ORLANDO, Fla. –Considering the monster season he just had, it has been a relatively quiet period for Georgia’s Todd Gurley as the Bulldogs prepared for Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl game against Nebraska. And that’s just the way Gurley likes it.
The quiet-spoken freshman rushed for 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns this season and he has proven to be the Bulldogs’ most consistent offensive weapon. After his 122-yard, two touchdown performance against Alabama in the SEC Championship game, Gurley enters Tuesday’s game averaging 96.9 yards per game.
But it was only grudgingly that submitted to a recent interview request, and then he was decidedly modest when it came to talking about the season he has had.
“It was a great season but I wanted much more out of it,” said Gurley, whose 17 total touchdowns is the fourth most in school history. “But there ain’t nothing we can do about it now. We’ve just got this one more game and we’re going to take it from here.”
Gurley said the rushing yards and touchdown numbers are nice, but all his goals were team ones and they included an SEC championship and national title. The Bulldogs came up short on each of those.
Certainly, then, he must be licking his chop to go against a Nebraska defense that just gave up 539 yards rushing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Gurley, whose rushing season currently ranks ninth best in UGA annals, could move past Knowshon Moreno up to fifth with 161 yards against the Cornhuskers.
“Everybody’s talking about their last game. But that was three weeks ago and I’m pretty sure they’ve done a lot since then,” Gurley said. “Everybody has a bad game and Wisconsin has a pretty good offensive line. So you can’t look at what happened in the last game. Everybody runs to the ball and they have a great defense.”
Asked what his goal is for the Capital One Bowl, Gurley again went with the team concept.
“Just to show everybody that we believe we are the best team in the country,” Gurley said. “We want to finish in the Top 5 in the country and make a statement a little bit. You know, we’re not in the BCS game, but I guess this is the highest non-BCS bowl you can be in. We just want to come out there and get a win. I guess a lot of people are saying Georgia is not this or that. But we just want that one win and finish off with 12 wins.”
UGA President Michael Adams is attending his last bowl game as the university’s top executive. He has already announced his retirement and the search for his successor is well under way.
Attending the Capital One Bowl kickoff luncheon Monday at the Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld, Adams said he is “staying out of” search for his replacement, which at this point is down to nine finalists. However, he did say he had heard from “two or three” of the candidates who had reached out to him for insight.
“There are a couple I think they may like better than some of the others, but you never know what the regents will do,” he said.
Adams announced his retirement this past May, which will be effective in June 2013. The football program has gone 152-51 during his tenure, a .748 winning percentage. Adams will remain in Athens and teach at UGA as a regents professor.
Special teams talk
Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked again Monday about the Bulldogs’ set-up for special teams coaching. Earlier this season Richt said he was considering taking a more hands-on approach himself with the kickers.
Richt indicated that Georgia would not designated a dedicated special teams coordinator and would likely stick with its current system, in which various assistants are assigned certain teams, such as kickoff return or punt or placement kicks. But Richt said still wants to learn more about kicking techniques so he can work directly with punters and place-kickers.
“I do plan on trying to educate myself better on the fundamentals of it,” Richt said. I think that would be important for me to do, since I’m an eligible coach.”
Richt’s desire is born out of the Bulldogs’ struggles with placement kicks the last two seasons. Former place-kicker Blair Walsh missed 14 field goals as a senior last year but has made 35 of 38 — including 10 of 50 or more yards — to earn Pro Bowl honors as an NFL rookie with the Minnesota Vikings.
Also, freshman place-kicker Marshall Morgan has missed five field goals and four extra points this season.