One name: Todd Gurley.
One question: Do you play him this week or rest him for Auburn?
Believe it or not, this is a hotly debated topic within the Georgia fan base right now, as the Bulldogs prepare for their upcoming contest against Appalachian State. The reason for the quandary has a lot to do with how Gurley looked against Florida this past weekend.
Despite a two touchdown, 175+ yard performance on the football field, he simply didn’t look like the dominant, tackle-breaking, pile-moving back Georgia fans are used to seeing. He looked, for lack of a better word, a little tired and a bit gimpy—particularly after that first quarter.
The difference in his play was so noticeable, the CBS broadcast team found themselves obsessed with pointing it out—whenever and wherever possible—so by the time the clock hit four zeroes in Jacksonville, a good portion of the Georgia fan base were wondering if it might not be best to rest Gurley until the Auburn game—why risk re-injuring or making a bad situation worse by playing him against what is perceived to be a lesser opponent? In their minds, we need him against Auburn…not so much against Appalachian State.
It’s a legitimate concern, I’ll grant you that; the mere sight of Gurley on the sidelines Saturday, sucking wind, out of sorts, and on the verge of collapse, after his 70+ yard touchdown run, was enough to make my heart palpitate. And, even more, the resulting lack of imagination on the part of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, after Gurley’s exit, made it crystal clear who this Georgia offense truly revolves around as the season moves forward.
But, Bobo’s imaginative play calling, or lack thereof, aside, let’s get back to the question…do you play Gurley or rest him? In my humble opinion, you play him. I mean, do you honestly want him resting any more than he already has for the last month?
Georgia will need his legs and his game-breaking ability even more against an Auburn team that has seen themselves absolutely embarrassed by the Bulldogs two seasons straight—including a nasty 38-0 loss on ‘The Plains’ last season; you do not want to face the Tigers with Gurley still at half-speed. He needs all the reps he can get in order for him to get back up to speed—period. Resting him should only be an option if there was more to his exit Saturday than a need for electrolytes and oxygen.
Does that mean you play him the whole game? I don’t know about that, I think a half or three quarters would be sufficient, but you certainly want him out there taking the hits, fighting for yards, and being challenged by the defense; he needs to do that if he’s going to get back to being the player he’s known for being—Tough. Nasty. Nearly Unstoppable.
If you don’t do that, you run the risk of seeing the same thing happen to him at Auburn that you saw against Florida. And while Georgia still managed to escape with the win, thanks to a very calculated drive (and an untimely Florida penalty) at the end, you’re probably going to need more than 23-points to beat Auburn—and you’re going to need a healthy, ready, Gurley to make that happen.
That’s my two. What say you?