting aside, Gurley said he has enjoyed the attention he has gotten since Saturday’s explosive debut. He spoke proudly of the messages he got from ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who said “congratulations on the great start,” and Brandon Boykin, who tweeted, “Gurley tryna come for my KR record lol. He a beast! #Godawgs. The best part, he said, was watching his highlights on television Saturday night.
“It’s been crazy,” Gurley said. “Not really overwhelming, but I’m just trying to do what my family wants me to do, my coaches want me to do and what I think is right. I’m just trying to stay humble; I think that’s just the right way to be about it.”
As for getting gassed in the first quarter, Gurley said he’s going to work on that well.
“I’ll get used to it,” he said of the Georgia heat and humidity, “and hopefully it won’t happen again.”
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