ATHENS – Todd Gurley is now second on Georgia’s career rushing list, and that’s almost certainly where he will finish.
In his return to the field Saturday, the star tailback passed Garrison Hearst for the second spot and now has 3,285 career rushing yards. Hearst finished his career with 3,232 rushing yards and had kept his spot for 22 years, until Saturday night.
Herschel Walker’s hold on first place seems secure. Walker had 5,259 yards, which is also still the SEC record.
Walker and Hearst both left for the pros after their junior year. Gurley is also a junior and is expected to declare for the draft after the season. His status for this season is also up in the air pending word on the severity of his left knee injury suffered Saturday.
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Chubb on the way
Nick Chubb surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season Saturday night, an amazing feat for a freshman who only has started five games this season.
Chubb has 1,039 rushing yards this season, making him the 12th Georgia player to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a season. Gurley did it two years ago.
Gurley returning kickoffs
Isaiah McKenzie ran back a kickoff for a touchdown last week at Kentucky and also had a punt return touchdown. So why was he supplanted on kickoffs this week?
Because Gurley wanted his job back.
Gurley also had a kickoff return touchdown this year, a 100-yarder against Clemson in the opener. Back from his four-game suspension, the junior didn’t want to ease his way back in.
“He wanted that job,” head coach Mark Richt said. “Last week we got Isaiah McKenzie who returns a kick for a touchdown, so we’re not in a hurry to change your return man. But Todd’s a special player, a special back, a special kick return man. And he wanted it. So we weren’t going to argue with that.”
Michel suits up, doesn’t play
There was uncertainty about freshman tailback Sony Michel’s status entering the game, after he hurt his ankle last week at Kentucky – his first game back after missing four games with a shoulder injury.
Michel did suit up but didn’t play. It was a decision made in pregame warm-ups, when Richt asked Michel how he felt.
“You could tell by his response; it wasn’t even his body language. You could tell he wasn’t ready to go,” Richt said.
Keith Marshall, the junior tailback who hasn’t played since the third game of the season, did not suit up. Marshall has been practicing, but he’s eligible for a medical redshirt, which appears a possibility.
Richt was late to the news conference because he was watching Missouri play against Texas A&M. If Missouri had lost, Georgia would have clinched the SEC East.
When the Tigers stopped Texas A&M near the goal-line with about two minutes left, Richt decided to head out.
A few minutes later media members informed him that Missouri had indeed won.
“Missouri won? OK,” Richt said. “There’s two more games, and there’s nothing we can do but play ball and try to win and hope for the best.”
Changing mind on field goal
One of the biggest moments in the game occurred in the second quarter, when Richt changed his mind on kicking a field goal and instead went for a first down. The result was a 9-yard touchdown run.
At first, Georgia sent out its field goal team.
“There was indecision on what to do by me. And then I said, 'Let’s kick it,' ” Richt said. “Then as we’re taking our sweet time trying to line up, we’re about to get a delay of game. That’s why I called timeout.”
During the timeout Richt talked it over with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and offensive line coach Will Friend. They told Richt what the play call would be if they went for it.
“I said, 'What will the call be – and it’s not going to be a quarterback sneak,' ” Richt said, smiling.
Blackout goes on
Georgia students and fans wanted a full blackout, including their team wearing black jerseys. They didn’t get that, as Richt kept his vow not to do that this week, calling his players' plea for it “wishful thinking.”
But the crowd wasn’t under Richt’s control, and it largely held up to the blackout. The vast majority of fans wore black, with a smattering of red.