On pace for 1,000-yard season, Todd Gurley ‘doesn’t seem like a freshman’

Todd Gurley before his first Georgia-Florida game. (AJC photo/Bob Andres)

Todd Gurley before his first Georgia-Florida game. (AJC photo/Bob Andres)

ATHENS – His teammates and coaches marvel that Todd Gurley doesn’t seem like a freshman, and the Georgia tailback is piling up statistics that quantify their point.

Two-thirds of the way through the regular season, Gurley is on pace to become just the second true freshman in Georgia football history to rush for 1,000 yards. His most impressive game yet — 118 yards on 27 fumble-free carries against a Florida defense that had not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season — lifted Gurley’s rushing total to 740 yards, which projects to 1,110 by the end of the regular season.

That would rank behind only you-know-who among first-year Bulldogs.

Herschel Walker ran for 1,616 yards in Georgia’s national-championship season of 1980, but the next most rushing yards by a UGA first-year freshman is Rodney Hampton’s 890 in 1987. One caveat: Knowshon Moreno ran for 1,334 yards in his debut season in 2007, but Moreno was a redshirt freshman at the time, having already spent a full year in the Georgia program.

Gurley arrived this past summer, made a strong impression in preseason camp and proceeded to run for 100-plus yards in five of his first eight games.

Ask around the team about him, and the same message echoes.

Senior wide receiver Tavarres King: “He’s just a guy who is way ahead of his years, in my eyes. I don’t feel like he’s a freshman. It’s crazy, because he doesn’t act like a freshman and he doesn’t play like one.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo: “He does not seem like a freshman running back. He doesn’t have a freshman body. He’s physically like a grown man already. And the maturity he has, the way he approaches practice and the mental approach he has in a game to be able to do what we do, (shows) how special he is.”

Quarterback Aaron Murray: “Usually freshmen might be a little shy, but he’s very vocal, making sure guys are staying pumped up, getting excited. He definitely doesn’t act like one at all.”

Gurley’s reaction to all of that: “I guess they just have confidence in me. I’m thankful for that.”

The hoopla surrounding Gurley had started to subside a bit at this time a week ago. After 130-yard rushing games against Vanderbilt and Tennessee, he had been held to 39 by South Carolina and 47 by Kentucky, raising some questions about how he’d fare against a Florida defense that ranked No. 10 nationally against the run.

The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Gurley fared very well, reigniting the hoopla by running powerfully and physically in a game in which space was hard to find.

“I thought (Gurley’s performance) was probably underrated as far as what people talked about at the end of the game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “There are so many things to talk about in that game, but … it was a tremendous performance. To have that many carries against that physical of a defense and to average 4.4 (yards) without really having a long run, that was a heck of a game. And his ball security was tremendous.”

One other thing impressed Richt: Gurley was “stung” by a hard hit early in the game but “just didn’t say much about it. Just kept going.”

Running backs coach Bryan McClendon said the game “really showed a lot” about Gurley, “just him being up to it and being able to do it.” McClendon said Gurley and fellow freshman tailback Keith Marshall “know the importance of preparing and doing things the right way in practice if they want to get the outcome in the game.”

The Florida game left Gurley third in the SEC in rushing, 53 yards off the league lead, and Georgia positioned to reach the SEC Championship game if it wins at home against Ole Miss on Saturday and at Auburn on Nov. 10.

“That’s why I came here,” said Gurley, from Tarboro, N.C. “I knew it was a great team that went to the SEC Championship last year and dreamed big. Why not me, being a freshman, dream big with them?”

Gurley had one moment of over-exuberance against the Gators. After giving Georgia an early lead on a strong 10-yard touchdown run, he did a “Gator chomp” in the end zone and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“Coach Bobo asked me (after the game), ‘What the heck was that?’” Gurley said. “I told him, and he was, like, ‘That’s stupid.’

“It was a celebration I got from (teammate) Blake Tibbs. He did it last year in a high school game (against an opponent that had a Florida-bound player). I liked it, so I got in the end zone and thought of it.”

Call it his freshman moment.

And now a veteran moment: As the chatter continued early this week about the win over the Gators, Gurley declared, “Time to move on now.”

– Tim Tucker

FEATURED FRESHMEN

The top 10 rushing seasons by UGA first-year freshmen (redshirt freshmen not included):

Player Year Yards

Herschel Walker 1980 1,616*

Rodney Hampton 1987 890

Thomas Brown 2004 875

Isaiah Crowell 2011 850

Todd Gurley 2012 740**

Keith Henderson 1985 731

Washaun Ealey 2009 717

Garrison Hearst 1990 717

Danny Ware 2004 692

Tim Worley 1985 627

* – Walker’s total set the NCAA freshman record at the time; the record now is held by Adrian Peterson, who had 1,925 rushing yards as an Oklahoma freshman in 2004.

** – with four regular-season games remaining

Source: UGA

233 comments Add your comment

tgbeazy

November 1st, 2012
5:02 pm

Art silva UGA

November 1st, 2012
5:03 pm

First!!! Gurley very humble!!!

