I’ll start this off with an obvious statement: Todd Gurley is a damn beast at running back!
I say that, and I don’t expect many to argue, but I also say it knowing there are opinions of him that now vary based on what happened to him last season. There are some folks, and I won’t say they’re right or wrong, who feel his complete body of work isn’t something you can place in an “elite” category, yet, because 2013 was plagued with injuries, and those injuries not only made him look less dominant on the field, but made him less reliable too.
And while he still managed to do some spectacular things for the team (his first quarter against Florida and that second half versus Tech come immediately to mind) post-injury, the expectations for him this year aren’t nearly as high as they were a year ago.
Well, no matter what you’re thinking, you can bet Gurley is approaching his junior season as a Georgia Bulldog as if it’s his last season as a Georgia Bulldog, and I don’t think he’ll leave much of anything on the field, if he can help it, particularly with two 5-star running backs coming in to challenge him for reps this summer.
Is he 100 percent? No, but as Mark Richt said over the weekend, that certainly hasn’t been much of a factor in what Gurley has been able to show thus far:
“Todd Gurley’s doing everything. And I even said it today, it looks like he’s really working himself into some better condition. It looks like he’s just feeling more confident, I guess, would be the way to say it. He’s cutting each direction well. I’m seeing less and less issues that something was wrong somewhere along the way. He looks more like Gurley. He’s not in a tip-top condition like he was starting the season a year ago, yet. But he’s getting there.” (Gentry Estes, Dawgs247)
If you’re Gurley, you know two things without question:
1) Hutson Mason will need a dependable running back to keep the offense moving. Mason has even admitted that, for the most part, he feels like this is really Gurley’s team; it’s not the “Aaron Murray” show anymore, it’s the “Todd Gurley” show; so as he goes, so goes the offense—whether you agree with that or not.
2) There are only so many reps to go around when you have a stable that looks to be as deep and talented as the one Georgia.
Aside from the obvious names—Keith Marshall, Nick Chubb, and Sony Michel—there is also the sleeper that is A.J. Turman. And while Gurley has never come across as a ball hog or a “me” player, you can bet he wants the ball as much as he can get it, so he knows he’s going to have to come in and re-establish his role as the No. 1 guy early, and there’s no time like the present to do so—even if he isn’t back to full strength yet.
I don’t think there’s any question that Georgia wants Gurley to come out and dominate. He’s still one of the best running backs in the country; but I think Gurley also sees an opportunity to really make a statement this year and he’s chomping at the bit to make that happen.