Shut It Down: Georgia Running Back Todd Gurley Won the Heisman

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Todd Gurley won the Heisman Trophy. No sense in allowing the charade to give other players false hope for the next three months. The Georgia running back may as well have run out of Sanford Stadium on his final touchdown against Clemson and made a beeline straight for New York City.

He’ll have to play 11 regular season games and possibly an SEC Championship Game between now and December, but everything after today is moot.

Obviously–or at least, I hope it’s obvious–the above is written with tongue planted firmly in cheek. But the exit polls right now suggest Todd Gurley has run to a very early lead in the 2014 Heisman chase.

Forget the September Heisman; reaction to Gurley’s performance in a 45-21 Bulldogs romp against the nation’s No. 16-ranked team on Aug. 30 sets a new gold standard in premature declarations.

That said, few players debut with the kind of splash Gurley made on a stage as prominent. He carried the ball just 15 times–when he went into the half with just four, ESPN’s Mark May was just about apoplectic.

But for Todd Gurley, it was a case of quality over quantity. He ripped off 197 yards on those 15 carries and got in the end zone three times. Had he struck the Heisman pose after the third, a 51-yarder, would anyone have blamed him?

Once the amazement wears off and Gurley’s performance can be evaluated in a more levelheaded manner, reality will set in. Despite its individual talent, the Clemson defense has never exactly been a juggernaut.

Gurley must still contend with SEC defenses (though, as Ryan Wooden writes, that’s becoming exponentially less daunting). He must also avoid the injury issues that slowed him following a similarly impressive start to the 2013 campaign.

The ankle injury that plagued Gurley throughout last season and into the spring explains offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s calculating approach when distributing Gurley’s touches. Keep the running back’s load a bit lighter but more impacting when his number’s called.

With five other Bulldog ball-carriers getting at least five rushes Saturday, Gurley has no shortage of teammates to help him shoulder the responsibility. And the especially massive shoulders of Nick Chubb looked capable of bearing a lot of the weight–Chub averaged 17.3 yards per carry against Clemson.

It’s entirely premature to start counting the ballots bearing the name Todd Gurley, but you can certainly understand the excitement surrounding his candidacy.