ATHENS - The Georgia football team got the best news it has had in awhile: Todd Gurley was back at practicing.
The star tailback was limited to no contact in Tuesday's full-pads practice, but even that was more than Gurley had done since the LSU game on Sept. 28. It's a good indication that Gurley will be able to play against Florida on Nov. 2.
"Beautiful as always," quarterback Aaron Murray said, when asked how Gurley looked. "I saw him out there, and I was like: Good goodness gracious, that dude is huge. I mean he's a pretty sucker to look at.
"He looked good though. He did every rep with me, he looked good. So I asked him how he felt and he said he feels good. So we've still got another two weeks, so he'll be full-go by Saturday hopefully."
There was not much holding back from several Bulldogs on how much a lift it is to see their star tailback at practice.
"I've said all along I think Todd is by far the best player in the country when he's healthy and he's out there," Murray said. "What he's able to do not only in the run game but in the pass game too, effect the safeties, effect the linebackers, catching the ball in the backfield. He really changes the game for us offensively."
"I've probably played with two other players that are like him, in this sense, Jarvis Jones and A.J. Green, to where he literally impacts everyone else on the field," tight end Arthur Lynch said. "Because I think the defense has to gameplan for him specifically."
Freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas have carried the load the past two weeks, since Keith Marshall tore his ACL at Tennessee, a week after Gurley's injury. But Georgia is 0-2 in those two games.
"Not to say those young backs haven't done a good job for us, but Todd's like Keith, J.J. and Brendan built into one, and that's not normal," Lynch said of Gurley. "He brings so much energy and so much emotion to the offense. His skill-set has definitely been missed. You could argue the fact that Hey, if he was full go for really the Clemson game, and the two games we lost, I don't know that we would lose those. Because he only played really half a game against Clemson. That's the special kind of talent that he is."
"J.J. and Brendan did an unbelievable job," Murray said. "Those guys to be in that circumstance, to come in and probably not expect to play a lot this year with the two backs we had with Todd and Keith, and all of a sudden both those guys get hurt and they have to be thrown into a starting role. You couldn't have asked for more than those two guys, they did an unbelievable job in the run game, and the pass game, and I mean they're still gonna get a lot of reps."
Receiver Michael Bennett, who has been out with a torn meniscus since the Tennessee game, did not practice on Tuesday. But he did run on the side, and several players say Bennett told them he would try to practice on Thursday.
"He told me last week he was playing at Florida, so I'm holding him to it," Lynch said.
There was still a very lengthy injury list for Tuesday's practice, including these starters:
- Receiver Chris Conley, who sprained his ankle on the last play of Saturday's loss at Vanderbilt.
- Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (foot injury).
- Center David Andrews (foot sprain).
- Receiver Rantavious Wooten (hip bruise).
- Safety Tray Matthews (hamstring), although Matthews did run on the side, according to UGA's injury report. Matthews has missed the past three games.
- Reserve fullback Merritt Hall (concussion) was also out.
- Reserve linebacker T.J. Stripling, who did not make the trip to Vanderbilt because of a sprained ankle, was also out of Tuesday's practice.
There were several other players who were limited during Tuesday's practice: Douglas (knee sprain, wrist sprain) and Green (shoulder contusion and shoulder sprain), and receiver Rhett McGowan (ankle).