The Georgia Bulldogs entered the 2012 season without their leading rusher, Isaiah Crowell, who was dismissed from the team during the offseason. Georgia immediately turned to freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to handle the majority of the carries.
Both backs shined in the high powered Georgia offense, with Gurley totaling 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns and Marshall recording 759 yards and eight touchdowns. Gurley did have the majority of the carries with 222 to Marshall’s 117, while Marshall had the slight edge in yards per attempt with 6.5 to 6.2.
The easy bet would be to say that Gurley is the clear cut choice to repeat as the team’s leading rusher. However, his production may have been based solely off of having more carries.
As noted, Marshall had the slight edge in average. This leads one to assume that, given the same amount of carries as Gurley, Marshall could have matched, if not surpassed him as the Bulldogs’ leading running back.
Both backs entered with similar expectations following stellar high school careers. Both players were 4-star prospects, according to Rivals.com who ranked No. 3 (Gurley) and No. 4 (Marshall) in the state of North Carolina.
Marshall was the No. 2 All-Purpose running back, while Gurley was the No. 5 national running back. Gurley is the taller of the two backs at 6-foot-1, while Marshall has a bigger frame. Both players possess breakaway speed and explosiveness necessary for elusive backs.
While many teams search to find one great starting running back, the Bulldogs are fortunate to have two of the best running backs in the SEC on one roster for at least two more seasons.
Pending a major injury and potentially missing games, it is possible that both running backs are perfectly capable of rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2013. The biggest obstacle will be how Georgia decides to split carries between Gurley and Marshall.