March 15, 2013

5 questions: The backfield

Now that Todd Gurley has established himself as one of the premiere backs in the SEC, will coaches lean on him even more than they did as a true freshman?

While coaches will obviously depend on Gurley a great deal this fall, don't look for them to go overboard.

Gurley carried the football 222 times as a true freshman for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns, but when you look back over Richt's 12 years as the Bulldog coach, the most rushing attempts for a Bulldog back was Musa Smith's 260 in 2002.

Gurley may approach 240 carries, but with Keith Marshall and his obvious talents also in the fold, the Bulldogs would be foolish not to also take as much advantage of them as they can.

It's a nice "problem" for offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to have.

How will Georgia try to take even more advantage of Keith Marshall's talents than it did a season ago?

Couple of things with Marshall.

One, don't be surprised to see Bobo incorporate a little more two-back looks with Gurley and Marshall lined up behind quarterback Aaron Murray at the same time. The Bulldogs did that a couple of times against Nebraska, and we could see Georgia try that on a more consistent basis this fall.

Also, look for the Bulldogs to try to take more advantage of Marshall's obvious receiving skills.

Marshall's 24-yard touchdown catch against the Cornhuskers, where he had to reach around behind his back to pull in the ball was one of the nicest grabs we saw all season.

Don't be shocked if coaches put Marshall in as a slot receiver from time to time as well.

Who are the best pass-catching backs in camp this spring?

Obviously Marshall is in the discussion, but the back who really opened eyes in Georgia's first three days of spring practice has been freshman J.J. Green.

The Bulldogs knew they were getting a versatile performer when they signed the former Camden County standout in February.

With Georgia lacking a few bodies in the backfield this spring, Green has worked at running back fulltime and has proven very adept at catching the football. Bulldog coaches recognize his potential for big plays, and based on what he's shown in just three days, it's almost assured that Green will be on the field in some capacity for Georgia this fall.

What will the Bulldogs be looking to get from freshman A.J. Turman this fall?

Barring injuries to Marshall and Gurley, Turman won't see a ton of action this fall, but he will play.

The Orlando native is a tough inside runner, who could be used in short yardage situations. Assuming he learns to pass protect effectively, he also will be used in mop-up duty if and when the opportunity occurs.

Normally, Turman might be considered for a redshirt, but with Georgia's depth, we don't think that's going to happen.

The Bulldogs also signed Brendan Douglas, who will get his chance to impress come fall.

Will the fullbacks play more of an offensive role this fall?

Probably not. Georgia fullbacks only had five carries for 24 yards last year, with Alexander Ogletree responsible for three of those for 14 yards and he's no longer on the team.

What you might see, however, is the Bulldogs use the fullbacks more in the passing game as an outlet option or screen.

Merritt Hall was targeted three times last year, but only caught one for nine yards. What will be interesting is if sophomore Quayvon Hicks (6-2, 262) is able to earn consistent playing time. The idea of getting Hicks in open space with a quick pass might be too enticing an option for Bobo not to call.