Keith Marshall‘s recovery from knee surgery is ahead of schedule and that is excellent news for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Since his career began in Athens, the name of Marshall’s game has been speed. He is the “lightning” to Todd Gurley‘s “thunder” in the Bulldogs’ backfield. Marshall may not be the biggest guy on the field, but he hits the hole with ferocity and his straight-line speed can change the momentum of a game in seconds.
Marshall’s specialty has always been off-tackle runs that allow him to cut downfield around the hash mark and hit the sideline. This was on display in his freshman season, where he rushed for 759 yards on 117 carries. Marshall was able to break free for eight touchdowns, including long runs of 75, 62 and 52 yards to paydirt.
Last season, Marshall was given the starting nod against Tennessee after Gurley suffered an ankle injury the week before. On his fifth carry, Marshall was tackled low and suffered a gruesome knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Without his experience and talent, the Bulldogs were forced to turn to true freshmen. Instead of easing the young Dawgs into the fire after a redshirt season, they were thrown right into the frying pan.
This spring, Marshall has been running with speed and cutting quickly without issue. If he can return to his freshman form, he will make a world of difference for Mike Bobo‘s play-calling options. Marshall’s presence assures the existence of a home-run threat out of the backfield, something that was sorely missed for most of 2013.
Gurley should also prosper having his old running mate back in the saddle. His numbers dropped considerably in 2013, as he nursing injuries most of the season and probably came back too soon after Marshall went down. Gurley definitely missed Marshall’s change-of-pace capability that kept defenses off-balance.
As long as Marshall’s knee holds up, expect big things from both of these running backs in 2014.