Georgia’s two-headed freshman halfback combination doubled up on Saturday as Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley followed their combined 200-yard rushing effort last week by duplicating the feat against Vanderbilt.
Georgia Bulldogs running back Keith Marshall (4) outruns Vanderbilt Commodores safety Kenny Ladler (1) for a touchdown as Georgia takes on Vanderbilt on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 in Athens, Ga. Richard Hamm/Staff
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 212 yards and four touchdowns as Georgia flattened Vanderbilt 48-3 at Sanford Stadium.
“We’re on the verge of having something special with Keith and Gurley and Ken (Malcome),” Georgia center David Andrews said. “It’s really fun when you’re out there blocking and you see a No. 3 (Gurley) or a No. 4 (Marshall) just run right past you and keep running. They’re running really well together and it’s fun to be able to block for guys like that.”
Gurley ran like a bulldozer at times as he totaled 130 yards on 16 carries and scored twice. His backfield buddy Marshall gained 82 yards on 10 carries and scored two more touchdowns. Last week in just their third game, they both went over 100 yards against Florida Atlantic.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “They’re the two guys, along with Ken (Malcome) that we’re going with. They’re smart kids. They know what we’re doing offensively and they’ve got talent. Basically, all we have to do is get them to the secondary and the line’s doing a great job of that. Aaron (Murray) is doing a great job of checking to the right play call.”
Although they recorded the biggest numbers, Marshall and Gurley were just part of the second straight dominating rushing performance in two weeks as Georgia piled up 302 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
“They’re just doing tremendous,” Georgia guard Dallas Lee said. “We’re creating some holes and they’re just exploding through them. They’re doing a great job of second effort and making people miss and finishing them. They’re doing a great job. It’s a lot of fun to watch. That’s a tremendous help to us. Every time they rip off a big play, whether we block it right or not, that’s a huge boost for us. I know tonight there was a play where Gurley ran over somebody that we didn’t get to and that just can’t help but make everybody better.”
Improved blocking has been a major part of the dominant running. Georgia struggled to create holes at times searly in the season and the freshmen sometimes had to make a hole for themselves. But on Saturday gaps opened in Vanderbilt’s defense from the very first snap and never really closed.
“That’s just a good job from the line and the receivers and the playcalling from the coaches,” Gurley said. “It’s just a blessing to be able to get the ball and see those big holes so we can get some big runs.”
Georgia drove for touchdowns on its first four possessions and three of those came on the ground. Gurley had a four-yarder to cap the first drive. Marshall strock for a 52-yarder on the second drive. Quarterback Aaron Murray capped the four-score streak with a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown.
“I think the line’s playing awesome,” Bobo said. “I’ve said all year long that they’re a smart group. The thing about being smart, is you can get a hat on a hat. They’re doing that and the guys are getting to the second level. From there the guys are making great runs. Usually you come out in the run game a little slowly against any opponent. But tonight they were really fired up and jacked up. For us to come out get some positive runs early kind of broke them down a little bit and softened them up a little bit on the perimeter.”
Marshall had maybe the run of the night when he took an inside handoff from the Georgia 48-yard line and almost immediatly broke into the secondary where he out-ran both Vanderbilt safeties to the end zone for a 52-yard score.
“It popped wide open,” Marshall said. “Coach Bobo tells us that once we get to the safeties, it’s our job to make them miss. It was wide open and I just found my track and hit the hole. Once I got to the safeties, I knew I could take it in.”