SEC still has something to say about its strength at RB

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We know the Southeastern Conference is a quarterback-driven league this season.

Georgia’s Aaron Murray has overcome personal indictments against ranked teams with consecutive home wins over Top 10 teams while Johnny Manziel’s coming off the best statistical season in college football history. Not to be outdone, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger has shaken off last season’s disrespect with an incredible start to his senior season in Baton Rouge.

Related: What happened to you Saturday?

So where does that leave the guys that move the chains between the tackles, players that chew things up on the ground to open up the passing games at their respective programs?

Statistically, SEC running backs are having another stellar season, headlined by Todd Gurley and T.J. Yeldon. Those two are the No. 1 options on pro-style offenses that rely on a ground-and-pound to follow the success of professional prospect pocket passers Murray and A.J. McCarron.

Related: SEC rushing offenses

Then there’s the wildcards at Arkansas and South Carolina, a pair of breakout ball carriers with excellent speed and quickness with a knack for hitting the second-half home run against gassed defenses. Bret Bielema’s true freshman stud Alex Collins (597) and the Gamecocks sophomore Mike Davis (508) are among the Top 15 nationally in rushing yards and could finish as the league’s top rushers when all is said and done in December.

Arkansas has another quick-hitter, Jonathan Williams, who has already tallied three 100-yard games and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. What made Bielema’s rushing attack so good at Wisconsin was its ability to beat up the opposition with a featured back, then plug-in a second player with just as much talent but fresher legs.

Meanwhile, LSU’s Jeremy Hill’s solid start to his sophomore campaign with seven rushing touchdowns and 436 yards despite missing the opener against TCU will likely surpass last season’s 755-yard, 12-touchdown totals.

When the SEC’s fifth-best back is the top-rated bruiser for Les Miles and the Tigers, the league’s strength at running back should never be questioned.

@MrPalmettoSDS’s TOP 5 SEC RBs

5. Jeremy Hill, LSU: If there’s a player I’d want toting the football on 4th-and-Goal from the 2 on this list, it’s Hill. At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Hill’s rarely tackled in the hole by a single linebacker and is shifty enough — despite his size — to house one in seconds from the 35 with a missed tackle at the line of scrimmage.
4. Alex Collins, Arkansas: Collins is the every-down back the Razorbacks envisioned when they handpicked him out of Fort Lauderdale on Signing Day despite his mother’s escape with his national LOI. He’s not Darren McFadden strong, but he’s McFadden fast and that’s worked out well for the true freshman thus far in Fayetteville.
3. Mike Davis, South Carolina: Davis is the home run threat of the group who already has three carries of at least 50 yards this season. His three-touchdown performance in the second half Saturday at Central Florida was good enough to earn a coveted helmet sticker from ESPN.
2. Todd Gurley, Georgia: Covered him as a prep behemoth at Tarboro High School in North Carolina and I must say, he’s even more dominant as a collegian between the hedges. Gurley’s most underrated quality? His ability to catch a pass out of the backfield from Murray and make things happen past the sticks.
1. T.J. Yeldon, Alabama: Nos. 1 & 2 are a toss up and you can’t go wrong with either back, but Yeldon’s one who’s destined to play on Sundays. Much like recent Alabama top-flight ballcarriers, Yeldon’s at his best in the fourth quarter when the defense is a juke away from being gashed for a big play. He has seven 100-yard games in 18 career starts.

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • 1. TG3 2. Davis 3. Collins 4.Yeldon

    • There just isn’t a better all around back in the country right now. Power, Pass protecting, Pass Catching, between the tackles, outside, first step, patience…and break away speed. There isn’t a weakness in his game.

      • Gurley doesn’t have Davis, Yeldon or Collins’ speed. I agree w/ most of your other points.

        • What were Davis’, Yeldon’s, and Collins’ track and field statistics this past year? Oh, they didn’t run track? Hmm…weird. Well, Gurley’s slow, lumbering self posted the 7th fastest time in UGA school history for the 60m hurdles. Yeah, I know “not fair to the other guys” and “there’s track speed and football speed.” Bottom line: if there’s something those other guys have that Gurley doesn’t…it ain’t speed. Try again.

        • Ask Clemmons about Gurley’s lack of speed…

        • Gurley, Davis, Collins, and then Yeldon. Yeldon is good, but still hasn’t proved himself the way the past Bama RB’s have. Gurley is just as fast, and speed doesn’t matter when no one can tackle you. As per bleacherreport.com Collins 40 yard time was 4.45, Gurley 4.46, Yeldon 4.3, and Davis 4.38. Hardly enough room to base the best on speed when Gurley is the most proven and best back in the nation. Plus Gurley shares grabs with Marshall. I believe all four are capable of playing on Sundays though.

  • 1. TG, 2. Davis 3. Yeldon 4. Collins 5. Hill

  • Yeldon hasn’t proved worthy to be in the top 2, maybe even top three this year. Being on the Bama roster doesn’t automatically warrant that. I’m righ ton the same train of thought at JP, TG3, Davis, Collins, and then Hill or Yeldon.

  • Bama backs are NFL busts

  • Bama RB’s will always get rode like a pornstar by ALL media….even when they arent really good yet. It wouldnt matter if Collins hit the 1,000 yard mark this early in the season. He will NEVER get any respect playing at Arkansas because of their record and the fact they are Arkansas. Collins is 3 yards shy of 600 yards rushing!!! and leads the s.e.c. but hes 4th best. Jonathan Williams has nearly 500 yards rushing and has the SAME power that Gurley and Yeldon have but hes not in the top 5 at all. The media still showing their same biased love as always!!

    • You’re comparing a freshman and sophomore getting their first starts to a second year starter, I assume you have some valid points. Well, you say he/they won’t get respect because of Ark record. I note that your boys combined for a whopping 88 yards against Rutgers in a loss. No, I don’t think it’s the record that makes them be ignored. I think it’s the fact that they both racked up huge yards against LA-Lafayette, Samford, and S. Miss then averaged 3 ypc against Rutgers. People might start to say things like “if they’re so good, why couldn’t they muster some of that ability into helping their team win.” Gurley and Yeldon have proven themselves against tough run D repeatedly. Yeldon has shown the ability to break out even as a back-up last year. Gurley has gained 100+ total yards in 13 or his 18 games and had the more rushing yards against Bama’s #1 run def last year than anyone else.

      Basically, your Ark boys may well be good. It’s just that no one really knows yet, whereas the other players listed above them have proven to be the best.

  • how is it that gurley and yeldon headline the sec rb’s, when it is actually mike davis who leads the league in rushing? i would say he is the headliner. he catches the ball better than yeldon or gurley, and he out ran gurley in the head to head matchup earlier this season.

  • How close was Tre Mason to being on this list? I am just a little curious because he has had a pretty good season so far especially against a bruising LSU defense.