SEC Debate: Will Todd Gurley rush for 100 yards in his return?
Todd Gurley ran for more than 700 yards at better than eight yards per carry in Georgia’s first five games of the season. He’s been suspended ever since, but he returns to the field this week just in time for Georgia’ showdown with No. 9 Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
Nick Chubb filled in admirably in Gurley’s absence, and actually averaged more yards per game than Gurley did before his suspension. The two will have to share time the rest of the season, beginning this weekend against the Tigers.
We asked the SDS staffers to predict how Gurley will look in his return to the field. Let’s just say, most feel he’ll pick up right where he left off.
WILL TODD GURLEY RUSH FOR OVER OR UNDER 100 YARDS IN HIS RETURN TO THE FIELD?
Jon Cooper (@JonSDS): Over
How’s this for a prediction: Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb will both rush for over 100 yards against Auburn. The Tigers’ defense hasn’t been spectacular, and a fresh Gurley, along with a seasoned Chubb, could both reach 100 yards. Chubb will likely get more carries than Gurley, but that has more to do with Gurley being out of game shape. Saturday’s game could turn into a shootout, with Gurley and Chubb both getting many carries and doing serious damage.
Christopher Smith (@csmithSDS): Under
Let’s assume that Gurley continues at his current pace of 8.2 yards per carry. He’d have to carry the ball 13 times against Georgia to reach that number. That’s a ridiculous per-carry average to expect even against Auburn. (The Tigers actually rank 29th in rush defense and allow just 3.7 yards per carry). So let’s say he averages a generous 6.5 yards per carry instead. Now he’s got to carry the ball 16 times against Auburn to reach the century mark. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel figure to get half the carries, maybe more. Gurley has had a subtle tendency to get winded throughout his career after big runs. He hasn’t played in a game in six weeks and can’t be in peak shape. It should be close, but I expect Gurley to carry 10-to-15 times and come up just shy of the number.
Ethan Levine (@EthanLevineSDS): Under
Gurley is one of the best backs in the country, but even he won’t be able to pick up right where he left off in his first game back from suspension. He’ll need this week to reacquaint himself with live action, and while he might break one or two big runs he’ll probably average a modest (by his standards) five yards per carry on about a dozen carries. He’ll split time with Nick Chubb as he eases himself back into the mix, and while he should have a productive day he won’t hit 100 yards. Auburn’s defense had a bad week last week, but it has held opponents to fewer than four yards per carry this season. Chubb is more likely to hit the century mark than Gurley is this weekend.
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS): Over
Both Gurley and true freshman Nick Chubb will exceed the 100-yard barrier against a defensive front seven that struggled mightily with gap control last week against Texas A&M, giving up nearly 50 more yards on the ground than their season average. You known Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s not afraid to put eight in the box to stop Georgia’s two-headed attack, but both backs are arguably the SEC’s best at breaking tackles, and wrapping up has been a season-long problem for the Tigers.
Christopher Walsh (@CrimsonWalsh): Over
It’s not so much a reflection of Auburn, as it is Gurley. I know this is a rivalry game for the Tigers, but I think you have to wonder about the team’s ability to bounce back after last week’s loss. Meanwhile, Gurley has something to prove. It could be a great game.
Brett Weisband (@WeisbandSDS): Under
You always hear people talk about being in game shape. After a month away from the game I can’t imagine Todd Gurley coming back like he hasn’t missed a beat. Yes, he’s a freakishly good athlete. Yes, he’s been practicing with the team. Everything you hear from top-level athletes, though, says there’s no replacement for real game action. It’ll take Gurley a week or two to get readjusted to the speed and physicality of SEC football. Luckily, he won’t have to come back and carry the load immediately, with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel on hand to share carries.
Jason Hall (@JasonHallSDS): Under
Auburn has kept opposing teams under 200 yards rushing the past three games. However, the biggest factor will be attempts. Georgia will split carries between Gurley and Nick Chubb. Though Gurley should have an impressive showing, he might fall short of 100 yards if Georgia decides to limit his carries.