ATHENS — With 27 yards rushing against Georgia Southern on Saturday, Todd Gurley can become only the second true freshman in Georgia football history to go over 1,000 yards in a season. And it’s not beyond the realm of possibility Gurley could still catch that first guy on the list.
Gurley would need to average 160.7 yards in the Bulldogs’ final four games to run down Hall of Famer Herschel Walker. But that likely won’t happen because of the “Gurshall” phenomena, and “Gurshall’s” going to blow past Herschel this week anyway.
“Gurshall” is the nickname dreamed up by receiver Tavarres King for Georgia’s combination of freshman tailbacks, Gurley and Keith Marshall. Together they’ve accounted for 1,595 yards and 17 touchdowns. Walker’s freshman record set in 1980 was 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“I had no idea about that,” said Gurley, who has accounted 973 and 11 scores. “I knew I had 900-and-something, but I wasn’t even sure. That’s pretty cool.”
“We’re not really focused on that because we’re in the middle of a season and we’ve still got a good deal of football left to play,” Marshall said modestly. “But it’s cool to be compared to somebody like that.”
“Cool” doesn’t begin to describe how important their output has been for the Bulldogs this season. Considering that Georgia lost its leading rusher from the previous season, Isaiah Crowell (850 yards), for Gurley and Marshall to show up as freshmen and come through as they have might be the biggest reason the Bulldogs find themselves back in the SEC Championship game.
“It’s huge,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “And I’ve got faith in Ken Malcome. I thought Ken was really coming on. He’s a good player, too, and he’s helping us win, no doubt. But Keith and Todd are very talented guys, obviously, and they’re both very mature guys. They’ve both kind of fed off each other in a very positive way.”
Said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo: “It was huge, because we definitely needed some consistency in the backfield, and those two guys stepped up. But it hasn’t been just those two. (Fullback) Merritt Hall, (right tackle) John Theus and (tight ends) Artie Lynch and Jay Rome and (center) David Andrews. We’d lost six starters on offense. Obviously a lot of credit goes to Todd and Keith, too.”
Probably the most important aspect of the whole equation is both players enter the 12th week of the regular season relatively healthy. They’ve had the resident strains as sprains but, to this point, neither player has missed even a single practice. That has been the byproduct of having a three-player rotation at tailback.
So while sharing the load has kept Gurley from running down Herschel, it has also helped keep all three backs running.
“In this league, you ain’t going to last long taking 30 carries every week,” Gurley said. “You need somebody to be there with you. We have other backs that can get into the rotation.”
Reaching the 1,000-yard milestone is good enough for Gurley. “That’s a big accomplishment, just to get a 1,000 in this league as a freshman,” he said. “I’d love to get that.”
Knowshon Moreno rushed for 1,334 yards and 14 TDs as a redshirt freshman. Georgia’s next-best freshman duo was Thomas Brown and Danny Ware, who combined for 1,567 yards in 2004.
Garner: Rules should address cut-blocking
Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner was agrees with some of his players that cut-blocking should be illegal. But he was
“I think if we’re truly concerned about student-athlete welfare, then we need to ensure that we’re looking at it from a safety standpoint on both sides of the ball,” Garner said. “Sometimes I feel like the (rules) may be favoring one side over the other. We need to make sure we’re examining rules and making sure these safety things are in place for both sides of the ball. There are safety concerns on both sides. There are some things they need to look at for the safety of the student-athlete, because there could be some career-ending type things that happen out there.”
Georgia lost senior defensive end Abry Jones to an ankle injury earlier this season. Last year, the Bulldogs lost senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson to a season-ending ankle injury against Georgia Tech. Noseguard Kwame Geathers was suspended for a half last season for punching a Vanderbilt player after he clipped his knee from behind at the end of a play.
Etc. . . .
Georgia practiced in full pads Tuesday for the second consecutive day. Starting right guard Chris Burnette (shoulder) and outside linebacker Chase Vasser (shoulder) continued to be held out and remain questionable for Saturday’s game. … Freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons, who has been playing defensive back and special teams all season, practiced with the outside linebackers Tuesday. “We’re just trying to get our best 11 out there,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.