September 1, 2012

'No Gurley mon'

For a true freshman playing his first college game, Georgia running back Todd Gurley made it look easy.

At least that's how it seemed.

In one of the more memorable debuts for a Georgia freshman in a number of years, the Tarboro, N.C. native accounted for 227 total yard s and three touchdowns, providing a needed spark in the Bulldogs' 45-23 win over Buffalo.

"Nah, it wasn't easy," Gurley told a mob of reporters huddled around his chair inside the Bulldog locker room. "I had my teammates helping me the whole way."

Apparently, modesty is a virtue for the freshman, too.

Toughness seems to be as well.

After bringing the Sanford Stadium crowd to its feet with his 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter, Gurley headed straight for the training room for a quick IV treatment before heading back to the field.

"I had to get a little IV, I cramped up a little bit, but it was no big deal," he said. "I just wanted to get back out as quick as I could."

In bringing back his first career kick, Gurley tied an SEC and NCAA record in the process. It was the first time the Bulldogs have had a 100-yard return since Brandon Boykin accomplished the feat versus Kentucky in 2010. Boykin had three of them in his career.

Gurley's return was the 43rd 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in SEC history. He also had a 27-yard return late in the second quarter to finish with two returns for 127 yards.

"I kind of felt a guy at the very end (of his return)," Gurley said. "So I tried to high-step it a little bit to make sure I got in."

Gurley was just as - if not more - impressive on the ground as it took him just eight carries to gobble up 100 yards, scoring on runs of 10 and 55 yards to become the first true freshman to have at least 100 yards and three touchdowns in a season opener since Danny Ware in 2004 against Georgia Southern.

He was followed by fellow freshman Keith Marshall with 10 carries for 51 yards with Ken Malcome adding 32 yards on six attempts before leaving in the third quarter with a left hand injury.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was not surprised with what he saw.

"That's what he's been doing all camp. He's been running physical and running hard," Bobo said. "We gave him a crease and he showed the ability to take it to the house. I was pleased with how he ran."

Wide receiver Tavarres King agreed.

"The pressure really didn't get to him," King said. "It was like he was just running the ball in practice."

Gurley said the butterflies were never an issue.

"Not really, because everything was happening so fast," he said. "We woke up this morning, and it was time to go. I was just blessed to come out here and see everybody. I was not as nervous as I thought I would be."

With Malcome injured, Gurley also put himself in position to start next week's SEC opener at Missouri, something head coach Mark Richt was asked about in his post-game press conference.

Although Richt would not immediately say, all signs certainly seem to point to that direction if Malcome indeed cannot go."I hope Ken can still play, but if he can't, Keith and I both are going to have to step up," Gurley said. "We're going to have to."