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Rewind: Todd Gurley unable to jump to top of Heisman race

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Todd Gurley's hurdling 26-yard run over Tennessee's Brian Randolph and overall 285-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Vols didn't impress Heisman pundits enough to move him to the top of most lists. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)
Todd Gurley's hurdling 26-yard run over Tennessee's Brian Randolph and overall 285-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Vols didn't impress Heisman pundits enough to move him to the top of most lists. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Todd Gurley’s hurdling 26-yard run over Tennessee’s Brian Randolph and overall 285-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Vols didn’t impress Heisman pundits enough to move him to the top of most lists. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE MONDAY REWIND

1. Todd Gurley’s 285-yard, two-touchdown, one-hurdle performance against Tennessee this past Saturday was incredible to witness. But it didn’t necessarily jump-start his Heisman Trophy chances as much some people predicted.

Scanning the web Monday morning, it appears Gurley is still a secondary choice in most Heisman polls to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. In fact, I could find Gurley moving up to No. 1 in just one publication that does a weekly Heisman watch and that was Newsday.  ESPN still had him No. 2, as did USA Today and CBS Sports. Bleacher Report, for what it’s worth, still has Gurley fifth behind Mariota, Kenny Hill, Ameer Abdullah and Amari Cooper.

2. Gurley, for one, is unconcerned.

”I just worry about winning,” he said after the Bulldogs’ 35-32 win on Saturday. ”If you win every game, that’s going to come.”

Obviously, Gurley is taking his cues from Georgia coach Mark Richt. Richt coached a pair of Heisman Trophy winners at Florida State in Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke. The Seminoles went 12-1 and won the national championship the year Ward was awarded it and they won the national title under Weinke the year before he claimed college football’s top prize and went 11-2 that season.

”The Heisman really is a team award in a lot of ways,” Richt said. ”You’re not going to win unless your team is winning. You’re really not.  Every once in a while, there’s a guy that might be on an 8-4 or 8-5 team that might be in the mix. Todd is that kind of guy. I think everyone sees the talent. He can probably be on a team that’s 6-6 and still be in the running with how impressive a player he is.”

Expect to see much more of freshman tailback Nick Chubb now that Sony Michel is sidelined for a few weeks. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Expect to see much more of freshman tailback Nick Chubb now that Sony Michel is sidelined for a few weeks. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

3. Certainly there is no one in the country who means more to his team than does Gurley at the moment. With the Bulldogs’ present passing woes (162.3 ypg, 13th SEC), it’s pretty much up to Georgia’s running game (300.3 ypg, 2nd SEC) to advance the football for the offense.

Fortunately for Gurley, he has not had to go it alone. The Bulldogs at one point had five scholarship tailbacks to work with, four of whom were liberally sharing carries with Gurley. Then they lost Keith Marshall to a leg injury against Troy, and now they’ve lost Sony Michel for an undefined extended period due to a shoulder injury suffered against this past Saturday.

Michel’s injury follows the one that briefly sidelined Nick Chubb, who continues to play with a surgically-repaired left thumb. In so far as we can tell, Gurley is not dealing with any specific issues at the moment. But after a 34-touch afternoon this past Saturday, you can be sure he spent some time in an ice bath Sunday.

That’s why the recruiting sales pitch of running backs coach Bryan McClendon has been and will continue to be – “we can’t have enough tailbacks at Georgia because we run the football and there are plenty of carries to go around.”

Chubb bought into that philosophy. The freshman from Cedartown was a 5-star prospect, but signed with Georgia knowing that fellow 5-star Michel was coming and Gurley and Marshall were already there.

“It’s a hard position and you need a lot of depth,” said Chubb, who’s wearing a small cast on his left hand. “We kept pounding ball and we wore them down.”

4. Whether it’s a by-product of running back depth or Mike Bobo and the Bulldogs simply saving up Gurley for the end of the game, but the Bulldogs are definitely winning the fourth quarter.

On Saturday, 129 of Gurley’s 208 yards rushing (on 12 carries) came in the fourth quarter. He had similar numbers in the fourth quarter against Clemson (4 for 107, 2 TDs) and in the second half against South Carolina (12-87-1).

“At the end of the day it’s going to be who’s strongest in the fourth quarter,” Gurley said. “That’s what we trained for this summer and that’s the way we practice. That’s why we have pads on four or five days a week.”

Georgia's Kelsey Killean was named SEC freshman of the week on Monday. (UGA photo by Sean Taylor)

Georgia’s Kelsey Killean was named SEC freshman of the week on Monday. (UGA photo by Sean Taylor)

5. In other sports action involving UGA teams this past weekend: The No. 22 Georgia soccer team beat 14th-ranked South Carolina 1-0 Sunday in Columbia. The Bulldogs (7-2-1, 2-1-1 SEC) earned the victory while playing the final 24 minutes down a player following a red card on Marion Crowder. Freshman Kelsey Killean provided the game-winner for Georgia on her third goal of the season, with Delaney Fechalos earning the assist. Killean was named SEC freshman of the week. The win gave Georgia a weekend split. It lost a 2-1 thriller at No. 7 Florida on Friday night. …

UGA tennis players Wayne Montgomery, Ben Wagland and Nick Wood won over the weekend and open play in the qualifying draw of the ITA All-American Championships on Monday in Tulsa. They will look to join Nathan Pasha and Austin Smith in main-draw competition. The doubles tandems of Eric Diaz/Pasha and Paul Oosterbaan/Wagland will play in the qualifying rounds on Tuesday. … In the women’s competition, senior Lauren Herring and junior Silvia Garcia are also slated to play in the main single draw on Thursday. Sophomore Caroline Brison and freshman Hannah King teamed up to defeat Kenna Kilgo and Lynn Kiro of Texas Tech 8-6 on Sunday and advance to the qualifying stage of doubles.


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