Before the 2013 college football season even began, the Heisman watch was firmly centered on five elite quarterbacks and one freakishly talented defensive end. For the most part, little has been done to put that list into question during the first month of the season, excluding the relative ineffectiveness of a certain defensive stalwart from the University of South Carolina. Yet there is one running back who, despite numerous injuries, has begun to emerge as perhaps the most dominant player at his position–and a serious Heisman trophy candidate.
With 71 carries for 450 yards through four games, it’s hard to believe that Georgia’s star tailback Todd Gurley has had to leave the game in the first half twice already this season. There is no room to question his effectiveness when he’s on the field–his 6.3 yards per carry is a testament to the potential he has to break open a run on any given play. If you’ll indulge a couple of brief comparisons, he has the brute force of a Peyton Hillis type player to go with the breakaway speed of someone like DeAngelo Williams. At the risk of being sacrilegious to the football gods, he’s the closest thing college football has seen to Adrian Peterson since the former OU standout made the jump to the league back in 2007.
Unfortunately, much like AP, he also seems to be injury prone. While his injuries have been minor thus far–Richt recently said Gurley was ‘day to day’ after suffering a sprained ankle in the Bulldogs’ thrilling victory over LSU–Georgia cannot afford any sort of serious injury to their star running back if they hope to remain legitimate contenders for a national championship.
That’s why the Bulldogs should play it safe this Saturday and rest their workhorse. Keith Marshall is arguably the best backup running back in college football, and the Bulldogs showed that their offense is just fine without Gurley this past week against LSU.
Of course, that was against a young, beleaguered secondary that was torched by Murray all game. While Tennessee may not present much of a threat to Georgia’s title hopes, the likes of Florida and the Bulldogs’ potential foe in the SEC East Championship will necessitate a balanced offensive attack from Mark Richt’s squad.
A healthy Todd Gurley gives the Bulldogs that balanced attack–and then some. It would be criminal not to take full advantage of Heisman candidates at both the quarterback and running back position. It’s a small sacrifice to sit Gurley for one game to ensure that their All American duo is ready for the long haul. To do otherwise would be taking an unnecessary risk with a truly spectacular young player.