Coming into 2014, a lot of talk will be centered on new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and Hutson Mason taking the keys to the offense for a full season. Those two are important, but the real key to the success of Georgia‘s 2014 campaign is the health of running back Todd Gurley.
When healthy, Gurley is the most dominant running back in the nation. He has the ability to carry the offense and will them to win unlike any player on Georgia’s current roster. The dynamic of Georgia’s offense changes immensely if he is not in the game.
By Mark Richt’s own admission this week, Georgia won’t have a line that is dominant at the point of attack, blowing open holes this season. With Gurley in the backfield it’s not a necessity. The difference between Gurley and the rest of the backs currently in Athens is Gurley can make a hole whereas the others need one — he’s that special.
Georgia hits the ground running again this season, opening with Clemson and South Carolina. While Mason now has some experience, he has never entered the season as “the guy’. Odds are Pruitt’s defense will need the offense to do its part while they get their legs underneath them. A healthy Gurley offers Georgia the chance to take the pressure off Mason and the defense.
Gurley can keep the offense in positive down and distance situations. He can be a safety valve for Mason as he plays behind three new starters on the offensive line. Leaning on Gurley and the running game will enable Georgia to control the clock and keep the opposing offense off the field.
Georgia has the talent to get back to Atlanta and turn around from their disappointing 2013 season. They will return to health and have vastly improved their coaching staff. The ingredients are there to make a special run.
If you do see the Bulldogs hoisting the trophy in Atlanta and playing in the college football playoff, you can bet that Gurley will be the reason why. If he’s healthy and turns in a Heisman caliber season, the Bulldogs should win the SEC and have a good shot at making a run for the national title.
However, as 2013 showed, that could be a big if.