Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, DawgNation will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at tailback Todd Gurley.
No. 3 Todd Gurley
199 carries, 1,260 yards, 16 TDs in 2012
Role in 2012: Gurley has had as good a freshman year as anyone could possibly have expected, seizing the starting job early in the season and going on to lead the SEC with 1,260 rushing yards.
The good: The freshman has impressive size for a player his age and possesses a skill set that makes him a useful every-down back. Most importantly, he is a physical runner capable of moving the pile and getting yards after contact. But he also has good speed and agility, which helped him break a number of long runs this season once he broke into the secondary. Gurley is already a bona fide star in a running back league.
The bad: There is little from Gurley’s first college season to nitpick. He naturally experienced a problem or two in pass protection, but he’s a willing blocker. And although it appeared he was beginning to wear down at midseason when he rushed for 39 and 47 yards in consecutive games against South Carolina and Kentucky, respectively, he bounced back to rush for 97 yards or more in five of Georgia’s last six games.
Crystal ball: Gurley already has proved he can be a workhorse running back in the SEC. That trend should continue not only against Nebraska but during his next two college seasons. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns this season. His average of 96.9 yards per game is second in the SEC to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s average of 98.4. With Gurley and freshman Keith Marshall in the backfield, expect Georgia’s running game to remain a strength for at least two more years.