Keith Marshall showed up, with all the promise in the world, as one of the prize recruits of Georgia’s 2012 class. Despite the fact that he would eventually settle into a tandem role with, eventual breakout star and current NFL Rookie, Todd Gurley, no one ever imagined Marshall would ever be anything less than an impact player for the Bulldogs.
Oh, what a difference a few years, and one torn ACL, makes.
As 2015 comes a bit more into focus, one thing is clear: Marshall is not No. 1 or No. 2 on Georgia’s depth chart. If that’s by design, then I can’t wait to see what happens as the season rolls on, but something tells me that even a healthy (which he finally is) Marshall won’t beat a healthy Nick Chubb or Sony Michel. He’s a No. 3 guy who could start anywhere else, but will be a role player for the remainder of his time at Georgia— barring a catastrophe at the position.
Marshall is a phenomenal football player, but Brian Schottenheimer has taken to using Michel in the role Marshall was essentially brought in to play back in 2012. And, to be honest, Michel is doing a helluva job playing that role.
However, as a fan, you’re still thinking to yourself, why isn’t No. 4 getting the ball a bit more?
In that (beautiful) rout over South Carolina, Marshall saw the field more as a special teams player, than he did as a running back. Even with the game well in hand, he only saw the ball in garbage time. And it’s a trend that’s become more apparent with each quarter.
In three games, Chubb, Michel, and Marshall have 56, 26, and 19 carries respectively. Add seven more carries to Michel’s numbers, via the passing game, and consider the fact that 10 of Marshall’s 19 carries came in Game 1, and you see what I’m getting at here: Marshall is healthier than he’s been since his true freshman season, maybe healthier, and he’s only getting looked as a closer.
I understand Michel and Chubb are playing well. I also know that their success, to an extent, is going to keep Marshall in a tertiary role. However, with an offense that promises to offer more than one wrinkle, you’d think it’d find a place for a guy who can do more than tuck and run, but that’s why I write, you read, and those coaches get paid the big bucks, right? Because they obviously have a plan.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens as we start moving into the games where fresh legs will make a huge difference in the fourth quarter. So far, Georgia hasn’t really run into a defense it can’t handle, but that will change. And, as tougher fronts make running lanes tougher to find, Marshall could see his role increase.
Then again, perhaps Marshall is happy to just be a team player.
“He’s kind of accepted the role that he plays; I think we all have accepted the role that we play,” Michel said. “It’s really a team thing. We’ve been winning so really nobody should be complaining at this point.” (Chip Towers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
I’ll tell you this much, whatever role Marshall plays on Saturdays, I’ll be cheering for him. That’s a DGD if ever I saw one.