Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley, the workhorse running back for the Georgia Bulldogs, is still hurting. This is not the news Dawg fans want to hear from their star player just two weeks prior to the start of spring practice.
Gurley suffered a thigh injury against the Clemson Tigers in the opening game of 2013 and tweaked his ankle in the first half against the LSU Tigers several weeks later. Although Georgia went on to defeat LSU, it was without Gurley’s services for the next three conference games. The Bulldogs lost two of those three games and found themselves out of contention for the SEC East crown.
Mark Richt admitted in a recent interview that Gurley is still “less than full speed.” Even at that slower pace, Gurley still managed 989 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns for the season, causing many “what if” questions in Athens and excitement about a healthy return in 2014. “My guess is that unless he’s completely healed by Mar. 18,” Richt said, “there will be some modification to what he’s doing.”
This move may be a smart one on Richt’s part. Ankle injuries are easily re-aggravated and four weeks of strenuous practice create a high risk that may not be worthwhile. Gurley has proven himself and his starting position is not in question. He played through pain for most of the 2013 season and sacrificed his body for the team. Quite simply, the man needs a rest.
With the graduation of Aaron Murray, Gurley’s role is magnified even more. He will be expected to step up and take charge, help Hutson Mason run the offense and set an example for the rest to follow. This can still be accomplished in the Spring, even if he is riding a stationary bike on the sidelines.
When Aug. 30 rolls around, a healthy Gurley could take the field and that is when he will be needed most.