WATCH GEORGIA-VANDERBILT HIGHLIGHTS
By: Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
Lake Mary, Fla. – After four weeks of football in this 2012 season, coach Mark Richt and his Georgia Bulldogs are sitting pretty at No. 5 in the nation. Having won all four of their games by a combined score of 190-66 (a 33.5-point average margin of victory), the Dawgs are looking like a force to be reckoned with in the SEC East.
Aaron Murray has been brilliant so far for UGA (4-0, 2-0 SEC), throwing 10 touchdowns already while completing 65 percent of his passes. Despite big numbers, Murray has hardly had to shoulder the offensive load by himself – he’s had plenty of help from the running game, and two freshmen running backs have been particularly impressive.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, both hailing from the state of North Carolina, have been breakout players for Georgia. Following the dismissal of Isaiah Crowell in June, UGA was left with a question mark at the position. Crowell rushed for 850 yards and six touchdowns in 2011, and appeared to be the future at tailback after hitting the century mark on four occasions.
That question has been answered early by the tandem of rookie runners. Gurley and Marshall haven’t just answered the question, either.
They have done it emphatically.
After formally introducing himself to the UGA faithful with a 100-yard kickoff return TD in the season-opener, Gurley has led the team in rushing with 406 yards on 44 carries. He has found the end zone six times, with his longest score coming on Saturday night when he broke multiple tackles on a 29-yard tote.
Marshall has covered 264 yards on the ground so far this season on 42 carries to go along with three touchdowns. He also busted loose against Vandy on Saturday with a 52-yard scoring run in UGA’s dominant 48-3 win.
The two backs have combined for 670 yards (69 percent of UGA’s total rushing yards) and have scored nine of Georgia’s 14 rushing touchdowns. Gurley (9.2 yards per carry) and Marshall’s (6.3 ypc) 86 combined touches represent almost 53 percent of the team’s rushing attempts.
Their performance against the Commodores in week four was their most impressive to date. Vanderbilt’s defensive corps presented a challenge, entering Sanford Stadium ranked No. 11 in the country in total defense.
All Gurley and Marshall proceeded to do was gash the ’Dores for 212 yards and four touchdowns. As Murray directed the aerial attack with the efficiency and pose of a seasoned veteran, the young duo once again made their mark on the outcome as Gurley ran for 130 yards on 16 carries and Marshall picked up 82 yards on 10 carries.
The one-two punch scored two touchdowns apiece and proved that they are for real in primetime on ESPN as UGA notched its second conference win of the season.
No. 6 South Carolina (4-0, 2-0) and No. 11 Florida (4-0, 3-0) also remain perfect on the year and will certainly have a say in the SEC East race.
But thanks to the emergence of two stars in the backfield, the Gamecock and Gator defenses will have to go through one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the country when they cross paths with Georgia down the road.
Buckle up, SEC fans.