Taylor

November 1st, 2012
5:03 pm

Columbia SC Dawg

November 1st, 2012
5:11 pm

Pound pound pound away … all the way to Atlanta and beyond.

Freddy

November 1st, 2012
5:16 pm

Isaiah who????

Jimmy

November 1st, 2012
5:18 pm

That 10 yard TD run against the Gators showed that it takes more than just power to be a great back. He pressed the line then found the hole and excelerated through it. Too many times a young back is so pumped for a big game he just takes the hand off and runs up his linemen’s backs (not being patiet enough for the hole to appear).

The offense needs to run through Gurley. As they say, “Let the Big Dawg Eat!”

TMC DAWG

November 1st, 2012
5:22 pm

gurley will have big games the rest of season. Really think that 1275 yards is doable, If bobo gives him the ball. What do yall think FRESHMAN ALL AMERICAN?

UGA89

November 1st, 2012
5:23 pm

Tide Roll… Why are you so obsessed with UGA if we are no threat to you and Bama? Why don’t you worry about your team and we will worry about our Dawgs?! I don’t understand why you care what we do unless you are really a UGA fan disguised as a Bama fan.

nolabigdawg

November 1st, 2012
5:24 pm

Hey Tide Roll, go pound sand you racist a$$ clown!!!

Don’t go away mad, just please, please go away.

Mitt Obama

November 1st, 2012
5:35 pm

He’s been really impressive. Consistently good…….

Preacher Dawg

November 1st, 2012
5:40 pm

Hunker Down You Hairy Dawgs!!! Git R Done!!! Your Team,Your Time, No Regrets!! Sic em!!

BobDog

November 1st, 2012
5:42 pm

I don’t see a comment by Tide Roll. Was it taken down? Good riddance.

GB's Hamburgers

November 1st, 2012
5:46 pm

Gurley was a force in the Fla game. I liked the way he slid down the line and turned up field in whatever opening presented itself. It’s exactly what he did on that first touchdown run. I would have like to seen more of Marshall. He is a bit quicker and shifter but he’ll get his shots. They are good people too.

Joey

November 1st, 2012
5:49 pm

My wife missed the 1st TD, then walked in, and saw where UGA was kicking off from, and asked about it.

I told her about Gurley’s TD, and his “Gator chomp,” and she said right away, “that’s okay, it was worth it!”

Gator-hater extraordinaire, she . . .

[...] On pace for 1,000-yard season, Todd Gurley ‘doesn’t seem like a freshman’ ← Back to Home Tags: ajc, andres, focal, freshman, georgia, gurley, ran, regular 0 [...]

Mark (another one)

November 1st, 2012
5:52 pm

Why not print a list with the redshirt freshmen included? There can’t be that many. It’s still their first year of college ball. Who else besides Mareno would be ahead of Gurley?

FAN

November 1st, 2012
6:06 pm

I guess Tide roll said something pretty ignorant cause its off this blog. Then again its expected for a bama guy to say something ignorant, especially him.

Strat Cat Dawg

November 1st, 2012
6:21 pm

Hard for haters/trolls/whiners to find anything negative to say about Todd Gurley but I’m sure they’ll think of something…

Tim Tucker

November 1st, 2012
6:23 pm

If you add redshirt freshmen to the list, Moreno is the only one who would be ahead of Gurley.

Kingsx7

November 1st, 2012
6:24 pm

JUST WIN BABY !!!!!!!!!!!

Pazian

November 1st, 2012
6:26 pm

Gurley is awesome, enough said.

Tim Tucker

November 1st, 2012
6:31 pm

Mark (another one): Other than Moreno, no other redshirt freshman would make the top-10 list. Michael Cooper (673 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2003) would be No. 11.

roughrider

November 1st, 2012
6:35 pm

If Gurley had a good OL to run behind, he would already be over 1000 yds.

GATA

November 1st, 2012
6:41 pm

Gurley will win the Heisman his junior year.

Bob

November 1st, 2012
6:43 pm

Mr. Gurley, thanks for becoming a Dawg. The game has changed since HW, Worley, Tate, Henderson, Hampton, and Garrison; however, you and Keith Marshall are among the best. Your work ethic, talent, and team spirit will continue to make you excell. Best wishes on Saturday.

Bernie Matt

November 1st, 2012
6:50 pm

The scary part is that, had Crowell not gotten into trouble, I don’t believe this coaching staff would have been equipped to determine that Gurley should be playing anyway. HE’S JUST BETTER THAN CROWELL!. As S. Williams pointed out about Amarlo over the senior LB’s. We may win out and accomplish some high goals this year, but going forward, something still has to change with this staff.

NCDawg

November 1st, 2012
7:19 pm

Gurley is a beast. I think he might gain 10-15 more pounds without losing his speed. I wonder if Coach Bobo has considered putting Marshall in the slot and scaring defenses by running him on quick reverses while trying to defend Gurley up the middle and off tackle. One of those guys might end up taking snaps out of a wildcat as well. There is alot of potential ways to make DC’s lose sleep. I hope we start throwing it to them out of the backfield as well.

