The incredible hype coming into the season for Todd Gurley did not do him justice.
In the first game of the year against a tough Clemson defense, the Georgia running back finished with 198 yards on 15 carries with three rushing touchdowns on Saturday. He also added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph provided a note on the historic performance:
Todd Gurley's 293 all-purpose yards is a school record, per UGA. That's also a career-high 198 rushing yards for Gurley.— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) August 31, 2014
His effort helped the Bulldogs earn an impressive 45-21 win over the Tigers.
Nicole Auerbach of USA Today put it lightly:
Todd Gurley is having a day.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) August 31, 2014
ESPN's Kevin Negandhi described what type of a player the running back has become:
Gurley is that dude you stop whatever you're doing to watch him run.— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) August 31, 2014
Gurley was hardly used in the first half, getting only five total touches. Of course, this did not stop him from making a huge impact in the game.
Down 7-0, the running back put Georgia on the scoreboard for the first time with a 23-yard touchdown run while showcasing his speed on the corner:
Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer was already able to see how well the junior is able to separate himself from others at his position:
No reason an RB should score from that far out on that play. But... Gurley— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) August 30, 2014
Meanwhile, head coach Mark Richt continued to limit the superstar's touches, including on a big 3rd-and-1 chance in the first half. Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead provided his opinion:
Hey Richt, more Gurley. Less everything else. 3rd and 1 call to Marshall? Come on bra. Gurley needs 25 carries at least.— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) August 30, 2014
Even Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White got involved:
Todd gurley is the best player in the country can't believe they give the ball to a freshmen on the last 3rd and 1— Roddy White (@roddywhiteTV) August 30, 2014
After Clemson took a 21-14 lead, Gurley finally got another touch in the ensuing kickoff, which he took all the way back for a touchdown:
Emerson provided this incredible stat:
Todd Gurley has returned eight kickoffs in his career. Two have been for touchdowns: Both from 100-plus yards. His avg. is 42.89per return.— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) August 30, 2014
Despite the two touches, fans were upset the running back only had four carries at halftime.
The amazing thing is Gurley was just getting started. With the Tigers defense starting to get tired, Richt unleashed his best weapon.
At the start of the fourth quarter with Georgia leading 24-21, the running back broke off a 38-yard run into Clemson territory. He then finished off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown right up the middle.
Bomani Jones of ESPN provided this analysis:
gurley sure made that look easy. yeesh.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) August 30, 2014
After Nick Chubb did his part with a 47-yard touchdown run, Gurley went right back onto the field and scored a 51-yard touchdown.
Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer was speechless:
I have run out of things to say about Gurley.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) August 31, 2014
This ended up being his last rushing attempt in a memorable performance for the Bulldogs.
Earlier in the day, ESPN's Desmond Howard predicted the running back would move into Heisman consideration with a strong performance:
Hours later, Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports agreed:
Todd Gurley, welcome to the Heisman pole position. A worthless distinction in August, but what a game.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) August 31, 2014
When asked about the potential of bringing home the sport's most prestigious individual trophy, Gurley explained that he is more concerned about team success, via Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald: "You have to be on a great team. You can’t be on an 8-5 team and expect to win the Heisman. That’s definitely not going to happen. If I was able to reach that goal, I would definitely love it because of my teammates."
Looking beyond this season, his performance also keeps him on the radar for the NFL draft. Chase Goodbread of NFL.com discussed his potential:
If Todd Gurley doesn't one day get the running back position back into the 1st round of the draft, I don't know who will.— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) August 31, 2014
This is obviously just one game, and it is important not to get ahead of ourselves, but it is clear Gurley is a star in the making for Georgia.
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