published Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Gurley show: Freshman sparks UGA win

Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) outruns Buffalo defensive back Najja Johnson (22) and defensive back Marqus Baker (39) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Georgia won 45-23.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) outruns Buffalo defensive back Najja Johnson (22) and defensive back Marqus Baker (39) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Georgia won 45-23.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley showed up at an interview session last week wearing a Nike T-shirt reading, "My feet hurt from kicking so much [posterior]."

Gurley certainly could use a podiatrist this morning.

The touted signee from Tarboro, N.C., attained "instant impact" status by amassing 227 all-purpose yards in Georgia's 45-23 downing of Buffalo on a sweltering Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium. Gurley opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown, produced the play of the game with a 100-yard kickoff return later in the opening quarter and had a 55-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.

"That was like every scrimmage in camp," Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. "He was showing those big runs and breaking tackles. I know we have been raving about him, and he definitely came out to play again today. He is a special back."

The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Gurley sizzled on a sizzling day, as the humidity at Sanford Stadium made a 90-degree day more like 97. Saturday's announced attendance was 92,446, which is 300 short of a sellout and left Sanford without a completely packed house for a season opener for the first time since 1998.

Georgia now has to play Missouri in what is certain to be a jacked-up atmosphere, but the Bulldogs may have a running back who is up for the challenge.

"I thought he ran hard on his two touchdown runs, breaking some tackles and showing breakaway speed," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo saod. "He is a physical runner who does a nice job of staying behind his pads, and we've just got to give him a crease."

Said Gurley: "This is exciting, and this is a blessing. I helped the team, and now it's time to move on to next week. I think the coaches will do a good job of teaching me in practice how to be humble."

Redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome started at tailback, carrying twice for 9 yards, before Gurley entered and scored on his second career rush. Buffalo answered with the first of two long touchdown drives to pull within 7-6, but Gurley took the ensuing kickoff and raced down the left sideline for the 43rd 100-yard return in SEC history.

Gurley's 55-yard score made it 45-16 midway through the fourth quarter.

Fellow heralded freshman tailback Keith Marshall had 46 yards on 10 carries, while Malcome had 32 on six. Malcome left the game in the third quarter with a hand injury, but Gurley said it wasn't serious.

The Bulldogs had 485 yards of total offense and didn't turn the ball over, but they didn't cause any turnovers and allowed 347 yards.

"We better play better than that next week, or we are going to be riding home sad," head coach Mark Richt said.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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