ATHENS, Ga. — These freshmen running backs just won’t go away.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall both had career highs in yards and were a major factor in Georgia’s 51-44 win over Tennessee on Saturday, combining for five touchdowns.
They’re showing no signs of slowing, either. Many touted the Volunteers to be the first true test for the young tailbacks. The matchup was a rivalry game against a strong defense aired on national television. If so, the two passed with flying colors.
“Coach (Mark Richt) told us that this was going to be a hard game and that we were going to have to come out here and play hard,” Gurley said. “We made mistakes, but it takes a good team to come back and finish, which says a lot. We finished strong.”
Through five weeks, Gurley and Marshall are just eight yards shy of breaking the aggregate 1,000-yard mark (992). On Saturday, Marshall had a team-high 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including one on a 75-yard run, and Gurley finished with 135 yards and three touchdowns.
In addition, Gurley leads the Southeastern Conference in yards and touchdowns, which shocks even him.
“That’s big, especially for me to be a freshman,” he said. “I’m thankful for that and think about it all the time. I’m just blessed to be in that position. I try to feel like I’m the last-leading rusher in the SEC so I can just keep pushing.”
Though some might question whether or not such close competition could create an in-house rivalry, both freshmen refute the notion. After all, the two are roommates and planned on committing to the same school during the recruiting process – even if it wasn’t Georgia.
“I’m happy for him and he’s happy for me,” Marshall said, noting that Gurley was the first to congratulate him for a touchdown. “I feel like we’re so balanced.”
Said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo: “I think it’s great that we’ve got two guys so there’s not a lot of pressure on one guy. One guy doesn’t have to feel like he has to do it all. We’ve got competition and consistency at that position.”