NCDawg

November 1st, 2012
7:31 pm

Gurley and Marshall would have played if IC did not keep up. We’ll never know if he would have been better as a sophomore but he could have been. The competition would have been open just as it was in his absence. Ken Malcome had a chance and may still see playing time but it is obvious the freshmen are true stars. They would have beaten IC out in a straight up competition without a major improvement from IC. I am happy with the way things worked out.

Bulldawgman49

November 1st, 2012
7:39 pm

Well I can see where he gets his maturity from his DAD met him in jacksonville at the Hotel big man
very nice too.
Wow who ever thought that crowell was our savior and he turn out to be a dud . And this big kid comes in shows what a SEC RB should be . Going to be fun next couple yrs .

bubba4dawgs

November 1st, 2012
7:40 pm

There is a lot that can be done with mixing plays to feature Gurley and Marshall. Power and speed is a great asset for the Bulldogs! They are the answer to CMR’s prayers and the whole Bulldog Nation for that matter! It’s so exciting having them here! Their future is definitely bright! Stay healthy, guys! You both are DGD’s!! GO DAWGS!!

CHDawg

November 1st, 2012
7:43 pm

NCDawg, that is a great idea. I say get your threats on the field.

kingdaddy

November 1st, 2012
8:04 pm

Our running game should progress as the Oline matures and gets deeper. If we have any kind of Defense next year, we should be just fine…

St. Bernard

November 1st, 2012
8:14 pm

It would be interesting to see a few sets with both frosh in there together, ala Ronnie Brown and Cadillac.

TMC DAWG

November 1st, 2012
8:21 pm

next year for the defense will NOT be all Bad. Land a couple more of defensive linemen, We are deep at linebacker and Damein Swann is the best corner we have right now. The future is bright for the dawgs. GATA GO DAWGS

Mobile Dawg

November 1st, 2012
8:24 pm

This will be taken as a negative but, why hasn’t our OC exploited the ability of both backs as a duel threat? Good question Mobile….

Mobile Dawg

November 1st, 2012
8:30 pm

So the positive, Gurley is one of the brightest spots we’ve had in years, hopefully Marshall continues to get opportunities too. Dual backfield with Gurshall, run and pass threat. How do you defense that without compromising other areas? Send Bobo back to school. Low risk, high reward plays should be the norm for us.

Jeremy Wallace

November 1st, 2012
8:34 pm

Joey…she sounds like a keeper!:)

Mark (another one)

November 1st, 2012
8:37 pm

Tim: Thanks for the info on the redshirts as well. I didn’t remember any others.

Gurley and Marshall would be playing regardless of IC. I believe both are extremely talented and spent the time to learn the plays so they can stay on the field. Theus is also showing a true freshman can produce.

Dawg

November 1st, 2012
8:46 pm

GURLEY, dont feel bad about doing the Gator chomp after that TD, they deserved it, you should be allowed to do that, and they shouldnt be allowed to flag you for it. Thats ridiculous that they flagged you for that. Good job, and keep churning out those tough yards.

sandiegodawg

November 1st, 2012
8:54 pm

I think Malcome should be getting more reps since he is the best pass blocker we have and he has shown some good, hard runs. He probably won’t take it to the house but I would spread the hits out that all these kids take

sandiegodawg

November 1st, 2012
8:54 pm

I think Malcome should be getting more reps since he is the best pass blocker we have and he has shown some good, hard runs. He probably won’t take it to the house but I would spread the hits out that all these kids take

CC

November 1st, 2012
9:01 pm

Gurley is a beast. It’s going to be fun watching him run over opponents for the next 2 years.

Where the hell is Gatormeat now?

November 1st, 2012
9:15 pm

NC DAWG with the best idea.

kingdaddy

November 1st, 2012
9:18 pm

I think Malcome should get more snaps. He is a load when he catches the ball out of the backfield, and so is Gurley. What do we do with Marshall???

KJ

November 1st, 2012
9:21 pm

“Gurley had one moment of over-exuberance against the Gators.”

The only “over-exuberance” was on the refs’ part, because they have such a hardon for UGA in that game, for some reason (Penn Wagers, anyone?) Apparently you have to wear orange and be right with Jesus to get away with that (along with a coach shoving a player)

It would have been nice if Bobo had defended him post-game…. then again, it would be nice if Bobo did a LOT of things he doesn’t do.

Neutral

November 1st, 2012
9:37 pm

Todd is great, but I wish we would get back to using Marshall a lot more and keep both guys fresh. I think Keith is averaging almost 7 yards per carry and needs a little more love…..and carries!!! Go Dawgs!!!

BAD DAWG

November 1st, 2012
9:38 pm

Those lizards got quiet after getting beat last weekend. All of them went into hiding.

Gaters

November 1st, 2012
10:15 pm

He actually can break tackles.

Vampire Bill

November 1st, 2012
10:36 pm

Gurly is the man

funny...

November 1st, 2012
11:01 pm

The O-line is just fine, quit blaming them.

Had we not abandoned the run against USC he would have had 100 there too.