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Georgia's Two-Headed 'Gurshal' To Avoid Sophomore Slump

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall made their presence felt in their first season with Georgia.

Taking on the moniker 'Gurshal' after Georgia great Herschel Walker, Gurley and Marshall were dynamic throughout the 2012 campaign.

The pair combined for 2,144 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns, accounting for 83.8 percent of all yards on the ground. It was a total that helped rank Georgia 43rd in country with 182.8 rushing yards per game.

They've done it once, but can they do it again?

Going for them

One thing the pair has going for them is the experience of the offensive line and the return of quarterback Aaron Murray.

Having Murray allows Gurley and Marshall the opportunity to continue to learn the college game without having to get used to a new signal caller.

They seemed to work well with Murray in 2012, and continuity should help in 2013.

As far as the offensive line goes, nothing beats knowing your blockers. While there might be some changes in the starting lineup due to injuries, Gurley and Marshall know what to expect from the guys blocking for them.

The key will be Mark Beard, who has been working out at left tackle this spring. If he gets the start, the dynamic will change a little.

However, it shouldn't be too much of a change as the running backs will have enough time to familiarize themselves with his tendencies.

Going against them

The one thing that continually gets brought up about players who have great freshman seasons is the fact that they regress in their sophomore campaigns.

Georgia has seen it before with Thomas Brown, who had 875 yards and eight touchdowns in his freshman campaign, while rushing for 736 yards and four touchdowns in his sophomore year.

Then again, that was Brown, who wasn't nearly as good as Gurley and Marshall.

One thing they must avoid is thinking they will run over SEC defenses in 2013 the same way they did in 2012.

Just as most coaches do, teams will adjust to their running style. In turn, they'll have to make some adjustments as well.

The schedule

For Gurley and Marshall, the key is going to be the Sept. 7 game against South Carolina.

With one of the nation's most touted defensive lines, the Gamecocks will look to stop Georgia's running game.

Not to mention, the Bulldogs will get a visit from LSU Tigers on Sept. 28, although that could be a good thing with all of the defensive players from 2012 heading to the NFL.

This actually might be the best year to play the Tigers considering what they're losing on defense and their relative inexperience on offense.

Then there's the Florida Gators on Nov. 2.

This could be the game that decides who goes to the SEC Championship for the third year in a row.

Florida will bring another tough run defense against the Bulldogs. However, with a year of experience and eight games into the 2013 season, Gurley and Marshall should have some success.