Georgia Football: Analyzing Todd Gurley's Heisman Trophy Chances

Brian JonesContributor IApril 24, 2014

Georgia Football: Analyzing Todd Gurley's Heisman Trophy Chances

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    Stephen B. Morton

    If the Georgia Bulldogs want to win the SEC and the national championship, they need that one player who takes them over the top.

    The most likely candidate would be Todd Gurley, who has proved that he is one of the best running backs in the country.

    Head coach Mark Richt thinks so, and he even said at a UGA event in Gainesville, Georgia, on Tuesday that Gurley is a candidate to win the Heisman, via Gentry Estes of 247Sports.

    Richt was not ready to start a Heisman campaign for Gurley, but he said Gurley’s numbers this season will speak for themselves.

    Numbers are always good, but Gurley will need to do more to win the Heisman this year. And here are the factors which could affect whether he gets to make that trip to New York in December.

Conditioning

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    Stephen B. Morton

    The first thing Gurley needs to do is to be well-conditioned. Richt said Gurley has to get into midseason form this summer in order to be the best running back in the country.

    He is coming off an ankle injury from last season, and he’s yet to reach 100 percent.

    Even if he’s at 78 percent, he is better than an average college running back who is at 110 percent. But in order for Gurley to be a “super-elite back” (in Richt’s words), he will have to be in the best shape of his career.

Effectiveness in the Passing Game

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    One of the things we saw from Gurley last year that we didn’t see much in 2012 was his involvement in the passing game.

    In 2012, he caught 16 passes for 117 yards and zero touchdowns. In 2013, he tallied 37 receptions for 441 yards and five touchdowns.

    It will be hard for him to match or exceed the 2013 numbers because Hutson Mason will have a very deep and experienced receiving group to work with. But if the Bulldogs want some explosive plays in the passing game, Gurley can be that guy.

Consistency

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Mason was a big reason the Bulldogs defeated Georgia Tech last season. But had it not been for Gurley’s four touchdowns, the Yellow Jackets would have won the game with ease.

    Gurley took over that game, and the Bulldogs will need him to do more of that in 2014. The offense is loaded with talent, but he is the catalyst for everything that happens on that side of the ball. If he can be that much of an impact player on a consistent basis, there is no reason he can’t win the Heisman.

Could His Teammates Hold Him Back?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The one thing that could prevent Gurley from winning is the depth at the running back position on the roster.

    Keith Marshall is coming off an ACL injury and is looking to make an impact like he did in 2013.

    A.J. Turman is a redshirt freshman who looked strong in the spring game.

    And let’s not forget about newcomers Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, who are talented enough to earn some playing time this upcoming season.

    Then there’s Brendan Douglas, who came on strong last year when Gurley and Marshall went down.

    It’s going to be a crowded backfield, but Gurley is the best of the bunch, and he should have no issues getting his 20-25 carries per game.

Final Analysis

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It’s been 32 years since the Bulldogs had a Heisman winner, and we all know who won that.

    The reason Herschel Walker won the Heisman that year was the fact he was the most dominant player in college football for the prior three years, and he peaked in his Heisman-winning season.

    Gurley has the talent to do what Walker did if he works hard in the offseason and takes care of his body.

    Other players across the country will emerge as Heisman hopefuls, but Gurley has been on the Heisman radar since last season, and he’s poised to make a run at it in 2014.