Georgia Football: Will Keith Marshall Prevent Todd Gurley from the Heisman?

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IAugust 25, 2013

Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley established himself as one of the best running backs in the country last year, rushing for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman. His numbers led all SEC running backs, and with the weight he has gained this year, his numbers should only get better.

And if he has better statistics than he did in 2012, he will have a good chance of winning the Heisman Trophy. However, there may be one player who could keep Gurley from making the trip to New York in December. This is someone he is particularly close to. 

Keith Marshall did not have a bad 2012 season either, as he rushed for 759 yards on 117 carries while only making one start. He is also poised to improve after gaining weight this year. 

But can Marshall really keep Gurley from being a Heisman finalist?

If Gurley is going to be the featured back for the Bulldogs, Marshall won’t keep him from being a Heisman finalist. Gurley has proved that he can carry the ball 25-30 times per game, and that’s what the Bulldogs will need this season to be successful.

Marshall has never had more than 12 carries in a game, so there’s still a level of concern with him when it comes to carrying the load. Also, Georgia may want to limit his carries anyway because it could benefit him and the Bulldogs moving forward.

So Gurley has a chance to be a finalist no matter what Marshall does. But can he actually win the Heisman?

When it comes to running back duos, winning the Heisman can be difficult. Just take a look at the last two great SEC running back duos.

Back in 2004, Auburn’s Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams led the Tigers to an undefeated season. Brown had 913 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while Williams had 1,165 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Both were All-SEC players, but neither Brown nor Williams was a Heisman finalist.

Three years later, Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and Felix Jones took the world by storm. McFadden rushed for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Jones collected 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns. Both players were All-Americans, and McFadden was second in Heisman voting behind Tim Tebow.

What it comes down to is a matter of production. Gurley has to put up similar-to-better numbers to be considered a Heisman finalist. Marshall will get his carries and has a good chance to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. But if he has the same role on offense this season as he did last season, then Gurley will have a shot at being a finalist.

But the funny thing is that both players are on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award. So both Gurley and Marshall can rush for 1,000 yards and be finalists for the award given to the nation’s best running back.

Based on how they have talked about the upcoming season, both players want to elevate their games, especially Gurley who wants to get just as many yards as he did last year, according to Marc Weiszer of The Augusta Chronicle. But more importantly, both Marshall and Gurley want to help the Bulldogs win.

If both of them can produce higher numbers and help the Bulldogs get the SEC and BCS titles, then we might see Marshall and Gurley as Heisman finalists in December. We have seen crazier things in college football.