September 30, 2014

(AP) - Todd Gurley wasn't in the mood to discuss the Heisman Trophy.

He never is.

So we'll let a Georgia teammate speak for him.

''He's been my Heisman choice since the season started,'' cornerback Damian Swann said. ''I'm pretty sure he's about to put one heck of a campaign together.''

Actually, Gurley's campaign is already up and running.

Big time.

The junior running back added to his resume last Saturday with a career-best 208 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 35-32 victory over Tennessee, a performance that included one of those signature moments that figures to stick with Heisman voters throughout the season.

''What he's doing, I've seen it. I've seen it in practice,'' Swann said. ''I mean, he ran track. He ran the hurdles. Jumping over a safety is like him jumping over a hurdle. So whatever he does, a lot of people might be amazed by it, but I just sit back and shake my head like, `He did it again.'''

Gurley looks to turn in another dominant effort Saturday when the No. 13 Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 SEC) seek revenge against Vanderbilt, which knocked them off last year.

Gurley set a school record with 293 all-purpose yards in a season-opening victory over Clemson, a performance that included 198 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, plus a 100-yard kickoff return. Against Tennessee, he put up the most rushing yards by a Georgia back since Garrison Hearst went for 246 in 1992.

Gurley was at his best in the fourth quarter last week, when the teams kept trading touchdowns and the Volunteers had a chance to pull off a major upset. First, he broke off a 51-yard touchdown run right down the middle of the field, barely touched at all. Then, showing off his hurdling chops, he helped set up a punt that pinned Tennessee against its own end zone, followed by a fumble that Georgia recovered for a touchdown.

Finally, after the Vols scored with just over 2 minutes remaining but failed to recover an onside kick, Gurley carried six straight times for a pair of first downs to run out the clock.

As usual, Gurley deferred when someone asked about his Heisman chances.

''I just worry about winning, dude,'' Gurley said in the locker room after the game, his pants covered in grass stains. ''If you win every game, that's going to come.''

Georgia got off to a winning start as it began a stretch of seven straight league games, and it regained control of its own destiny in the Eastern Division when South Carolina - which handed the Bulldogs their lone loss - was upset at home by Missouri.

But this was hardly an impressive performance against a team that was blown out two weeks earlier by No. 4 Oklahoma, costing Georgia one spot in the latest Associated Press poll.

While Gurley and his freshmen backups, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, have led an impressive running game that is averaging 300.3 yards, Hutson Mason and the passing attack have yet to show they can beat teams through the air.

Mason, a fifth-year senior finally getting a chance to start after backing up Aaron Murray his entire career, still hasn't thrown for even 200 yards in a game this season. He was picked off twice by the Vols, helping Tennessee stay in the game.

That performance, and the last meeting between these teams, should have Georgia feeling anything but complacent coming into Saturday. Vanderbilt rallied from 13 down with 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for a 31-27 home victory over the then-No. 15 Bulldogs on Oct. 19, ending a six-game skid in the series.

Georgia, though, has won three in a row at home over the Commodores - the last two by a combined 91-3 score - and this Vanderbilt team doesn't look nearly as strong as last year's squad that went 9-4. The Commodores (1-4, 0-3) lost 17-7 at Kentucky last Saturday as Wade Freebeck threw three fourth-quarter interceptions and Vanderbilt was outgained 384-139.

The Commodores forced three turnovers, including Darrius Sims' interception return for a tying touchdown in the second quarter, but the offense couldn't turn the other two giveaways - both in the final period - into points.

"This is a young team and the best thing we can do is do what we can do," coach Derek Mason said. "That just means capitalize on our opportunities and just go out there and get it done.

"In the end, I am just looking at our team and we're getting better, we just have to minimize the mistakes and maximize the opportunities."

You May Like