Here’s a potentially scary thought if you’re an Auburn fan: a team that just ran for 305 yards on Kentucky will get its best runner back from suspension just in time to play your beleaguered defense. After sitting four weeks due to NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits, one-time Heisman Trophy front-runner Todd Gurley is back in action for Georgia this Saturday.
But he may not necessarily start.
“We haven’t even talked about that yet,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt told the Associated Press. “Obviously, both those guys will play and we’ll see how Sony is doing. I think he came out of the game pretty good, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than just Nick and Todd in the ballgame at that running back position. Early in the year we did a good job of giving guys reps and hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Nick Chubb has held down the fort nicely in Gurley’s (and others’) absence, piling up 143 yards in a win over Missouri, 202 yards in a blowout of Arkansas, 156 yards in a loss to Florida and 170 yards in Saturday’s steamrolling of the Wildcats. Spread his 671 yards from those four outings over an entire season, and Chubb would be on pace for an FBS-best 2,013 yards.
Sony Michel returned to action Saturday after sitting more than a month and added 16 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 63-31 win.
Gurley led the team in rushing up until Saturday, carrying 94 times for 773 yards and eight touchdowns.
With a pivotal game against AP No. 9 Auburn looming Saturday night between the hedges, Gurley may prove to be a Mariano Rivera-level closer.
“We think he’s definitely got fresh legs,” Richt said. “I think he stayed in really good condition during the time he wasn’t playing. I don’t think you forget how to play football in five weeks or forget how to run it the way he runs it or the way he pass-protects or catches balls out of the backfield and all that. I think it’ll come back to him pretty quick.”
AP No. 16 Georgia hosts No. 9 Auburn at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.