SEC Football Q&A: Who's Better, Georgia's Todd Gurley or Alabama's T.J. Yeldon?

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SEC Football Q&A: Who's Better, Georgia's Todd Gurley or Alabama's T.J. Yeldon?
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia RB Todd Gurley

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions this week. If I didn't get to them, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off:

Deciding between Gurley and Yeldon is like picking between a bone-in ribeye and a filet mignon at a nice steakhouse. You can't go wrong with either choice.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia RB Todd Gurley

I ranked Gurley as my top running back in the SEC in the spring, and that hasn't changed this summer. As a true freshman, he led all SEC running backs in rushing last season with 1,385 yards and 13 touchdowns. At 6'1", 232 pounds, the Tarboro, N.C., native proved early and often that he can take the pounding between the tackles as a No. 1 running back, and he also showed game-breaking speed that makes him a home run threat from anywhere on the field.

That's not a knock against Yeldon. The 6'2", 218-pounder was incredibly impressive, rushing for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns as Eddie Lacy's primary backup in 2012. Like Gurley, Yeldon has the same ability between the tackles and probably more top-end speed and agility.

But I know that Gurley can succeed at an elite level as the unquestioned top option at running back because he's done it since his first college game. Yeldon hasn't done that yet. 

Todd Gurley Top 10 Plays of 2012

 

In our preview video, my colleague Michael Felder at Your Best 11 said his top freshman in the country will be Ole Miss safety Tony Conner. But I'll disagree, take the easy route and say defensive end Robert Nkemdiche will make the biggest impact.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche

Just look at the guy. The 6'4", 297-pounder looks like more like an NFL veteran than a kid who's three months removed from the prom.

He's physical enough to be a force against the run, but his speed off the edge makes him incredibly dangerous as a pass-rusher.

He practiced with the first team during the first week of camp, according to the Associated Press, and as long as his strained groin doesn't become a bigger issue, his presence will be felt early and often, and help the underrated Ole Miss defense continue its progression and keep the Rebels competitive in the rough and tumble SEC West.

The other players you mentioned will also make an impact. But wide receiver Laquon Treadwell will start the season as—at best—the second option behind Donte Moncrief, offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil will have to jell with his new teammates on the offensive line, and Conner may ease into the rotation.

I'll be a front-runner and take Nkemdiche—the No. 1 prospect in the 2013 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports.com composite index.

The Program: Impact Freshmen Heading Into 2013

 

Dan Mullen will be the coach at Mississippi State next season because he has the support of the administration and the fanbase. But if I were in charge and the Bulldogs sputter to a .500 or worse record, I'd consider other options.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen

A paltry 5-21 record against FBS programs that have finished the season with eight or more wins indicates that Mullen has been bottom-feeding since taking control of the program prior to the 2009 season.

He's raised the floor to a point where lower-tier bowl games at Mississippi State are the norm, which is nice. At some point, though, he's going to have to take the next step and be competitive in big games.

In 19 conference losses since the start of the 2009 season, Mississippi State has lost by an average of 16.5 points per game. Mississippi State isn't getting beat, it's getting blown out.

He'll stay employed beyond the 2013 season, but if Mississippi State struggles, the 2014 season will be quite interesting in Starkville. 

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen

 

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

 


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